Jeff and Dr. Chris Burkett of Ashland University discuss the ideas and ideals expressed in America’s most fundamental document, the Declaration of Independence.

Host: Jeff Sikkenga

In this special episode, Jeff sits down with Dr. Joshua Dunn to discuss the overturning of Roe v. Wade and blockbuster decisions about religious liberty, free speech, and the 2nd Amendment.

You can download a free PDF copy of Josh’s Core Documents Collection on the Judiciary.

Jeff talks with Dr. Lucas Morel about Ralph Ellison, his novel Juneteenth, the role of literature in sociopolitical discourse and thought, and their connection to American history and politics.

Mentioned in this episode are Lucas’ book, Ralph Ellison and the Raft of Hope: A Political Companion to Invisible Man, Ellison’s Juneteenth, and Ellison’s essay, What America Would Be Like Without Blacks (1970).

In this episode Jeff discusses two fascinating heroes of the American Civil War with Dr. Jason Stevens of Ashland University, and Pat Maloney of the Ashbrook Center.

Learn more about Ashbrook’s programs for students, teachers, and citizens at Ashbrook.org.

In this episode of The American Idea, Jeff welcomes back Dr. Jason Stevens, Professor of Political Science at Ashland University and the Co-Director of the Ashbrook Scholar Program, to talk about the Great Triumvirate; the greatest American statesmen of the early nineteenth century. Over the course of nearly forty years, Henry Clay of Kentucky, Daniel Webster of Massachusetts, and John C. Calhoun of South Carolina shaped the destiny of the republic and saved it several times from falling into disunion. Jeff and Jason’s conversation explores these men, their fame and notoriety during their own times, and their lasting influence on future statesmen like Abraham Lincoln and on the country.

Host: Jeff Sikkenga

In this episode of The American Idea, Jeff is joined by David Davenport, Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and Senior Fellow at Ashbrook, for a conversation exploring the crisis in civic education and what we can do about it. The former president of Pepperdine University from 1985-2000, David is a regular columnist for the Washington Examiner and his study, “Commonsense Solutions To Our Civics Crisis,” was published by the Orrin G. Hatch Foundation in 2020. He earned a BA with distinction in international relations from Stanford University and a JD from the University of Kansas’s School of Law, where he was elected to Order of the Coif and earned national and international awards in moot court competitions.

Host: Jeff Sikkenga

In this episode of The American Idea, Jeff welcomes back Dr. Greg McBrayer, Associate Professor of Political Science at Ashland University and Ashbrook’s Director of Citizen Programs, for a conversation on Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 Letter from a Birmingham Jail.

Host: Jeff Sikkenga

In this episode of The American Idea, Jeff welcomes back Dr. Chris Burkett, Associate Professor of Political Science at Ashland University and Director of the Ashbrook Scholar Program, for a conversation on Benjamin Franklin’s famous Autobiography, his dramatic rise from the ninth of twelve children in an impoverished household to the most famous American of his time, and why he is – rightly – remembered as “The First American.”

Host: Jeff Sikkenga

In the second episode of The American Idea’s Presidential Portraits series, we explore the life and controversial presidency of George W. Bush, the two-term Texas Governor who became the unexpected wartime president with the horrific attacks on September 11th, 2001. For this conversation, Jeff is joined by Stephen Knott, Professor of National Security Affairs at the United States Naval War College and the Thomas and Mabel Guy Professor in American History and Government at Ashland University. Stephen is a renowned presidential scholar, having recently participated in the C-SPAN Presidential Leadership survey and published a book on the lost soul of the presidency. He is the author of Rush to Judgment: George W. Bush, The War on Terror, and His Critics from the University of Kansas Press.

Host: Jeff Sikkenga

In this episode of The American Idea, Jeff is joined by Cara Rogers, Professor of History at Ashland University and Co-Director of the Ashbrook Scholar Program, for a conversation on Thomas Jefferson and his controversial book, Notes on the State of Virginia. Jeff and Cara discuss Jefferson’s long history of anti-slavery sentiments and emancipation proposals, and his disturbing comments regarding the physiological differences between White Americans and Black Americans, and the historical paradox that these two seemingly separate concepts create.

Host: Jeff Sikkenga

In the first episode of The American Idea’s Presidential Portraits series, we explore the life and times of George Washington: “First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.” For this conversation, Jeff is joined by Marc Landy, Professor of Political Science at Boston College and visiting faculty in Ashbrook’s Master of Arts in American History and Government program at Ashland University. Marc has a B.A. from Oberlin College and a Ph.D. in Government from Harvard University. He was the recipient of the 2009 Teaching Award chosen by the student members of the Boston College Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. He is the Faculty Chair of the Boston College Irish Institute.

