Defending the Founders

The Power Line Podcast, Special July 4 Edition: Five Things to Know about the Declaration, with “Lucretia”

Featured image By popular demand from listeners, we’re bringing back “Lucretia,” Power Line’s International Woman of Mystery, on this special edition for the July 4 holiday. Many listeners asked us to offer up mini-tutorials on various aspects of the American Founding and political thought in general, so we break down the Declaration of Independence, drawing notice to five key features—including how some of the specific indictments against King George III remain highly »

The eternal meaning of Independence Day (2)

Featured image President Calvin Coolidge celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1926, with a speech providing a magisterial review of the history and thought underlying the Declaration. His speech on the occasion deserves to be read and studied in its entirety. The following paragraph, however, is particularly relevant to the challenge that confronts us in the variants of the progressive dogma that pass themselves off today »

The eternal meaning of Independence Day

Featured image On July 9, 1858, Illinois Senator Stephen Douglas gave a campaign speech to a raucous throng from the balcony of the Tremont Hotel in Chicago. Abraham Lincoln was in the audience as Douglas prepared to speak. Douglas graciously invited Lincoln to join him on the balcony to listen to the speech. In his speech Douglas sounded the themes of the momentous campaign that Lincoln and Douglas waged that summer and »

Do We Still “Hold These Truths”?

Featured image On the first page of Natural Right and History (1953) Leo Strauss asks: Does this nation in its maturity still cherish the faith in which it was conceived and raised? Does it still hold those “truths to be self-evident”? About a generation ago, an American diplomat could still say that “the natural and the divine foundation of the rights of man . . . is self-evident to all Americans.” Well what »

Ready, Set, Launch the New Books!

Featured image It was ten years ago that I wrote a controversial feature in the Washington Post lamenting that the conservative intellectual world was not producing significant serious books that attracted large public notice. With only a very few exceptions conservative best-sellers of the aughts seemed to be the frothy polemics from Ann Coulter, Glenn Beck, and such. Lately however there are a large number of new conservative books that are making a »

Uhlmann’s Conquest

Featured image A week or ten days back we linked to Michael Uhlmann’s speech to the Claremont Institute on “The Struggle Ahead“—the “struggle” being the ongoing political battle to preserve our constitutional order from the predations of the contemporary left that hates the Constitution and its principles. But we were remiss in not including an excerpt from Claremont Institute president Ryan Williams’ introduction of Michael, which offered a summary of some of Michael’s »

Dissenting from the Leftist Party Line

Featured image Last night in my lecture at Yale on the topic of equality (previewed here, and coming soon as a podcast) I mentioned that the popular leftist attack today on the American Founding and especially on the Declaration of Independence is ironically the exact same argument the southern defenders of slavery made in the 1850s. Stephen Douglas explicitly argued that Jefferson only meant white English men in his phrase “all men are »

The eternal meaning of Independence Day (2)

Featured image President Calvin Coolidge celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1926, with a speech providing a magisterial review of the history and thought underlying the Declaration. His speech on the occasion deserves to be read and studied in its entirety. The following paragraph, however, is particularly relevant to the challenge that confronts us in the variants of the progressive dogma that pass themselves off today »

Charles Kesler speaks

Featured image Last week we celebrated the week of Charles — Charles Kesler, Dengler-Dykema Distinguished Professor of Government at Clarmeont McKenna College, editor of the Claremont Review of Books, long-time friend and tutor — for his receipt of one of this year’s Bradley Prize awards along with Allen Guelzo and Jason Riley. I have posted the video of the event below (it is posted here on Vimeo). Charles is a gentleman, scholar, »

Jonah’s Suicide Hotline, and All That Stuff

Featured image (Dear reader—Fair warning: this is a long post, so best to settle in on the couch and make sure your dogs have completed their morning walks . . .) Okay class, everyone settle in for today’s seminar and get out your textbook, Jonah Goldberg’s Suicide of the West.  Turn to page 316, and circle this sentence: “Indeed, as much as I hold Trump in contempt, I am still compelled to »

Remembering the indispensable man

Featured image Today we celebrate the anniversary of the birth of George Washington. Of all the great men of the revolutionary era to whom we owe our freedom, Washington’s greatness was the rarest and the most needed. At this remove in time, it is also the hardest to comprehend. Take, for example, Washington’s contribution to the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Washington’s mere presence lent the undertaking and its handiwork the legitimacy that »

It’s Official: Liberals Hate Constitutional Government

Featured image We should be grateful to Ryan Cooper for acknowledging so forthrightly in The Week what has been obvious to conservatives for a long, long time—liberals really really hate the Constitution, because limited government is an impediment to their endless dreams of ruling over us more completely and fixing every human problem: “America’s Constitution is terrible. Let’s throw it out and start over.” Cooper makes five main points, some of which »

CRB: The founders in full

Featured image This morning we resume our preview of the new issue of the Claremont Review of Books. Thanks to our friends at the Claremont Institute, I read the new issue in galley to select three pieces (this week I have five because I have three today) to be submitted for the consideration of Power Line readers. As always, wanting to do right by the magazine and by our readers, I had »

The eternal meaning of Independence Day (2)

Featured image President Calvin Coolidge celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1926, with a speech providing a magisterial review of the history and thought underlying the Declaration. His speech on the occasion deserves to be read and studied in its entirety. The following paragraph, however, is particularly relevant to the challenge that confronts us in the variants of the progressive dogma that pass themselves off today »

The eternal meaning of Independence Day

Featured image On July 9, 1858, Illinois Senator Stephen Douglas gave a campaign speech to a raucous throng from the balcony of the Tremont Hotel in Chicago. Abraham Lincoln was in the audience as Douglas prepared to speak. Douglas graciously invited Lincoln to join him on the balcony to listen to the speech. In his speech Douglas sounded the themes of the momentous campaign that Lincoln and Douglas waged that summer and »

A Deep Dive Into the Founding

Featured image It was 20 years ago that Thomas G. West, nowadays the Potter professor of politics at Hillsdale College, published Vindicating the Founders: Race, Sex, Class, and Justice in the Origins of America. The book was a tour de force against the left’s relentless attacks on and distortions of the American founding, and it is an indispensable reference book for every one of the left’s clichés about the supposed defects, if »

Books: The Common Sense of the Subject

Featured image Thomas Jefferson’s famous 1825 letter to Richard Henry Lee explained that the Declaration of Independence was intended to express “the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent. . . an expression of the American mind.” Common sense today is increasingly uncommon, especially when it comes to understanding what the Founders meant by “equality.” (Or maybe the left understands exactly what the »