The Public Interest at 50

Adam Keiper, National Affairs, Fall 2015.


The most timeless essay in the first issue of The Public Interest was penned by Martin Diamond, a professor of political philosophy, an explicator of and reviver of interest in the Federalist Papers, and a student of Leo Strauss who, Irving Kristol would recall, “helped me understand what Strauss was up to.”

In “Conservatives, Liberals, and the Constitution,” Diamond quotes a short passage from Federalist No. 51 and, starting with just that one thread, weaves a whole tapestry of interpretation, finally demonstrating how the liberal “dislikes the Constitution for what at bottom are correct reasons” while the conservative “likes the Constitution for what at bottom are wrong reasons.” It is a brilliant performance, and an early indication of the crucial role The Public Interest would come to play: bringing together political theory and political practice, and appreciating the virtues of our partisan politics without itself becoming encumbered by partisan blinders.

National Affairs