Brian Brown: A visit to a groundbreaking leadership development organization in Philadelphia was a case study in what conservatives have been missing.
As many of you know, several years ago I was a fellow at the John Jay Institute (then located in Colorado, now happily moved to Philadelphia, where a number of new organizations are creating the possibility that the city might be the center for conservative thought in the 21st century).
Last week, five years after my fellowship, I got to spend almost a week on campus with the current fellows. I do some pro bono communications work for the Institute, and had planned to write a quick little story afterwards about what life on campus was like. Instead, I ended up writing a much longer piece, because–especially during election week–the experience was such a case study in what I don’t see happening anywhere else. While the Republican party’s presidential candidate struck out for the second election in a row, and the “conservative” establishment (including most of the think tanks) still failed to grasp why, this organization was and is quietly doing conservatism the way it ought to be done. It’s also doing something like what Elizabeth Scalia urged for yesterday–investing in the future of conservative cultural leadership, far beyond the next election cycle.
The piece is, of course, written with John Jay’s friends and donors in mind, so it’s partly focused on showing why the Institute “works.” But read these five stories (especially numbers 1,3, and 4). I think if conservatives are to be of any use to America as more than a temporary dead weight slowing the latest Progressive wave, they need to be less like this and more like what I saw last week.