Unheralded

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — Second-Generation Elites With No Place to Go

Prince Harry’s “long-awaited” memoir, “Spare,” is anything but. Its 410 pages are causing a big stir in both Britain and the United States and it must be a source of great angst within the royal family. It’s hard to know whether his publisher urged him to ratchet up or ratchet down his conflict with his father, his brother, his sister-in-law …


Unheralded

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — On Immigration: Keeping Lady Liberty’s Promise

Immigration has always been a fraught subject in America. We all know that except for Indigenous people (Native Americans), at some previous point all of the rest of us made the long journey to America from somewhere else. In the past 400 years, Europeans, Africans and Asians have filled up the continent to the tune of 334 million people. The liberals and …


CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — Mr. Speaker, Remember The Crisis Of 1801

Thirty-five states gaveled open new legislative sessions last week. Many are making a point of how quickly they chose a speaker – the vote took all of 30 seconds in Washington state, for example. That is in sharp contrast to the chaotic events in the U.S. House of Representatives a week earlier, which were a sad reminder of how fraught …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — Too Much Stuff: Americans And Their Storage Units

As the holidays approach, I thought it might be useful to lighten the tone a little as we survey the national political situation in 2022. Two weeks ago, former President Trump’s attorneys came forward with two top security documents that they said they found in a storage facility rented on Trump’s behalf near Mar-a-Lago. Putting aside for the moment the fact that …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — Terminating The Constitution In 225 Characters

“No honest person can now deny that [Donald] Trump is an enemy of the Constitution,” Liz Cheney said after the former president appeared to call for terminating the U.S. Constitution in a post on his alternative social media site, Truth Social, on Dec. 3. The Truth Social post heard across the Republican Party as former president Donald Trump appeared to …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — Carpetbagging Explained: Dirty Socks, A Soiled Shirt And An Old Carpetbag

As the Georgia Senate runoff election enters its final days, the Republican candidate, Herschel Walker, has been accused of carpetbagging. Tapes have surfaced in which he nonchalantly tells the people of Georgia that his home is in Texas. “I live in Texas,” Walker said in January 2022 while speaking to the College Republicans of the University of Georgia. Why did …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — Should We Leave The Indictment Of Ex-Presidents Alone?

Donald Trump announced a new run for the presidency Nov. 15. This comes at a time when several investigations seem to be closing in on him. The Justice Department is investigating his appropriation of government documents, some of them highly classified, that belong to the National Archives. For this he may be indicted. The state of Georgia has been investigating Trump’s attempts …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — What Do Museums Represent In The 21st Century?

In London this past week, I ventured to the British Museum (above) to spend some time in the Enlightenment Room, home to an amazing array of artifacts that characterize “the long 18th century” — globes, sextants, maps, telescopes, pressed plant collections, mammoth and mastodon bones. What I principally wanted to see was the Orrery — a tabletop planetarium so ingenious, with …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — Five Reasons Why Book Banning Is Futile

Book banning is on the rise in America. According to PEN America, from July 2021 to June 2022, there were 2,532 instances of individual books being banned, involving 1,648 titles by 1,261 different authors. PEN America is a free expression advocacy group headquartered in New York. In the period from July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022, Texas had the most …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — A Modern Journey On The Vestiges Of James J. Hill’s Great Northern Railway

Amtrak’s Wink and Nod to the Great Northern I boarded the Amtrak’s Empire Builder train in Minot not long ago, en route to the railroad’s terminus in Seattle. A journey of 1,178 miles, 27 hours, starting at 9 a.m. CDT on a Friday and ending at 10:15 PDT Saturday morning, a day later. That meant we rode in daylight (in late …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — Thomas Jefferson As An American In Paris, Revisited

I flew to Paris a few days ago from Bismarck. A distance of 4,397 miles. I left my house at 11 a.m. CDT and arrived at my hotel in the center of Paris, with layovers, just 18 hours later. On the plane (I was in steerage) I was given two pretty good meals, an unlimited supply of alcohol, five bottles …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — Corn Maze: The Enigma Of America’s Multibillion-Dollar Miracle Grain

