Introducing the American Renewal Movement: Our Philosophy and Goals

When Donald Trump ran for president in 2016, he said he wanted to “Make America great again.” But during his presidency and that of his successor, Joe Biden, neither party has done much to solve our country’s biggest problems. Working-class Americans are falling further and further behind. Illegal immigration is still out of control. Crime is on the rise, and the quality of public education is bad and getting worse. Perhaps most importantly, Americans are more divided now by politics and the “culture war” than at any time since the Civil War.

Our Banner in the Sky by Frederic Edwin Church, 1861 (cropped)

Most people across the political spectrum would probably agree that America is in decline and that liberals and conservatives hate each other. Do we really have to be so divided, or are there certain things that a solid majority of Americans should be able to agree upon? If so, we have a patriotic duty to build a political movement bringing people together around these issues and ideals.

I call this the “American Renewal Movement.” I believe it’s the big-picture framing we need to move beyond the poisonous politics of the present day. Americans have been united before — together we built one of the greatest countries in the world. By looking to what has united our nation in the past, we can build a better future.

The American Renewal Movement Facebook page says, quite simply, that it’s about “Standing up for basic American values: Democracy, freedom, the rule of law, civic virtue and ethics.” I haven’t published anything there since March and haven’t made any efforts yet to promote it — I was planning to leave the page dormant until next year — but during the past six months it has somehow grown from 700 to 3,700 followers.

This tells me there’s a hunger out there for a better political philosophy than what most politicians are currently promoting. Unfortunately, standing up for basic American values is not high on the list of priorities of either Democrats or Republicans nowadays. Former president Trump and his supporters spout endless conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, and President Biden and his party pander to liberal activists on cultural issues that, under the U.S. Constitution, are supposed to be left to state and local governments to decide for their own people.

In January 2023, I plan to start publishing lots of content and spreading the word about the American Renewal Movement that I envision. In anticipation of the active launch of the project, I’d like to take a few moments to explain its purpose — especially for the benefit of all the new people who have liked and followed it on social media.

Preventing the Next Insurrection: The Virtue of Limited Government

Throughout history, many governments have fallen at the hands of barbarians. A year ago today, it almost happened in the United States.

Gallows erected by rioters at the U.S. Capitol, January 6, 2021. Vice President Pence was saved by Capitol police before he could be captured and hanged by the mob.

On the anniversary of the January 6th insurrection and riot at the U.S. Capitol, we will read many erudite journalists and hear eloquent political speeches expounding upon the terrible events of that day, and why Republicans should turn away from the dangerous conspiracy theories of Donald Trump. We will be reminded of the police officers who were beaten with U.S. flag poles; the calls to “Hang Mike Pence!” as a gallows was readied for the vice president who refused to heed his boss’s demand to overturn a legitimate election; and the shameful failure of influential politicians to condemn the most influential leader of the mob, the sitting President Trump himself, who sat in the Oval Office and watched the riot on TV, taking no action for hours as his most fervent followers stormed the seat of our nation’s government and threatened the lives of members of Congress.

Such reminders are well and good — but we should reflect not only on what happened and what fueled such appalling political violence, but on how to make sure that nothing like that ever happens again.

Lessons of Kyle Rittenhouse: Importance of the Police and Judicial System

Yesterday, criminal defendant Kyle Rittenhouse was found not guilty on all charges in a high-profile case stemming from the August 2020 riots in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Rittenhouse was a 17-year-old from Illinois who traveled to Kenosha with an AR-15 assault rifle with the stated intention of trying to protect life and property during the riots. Protesters started a fight with him, and he shot three people in self-defense as found by the jury — two of whom died of their injuries. Rittenhouse had been charged with intentional homicide.

Both the left and the right have made the case political. “Lock up Kyle Rittenhouse and throw away the key,” tweeted Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, a prominent progressive Democrat from New York, last week. When the verdict didn’t go the way liberals hoped for, many Democratic politicians expressed outrage. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, for example, called the verdict “disgusting” and a victory for “violent extremism from within our own nation.” Some, such as Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri, condemned the entire judicial system as systemically racist: “The judge. The jury. The defendant. It’s white supremacy in action.”

