State of the Union

Take Our 2017 Reader Survey

We at The American Conservative seek to advance a “Main Street” conservatism that promotes the flourishing of families and communities, smaller and more accountable government, civil liberties, and a realistic, restrained foreign policy. Thanks to you, we’ve been able to reach record numbers of readers with our message of principled, measured conservatism in this first year of the Trump era.

As we move forward into 2018, we’re eager to learn more about our readers so we can continue to cover the issues you find most important. Why do you read us? How do you feel about the Trump presidency so far? What are your thoughts on immigration? Foreign policy? Your favorite writers? Take our 2017 readers survey here, and help us reshape the Right!


Professor and Wife Get $500,000 From Evergreen College

Evergreen College Professor Bret Weinstein on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. (YouTube)

Professor Bret Weinstein of The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, will receive $500,000 from the college in a settlement announced this week. Readers of TAC may recall details of the campus turmoil that descended on Evergreen last spring, detailed in a cover story by Gregg Herrington in TAC’s September/October issue, also online here.

Weinstein was accosted on campus by students, and was advised by college officials that he should remain off campus for his own safety, as campus security personnel, it was stated, couldn’t protect him.

Students also commandeered college president George Bridges in his office, holding him there and subjecting him to more than four hours of verbal abuse before releasing him. A sampling of the abuse: “No fuck you, George. We don’t want to hear a goddamn thing you have to say….You talk so fucking much….No, you shut the fuck up.”

Weinstein, a political progressive who supported Bernie Sanders’s presidential bid, ran afoul of campus leftists when he challenged plans by students, faculty, and staff members of color to urge white students to vacate the campus for a day so nonwhites could contemplate their grievances without whites in their midst. In previous years, those of color had themselves vacated the campus as a demonstration of solidarity, but now the tradition took on a more menacing aspect to whites.

Weinstein rejected the underlying sentiment of the change. He wrote publicly: “There is a huge difference between a group or coalition deciding to voluntarily absent themselves from a shared space in order to highlight their vital and under-appreciated roles, and a group or coalition encouraging another group to go away. The first is a forceful call to consciousness, which is, of course, crippling to the logic of oppression. The second is a show of force, and an act of oppression in and of itself….I will be on campus on the Day of Absence.”

Subsequently, Weinstein’s class was interrupted by 50 protesters labeling him a “racist” and calling for his suspension. When police arrived to escort Weinstein out of the building, students sought to thwart the protective maneuver. The next day, for the sake of his and his students’ safety, he took the campus police chief’s advice and held class off campus.

Weinstein and his wife, Heather Heying, also an Evergreen faculty member, in July filed a $3.85 million tort claim against the college alleging it failed to “protect its employees from repeated provocative and corrosive verbal and written hostility based on race, as well as threats of physical violence.”

In an email to faculty and staff late Friday, Evergreen officials reported that the college will pay the Weinsteins $450,000 in redress and $50,000 to defray attorney fees. The announcement also stated the college “admits no liability, and rejects the allegations made in the tort claim.” It added that the Day of Absence activities “were not discriminatory. The college took reasonable and appropriate steps to engage with protesters during spring quarter, de-escalate conflict, and keep the campus safe.”

Both Weinstein, a biology professor, and Heying, who taught anthropology, resigned their academic positions at Evergreen, effective on the day of the settlement announcement.

TAC Welcomes New Managing Editor and Executive Editor

TAC Editor Robert W. Merry on Wednesday announced two major personnel moves in the TAC editorial operation. Kelley Vlahos will move up to fill one of the magazine’s Executive Editor slots (along with Lewis McCrary), while Matt Purple, currently deputy editor at Rare Politics, will become Managing Editor, to replace Kelley. In making the announcement, Merry said, “With these moves I believe we have congregated a sterling management team prepared and ready to help lead TAC to ever greater heights of editorial excellence and political influence.”

Kelley joined TAC on June 12 after nearly a decade as a mainstay TAC freelance contributor. She came to Washington in 1999 after five years of newspaper experience in Connecticut and worked for a number of publications and web sites, including and Bridge News, before landing with Fox News in 2001. More recently she was web editor and social media manager for WTOP. In her new role, Kelley will report to Merry and maintain managerial jurisdiction over day-to-day operations related to the TAC web site, social media efforts, and operational analytics. McCrary will continue to oversee foreign policy coverage, urban affairs writing, and TAC events.

