Tag: American history

The Truth About States’ Rights


As the 2016 presidential campaign gets underway, we can expect the usual savage critique of any conservative who dares to advocate states’ rights, as Rick Perry tried to do in the last cycle. The unspoken premise of such attacks is that “states’ rights” is a philosophy born in the antebellum South to defend slavery. Ergo, anyone who supports states’ rights today must be a closet racist.

A 2013 New York Times op-ed by Michael C. Dawson, for example, declared that “since the nation’s founding, ‘states’ rights’ has been a rallying cry for those who wished to systematically disenfranchise and exploit large segments of their population.”

A Warrior Nation: Thoughts on Veterans Day


Today is Veterans Day, a day to thank veterans for their service and sacrifice. It is also a good time to reflect on the fact that our military has not only kept us safe and free, but has made us who we are in important ways. We like to think of ourselves as isolated from the world’s violent conflicts and secure behind two giant oceanic moats. But the cold, unvarnished reality is that — like every other such nation in history — the United States became a great power by breaking a lot of heads. To a far greater degree than most Americans are willing to admit, we have been a martial people for most of our history.

One historically important function of war is nation-building, and so it has been with us. The United States was born of a long and bitter Revolutionary War that gave us our independence, our national iconography, as well as a great general who became our greatest President. The War of 1812 gave us Andrew Jackson and our national anthem. The Civil War ended slavery, settled basic constitutional questions left unsettled at the founding and forged our modern federal state. The low-intensity Indian wars and James Polk’s controversial Mexican War made us a continental power and gave us our national mythology of westward expansion and Manifest Destiny. The equally controversial Spanish-American War and Teddy Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet made us a global power of the first rank.

The Clintons of 2016 Will Not Be The Clintons of 1992


In 1992, Bill Clinton ran as a “new kind of Democrat,” one who would “end welfare as we know it” and craft a society that would reward those who “work hard and play by the rules.” Clinton knew that he could not win as a traditional liberal, so he crafted the now-famous “Third Way” approach, and campaigned and governed under a Third Way banner.

Of course, the Third Way was reinforced by the disastrous (from the Democrats’ perspective) 1994 Midterm Elections. Clinton accepted a Republican welfare reform bill (after two vetoes), balanced the budget (after much Republican prodding) and expanded free trade. At the same time, he proposed a bevy of micro-reforms that won bipartisan approval, in part because they were cleverly crafted so that Republicans could not vote against them. Through a combination of circumstance, accident, and design, Clinton became the Third Way president he had promised.

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This is a shameless request: I’m looking for a solid biography of Thomas Jefferson, and I want suggestions. From my reading on other Founding Fathers, Jefferson often doesn’t come out looking too wonderful.  This is partly because of the man’s genuine flaws, and I know that I quite frankly disagree with him probably on more […]

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I have little respect for Ruth Bader Ginsburg as a judge, but occasionally she does have a point.  Suppose an employer’s sincerely held religious belief is offended by health coverage of vaccines, or paying the minimum wage or according women equal pay for substantially similar work? Preview Open

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How Do You Teach the Warts of American History?


trailoftears-432x330The United States has its fair share of skeletons in the closet. Racist, imperialist, sexist skeletons. While conservatives may be annoyed at how much liberals like to harp on (and occasionally exaggerate) those particular stories, they are still historical facts — and conservatives aren’t scared of facts.

Here’s my question: what is the right way to teach the “unsavory” parts of American history? There has to be a way to avoid the two extremes of stupidity: on one hand, the “God’s Chosen Nation” model, in which George Washington is practically canonized and no one who carries the stars and stripes can ever do wrong. And, on the other hand, the cesspool of self-loathing that liberals seem to prefer, in which we belabor every injustice ever perpetrated in this country and George Washington gets less coverage than Squanto.

How do you teach the whole picture and help students be proud of our country without closing their eyes to our warts?