The term “liberalism” ranks among the most contested in our political lexicon. It should also be regarded as among the most vital. In the large sense, liberalism names the modern tradition of freedom. Liberalism so understood was the dominant strand in our nation’s founding. Appreciating the standard accusations against it and why it is worthy of defense is crucial to conserving the best of the American constitutional tradition.
Patrick Deneen’s disdainful review last month in the Washington Post of George Will’s splendid new book, “The Conservative Sensibility,” reasserts fashionable misconceptions about liberalism, conservatism, and America. The review — and, more importantly, the book — provide an occasion to clarify the character of the conservatism that takes its bearings from the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and from the ideas about human nature and freedom that undergird them.
We continue our preview of the new (Summer) issue of the Claremont Review of Books hot off the press. It went into the mail on Monday and is accessible online to subscribers now. Buy an annual subscription including immediate online access here for the modest price of $19.95. If you love trustworthy essays on, and reviews of books about, politics, history, literature and culture, the CRB may be for you.
In early July, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo launched the Commission on Unalienable Rights. “The commission’s mission,” he explained in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, “isn’t to discover new principles but to ground our discussion of human rights in America’s founding principles.” The announcement of the panel’s existence and mandate immediately triggered a barrage of skepticism, indignation, and anger. The misunderstandings that the criticisms embody underscore the urgency of the commission’s work.
As the second decade of the 21st century draws to a close, the American experiment in free and democratic self-government confronts two decisive challenges. One stems from an illiberal and anti-democratic great power abroad. The other arises from an obdurate attack on America’s commitment to freedom and democracy at home. Despite disparate sources, they are interconnected: To meet the challenge from without, the United States must prevail over the challenge from within.
For several decades, the number of students attending college in the United States has been growing rapidly: Over the last 20 years or so, enrollments have risen by about 50 percent, and over the last 50 years they have more than quadrupled. During this time, especially the last two decades, the polarization of our politics has markedly intensified.
On May 8, the Duke University student newspaper published a stirring letter addressed to the school community that was co-signed by 101 students and former students. The letter protested the decision of the university’s Sanford School of Public Policy to decline to renew the contract of Evan Charney, associate professor of the practice of public policy and political science, and called on the provost to reverse the decision.
The presidential race has started extremely early this year. That may or may not be a good thing; Americans may get sick of politics before next November...
President Trump has an opportunity both to defeat the novel coronavirus and to gain advantage for the United States in the competition with China for global influence, which predates both the coronavirus crisis and the Trump administration. It flared earlier in this presidency during trade negotiations. It resurfaced with Mr. Trump describing Covid-19 as the “Chinese virus.”
The yearlong controversy over the State Department’s Commission on Unalienable Rights illustrates the potency of the intolerant and uncivil passions afflicting the nation. It also underscores the urgency of the commission’s report, which Secretary of State Mike Pompeo presented to the public last Thursday in a speech in Philadelphia at the National Constitution Center and in a Washington Post op-ed.
Between June 24 and July 22, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, FBI Director Christopher Wray, Attorney General William Barr, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave a series of speeches on the China challenge. In mid-July -- after the national security adviser’s and FBI director’s speeches but before the attorney general’s and secretary of state’s speeches -- the State Department’s Commission on Unalienable Rights released a draft report.
In August of 2001, President Bush announced his decision to limit federal funding of stem cell research to already established lines of embryonic stem cells, while forbidding funding for any research that required the destruction of additional human embryos. But his decision ended neither stem cell research nor the debate over the ethics of such research. How do we weigh the medical benefits of this research against the destruction of embryos? Where do we draw the line on research using human embryos and are we on a slippery slope toward even more controversial research?
Building America's electricity system was one of the great achievements of the twentieth century, providing inexpensive energy to homes and businesses throughout the country. But in the twenty-first century, two crises occurred. In 2001, California experienced massive electricity shortages, leading to rolling blackouts and skyrocketing electrical bills. And in 2003, a blackout swept across eight states in the Midwest and Northeast, leaving tens of millions in the dark. Why did these problems arise now, after a century of progress? Were they the result of ill-advised attempts to deregulate the utility industry? Or is more deregulation actually the solution?
The presidential election of 2000 highlighted the significant demographic divisions between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. The strength of the Republicans lies in the South and in the middle of the country. But the voters that carried those regions for George W. Bush, mostly white and Protestant, are shrinking as a proportion of the overall United States population. Are these demographic changes a serious problem for the Republicans? If so, what can they do to bring groups that have traditionally been Democratic—Hispanics, blacks, and Catholics, for example—into the Republican Party?
John Yoo is a professor at the University of California–Berkeley School of Law and a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution. Richard Epstein is a professor of law at NYU, a professor of law emeritus at the University of Chicago, and a fellow at the Hoover Institution. In this wide-ranging discussion, recorded the day after Amy Coney Barrett accepted President Trump’s nomination to the Supreme Court, the professors discuss Barrett’s qualifications and why it was correct and proper to nominate her now—five weeks before an election.
The United States leads the developed world in spending on health care, at nearly 15 percent of our GDP. But based on measures such as life expectancy at birth, Americans receive a lower level of care than do the citizens of many countries that spend less. What's wrong with health care in America? And how should we fix it? Peter Robinson speaks with John F. Cogan and Alain Enthoven.
In 2001 President Bush established a bipartisan commission to study and report recommendations for restoring fiscal soundness to the current Social Security program. All three of the commission's models for reforming the system included the creation of individually controlled retirement accounts—a process commonly referred to as "privatizing Social Security." Some critics of the proposals argue that Social Security is not in as much trouble as the president's commission would have us believe and that major reform is unnecessary. Other critics say that creating private accounts will compound Social Security's problems rather than solve them. Who's right, the president's commission or its critics?
In 2001, President Bush signed into law the No Child Left Behind Act, a bipartisan effort to mandate national education standards and increase federal funding of education. At the time, critics on both sides of the political spectrum were troubled by the expansion of federal power over education that the act represented and by the education standards the act mandated. Now, nearly half a decade later, has No Child Left Behind been a success? If not, how should it be reformed? Peter Robinson speaks with John E. Chubb and Martin Carnoy.
This week on Uncommon Knowledge, a conversation with author and historian Amity Shlaes on her new book, Great Society: A New History.