Matt Purple has been at Rare Politics since 2014. A news and opinion web site established in 2013 by Cox Media Group, it aims its fare at a “younger, center-right audience.’’ Purple is a Catholic University graduate and has been involved in DC conservative commentary since his arrival as a college student. Following college Matt served as assistant managing editor at The American Spectator, and he has written extensively for such publications as National ReviewThe National Interest, the Washington Times, and the Daily Caller. In his new role with TAC, Matt will be charged primarily with ensuring that TAC’s web presence is timely, lively, and meaningful. Both Vlahos and Purple will write for TAC as time permits.

Kelley’s new role is effective immediately. Matt will begin his TAC duties on October 2.

Meet TAC’s New President

The American Conservative is pleased to announce Bradley J. Birzer as the new president of the American Ideas Institute, which publishes TAC.  Dr. Birzer’s appointment takes effect today, August 1.  Dr. Birzer will serve a one-year term while maintaining his full-time position as the Russell Amos Kirk Chair in American Studies at Hillsdale College.  He replaces Jeremy Beer, who will become chairman of the board of directors.

We are thrilled to be adding Dr. Birzer to our publication’s leadership. He has written for TAC for years, recently contributing pieces on novelist Margaret Atwood, the television series Stranger Things, and the great sociologist Robert Nisbet, a range of output that gives some indication of his extraordinary versatility. Dr. Birzer is the biographer of Russell Kirk, an icon of the type of Burkean conservatism that lies at the core of TAC’s identity. And he is an outspoken critic of recent American foreign policy and interventionist outreach.

Thanks to our readers, supporters, and all those who have helped steer TAC in recent years, TAC now reaches at least three times as many people as it did in 2014. We have thrived, even as other magazines and websites have folded. Our articles, programs, and events are helping to shape the conversation and the way people on the right, in the center, and even on the left think. Bradley Birzer will do a great deal to help TAC continue to grow its readership and expand its influence in these strange and turbulent times.

For all press inquiries, please contact Emile Doak, director of events & outreach, at [email protected]

The Government Tilt: How Crony Capitalism Distorts Markets

On June 15, The American Conservative convened a panel to explore the cozy relationships between government and business, and make the case that the growth of cronyism—and the policies that feed it—runs counter to a truly conservative economic policy.  Watch the full discussion here.

The panel featured:

Ambassador C. Boyden Gray, former Ambassador to the European Union (2006-2007).

David M. Smick, author of The Great Equalizer: How Main Street Capitalism Can Create an Economy for Everyone.

Tim Carney, commentary editor at the Washington Examiner.

Veronique de Rugy, senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

moderated by Robert W. Merry, editor of The American Conservative.

Pratik Chougule Appeared on C-SPAN Washington Journal

TAC executive editor Pratik Chougule appeared on C-SPAN Washington Journal on Saturday to discuss his recent article, How America Turned Against Smart Kids.  The interview is available via C-SPAN at this link:

TAC Is Hiring

The American Conservative is seeking a managing editor.

Primary responsibilities of this position include:

  1. Managing the TAC web edition, ensuring that it is plenished daily with fresh material of high quality;
  2. Writing a regular web-edition column;
  3. Assisting with the day-to-day operation of TAC’s Washington D.C. office.

Ideal applicants will have:

  • A worldview consistent with the philosophy and disposition of The American Conservative
  • Strong editing skills
  • An understanding of conservative media and how to create engaging content in this space
  • Interest in monitoring the day-to-day news cycle as well as anticipating longer-term events and issues
  • A demonstrated ability to work proactively and take initiative in a high-pace, rapidly-evolving office

Interested applicants should send a cover letter and resume to Pratik Chougule by email at [email protected]. Applicants must be able to work from our Washington, D.C office.

