2010 Symposium

Off-year elections and opinion surveys suggest that the public is increasingly frustrated with the current direction of public policy.  It seems to many that Washington, D.C., is out of touch with the concerns of the American people, pursuing sweeping overhauls of health care, education, and environmental regulation, while ignoring immediate concerns like disappearing jobs and the likelihood of greatly increased taxes to cover runaway government spending.  Clearly, liberalism has provoked a populist insurgency against its ambitious plans for making America anew. 

But how should American conservatism relate to this mood?  After all, conservatism stands for tradition, high culture, social order, and moderation, none of which jibe well with the populist passions of the moment.  Is the notion of populist conservatism an oxymoron?  Or can conservatism tap into the new Tea Party's populist energy without compromising its essential principles?

The 2010 Bradley Symposium in Washington, "Tea Time:  Can There Be a Populist Conservatism?", tried answering these questions.  

Hosted by the Hudson Institute's Bradley Center for Philanthropy and Civic Renewal and National Affairs magazine, the Symposium featured Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana; FreedomWorks chairman and former Speaker of the House Dick Armey; Michael Barone, 2010 Bradley Prize recipient, Washington Examiner senior political analyst, and co-author of The Almanac of American Politics; and Jonah Goldberg, journalist and author of Liberal Fascism:  The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Change.  The Weekly Standard's William Kristol, another Bradley Prize recipient, moderated the discussion.

"Third parties are like bees," Goldberg said.  "They have their influence by stinging, and then they die.  If the tea party successfully stings the Republican Party into girding its loins and returning to its roots and providing a choice and all of these sorts of things, it will already have served its purpose."

The Tea Party movement, Pence said, is about "going back to the source of our greatness, which is our character, our faith, our belief in limited government."

Audio and video clips of the 2010 Bradley Symposium are available online, as is an edited transcript.