A January 6th Commission

Will January 6th be the new norm? More pointedly, will efforts to overturn the results of close elections become an ordinary feature of American politics? In close elections, will state legislatures refuse to certify elections results if a candidate from the other party won? Will the House and Senate refuse to acknowledge the counting of electoral votes if the candidate of the other party won?  Such questions go to the heart of American democracy.   Liz Cheney is right that we should have a January 6th commission to fully understand the events the culminated in the attack on the Capitol. As she writes in … Continue reading A January 6th Commission

The Illiberalism of Speech Apologies

Matthew J. Mayhew recently posted this essay in Inside Higher Ed. It is an earnest and exceedingly odd sequel to his first essay, “Why America Needs College Football.” He has learned that there was an implicit racism in his initial essay that has “deepened the pain experienced by my ignorance related to Black male athletes and the Black community.” He has learned his lesson and the sequel apologizes for the “hurt, sadness, frustration, fatigue, exhaustion and pain this article has caused anyone.” He expresses so much contrition about the “deep ache for the damage I have done” that it feels … Continue reading The Illiberalism of Speech Apologies

The Stupidity of the Johnson & Johnson Pause

Update: Although not definitive, this study would seem to supply some evidence for my claim. The pause on J&J shots because of an astronomically low risk rate is, I think, remarkably stupid. The chances of getting hit by lightning or winning the lottery are higher than the chance of a blood clot. Medicine always carries risks. The risks are typically much higher than 6 in one million. Although the American public might overrate such risks (they actually think the next ticket is the one that wins them the lottery), the “scientists” at the CDC should know better. Apparently, the people … Continue reading The Stupidity of the Johnson & Johnson Pause

Noblesse Oblige, the Class Divide, and Race

This divide isn’t soluble by simply lambasting the losers as uncivilized racists. Nor, on the other side, is it soluble by calling the winners “rodents” and “zombies,” as Glenn Ellmers did in his recent piece in The American Mind. I’m honestly not sure what the answer is except that I know, as my daughter would say, those aren’t it. I also know that it has to begin by us all admitting what is more and more obvious: there’s a deep class divide in America in which access from one side to the other is nearly insurmountable. Continue reading Noblesse Oblige, the Class Divide, and Race

The Dignity of Work and the Class Divide in America

Bonnie Honig’s outstanding essay for us a couple of days ago suggests that we ought appreciate the intrinsic dignity of work. Our society, however, doesn’t always appreciate that dignity. She writes: “‘Care-work’ or manual labor is “treated as ‘low,’ and it is not paid properly. Providers are often anonymized and rewarded for their labors with job insecurity and vulnerability.” This lack of dignity, reward, or even security for manual labor has been revealed with real clarity by the quarantine. The events of January 6th and the excessive politicization of mask-wearing obscured what the quarantine should have taught us about this … Continue reading The Dignity of Work and the Class Divide in America

Academic Freedom and Constitutionalism

Following Jeff, let me highlight the important work Keith Whittington has done in spearheading the Academic Freedom Alliance to protect and preserve academic freedom. I am also honored to be among the founding members.  But let me also highlight the link between education and constitutionalism. The modern American university and the American liberal arts college are, in many ways, outgrowths of American constitutionalism. These “learned institutions” are also a complement to American constitutionalism. Academic freedom is essential to the development of knowledge and truth, which help shape our political culture. This includes university education of a wide-ranging sort that includes things we do not usually associate … Continue reading Academic Freedom and Constitutionalism

Mask Mandates are Reasonable

I suppose I understand Ben’s point that a responsible conservatism does not need a state mandate to enforce socially responsible behavior during a pandemic. That individuals and private associations are willing to act in responsible ways and require mask wearing even if the government does not mandate it. And that’s in contrast to “Trumpian” conservatism that emphasizes rebellion against the state. The latter engages in a kind of posturing, which leads supporters to refuse to wear masks even when they are mandated by private entities rather than government agents. It makes masks a partisan issue subject to the performative politics … Continue reading Mask Mandates are Reasonable

The Texas mask mandate and the true nature of Conservatism

But as a resident of the state who doesn’t even live in Austin, the answer would surprise most of the country. Same number of masked students at Baylor (although it has maintained the mask requirement on University grounds); same number of masked people, if not even more, in the grocery store; same number in every public space that you can imagine. Continue reading The Texas mask mandate and the true nature of Conservatism

A Clarification on the Separation of Powers

I agreed with Ben’s essential point that within the separation of powers we can expect President Biden to have a somewhat different perspective on executive power than candidate Biden or, especially, Senator Biden. That point was about the institution shaping the occupant of the office. That’s embodied in Madison’s famous line about the interests of the office holder being connected to the “constitutional rights of the place.”  I am skeptical, however, that this understanding of the separation of powers captures our contemporary Congress. Ben takes heart that even while Republicans were reluctant to resist President Trump, the fact that they … Continue reading A Clarification on the Separation of Powers

Separation of Parties, not Powers?

Both George and Greg suggest that my separation of powers argument concerning Biden’s air strikes doesn’t square with the fact that political parties have replaced the separation of powers. I agree with them that this has now become the conventional opinion regarding the separation of powers. And, as they rightly note, the dominance of parties over powers is especially clear during unified control of government. The majority party in Congress doesn’t assert its institutional rights very strongly if it also controls the Presidency. That being said, I think this argument is somewhat overstated. Ultimately, it depends some on thinking of … Continue reading Separation of Parties, not Powers?