The Education of Josh Hawley

J.osh Hawley grew up in Lexington, Missouri, about an hour outside of Kansas City, with a father who was a banker and a mother who was a teacher – and a Stanford graduate herself. In the fall of 1998 he reached the idyllic university campus in the heart of Silicon Valley. It was the height of the first dot-com bubble. Computer science graduates Larry Page and Sergey Brin had just signed the paperwork to start their search engine BackRub under the new name Google, Inc. It seemed like almost everyone on campus had the vision of dropping out of college and becoming the next Jerry Yang. the Stanford alum, the Yahoo! founded was recently referred to as the “kingmaker” on the Internet.

The impeachment of President Bill Clinton was just beginning in Washington, but on the Palo Alto campus, apart from the spectacle of the secret service officers, first daughter Chelsea, then sophomore, or the US marshals behind Ken Starr’s daughter’s dormitory camped Carolyn, the collective population couldn’t have cared less. While students generally embraced a socially liberal ethos, few were actively involved in politics.

In that sense, Hawley stood out early on. As a pre-college student, he had written several political columns for his home paper, and he joined Stanford Stanford Review, the right-wing student publication founded by the Silicon Valley Tycoon more than a decade earlier Peter Thiel. There’s little evidence that Hawley was particularly interested or concerned about the burgeoning big tech scene as it is today. But unlike the vast majority of his colleagues at the time, he was clearly conservative and politically inclined.

“He was very sure of his political ideology, even at that age, even at 18,” says Brooke Eisele, who is also responsible for that review and was a close friend of Hawley’s from the time they both lived in the same dorm. “I think a lot of us came in with our dispositions and felt things and shaped us there. He came in with a solid view of the world. “

According to numerous classmates, Hawley was still friends with liberals, and his view of the world, while unusual within the student body, was not outside the mainstream. Eisele, a Republican who recently served on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee but lost touch with Hawley, describes him as “a classic conservative in the truest sense of the word”. Brad Gregory, another former Hawley history professor who now teaches at Notre Dame, said of Hawley’s beliefs, “It was an intellectually responsible, traditional Burkish conservatism – the importance of tradition, the importance of established institutions, limited government, ownership and Freedom. “

His sophomore year, Hawley said the Student newspaper He believed that there was “a steady decline in all political activism” at Stanford. To the extent that he was an activist himself, the issues were relatively mundane, like the seemingly eternal debate at Stanford about what should be included in the core humanities curriculum. Hawley founded a student group called “Freedom Forum” with his girlfriend Rachel Scarlett-Trotter advocates for the inclusion of additional texts that force students to “examine the ideas and thinkers that have shaped Western civilization”. (Scarlett-Trotter declined to comment on this story.)

Hawley’s other writings for the review, say colleagues from the student publication, were anything but extremely dangerous, as the publication can often be. In one piece, Hawley took positive action, but only to say that students of paint should be given more tools to succeed long before they go to college.

“He wasn’t like one of those people Stephen Müllerwho angry liberals and fomented culture wars on campus, at least not that I was aware of it, ”says a classmate who knew Hawley but spoke only on condition of anonymity for fear of being violently attacked by supporters of the Senator. Professor Emeritus Jack Rakove, another of Hawley’s teachers and mentors, similarly distinguished Hawley from his past adviser, the new director of the Home Affairs Council, Susan Rice Trump supportive sonwho graduated from Stanford last year. On campus, John Rice-Cameron “took on that kind of provocative conservative character, even insulting at times, like” Let’s own the libraries “or whatever,” says Rakove. “Josh wasn’t like that. He wasn’t like that at all.”

Still, some classmates say there was evidence of Hawley’s current politics, which are populist but appear to be anchored by a Christian nationalist Position. Some of them remember him as someone who took his evangelical faith seriously enough to form his bourgeois worldview. Colin Mathewson, who was studying the Bible with Hawley when they were living in the same dorm and was his roommate one summer in DC when Hawley was interned at the Heritage Foundation, said Hawley’s policies “appeared to have come from a religious source and to be religious in nature of purpose to it. In my experience with Josh, politics was secondary to the nature of religious truth. “

Another classmate recalls Hawley, who today vociferously rejects America’s growing godlessness and speaks of a “communitarian brand of social conservatism,” as opposed to the libertarianism advocated by most other campus conservatives.

Rakove, the history professor, recalls Hawley’s senior year and recalls an address by Hawley that “reflected the view that conservative thinking had some kind of moral consequence that may not be present elsewhere on the ideological spectrum.” Rakove had long since forgotten the exact content of the speech, but the subject and tone were more memorable.

Hawley wrote his thesis of honor on the political philosophies of Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt. Kennedy, who advised him on the job, says there he saw early signs of Hawley’s ideology today: Hawley rejected Roosevelt’s more statistical impulses, according to Kennedy, but was “tempted” by the Rooseveltian view that “the role of government is” to promote communitarian thinking and feeling. ” In the year 2008 book Hawley published Hawley’s approval of Roosevelt’s view of politics as a “deeply moral enterprise” on the basis of his thesis (subtitled “Preacher of Justice” and with a laudatory preface by Kennedy). More recently, the Senator has mimicked the 26th President in his emergence as a conservative-populist confidence buster, while even more passionately than Roosevelt he incorporated anti-secularism into his communitarian politics.

However, other classmates say that while Hawley was passionate about abortion, his beliefs while in college seemed less of an obvious motivation for his political endeavors than a guide for his social interactions. Hawley friends told POLITICO they never saw Hawley drink, smoke, or bring a girl back to her dormitory. In many ways, he preferred staying and studying on the weekends than going out and partying.

“I only realized last week that the Josh Hawley was on the news the Josh Hawley he was living with thunder“Says Scott Finkelstein, one of the assistants at Hawley’s dormitory.” I mean, he was pretty quiet as far as I remember.

“He had the price in mind”

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