Conservative thinkers worth reading

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As a token conservative in most of my environments (Princeton, McKinsey, New York), many of my friends have never met a conservative and often ask me what they should read if they want to understand “the other side.” I have compiled a list of the “best” resources below.

I personally think the best way to find consistently nuanced views are the individual writers, so if you only want one, go for the authors and blogs. I’m not as much a fan of the publications (except National Affairs, which I love), but included for completeness. That said, if you also want true diversity of thought, may also be reading the less nuanced and intellectual blogs, which I’ve also included.

Authors

  • David Brooks: More cultural commentator than politics but some politics too; articulates well the conservative concern for character and virtue
  • Ross Douthat
  • Michael Gerson: Former GWB speechwriter, not my favorite but not bad either)
  • Megan McArdle: Libertarian
  • Ramesh Ponnuru
  • Avik Roy: Used to be one of the biggest policy gurus of the right, particularly on health care; on the sidelines post-Trump
  • George Will

Blogs

  • Volokh Conspiracy: A bunch of libertarian law professors blogging. These guys get routinely cited in Supreme Court cases (not just the individuals, but the blog itself). Must read if you’re interested in the Court
  • Marginal Revolution: Tyler Cowen’s blog (incredibly influential economist, more libertarian than conservative)
  • Bleeding Heart Libertarians: A left-libertarian group of law professors (not conservative, but not mainstream progressive)
  • Café Hayek: This is really out of the mainstream (Austrian economics), but I like that he intelligently challenges very basic assumptions that the neo-Keynsian orthodoxy you learn in most universities make. He’s no flat-earther. If anything, it makes you a better neo-Keynsian
  • Heterodox Academy: A bit more meta, mainly academics fighting groupthink in the academy… not inherently conservative but ends up challenging a lot of liberal orthodoxy. Also, the academic problem is the root of a lot of the left-wing bias in elite institutions

Publications

  • National Affairs: Right-of-center policy journal, smartest policymakers on the right write here
  • Claremont Review of Books: Conservative New York Review of Books
  • National Review: Mixed bag but you’ll always get the contrarian opinion here (and it’ll be smarter than Breitbart), really like David French and Rick Lowry
  • Weekly Standard: Similar to the Review, really like Stephen Hayes
  • The American Conservative: A step above in quality from the Review and Standard
  • WSJ Editorial Board: Never heard it divert from the mainstream conservative view, good way to get a pulse on what Paul Ryan etc. think

Other right-wing blogs

Not as credible, but I think very important to understand the conservative base.

  • Drudge Report: Easy to skim since it’s just headlines, good pulse of the conservative heartland
  • RedState: Probably on the more intellectual spectrum, but definitely still red meat
  • Breitbart: They get (some justified, some not) flak for some of their alt-rightish columnists, but very reflective of the base