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. He was a visiting fellow at the Ashbrook Center working on civic education from 2016 to 2018.

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

He has coauthored three books with his colleague Gordon Lloyd: How Public Policy Became War (2019), Rugged Individualism: Dead or Alive? (2017), and The New Deal and Modern American Conservatism: A Defining Rivalry (2013). These books offer distinctive ways of understanding both the current and the historic debates 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’s 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

Analysis and CommentaryPolitics

David Davenport: Conservatives: Beware The Wrong Message

by David Davenportvia Townhall Review
Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Conservatives’ message was individual liberty and limited government, but it’s been narrowed to a defense of capitalism and free markets. This message is a dead-end for younger voters, especially.


Democrats Foolishly Pine For A New New Deal

by David Davenportvia The Washington Examiner
Friday, October 18, 2019

If you are a Republican running for political office, it’s a safe bet that you seek to identify with conservatives’ last great president, Ronald Reagan. Increasingly, the Democrats’ alternative is not so much a person, since he has faded from memory, but a program: Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal of the 1930s. With their poor understanding of American history, young people fail to realize that what they really want is a new New Deal, and what candidates such as Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are prepared to offer them is best understood as a further expansion of the original New Deal.

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How Policy Became War

by David Davenport, Gordon Lloydvia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Wars on poverty, on drugs, on terrorism: for decades the federal government has been declaring war—metaphorical, that is. The casualties? Compromise, reason, and the separation of powers.

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“None of the Wars Has Been Won”

by Peter M. Robinson interview with David Davenportvia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Hoover fellow David Davenport, co-author of How Public Policy Became War, calls for a rhetorical cease-fire.

In the News

David Davenport Addresses Coronado Roundtable On How Public Policy Became War

featuring David Davenportvia Coronado Eagle & Journal
Friday, October 4, 2019

Author, research fellow and columnist David Davenport, who co-authored with Gordon Lloyd “How Public Policy Became War” (2019: Hoover Institution Press), addressed the Coronado Roundtable on the book’s topic at its September monthly meeting at the Coronado Public Library. The Coronado resident is a regular columnist for the Washington Examiner, a radio commentator and a former president of Pepperdine University.

Analysis and Commentary

David Davenport: Beware A “War” On Climate Change

by David Davenportvia Townhall Review
Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Politicians have learned that, if they don’t know how to solve a problem, they declare a war on it.

Analysis and Commentary

Who's In Charge Of The California Housing Crisis?

by David Davenportvia The Washington Examiner
Monday, September 23, 2019

In the past week, both President Trump and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson visited California to examine its housing crisis. Meanwhile, the state legislature passed a statewide rent control bill and officials in Sacramento are bullying cities to change their zoning laws. A veritable tug of war has emerged between state and local governments, with Washington eager to weigh in. Not only is there a housing crisis, but also a crisis of authority: Who is in charge here?

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How Not To Teach American History

by David Davenport, Gordon Lloydvia Defining Ideas
Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The importance of civics in American education


Capitalism Is A Dead-End Narrative For Conservatives

by David Davenportvia The Washington Examiner
Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Here’s a Jeopardy! answer for you to consider: The federal debt, free trade, a consistent national security policy, and young voters. The question: What are things conservatism has lost?


Resist The Drumbeat Of World War III, The War On Climate Change

by David Davenport mentioning John F. Coganvia The Washington Examiner
Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Do you hear the drumbeat of war? No, I don’t mean the threat of nuclear war with Iran or North Korea, or even the trade war with China. I’m talking about the drumbeat of liberal politicians and climate scientists who want us to go to war on climate change.