Constitutional Drift & the Challenge of Self-Governance

By |2018-07-29T23:08:08-05:00July 29th, 2018|Categories: Conservatism, Constitution, Federalist, Government, Liberty, Politics, Timeless Essays|

Self-governance requires that those in positions of authority emphasize the importance of treating the Constitution as a "living document," in that phrase’s best sense—not as a surrender to expediency, but as a recognition that no nation can govern itself that fails to meet the responsibility of perpetually renewing the Constitution by living its constitution... Today’s [...]

On Compromise

By |2018-11-21T08:38:40-05:00April 23rd, 2018|Categories: Character, Constitution, E.B., Eva Brann, Federalist, History, Philosophy, St. John's College|

What is interesting is the ultimate human predicament, when serious principles, serious commitments are at odds, and there is no apparent way to compose them in sight, except for giving something up, or giving in—that will be a surrender of self. Why are we in these predicaments to begin with?… I am not a [...]

How Conservatives & Liberals View The Federalist

By |2018-07-02T23:23:46-05:00November 9th, 2017|Categories: American Founding, American Republic, Conservatism, Constitution, Featured, Federalist, Federalist Papers, History, Liberal|

In The Federalist, Publius writes of “new” and “improved” “principles” of the “science of politics,” and he urges his countrymen to abandon the classical teachings concerning the possibilities of republican government over an extensive territory… Conservatives—American and otherwise—have always held The Federalist in extremely high regard. Virtually all would agree with Clinton Rossiter that it stands with the [...]

Harry Jaffa, Walter Berns, & American Conservatism

By |2019-03-26T17:09:19-05:00November 5th, 2017|Categories: American Republic, Books, Conservatism, Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Federalist, Leo Strauss, Patriotism, Russell Kirk|

Historical context, for members of the Straussian school, is “historicism,” a form of moral relativism that believes that there are no fixed truths, only ideas appropriate for their historical moment… Patriotism Is Not Enough: Harry Jaffa, Walter Berns, and the Arguments That Redefined American Conservatism by Steven Hayward (263 pages, Encounter Books, 2016) Dr. Steven [...]

The Americanization of Conservatism

By |2019-01-07T14:11:26-05:00October 25th, 2017|Categories: Constitution, Culture, Declaration of Independence, Featured, Federalist, History, M. E. Bradford, Russell Kirk, Willmoore Kendall|

We need to develop a fully American variant of conservatism; to advance our understand­ing of the conservative nature of the political traditions we have inherited; and to do so with a dignity that will permit us to stand before God, the American public, and our conservative forebears… In the next century, because of both [...]

Time for a New Constitutional Convention?

By |2016-11-01T22:58:04-05:00November 1st, 2016|Categories: Bruce Frohnen, Constitution, Culture, Federalist, Politics, Presidency|

It is possible that Hillary Clinton will be the next President of the United States. My intention in saying this is not to discourage supporters of and potential voters for Donald Trump. These people know from experience that it is best to dismiss or fight to prove wrong the self-interested doomsday predictions of the [...]

What “The Federalist” Really Says

By |2019-03-16T10:18:31-05:00June 13th, 2016|Categories: Abraham Lincoln, American Founding, American Republic, Equality, Featured, Federalist, Federalist Papers, James Madison, John Locke, Willmoore Kendall|

III In his analysis of the Socrates of the Apology, Willmoore Kendall was hinting strongly at the probability that the contemporary John Stuart Mill-Karl Popper school in the United States is using the argument of the purist open society as an instrument or weapon to unhinge the existing orthodoxy, not for the alleged purpose [...]

North Carolina and Rhode Island: The ‘Wayward Sisters’ and the Constitution

By |2015-02-11T15:08:07-05:00February 15th, 2015|Categories: American Founding, Constitution, Federalist, James Madison|Tags: , |

It has been said that every religious heresy proceeds from a misunderstanding of the nature of God. Something similar could be said about constitutional heresies. They proceed from a misunderstanding of the nature of the Union. From the time the conservative intellectual movement emerged in the United States in the early 1950s, for example, [...]

Democratizing the Constitution: The Failure of the Seventeenth Amendment

By |2014-05-26T11:38:26-05:00May 18th, 2014|Categories: Constitution, Federalist, Government, Politics|Tags: |

It was with no small sense of vindication that Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan signed the proclamation of 31 May 1913, declaring the Seventeenth Amendment duly ratified and incorporated into the fundamental laws of the United States. More than twenty years earlier as a Nebraska congressman, “The Great Commoner” had joined the struggle [...]

James Madison’s Nonsense-Coup Against Montesquieu

By |2016-06-15T16:43:58-05:00December 9th, 2013|Categories: American Founding, American Republic, Constitution, Federalist, Government, James Madison|Tags: |

In the post-Constitutional American order of 2013, one hears increasingly frequent reference among everyday conservatives to “the real Constitution.” This entails popular references to the Framers, to the late 1780s, and even to the political-science classics being referenced by the Framers in the late 1780s. One rightly designates it a good thing. However, a [...]

Died on the 4th of July: Fisher Ames, Founding Father & arch-foe of Democracy

By |2019-04-04T11:23:42-05:00July 4th, 2013|Categories: American Founding, American Republic, Conservatism, Federalist, Fisher Ames|Tags: |

I told a friend of mine I was going to write a profile on Fisher Ames. “Who?” he asked. “Fisher Ames. One of our Founding Fathers and a preeminent Federalist.” “And you’re writing a profile on him?” “Yep.” “Why?” “Well…he’s largely forgotten. And his brand of conservatism was actually conservative. You know, interestingly enough, he [...]