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  • First Principles Series Report posted March 28, 2014 by Peter C. Myers Martin Luther King, Jr., and the American Dream

    On August 28, 1963, delivering the culminating address at the greatest mass-protest demonstration in U.S. history, Martin Luther King, Jr., summoned all of his listeners to think anew about the heritage and promise of America. Speaking in the “symbolic shadow” of the most revered American of all, he ascended the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to remind them of the…

  • First Principles Series Report posted February 25, 2014 by Ronald J Pestritto, Ph.D., Taylor Kempema The Birth of Direct Democracy: What Progressivism Did to the States

    It has been well documented, both in Heritage Foundation studies and in the scholarly literature of the past several years, that the Progressive Movement of the early 20th century had profound effects on American national government.[1] The Progressives’ impatience with the Constitution, their antipathy for checks on government, and their longing to delegate power to…

  • First Principles Series Report posted October 16, 2013 by Scott E. Yenor, Ph.D. The True Origin of Society: The Founders on the Family

    Few changes in America’s political culture in the past 100 years have been as profound as the changes in how Americans experience family life. Fewer marriages form. Marriage occurs later. Marriages are much more likely to end in divorce. Childlessness is much more common, as is living alone. The total fertility rate has dipped below replacement rates. Living together…

  • First Principles Series Report posted September 24, 2013 by Christopher Burkett Remaking the World: Progressivism and American Foreign Policy

    “The world must be made safe for democracy.”[1] Thus did President Woodrow Wilson, addressing Congress in 1917, summarize America’s high purpose in entering the First World War. At first glance, Wilson’s particular vision of America’s role in the world may not sound radically new. Since the Founding, Americans had fondly hoped that the United States, through its foreign…

  • First Principles Series Report posted August 27, 2013 by Kevin Slack Liberalism Radicalized: The Sexual Revolution, Multiculturalism, and the Rise of Identity Politics

    In the past two decades, a new, more radical form of progressivism has taken over American social and political life, even finding its way into the White House. Fresh instances of this new progressivism appear every day. For example: At the 2012 Democratic National Convention, progressives officially supported same-sex marriage as a civil right and unofficially rejected…

  • First Principles Series Report posted October 15, 2012 by Charles R. Kesler, Ph.D. Barack Obama and the Crisis of Liberalism

    Abstract: Liberalism as we know it today in America is on the verge of exhaustion. Facing a fiscal crisis that it has precipitated and no longer sure of its purpose, liberalism will either go out of business or be forced to reinvent itself as something quite different from what it has been. In this careful analysis of Barack Obama’s political thought, Charles R. Kesler…

  • First Principles Series Report posted August 20, 2012 by William A. Schambra The Origins and Revival of Constitutional Conservatism: 1912 and 2012

    Abstract: The Framers of our Constitution drew a distinction between unfettered democratic rule and the constrained republicanism of the Constitution. In the Republican convention of 1912, two candidates with diametrically opposed views of what sovereignty of the people meant were pitted against each other. On one side, incumbent President William Howard Taft defended the…

  • First Principles Series Report posted June 11, 2012 by Sidney M. Milkis The Transformation of American Democracy: Teddy Roosevelt, the 1912 Election, and the Progressive Party

    Abstract: Progressivism came to the forefront of our national politics for the first time in the election of 1912. The two leading candidates after the votes were tallied were both Progressives: the Democratic Party’s Woodrow Wilson, who won the presidency, and the Progressive Party’s Theodore Roosevelt. The election was truly transformative. It challenged voters to think…

  • First Principles Series Report posted April 19, 2012 by Herman Belz A Federal Republic: Lincoln’s First Inaugural and the Nature of the Union

    Abstract: The Constitution establishes a federated republic in which government sovereignty is divided between federal and state institutions. From the outset, this division introduced into American politics an element of ambiguity over the proper relation between the federal and state governments. To properly understand the nature of our republic, we turn for…

  • First Principles Series Report posted February 21, 2012 by Christian G. Fritz, Ph.D. Interposition and the Heresy of Nullification: James Madison and the Exercise of Sovereign Constitutional Powers

    Abstract: The seemingly unstoppable growth of the federal government has led to a revival, in some circles, of the discredited notion of nullification as a legitimate constitutional mechanism for states to reassert their sovereign powers. Proponents of this doctrine invoke the authority of James Madison to defend the claim that the Constitution empowers states to…

  • First Principles Series Report posted November 1, 2011 by Robert G. Kaufman The First Principles of Ronald Reagan’s Foreign Policy

    Abstract: A neo-Reaganite grand strategy offers the surest guide for restoring and sustaining American greatness in the 21st century. It incorporates the principles of the Founding without slighting the perennial imperatives of power and geopolitics. It inoculates us from the pessimism of unrealistic realists, who underestimate the possibility of provisional…

  • First Principles Series Report posted July 5, 2011 by Johnathan O'Neill The First Conservatives: The Constitutional Challenge to Progressivism

    Abstract: Although it is readily apparent that conservatism is united in its principled hostility to modern Progressive Liberalism, it is often more difficult to pin down just what the movement stands for. Johnathan O’Neill suggests that a focus on defending and preserving the Constitution could unite the otherwise fractious conservative movement. In this spirit,…

  • First Principles Series Report posted April 1, 2011 by Richard M Reinsch, II Still Witnessing: The Enduring Relevance of Whittaker Chambers

    Abstract: Whittaker Chambers is best known today as the veteran Soviet spy who became, in William F. Buckley Jr.’s words, “the most important American defector from Communism” when he testified against members of his underground Communist cell in the 1930s. Yet Chambers did more than reject Communism: He revealed a key problem with modern liberalism. In his…

  • First Principles Series Report posted March 7, 2011 by Bruce S. Thornton America the Delusional? Overcoming Our European Temptation

    Abstract: Once a colossus dominating the globe, Europe today is a doddering convalescent plagued by economic sclerosis, unaffordable entitlements, an impending demographic collapse, and a large unassimilated Muslim population. In addition, the EU’s reliance on soft power has left it unable to project global power and fulfill its promise to be an important player in world…

  • First Principles Series Report posted February 1, 2011 by Bruce Caldwell Ten (Mostly) Hayekian Insights for Trying Economic Times

    Abstract: The economist Friedrich Hayek attempted in his writings to spotlight the interlocking set of ideas­—constructivist rationalism, scientism, socialism, “the engineering mentality”—that was leading the West down what he famously called the road to serfdom and to propose in its place a return to a revitalized form of classical liberalism. In this essay, Professor…