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n “What Does Fidelity to Our Founding Principles Require Today?,” my friend Michael Anton dares conservatives to defend the right of revolution. As one dedicated to conserving America’s founding principles and the best in our constitutional traditions, I accept the challenge.
Vindication of the right of revolution, however, illuminates the imprudence in the present circumstances of flirting with its exercise. Reconsideration of the unalienable rights tradition in which the nation is grounded, moreover, clarifies that the serious problems that the country faces do not pose a revolution-justifying threat to the legitimacy of constitutional government in America.
Anton is a man of many parts: a serious student of political philosophy with special interests in Machiavelli and Xenophon, a lecturer and research fellow at Hillsdale College, a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute, and a former national security official in the George W. Bush and Donald Trump administrations. Of late, Anton has established himself as a witty and mordant polemicist, wielding mockery, hyperbole, and obloquy to dismiss conservatives who do not share his level of alarm as sheepish spokesmen for a ruinous status quo.
Anton achieved fame among some conservatives and notoriety among others in February 2017 when the Weekly Standard revealed that under the pseudonym Publius Decius Mus he had authored “The Flight 93 Election.” Published in early September 2016, that short, flamboyant essay cast the upcoming presidential election in apocalyptic terms. Either ensure that disastrous progressive policies will destroy the nation by electing Hillary Clinton, he stated, or take a calculated risk on Donald Trump. Anton acknowledged that the billionaire businessman and reality-TV star was ill-suited in multiple ways to lead the nation. But a Trump presidency at least held out hope of imposing order at the border, arresting globalization’s hollowing out of America’s industrial base, and ending vain and costly military adventures to remake other countries in America’s image.