American exceptionalism is under siege — that’s what conservatives heard from the winners of the 2018 Bradley Prize winners Tuesday night.
Bradley Prize winners represent the pinnacle of political influencers and thought leaders on the right, sporting names like columnists Charles Krauthammer and George Will, as well as media titans like Roger Ailes. This year’s winners, selected from a pool of 200 nominees, were Gettysburg College professor and leading Lincoln historian Allen Guelzo, alongside Claremont professor Charles Kesler, and Wall Street Journal columnist Jason Riley.
“The committee went through rounds and rounds of voting and discussion,” Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation CEO Richard Graber told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “I think we’ve found some truly exceptional prize winners.”
The foundation grounds itself in American exceptionalism, honoring only those who are faithful to the Constitution, free markets, and self government. Will, who has served as master of ceremonies for the event for the past decade, cracked jokes about the current political climate and how distant is seems to have become from the Founding Fathers.
“Separation of powers is integral to the constitution. Just as the founders intended, we have three branches of government: the legislative, judicial, and ‘Fox & Friends,'” Will joked. (RELATED: George Will Calls Mike Pence ‘Repulsive’)
During a round table with the winners hosted by Will, the conversation became more serious, with the problem of American exceptionalism taking center stage. All three critiqued the left for courting the belief that America and its people are a detriment rather than a benefit to the world — in fewer words: that Americans are “deplorable.” (RELATED: Hillary Clinton Cant Stop Hating ‘Deplorables’)
Citing Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago, Kesler claimed that many Americans and Westerners in general have lost the conviction behind their ways of life and become complacent. Instead, he said, politicians increasingly opt for a cultural relativism, refusing to condemn other cultures as wrong or backward.
Riley, one of the preeminent conservative black thinkers, claimed the modern understanding of inequality is largely responsible for this American self-loathing and lack of conviction, particularly among minority communities.
“There’s a whole generation of black thinkers ready to pick up where Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and Ta-Nehisi Coates leave off, but you don’t see that on the Right,” Riley told TheDCNF. “Unfortunately, there are a lot more Sharptons, Jacksons, and Coates than there are Jason Rileys.”
When asked what single thing he would want to change in the American mind, he said he’d want Americans to know that opportunity truly does exist for all, and that systematic and legal discrimination truly are a thing of the past.
The cash prize for the trio comes with no strings attached, Graber said.
“We love and support what they’re already doing, and we just want them to keep doing it,” he said.
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