TAC and R Street Talk Energy on the Hill Tomorrow

Tomorrow at noon, the R Street Institute will host an event titled “Energy and Environmental Reform: Conservative Perspectives for the Trump Administration” in the Rayburn House Office Building. The speakers will include numerous TAC contributors, including James P. Pinkerton, Managing Editor Robert VerBruggen, R Street’s Catrina Rorke, the Heritage Foundation’s Katie Tubb, and Brent Fewell, founder of the Earth and Water Group. Jim Presswood of the Earth Stewardship Alliance will moderate.

Here is the full description of the event:

The Trump Administration has started the process of unraveling a significant number of Obama-era regulations on energy and the environment—but what should the next move be? The time has come for the Oval Office, Congress and the states to enact a proactive, pro-market agenda that unleashes America’s energy potential while carefully stewarding our environmental resources.

Please join us for a panel discussion with introductory comments by The American Conservative managing editor Robert VerBruggen on ways to liberate markets, create flexible and disciplined federal agencies and ignite innovation.

We’ll discuss reining in the bureaucracy of the Environmental Protection Agency, fixing the Department of Energy’s disastrous policy of picking technology “winners,” and exploring the many ways that markets can deliver economic growth and better environmental outcomes without the heavy hand of government.

RSVP here.

‘Rules for Foreign Intervention’ on Tucker Carlson Tonight

Fox News

TAC author George Liebmann appeared on the program last night to discuss his piece. View the segment at Fox News here.

The Politics of Vaccine Safety on Fearless Parent Radio

TAC executive editor Pratik Chougule appeared on the Fearless Parent Radio Blog to discuss in more detail his article from last week, “Why the Kennedy-DeNiro Vaccine Challenge Matters.” Full audio of his interview is available at the link below.

“Is it a good idea to convene a presidential vaccine safety commission? We just finished reading a cogent, probing, and well-researched article: “Why the Kennedy-DeNiro Vaccine Challenge Matters” whose author says, ‘Yes.’

“Pratik Chougule, JD, executive editor of The American Conservative, eschews the usual trashing of advocates who challenge the government’s vaccine safety program. Curious about this compelling voice emerging from the fray of naysayers, we were eager to hear more from Pratik. Some the questions we’ll address include:

  • What are the historical origins of the American vaccine safety movement?
  • Why are vaccine safety advocates dismissed in the mainstream press?
  • How did Trump become interested in the vaccine/autism issue?
  • What factors will influence Trump’s decision to tackle the vaccine issue?
  • What political impact will a vaccine safety commission make?”

Listen to the audio at Fearless Parent.

Discussing the Greatest Presidents

Last week, TAC editor Robert W. Merry appeared on Boise State Public Radio to discuss how the American presidents have looked in the rear-view mirror of history. In conjunction with his article today, we are posting the audio from the segment below.

“Two hundred and twenty-eight years ago this April, George Washington took the oath of office as the first president of the United States.  Since then, 44 Americans have taken that solemn vow, most recently Donald Trump.  History has yet to judge our most recent presidents. But as we look farther into the past, which presidents have stood the test of time and are revered today?  And which ones are now viewed as less successful leaders, or even as failures?

“We’re discussing presidential performance with Robert W. Merry.  He is the author of Where They Stand: The American Presidents in the Eyes of Voters and the Historians.  It’s now out in paperback.  Where They Stand  takes an in-depth look at what Mr. Merry calls “America’s favorite game,” rating the presidents.  In the book, Mr. Merry examines polls conducted over the years, as well as metrics developed to rank those who have led our nation. He also shares fascinating anecdotes and insights about our past presidents, including how and why perceptions about some of them have changed over the years.”


Is TAC Too Easy on Trump?

Dear Editors,

I have greatly enjoyed reading your writings as of late. As a liberal it has been informative and challenging work, and I appreciate the depth of your understanding and your care with argument.

I do feel, however, that you have slacked somewhat in your duties to your readers. In particular, I think it is the responsibility of all press, but especially conservative press, to keep their readers on guard about some of the more alarming behaviors and historical analogues we see right now. It may be that Trump does not seek authoritarian power, but it may be that he does. His attacks on the free press and the judiciary make many of us nervous. If he does in fact seek more power, we all need to be watching for the historical analogue of the Reichstag fire.

He has stoked in all of us a fear of Muslims. He has prepared us to blame the courts, the press, and the liberals if and when an attack happens. An attack is likely to happen, just based on the world today.

