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


Coronavirus Crisis Exercises Democracy’s Flabby Muscles

by David Davenportvia The Washington Examiner
Wednesday, April 1, 2020

According to some, it would be better to live under a dictatorship than in a democracy when it comes to the COVID-19 crisis. Authoritarian governments, they say, can better command their systems and order their people into compliance than a democracy.


David Davenport On The John Batchelor Show

interview with David Davenportvia The John Batchelor Show
Friday, March 27, 2020

Hoover Institution fellow David Davenport discusses how fighting the coronavirus will require a different kind of character. It will require the “now” generation of instant technology and immediate gratification to exhibit patience. The “me” generation must become a “we” generation.

Analysis and Commentary

David Davenport: A Different Kind Of Character For A Different Kind Of War

by David Davenportvia Townhall Review
Tuesday, March 24, 2020

America is again at war, but war of a different kind: war against an unknown virus attacking our health, our economy, our social lives. Sadly, there is no quick knockout punch we can deliver to the enemy, no cease-fire agreement halting hostilities.

Analysis and Commentary

International Criminal Court Prepares Legal War On The US

by David Davenportvia The Washington Examiner
Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Since its creation in 1998, many have understood the International Criminal Court to be a way for those in the world who oppose but cannot match America’s military power to attack it legally instead. At last, that has now happened with the court’s recent decision to investigate the U.S. military for potential war crimes in Afghanistan. If successful, the ICC prosecutor may then charge individual Americans for war crimes.

Analysis and CommentaryBlank Section (Placeholder)

Bernie's Last Gasp: Tie Revolution To Defeating Coronavirus

by David Davenportvia The Washington Examiner
Monday, March 16, 2020

Bernie Sanders has now enrolled in the Rahm Emanuel school of public policy: Never let a good crisis go to waste — it’s an opportunity to do things you could not do before. That’s the life preserver Sanders has grabbed onto as his campaign sinks into the depths, seeking to tie his goal of “political revolution” to the coronavirus crisis.

Analysis and CommentaryPolitics

David Davenport: Democrats Don’t Want A Revolution After All

by David Davenportvia Townhall Review
Monday, March 16, 2020

In the twinkling of an electoral eye, frontrunner Bernie Sanders’ campaign is near death and Joe Biden’s has been resurrected. How could this happen?

Analysis and CommentaryNational Security

Republicans' Murky National Security

by David Davenportvia The Washington Examiner
Friday, February 21, 2020

The Republican tent has historically been big enough to hold several varieties of foreign policy conservatives. It was a little easier in the days of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, with anti-communism as the center holding things together, though even isolationists found a home in the party. 

Analysis and CommentaryEconomy

David Davenport: Coronavirus And The National Debt

by David Davenportvia Townhall Review
Thursday, February 20, 2020

What do coronavirus and the national debt have in common? The answer is China. Due in part to secrecy and poor management in China, suddenly the world confronts a major pandemic. We’re reminded how interconnected our world is and how vulnerable we are to China.

Analysis and Commentary

David Davenport: The Democrats’ Go Big Or Go Home Problem

by David Davenportvia Townhall Review
Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Have you noticed the Democrats’ new message? It’s “go big or go home.” Elizabeth Warren says we need “big structural change.” Bernie Sanders agrees, saying no “half measures.” Nearly all the candidates have jumped on the bandwagon, favoring Medicare for all, free college and a massive Green New Deal.

Analysis and Commentary

David Davenport: Trump Won Impeachment On Both Law And Politics

by David Davenportvia Townhall Review
Monday, February 10, 2020

It turns out Nancy Pelosi was right on one thing: The Democrats should not have pursued impeachment in an election year. Now, President Trump has won on both the law and the politics of the impeachment battle.