David Davenport

Research Fellow

David Davenport is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and a visiting scholar at the Orrin G. Hatch Foundation. 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.

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 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


When Is A Mask More Than A Mask?

by David Davenportvia The Washington Examiner
Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Many crises of the still-young 21st century are readily associated with symbols or pictures. If I were to show you a hanging chad, for example, it would bring to mind the presidential election crisis of Bush v. Gore in 2000. Surely, planes crashing into the World Trade Center in 2001 powerfully depict the story of Sept. 11 and the subsequent war on terror. Shrinking icebergs bespeak climate change; a pile of colorful pills, an opioid crisis; a police officer on George Floyd’s neck, a cry for racial justice.

Analysis and Commentary

David Davenport: Whatever Became Of Socialism?

by David Davenportvia Townhall Review
Wednesday, July 8, 2020

With the news dominated by Covid-19 and racial injustice, you might not remember one of the big stories of the past year: the rise of socialism. Previously a dirty word, socialism became popular among young people and polled well with Democrats.


Dual Programming: The Trump Show Versus The Biden Show

by David Davenportvia The Washington Examiner
Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Hamilton is not the only performance coming into your home this week.

Analysis and Commentary

David Davenport: From And For: The Prepositions Of Freedom

by David Davenportvia Townhall Review
Friday, July 3, 2020

When Independence Day comes around, we mostly celebrate what we’re free from. The Declaration of Independence proclaimed our freedom from the King, from his abolishing our laws and taxing us without consent.

Analysis and Commentary

Where Did Socialism Go?

by David Davenportvia The Washington Examiner
Monday, June 29, 2020

Whatever happened to last year’s political rage, socialism? Was it one of those musical one-hit wonders that soared briefly but then flamed out? Was it the political equivalent of a new television program that bombed after only one season?

Analysis and Commentary

David Davenport: Will Government Return To Normalcy?

by David Davenportvia Townhall Review
Tuesday, June 23, 2020

We all long to return to normal but the big question is whether government will. Our nation has a history of government taking on special powers and more spending during emergencies and never returning to normal.

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Davenport: Bending The Wrong Curve

by David Davenportvia Townhall Review
Friday, June 12, 2020
Thanks to the coronavirus crisis, we have a new vocabulary, including “bending the curve” of the disease to protect the public health system from collapse.

What We Feel Are The Labor Pains Of A Social Revolution

by David Davenportvia The Washington Examiner
Tuesday, June 9, 2020

A political revolution is rare — a social revolution rarer still. We have not seen a social revolution since the 1960s, and you’d have to go back to the 1930s, when President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal followed the Great Depression, to find a political revolution and a social revolution occurring at the same time.

Analysis and Commentary

A Simple Conservative Goal: Return To Normal Government

by David Davenportvia The Washington Examiner
Wednesday, May 13, 2020

After only a few weeks of the COVID-19 crisis, we are all eager to return to normal. There is pent-up demand everywhere for a meal out at a restaurant, fully stocked shelves at the grocery store, an evening with friends, and a regular paycheck. All that will come in due time — we the people will insist on it.

Analysis and Commentary

David Davenport: Coronavirus Crisis Revives Federalism

by David Davenportvia Townhall Review
Tuesday, May 12, 2020

One silver lining in the dark coronavirus cloud is the revival of federalism, the old-fashioned idea that not every issue has to be decided in Washington. While most every policy issue—from education to health care and beyond—has traveled a one-way road from states and local governments to Washington, the coronavirus crisis rediscovered a leadership role for state and local government.