George Will on Free Speech and Conservative Media

George F. Will has this column out today on a transparent attempt by Democratic members of Congress to intimidate media outlets that, in his words, “distribute conservative content, or what nowadays passes for that.” Will’s conclusion is key: Disinformation is fundamentally a problem of consumption rather than supply. There is a point at which a people incapable of—or worse, uninterested in—distinguishing truth from fiction lacks the modicum of virtue that James Madison said self-government requires. If that is the case, the problem is far deeper than partisan or even extremist information ecosystems. Suppressing them would not help even if doing … Continue reading George Will on Free Speech and Conservative Media

A Common Script for Dislodging Trumpism – Retrospective Thoughts on Impeachment 2.0

As some of my colleagues here know, I was a bit frustrated throughout the second impeachment that there wasn’t more focus on Trump’s dereliction of duty on January 6. It seemed clear to me at the time that the dereliction charge would have been more intuitive than the incitement to violence charge, because everyone knew at the time that, in the very least, Trump failed to protect the Capitol when it mattered. It seemed to me that setting the bar low like this would have made conviction more likely. Jeffrey Tulis and Bill Kristol wrote about this in the lead-up … Continue reading A Common Script for Dislodging Trumpism – Retrospective Thoughts on Impeachment 2.0

Thomas Koenig on Madison and the Filibuster

Thomas Koenig has published an essay at Merion West that deals with a book of mine on Madison, but that pivots to super-majority requirements like the filibuster. He raises important questions that deserve attention, including whether unreasonable obstacles to legislating divert policy disputes to the courts. The specific obstacle that concerns Koenig’s essay most is the filibuster. My own view is that Madison, a ready compromiser who was nonetheless all but ready to walk out of the Constitutional Convention over the “confessedly unjust” equality of state representation in the Senate, was too majoritarian to countenance the filibuster. That does not … Continue reading Thomas Koenig on Madison and the Filibuster

On Civic Education

Ben Kleinerman recently posted a link to an article about the Jack Miller Center, its programs, and its grants which include funding for this publication. The organization is a wonderful success story for American civic education and I am delighted to be affiliated with it and pleased that Ben has highlighted it. However, I don’t think that Ben does justice to the excellence of the Jack Miller Center effort or to our aspirations for this site. Ben’s description would likely resonate well with many affiliated with these efforts — so my criticism is not of Ben, personally, but of the … Continue reading On Civic Education

Article about the Jack Miller Center (our sponsor)

This is a very good article about the Foundation which sponsors theconstitutionalist.org . They show it’s possible to be a partisan of the American tradition without being a partisan for either political party now. They’re doing it the right way. Investing in professors committed to teaching these things in a way that doesn’t become indoctrination. Building programs on campus through the professors with whom they have relationships. Continue reading Article about the Jack Miller Center (our sponsor)

Varieties of Trumpism and the Class Divide

Dan McLaughlin at the National Review has this piece breaking down the varieties of Trumpism and what they mean for the future of the Republican party. It’s a helpful typology, indicating both where Trumpism has a future, even one that is politically salutary, and where it does not. I found his discussion of “common-man Trumpism” especially illuminating. He writes: ‘The divide in class attitudes is much starker than in the social-egalitarian world described by Alexis de Tocqueville in his travels across 1830s America, and many educated, professional Americans don’t even see it.” This is the aspect of Trumpism that isn’t … Continue reading Varieties of Trumpism and the Class Divide

Sticky post

Some Links, re: The Claremont Institute

The Claremont Institute, home to the notorious “Flight 93 Election,” has published some bizarre essays lately, which, given what they’ve gotten up to in the past, is really saying something. I have in mind Charles Kesler’s non-apologia about Trump and January 6, which readers can find in the current edition of the Claremont Review of Books, Michael Anton’s non-apologia about Trump and January 6 (same place), and Arthur Milikh’s recent announcement of Claremont’s new Center for “The American Way of Life.” There is a lot a person could say about this group. Many of its affiliates were supporters of Trump, … Continue reading Some Links, re: The Claremont Institute

Democracy and the Constitution

David Frum has an excellent essay at The Atlantic, The Founders were Wrong about Democracy. The Constitution was meant to cultivate complex majorities rather than empower minority rule. Yet Frum is right to ask whether devices meant to channel and refine popular understandings have empowered minority rule. In many instances, they clearly have. But Frum pushes further, asking whether these devices create disorder and instability. Would we better off with simple majority rule on a host of issues? Frum makes a powerful case that “The United States in the 21st century has reached a point where the best way to attain the … Continue reading Democracy and the Constitution

Jeffrey Isaac On Political Asymmetries (and Evaluative Standards in Journalism)

Earlier this month, Jeffrey Isaac, who is a professor at Indiana University and friendly contributor to The Constitutionalist, wrote a great short analysis for Common Dreams, about the problem of false equivalencies in American politics. Isaac’s article discusses the media’s treatment of Marjorie Taylor Greene, referring back to a profile by Jonathan Chait (“Marjorie Taylor Greene Blamed Wildfires on Secret Jewish Space Lazers”), as well as an odd Axios piece (“The Mischief Makers”) that tried to identify the most troublesome members of the two parties. Isaac’s piece is valuable because he pushes further than most on the problem of false … Continue reading Jeffrey Isaac On Political Asymmetries (and Evaluative Standards in Journalism)

A Defense of Moderation

Aurelian Craiutu and Constantine Vassiliou have an excellent article articulating, defending, and pleading for us to turn from a politics of warfare to a politics of moderation. As Craiutu and Vassiliou argue, for both sides politics has become a zero-sum game in which they either win completely or the other side wins completely. This explains why presidential elections have become so important. We think the defeat of the other side in a presidential election is a matter of life or death. They attribute part of the problem to social media: “There is a significant difference between executing an idea and … Continue reading A Defense of Moderation