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


The Senate, The World's Greatest Deliberative Body, No Longer Deliberates

by David Davenportvia Washington Examiner
Monday, April 2, 2018

Former President James Buchanan called the Senate “the greatest deliberative body in the world,” a moniker that has stuck for 150 years. But as he left Washington for the Senate’s two-week Easter recess, Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., reflecting on his inability to get a vote on even one legislative amendment in his first 15 months on the job, said something quite different: “I think it sucks.”

Analysis and Commentary

Will The International Criminal Court Prosecute Americans Over Afghanistan?

by David Davenportvia Forbes
Monday, March 26, 2018

As if Donald Trump does not face enough lawsuits and legal wrangling, there are signs that the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague may consider prosecuting Americans over alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity during the war in Afghanistan. With the recent appointment of John Bolton, long an opponent of the ICC, as the president’s national security adviser, this could become an interesting international legal battle, indeed.

Analysis and Commentary

Another Shot Fired In California’s Civil War

by David Davenportvia Townhall
Thursday, March 22, 2018

California is stepping closer to a civil war with the federal government over immigration. In the latest round, one day after President Trump visited the state to see prototypes of his border wall, the state senate appointed an illegal immigrant to serve on a state commission, a big step in California’s progressive history.

Analysis and Commentary

The Rise Of Millennial Voters

by David Davenportvia Townhall
Tuesday, March 20, 2018

A wave of change is coming in the 2018 and 2020 elections: the rise of millennial voters. In those elections, millennials, born between 1980-2000, will finally pass baby boomers as the largest voting generation.


Something There Is That Doesn't Love A Tariff Wall

by David Davenportvia Forbes
Thursday, March 8, 2018

Donald Trump is enamored of walls. First he wants to build a physical wall on the border between the U.S. and Mexico. Now he wants to erect tariff walls, imposing a 25% tax on steel and 10% on aluminum coming into the country from abroad in order to protect higher priced American products and jobs.

Analysis and Commentary

Five Reasons Why You Should Worry About The Federal Debt

by David Davenportvia Forbes
Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Let’s face it:  For most of us, the federal debt is somewhere between a snoozer and an abstraction.  There are plenty more tangible and immediate problems to worry about.  Even if we did get stirred up about it, what can we do?  Isn’t the problem at one end or the other of Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC—in Congress or the White House or both?

Analysis and Commentary

The Lost Art Of Political Compromise

by David Davenportvia Townhall
Sunday, February 25, 2018

Among many lost arts in Washington the most problematic is the lost art of compromise. The dictionary says compromise includes the root word “com” or together with the word promise: We make promises by coming together. America learned this early, with the Constitutional Convention full of compromises.

Analysis and Commentary

Millennials Could Change Our Political Landscape — If They Vote

by David Davenportvia San Francisco Chronicle
Thursday, February 22, 2018

In 2016, a political tsunami crashed on our shores with the outburst of populism and the election of Donald Trump. Now, less than two years later, we should prepare for two more big waves of change: the rise of Millennial voters and the passing from the scene of a generation of political leaders. Together they could produce a major transformation of our political landscape.

Analysis and Commentary

Power to the States

by David Davenportvia Townhall
Tuesday, January 30, 2018

One encouraging development is that power is leaving Washington, DC and heading to the states. Policy wonks call it devolution, I call it progress.

Analysis and Commentary

What Kind Of Country Wants Media Stars For President?

by David Davenportvia Townhall
Friday, January 26, 2018

Social media blew up when it appeared that Oprah Winfrey might run for president. Think of it: two billionaire media stars who had never held political office running for president. Only in America.