Naweed Tahmas, Publius Fellow 2019
Director of Content, Firehouse Strategies
What is your current position? I am the Director of Content for Firehouse Strategies, a D.C.-based public affairs firm.
What inspired you to choose this career path? I would like to say that this was the culmination of a long-term career path that I had been meticulously planning out for years—but I was in the right place at the right time.
How did you hear about the Claremont Institute? While I was as an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, I had the privilege of studying under Steven Hayward, a Claremont Scholar. Professor Hayward provided a rare glimmer of light in the stifling academic echo chamber that was 2010s Berkeley. In order to express even the mildest conservative view at Berkeley, you had to become very good at speaking opaquely—between the lines—so that your conservatism passed beneath the radar of particularly violent activists. Professor Hayward directed me to the Claremont Institute, where students are encouraged to speak openly and challenge conventional political wisdom.
What is your fondest memory of the Claremont Institute? Being seated next to Michael Uhlmann at the welcoming dinner on the first night of the fellowship. I will never forget the advice he gave me.
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? Claremont has world-class lecturers who have identified and thoughtfully addressed the important issues that face our nation. They are unafraid to question orthodoxies, not just on the left but within the conservative movement as well. I would go so far as to say that I learned more in the few weeks I spent at Claremont than I did in the entirety of my undergraduate studies.
Who was more important for their time, George Washington or Abraham Lincoln? Why? George Washington. Without him there would be no America, or an America utterly unrecognizable from the one we live in today. Washington created the American model of statesmanship, a model which is absolutely essential that we preserve for future generations.
What qualities will make outstanding statesmen/women in this century? An outstanding statesman has a coherent worldview, a deep commitment to their nation, and a set of prudent instincts. Of equal importance, although often overlooked, a great statesman understands the importance of leaving an institutional legacy. This necessitates developing a team that is not only qualified and competent, but also committed to actualizing his vision.
What books are you currently reading? Right now, I am reading René Girard’s Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World and Andrew Roberts’ Napoleon. I’m also rereading Machiavelli’s The Prince.
Do you have a favorite quote and if so would you share? “A prudent man should always follow in the path trodden by great men and imitate those who are most excellent.”—Niccolò Machiavelli
What is the most distinctive attribute/character of the people in the state where you grew up that you genuinely admire? Conservatives today tend to poke fun at California, but the state is not defined by its current politics. California is a state with a deeply American heritage, founded by pioneers willing to cross a continent to seek their fortunes. Californians are explorers, innovators, and out-of-the-box thinkers, for better or worse. Some of the most left-wing politicians have come out of our state, it’s true, but so have some of the greatest conservative minds of the past several decades. I aim to continue in that tradition.