Chris Malagisi, Lincoln Fellow 2012
What is your current position?
I’m currently the Editor in Chief of the Conservative Book Club (a division of Salem Media Group), with currently over 750K members nationwide. I’m responsible for writing and managing editorial content for CBC’s website, daily e-newsletter, social media platforms, external relations, serve as the Club’s public spokesman, and have personally conducted over 150 interviews with presidential candidates, high-profile authors, and conservative thought-leaders.
I’m also a Tipsheet Author/Contributor at Townhall.com and have a weekly recurring segment on The Mike Gallagher Radio Show discussing political and cultural news, while announcing the weekly CBC Conservative Book Bestseller List.
What inspired you to choose this career path?
My wife has jokingly called me a “Career Conservative,” as most of my work has revolved around the conservative movement (I was previously the Director of CPAC & External Relations at the American Conservative Union and Education Director for Conservatism 101). The trick in life is finding the place(s) in which you can potentially make the most difference. Perhaps CBC is one of them for me. For six years, I was an adjunct instructor at American University teaching a course titled History of the Conservative Movement. I realized then how important books were in the development of one’s political philosophy and outlook in life. Most people tend to be inspired by a book more so than anything else. I believe that CBC is helping to place the “right” books in our members’ hands across the country to hopefully educate and inspire them.
What are you currently working on?
At the moment, I’m preparing for three big author interviews with Newt Gingrich (Understanding Trump), Mark Levin (Rediscovering Americanism: And the Tyranny of Progressivism), and Milo Yiannopoulos (Dangerous) – all of whom will no doubt have books that rock the political world this year.
How did you hear about the Claremont Institute?
For years I received emails from Lincoln Fellowship alum Paul Teller asking me if I’d like to participate. I was also impressed with the alum roster as there were so many people I knew and respected who had participated that were certainly agents for change in the political world.
What’s your fondest memory of the Claremont Institute?
Hands down the evening after-dinner hospitality suite parties, which allowed our fellow alums to get to know each other better as well as the staff and faculty of the institute, and of course the Western movie narrations from Dr. John Marini!
But truly, the fondest memories I had were the numerous “Aha” moments when reading the fellowship reader in the weeks leading up to the fellowship and the classroom experience hearing first-hand from some of the smartest scholars out there.
I always tell people that Claremont helps connect the dots in better understanding the American founding, and helps piece together all the lifetime knowledge we had acquired before beginning the program. It was almost like a political religious awakening!
There are all sorts of educational programs out there for current and rising conservative professionals. What do you think makes the Claremont Institute’s Fellowships unique?
Actually, I don’t think there are many that are available for young professional conservatives, which makes The Claremont Institute fellowships highly unique. Very few take the time to truly educate themselves about the political and philosophical foundation of the American Experiment, from a natural rights perspective, with its various connections between history, politics, economics, law, and philosophy.
The “retreat” aspect also makes it unique as it allows you to “vacation” from the world and truly focus on the studies in front of you, and bond with fellow classmates. America would be well served by having more Claremont Institute-like fellowships available for aspiring and motivated citizens and public leaders.
If you could have a drink with an American Founder, or any great thinker, who would it be, why, and what would you order?
This is easily the toughest question you’re asking me to answer! If I had to pick one American Founder, I’d want to meet James Madison. I think he is sometimes undervalued by historians and does not truly get the recognition he deserves as the father of our Constitution. Anyone who could study thousands of years of human history and come up with the American Constitution is someone worthy and interesting to grab a drink with! A Montpelier (Orange County, VA) or Charlottesville-area wine might be most appropriate for this meeting. Having said that, Alexander Hamilton would be a close second choice.
Who was more important for their time, George Washington or Abraham Lincoln? Why?
I think I’d get in trouble with the Claremont elders if I did not say Abraham Lincoln! I’m going to cheat and say both were important, if not absolutely necessary for their time. Lincoln could not have saved America if there was no America in the first place. But I believe that Lincoln was the fulfillment of the promise of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and America would not have survived without his particular statesmanship.
What is the greatest challenge facing the United States today?
At the core of the ensuing American decline is a grossly under-educated citizenry lacking the basic knowledge of American civics and history. Our public schools are failing our children and future statesmen, and two generations of teachers have now bought into the Howard Zinn-ization of America. Until this is rectified, paraphrasing Alexis de Tocqueville, Americans will get the government they deserve.
What books are you reading right now?
Understanding Trump, by Newt Gingrich, and Milo Yiannopolous’ Dangerous. I’ll let you guess if it’s for work or pleasure.
You have sailed around the world. If you could only have taken one book on that journey, what would it have been, and why?
At this point in my life, I’d say the Bible. I wish I had taken it with me on this journey (Semester at Sea). I think a lot of answers I had early on in my life would’ve been answered sooner, and the better I would’ve been for it. It’s never too late though!
You’re an accomplished pianist with two original piano albums. Which of the great American patriotic anthems would you play for the Constitutional Convention of 1787?
‘I’m Proud to Be an American” by Lee Greenwood, or Toby Keith’s “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue.” :)