By Aislinn Keely
Fordham College Republicans hosted Charles Cooke, editor of the National Review Online, to speak on the future of the Republican Party in the changing political landscape. The Feb. 1 event saw Cooke call for a rise of federalism to improve political relations in the future. The event also provided a place for civil political discourse on Fordham’s Rose Hill campus.
College Republicans promoted the event as a polite discourse on the state of politics. “It was a good example of how discourse on a college campus should be, I think,” said Colton Hillman, GSB ’19, Treasurer of College Republicans. “It’s an open environment for people, conservatives, liberals.”
Cooke discussed the shift towards Republican representation after the recent election and the problems that exist on the right, including the divide between younger and older conservatives and the feelings of unease many Republicans have towards their own party. “I think America is incredibly divided,” said Cooke.
Cooke advocated for a return to federalism to remedy the polarized state of American politics. This includes a greater focus on local government and representation as well as a greater respect for states’ rights.
Cooke gave three main reasons for the use of federalism. Those who disagree with a state’s legislation are still able to feel part of the national polity, and have the option to move from a state that does not align with their political preferences to one that does. Moreover, Cooke said that a nation as large as the United States cannot be effectively governed from the center outwards. Finally, Cooke referenced de Tocqueville’s description of townships, particularly how they allow individual voters to see the effects of their actions, which is not the case on a federal level.
While Cooke allowed that issues like immigration, defense and civil rights must be tackled on a federal level, he said that a rise in federalism could quell today’s political unrest.
“When looking at how to fix the right, the same answer applies to how to fix the country, and that is to dissolve power to allow people to live out their conception of the good life as much as they can, without impinging on their neighbors,” said Cooke.
Cooke also cautioned against picking politicians as opposed to picking policies.
“Conservatism in America is a very rich tradition, and it’s not to be subordinated to the man who happens to be in power at any moment,” said Cooke.
Cooke holds degrees from Oxford University in modern history and politics, and currently co-hosts the Mad Dogs and Englishmen podcast. Cooke’s work focuses on topics such as Anglo-American history, British liberty, free speech, the Second Amendment and American exceptionalism. A recurring guest on HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher,” Cooke has also published “The Conservatarian Manifesto” and has written for publications such as The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times.
College Republicans invited Cooke after Matt Johnson, FCRH ’17, of College Republicans read Cooke’s book, “The Conservatarian Manifesto.” “It was a book that really went along with my personal ideals, so naturally I wanted to find out more about him,” said Johnson.
“We have some more libertarian members and more Republican members, and everything in between, and I think his views, and especially what else we got from the talk, kind of match up,” said Johnson.
“I think he’s a good representative of younger Republicans,” said Hillman. “I think a lot of people in our group either aren’t the traditional conservative republicans, I think you have, particularly with younger people, this libertarian lean to people, and I think he’s a very good representative of where we’re going to go with Trump as President, and this shifting demographic in our party,” said Hillman.
“We have a new president, a lot of things are changing, some people might be curious as to the way the party is moving, the way the club is moving. I think having an interesting speaker come gets people not only re-interested in politics after they might be, as I am myself, rather exhausted,” said Johnson. “I hope people continue to show up to future events we have.”