In 1936, Franklin Delano Roosevelt won reelection to a second term in one of the biggest landslides in American history. The outcome was a clear mandate in support of FDR's New Deal—an agenda of large-scale social and economic programs administered by the federal government. Sixty years later, in 1996, William Jefferson Clinton also won reelection to a second term, after declaring earlier that year that "the era of big government was over." How did the Democratic Party get from FDR to Bill Clinton? Now that the Democrats are out of the White House, will they continue the move to the center that Clinton initiated, or will they try to reinvigorate the traditional liberal base of the Democratic Party? Does that traditional base still exist?
For the last half of the twentieth century, the conservative movement in the United States was defined by two prominent doctrines: first, containment of the Soviet Union, and second, an effort to roll back the expansion of the federal government that began with the New Deal. With the first adversary out of existence, and the second in retreat, what does American conservatism stand for today? We look back to the roots of the conservative movement, its guiding principles and its leading proponents, including William F. Buckley, Barry Goldwater, and Ronald Reagan. We look to the future of American conservatism: Will it remain a unified movement or will internal tensions break it apart?
George W. Bush, during the 2000 presidential campaign said that "America has never been an empire... We may be the only great power in history that had the chance, and refused." Was then-candidate Bush right when he made those remarks? Or has America become an imperial power in all but name? How do America's unique historical circumstances predispose it to handle the unrivaled power it holds in the world today? And what lessons can we draw from our nearest historical antecedent, the British Empire of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries?
In the last decade, health maintenance organizations (HMOs) have come to dominate the health care system, in part because they promised to contain soaring health care costs. But patients are unhappy with reduced treatment options and doctors are unhappy with reduced payments. Will the Patients Bill of Rights passed by Congress in 1999 solve these problems? Are there more fundamental problems with our health care system that will require more far-reaching solutions?
For some six decades, the continent of Europe has enjoyed remarkable peace and prosperity. What role has the European Union played in this success? And what role should the European Union play in the future? According to some European leaders, the purpose of the European Union is to create a superpower capable of counterbalancing the United States. Is the goal of a superpower Europe a good idea? Is it even possible? Peter Robinson speaks with John O'Sullivan and Adrian Wooldridge.
Ten years ago, soaring health care costs prompted the Clinton administration to propose sweeping reforms to the health care system, including a substantial new role for the federal government. But the plan drafted under the guidance of First Lady Hillary Clinton was defeated in Congress. A decade later, the problems with our health care system seem to have only gotten worse. In the recent economic downturn, millions lost their insurance along with their jobs, adding to the estimated 40 to 45 million Americans who have no medical insurance at all. Meanwhile the costs incurred by government and businesses to keep the rest of us covered are skyrocketing. Has the HMO model of health care that became predominant in the 1990s failed us? If so, what should replace it?
Study after study has shown that married people are healthier and wealthier than unmarried people and that children raised in two-parent homes are generally more successful in life than those who aren't. And yet, according to the U.S. Census, about half of all first marriages end in divorce. Additionally, since 1960 the percentage of children born out of wedlock has grown from single digits to 20 percent. What is going on? Is the decline in marriage a symptom of underlying cultural problems in modern America? Or is it misguided to focus on marriage rather than on the economic problems facing all low-income families, whether married or not?
Now that the war with Iraq is over, will our strained relations with our longtime European allies and the United Nations return to "normal"? Is that even desirable? Or are we witnessing the emergence of a fundamentally new structure of international relations?
Since the end of the cold war, the United States has been the world's only superpower, accounting for 43 percent of the world's military expenditures. During this time, America has led major interventions into Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Are the United States and the world better off when America follows a unilateral, interventionist foreign policy? Or should the United States reduce its overseas presence and instead emphasize international cooperation? Peter Robinson speaks with Niall Ferguson and Ivan Eland.
A half-century ago, the ideology of the American political establishment was liberal—the New Deal was still new and big government was getting bigger. Today, after a political revolution that began with Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, it may be argued that conservativism has become the dominant ideological force in American politics. But what does conservativism mean today? And if it is ascendant, how long can it remain so? Peter Robinson speaks with Clark S. Judge and John Micklethwait.
Genetically modified crops and foods are already big business. But are they safe? Have the giant agribusiness companies that have rushed them into the fields and into our stores overlooked potential dangers posed by genetically engineered crops? Even if scientists do believe these crops are safe, how do they convince a skeptical public?
Why are the Balkans important to the United States and what was the justification for the war over Kosovo? What mistakes did we make in our handling of the conflict? What should we do differently the next time there is a crisis in the Balkans?
In 1960, John F. Kennedy ran to the right of Richard Nixon, arguing that under Republicans, the United States had become too weak in the cold war. A dozen years later, the Democratic presidential candidate was George McGovern. How did the Democratics go from hawks to doves in just twelve years? And what does the history of the Left imply for John Kerry, the Democratic Party, and the war on terror today? Peter Robinson speaks with Anne Applebaum and Christopher Hitchens.
A series of devastating accounting scandals at Enron, WorldCom, and Tyco, to name a few, have shaken the public's trust in the ethics and business practices of America's large corporations. What are the underlying factors behind this recent wave of scandals? Is deregulation the culprit? If so, do we need more regulation or merely better enforcement of existing regulations? Does the confluence of corporate lobbying and campaign contributions encourage corporate malfeasance? If so, what political reforms are necessary?
For decades, Western Europe has been known for its social democracies—large welfare states governed by a coalition of the political left and center. In recent years however, this center-left coalition seems to have broken down. Conservative parties have come to power in a number of European countries, including Spain, Italy, France, and the Netherlands. Why has Europe moved to the right? Have a few specific issues, such as immigration and crime, driven European voters to the right? Are voters merely expressing a temporary frustration with the center-left coalition, or is the new conservative Europe here to stay?
Has increased immigration to EU member nations created distrust and delusion, contributing to a continent in the grip of a culture in the midst of its own suicide?
Biographies of George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and John Adams and histories of the revolutionary era have been bestsellers and Pulitzer Prize winners in the past several years. What explains this recent surge of interest in the founding fathers of the American nation? What does the fascination with the founding fathers tell us about our own time? What would the founders have to say about the state of the nation today?
In the West, capitalism reigns triumphant. Living standards, wealth, and technological development in the capitalist Western countries surpass anything seen before in human history. But why has capitalism so obviously failed in most developing countries? Why are some saying that capitalism is in a state of crisis today in the Third World? Does the success of capitalism depend on Western cultural values that simply don't translate to the Third World? Or can economic and political reforms, especially reform of property rights, enable developing countries to share the same fruits of capitalism and free enterprise that we enjoy in the West?
In the past century the earth's human population has quadrupled, growing from 1.5 billion in 1900 to about 6 billion today. By 2050, it is estimated that the global population will reach 9 billion. In 1968, a young biologist named Paul Ehrlich wrote a best-selling book called The Population Bomb, which sparked an ongoing debate about the dangers of overpopulation. He argued that population growth was destroying the ecological systems necessary to sustain life. So just how worried should we be? Is population growth a problem or not? And if so, what should we do about it?
Does the Second Amendment to the Constitution confer an individual right to bear arms or not? Why is there so much disagreement about the meaning of this Amendment? What does the historical evidence tell us about the intentions of the framers of the Constitution in writing this amendment? To what extent does our interpretation of the Second Amendment effect efforts at gun control today?