It will be the responsibility of moral conservatives to push back against the fervor and blame that could destroy the American experiment. It will be your responsibility to remind your readers that the press is our protection, that liberals and Muslims are just as American and just as well-meaning as conservative Christians. It will be your responsibility to remind us all that our representatives’ first duty is not protecting our safety as they keep saying, but protecting our constitution and our rights. If nothing happens, nothing is lost by reminding your readers what an authoritarian will try to do. If something happens, having waited will be indefensible.

I believe all of you at TAC are moral and careful and have a deep love for the freedoms we enjoy. I believe, however, that you must put party loyalty aside (even more so than you have already done, which I commend you for) to remind us all of what defending freedom can entail. It will surely entail resisting the division and fear that have become so common on all sides. I know I sound alarmist, and I hope I am overreacting. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this matter.

Thank you for your time,

Jacqueline Mauro

The Editor Replies

When a publication such as ours receives a letter such as that of Jacqueline Mauro, it generates a good-faith imperative for a reply. I’m particularly heartened by Ms. Mauro’s revelation that, as a political liberal, she doesn’t agree with us much but still appreciates our “informative work,” our “depth of … understanding,” and our “care with argument.” Particularly in times such as these, with the country rent so abysmally by division and rancor, Ms. Mauro’s measured and seemingly heartfelt complaint deserves an equally unemotional and respectful response.

Her central complaint seems to be that we have insufficiently raised the alarm about what she sees—and many others see—as President Trump’s tendencies toward authoritarian behavior, as manifest, in part at least, in his attacks on the news media, on judges, and on liberals. We conservatives, she says, have an obligation to push back against this rhetorical “fervor and blame that could destroy the American experiment.”

I’m not prepared to argue that she is wrong. No doubt we have passed over some of Trump’s most egregious flights of rhetorical brutality. At the same time, I’m proud that we have published some truly pugilistic attacks on Trump by our regular bloggers, Rod Dreher and Daniel Larison, who from the earliest days of the nomination process sought to expose troubling elements of his persona and agenda. Of course we ran those pieces alongside the commentary of Patrick J. Buchanan, one of our founders, who considers Trump a necessary corrective to policies of our elites that he considers destructive of the American future. That’s the great debate in America these days, and we aren’t inclined to short-circuit it.

Beyond that, though, our primary interest in covering Trump is to get beyond the man and offer interpretative insights into the state of American politics, with particular emphasis on how the country could become so riled up against its status quo leadership that it would turn to such a figure as Trump. Some argue that it’s a racist backlash to eight years of Barack Obama. Some say it is the “deplorables” consumed with fears and hatreds that Trump has exploited. Some even suggest obliquely that the American republic is disintegrating before our very eyes.

We reject all that, largely because we have faith in the collective electorate—and, having such faith, we harbor optimism also that the American people will find their way through these troubled times and emerge eventually into the sunlight of a new political coalition with a new political dialectic and new prospects for a unified polity.

Is Trump the man to pull this off? Perhaps, but it is looking increasingly unlikely. In the meantime, as that question hovers over our nation, The American Conservative will not join the chorus of those whose anti-Trump rhetoric places them in the camp of wanting to engineer the man’s failure. Our depth of understanding and our care with argument preclude such an approach.

Robert W. Merry
The American Conservative

Summer 2017 Internship at TAC — Extended Deadline

The American Conservative is currently accepting applications for a summer editorial assistant position. The deadline for applications is Sunday, March 5.

Editorial interns gain experience in all aspects of producing the website and print magazine. This internship offers real experience in all the moving parts of a media organization and exposure to both editorial and marketing projects.

Responsibilities include:

  • Preparing pieces for the web, writing headlines, curating images
  • Managing TAC’s presence on social media platforms
  • Contributing headlines and story ideas
  • Proofreading and fact-checking articles for print and web
  • Blogging for the web
  • Devising strategies for audience development and engagement
  • Helping with event planning and special projects
  • Clerical duties, such as answering the phone and handling the mail, are also involved.

