Essayists like Charles Lamb, William Hazlitt and Thomas De Quincey changed their focus of writing from social and political issues to individual life issues.
I argue that the romantic essayists were modern epideictic rhetors who transformed the mode from the celebration of shared ideals into a means of orchestrating competing political perspectives in a modern society.
Like the volume to which he has contributed, Tom West's remarks reflect a pessimism about the decisively debilitating effect of Progressivism on American politics. The essayists are insufficiently self-aware -- about their own contributions and those of their distinguished teachers. That is, they are not sufficiently aware that they themselves are part of an increasingly vibrant and aggressive movement to recover the Founders' constitutionalism -- a movement that could only have been dreamt of when I entered graduate school in the early '70s.
These essayists invest literary writing with the community-building functions of rhetoric even as they differentiate themselves from political orators.