Susan McWilliams Barndt is a regular contributor to The Constitutionalist. She is Chair and Professor in the Politics Department at Pomona College. For the health of this republic, we need Republican leaders to believe that theirs can become the majority … Continue reading In Search of a Republican Majority
Prohibition, The Constitution, and States’ Rights by Sean Beienburg (University of Chicago Press, 2019) This book is a captivating political history of Prohibition – that dark moment in our nation’s history – and its undoing. It is also a reflection on the dynamics of American politics, with a focus on questions of federalism and states’ rights. Beienburg shows us that whatever else it accomplished (like getting my grandfather suspended from college), Prohibition massively extended federal authority in this country. While it is no longer the law of the land, the legal legacy of Prohibition is still with us. One of … Continue reading Susan McWilliams Barndt lists her favorite books of 2020
There has never been a moment in American history without its secessionists. That makes sense. We have always valorized popular sovereignty in the United States, but we’ve never lived under conditions conducive to it. Specifically, this country has always been so big and so diverse that meaningful popular sovereignty is not possible on a national level. I love what Nathaniel Hawthorne once said: this country is “too vast by far to be taken into one small human heart.” Americans believe that “we the people” deserve to govern, but in practice it is hard for any individual person – or group … Continue reading Secessionism is Baked Into the American System
All republics need built-in safeguards against would-be tyrants.
President Trump has eroded some of those safeguards in th Continue reading Make Public Office Unappealing Again
This article, by Chiara Cordelli in the Boston Review, is worth reading. In “Why Privatization is Wrong,” Cordelli makes an important distinction between “small government” and “privatized government.” The former is a long-held ideal in American politics. The latter is closer to what Americans have now. As Cordelli puts it, “Even in the United States, the breeding ground of neoliberal “small government” advocates, government spending has substantially increased in the last decades, and the overall workforce employed by the federal government has also gone up. However, its composition and modes of operation have changed. While the number of civil servants has … Continue reading Small Versus Privatized Government
Given the discussion on this site (and elsewhere) about the relationship between Trump and fascism, you readers may be interested in this brief interview with Corey Robin in the Jewish Currents newsletter. Robin’s argument – which is interesting even if you find it unpersuasive — is that Trumpism is “almost the complete opposite of fascism.” For Robin, fascism is about the exercise of strength and will, and he sees Trump as an exceptionally weak leader. Continue reading Is Trump a Fascist, or “Almost the Complete Opposite”?
How can so many Americans be sucked in by the conspiracy theory of QAnon? Dr. Susan McWilliams Barndt explains the content of QAnon is crazy, but the feelings of dispossession, frustration and rage that fuel this fire are valid. As McWilliams Brandt identifies, political leaders must thoughtfully “address the rages of our time—rages that, even when expressed in falsehood, tell us something true.” Continue reading For Real and For Q: Why QAnon Matters