This is the second of a two-part feature about the intersection of agriculture, business and culture at a place called the Corn Palace in the southeast corner of South Dakota. It is a long way from a roadside attraction dedicated to corn in southeast South Dakota to the mucilage of a $47 billion corn industrial complex that makes maize barely …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — The Corn Palace And Popular Culture

Although the Corn Palace began its long run with geometric designs, it soon took a thematic approach. The most frequent themes have celebrated the frontier, the homestead period, intrepid pioneers, the American West, plains flora and fauna, the coming of the railroad, and Native Americans, but there have also been years dedicated to Egyptian (1911), Dutch (1914) and even Turkish …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — Lessons From The World’s Last Surviving Corn Palace

This is the first part of a two-part feature about the intersection of agriculture, business and culture at a place called the Corn Palace in the southeast corner of South Dakota. Plenty of people happen upon the World’s Only Corn Palace while traveling through South Dakota, perhaps on their way to Badlands National Park or Mount Rushmore. Or the annual Sturgis megamotorcycle rally. Not so many …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — The Contradictions Of Pomp, Circumstance And Populism

President and first lady Biden attended the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II on Monday, Sept. 19, 2022. More than 500 heads of state and foreign dignitaries from all over the planet made their way to London to attend the funeral. Representatives from 167 countries of the 193 United Nations member states, including 18 monarchs, 55 presidents and 25 prime ministers were in …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — Then: Rock the Vote; Now: Trust the Vote

A few days ago, I was reading Alexander Keyssar’s outstanding “The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States.” In his introduction, Keyssar writes, “Americans do place a high value on democratic institutions, and white Americans, at least, have long thought of themselves as citizens of a democratic nation — indeed, not just any democratic nation, …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — King Charles III And The Long Shadow Of A Name

Queen Elizabeth’s death Sept. 8 hit me harder than I expected. As an American small “r” republican, I usually find America’s obsession with the British royals perplexing. But Elizabeth was much more than a monarch. She was the embodiment of Britain’s unique place in the world through a tumultuous century. The queen’s death after the longest reign in British history, …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — Americans’ Diminishing Trust In Their Institutions

The last half century has been a period of great disillusionment. In the 1950s, the American people overwhelmingly trusted their government, their president, news sources, educational systems and basic American institutions from the Justice Department to the Department of Defense. Today, the American people are largely disaffected and cynical about those same institutions. A recent NBC News poll indicated that 74 percent of the American people believe …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — What If Every Generation Of Americans Wrote Its Own Constitution?

“The earth belongs … to the living,” Thomas Jefferson famously wrote to James Madison in 1787, and “the dead have neither power nor rights over it.” Jefferson offered these words in support of his belief that succeeding generations of Americans had the right to develop their own constitutions. But Madison shot down Jefferson’s idea, arguing that “improvement made by the dead … form a debt …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — Silencing Speech Through Violence

“The flame of the Enlightenment is waning,” a journalist said to Günter Gass. “But,” he replied, “there is no other source of light.” When I heard the news, my first reaction was, “Well, they finally got him.” Salman Rushdie has been a wanted man since Valentine’s Day 1989, when Iran’s dying supreme leader, the Ayatollah Khomeini (1902-1989), issued a fatwa …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — The Beauty And Opportunity Of Isolation In Montana

The great American novelist John Steinbeck liked North Dakota well enough when he passed through with his poodle, Charley, in October 1960, but then he crossed the border at Beach, N.D., and Wibaux, Mont. At that juncture, he wrote, “I am in love with Montana. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection, but with Montana it is love, …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — City Council Meetings As Theater

At a Portland (Ore.) City Council meeting a decade ago, a local environmental activist concluded his remarks by dumping a load of garbage he’d collected onto the floor of the council chambers. Whatever the impact this stunt had on council members, it immediately moved Aaron Landsman, an out-of-town artist who was in the audience by chance. It suggested to him a …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — Is It Time For A New Constitutional Convention?

