Avoiding the Chaos of a Another Jan 6

There’s a great We the People podcast, from the National Constitution Center with Jeffrey Rosen, on reforming the Electoral Count Act: https://constitutioncenter.org/debate/podcasts It clearly outlines the problems with the Act and how it could be reformed to avoid the sort of ambiguities that were exploited in the 2020 election. It’s with Ned Foley and Brad Smith who co-authored an op-ed in the Washington Post along with Michael McConnell and Richard Pildes: “to avoid a repeat of Jan. 6, or worse, Congress must rewrite the Electoral Count Act, the outmoded 1887 law that governs the certification of the presidential vote. There is a pressing need … Continue reading Avoiding the Chaos of a Another Jan 6

Recent Writing

I’ve published a couple of recent essays. One was at Law and Liberty and dealt with how conservatives should view January 6. It might be interesting to those who have followed the excellent conversation on January 6 on this blog. The second, which appears in the winter edition of National Affairs, deals with a topic that has interested me for several years: the tension between Enlightenment science and Enlightenment politics. Long story short, the former seeks control while the latter seeks liberty. The essay is called “Liberty and the Conquest of Chance” and is available here. Continue reading Recent Writing

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

Is January 6 Partisan? 

I appreciate Ben’s thoughts on political exhaustion and largely agree with what he has to say about debates around school curriculum in this post. I’m much less certain about his take on January 6. He’s right that many fellow citizens voted for and supported Trump. We should want to know why they supported him. And we should take some of those reasons seriously. But if we are, as Ben says, to think through founding principles, an essential one—the essential one—is the peaceful transfer of power. That principle was rejected by a sitting president and his party has largely lined up behind him on … Continue reading Is January 6 Partisan? 

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

Political Exhaustion and Democratic Collapse

I think Ben misses the point of Charlie Sykes’s piece on exhaustion, and especially Jeff’s thought that exhaustion ought to be studied alongside other political phenomena. The Sykes essay recognizes Ben’s point that in many ways there’s been “too much politics.”  As Sykes notes: “The world is too much with us, of course, but the real problem it is that it so dumb, so infused with mind-numbing bad faith, and a grinding sense of futility that anything will matter or change.” We’re exhausted by the persistent assaults on the public mind by the likes of the Big Lie. We’re exhausted by Republicans gaslighting … Continue reading Political Exhaustion and Democratic Collapse

More on January 6th

The January 6 Committee continues to uncover extraordinarily valuable information. It is putting together a comprehensive picture of the disturbing events that led up to that day. And Liz Cheney has been exquisite. She has been clear that the attack on the Capitol was part of a larger effort by President Trump to overturn the election. She’s made the case that he was attempting to hinder Congress in carrying out its constitutional duties in an effort to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power. Watch her here. And here.  She’s also clear-eyed that Trump’s elections lies continue to be a threat to the future … Continue reading More on January 6th

The Jan 6th Commission

The January 6th Commission is doing valuable work unpacking the details of the events that led up the attack on the Capitol. And it offers Congress a chance to reassert its authority. Congress was violently attacked while carrying out its constitutional responsibilities. If it does not demand answers, and use its constitutional power to get them, it will seem more feckless than ever. But will this matter politically in the short term? That seems highly unlikely.  As Quinta Jurecic argues in an essay in The Atlantic: “These details, if they bear out, are valuable—but they are details. The main facts of what happened … Continue reading The Jan 6th Commission

Liz Cheney’s Courage 

While Senator Josh Hawley is busy complaining that “the traditional masculine virtues — things like courage and independence and assertiveness” are under siege, he might take a break from his posturing and fist raising to watch Liz Cheney’s recent speech in New Hampshire. Speaking of former President Trump’s continued lies about the 2020 election, Cheney insisted, “Political leaders who sit silent in the face of these false and dangerous claims are aiding a former president who is at war with the rule of law and the Constitution.” Cheney could have had Senator Hawley in mind. Watch Cheney’s speech. Then watch Hawley’s. It’s a study in … Continue reading Liz Cheney’s Courage