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.

Filter By:



Recent Commentary

Analysis and Commentary

Conservatives Are Stuck In A COVID-19 Stew

by David Davenportvia The Washington Examiner
Tuesday, May 5, 2020

It is easier to make an appealing liberal case on social and domestic issues than a conservative one. Liberals essentially feel your pain and design government solutions and spending to address them. I love the story of President Lyndon Johnson who, in his 1964 presidential campaign, demanded a brief unscheduled stop of his limo, grabbed a bullhorn and said, “We’re for a lot of things and against mighty few.” 

Policy InsightsFeatured


by John Yoo, Clint Bolick, Milton Friedman, David Davenport, Daniel Heilvia PolicyEd
Thursday, April 30, 2020

Across much of the world, national governments have responded to the coronavirus pandemic by ordering nonessential businesses to close and residents to shelter in place. In the United States, in contrast, the orders did not originate from the national government; instead, local and state governments took charge.


David Devenport On The John Batchelor Show

interview with David Davenportvia The John Batchelor Show
Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Hoover Institution fellow David Davenport discusses his Washington Examiner article "Bad student scores in history and civics flatten the wrong curve."

Analysis and Commentary

David Davenport: Coronavirus Crisis Revives Federalism

by David Davenportvia Townhall Review
Tuesday, April 28, 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.

Analysis and Commentary

Bad Student Scores In History And Civics Flatten The Wrong Curve

by David Davenportvia The Washington Examiner
Saturday, April 25, 2020

Thanks to the COVID-19 crisis, the expression “flattening the curve” has entered our vocabulary. We understand that the major public health objective is to reduce the spread of the disease so that our healthcare system is not overwhelmed.

Analysis and Commentary

Coronavirus Brings Federalism Back In Style

by David Davenportvia The Washington Examiner
Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Most of the big policy issues are not actually problems to be solved but dilemmas to be managed. A problem stands between point A, where you are, and point B, where you want to go, and you have to solve it. A dilemma, on the other hand, presents two or more competing and yet fundamental values, so there is no final solution; instead, it requires managing.

Blank Section (Placeholder)

After the Dust Settles

by David Davenportvia Hoover Digest
Monday, April 20, 2020

When Donald Trump leaves the political scene, conservatives will have to take a deep breath and start figuring out what they still stand for.

Analysis and Commentary

Davenport: Celebrating Rugged Individualism

by David Davenportvia Townhall Review
Tuesday, April 14, 2020

One lesson from the coronavirus crisis is that American rugged individualism is still alive. While many wait for government to solve the problem, countless Americans are at work on it.

FeaturedBlank Section (Placeholder)

Rugged American Individualism Comes To The Rescue

by David Davenportvia The Washington Examiner
Thursday, April 9, 2020
While many wait and watch for government to solve the coronavirus problem, rugged American individualism is already hard at work — not just the labs and medical researchers that are working 24/7 on drugs to cure or prevent the disease but also the many individuals and companies that have quickly filled gaps and dislocations caused by the crisis.
Analysis and Commentary

David Davenport: Democracy Depends On Civic Virtue

by David Davenportvia Townhall Review
Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Some say authoritarian governments are better able to manage a crisis like coronavirus than a democracy. But I say, not so fast.