“American Moment, a small but scrappy organization…quietly reshaping the conservative establishment in Washington," writes Ian Ward in a new Politico Magazine feature on American Moment. “On the agenda: How to take over the federal government, one junior staff position at a time.”
One Friday afternoon in July, two dozen neatly dressed young people trickled into a narrow office on Pennsylvania Avenue, just a few blocks east of the U.S. Capitol. From the outside, the building looked the same as the other stately row houses that line Capitol Hill. But inside, there was the unmistakable ambiance of a frat living room. Along the far wall, a collection of half-empty liquor bottles sat atop a decorative mantelpiece, next to a glass shelf housing a stack of wooden cigar boxes and a Lego replica of the White House. Across the room, a free-standing keg cooler dispensed cold brew coffee into paper cups. The space was mostly devoid of furniture, save for the keg, a fridge, a folding table and a few plastic chairs.
Yet the room’s occupants, all interns from Republican congressional offices and conservative think tanks around D.C., weren’t there to party — or at least not exclusively to party. Instead, they took their seats in the rolling chairs, pulled notebooks and pencils out of their backpacks and readied themselves for the day’s seminar. On the agenda: How to take over the federal government, one junior staff position at a time.
Their host was American Moment, a small but scrappy organization that’s quietly reshaping the conservative establishment in Washington. Founded in 2021 with the backing of now-Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance, the group is part of a broader movement that’s underway in Washington to recruit right-leaning staffers to help the next Republican president — whoever that may be — wage war on the “deep state” and entrench the populist political revolt that began with the Trump administration.
But unlike some of its more high-profile partners in that effort — which include conservative heavyweights like the Heritage Foundation and the Conservative Partnership Institute — American Moment isn’t focused on wooing would-be cabinet secretaries or senior White House advisers. With the 2024 election fast approaching, the group is on a mission to recruit and train the next generation of Republican elites by beginning at the lowest levels of the Washington hierarchy — the legislative assistants, press aides and junior staffers who will serve as the foot soldiers in the GOP’s war on the federal bureaucracy.
Saurabh Sharma, the group’s bespectacled president and co-founder, told me that his long-term goal is to nurture a new class of Beltway elites who are steeped in an explicitly reactionary worldview — and who have the institutional knowledge and political acumen to translate that philosophy into policy. “The loaf has to go in the oven and bake for 10 years so that the class of credentialed experts — the people who know the system and know where the levers of power are — are your people,” said Sharma, who, at 25 years old, serves as the notably youthful public face for American Moment. “The way you make senior staff is by making junior staff 10 years earlier.”