Host: Jeff Sikkenga

In this special episode of The American Idea, Jeff welcomes Sohrab Ahmari, prolific columnist, former Op-Ed Editor for the New York Post, and the author of the recent book, The Unbroken Thread: Discovering the Wisdom of Tradition in the Age of Chaos (2021) for a conversation on his journey from Iran to the United States, his conversion to Catholicism, the threats facing the great traditions of Western Civilization, and the moral condition of the American press.

Jeff welcomes back two old friends of the show, Dr. Greg McBrayer, Associate Professor of Political Science at Ashland University and Ashbrook’s Director of Citizen Programs, and Dr. John Moser, Professor of History and Chair of the Department of History and Political at Ashland, for an in-depth conversation about the ascension of Ronald Reagan from Hollywood actor to the 40th President of the United States. Greg, John, and Jeff will examine the Reagan Revolution and the Fall of the Soviet Union through two of the Gipper’s most important political speeches: “A Time for Choosing” (1964) and Reagan’s Speech at Brandenburg Gate — or more famously known as the “Tear Down This Wall!” speech (1987). Their conversation will examine both the complex historical narrative surrounding American politics and world affairs between 1964 and the fall of the Berlin Wall, Reagan’s place in that narrative, and how Reagan’s principled defense of freedom and the virtues of capitalism guided America to victory in the Cold War.

In this special episode of The American Idea, Jeff welcomes Ken Starr, Independent Counsel for the Whitewater Controversy, former United States circuit judge, and the 39th solicitor general of the United States of America, for a conversation on religious liberty in the twenty-first century, the collapse of civic education across the country, and the prospects for reviving the ways American history and government are taught.

In this special holiday episode of The American Idea, we are privileged to share with you a very special Christmas story.

A story of hope and freedom, of overcoming tyranny and opression, of finding love for a country and its ideas. A story of a boy whose father gave him the gift of America.

Jeff welcomes Dr. Peter Myers, Professor of Political Science at University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire and the 2016-17 B. Kenneth Simon Fellow in American Political Thought at the Heritage Foundation, for a revealing conversation on the greatest American speech of the twentieth century: Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream.” Peter and Jeff will examine the history of the Civil Rights Movement preceding the historic March on Washington in August of 1963, King’s leadership during this vitally important time, and how King wove the greatest of American political and religious traditions to write the defining speech of the era. Listen to the full conversation to learn more about this legendary piece of political and religious rhetoric, its history, and whether or not we could have another speech like it today.

Jeff welcomes Dr. John Moser, Professor of History and the Chair of the Department of History and Political Science at Ashland University, to talk about the rise of Franklin Roosevelt and the origins of his radical presidency. John and Jeff will examine these topics through a fascinating and engaging conversation on Roosevelt’s 1932 campaign speech, the Commonwealth Club Address. Recently ranked the second greatest campaign speech in political history, the speech set the ideological groundwork for Roosevelt’s New Deal policies and the role of the federal government in twentieth century America. Listen to the full conversation to learn more about this essential (but understudied) speech in political history.

Building on our recent conversation with former Vice President Mike Pence, Jeff welcomes Stephen Knott, Professor of National Security Affairs at the United States Naval War College, to The American Idea for a conversation on the evolution of the vice presidency. Stephen is a renowned presidential scholar, having recently participated in the C-SPAN Presidential Leadership survey and published a book on the lost soul of the presidency. A long-standing friend of Ashbrook, he is also the Thomas and Mabel Guy Professor in American History and Government at Ashland University. Jeff and Stephen talk about the origins and history of the vice presidency, how it’s evolved to a position of great power in the late twentieth century, and some of its most famous (and infamous) occupants.

On this very special episode of The American Idea, Jeff welcomes former Vice President Mike Pence to the Schramm Library. As many of our listeners know, Mr. Pence was the 48th Vice President of United States, serving alongside President Donald J. Trump from 2017 to 2021. Before that, he was a six-term congressman from the State of Indiana and Governor of the same state from 2013 to 2017. In their conversation, Mr. Pence and Jeff talk about the role of the vice president, his twenty years of experience in both Congress and the White House, and why teaching American history and civics is more important than ever before.

In this episode of The American Idea, Jeff welcomes Donald Drakeman, Distinguished Research Professor at the University of Notre Dame and the Founding Chairman of the Advisory Council of the James Madison Program in Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University for a conversation how we should interpret the Constitution. Donald is a renowned constitutional scholar, having been cited by the Supreme Courts of the United States and the Philippines. His books on the Constitution include Church, State, and Original Intent (Cambridge, 2009), a Choice Outstanding Academic Title, and his most recent book The Hollow Core of Constitutional Theory; Why We Need the Framers (Cambridge, 2021). Donald and Jeff talk about the dangers of the living constitution, the real role of judges in our democratic republic, and why interpreting the Constitution should matter to you!