Presidential Deal-Brokering Threatens Rule of Law

The president has no legislative power. This is confirmed not only by the lack of language in Article II of the Constitution granting the president authority to issue laws, even in times when they may be exigently needed, but also in the rather explicit clause of Article I, Section 1, which states that “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and…

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No, Federal Funding for Disaster Relief Is Not Antithetical to Conservatism

For the vast majority of the country, Hurricane Harvey, though a tragedy, also served as a reminder that political divisiveness is superficial. The outpouring of support from Americans even in areas far from the path of the storm demonstrated that rugged individualism is still a central animating tenet of civic life.  Love of one’s own life and liberty demands respect of the same capacity in another. This attitude promotes a sense of duty, to help…

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Division Within Congress Is Necessary

By dint of that air of moral supremacy carried by the members of a majority in a nation that gives over ultimate power to the judgment of the people, the pinnacle of modern American political virtue is bipartisan collaboration. In uniting to serve “the common good” — an ill-defined term, the imprecision of which is compounded by questions of how the polity is constructed at a national level — politicians evoke that spirit of communitarian…

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American Party Culture, Part 5: The Pressure to Conform

The quest for an efficacious politics is a coming-of-age tale of sorts. There is an inevitable moment of reckoning in the life of each and every member of the polity, a moment when the veil of winsome ignorance is lifted and the mind is awoken to the realities of civic life. In this moment, each citizen must grapple with their political identity and determine whether it is more personally efficacious to allow their opinions to…

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The Politics of Doom: Rhetorical Bluster or Electorally Transformative?

Contemporary politics is less a formal party system, organized around substantively different sets of beliefs, and more an emergent schism between doomsday prophets who can agree that America is in decline and freedom is fast slipping away, but lay the blame for impending cataclysm at the feet of their rivals. Political identity is subsumed by end-time beliefs; the operative variable is whether one believes the president or his detractors are the agents responsible. The prophets…

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American Party Culture, Part 4: The Struggle for Popularity

Messages of political unity have a particular magnetism. For certain, campaign rhetoric that appeals to the ability of a nation to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds if people put differences aside and pull together for the common good is like lodestone for would-be politicians. “Come together” messaging might seem incongruous in the framework of inherently divisive elections, where competitors speak of hope and unity in one breath then deride the motives of their opponent in the…

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American Party Culture, Part 3: Purging Substance

A party which does not stand on substance, which does not appeal to voters on the merits of ideals but instead panders to vaguely defined social needs, cannot govern. Consensus, which is ultimately defined by the ever-shifting goalposts of public opinions, is worth more than demonstrably workable ideas. Modern politics defines morality by the numbers: the more people who approve of a policy, the more political capital is possesses. This attitude goes hand-in-hand with the…

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