David Davenport

Research Fellow

David Davenport is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and a senior fellow at the Ashbrook Center. He specializes in constitutional federalism, civic education, modern American conservatism, and international 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.

He is a regular columnist for the Washington Examiner and his study, "Commonsense Solutions To Our Civics Crisis," was published by the Orrin G. Hatch Foundation in 2020.

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 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 Commentary

Big Government Doesn't Want Us To Return To 'Normal'

by David Davenportvia The Washington Examiner
Wednesday, April 21, 2021

A century ago, as the United States recovered from a worldwide pandemic and a major war, a presidential candidate wisely and successfully called for “a return to normalcy.” Warren G. Harding, in a campaign speech in 1920, could well have been speaking to people today when he said the “need was not heroics but healing, not nostrums but normalcy.”


We Must Learn From History, Not Cancel It

by David Davenportvia The Washington Examiner
Friday, April 9, 2021

Championship basketball coach Roy Williams of the University of North Carolina recently announced his retirement, saying he was “no longer the right man for the job.” People speculated on what he meant because he won a national championship only four years ago, but ESPN commentator and former coach Seth Greenberg doubtless got it right when he said it was the “business of college basketball” that drove him out. 

Analysis and Commentary

Biden’s Crisis Response Lays The Groundwork For A Liberal Push

by David Davenportvia The Washington Examiner
Wednesday, March 17, 2021

President Biden is apparently a graduate of the Rahm Emanuel school of public policy. As former President Barack Obama’s chief of staff, Emanuel famously said, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. ... It is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” With his flurry of executive actions and the passage of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, Biden has shown he learned that lesson well as his immediate COVID-19 relief plans lay the groundwork for a longer-term liberal push.

Analysis and Commentary

Do We Need More Or A Different Kind Of Civic Education?

by David Davenportvia The Washington Examiner
Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Civic education in America could use help from almost any quarter.


Recalling A Governor Shouldn’t Be This Easy

by David Davenportvia The Washington Examiner
Saturday, February 27, 2021

As if leading the largest state in the union through the pandemic and guiding the world's fifth-largest economy through troubled waters weren't enough, California Gov. Gavin Newsom faces a distracting and expensive recall campaign.

The Palestinian People

The International Criminal Court Plays Politics In Palestine

by David Davenportvia The Washington Times
Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The International Criminal Court will celebrate its 20th birthday next year. It was touted at its founding as a permanent judicial solution to mass cases of injustice such as the genocide in Rwanda and war crimes in the Balkans in the 1990s. This aspect of the new court’s work has certainly been disappointing as it approaches 20 years and $2 billion of expenses with a handful of convictions of African warlords to show for it.

Analysis and Commentary

Banning The Teaching Of The 1619 Project Is The Wrong Solution To A Real Problem

by David Davenportvia The Washington Examiner
Monday, February 15, 2021

Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626) may have referred to the ancient practice of bloodletting when he famously said, "Sometimes the remedy is worse than the disease."

In the News

Should Missouri Schoolkids Be Taught Slavery Defines The Us With The 1619 Project?

quoting David Davenportvia Kansas City Star
Friday, February 12, 2021

What do you want your children to be taught about America? That it’s the greatest nation on Earth? Or that racism is at the core of its founding and its fiber still today? Or something in between, perhaps?

Analysis and Commentary

Elites Battle Over History While Students Fail Basic Civics

by David Davenportvia The Washington Examiner
Thursday, January 21, 2021

It’s bad enough that civic education is in the tank. In the most recent national testing, only 24% of 8th graders were “proficient” or better in U.S. history, while a pitiful 15% were proficient in government and civics. Only one-third of Americans can pass the basic citizenship test. Funding for civic education is a pittance, as the federal government spends five cents per student per year on it, while investing $54 per student on STEM (science, technology, education and math) education.

Individuals in Action

by David Davenportvia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Is “rugged individualism” selfish? Far from it. It’s what moves good people to build their communities of virtue, without waiting for government to do it for them.