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2006 Bradley Symposium: "What's the Big Idea?"

On May 25, 2006 in Washington, DC, a panel of distinguished commentators brought together by Hudson Institute’s Bradley Center for Philanthropy and Civic Renewal tackled the following questions about the political divisions in American society:

  • Are our political divisions indeed significant and based on such grand themes? Or can they be explained by more superficial social and economic divisions?
  • Is a politics driven and divided by large and contrasting ideas dangerous and volatile? Or is it healthy and vigorous—the source of American renewal?
  • How are these larger intellectual divisions played out in specific policy debates over the size of government, immigration, foreign affairs, economic inequality, higher education, and other questions?
  • Clearly, if American politics is driven by “big ideas,” think tanks and foundations are key players. Should such institutions seek to sharpen and enrich those ideas, or should they rather attempt to moderate and bridge major intellectual divides?

The 2006 Bradley Symposium was held at the Ritz Carlton, Washington DC, and attended by over 150 guests.

Quick Links to Event Documents
True Blue vs. Deep Red: The Ideas that Move American Politics
A framing essay prepared by University of Virginia political scientist James Ceaser argued that we are indeed deeply divided as a nation today into “True Blue” and “Deep Red.” But these divisions go beyond partisanship or culture, he maintains. Rather, they reflect profoundly different understandings of human character and politics, rooted in contrasting “foundational ideas” about nature, history, and religion that have long pedigrees in American public life.

Panelist Biographies

American Politics: How Divided?
Karlyn Bowman of the American Enterprise Institute gathered these extant survey data on how politically divided Americans are.


8:00 a.m.
Registration, continental breakfast

Welcome by the Bradley Center’s William Schambra

Introductory remarks by Amy Kass of Hudson Institute and the University of Chicago and today’s moderator

Panel discussion

Coffee break

Discussion resumes


Further Information

The Bradley Symposium is an annual discussion convened by Hudson Institute’s Bradley Center. Information and documents from past Bradley Symposia can be accessed via the links in a box in the upper right-hand corner of this page. To request further information on these events or the Bradley Center, please contact Hudson Institute at (202) 974-2424 or e-mail Krista.

Michael Barone, Panelist

U.S. News and World Report

Karlyn Bowman, Panelist

American Enterprise Institute

David Brooks, Panelist

The New York Times

Tammy Bruce, Panelist

The Tammy Bruce Show

Allan Carlson, Panelist

The Howard Center (Rockford, IL)

James Ceaser, Panelist

University of Virginia

Francis Fukuyama, Panelist

The Johns Hopkins University

Robert George, Panelist

Princeton University

Hugh Hewitt, Panelist

The Hugh Hewitt Show

Tamar Jacoby, Panelist

Manhattan Institute

William Kristol, Panelist

The Weekly Standard

Brink Lindsey, Panelist

Cato Institute

Wilfred McClay, Panelist

University of Tennessee/Ethics and Public Policy Center

Charles Murray, Panelist

American Enterprise Institute

Matthew Spalding, Panelist

Heritage Foundation

Shelby Steele, Panelist

Hoover Institution

Amy Kass Moderator

Hudson Institute/University of Chicago

Hudson Experts

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