We Must Build an Elite for this American Moment


However populist our sympathies, or good our policies, elites are inevitable. They can be worthy or not.

When Donald J. Trump became the 45th President of the United States of America, the conservative movement was, at best, unprepared to lend support to his agenda and, at worst, eager to undermine it. As a result, the failure of his administration to implement policy was largely one of personnel. With some notable exceptions, the White House as well as the executive branch departments and agencies were filled with and crippled by saboteurs, grifters, and clueless incompetents who wouldn’t know statecraft if it slapped them across the face.

Make no mistake, even before Trump took office—indeed, essentially as soon as he started making headway in the primary—the permanent power structure in American politics went into overdrive to ensure that its own agenda would endure. That establishment agenda had already unmistakably failed America. Indeed, it was that failure that would swiftly carry an outsider into the White House. Persisting nevertheless, this program ignominiously prioritizes porous borders, endless war, pandering to corporations, attacks on religion, assaults on freedom of expression, and the hollowing out of our economy. This has resulted in family breakdown and cultural degradation.

The permanent power structure almost succeeded in maintaining the status quo. Yes, President Trump was unable to hold on to office. But the record-shattering number of votes he received, and his enduring popularity in the Republican Party, shows something has fundamentally changed not just on the right, but also on the other side of the aisle as well. For according to exit polls, millions who self-identify as Democrats also cast their ballots for Trump. The people are ready for something different.

But apparent as that all is, it belies a simple truth about the last four years. It was the responsibility of supposedly conservative elites—those individuals in think tanks, media, academia, and private industry who possess real power on the American right—to help bring to fruition the agenda that Trump ran and won on in 2016. Our movement, unfortunately, wasn’t ready.

Both in word and deed, our ruling class regularly commits violence against the treasured building blocks of civilization, all while enriching itself and augmenting its own power. While the American left is apparently eager to be led by a ruinous cadre of aloof management consultants, race-hustlers, and literal anarchists, the right is overseen by tired nostalgics, corporate shills, and bow-tie clad “intellectuals” who fiddle while our cities burn. This “conservative” elite class is clamoring to restore its agenda, which proved time and time again to be an electoral disaster and a civilizational dead-end. 

If we don’t form our own elite, one that is patriotic and acts as a champion for the great middle of our nation, the old regime will continue to win, and America will continue to lose. Across time, every society has had an elite—the select group of people whose actions, words, and decisions decisively impact the common good. Yet over the last half-century in America, every institution of elite formation, from higher education to electoral politics to corporate culture, has either been corrupted or atrophied to the point of ossifying, with dire consequences for all of us. 

Over the last few years, there has been a wave of intellectual dynamism on the American right as many new voices sought to grapple with the societal import of Trump’s election and presidency. We benefited extraordinarily from their work. It nourished our worldview, it invigorated our spirit, and, critically, it opened our eyes to what must come next. Our nation and the conservative movement need an agenda informed by priorities that strengthen families, protect America’s national sovereignty, and ensure prosperity for all. Building coalitions, overtaking institutions, and completing the realignment of the conservative movement is the challenge ahead to ensure that happens.

But having the right priorities isn’t enough for this task. Someone can believe all of the right things about immigration, foreign policy, economics, and culture. But if they don’t also have the strategic wisdom and personal character required to lead, they will be swiftly defeated. Virtuous, tactical statesmen, and not only policies, are required for us to succeed.

That is why we launched American Moment. Our mission is to identify, educate, and credential young Americans who will implement public policy that supports strong families, a sovereign nation, and prosperity for all.

We aren’t a mass organization of young people looking to suddenly change the culture, nor do we claim to be philosophers with grand visions for the arc of human history. Rather, we’re focused on constructing an infrastructure for personnel. We’re building the cadre of staffers, operators, and leaders who will do the nuts-and-bolts work behind the scenes. It will be equipped to ensure that things actually get done, that words are met with substantive action, and that the future of American statecraft will prioritize our national interest.

Fortunately, the raw talent needed to meet that challenge is out there in the country. American Moment will spearhead the endeavor to find and connect the young people who will make up a new elite—one that loves its fellow countrymen and seeks their flourishing. We are honored and thrilled to lead this historic cause, and we sincerely hope you will consider joining us.

Saurabh Sharma, Nick Solheim, and Jake Mercier are the Co-Founders of American Moment, an organization dedicated to identifying, educating, and credentialing young Americans who will implement public policy that supports strong families, a sovereign nation, and prosperity for all.

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