Academia and Politics

Alice Lloyd:

“A lot of [the core curriculum] touches on questions essential to how people organize in society,” said one recent graduate, now working in the Trump administration. As a Hillsdale student reading Aristotle’s Politics, “It’s natural that you’d be thinking about how good government works”—and that you might wind up working in government yourself.

The Hillsdale-D.C. pipeline runs both ways. Last month, Michael Anton announced his new professional and political home would be the Kirby Center. In September 2016, under the pen name “Publius Decius Mus,” Anton authored a much-discussed essay for The Claremont Review of Books in support of Trump: “The Flight 93 Election.” After serving in the administration, he leaped for the emergency exit upon John Bolton’s appointment, but he’d also been seriously eyeing a spot at the Kirby Center for several months, said Spalding in a recent interview.

In three conjoined townhouses across Massachusetts Avenue from The Heritage Foundation, Kirby hosts caucus retreats and regular dinners with members of Congress and staff to discuss finer points of constitutional governance. It’s also home to several schlocky paintings of Churchill and the founding fathers, a glass-encased first edition of the Federalist Papers donated by conservative radio host Mark Levin, and two dozen or so interns each semester—most, but not all, of whom work on Capitol Hill or in conservative media—and a studio where The Federalist founder Ben Domenech records his daily podcast.

Kirby is not a think-tank and not yet a graduate school, though Spalding confirmed plans to start a Kirby-based master‘s program in government. It’s not a locus for lobbying efforts, either. “I brief chiefs of staff a lot,” Spalding says, but not as a lobbyist: “You don’t have Hillsdale in because they have something to say about the tax bill,” he clarified. “But because they’re smart and they’re thinking broadly about constitutional questions and American political thought in ways that might help us grapple with our work.”

He deflected a question about Trump, and when I asked whether Ryan would retire to Hillsdale, he told me that he was more focused on forming future leaders than appealing to current ones: “What I’m actually most interested in are the people that will become those people. What I’m interested in is who’s going to be the Paul Ryan of the future.”

At this rate, it’ll be someone who’s gone to Hillsdale, I said. “Or, they will have been shaped by us in some way,” he added, by an online course they took, a classical charter school they attended, or the words of a presidential speech they heard that was penned by a Hillsdale graduate. “That’s how we help save the country.”

Related: Ivy League Federal Taxpayer Subsidies: 2010-2015:

1. Ivy League payments and entitlements cost taxpayers $41.59 billion over a six-year period (FY2010-FY2015). This is equivalent to $120,000 in government monies, subsidies, & special tax treatment per undergraduate student, or $6.93 billion per year.

2. The Ivy League was the recipient of $25.73 billion worth of federal payments during this period: contracts ($1.37 billion), grants ($23.9 billion) and direct payments – student assistance ($460 million).

3. In monetary terms, the ‘government contracting’ business of the Ivy League ($25.27 billion – federal contracts and grants) exceeded their educational mission ($22 billion in student tuition) FY2010-FY2015.

4. The eight colleges of the Ivy League received more money ($4.31 billion) – on average – annually from the federal government than sixteen states: see report.