The Ethical Center of American Constitutionalism

By |2019-03-25T07:17:52-05:00March 24th, 2019|

The direction that constitutional practice has taken in the past hundred years shows that the Framers’ conception of republican government has passed and the era of populist democracy has arrived. The underlying transformation of the unwritten constitution renders efforts to return to the Framers’ original intent problematic. Today’s offering in our Timeless Essay series [...]

Progressivism and Democracy

By |2019-03-10T14:45:13-05:00March 10th, 2019|

Could democratic government solve, or even effectively address, the problems of a modern society? For decades, this question vexed Progressive reformers as they navigated the transformation of the United States from a country of small farms and rural communities to a nation of factories, corporations, and cities. Before the Civil War, Americans never doubted [...]

Public Opinion in James Bryce’s “The American Commonwealth”

By |2019-02-07T13:02:45-05:00February 7th, 2019|

We see that the creation of one’s own opinions is to a large degree a community affair. According to James Bryce, the individual has a powerful role in crafting a nation’s political discourse, but can only be involved in doing so if they act in concert with others. This neither denies the possibility of conflicting [...]

Franklin Pierce, Political Protest, & the Dilemmas of Democracy

By |2019-01-08T23:01:25-05:00January 8th, 2019|

Franklin Pierce’s suspicions reflected a tension within the antebellum Democratic Party in relation to slavery—how can we reconcile an advocacy of democratic decision-making with the existence of transcendent moral values, the Constitution with the Bible? On the stump in New Boston, New Hampshire in early January 1852, Franklin Pierce gave a long oration during [...]

Versailles at 100

By |2018-12-31T12:59:10-05:00January 1st, 2019|

The Great War, in Woodrow Wilson’s view, had to become precisely what the delegates to the Congress of Vienna feared: a moral crusade, an instrument of social and political revolution… For American president Woodrow Wilson, the First World War was the “war to end all wars” by making “the world safe for democracy,” not [...]

Understanding Voegelin’s Critique of Locke

By |2018-11-30T21:59:17-05:00November 30th, 2018|

Eric Voegelin No matter how conservative intellectuals try, they just do not seem able to escape John Locke. Jonah Goldberg’s well-received Suicide of the West proudly called America’s Declaration of Independence “echoes of” the great English Enlightenment philosopher John Locke, saying U.S. history was “more Locke than anything Locke imagined.”  He inspired “a government but not [...]

The Political Thought of Edgar Allan Poe

By |2018-11-30T12:46:08-05:00November 29th, 2018|

Edgar Allan Poe vigorously denounced the Jeffersonian ideal of democracy. He had no sympathy with abstract political notions such as those which had produced liberal republican theory in America and elsewhere. Like Edmund Burke, Poe was highly suspicious of the “well-constructed Republic”… The opinion has been often stated that Edgar Allan Poe was bizarre [...]

Why I Didn’t Vote

By |2018-11-08T23:02:56-05:00November 8th, 2018|

Since I was a little boy, I have been taught that it is a sacred duty to vote. That if you don't vote, you have no right to complain—that true patriots care enough to vote, even if for a lesser evil. But how is it that the same system that dishes out the same unworthy [...]

Our Enemy: The (Imperial) Presidency

By |2019-04-07T17:41:30-05:00November 5th, 2018|

Many Americans fear the dysfunction in Congress and the rise of an “activist” Supreme Court. Both worries are misplaced, at least in relationship to the larger problem at hand: the growth of presidential imperialism… Albert Jay Nock Albert Jay Nock was an important literary and social critic of the first-half of the twentieth [...]

A Popular Defense of Our Undemocratic Constitution

By |2019-04-02T15:24:09-05:00October 28th, 2018|

If we consider the Founders’ arguments for the Constitution, we find not only that they intended it to be undemocratic, but that they would defend even its most undemocratic elements on “popular” grounds. What might appear to the partisans of democracy today as outdated roadblocks to efficient government are for the Founders politically salutary forms [...]

Donald Trump and the Path to a New Conservatism

By |2018-10-16T23:32:22-05:00October 16th, 2018|

It was Donald Trump’s sense of fraternity that most incensed his opponents. For the liberals, it was his solidarity with people they thought deplorable. For the libertarians, it was the safety net he’d offer Americans. For both he was toxic, but his fraternity brought him to the sweet spot in American presidential politics, the place [...]