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America's First Principles

America 's First Principles
First Principles Speakers & Topics
(by year):
2006

February 10, 2006

The American Founding

Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation

Summary:

The usual academic line is that America is but the unfolding of modern political liberalism, from Thomas Jefferson to William Jefferson Clinton. This is simply untrue. The main principles and purposes of the American Founding are inherently conservative. And as the cornerstone of American political thought, the principles of the American Founding remain the principles of America, and thus, the principles that conservatives seek to conserve.

 

March 10, 2006

Originalism & the Constitution

Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation

Summary:

In Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer's book Active Liberty: Interpreting Our Democratic Constitution, he argues against other members of the court who say they reach decisions based on the original intent of the writers of the Constitution. Breyer says the founders' intent was to promote active democracy and "originalist" decisions can have the opposite result. However, the American Founders thought the Constitution was crucially important, and that those who make, interpret and enforce the law ought to be guided by its original meaning. Having been revived in the 1980s, the argument between these approaches is now being voiced in our on-going public debate about the role of judges and the judiciary. How important is the Constitution? How is it to be interpreted and understood? Should those who apply the law be bound by the original meaning of the Constitution? How can that meaning be determined?

 

April 21, 2006

Federalism

Gene Hickok, Former Deputy Sec. of Ed.

Summary:

With the revocation of the Articles of Confederation in 1789, our founding fathers created a form of government that would outlast any other government of the time and would eventually spread its influence around the world. This form of government is popularly known as a federal system. Through the years, the federal government has meticulously usurped the influence of the states power: from the Civil War to Teddy Roosevelt's New Nationalism and from FDR's New Deal to Lyndon Johnson's Great Society. Recently, the federal government has squared off against state and local governments as it relates to controversial issues, such as same sex marriage, the USA Patriot Act (civil liberties) and the Terry Schiavo case.

 

May 5, 2006

The Rise of Ronald Reagan

Steven Hayward, American Enterprise Institute

Summary:

The 1960s saw the federal government pass a threshold to a new level of social policy activism, including but not limited to the War on Poverty and vast new regulatory initiatives. This “third wave” of the administrative state differed substantially from the liberal governance of earlier eras, as Ronald Reagan became one of the first to recognize.

 

May 12, 2006

Does Limited Constitutional Government Weaken National Security?

Paul Rosenzweig, Department of Homeland Security

Summary:

One of the principle purposes of government is national defense. The Founders thought limited government and national security were compatible, yet it would seem that a government with greater control could better ensure national security. Does national security require or reject the idea of limited government? Is it in our national interest to advance limited government in other nations?

 

July 21, 2006

The Progressives Attack on the Constitution

Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation

This session will consider the "three waves" of liberalism-progressivism, and New Deal liberalism and Great Society liberalism-and how they increasingly turned America away from its first principles. Special attention will be given to the key documents and major speeches of the time.

 

July 28, 2006

American Statesmanship

Peter Schramm, Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs

Even though the powers of the American Exectuive are controlled and limited, extraordinary acts of statesmanship are possible. This session examines those Presidents who may be called statesmen and the political circumstances in which their prudence revealed itself. We should nto be surprised that these statesmen will also have demonstrated some measure of their greatnes by the way they lead and isntructed and inspired the people. Among those examined will be George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan.

 

August 18, 2006

Religion and the Founders

Daniel Dreisbach, American University

No metaphor in American letters has had a more profound influence on law and policy than Thomas Jefferson’s “wall of separation between church and state.” Today, this figure of speech is accepted by many Americans as a pithy description of the constitutionality prescribed church-state arrangement, and it has become the sacred icon of a strict separationist dogma that champions a secular polity in which religious influences are systematically and coercively stripped from public life. What is the source of this figure of speech, and how has this symbol of strict separation between religion and public life come to dominate church-state law and policy? How did Jefferson and the other Founders view the role of religion in American political life?



 

October 6, 2006



 

Edwin Meese III, The Heritage Foundation

The Legacy of Ronald Reagan


2005

February 4, 2005
Challenge of Conservatism
Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation

Summary:

Dr. Spalding, through his presentation on the Challenge of Conservatism, encouraged further education in conservative ideas as well as consider the classical and pre-modern roots of modern conservative thought, and will pose the challenge and opportunity for conservatism in America. This session layed the foundation for the conservative core portion of HCF as background for public policy.