All candidates should possess:

  • Eagerness to work tirelessly on a small but ambitious team
  • Superb writing and editing ability
  • Strong communication and organizational skills
  • Love of considered, lengthy journalism as well as an appreciation of horse-race politics
  • Excellent news/culture/opinion judgment
  • A background in intellectual conservatism and keen understanding of The American Conservative’s sensibility
  • Past experience with a news or opinion publication is preferred, though not required.

Interns will join our team in Washington, DC, from May to August (with some flexibility for academic schedules), and will receive a stipend. We will review applications on a rolling basis, so applicants are encouraged to submit their materials before the final deadline. College students or recent graduates who would like to apply should e-mail their responses as Word document or PDF attachments to [email protected] no later than March 5.


  • Résumé
  • Cover letter
  • A 500-word writing sample appropriate for our website, offering a fresh perspective, original analysis, and a clear, evidence-based argument. Alternatively, you are welcome to submit a link to a blog post or article you have published elsewhere that would have been well-suited for publication in The American Conservative.

Optional (Pick 2 or 3):

  • Propose three ideas for web articles (1-2 sentences each).
  • What are the two most interesting media accounts you follow on Twitter and why? (100 words max.)
  • How could we improve our coverage and analysis on the web? (100 words max.)
  • How could we improve our fundraising efforts on the web? (100 words max.)
  • Write two Facebook posts and two tweets about articles or blog posts that appear on our homepage today.
  • Which two contemporary writers have influenced your thinking the most? (100 words max.)
  • How would you describe the American Conservative reader? (100 words max.)

We also consider applications submitted through the Charles Koch Institute as part of their Washington, DC-based educational programs.

The Trump Challenge

This article from the March/April 2017 issue hasn’t yet been published online. For now, it’s just available to subscribers—to read it right away, subscribe here and access the digital edition of the magazine. If you’re already a subscriber, log in here.

The Best of TAC in 2016

The New Year inevitably gives us occasion to reflect on the old one. And this has been a fantastic year for TAC.

Here are the articles and blog posts you’ve read most. If you like what you see, please contribute to our year-end fundraising drive.

1. “A 2016 Foreign Policy Report Card,” TAC Staff
2. “Unlocking the Election,” Robert W. Merry
3. “Trump vs. the New Class,” F.H. Buckley
4. “Why Trump Wins,” Scott McConnell
5. “What the Oregon Standoff Is Really About,” Justin Raimondo

Rod Dreher Blog Posts
1. “Trump, Tribune of Poor White People”
2. “My Fellow Liberals, I’m Tired of You”
3. “We Have Been Warned”
4. “Hillbilly America: Do White Lives Matter?”
5. “SJWs Will Elect Trump”

Daniel Larison Blog Posts
1. “The GOP Is Finally Debating Bush-Era Failures”
2. “Flynn’s Warped Worldview”
3. “Why Did Britain Vote to Leave?”
4. “Bush Wrecked the GOP Long Before Trump Appeared”
5. “Cruz’s Preposterous Foreign Policy Team”

Pat Buchanan Columns
1. “When Trump Beats Hillary”
2. “The Rule or Ruin Republicans”
3. “When Fake News Leads to War”
4. “Republicans Reject Bush (at Last)”
5. “Ted Cruz and the Trump Takeover”

Noah Millman Blog Posts
1. “Why Donald Trump Will Lose to Hillary Clinton”
2. “The Incoherence of the Religious Conservative Case for Trump”
3. “Four Reasons Hillary Clinton Is So Unpopular”
4. “I’m Gonna Miss the President When He’s Gone”
5. “New S#!+ Has Come to Light, Man”

Urban Investment Beyond Vanity Projects

“Words on the Street” highlights the best writing on urbanism we’ve encountered this week. Post tips at @NewUrbs.

Whether Thriving or Failing, Cities Need Investment

[T]he same citizens who grabbed the electoral megaphone to voice their displeasure must now begin to rebuild their own places. … Thriving cities need to lift barriers to keep housing affordable; struggling cities need to remove obstacles that make it hard for people to create value. And any federal infrastructure money would be better spent on maintenance and on undoing the mistakes of past urban-renewal boondoggles, not on building new vanity projects in front of which politicians can cut ribbons and receive plaudits. [More…]

—Jonathan Coppage, National Review

Are the Burbs Really Back?

