David Davenport

Research Fellow

David Davenport is a research fellow specializing in international law and treaties, constitutional federalism, and American politics and law.

Davenport is the former president of Pepperdine University (1985–2000). Under his leadership, the university experienced significant growth in quality and reputation. Davenport cofounded Common Sense California and the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership. He also served on the board of California Forward, a major bipartisan reform group, and was a member of Governor Schwarzenegger’s California Performance Review Commission. Davenport is a member of two corporate boards as well. He is also a visiting fellow at the Ashbrook Center (2016).

His work on policy appears in a number of places, including a regular column in Forbes.com and regular radio commentaries on the Salem Radio Network and Townhall.com.

He recently coauthored the book The New Deal and Modern American Conservatism, which explains how the New Deal of the 1930s established the framework for today’s US domestic policy and the ongoing debate between progressives and conservatives.

Davenport has also contributed chapters to Hoover books on values in a free society and legal threats to American values and has authored articles in Policy Review on “The New Diplomacy” and “The Politics of Literacy.” Davenport is a popular public speaker, having served for several years as a world affairs lecturer for Crystal Cruises.

Davenport earned a BA with distinction in international relations from Stanford University and a JD from the University of Kansas School of Law, where he was elected to Order of the Coif and earned national and international awards in moot court competitions.

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Recent Commentary

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Rugged Individualism: Dead Or Alive?

by David Davenport, Gordon Lloydvia Books by Hoover Fellows
Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Today American rugged individualism is in a fight for its life on two battlegrounds: in the policy realm and in the intellectual world of ideas that may lead to new policies. In this book the authors look at the political context in which rugged individualism flourishes or declines and offer a balanced assessment of its future prospects. They outline its path from its founding—marked by the Declaration of Independence—to today, focusing on different periods in our history when rugged individualism was thriving or under attack.


One Thing To Expect From President Trump: More Debt And Deficits

by David Davenportvia Forbes
Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Living in the academic world, I have taken up peer therapy with anguished colleagues over the election of Donald Trump. My standard refrain is to wait and see what he actually does because his words have run in too many different directions. Build a wall? We’re not really sure. Kill Obamacare dead in its tracks? Maybe, maybe not. We just have to see.

Analysis and Commentary

Davenport: Cracking The Blue Wall

by David Davenportvia Townhall
Monday, November 28, 2016

The surprise of the 2016 election was Donald Trump’s ability to crack the Democrats’ blue wall of industrial states in the upper Midwest and East. He accomplished this by beating Hillary Clinton by a 40% margin among white working-class voters.

Analysis and Commentary

Davenport: Trump’s Forgotten Man

by David Davenportvia Townhall
Monday, November 21, 2016

In his first tweet as president-elect, Donald Trump echoed a theme from his campaign, promising that “the forgotten man and woman will never be forgotten again.” Funny, but in one of his first radio addresses to the nation in 1932, President Franklin Roosevelt introduced us to “the forgotten man.” 


Voter Message: Jobs And The American Dream Trump The Welfare State

by David Davenportvia Forbes
Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Experts are still dissecting the vote to better understand why Donald Trump was elected. But one message seems relatively clear: Trump voters wanted jobs not welfare. Their concern was the protecting the upside promise of the American dream for their children, not expanding the downside safety net with Obamacare.


The Forgotten Man Rises Again--But Which One?

by David Davenportvia Forbes
Wednesday, November 9, 2016

In his first tweet as president-elect, Donald Trump promised that “the forgotten man and woman will never be forgotten again.” Indeed, the forgotten man and woman were recurring characters in Trump’s flurry of campaign rally speeches on Monday, the day before the election.

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Fear And Loathing Of The Electoral College

by David Davenportvia Forbes
Thursday, October 20, 2016

Consider a couple of seasonal trivia questions: Where in the Constitution is the Electoral College established and where does it meet? The answers are the same: Nowhere. The Constitution speaks of “electors,” but not a college, and the electors meet only in their respective state capitals.

Analysis and Commentary

Davenport: Why Not Prosecute ISIS For War Crimes And Genocide?

by David Davenportvia Townhall
Wednesday, October 12, 2016

International courts love to take on political cases, such as those against Israel or the U.S., but when there are obvious and serious international crimes, they often take a pass. The latest examples of obvious war crimes and genocide come from ISIS … but there is no prosecution in the works.

Analysis and Commentary

Conservatives' Only Hope: If Trump Delegates To Pence

by David Davenportvia Forbes
Friday, October 7, 2016

Perhaps the perfect story to describe the Donald Trump phenomenon and the 2016 campaign is a reported conversation in which Trump’s eldest son spoke with a John Kasich advisor about the vice presidency, proposing that as veep Kasich would be in charge of foreign and domestic policy.

Analysis and Commentary

Davenport: Trump Is From Mars, Clinton Is From Venus

by David Davenportvia Townhall
Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The first presidential debate made one thing clear: the two candidates come from two different planets. Trump is from Mars and Clinton is from Venus.