March 4, 2005
Conservatives, Liberals and the American Founding
Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation

Summary:

This session will cover the main principles, concepts and themes of the American Founding. Contrary to most academic opinions, these ideas are inherently conservative. As the cornerstone of American political thought, the principles of the American Founding remain the principles of America, and thus, the American conservative movement.

May 6, 2005
How Liberalism Has Transformed America
Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation

Summary:

This session considered the "three waves" of liberalism-progressivism, and New Deal liberalism and Great Society liberalism-and how they increasingly turned America away from its first principles. Dr. Spalding gave special attention to the key documents and major speeches of the time.

May 13, 2005
The Importance of History
Peter Schramm, Ashland University

May 20, 2005
Federalism
Ramesh Ponnuru, National Review

June 10, 2005
1776
David McCullough, Author
View Event Details

July 22, 2005
The Modern American Conservative Movement
Lee Edwards, The Heritage Foundation

Summary:

This session will focus on the main ideas, books and figures that gave rise and shaped the post-World War II conservative movement in America, and consider how that movement has affected American politics.

August 5, 2005
The Principles of Free Enterprise
William Beach, The Heritage Foundation

Summary:

This session provided an overview of the principles of free market economics and their relationship to American constitutional order, as well as considered the major figures and schools of economic thought. Moreover, we addressed the current state of the economy and how President Bush’s tax cuts and the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy have impacted the current economic climate.

September 23, 2005
The Proper Role of the Courts
Ed Whelan, Ethics and Public Policy Center

Summary:

The proper role of the courts in construing the Constitution is one of the most hotly contested issues in American society. Competing conceptions of the role of the courts animate election battles and fuel disputes over Supreme Court rulings, judicial nominations, and proposed constitutional amendments. Edward Whelan, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, will discuss the ongoing confirmation battles and what is at stake for American culture writ large – for the ability of the American people to engage in responsible self-government and to maintain the “indispensable supports” of “political prosperity” that George Washington (and other Founders) understood “religion and morality” to be.

Recommended Readings:


September 30, 2005

Democracies and Republics
Al Felzenberg, 9-11 Public Discourse Project

Summary:

The distinction between our Republic and a democracy is not an idle one. It has great legal significance. However, the foremost distinction between a democratic form of government and a republican one is the subordination of the power of the majority to the rule of law. In Federalist numbers 10, 14, and 48, Madison insisted that the new Constitution established a republic, not a democracy, emphasizing in Federalist No. 10 that a “Republican” form of government protected the people from the dangers of tyranny of the majority.

October 7, 2005
The Legacy of Ronald Reagan
Edwin Meese III, The Heritage Foundation

Summary:

Mr. Meese discussed President Reagan's greatest accomplishments, how he will be remembered in history books, the role that faith played in his life, and the lessons that young staffers can learn from the life of the former President.

2004

February 20, 2004
The Roots of Conservatism
Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation

May 7, 2004
The Three Waves of Liberalism
Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation

May 28, 2004
Beginnings of the Modern American Conservative Movement
Lee Edwards, The Heritage Foundation

June 25, 2004
Conservative Internationalism
John Hulsman, The Heritage Foundation

July 9, 2004
What is a Conservative President
Alvin Felzenberg, 9-11 Commission

August 6, 2004
The Legacy of Ronald Reagan
Paul Kengor, Grove City College

Summary:

Dr. Kengor discussed President Reagan's greatest accomplishments; how he will be remembered in history books; the role that faith played in his life; and the lessons that young staffers can learn from the life of the former President.

2003

February 24, 2003
The American Founding
Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation

March 14, 2003
Constitution and the Courts
Todd Gaziano, The Heritage Foundation

April 25, 2003
Conservative Internationalism
George Folsom, IRI

May 9, 2003
Modern Conservatism
Lee Edwards, The Heritage Foundation

June 13, 2003
Rise of Liberalism
Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation

September 5, 2003
Liberalism of the 1960s and the Rise of Conservatism
Steven Hayward, American Enterprise Institute

September 12, 2003
The Legacy of Ronald Reagan
Edwin Meese, The Heritage Foundation

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