… [T]here are some serious limitations to using municipal boundaries to distinguish between cities and suburbs. A common practice is to treat the largest municipality in a region as the “city” and everything else as “the suburbs.” In some places–Phoenix, Austin, Jacksonville–great swaths of low density development are in the city limits of the largest city. Its also the case that in some metro areas, the largest city represents only a tiny fraction of the metro area–the cities of Atlanta and Miami are only about 10 percent of their respective metros, for example. ….

Cities have grown faster than suburbs in the 2010-2015 period; close-in urban neighborhoods have attracted a disproportionate share of young adults, and cities remain more diverse, in the aggregate, than suburbs. [More…]

—Joe Cortright, City Observatory

The Cure for Costly Housing Is More Costly Housing

… [A]ll the evidence points toward development restrictions being a big reason for high rents. Allowing more market-rate housing in large established cities is a good way to bring down the cost of living, not just for high earners, but for the poor and working class as well. Progressives should support higher density, not more restrictions, if they want to help the most economically vulnerable city-dwellers. [More…]

—Noah Smith, Bloomberg View

How to Get By-Right Zoning Right

By-right zoning is getting a lot of buzz these days as a needed tool to help solve the affordable housing crisis many communities are facing. For those unfamiliar, a zoning code is considered “by-right” if the approvals process is streamlined so that projects that comply with the zoning standards receive their approval without a discretionary review process.

Housing advocates and developers rightfully claim that discretionary review processes are contributing to housing crises across the country by increasing the cost and delivery rate of housing, and often directly preventing needed housing from getting built. [More…]

—Karen Parolek, CNU Public Square

Why Moviegoing Matters

My all-time favorite moviegoing experience took place at Le Champo about six years ago. I was not then living in Paris but my father was, having decided to spend his first year and a half of retirement within walking distance of the Seine. When my brother and I visited in December, the weather was uncommonly cold. It’s unusual for it to snow so early in the winter, and yet, a few days into our visit, we woke to find pale petals softly falling into the courtyard outside my father’s window. Expecting that it would melt right away, we were shocked, upon stepping out the front door, to discover that the city was swaddled in a blanket of pure ermine white. Fluffy, virgin snow powdered the conifers in the Champ de Mars, piled on the balustrades of the Quai Branly, and carpeted the Pont Bir-Hakeim. By evening, the three of us were chilled to the bone, and so we ducked into Le Champo to get warm, resigned to watch anything but thrilled to find that the theater was playing The Dead (1987), John Huston’s adaptation of the short story by James Joyce.

I mention these details because they are, for me, inextricably linked with the experience of watching the movie itself, a perfect frame for it. Never, in all my trips to the cinema, have a day and a movie been so impeccably paired. [More…]

—Graham Daseler, LA Review of Books

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Where the Middle Class Is No Longer a Majority

Pung /

“Words on the Street” highlights the best writing on cities we’ve encountered in the last week. Post tips at @NewUrbs.

The Geography of Middle Class Decline | Richard Florida, CityLab

The large metros where the middle class is smallest are a combination of superstar cities, tech hubs, resource economies and poorer places. L.A. has the smallest middle class overall, followed by San Francisco, New York, and San Jose. Houston, Miami, Boston, Sacramento, New Orleans, and Hartford round out the top ten. That said, the places with the smallest middle classes are mainly smaller metros such as Monroe, Louisiana; Midland, Brownsville, McAllen, Laredo, and El Paso, Texas; Bakersfield, Fresno, Visalia, and El Centro, California; as well as college towns such as Auburn, Alabama; Champaign, Illinois; and Morgantown West Virginia.

Federal Regulators Will Let U.S. Railroads Run Faster, More Efficient Trains | Angie Schmitt, StreetsBlog

Why are American trains so expensive and yet so slow? One factor that rail advocates often point to is the Federal Railroad Administration and its rail safety regulations — rules that are finally on the verge of changing.

Antiquated regulations that date all the way back to the late 1800s (they were updated in the 1930s) compel American passenger rail operators to use trains designed like “high-velocity bank vaults,” as former Amtrak CEO David Gunn once put it. While European and Asian railcars became lighter and sleeker in recent decades without compromising safety records, FRA rules continued to insist on heavy, slow, outdated, and expensive equipment.

