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Event Transcript

Event Summary

On May 8, AEI’s Colin Dueck moderated a panel with John Yoo, Henry Olsen, Matt Spalding, and Jonah Goldberg on resurgent American nationalism. The panel discussed what American nationalism is, how it relates to the Trump presidency, and what its policy implications are.

The panel traced American nationalism to the United States’ founding and earlier. Some panelists suggested that the roots of American nationalism are the ideals embodied within the Constitution, while others argued that the Constitution merely captured preformed nationalist ideas about what America is. The panelists discussed how ideas of nationalism relate to concerns about sovereignty, borders, and international commitments. They debated the relationship among patriotism, populism, and nationalism and to what extent the Trump administration captures these ideas. They discussed the permanence of the Trump phenomenon and whether it has altered traditional notions of conservatism.

After the discussion, the panel took questions from the audience on whether conservatism is declining in relevance, how American nationalism is unique, and how America’s relations with Europe and China are changing.

— Max Frost

Event Description

The resurgence of American nationalism has the potential to transform domestic and foreign policy alike, affecting everything from border security to free trade to alliance management. What are the various forms of nationalism surfacing in the US, and more broadly, how do they influence conservative policy? Is the Trump phenomenon a mere aberration, or is it indicative of a long-term trend unlikely to disappear anytime soon?

Please join AEI for a discussion with Matthew Spalding, Henry Olsen, and AEI’s Jonah Goldberg, John Yoo, and Colin Dueck as they explore the present and future of American nationalism.


1:45 PM

2:00 PM
Opening remarks:
Colin Dueck, AEI

2:05 PM
Panel discussion

Jonah Goldberg, AEI
Henry Olsen, Ethics & Public Policy Center
Matthew Spalding, Hillsdale College
John Yoo, Berkeley Law; AEI

Colin Dueck, AEI

2:45 PM

3:00 PM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Max Frost at [email protected], 202.862.5838.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829

Speaker Biographies

Colin Dueck is a Jeane Kirkpatrick Visiting Scholar at AEI, where he is focusing on the interconnection between US national security strategies and party politics, conservative ideas, and presidential leadership. He is also a professor in the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University, where he is the faculty adviser for the Alexander Hamilton Society. A senior nonresident fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, he has also served as a foreign policy adviser on several Republican presidential campaigns.

Jonah Goldberg is a fellow and Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at AEI, where he writes about political and cultural issues. He is concurrently a senior editor at National Review. A bestselling author, he writes a nationally syndicated column that appears regularly in more than 100 newspapers across the United States. He is also a weekly columnist for the Los Angeles Times, a member of the board of contributors to USA Today, a Fox News contributor, and a regular member of the Fox News All-Stars panel on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”

Henry Olsen, a senior fellow at the Ethics & Public Policy Center, studies and provides commentary on American politics. His work focuses on how America’s political order is being upended by populist challenges, from the left and the right. He also studies populism’s impact in other democracies in the developed world. Mr. Olsen is an opinion columnist for The Washington Post, where he writes daily pieces focusing on politics, populism, foreign affairs, and American conservative thought. He is also the author of “The Working Class Republican: Ronald Reagan and the Return of Blue-Collar Conservatism” and “The Four Faces of the Republican Party,” coauthored with Dante Scala.

Matthew Spalding is associate vice president and dean of educational programs for Hillsdale College in Washington, DC. He is the bestselling author of “We Still Hold These Truths: Rediscovering Our Principles, Reclaiming Our Future” (Broadside Brooks, 2017), which details America’s core principles, shows how they have come under assault by modern progressive-liberalism, and lays out a strategy to recover them. Dr. Spalding also is executive editor of “The Heritage Guide to the Constitution,” a line-by-line analysis of each clause of the US Constitution.

John Yoo is Emanuel S. Heller Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, and a visiting scholar at AEI since 2003. He served as a deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of the Legal Counsel of the US Department of Justice from 2001 to 2003, where he worked on constitutional and national security matters; as general counsel of the US Senate Committee on the Judiciary from 1995 to 1996; and as a law clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas of the US Supreme Court.

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