Why Conservatives Should Love Hamilton
EDITORS NOTE: This article originally ran in 2018. However, with the movie version of Hamilton premiering this weekend on Disney+ and the current effort to tear down and erase our Founding Fathers, this article is even more timely than it was then. Enjoy and share.
I get why my fellow conservatives don’t like the huge hit musical Hamilton. Lin-Manuel Miranda is a liberal who has, at times, leveraged his cultural power to serve his politics. There was that thing with the Vice President.
But I saw it with my kids a few days ago and, guys, you’re missing it. Heck, even Lin-Manuel Miranda is missing it. Like the novelist Marilynne Robinson, his art is enormously better than his politics. In fact, whether he knows it or not, he has given us the greatest conservative artistic achievement of our lifetime.
Glorifying the Founding Fathers
Come on. A play glorifying our Founding Fathers set to rap music? A cultural phenomenon that makes them better known and more loved by today’s population than any book could? A huge artistic event in the life our nation that actually celebrates the American Founding instead of tearing it down? And in the 2010s?
And popular with Millennials as much as with their parents? The leftwing historian Howard Zinn must be turning over in his grave. His books describing American history as one atrocity after another are hugely popular textbooks in our universities. Efforts like his have had incredible impact. They’ve done incredible damage to the morale of our young.
Today’s Left isn’t supposed to love a musical about the Founding Fathers. Today’s Left isn’t just about “social justice.” It’s about teaching our young to hate their own culture, their own nation. They’re supposed to hate its founding, when the rot supposedly started.
And then along comes Hamilton. Glorifying not just any Founding Father, but Alexander Hamilton! The first Secretary of the Treasury! The Founding Father more responsible than any other for making the United States of America the capitalist colossus that it is today.
“We never gave him credit for all the credit he gave us” says, I think, Miranda’s Jefferson after Hamilton’s death. It could be said of Millennials in general toward the American Founders.
More Than Conservative
And about the unhistoricity of ethnic minorities playing our Founding Fathers: I loved it. In fact — hear me out on this — it was more than conservative. It was downright Trumpian.
Recall the rap against “America First” Trumpism: that it is white nationalism. And recall the response of Trumpists: No, it’s not about race for us. We are not white nationalists. We are economic nationalists.
The thing that appeals to me, a Trump voter, about Hamilton — aside from being about the Founding Father who is the original America First economic nationalist — is that the casting of racial and ethnic minorities in the role of our Founding Fathers makes them part of our national story.
Of course, they are already part of our national story. But oftentimes as its victims. When ethnic minorities assume the role of the Founding Fathers, though, it is a way of saying, “This is our story too. We are part of this. We are Americans. And we are proud of it.”
Prior to the 1960s, that is what most oppressed minorities in the USA tried to do. The stories of our wars are filled with chapters on African-Americans who served their country out of patriotic duty and in the hope that their sacrifice would cause their countrymen to accept them as equals. It was only with the radical turn of the late 1960s that wanting to be an American became a desire to be scorned.
By casting minorities as our Founders, Miranda is putting nation above ethnic or racial identity. That is, again, about as far away from modern liberalism as you can get. Modern liberalism always prizes identity over nation.
Trumpism and Hamilton
Trumpism puts nation first. So does Lin-Manuel Miranda and his musical, even if he doesn’t know it or won’t — perhaps, can’t — acknowledge it. Hamilton is a great big glorious tribute not just to the man but to America, the country he built.
Hamilton‘s patriotism is an inclusive patriotism in the best sense of the word. It says to every tribe in our land: You are more than your tribe. You are an American. You should be proud of this story too.
That is why I took my kids to see Hamilton. If I were a billionaire, I would pay for every child in the country to see it.