federalism

Sauron Comes to Middle England

Tolkien, the new biopic about the master storyteller’s life, has come under criticism for giving the impression that Tolkien’s service in World War I was the decisive influence on his work. In fact, Tolkien was far more influenced by other factors—in particular by his love of mythology, and by his strong Catholic faith. Before her [...]

The Catholic Position on the Electoral College

Is there a Catholic position on the Electoral College? Is there a “Catholic algebra” or a “Catholic chemistry”? Of course, there is not a Catholic algebra or chemistry, but there ought to be Catholic circumstances in which those subjects are taught and learned. There is, then, a Catholic “sense and sensibility” about learning, including the [...]

On the Relative Unimportance of Our Leaders

To most Americans, the election of Donald Trump to the presidency was a surprise, but for a certain segment of the population, the suddenly live prospect of “President Donald J. Trump” evoked stronger reactions. Groups of people that were described as “horrified” included “climate change supporters” (presumably this means “supporters of the fight against climate [...]

Trump and the Idolatry of Gigantism

Donald Trump is obsessed with winning big. “We’re going to win so much. And I say it and I mean it. We’re going to win so much,” Trump said in a stump speech that had all the swagger of a drunken stupor. “We’re going to win at every single level. We’re going to win so [...]

Ending Charitable Deductions to Feed the Leviathan State

Indiana University professor Fran Quigley urges, in the progressive Catholic magazine Commonweal, an end to deductibility of charitable contributions against federal income taxes. His argument rests primarily upon the twin beliefs that the U.S. social safety net is too thin and that lost revenues from charitable contribution deductibility would be better spent on governmental social welfare programs. His [...]

A New Declaration of Independence

Twelve score minus two years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent ... something that no longer exists. In 2014, Independence Day is more commonly called the Fourth of July—a Jacobin rather than a Christian practice, naming holidays after dates. (Imagine celebrating the 25th of December.) The rhetorical shift reflects an underlying reality. Lost [...]

The Supreme Court: Activism and Abdication

Serious Catholics and political conservatives since the 1950s have strongly criticized the Supreme Court for making public policy and acting as a kind of “super-legislature” to further a leftist socio-political agenda, instead of interpreting the law and judging. We have seen such judicial lawmaking on pornography, abortion, legislative reapportionment, sodomy laws, and the list could [...]

The Demise of Legitimate Political Authority

Some forty years ago, in his groundbreaking study, Twilight of Authority, sociologist Robert Nisbet observed a disturbing trend in American culture. As respect for authority had declined among the population, he wrote, members of that population became increasingly willing to accept and actually applaud an increasingly powerful, albeit less legitimate, government The notion of true [...]

Abuse of Power in the Executive Branch

In Civics 101, we learn about the venerable mainstay of democratic republics—the separation of government into Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches.  Properly employed, this separation should result in a beneficial “balance of power,” preventing usurpation of power by any particular branch.  Working as expected, the legislature makes the laws, the executive enforces them, and the [...]

The Small Community Revival: Solving Social Problems On a Human Scale

The revitalization of our federal system of government promises to be one of the enduring legacies of the administration of Ronald Reagan. Certainly it has been an essential ingredient in its electoral success. Ronald Reagan has understood the essence of federalism in a way that few other conservative public figures have in recent decades. Until [...]

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