Matthew Boose Publius Fellow 2020
What is your current position?
I’m a Staff Writer with Conservative Institute and a Mt. Vernon Fellow at American Greatness.
What inspired you to choose this career path?
Well, I’ve always loved politics and literature, but I was inspired to take up writing by Donald Trump, to be frank. The climate in 2016 made me very worried for America, and that feeling has driven a lot of my writing, but Trump’s campaign also made me think that the times were auspicious for trying out new things. I was drawn into writing almost by accident, when The New York Times wrote a hit piece about my hometown over a Trump event. A friend gave me the idea of pitching a response to the Daily Caller, and I gave it a shot, not expecting to get very far. They published it, and I just kept going from there. Over time, I realized that people were interested in what I had to say, and it became a regular thing.
What are you currently working on?
Culture war screeds, mostly.
How did you hear about the Claremont Institute?
I had heard of Claremont from a friend years ago, but I grew more interested in them as I started contributing pieces regularly to American Greatness and made connections there. I was encouraged to apply for Publius by Ben Boychuk and Julie Ponzi, who have both been great friends, editors, and mentors.
What is your fondest memory of the Claremont Institute?
It’s a cop-out answer, but the entire three weeks of the Publius Fellowship is something I’ll always cherish. In these times, finding like-minded people, especially for conservatives, can feel a bit like joining a conspiracy. The Publius program introduced me to some really great people who I consider it a privilege to know. I miss hanging out at the Hospitality Suite, having conversations with the fellows and faculty about political philosophy and this time of crisis we’re living in. I learned a ton in those few weeks and made good friends. It was an experience that I think would be hard to replicate.
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?
You could apply to a fellowship somewhere and spend a few weeks talking about Tocqueville or whatever, but it’s not the same as debating what ails America with people who have spent years earnestly grappling with the fact that our Constitution and the system it created are on life support, not just in the world of armchair philosophy, but in real life. There’s a lot of bloat in conservatism, but Claremont is not that. They have a fighting philosophy that is really unique, outstanding publications, and a network of writers who are at the top of their game. I can’t think of many other programs that allow you to get in touch with all of that.
If you could have a fireside chat and drink with an American Founder, or any great thinker, who would it be, why, and what would you order and discuss?
I’d like to hear Washington’s take on neocons. If he’d be so willing, I’d make a voice recording and use it to help boot the Forever War establishment out of power forever. We’d have beers.
What qualities do you believe are needed to make an impressive statesman/woman in this century and why?
The most important thing is courage. America doesn’t have many defenders these days, unfortunately. Our culture no longer selects for excellence or loyalty to the homeland. America’s leaders either actively hate this country or are too passive to protect it. A statesman would have to be someone with the bravery to take the slings and arrows of our hostile elite, who is willing to incur great personal risks to their reputation and even their personal safety to stand up to the powerful forces undermining our nation. With such petty and weak leaders as we do have, somebody like Trump can take on the cast of a statesman, even if he lacks many of the qualities typically associated with statesmanship. He’s taken a lot of abuse from the elites, but he’s done more than most presidents I can think of to actually stand for America as it was founded despite those attacks. I hear people talk about alternatives to him, but I don’t see many other options at the moment.
What is the greatest challenge facing the United States today?
America is divided between two factions, one of which rejects the nation as it was founded. This second faction, which you could call the partisans of 1619 if you want, has enormous institutional power that enables them to spread lies about America, strike fear into the hearts of citizens (and ruin their lives), and steamroll what’s left of the country of our forefathers. They want to turn the land of the free into a Soviet police state, and so far they seem to be succeeding.
What would the argument be if you were to write an essay sure to be read by a large percentage of left-leaning millennials in order to convince them the nation’s founding principles are still unique, relevant, and worthy of being preserved?
I think the easiest thing would be to cut off the problem at the source and defund the universities. There’s really no reason for about 99 percent of colleges to exist. At this point, they basically just crush young people with debt while filling their heads with ideological brain poison. That being said, you would have to start by disabusing them of what the Founding was not. It was not all about free markets and tax cuts, talking points that fail to reach many of them for good reason. It was not about creating systems of oppression, but a nation more conducive to liberty and equality than any the world has ever known. Obviously, a lot of young people don’t think that’s true, nor do they have any desire to believe it. I’m not sure there’s a tidy argument you can make in a paper that will suffice, but I think the main thing is to demonstrate that it’s still possible to have a decent life in America and that “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is enough, without resorting to communism, critical race theory, and other meme ideologies that only result in tyranny. I would add that Boomers haven’t helped the situation, not to pin too much blame on them. It’s not unusual for young people to be attracted to radicalism, but America lacks a countervailing force to keep those energies in check. All forms of authority have basically been discredited by the Boomers, many of whom never really grew up. Many Boomers now seem to want to dismiss the problems of young people, who in many ways are distilled versions of themselves. Bottom line, a lot of this radicalism is borne out of desperation, and you’re not going to convince people who feel hopeless that they live in the greatest nation in the world by browbeating them. You could start by shutting down the universities and creating better economic conditions to encourage family formation. A happier population would be less inclined to burn the whole thing down. Until that happens, you’re going to have a hard time changing many minds.
What books are you currently reading?
I just finished reading Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories. I’m now reading a very interesting firsthand account of the Spanish Civil War called Mine Were of Trouble by Peter Kemp.
What book has left a lasting impression with you and why?
Christopher Lasch’s The Culture of Narcissism has stuck with me. He was right about a turn in our culture that you see everywhere. I’ll cheat and list a second book: like many people on the Right, I was influenced by Patrick Deneen’s Why Liberalism Failed. Even if you’re inclined to disagree with Deneen’s thesis, the book had the impact it did for a reason.