Conservative author, litigator and radio host Mark R. Levin’s latest book, Rediscovering Americanism: And the Tyranny of Progressivism, has hit #1 on Amazon.com’s bestseller list — and has stayed in the top spot for the last seven days.
Levin is an unparalleled conservative public intellectual force, and won the first annual Citizens United Andrew Breitbart Defender of the First Amendment Award at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in 2014. The book benefits from hislarge radio audience, as well as the timing of his release near July 4th, which resonates with the book’s patriotic themes.
But more than that, the success of Rediscovering Americanism has to do with the unique niche Levin has carved for himself in the age of Trump, and also reflects the degree to which the book’s message has resonated with a conservative audience concerned about the future of the movement.
In the early stages of the 2016 Republican presidential primary, Levin was warm towards Trump, and gave him a unique opportunity to address his audience, unfiltered by the hostile mainstream media. But he became sharply critical of Trump when he began to articulate what Levin described as a protectionist message on trade. Levin also took Trump to task for attacking fellow conservatives, in particular Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Trump’s main rival.
Levin pulled back from the #NeverTrump edge, though, and grudgingly supported the Republican nominee. In the months since Trump’s surprising victory, he has defended the president against attempts by the left and the media to derail his agenda. At the same time, he has criticized the president’s policies where he disagrees with them — on spending, on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, on trade, and in other areas. He is, in short, a supportive critic.
That stance gives Levin unique credibility to explain the continuing relevance of conservative political principles, and to examine their prospects in an era of “populist nationalism.” Some conservatives are still wounded that their values appeared to be tangential to Trump’s victory — even though Trump’s commitment to nominate conservative judges (which he has honored) was critical to consolidating his Republican support. Many also wonder about the prospects of the Trump presidency, worrying that if it fails, that failure will set back the conservative cause as well.
In Rediscovering Americanism, Levin makes the case that the Founders of the Republic would never have accepted the size, scope and power of today’s federal government — and that the task of conservatives is to recover the core of the American experiment from within the layers of progressivism that have been added to it in recent decades. He addresses, honestly and refreshingly, the progress of — and setbacks to — his own proposed reforms, such as an Article V convention to pass eleven “liberty amendments” that would restore the original vision of the Constitution.
As with Ameritopia, another Levin tour de force, Rediscovering Americanism provides a kind of intellectual history, a sourcebook of sorts, tracing the emergence of ideas through an in-depth study of key thinkers on both sides of the political divide. (This is hardly light summer reading!) But the fact that such books can command such a large audience — and can do so repeatedly — testifies to the skill of the author, and adds to the richness of political debate.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.