Unheralded

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 …


Unheralded

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 — On Big Problems: Expect More From States, Less From Supreme Court

In today’s polarized political climate, Americans nervously anticipate U.S. Supreme Court rulings with the same fervor with that they enjoy sports, and with the same goal in mind: namely, to win. But American government is not a game, cautions U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton. By forcing the Supreme Court to make notably divisive, winner-take-all decisions, he argues, …

CLAY JENKINSON: Future In Context — Is “All Men Are Created Equal” A Declaration, Promise Or Question?

Thomas Jefferson, speaking for the Second Continental Congress, wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” He either meant this to be a universal proposition (self-evident) and therefore was a contemptible hypocrite since he owned as many as 600 slaves in the course of his life, or he meant the statement to serve as what …

CLAY JENKINSON: Future In Context — FUTURE IN CONTEXT America’s New Gilded Age: The Cycles Of Constitutional Time

In “The Cycles of Constitutional Time,” Jack Balkin takes an overarching look at the dynamics of constitutional government over the history of the United States. To understand what is happening today, he argues, “we have to think in terms of political cycles that interact with each other and create remarkable — and dark — times.” Single-term presidents, Balkin notes, often …

CLAY JENKINSON: Future In Context — America’s Constitution: Its Surprising Evolution From 1788 To The 21st Century

In an earlier article, Editor-at-Large Clay Jenkinson described America’s three constitutions: The capital-c Constitution drafted in 1787; and the small-c constitution of norms and traditions not specified in the written Constitution and the ways the American people actually constitute themselves. In this third in a series, Jenkinson suggests that even — or especially — in our norm-busting times, a president’s bully …

CLAY JENKINSON: Future In Context — America’s Constitution In 2021: What Would Thomas Jefferson Do?

In an earlier article, Editor-at-Large Clay Jenkinson described America’s Three Constitutions: The Capital C Constitution drafted in 1787, the small c constitution of norms and traditions not specified in the written Constitution and the ways the American people actually constitute themselves. In this second in a series, Jenkinson looks at the Constitution circa 2021. “Some men look at constitutions with …

CLAY JENKINSON: Future In Context — Grab A Dictionary, Save The Republic

Distressed at the dearth of civic understanding in the United States, Ed Hagenstein worked for over two decades to create “The Language of Liberty: A Citizen’s Vocabulary.” Its purpose is simple: The constitution demands consensus and our form of government requires discourse, which depends in turn on a precise and nuanced vocabulary of its own. Hagenstein has set out to …

CLAY JENKINSON: Future In Context — How America’s Three Constitutions Define The Nation

The past few years have raised constitutional questions at an unusually fast clip. After years, even decades, of slumber, the emoluments clause (Article 1, Section 9) suddenly flared up, as well as the pardon clause (Article 2, Section 2), and, of course, the impeachment clause (Article 1, Section 3), among others. From the narrow perspective of civics (not politics), the …

CLAY JENKINSON: It’s Time For National Majority Rule

The time has come for us to reconsider the U.S. Senate. It is easy enough to understand how the Senate wound up in 1787 with two senators per state irrespective of size and population, but how can it be just and democratic now when Wyoming has about half a million people and California 40 million and they both have the …

CLAY JENKINSON: Future In Context — The Bill Of Rights, Federalism And The Struggles Of A United America

David French is a senior editor of The Dispatch, a conservative online political magazine. A graduate of Harvard Law School, an Iraq War veteran and recipient of the Bronze Star, French’s most recent book, “Divided We Fall: America’s Secession Threat and How to Restore Our Nation,” was reviewed by Governing in October. In the book, French warns how hardening ideological …

CLAY JENKINSON: This Is Not Bush V. Gore

Elections matter. The pathetic political stunt a dozen U.S. senators and more than 100 U.S. representatives are planning for today is a direct attack on democracy. We have a system. Primaries, general election, followed by state certification, followed by the vote of the Electoral College, followed by the tallying of the Electoral College vote by the U.S. Congress, followed by …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — Uphold The Constitution

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski: “I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and that is what I will do Jan. 6 — just as I strive to do every day as I serve the people of Alaska. I will vote to affirm the 2020 presidential election.” Joe Biden won the presidential election over President …

CLAY JENKINSON: Future In Context — America, Rome And The Slow Erosion of Republics

Dr. Edward Watts is a professor of history at the University of California at San Diego. He earned his Ph.D. from Yale and is the author of five books, most recently, “Mortal Republic: How Rome Fell into Tyranny.” The following interview has been edited for clarity and length. Governing: We’re suddenly in this situation where the wear and tear on …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — We Must Work Together