Meanwhile, on the right, Kyle Rittenhouse has been lionized as a hero. “Be armed, be dangerous, be moral,” said Rep. Madison Cawthorn, a Republican of North Carolina, who publicly offered him an internship. Apparently, some Republicans believe it’s moral for teenagers to show up armed at a riot, adding to the mayhem and death through their provocative presence, rather than letting the police do their job.

Both sides are wrong. In fact, both sides are a danger to our country.

20 Years After 9/11, the Enemy Is Ourselves

When the United States was attacked by foreign terrorists on September 11, 2001, our nation came together. Today, as we are being attacked by a deadly virus, we are tearing ourselves apart.

Twin Towers burning on 9/11

The difference between Americans’ national response to the 9/11 attacks and the Covid-19 pandemic is striking. Both were tragic yet heroic opportunities for people to rally to a common cause: defeating radical Islamic terror, or eradicating a terrible plague. But in one case, twenty years ago, Americans chose national unity in the face of danger. Nowadays, we choose to make our fellow Americans the enemy — and the greatest danger of all lurks within our politically poisoned hearts.

What has changed in the past two decades? We’ve had two failed wars abroad, in Iraq and Afghanistan, which have undermined Americans’ confidence in our country as a force for good in the world. And we have an intensifying culture war here at home, between the “Reds” and the “Blues” — the Trumpist Right and the Woke Left — two factions of our society that increasingly hate each other with a passion that equals, or even exceeds, the hatred felt by radical Islamic terrorists toward America as a whole.

The Story Behind the Story

In 2019, I began writing a book about America. At the time, I was a technology entrepreneur who was living in a conservative rural area, serving as a Democratic Party county chairman, taking care of farm animals, and traveling to big cities such as New York and San Francisco for meetings with venture capitalists. In my own life, I saw the tremendous contrasts and political and cultural divide within the so-called “United” States.

Eric Stetson
Eric Stetson, author of Our Great Nation

During the Trump years, I had become increasingly worried about the unraveling of American society, as economic inequality combined with identity politics to fuel a raging inferno of anger on both sides of the sharply polarized political spectrum. Americans seemed to have too little in common anymore, except their mutual cynicism and hatred of each other.

I’m a big believer in the power of stories to shape the way we perceive the world. Americans no longer had a shared story of our country — its history, present struggles, and deeper meaning and principles — and why, despite our differences, we should try to remain united and work together for the cause of national greatness.

So I decided to write such a story — a grand meta-narrative about America, that I hoped could help to reunite the diverse people of our great nation. I decided also to include relevant stories from my own life and family history to help illustrate some of the key concepts of America’s past and controversies of the present day. Because of my unusual life and background, I had a lot of interesting material to work with.

My original plan was to publish the book in early 2020 and go on a speaking tour across America in an RV during the presidential election campaign season. But my RV broke down and Covid-19 hit, so I had to change my plans. I postponed publication of Our Great Nation and decided to add more to the story after the election and the worst of the pandemic were over.

The past year turned out to be one of the wildest years in American history. My book — already filled with incredible stories about our country — now has even more jaw-dropping material that would have sounded like fiction just a few short years ago.

America is a uniquely crazy and amazing place. That’s the main theme of Our Great Nation. And as the subtitle of the book indicates — The America We’ve Lost and How to Rebuild It Together — it is also a nation in peril. The United States of America today is in deep decline and barely hanging together by a thread. In 10 or 20 years — perhaps even sooner — there’s a real possibility that the country might break apart or plunge into civil war.

My book offers a prescription for saving our country. In part, it’s by embracing a majestic narrative of America’s unique role in human history. But we must also do the hard work of listening to our fellow citizens who are different than ourselves, and unite upon some basic values and principles that are neither of the left nor of the right, but for our common good.

Can we do it? Read the book (coming in early 2023) and decide for yourself! Click here to read excerpts and reserve your copy today!