The 250th birthday of the United States is coming in four years. Already the great cultural institutions of America (National Endowment for the Humanities, Library of Congress, Smithsonian, prestigious universities) are thinking about the appropriate way to celebrate this important anniversary. We can expect fireworks, parades, festivals, orations — and protests, criticism, demands for a full-on national recognition of all …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — A European’s Perspective On Gun Violence In America

This is another in an occasional series we are calling The de Tocqueville Interviews.* This summer, America’s unique, exasperating gun culture has taken center stage. On May 24, the Uvalde school shooting horrified the nation. Within a month, President Biden signed into law (above) the most substantial piece of gun safety legislation passed in the U.S. in decades. Yet on June 23, the U.S. …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — The History Behind The Separation Of Church And State In America

The overturning of Roe v. Wade and the striking down of a longstanding New York City gun law have received most of the attention at the close of this year’s U.S. Supreme Court, but many court watchers are equally focused on recent decisions about the separation of church and state in America. On June 27, 2022, in the case Kennedy v. Bremerton School …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — Where Does The Lewis And Clark Trail Begin?

The late Stephen Ambrose liked to begin his lectures on the Lewis and Clark Expedition by saying that the men (and one woman) of the Corps of Volunteers for Northwestern Discovery traveled “from sea to shining sea.” And yet typically, accounts of the journey begin with Lewis and Clark leaving St. Charles, Mo., on May 14, 1804, with three heavily laden boats, a couple of horses, …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — The Stubborn Catch-22 Of The U.S. Immigration Puzzle

The surge in migrants attempting to illegally cross into the U.S. along its southern border reached an all-time high in May. The 239,416 reported arrests surpassed the previous record, set just two months earlier, by almost 20,000 people. This chaos at the border isn’t going away, says Alex Nowrasteh, director of economic and social policy at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — Indian Boarding Schools: Coming To Terms With History

It looks as if the United States is going to begin to come to terms with the dark legacy of the Indian boarding schools. On May 11, 2022, the U.S. Department of the Interior released volume one of an investigative report on the history and legacy of these schools, which existed to force Native American children to break with their Native communities and …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — Prime-Time Politics: A Brief History Of Televised Hearings

The House of Representatives Jan. 6 select committee began what is billed as up to six televised hearings this past week, some of them in prime time, hoping that it can convince the American people of the gravity of the conspiracy that led to the storming of the U.S. Capitol weeks after the 2020 election and just 15 days before …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — Do Guns Define America?

And so here we are again. Another school shooting. The American slaughter of innocents. Shattered lives, shattered communities. The massacres pile up — Columbine, Blacksburg, Roseburg, Sandy Hook, Parkland, Uvalde and literally hundreds more. Aurora, Las Vegas, Orlando, El Paso, Fort Hood, San Bernardino, Sutherland Springs, Boulder. And so we ask: When’s it going to stop? What can we do? …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — Why Does America Have Primaries?

It’s Primary season in America, with all the chaos, expense and bombast that phenomenon has come to represent in our national political life. The major media now give more attention to off-year primary elections in half a dozen battleground states than they gave to the quadrennial general national election a generation ago. As if they were interpreting the tarot or …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — Russia’s Invasion Of Ukraine: A European Perspective

With the war in Ukraine entering its fourth month, the 27-nation European Union is working toward what would be its sixth round of sanctions against Vladimir Putin’s Russia since Feb. 24. While outside of Governing’s usual coverage areas, the war in Ukraine has impacted domestic policy discussions here in the United States. To better understand the ongoing struggle, Governing Editor-at-Large Clay Jenkinson recently …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — Teddy Roosevelt And The Surprising Roots Of The National Governors Association

We take annual conferences of the National Governors Association for granted, but nobody had ever thought of bringing America’s governors together until Theodore Roosevelt galloped onto the national stage in 1901, ascending to the presidency after the assassination of William McKinley in Buffalo, N.Y., on Sept. 14 of that year. It’s not hard to imagine Roosevelt, a strong Hamiltonian nationalist who essentially invented the modern presidency, calling the …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — Why We Don’t Trust Government

