The Writer’s Vocation

Carl Eric Scott has done Shep Melnick and, less directly, your correspondent the honor of an extended critique in a recent essay for the “Postmodern Conservative” newsletter. There is a great deal about it with which I disagree, but one point bears particular analysis. Melnick and I, Scott suggests, are being “anything but strategic” in criticizing Trumpism given that no conservative coalition is possible without Trump supporters. That may be so, and despite my rejection of Trumpism, I do not believe patriotic Americans can or should dismiss the voices of 74 million fellow citizens. But as to the charge of being anything … Continue reading The Writer’s Vocation

On nuking (or reforming) the filibuster

I’ve been thinking more than usual about the filibuster lately, for a lot of obvious reasons. I think one of the things at the root of current political unrest is persistent government failure and obstructionism. The US Constitution already makes it pretty difficult to pass legislation, but the filibuster makes it that much more so. Does abolishing the filibuster makes sense from a constitutional perspective, given the fact that it has been part of normal legislative procedure for so long now? What implications would abolishing it have for bi-partisanship? And how much does the origin and history of the filibuster … Continue reading On nuking (or reforming) the filibuster

Honorable vs. Unhealthy Partisanship

The conventional wisdom is that partisanship fuels polarization. In the spring issue of National Affairs, I have an essay suggesting that honorable partisanship might actually provide a way out. On this reading, partisanship is a reflection of polarization. Polarization, in turn, reflects the fact that we have not persuaded one another of our ideas. Properly conceived parties can be vehicles for persuasion. By contrast, hopes for “post-partisanship,” which I trace to Hobbes and Bolingbroke, are rooted in discomfort with disagreement in politics. Honorable partisanship descends from Edmund Burke’s emphasis on partisanship as rooted in friendship, which in turn is based … Continue reading Honorable vs. Unhealthy Partisanship

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?