Partisanship, the Big Lie, and January 6th

Jeff claims that Jeff Isaac’s essay rebuts my arguments regarding Biden’s speech. It seems to me that his essay actually illustrates, rather than rebuts, my claims. Both Jeffs seem to appreciate and admire the speech. Jeff Isaac calls it “terrific” in that it “renew[ed] the fight to defend democracy.” As I said in my previous post, I too want to defend democracy. The question is, however, how we go about doing that. Isaac wants to fight for the Constitution, but, for him, continuing that fight apparently means fighting the entire Republican party. He writes: “The most important of aspect of … Continue reading Partisanship, the Big Lie, and January 6th

The Partisanship of Biden’s January 6th Speech

George: I agree with almost everything you say here about what Biden should have done with yesterday’s speech. I just don’t agree that Biden’s speech accomplished that. The attempt to build a coalition of constitutional patriots must include the acceptance of party differences. Biden’s speech was more aggressively partisan that that. He was not merely a constitutional partisan; he became a partisan of the Democratic party. He equated Republican politics now regarding, for instance, the federalization of elections with January 6th. I think there are reasons to oppose the federalization of elections that have nothing to do with January 6th. … Continue reading The Partisanship of Biden’s January 6th Speech

The Reasons for Political Exhaustion

George might be right that I missed the point of Sykes’s essay, but it seems that he missed the point of my post. It’s all-too-easy to blame all of our political exhaustion on Trump and the Republicans. But, as I also suggested in my other post today, I don’t see how that gets us anywhere. The answer to all of our political problems can’t just be: the Republicans did it. There is a crisis of confidence in our democracy that can’t be solved merely by changing the party in power and re-litigating January 6 so that we can remind ourselves … Continue reading The Reasons for Political Exhaustion

The Missed Opportunity in the President’s Speech

Until the last ten minutes or so, I thought Biden’s speech was mostly a missed opportunity. Perhaps not from the perspective of partisanship, but from the perspective of what he claims to be one of the President’s function: to unify the country. For the last ten minutes, he reflected on the meaning of January 6, 2021 and discussed ways to overcome it; those last ten minutes should have extended across what would have been a shorter but more effective speech. The difficulty is, however, that those reflections came only after a speech that would have made much more sense on … Continue reading The Missed Opportunity in the President’s Speech

Why are we so politically exhausted?

My Constitutionalist colleague Jeff Tulis posted a link to Charlie Sykes’s essay, “Thoughts on our Political Exhaustion.” Tulis commends the article and seems to suggest that we ought overcome our exhaustion by understanding it and hope again for the future: “Out of better understanding may come hope, and out of hope may come action.” While respecting Tulis’s call for us to return to politics with renewed vigor, I’d take the opposite lesson from Sykes’s essay. We’re exhausted from politics because there’s been so much of it all the time. And so much of it occurs at a level over which … Continue reading Why are we so politically exhausted?

BBB and a d(D)emocratic mandate

In the wake of Joe Manchin’s refusal to support the Build Back Better Bill, there has been lots of recriminations of our constitutional system. For instance, this tweet calls for structural change because Manchin was able successfully to oppose the rest of his party. “Healthy democracy” is said to require that the 50 Democratic Senators in an evenly divided Senate completely get their way. After all, Manchin is joined in opposition by 50 Republicans. Might we not ask the opposite question: what type of constitutional democracy is it when 50 Democrats can win on everything despite the opposition of exactly … Continue reading BBB and a d(D)emocratic mandate

Who’s Watching Whom?

In this tweet, Barbara Walter seems to propose that we allow the CIA to create a task force that would “try to predict where and when political instability and conflict is likely to break out” domestically, just as they do around the world now. I would like to assume that Professor Walter, a political scientist at UC-San Diego, meant this tweet ironically. But, given the rest of her intellectual profile, I think it wasn’t meant in jest. Instead, it represents a new comfort level that people, especially those on the left, now have with the apparatuses of government. Insofar as … Continue reading Who’s Watching Whom?

The Foolishness of Intellectuals

I guess great minds think alike. I was just in the middle of writing my own recommendation of Tom’s essay, when Laura and George wrote theirs. Still I’ll triple down on the recommendation. Tom Merrill (American University) has a piece in the Bulwark today that is truly outstanding. Framed as a review of Glenn Ellmers’s, The Soul of Politics: Harry V. Jaffa and the Fight for America, Merrill undertakes a profound analysis not only of Harry Jaffa and the Claremont Institute, but of intellectuals more generally. I liked it especially for this line: “There is some foolishness that only intellectuals … Continue reading The Foolishness of Intellectuals

The Western Tradition and Human Freedom

Martha Bayles wrote this review of what sounds like a very interesting book, Rescuing Socrates by Roosevelt Montas at Columbia University. Montas apparently shows persuasively the ways in which a thinker like Socrates helped liberate him and educate him beyond his background as a Dominican immigrant fresh to New York City. It led him to Columbia and that led him, ultimately, to become a Professor at Columbia teaching in their Great Books Program. It is insufficiently appreciated that the Western Tradition isn’t simply the preserve of old white men dedicated to the preservation of what’s old merely because it’s what’s … Continue reading The Western Tradition and Human Freedom

The Vaccination Mandate, the Congressional Statutory Framework, and Presidential Action

Although I agree with Greg Weiner’s post in his general point about congressional legislation that is too sweeping in its general point, I don’t think the point applies here. After all, the Fifth Circuit found sufficient distance between OSHA and the vaccination mandate that it put a stay on the Mandate, pending further action by the Court. Of course, the Court could end up allowing the mandate to continue. But, as Weiner notes, there is a significant difference between OSHA’S provision for standards relating to toxic chemicals, ‚Äúsubstances or agents that are deemed to be toxic or physically harmful or … Continue reading The Vaccination Mandate, the Congressional Statutory Framework, and Presidential Action