The Budget Blueprint is A Populist Nightmare, Not a Conservative Dream

If the 2018 budget blueprint recently released by President Trump through the Office of Management and Budget is, as right-wing commentators are claiming, the new apogee of conservative fiscal policy, then the movement is well and truly dead. Yes, the proposed budget—which only contains proposed reforms for discretionary funding and then gives no substantive detail as to how it would achieve its lofty ends— “slims” government by capping spending levels at $.151 billion, slightly below…

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2016: An Election of Political Death and Realignment

Nothing is so over-prognosticated as the death of political parties. Under the microscope of public, and perhaps more importantly, media scrutiny, insignificant quibbles are overly magnified into catastrophic divisions, which, catalyzed by the constant pressures of the biannual election cycle, threaten to rent the party asunder. But reports of the demise of political parties are greatly exaggerated. Political tumult is the sign of a robust body politic. Engagement inevitably breeds discord, both inside and outside…

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How “America First” Rhetoric Reconfigures Classic Political Theory

It is one of the great ironies of modern politics that vague, colloquial conceptions of democracy understood simply as the moral authority of the people’s will promulgate the view that partisan ideological labels have meanings which fluctuate with different forms of self-identification in the polity. In other words, the semantics of modern ideology is rooted in a self-affirming loop of populist efficacy whereby the people’s conception of words matters because it is the people who…

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The conservative case against term limits

Insulating individuals from the consequences of bad choices does nothing to promote democratic governance or protect civil liberties. It does not teach voters to make sober, reasoned choices at the voting booths. Only by making poor electoral choices then removing dishonest political actors once their perfidy is revealed and being vigilant against similar situations in future can voters truly ensure the election of a government that promotes and improves the culture of American government. There…

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Trump’s Executive Actions Cannot Undo the Wrong of Obama’s

Whether executive orders are constitutional is something of a thorn in the side of political theorists. There is nothing in the Constitution that strictly forbids the use of unilateral executive action; in fact, the Constitution explicitly grants the president a limited degree of such power in order to clarify and direct the internal operations of federal agencies. However, the Constitution also expressly forbids all powers not enumerated in its text to the federal government and…

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On regime change

With very little regard for partisan loyalties that play into the frenetic turnover between old and new presidential administrations, American citizens seem to inherently recognize the nation’s roughly two centuries of peaceful and regular transitions of power as something to be lauded. And rightly so. The ability of former rivals, in the electorate and the polity, to shrug off the pernicious attacks which created hard-line divisions month before and rally around the noble ideal of…

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What does an electoral mandate mean in a democratic government?

Whenever an election result heavily favors one party or candidate, the commentariat class—those members of the media and political elite who feel qualified to act as final arbiters in determining the meaning of political and cultural events—brand that victory a “mandate.” This term is used as if the degree of victory somehow gives the winner greater legitimacy to act, lending an air of unassailable moral authority to the policies and initiatives pursued and casting dissenters…

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