Columns

Natan Sharansky and the Meaning of Freedom

Column: Life lessons from the dissident, politician, and activist

Natan SharanskyNatan Sharansky has been a computer scientist, a chess player, a refusenik, a dissident, a political prisoner, a party leader, a government minister, a nonprofit executive, and a bestselling author. He never expected to be a school counselor.

Return of the Propeller Heads

Column: Heavy-handed bureaucracy is set for a comeback under Biden

propeller headsBarack Obama had a nickname for the highly credentialed economists who surrounded him during his first term. He called them "propeller heads." It was his way of joshing—and asserting superiority over—figures such as Larry Summers, Peter Orszag, Austan Goolsbee, Jason Furman, and other wonks with impeccable CVs and intimidating confidence in their own opinions. The label reduced these résumé gods to propeller-beanie geeks. Like most Obama statements, it was also a self-flattering way for the president to demonstrate the value he places on intellection, data, and expert knowledge. He and his fellow progressives love the idea that reason, logic, and science legitimize the power they wield through law and bureaucratic diktat.

Stalemate 2020

Column: America's polarized and divided politics aren't going anywhere.

voting boothThe polls were wrong. The blue wave fizzled out. The Democratic majority did not emerge. Parts of the "coalition of the ascendant" drifted to the right. For a generation, American politics has been closely and bitterly divided between the parties. There has been high turnover in office, and frequent shifts in power. Majorities are unstable. No victory is permanent, no realignment durable. The stalemate goes on.

The Next Populist Revolt

Column: The combustible politics of a coronavirus ‘dark winter’

Italian police officers clash with protesters during a protest against the government restriction measures to curb the spread of COVID-19For the past half decade, Europe has acted as a preview of coming attractions in American politics. The reaction to the confluence of immigration and terrorism on the continent foreshadowed the direction the Republican Party would take under Donald Trump. The surprise victory of “Leave” in the Brexit referendum hinted at Trump’s unexpected elevation to the presidency. The terrible images from coronavirus-stricken Italy last March offered a glimpse into New York City’s future. This week, when Italian authorities reimposed curfews, restrictions on business, and bans on communal gatherings, violent protests broke out in Turin, Milan, and Naples. Consider it a taste of the next populist revolt.

The Scalia Family

Column: The lasting influence of the legendary Supreme Court justice

scalia acb“Enough to field a baseball team.” That was the late justice Antonin Scalia’s response when asked how many children he had. And he and his wife Maureen’s nine children have themselves parented, as of this week, 40 grandchildren. How big is the Scalia family? So big that, at the moment, it would not be allowed to hold an in-person gathering in the justice’s home state of New Jersey.

Whatever Happened to Immigration?

Column: The issue driving the populist revolt has disappeared in 2020

Mike Pence And Kamala Harris Take Part In Vice Presidential DebateIt is a sign of the times that immigration has not been mentioned in three hours of debate between the presidential tickets. A review of the transcripts of both the presidential and vice-presidential encounters finds no questions asked nor answers proffered about an issue that until only recently defined much of our politics and distinguished our two parties. Needless to say, both moderators wanted to know where the candidates stand on climate change, which routinely drifts toward the bottom of any list of public priorities.

What’s Really at Stake in 2020

Column: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Supreme Court, and the future of American democracy

Nancy Pelosi and Chuck SchumerThe death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg has clarified what is at stake in the 2020 election. It is not, as some believe, democracy itself. Nor is it, as others assume, our continued existence as a nation. Democracy will survive Donald Trump, and the United States of America will outlast Joe Biden. The question that 2020 will help to answer is what sort of democracy, and what sort of nation, America will be as it prepares to enter the second quarter of the 21st century.

How Trump Changed the World

Column: By defying conventional wisdom on the Middle East and China, he reshaped both political parties

President Trump Hosts Abraham Accords Signing Ceremony On White House South LawnOn Sept. 16 the editorial board of the New York Times did the impossible. It said something nice about President Trump. “The normalization of relations between Israel and two Arab states, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain, is on the face of it, a good and beneficial development,” the editors wrote. They even went so far as to say that “The Trump administration deserves credit for brokering it.” I had to read that sentence twice to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. Perhaps the world really is ending.

The Dialectic of Woke

Column: Why politically correct institutions cave to Communist China

Last week a few sharp-eyed members of the audience for Disney’s live-action remake of Mulan noticed something ugly in the credits. The film’s producers thanked, among others, the publicity department of the “CPC Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Committee” as well as the “Turpan Municipal Bureau of Public Security.” These are the same political and disciplinary institutions that oppress China’s Uighur minority. Disney cooperated with them without batting an eye.

The Man Who Wasn’t There

Column: The risks of Joe Biden’s basement strategy

Presidential Candidate Joe Biden Makes Economic Address In Wilmington, DelawareAt first glance, Joe Biden’s strategy of avoiding the spotlight is paying off. He maintains his consistent lead over Donald Trump in national polls. In June, in the aftermath of the Lafayette Park fiasco, his advantage in the Real Clear Politics average expanded to 10 points. The critical swing states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Florida are trending his way. His lead gives him the freedom to mollify the progressive wing of his party by shifting leftward on policy. The Democrats smell victory, and dream of unified control of government for the first time in a decade.