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At the center of many recent debates about nationalism has been an implicit idea of the American national character and its implications. But what exactly is a national character? What forms can it take? And what has been distinct about America’s character in ways that might inform contemporary statesmanship and citizenship?

About the Speaker

Yuval Levin is the director of Social, Cultural, and Constitutional Studies at the American Enterprise Institute and the editor of National Affairs. He is a contributing editor to National Review and his essays and articles have appeared in numerous publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, and many others. He is the author, most recently, of A Time to Build: From family and community to Congress and the campus, how recommitting to our institutions could revive the American dream. He has been a member of the White House domestic policy staff (under President George W. Bush) and a congressional staffer. He holds a PhD from the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago.

About the Series

The Benson Center promotes critical reflection on the distinctive traditions and political perspectives that characterize Western civilization. It encourages residents of Colorado and the United States to more fully understand and appreciate their past, their future and a free and creative American society within an international environment. Conservative Thought and Policy Guest Speakers bring a unique perspective as guests of the Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy program. This year’s series, the “American National Character Project” expands on the Benson Center’s 2019-20 theme, American Identities.

The Founding generation recognized the importance of cultivating a national character, by which they meant the formation of “a people” dedicated to the principles of the American Revolution and the great experiment in self-government. Today, Americans are fragmented, disunited and unclear about what, if anything, they hold in common. The American National Character Project seeks to explore and identify principles and purposes that Americans do or might in the future share, and to discover how to provide a way forward for republican self-governance in America.

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