Queen Elizabeth II, C.S. Lewis, and the monarchy

Reflecting on the death of Queen Elizabeth II, and the accession of King Charles III, consider the words of C.S. Lewis on monarchy:

“Monarchy can easily be ‘debunked,’ but watch the faces, mark well the accents of the debunkers. These are the men whose taproot in Eden has been cut—whom no rumor of the polyphony, the dance, can reach—men to whom pebbles laid in a row are more beautiful than an arch. Yet even if they desire mere equality they cannot reach it. Where men are forbidden to honor a king they honor millionaires, athletes, or film-stars instead—even famous prostitutes or gangsters. For spiritual nature, like bodily nature, will be served—deny it food and it will gobble poison.”

C.S. Lewis, “Equality,” included in Present Concerns: Essays (Chicago: Thomas J. Joyce and Company, 1960; first American edition).


Time to hear from Abraham Lincoln

Time to hear from Abraham Lincoln on reverence for law:

“Let every man remember that to violate the law is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own and his children’s liberty. Let reverence for the laws be breathed by every American mother to the lisping babe that prattles on her lap; let it be written in primers, spelling books, and almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit; proclaimed in the legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. In short, let it become the political religion of the nation.”

The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions:
Address Before the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois
January 27, 1838

Why is Liberty Good?

Carved into his memorial in Washington, D.C., are these words of Thomas Jefferson: “God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God?” Turning then to slavery, he said, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just.” Obviously, his trembling was justified. He should have taken his own anxiety more seriously.

Jefferson’s statement located the value of liberty within a larger context of meaning Read more

Calling All Electors: Throw the Election to the House, and You Just Might Save Our Country

The Electoral College was conceived for just the kind of national leadership crisis we now face.

Originally published October 24, 2016, Public Discourse (www.thepublicdiscourse.com)


In ordinary times, members of the Electoral College have a boring, honorific task. They’re the ones we’ll actually select when we vote on November 8th. There are 538 of them; each state gets electors equal to the number of its Representatives plus its two Senators. About six weeks after Election Day, they meet, once, in their respective state capitals to cast their votes for the presidential candidates who won the popular vote in their respective states. They rubber-stamp the results and go home to watch the pre-ordained outcome unfold on TV.

But these are not ordinary times. Read more

Round Two, the Electoral College: Does the Electoral College give John Kasich the opportunity to save us from Trump and Hillary?

Independent-minded Republicans failed to dethrone Trump in Cleveland. Many Democrats in Philadelphia only grudgingly reconciled themselves to Clinton. Is there any way to save the country from the evil-of-two-lessers choice between Donald and Hillary?

Yes, but to explain how we have to dust off the hoary old Twelfth Amendment. Ratified in 1804, the Twelfth Amendment frames the actual process for electing the President—not by popular whim in a national plebiscite but by vote of an Electoral College and, if necessary, by action of Congress.

Not only is it possible for the Electoral College to upend the binary choice of Hillary versus Donald but, under current circumstances and given the right alternative candidate, it’s almost likely. Arguably, the Electoral College was conceived for just the kind of national Read more

The Foundations of Enterprise and Freedom

Ideas move men and nations. Sound ideas foster a prosperous, free and morally responsible society; flawed ideas corrode it.

Americans have enjoyed unparalleled liberty and prosperity under a Constitution of unprecedented longevity. Such an experience is historically rare. What made it possible? I propose that it was the distinctive American conjunction of civil liberty and moral responsibility. By connecting governmental protection of freedom with cultural protection of morality, Americans have enjoyed their freedoms with an Read more

“In God We Trust” – More than a Knick-Knack

“In God We Trust” on our coins and bills. “One nation under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. The Ten Commandments posted on schoolroom walls, in courthouses, and in the U.S. Supreme Court building. Prayers by student leaders at high school graduations and football games.  The “Mount Soledad Cross” erected on public land above San Diego.

These symbolic affirmations of faith—and others like them—involve big public controversies. Read more

Corporate Policy in the Image of Public Policy, or What has business got to do with the culture wars?

In the past, law and society formed a fixed background for business operations. A business simply conformed to legal requirements and established social practices, while providing its distinct product or service to the marketplace. That time is past. Now both law and society are in flux, and whether they like it or not, business organizations cannot escape Read more