2012 Symposium

In an age where every form of authority was being eroded by the tide of democratic individualism, the man who documented that erosion became an authority himself.  He was modern America's most authoritative intellectual figure. …  What is singular about [Bradley Prize recipient James Q. Wilson] is that he was deeply conversant with essentially the entire range of public affairs, and marshaled his knowledge in every field with evident sound judgment and probity, with lucidity, and with democratic modesty and accessibility.

So wrote Hudson Institute distinguished fellow Christopher DeMuth in The Weekly Standard shortly after the death of Wilson -- a prominent political scientist whose work in American politics, public policy, organization, and culture and character was widely read and acclaimed by public officials and everyday citizens alike.

The 2012 Bradley Symposium, hosted by the Hudson Institute's Bradley Center for Philanthropy and Civic Renewal and National Affairs magazine, featured a discussion among prominent political figures and scholars on Wilson's life and legacy.

"Knowledge and Governance in American Democracy: The Legacy of James Q. Wilson" included DeMuth, Boston College professor R. Shep Melnick, and American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy senior fellow Karlyn BowmanWeekly Standard editor William Kristol, another Bradley Prize recipient, and National Affairs editor Yuval Levin co-moderated.

"Our subject today flows very naturally from the Bradley Foundation's longstanding interest in the study of American government, culture, and society, and in efforts to strengthen and improve our country," Levin said in his introduction to the day.  "The attitude that the Foundation has long taken towards this work, a firm devotion to American ideals, combined with a realistic and firm practical mindedness was very much Jim Wilson's attitude, and Wilson helped guide and advance the Foundation’s work at some key moments over the years, " he continued.  "So it is really very fitting that we should gather here to honor his memory today."

An edited transcript of the proceedings is available online.