About Paul Gottfried

Paul Gottfried was the Raffensberger Professor of Humanities at Elizabethtown College. He is the author of many books, including Leo Strauss and the Conservative Movement in America and Conservatism in America: Making Sense of the American Right.

Trump Was No Reagan?

By |2021-01-29T11:07:57-06:00January 28th, 2021|Categories: Donald Trump, Politics, Presidency, Ronald Reagan|

According to Frank Lavin in “National Review,” Donald Trump was no Ronald Reagan. But if Reagan had been forced to deal with frequent attacks and calls for assaults from adversaries like Trump’s, wouldn’t his approval rating and his temper have taken a hit too? National Review has found yet another reason to hate Trump, whom [...]

Was George Washington a Christian?

By |2020-12-13T19:53:05-06:00March 19th, 2018|Categories: American Founding, Christianity, George Washington, History, Paul Gottfried, Politics, Timeless Essays|

The depth of George Washington’s Christian beliefs is totally irrelevant to his vision of the country he helped found. It is only our American obsession with personal authenticity that would cause us to worry about whether Washington was inwardly Christian. One of the most illogical historical debates I’ve ever tried to follow concerns the personal [...]

On Straussian Teachings

By |2017-10-04T13:02:37-05:00October 6th, 2017|Categories: Economics, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Leo Strauss, Neoconservatism, Paul Gottfried, Political Economy|

The nexus between the Straussians and neoconservatives has been overstated for partisan ends, but it is still nonetheless there. Sociologically and culturally, the two movements are largely indistinguishable… The Truth About Leo Strauss by Catherine and Michael Zuckert (University of Chicago Press, 2006). In The Truth About Leo Strauss, Catherine and Michael Zuckert, both professors holding [...]

Understanding “Moderate” Republican Patricians

By |2019-11-14T12:57:56-06:00March 13th, 2017|Categories: American Founding, Books, Featured, History|

What does “moderate” mean when we talk about political, cultural, or moral matters? Is it like the Aristotelian Golden Mean, the middle path between two presumed extremes?… Moderates: The Vital Center of American Politics from the Founding to Today by David S. Brown. (University of North Carolina Press, 2016) A prolific historian and my successor as Raffensperger Professor [...]

Remembering a Crucial Battle in the “Conservative Wars”

By |2017-01-28T12:38:21-06:00December 26th, 2016|Categories: Conservatism, Culture War, Featured, Gleaves Whitney, Paul Gottfried|

The “conservative wars” between neoconservatives and the Old Right became particularly bitter after a stormy session at the Philadelphia Society in 1986.... Mr. Gleaves Whitney, the president of the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies and a Senior Contributor to this journal, has written about an event that I remember well.* I was involved in it, [...]

Was George Washington a Christian?

By |2016-10-07T20:06:57-05:00October 7th, 2016|Categories: American Founding, Christianity, George Washington, History, Politics|

One of the most illogical historical debates I’ve ever tried to follow concerns the personal religious conviction of our founding father George Washington. Presently there seem to be two opposing schools of propagandists. They can be divided more or less into Beckites and Obamaites, and both seem obsessed with Washington’s theological leanings. The generally leftist [...]

Who Still Speaks for Conservatism?

By |2016-09-02T11:25:16-05:00August 21st, 2016|Categories: Conservatism, Donald Trump, Featured, Neoconservatism|

Listening to George Will pontificate recently on Fox News about his “conservative” principles, I had to ask for the millionth time what Mr. Will and his likeminded friends mean by “conservative.” And I don’t ask this question as a neophyte, having published more on the subject of conservatism than probably anyone else on the planet. But [...]

Harry Jaffa and the American Conservative Movement

By |2015-02-09T17:11:06-06:00February 9th, 2015|Categories: Conservatism, Paul Gottfried|Tags: |

The death of Harry V. Jaffa at age ninety-six was met by exuberant detailed tributes in sources extending from the New York Times and Washington Post to the major organs of the Murdoch media. Jaffa was hailed as an influential conservative theorist, the founder and driving force behind the heavily endowed Claremont Institute, and the author of [...]

Conservatives, Liberals, or Social Democrats?

By |2014-03-13T08:15:00-05:00March 12th, 2014|Categories: Paul Gottfried, Politics|Tags: |

George Will In what for me illustrates the use of confusing labels, George Will recently complained about attacks of “cognitive dissonance” in trying to understand our political terms. Although Americans identify overwhelmingly as “conservatives,” many of them vote differently from the way they describe themselves. They lean theoretically toward Thomas Jefferson, who advocated very limited [...]

Crusades for Democracy & American Foreign Policy

By |2016-07-26T15:21:37-05:00January 28th, 2013|Categories: Claes Ryn, Foreign Affairs, Leo Strauss, Neoconservatism, Paul Gottfried, Political Philosophy|Tags: |

In recent years a heated debate has erupted about American foreign policy and about what moral purpose should inform our conduct of international relations. While analysts Robert Kagan, Michael Mandelbaum, and Stephen Schwartz insist the United States should use its power, where possible, on behalf of “democracy,” other commentators have rejected this approach. James Kurth, [...]

How the GOP swallowed the Conservative Movement

By |2014-03-19T16:32:14-05:00December 8th, 2011|Categories: Conservatism, Paul Gottfried|Tags: , , , , |

  One might think that I’m being sarcastic but I’m only trying to illustrate my contention that the term conservatism has become so free-floating that it means whatever journalists and politicians want it to mean. “Conservative,” as it is now being used to describe Republican ward-heelers and neo-Wilsonian social democrats, is an arbitrary designation. Equally [...]

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