That finally appears set to change with the FRA’s release of new draft safety rules for traincars.

Why America’s Roads Are So Much More Dangerous Than Europe’s | Norman Garrick, Carol Atkinson-Palombo, and Hamed Ahangari, Vox

Much of the disparity seems to arise from how we build communities and the types of roads we design and construct. In the US, we drive more than any other developed country in the world, which goes some way toward explaining the higher traffic fatality rates. But even when we correct for vehicle miles traveled, we still have higher fatality rates. What we are learning is that the countries with the best traffic fatality records are different from the US in the following ways:

a) they live more compactly,

b) their road design favors more vulnerable users such as bikers and pedestrians, and

c) they have enacted laws and regulations that also favor these vulnerable road users.

Where Small Is Possible | Hank Dittmar, Brian Falk, CNU Public Square

A Pink Zone — an area where the red tape is lightened — is the locus for implementation of Lean Urbanism strategies and improvements,. The Pink Zone identifies a specific area where new protocols are pre-negotiated and experiments are conducted, all with the goal of removing impediments to economic development and community-building. It will be developed and refined in a series of pilot projects, and then released to the public. Yesterday Public Square ran an article on the first Pink Zone pilot project in Detroit.

Bright Lights, Small Government | Max Holleran, New Republic

[T]he great, unaddressed subject in Jacobs’s best-known work is gentrification. Specifically: Did her work, in part, serve as an economic and philosophical rationale for the wave of bohemian gentrification that overtook the West Village? If so, it would give new meaning to her much-lauded appreciation of street life: We would have to read Death and Life as the document of a neighborhood going through extreme economic change, with results that inevitably pushed some residents out. The West Village is one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the United States today.

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Introducing TAC’s New Editor

The American Conservative is thrilled to announce the appointment of Robert W. Merry as its new editor. In this position Bob succeeds Daniel McCarthy, who has stepped down to pursue new endeavors. We thank Dan for his years of excellent service to TAC, and for doing so much to get TAC to where it is today, and are glad that he will remain associated with TAC as its editor-at-large.

TAC could hardly be more fortunate than to have Bob Merry take the editorial reins. Bob is the former editor of The National Interest and former CEO and executive editor of the Congressional Quarterly. He has been a Washington correspondent for The Wall Street Journal and has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and National Review, among many other periodicals. Bob has appeared on Meet the Press, Face the Nation, Newsmakers, and a number of other programs. His books include Sands of Empire: Missionary Zeal, American Foreign Policy, and the Hazards of Global Ambition; Taking on the World: Joseph and Stewart Alsop, Guardians of the American Century; Where They Stand: The American Presidents in the Eyes of Voters and Historians; and A Country of Vast Designs: James K. Polk, the Mexican War and the Conquest of the American Continent. He is currently finishing a biography of William McKinley, which will be published by Simon & Schuster.

TAC’s influence and base of support have both grown substantially in recent years. The present political-cultural moment provides an opportunity for TAC to make an even greater impact on the public conversation. “Ideas over Ideology, Principles over Party” will remain our motto as we continue to contend for a more patriotic and restrained foreign policy, and to provide a voice for a more humane, realist, Burkean conservativism.

Watch Our Conference: ‘Foreign Policy in America’s Interest’

On November 15, 2016, The American Conservative gathered leading scholars, journalists, and policy experts to discuss the future of U.S. foreign policy in the wake of the 2016 election. Former U.S. Senator and Secretary of the Navy Jim Webb delivered a keynote address at the conference, “Foreign Policy in America’s Interest: Realism, Nationalism, and the Next President”, held at George Washington University in downtown Washington, DC. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), a Congressional critic of unauthorized military interventions, also made remarks, while other political analysts and foreign-policy experts discussed what type of mandate Donald Trump will have as he takes office and how the new administration should handle relations with Russia. A final discussion with prominent historians and scholars reflected on what 2016 means for the country’s longstanding commitment to intervention and globalism.

If you missed the livestream, you can view the entire program in the videos below.

