Neil Gorsuch Shows Christians Why We Need to Build Up Our Own Elites
Judge Neil Gorsuch’s performance before the Senate has been very encouraging. His knowledge, training and intellectual rigor put the demagogic Democrats to shame. So far he seems like a worthy heir to Antonin Scalia. Let’s hope that America watches these hearings and learns that there is a strong and substantive intellectual case for respecting the Constitution as it was written.
And let’s be thankful for a moment for the existence of Christian or pro-Christian elites. It’s a gravely endangered species, as ruthlessly hunted and rare as white rhinos or tigers, and arguably even more important.
Populism Is Great, But It’s Not Enough
I have written quite a bit in defense of the impulse behind today’s populism, both in Europe and America. Donald Trump’s victory in the primaries over “made man” Jeb Bush, wunderkind Marco Rubio, and self-made legal genius Ted Cruz (among others) was stunning. His defeat of Hillary Clinton was nothing less, I think, than divine intervention. It gave our country what might be its last chance to step back from the brink.
Both victories were possible because Trump saw that our country’s anointed elites — and even the elites within the GOP — are profoundly out of touch with the views, worries, and day-to-day experience of ordinary Americans. That’s true on issues from culture and foreign policy to mass, low-skill immigration.
Europe’s dominant classes are even more disconnected. They shrug at the Continent’s plummeting birth rate, tell their drivers to avoid the “no-go” areas now dotting their countries’ major cities, and count on millions of sullen, barely employable radical Muslims to fund their collapsing pension plans. Yeah, that will work out just fine.
We Need Faithful Elites
As someone who backed Pat Buchanan in 1992, 1996, and 2000, I think have the populist street cred to say this: We also need elites.
We need the right people, with top talent and the best training, to take on the worst that our enemies have to throw at us, and give as good as they get.
Christian or pro-Christian elites are a gravely endangered species, hunted like rhinos.
We need Christians and conservatives who can argue with icy logic before the Supreme Court, and lovingly stroke the heart strings when speaking to the public.
We need academics rigorously trained in the humanities to pass on the glorious culture that is Christian humanism.
We also need research scientists who can analyze and debunk the grandiose claims of techno-utopians. When some guy in a white lab coat from MIT promises us that mixing the DNA of humans and pigs will allow us to upload our souls onto the Internet and live forever as gods (or something), we need another guy in an even whiter coat who can dismantle those ideas in detail. Just waving the Bible or the Summa Theologica isn’t enough. That’s how we lose.
Learn from the Scopes Monkey Trial
Watch that great piece of anti-Christian (and largely fictional) propaganda, Inherit the Wind. The film shows how in the Scopes “Monkey Trial,” atheist Clarence Darrow used his very slight advantage in scientific knowledge to paint the great William Jennings Bryan as a scripture-blinkered rube.
In fact, historians have pointed out that Bryan’s deepest concern was not for the inerrancy of scripture, but the wicked uses that eugenicists were already making of Darwin. Even as that trial unfolded, Margaret Sanger was conspiring with misanthropic elitists to impose forced sterilization laws in a dozen American states. Their “scientific” basis? Appropriated Darwinism. This toxic pseudo-science even made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, as Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote in defense of such forced sterilization laws that “three generations of imbeciles is enough.”
It’s too bad that Bryan didn’t have the science background to put the pseudo-science of eugenics itself on trial.
Where Will the Next Neil Gorsuch Go to Law School?
Imagine if Neil Gorsuch had not been trained in legal and moral thinking at (among other places) Oxford University, by a brilliant scholar and consistent thinker like John Finnis. How would he be doing under hostile questioning by ax-grinding Democrats armed with carefully crafted talking points by dozens of left-wing judicial activists?
Actually, you don’t need to make the imaginative experiment. Just read up on the performance of the poorly prepared attorney picked by the Trump team to defend its first Executive Order on immigration. It was embarrassing. When a conservative administration’s representative can’t out-perform the clowns on the Ninth Circus Court, you know you have a personnel problem.
As law schools and graduate schools become more radicalized, they are strangling the next generation of conservative elites in the cradle.
That problem’s about to get much, much worse. We need to figure out what to do about it. I worked for ten years with Intercollegiate Studies Institute, a nexus for conservative faculty in a dozen different fields. We had members with brilliant records in history, English, law, political science, you name it. One thing those people have in common: Most of them are over 50. A lot are over 60. Some of the best have already retired, or gone to God.
As graduate schools in such fields become more radicalized, as tenure committees use both affirmative action and blatantly political standards in picking future faculty, they are strangling the next generation of conservative elites in the cradle.
Would the next Neil Gorsuch, or Ted Cruz, even get into a top-tier law school? (Harvard Law just eliminated the requirement for the LSATs, freeing its admissions staff to be more arbitrary.)
Would they get recommendations to work at a top law firm? Would such a law firm hire them, given that it was almost impossible to find attorneys willing to oppose the LGBT lobby in Obergefell v. Hodges, for fear of boycotts and harassment? How long will it before membership in the Federalist Society, the lawyers group that drew up President Trump’s “short list” of potential SCOTUS nominees, is a crippling career impediment? Where will find the people with credentials in the humanities to train future mainstream scholars in social sciences and the humanities?
We Need Graduate Schools and Law Schools of Our Own
Conservatives and Christians have made attempts to work around the legal bottleneck, with mixed success. A faithfully Christian law school in Canada, Trinity Western, lost its accreditation because of its commitment to biblical values. While American “alternative” law schools such as Ave Maria and Regent University law schools turn out very competent lawyers, I doubt very much that we’ll be seeing Supreme Court nominees who graduated from either one anytime soon.
We’re about to enter a cultural, political, and legal desert, as the left’s stranglehold over elite institutions exerts its long-term intended effect. Christians and conservatives need to wake up and start pouring money and thought into how we can smuggle our future leaders past the left’s starvation blockade.