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  • 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…

  • First Principles Series Report posted January 11, 2011 by Peter C. Myers Frederick Douglass’s America: Race, Justice, and the Promise of the Founding

    Abstract: Nearly 50 years after Martin Luther King delivered his memorable “I have a dream” speech, there is a growing consensus that the civil rights movement, despite some important victories, has been a failure. While conceding that these critics have a point, Peter C. Myers faults them for embracing a radical critique of America that rejects America’s founding…

  • First Principles Series Report posted December 6, 2010 by Marion Smith The Myth of Isolationism, Part 1: American Leadership and the Cause of Liberty

    Abstract: American statecraft has been grounded, both morally and philosophically, in the principles of human liberty and America’s sense of justice. Thus, the true consistency of American foreign policy is to be found not in its policies, which prudently change and adapt, but in its guiding principles, which are unchanging and permanent. America is a defender of liberty…

  • First Principles Series Report posted October 15, 2010 by Matthew Spalding, Ph.D. America’s Founders and the Principles of Foreign Policy: Sovereign Independence, National Interests, and the Cause of Liberty in the World

    Abstract: America’s Founders sought to define a national good that transcended local interests and prejudices. The national good included the common benefits of self-defense and prosperity that all Americans would realize by participating in a large, commercial nation able to hold its own in an often hostile world. But it was only with the constitutional rule of…

  • First Principles Series Report posted August 30, 2010 by Thomas G. West The Economic Principles of America’s Founders: Property Rights, Free Markets, and Sound Money

    Abstract: Although there are many scholarly treatments of the Founders’ understanding of property and economics, few of them present an overview of the complete package of the principles and policies upon which they agreed. Even the fact that there was a consensus among the Founders is often denied. Government today has strayed far from the Founders’ approach to…

  • First Principles Series Report posted August 3, 2010 by John Adams Wettergreen Bureaucratic Tyranny or the Renewal of Self-Government: The Beginning of Centralized Administration in America

    Abstract: Conservatives have often charged that the great centralizing tendencies in American government were a product of the New Deal. As the late Dr. Wettergreen shows in this essay, first published in 1988 as a chapter in The Imperial Congress, a book produced by The Heritage Foundation and the Claremont Institute, the true culprit was not FDR but LBJ, as the full…