It is finished.
After many years, I relinquish space on the opinion page to someone else. I do so for several reasons, not least because I trust that someone else will step forward to contribute to that ongoing conversation about political ideas and the secrets of the good life.
In 2011, I moved away. The people of Decatur County deserve to hear from someone who continues to live in the vicinity, someone who experiences the rhythms of life there and knows what needs to be said in the moment. My thoughts here stray to abstraction and national issues. Better if you hear from a neighbor.
I am under contract to finish my second book. Writing a book can be a daunting project. I should devote my energies to upholding that promise to submit a completed manuscript soon -- on top of everything else I do for my university. Such work just doesn’t come easily to me.
Through the years, I have curled back to the same basic themes, to such an extent that regular readers might have found my column repetitive. It was in this space that I tried to carve out an identity for conservatives who try to be thoughtful and fair, without bending over backwards to appease the spirit of the age. There is such a thing as a conservative who is not reactionary, holier-than-thou, boorish, calloused, and predictable.
More important than what divides us, however, are the things that unite us. From my vantage point, the small-town, Midwestern ethos that is centered on piety, family, and respectful neighborliness needs to be celebrated, yes, but also exported to a fractious country. And that process starts with the recognition of what is right about Decatur County. Even if folks reading this do not conquer the world, at least you should keep the world from conquering you.