Yuval Levin, conservative political scholar, visited Southern Miss as the guest speaker for the University Forum held on November 14th. Levin is the founding editor for National Affairs, an editor for National Review, and served as an associate director for the Domestic Policy Council under President George W. Bush among other notable accomplishments.
Joseph Weinberg, Ph.D., an assistant professor at USM, introduced his former colleague as a “conservative scholar” and “public intellectual.” Weinberg reached out to his college friend of more than 20 years about being a speaker because of the recent election of President Trump.
Levin shared his analysis and thoughts on how the current American political climate occurred.
After the extreme partisanship that has occurred following the 2016 election, Americans — including college students, are “wondering what in the world has happened,” Levin said.
However, he believes the key to understanding today’s politics is reflection.
“If we think through how we got here,” Levin said, “We might better see our way forward.”
Rather than focusing on building further towards a society that can adapt to our country’s unique strengths and challenges, Americans have become cripplingly nostalgic. Levin identifies the source of Americans’ dissatisfaction with their countries, pointing to the past for answers.
“This unity and diversity, [America before the 21st Century] really was a wonder to behold. It’s not surprising that we idolize that time,” Levin said.
Levin said Americans are feeling frustrated and anxious. “American politics today are really drowning in frustration and anxiety. This has been both a cause and a consequence of the last election but it runs a lot deeper than that,” Levin said. “The 21st century, almost from the moment that it started, has been a very uneasy time for American politics.”
Levin suggested that American leaders need to have a vision, “to use the advantages of a diverse, dynamic society to address the disadvantages of a fractured, insecure society,” Levin said.
Although it is unclear when America’s parties will become less aggressively divided, Levin reassures listeners more harmonious politics are achievable.