Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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The Mind Of Mitch Daniels

Mitch Daniels talks about five books that influenced him.  He actually seems to have read the books he is talking about.  The list also seems authentic in that Daniels doesn't seem to be trying to please and impress everyone ("From A Theory of Justice I learned ...and from the Summa Theologica I learned..."

But since the list seems to truly represent Daniels' mind, it should be taken seriously.  For reasons I can't fully articulate, the list left me a little uneasy about Daniels as a potential President.  The list seems to tilt towards different kinds of libertarianism (though thankfully not liberaltarianism.)  I'm not so sure about a President whose mind runs the gamut from Hayek to Postrel but maybe not much farther.  Though we could do worse...and we are.   

Categories > Politics

Discussions - 6 Comments

Though incomparably superior to others' lists, I'm sure, these works, as Pete indicates, evades the central political issue of our time, the moral one, that enables liberty and self-government to be principles worth dying for.

Here's what the Republican candidate for New Mexico's 3rd Congressional district, Tom Mullins, "has been reading lately."

Pete and Ken, my sentiments, exactly. Sigh. We live in interesting times: the Obama/Democratic overreach has emboldened -- and legitimated -- portions of the conservative coalition that I would worry about seeing in national leadership positions. Subordinate, yes, but not our most prominent public spokesmen.


Olson's book may not speak directly about the moral dimensions of self-government, but its analysis of the enverating role of interest groups is surely relevant, particularly to a would-be executive.

And Paul, I have no idea what you're talking about.

Besides, having a public figure like this not evoke Democracy in America -- essential as it is -- I find refreshing.

Rick, you're right, I was too elliptical. I primarily wanted to agree with Ken's point. To spell out the rest a bit: A while back I read a rather positive weeklystandard article on Daniels, as well as saw a C-Span interview with him, and was duly impressed. He was principled, articulate, and effective as a governor. My interest was piqued. Then came the "truce" talk. To my mind (and others') it showed significant political naivete, as well as a certain blindness to the fuller range of our national issues (of the sort that Ken has in mind). It certainly expresses an important and understandable set of concerns, ones I share!, but I but still find it shortsighted. That was a cautionary moment. Then came his reading list. It, too, combined impressiveness with worrisomeness. It came from elements of the conservative coalition with which I am familiar and with which I am happy to be in common combat with common foes, but whose views of human freedom, public morality, and constitutional order I do not share. Hence, my elliptical comment about a subordinate, but not nationally leading , role for the Daniels I'm learning about. I would be happy to learn more about his views. For example, I believe I've heard that he is pro-life. If so, it would be good to know how it fits with the Hayekian-Murrayan side of his moral-political thinking. Hope that helps.


Thanks for the clarification. There's nothing inconsistent with being pro-life and a Hayekian. I have no idea if he even discussed the matter directly.

Hayek and Burke had many more points of agreement than disagreement -- perhaps I'm being too facile, but I see it as somewhat like the arguments between Hamilton and Madison -- and I believe American conservatives should read Hayek's "Why I Am Not a Conservative" before they complain too much about it. (The Continental conservatives Hayek distanced himself from were, in some regards, as statist as many contemporary American liberals.)

"Spontaneous order" is not at all at odds with "small platoons." And Hayek was certainly respectful of traditions, as in values and customs that survived the centuries. "Civil society" includes (and in many cases is dominated by) cultural and religious institutions.

Simply because many of Hayek's followers are also "movement" libertarians does not mean that one has to be part of that group to share Hayek's larger vision.

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