Chief Justice John Roberts’ characterization of the leaking of the draft decision on abortion as a “singular and egregious breach” of trust puts a fine point on the tenor of our times. In March, Senate hearings that confirmed Ketanji Brown Jackson to the nation’s highest court in anticipation of shaping such decisions underscored the fact that, whatever the intentions of the …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — The Dangers Of Settling For Truthiness

Systematic attacks on the truth, supercharged through social media, trolling and cancel culture, have Americans angry, frustrated and unsure as to where to turn for knowledge. It’s a crisis of historic proportions, but author Jonathan Rauch argues we already have in place a structure from which to repel these assaults of disinformation. He locates it within the global network of …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — Watergate: A Fresh Look At The Most Influential Political Event Of The Past Half Century

Growing up in the 1980s in a family of journalists, Garrett Graff’s sense of Watergate was shaped by the on-screen exploits of Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman in “All the President’s Men,” in which they portray Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, respectively. But when the recent impeachment of Donald Trump prompted him to take a fresh look back at the Nixon administration, Graff stumbled …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — Do Economic Sanctions Work? A Brief History

In 2014, Vladimir Putin’s Russia invaded Crimea, a peninsula of southern Ukraine that juts into the Black Sea. The West grumbled and imposed economic sanctions, expelled Russia from the Group of Seven (G7) political and economic forum but chose not to go to war against Russia. Although the sanctions hurt the Russian economy, and no doubt impaired the lives of the 144 …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — Why A Seat on The Supreme Court Matters

This is a bonus installment in a Governing series on the history of the U.S. Supreme Court, following the U.S. Senate’s historic confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson on April 7. The first four essays in the series examined “Myths of the U.S. Supreme Court,” “Why Supreme Court Nominations Sometimes Fail,” “Dangerous Trends on the Supreme Court” and “Life Tenure on the Supreme Court: …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — ‘Sivilizing’ Mark Twain: One Scholar’s Effort To Make Huck Finn Safe For School Again

“All modern American literature,” Ernest Hemingway once proclaimed, “comes from one book by Mark Twain called ‘Huckleberry Finn.’” Despite such accolades, this masterwork from Twain — the pen name used by Samuel Clemens — has been slowly disappearing from American classrooms, a development primarily driven by the novel’s repeated use — 219 times in all — of that uniquely offensive term that …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — Why Supreme Court Nominations Sometimes Fail

This is the fourth and final installment in a Governing series in a historical look at the U.S. Supreme Court to coincide with nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation process, which continues this week before the Senate Judiciary Committee. President Biden’s nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to fill the seat vacated by the retirement of Associate Justice Stephen Breyer seems likely to win confirmation this spring by the …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — Life Tenure On The Supreme Court: Appointments and Disappointments

This is the third in a Governing series on a historical look at the Supreme Court to coincide with nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation process, which continued this week before the Senate Judiciary Committee. With hearings under way to fill an opening on the U.S. Supreme Court, it may be useful to look back on the history of court appointments. “Appointments,” Thomas Jefferson said, “and disappointments.” Since 1789, 115 …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — Dangerous Trends On The U.S. Supreme Court

This is second in a series in a historical look at the U.S. Supreme Court to coincide with nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation process, which continues this week before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Three dangerous trends appear to be jeopardizing the independence and credibility of the third branch of the federal government. Court decisions are increasingly falling out along what appear to be purely partisan lines. …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — Myths Of The U.S. Supreme Court

This is the first in an occasional Governing series on the Supreme Court in preparation for nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation process, which enters its next phase on March 21 when she appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee to publicly make her case for why she should win approval to sit on the nation’s highest court. The Supreme Court has been more than usually visible in …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — A Brief History Of Violence In The Capitol: The Foreshadowing Of Disunion

The Jan. 6, 2021, mob attack on the U.S. Capitol stands as a prevailing symbol of the country’s present-day polarization. But while the brutality of that day sits in the minds of many Americans as unprecedented, historian Joanne Freeman reminds us that violence within the Capitol has a long history. In “The Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War,” Joanne …