8:15 am  Welcome

  • Samuel Goldman, George Washington University
  • Daniel McCarthy, The American Conservative

8:25 am  Opening Remarks

  • Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY)

9:00 am  The Next President and the National Interest

  • Robert W. Merry, author of books on American history and foreign policy
  • Jim Pinkerton, Fox News contributor
  • William Ruger, Charles Koch Institute
  • Moderator: Scott McConnell, The American Conservative

10:15 am  Russia, America, and Great Power Competition

  • Nikolas Gvosdev, U.S. Naval War College
  • Daniel Larison, The American Conservative
  • Paul Saunders, Center for the National Interest
  • Moderator: Kelley Vlahos, The American Conservative

11:30 am  Keynote Address

  • Jim Webb, former U.S. senator and Secretary of the Navy

12:15 pm  Break

12:30 pm  What the Election Means for War and Peace

  • Andrew Bacevich, author of America’s War for the Greater Middle East
  • Christopher Layne, Robert M. Gates Chair in National Security, Texas A&M

1:30 pm  Closing Remarks

Where Millennials Live

Joseph Sohm /

“Words on the Street” highlights the best writing on urbanism we’ve encountered this week. Post tips at @NewUrbs.

Where Millennials Live | Robert Steuteville, CNU Public Square

The often quoted cliche that millennials are moving downtown is not quite accurate. The greatest share of young adults is choosing urban neighborhoods outside of downtown. Just over a third of millennials identified in this 2014 nationwide survey live in such neighborhoods—preferably the walkable kind where they can get around without a car. Only 13 percent live downtown, which tends to be more expensive.

In total, 48 percent live in cities—with another 13 percent living in dense, older, inner-ring suburbs. These older suburbs also enable reduced automobile dependence, which cuts expenses for folks who are still paying for higher education. Older suburbs are relatively convenient to jobs and activities—a quality in demand with this cohort. So 61 percent of this group are living in compact neighborhoods or downtowns—a higher number than previous generations.


Helping Struggling Places | Adam Ozimek,

The level of nihilism espoused by economists about what we can do to help struggling places in the U.S. is, quite frankly, strange. Whenever the issue of helping places is raised, critics jump straight to the most extreme examples, such as former mining towns. But the fact that some places need to shrink, and the costs of helping some places sometimes outweighs the benefits, is a far less powerful point than these critics imagine. Other places have survived the loss of major industries and gone on to thrive. Understanding why this happens sometimes and doesn’t happen other times, and what policymakers can do to help replicate the successes, are crucial policy issues that cannot be pushed aside by pointing out the impossibility or desirability of saving every place.


Elite Cities Are Pushing Out the Working Class | Nicole Gelinas, New York Post

In a study highlighted last week by the Wall Street Journal, Trulia analyzed who moves away from the country’s 10 most expensive cities, all on the East Coast or in California.

Answer: disproportionately, the poorest — those making $30,000 or less. But they weren’t exclusively poor: People earning $30,000 to $60,000 also left in numbers that exceed their share of the population.

People making more money left, too. But they left in smaller numbers, far less than their share of the population. (The cities continued to grow because of immigration, including high-earning immigrants.)


Jane Jacobs Predicted a Dark Age Ahead | Richard Florida, CityLab

Back in 2004, before the economic crisis, urbanists were celebrating the resurgence of the city. We didn’t think much about the rise of conservative populists like Trump or the late Rob Ford. But there was Jane Jacobs, arguing “caution” against a new dark age lurking right around the corner.

In Dark Age, Jacobs focused on the erosion of the key pillars of stable, democratic societies—the decline of the family, the rise of consumerism and hyper-materialism, the transformation of education into credentialism, the undermining of scientific norms, and the take-over of politics by powerful special interest groups, among others. Persistent racism, worsening crime and violence, the growing gap between the rich and poor, and increasing divides between the winners and losers of globalization provided growing evidence of the decay of society, she argued.


Why Planting More Trees Is One of the Best Things a City Can Do | Brad Plumer, Vox

Trees can make a city sidewalk prettier, sure. But that’s not even their best trick. A growing pile of research suggests that planting more urban trees, if done right, could save tens of thousands of lives around the world each year — by soaking up pollution and cooling down deadly heat waves. In fact, as a fascinating new report from the Nature Conservancy details, a well-targeted tree campaign could be of the smartest investments a hot, polluted city can make.


This post was supported by the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation.

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