AEI’s Robert Doar hosted syndicated columnist and Pulitzer Prize–winning author George Will on Tuesday night to discuss Dr. Will’s latest book, “The Conservative Sensibility” (Hachette Books, 2019). That sensibility, Dr. Will explained, is a fundamental recognition that the principles of our country’s founding are worth defending. Another important element is that things can always get worse and that they often do, which ought to inform policymaking and attempts at manipulating social behavior.
Mr. Doar and Dr. Will discussed Dr. Will’s evolution from his earlier writing, which often emphasized the “soulcraft” of which the state is capable. Dr. Will noted that mankind’s political nature means we cannot help but be shaped by governmental institutions, which ought to encourage self-sufficiency.
Further, Dr. Will explained why the United States is, properly in his view, not ruled by majoritarianism and the role that distilling institutions — including republican government and judicial review — have in calming and refining the will of the people. He also criticized Woodrow Wilson and his historical understanding of human nature and disregard for the Constitution. Mr. Doar and Dr. Will also discussed atheism, liberalism (both classic and contemporary), and how Americans should behave in the face of economic stagnation.
— Joaquim Brooks
In a conversation with incoming AEI President Robert Doar, syndicated columnist George Will discusses his new book, “The Conservative Sensibility” (Hachette Books, June 2019). The Pulitzer Prize winner, bestselling author, and television regular explains in his latest work that the history and true meaning of American conservatism are under threat, both from progressives and from within the Republican Party.
Dr. Will notes that conservatism has become untethered from the philosophy of the American founding. In addition to the destructive trends in family life and higher education seen today, America has become an administrative state with semiautonomous executive agencies wielding unaccountable power, while Congress has failed in its duty to exercise its legislative powers. Dr. Will takes readers back to the founders’ vision — to their beliefs in natural rights, limited government, religious freedom, and human virtue and dignity, which ushered in two centuries of American prosperity — and reminds us that it is time to reverse America’s political fortunes.
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Robert Doar, AEI
George Will, syndicated columnist and author
Book signing and reception
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Event Speaker Biographies
Robert Doar is the president-elect and Morgridge Fellow in Poverty Studies at AEI. He served for more than 20 years in leadership positions within social service programs of New York State and New York City under Gov. George Pataki and Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Mr. Doar came to AEI in 2014 to build out a new body of work on poverty studies. The program is now a leading voice in the national discussion on the importance of work, family, and personal responsibility to human flourishing. While at AEI, Mr. Doar has served as a co-chair of the National Commission on Hunger and as a lead member of the AEI-Brookings Working Group on Poverty and Opportunity. He was editor of “A Safety Net That Works: Improving Federal Programs for Low-Income Americans” (AEI Press, 2017) and a contributing author to “Opportunity, Responsibility, and Security: A Consensus Plan for Reducing Poverty and Restoring the American Dream” (2015); “This Way Up: New Thinking About Poverty and Economic Mobility” (2018); and “Work, Skills, Community: Restoring Opportunity for the Working Class” (2018). In January 2019, Mr. Doar was selected by AEI’s Board of Trustees to be the Institute’s 12th president, succeeding Arthur Brooks on July 1, 2019. Mr. Doar will take the reins of one of the nation’s oldest and most respected public policy think tanks, which is dedicated to bolstering free enterprise and innovation, strengthening our communities, defending our nation’s founding values, and revitalizing the foundations of American defense.
George Will has been a syndicated columnist for The Washington Post since 1974, and his column appears twice weekly in more than 475 newspapers. For 35 years, he was a regular contributing editor of Newsweek magazine. In 1977 he won a Pulitzer Prize for commentary in his newspaper columns. He has published several books on political theory, most recently “The Conservative Sensibility” (Hachette Books, 2019); “Restoration: Congress, Term Limits and the Recovery of Deliberative Democracy” (Free Press, 1992); “The New Season: A Spectator’s Guide to the 1988 Election” (Simon & Schuster, 1987); and “Statecraft as Soulcraft: What Government Does” (Touchstone, 1983). He has also published three books on baseball: “A Nice Little Place on the North Side: Wrigley Field at One Hundred” (Crown Archetype, 2014); “Bunts: Curt Flood, Camden Yards, Pete Rose and Other Reflections on Baseball” (Scribner, 1998); and “Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball” (Harper Perennial, 1990). He has taught political philosophy at Michigan State University, the University of Toronto, and Harvard University. He attended Trinity College, Oxford University, and Princeton University, where he earned a Ph.D. and served as a trustee.