To my Trump supporting friends: I am not your enemy. You know me, you know who I am and what I represent. Sure, I’ve been a political creature since about the time I could talk. I did, after all, write a letter to Richard Nixon in 1970, at the age of 5, questioning the morality of the war in VIetnam. …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — A Democracy In Shambles

We are in the midst of a full-blown constitutional crisis, as the elected leader of the country is using the Justice Department to punish his enemies and reward his defenders who committed crimes to get him into office. This is not the action of a free democracy. This is the action of an authoritarian leader and dictator. The kind of …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Jefferson Watch — The Death Of The American Republic

My friends, When the Senate of the United States voted on Friday, Jan. 31, 2020, not to call John Bolton or any other witnesses in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, death rattled in the throat of the American republic. It’s over now. We will, of course, continue to be a great and powerful nation, a rich nation, with …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Jefferson Watch — A Day To Remember

Four things happened on the last day of January 2020. 1. We crossed the Rubicon: The United States was envisioned as a republic. In a republic, the protection the people have against tyranny is our system of checks and balances. The judiciary checks the legislative branch when it passes unconstitutional laws. The executive has the power to veto congressional legislation, …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Jefferson Watch — Trump’s Impeachment

What do you do when Republicans refuse to take seriously what they would find absolutely appalling and outrageous, criminal and treasonous, disgusting and Constitution-threatening if it were done by a liberal Democrat? We all know that if the situation were reversed and Barack Obama had reached out to Pakistan to demand that it pretend to investigate Jeb Bush or Donald …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — A Clear And Present Danger

Over the past week, we have seen highly ethical, nonpartisan and committed foreign service officers and members of the military with nothing to gain and everything but their integrity and vow to defend and protect the U.S. Constitution to lose, say essentially the same thing. Our policy toward Ukraine, which was in the best interest of our national security, was co-opted …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Jefferson Watch — The Republic On The Brink Of Collapse

“Checks and balances, Mr. Jefferson. Checks and balances,” said John Adams. We are only a republic if each of the three branches of the national government has some capacity to check the excesses of one or both of the other two. The Founding Fathers sought to ensure that no single individual or entity would ever have unlimited, unchecked power. The …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — A Democracy At Risk

“You people with this phony Emoluments Clause.” — Donald Trump, Oct. 21, 2019 “No Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” — U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 9, Paragraph 8 You …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — How Do We Honor The Dead?

As I walked my dog by the Catholic cemetery that borders my condo Monday morning, I heard echoes of Taps ring through the air and reflected on the dead who were being honored this past Memorial Day Weekend — men and women who gave their lives in service to our country and its highest ideals. How do we honor the …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Jefferson Watch — The U.S. Senate: The Backbone Of A Chocolate Eclair

We have been living for a very long time with the idea of executive supremacy. Some misguided attorneys have argued, since the presidency of George W. Bush, for what they like to call the Unitary Executive. By this they mean that the power of the president is virtually unlimited not only throughout the executive branch of government but in the …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Democracy At Crossroads

I know. I know. It is hard to stay actively engaged with what is happening in our country. It would be so much easier to just tune things out. It’s just so overwhelming. So exhausting. The truth is, if I stayed as outraged as the situation warranted every time a norm was obliterated, an egregious lie was told or the …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Jefferson Watch — Let Us Read the Mueller Report

A Jefferson Hour listener wrote me a snarky letter last week after Attorney General William Barr released a four-page summary of the Mueller Report, apparently clearing President Trump and his closest aides of colluding with the Russians in the 2016 election. After informing me that I have been embarrassing myself with what he called my anti-Trump rhetoric, the writer asked …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Jefferson Watch — We Can Fix This Broken System

The American people regard the U.S. Constitution as a sacred document — even though Jefferson specifically asked us not to — and historically we have been very reluctant to tamper with it. Too bad because it is badly in need of fundamental revision. Our Constitutional order has broken down. After years of thinking about this, I offer the following amendments. …

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — All Must (Not) Hail The King

When I watched MSNBC’s special Sunday on Robert F. Kennedy, I candidly admit my tear ducts flowed. Chris Matthews hosted the documentary, which included footage of Kennedy’s visiting Appalachia and the poorest of the poor. I was reminded that here was a wealthy man who concentrated on assisting those in the greatest need. A member of a large family himself, …

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — The Constitution Guarantees Rights To All

It’s becoming difficult to determine whether many people are the new “normal,” bigoted, uninformed, fully informed, hateful, uncaring or just plain stupid. I’m referring to the uproar surrounding the U.S. attorney general taking action to enforce the constitutional rights of transgender people. Unlike the uninformed believe, being transgender is an act of birth, the same as being gay or lesbian. …