Posts tagged with: presidency

The Fall 2016 Acton Lecture Series continued on October 1st with an address by American Enterprise Institute President Arthur Brooks, who spoke on the topic of his latest book, The Conservative Heart: How to Build a Fairer, Happier, and More Prosperous America.

Conservatives are often vexed by the fact that liberal policies and their supporters are viewed by the public as more compassionate to the poor even though a great deal of evidence exists to show that that liberal “solutions” to any number of social problems—while superficially compassionate—often create as many or more problems than they solve in society. Why are people so inclined to support politicians and pundits who promote policies that demonstrably disadvantage the downtrodden? And why are people inclined to credit supporters of those counterproductive policies as being more compassionate and caring than those who promote ideas that actually lift the poor out of their poverty?

Arthur Brooks argues that a major part of the problem is in the methods of persuasion that conservatives have tended to use. He then looks to the past to show why Ronald Reagan was so successful in his political career, and proposes that today’s conservatives would do well to follow Reagan’s example: be happy warriors who fight for people, and not against bad policies.

You can view Brooks’ full presentation below. And as a bonus, after the jump I’ve included videos of the two speeches Brooks mentioned in his address: Ronald Reagan’s 1980 speech accepting the Republican nomination for president in Detroit, Michigan, and Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” speech, delivered as the commencement address to the University of Michigan’s class of 1964 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


On Tuesday, the Acton Institute, along with our friends from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, welcomed F.H. Buckley, Foundation Professor at George Mason University School of Law and author of The Once and Future King: The Rise of Crown Goverment in America, for a lecture presentation in the Acton Building’s Mark Murray Auditorium. Buckley addressed the topic of his book, describing the increase in presidential that has occurred since the time of the founders, and which has reached its fullest flowering in the Obama Administration. You can watch the video below; if you haven’t listened already, you might be interested in the latest edition of Radio Free Acton which features an interview with Buckley.

F.H. Buckley speaks at the Acton Institute

On this edition of Radio Free Acton, I was privileged to speak with F. H. Buckley, Foundation Professor at George Mason University School of Law and author of a number of books, his latest being The Once and Future King: The Rise of Crown Government in America.

The story of American Government is the story of the rise of presidential power, which has seen its fullest, and – for those who believe in the principles of the Constitution and oppose one-man rule – most unsettling flowering in the presidency of Barack Obama. How did a country that was founded on small-r republican principles go from overthrowing the rule of the King George to essentially creating its own elected monarchy, which George Mason, one of the founding fathers, considered worse than the real thing? Buckley discusses this process and our current political dilemma.

Later this week, we’ll post the video of Buckley’s lecture on the same topic, which he delivered yesterday at the Acton Building’s Mark Murray Auditorium at an event co sponsored by Acton and The Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

Coolidgepic Next week at Acton University I am giving a lecture titled, “Calvin Coolidge and his Foundational Views on Government.” One of the great things about studying Coolidge is that he is extremely accessible. Coolidge noted during his political career that practicing law was valuable for honing communication skills that promote brevity and clarity in speech. The Coolidge lecture at Acton University will attempt to do likewise. He’s a president that probably would have little trouble with the 140 character limit on Twitter. If you aren’t able to attend Acton University, I’m told the lecture will be recorded, and at some point will be available for a very small fee.

One of the most relevant things about Coolidge today is that in his era he was battling the progressive scheme to perfect man in an attempt to move beyond the spirit of America’s founding principles. In one masterful broadside against the progressive scheme delivered on the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, he declared:


Calvin Sr. and Calvin Jr.

In reading Amity Shlaes’ marvelous biography of Calvin Coolidge, I was struck by a brief poem written by Coolidge’s son, Calvin Jr., during his father’s stint as vice president to Warren Harding.

Coolidge was having a hard time adapting to life in Washington, ridiculed for a variety of things, and struggling to remain supportive of an administration which, as Shlaes puts it, boasted “a temperament wilder than his own.” As one glimpse into these matters, Coolidge’s close friend, Frank Stearns, had sent him a letter expressing his sympathies. “It makes me a little sick at heart that you should not get more comfort out of your success,” Stearns wrote. A sample of Coolidge’s reply: “I do not think you have any comprehension of what people do to me.”

“The price of their status, having it or lacking it, was becoming clear to all the Coolidges,” Shlaes explains. (more…)