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It’s a good time to be a Republican. But it’s a bad time, George Will argues, to be a conservative. Hence his new, 700-page manifesto, The Conservative Sensibility, which tries to rescue conservatism from the perversions of the Trumpist GOP.

Will’s conservatism is rooted in a deep mistrust of majority rule, and an almost religious veneration of the Founding Fathers, or at least a certain understanding of them. Remember, he writes, “the Constitution of the first consciously modern nation, the United States, protects the sovereignty of private individuals, not the sovereignty of a public collective, ‘the majority.’”

Will is articulating a tendency that’s always been present on the right, but is becoming more central today: the belief that majority rule will be the death of the American experiment and that the conservative project is at odds with democracy. Will is more forthright than most on this point: He chides conservatives for blasting activist judges, for instance, arguing that the right needs a judiciary willing to make sweeping rulings to curb the power of the state.

There’s a lot to discuss here. And discuss we do.

Book recommendations:

The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay

Freedom: Virtue and the First Amendment by Walter Fred Berns


The Ezra Klein Show has been nominated for best Society- culture podcast in this year’s People’s Choice Podcast Awards! Cast your vote for The Ezra Klein Show at before July 31st. One vote per category.

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