Politicians and the Common Folk

My friend Tom visits Martha's Vineyard every summer, where his family has owned a cottage for decades. Things have changed since his childhood, as was clear last week when President Obama and candidate Hillary Clinton joined other guests at the Farm Neck Country Club for the 80th birthday of . . . . Continue Reading »

A Royalist and Whig Revolution?

It was appropriate that I read Eric Nelson’s The Royalist Revolution this summer while on a research trip to Great Britain, since the book is a study of political ideas that bounced between England and her colonies and the effects they had on the shape of the new American nation. Continue Reading »

Don't Sweat the Donald

Eleven percent of New Hampshire's conservatives favor crony capitalist, eminent domain abuser, supporter of single-payer health care, and all-around-buffoon, Donald Trump for president. But they don't really. A fraction of the Republican electorate is having some weird fun with the conventions and . . . . Continue Reading »

The Political Christian

The “Pastor Protection” bill just breezed through the Texas House and Senate with strong bipartisan support, and should soon be signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott. The purpose of the bill is to enshrine in law the ability of pastors to marry those couples whom their faith allows to be married, . . . . Continue Reading »

The Future of Democratic Capitalism

In the eighteenth century, a host of thinkers began to use the compound term “political economy” to refer to the traditional subject matter of politics. Both parts are needed to express the complex social system necessary to human liberty and flourishing. For human liberty and human flourishing . . . . Continue Reading »

The Real Immigration Challenge

Back in the 1990s, Newt Gingrich observed that every society faces an immigration challenge (this was when he was a somewhat more reliable ideas man). He said that there are geographic immigrants (who come from some other place), and there are temporal immigrants (who are born into society). It is . . . . Continue Reading »

Nelson Rockefeller as Social Gospel Christian

Richard Norton Smith’s outstanding new biography of Nelson Rockefeller does not directly focus much on the religious beliefs of the wealthy scion and long-time presidential aspirant. But there are enough tidbits to imply that he was a Social Gospel Christian, very much the product of his family’s targeted philanthropy and devotion to liberal Protestantism.The grandson of America’s first billionaire, Rockefeller was born into a pious Baptist home where liquor, smoking and profanity were prohibited, family prayers were a daily ritual, and the Sabbath always sacred. His grandfather, John Sr., the builder of an oil empire, was a conventional but not very theologically minded Baptist. His father, John Jr., the heir and only son, was devout but committed to modernizing Christianity under the guidance of experts he would fund. His counsel for philanthropy was Raymond Fosdick, a backslidden Baptist who championed cautiously progressive causes. Fosdick was brother to the great liberal preacher Harry Emerson, a zealous foe of “fundamentalism” who had survived a Presbyterian heresy trial. Continue Reading »