Prudence, Protests, and Pandemics

Greg Weiner

The season of crisis we are living through has required us to think hard about what we should expect of our political leaders. There is a natural tendency in such times to wish we could empower experts whose knowledge can guide us through challenging and unfamiliar terrain. But government by experts is no more desirable than military policy resting solely in the hands of generals, and for many of the same reasons. We are a republic, not a technocracy, and we should seek leaders who can exercise judgment. That we seem to lack such leaders now is itself an element of the crisis we confront.

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How to Think about Patriotism

Wilfred M. McClay

Patriotism in the American context has always involved both a devotion to an intricate latticework of ideals, sentiments, and overlapping loyalties, and also a commitment to our unique traditions, culture, history, people, and land. These two types of American patriotism are undeniably in tension, but the tension has been a healthy one throughout our history. Since its founding, our nation's universal ideals have meshed with, and derived strength from, Americans' local and particular sentiments.

the public interest

Up and down with ecology—the "issue-attention cycle"

Anthony Downs

The Public Interest was a quarterly public policy journal founded by Irving Kristol and Daniel Bell in 1965. Throughout its four decades of publication, ending in 2005, it offered incomparable insight and wisdom on a vast range of challenges at the intersection of public affairs, culture, and political economy—helping America better understand and govern itself in a tumultuous time. National Affairs now hosts its archives, free of charge.

The Most Dangerous Branch

Joshua D. Hawley

Many conservatives felt betrayed by the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision, sensing they had lost an important political battle at the hands of a supposed ally. Justified or not, this sense of betrayal points to a much greater problem: the fact that the Court is viewed as capable of resolving political disputes at all. Today, the judiciary weighs in far too often on matters that should be left to the political branches of our government — a tendency toward overreach rooted in the Constitution itself.

Religion and the American Republic

George F. Will

America has generally marked out a division of labor between the institutions of politics and those of civil society, including and especially those of religion. It is as the foremost of our civil-society institutions that religious organizations play a crucial role in sustaining our distinctive system of government — as shapers of citizens, and as limiting counterparts to the state. That is why citizens concerned for our tradition of limited, constitutional government should be friendly to the cause of American religion — even if they are not believers themselves.

The First American Founder

James W. Ceaser

Americans revere the nation's founders, and it seems perfectly natural that we should. But we are never quite clear about exactly who counts as a founder, and exactly for what. Our country had more than one beginning, and has several uses for its several foundings. In fact, the idea of a national founding needed to be introduced into our political vocabulary and developed into the core of our self-understanding. The concept of the American founding itself had a founder. 


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