jump to navigation

We’re Number 45 (National radio commentary, Salem/Townhall) November 15, 2017

Posted by daviddavenport in Radio Commentaries.
comments closed

For nearly 50 years now, Freedom House has published its annual survey of the freest countries in the world. This year’s report contains some troubling news.

First, with an increase in authoritarian regimes and populism, overall freedom in the world declined in the past year.

Second, the United States, after dropping a point in freedom last year, lost another point this year. Where would you rank the U.S. among the freest countries? Number one or two, certainly in the top 10? No, the U.S. is now tied for 45th.

Though we are still rated as “free,” the U.S. is heading in the wrong direction. Burdened by over-regulation, with attacks on our political system from within and without, American democracy is seen as troubled.

Abraham Lincoln wisely said, “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” When it comes to freedom, we should never be content to say, “we’re number 45.”

Advertisements

Balancing Religious Rights with Health Care (National radio commentary, Salem/Townhall) November 13, 2017

Posted by daviddavenport in Radio Commentaries.
comments closed

This is David Davenport of the Hoover Institution for Townhall.com.

Public policy is full of difficult dilemmas, tough cases where there are strong interests on both sides.  Such dilemmas are not usually solved as much as they are managed.

That’s why two federal departments recently expanded the rights of religious employers.  During the Obama years, the federal government had required religious employers to provide birth control coverage in their health insurance plans even when contrary to their religious beliefs.  And the government had limited the rights of religious employers to hire or favor people who shared their beliefs.

This action properly swings the pendulum back in favor of religious rights, which are protected by the First Amendment.  Civil rights are also constitutionally protected, which is what creates the tension.  In the end, both rights are powerful, but neither is absolute.

A liberal president pushes too far in one direction and a conservative administration appropriately pushes back.  Ultimately, the Supreme Court may well have to decide how to manage this difficult dilemma.

I’m David Davenport.

Civic Education to Save the Republic (National Radio Commentary, Salem/Townhall) October 31, 2017

Posted by daviddavenport in Radio Commentaries.
comments closed

A recent report reminds us that if the future of the American republic is in question, doing a better job with civic education is the answer.

The report for the “Democracy at a Crossroads National Summit” provides plenty of reasons for pessimism: people don’t trust their government, they don’t vote, they don’t take part in churches or other civic organizations like they used to. And young people lack civic knowledge, with only 23% of high school seniors scoring at a proficient level on tests.

But some states are awakening to the solution: better civic education in our schools. Florida now requires a middle school course in civics and tests the students, with strong results. Illinois requires a high school civics course, and other states are looking at new requirements.

The report is surely right when it says, “Civic learning, when done properly, is the best vehicle to train young people to sustain our democracy.” I hope it’s coming soon to your state.

Not All “Free Speech” Is Constitutionally Protected (National Radio Commentary, Salem/Townhall) October 22, 2017

Posted by daviddavenport in Radio Commentaries.
comments closed

But here’s one thing you should know that many don’t: Even though the phrase free speech is thrown around, the players have no constitutionally protected right to protest the anthem.

The First Amendment prohibits the government from limiting free speech, not a football team. In fact, sports teams are businesses and their leagues may regulate all kinds of things, from tucking in your shirt to what patches you wear. If there is any legal angle here, it is a matter of labor negotiations between the players’ union and management or the League. But it’s not a matter of constitutional law under the First Amendment.

Sadly our society knows so little about the Constitution, but this teachable moment is about free speech.

http://www.townhallreview.com

A Silver Lining in the Cloud of Controversy (National radio commentary, Salem/Townhall) September 6, 2017

Posted by daviddavenport in Radio Commentaries.
comments closed

President Trump’s approval numbers are low and controversies are high, nevertheless some good things are happening in our democratic system.

Congress, for example, is stepping up to its responsibilities to debate and decide policy. With Trump less interested in policy particulars, Congress can become what the founders intended, the first of the branches of government. They are debating health care, tax reform and war powers instead of waiting for the president.

Federalism is also flourishing, with states and cities becoming more proactive in policy affairs. I don’t always agree with them, but California and other states have figured out that they can make decisions about immigration or the environment. Again, that’s how the republic is supposed to work.

There’s even a new appreciation for checks and balances and separations of power as the Constitution established them.

Call them unintended good consequences of Donald Trump’s presidency, perhaps, but these are healthy signs for our democratic system.

http://www.townhallreview.com

California’s Bully Federalism (National radio commentary, Salem/Townhall) September 2, 2017

Posted by daviddavenport in Radio Commentaries.
comments closed

California’s travel ban, forbidding the expenditure of state money to travel to states that have policies they don’t like, is what I call “bully federalism.”

You may remember federalism, the idea that state and local governments retain considerable power in our federal system. Under the 10th Amendment, states can fight back and defend their powers against Washington.

But California’s federalism is not defending against federal power, it is offensive in nature, seeking to force its policies onto other states.

California doesn’t want state officials—or even university students—to travel to states that do not agree with its policies on LGBT issues. With the 6th largest economy in the world, California has the economic power to be a bully.

Do we all have to be like California? Is California the only state that gets things right? Is there no respect for the laws of other states, as seems to be called for by the “full faith and credit” provision of the Constitution?

No one likes bullies.

Win or Lose, The ACA Has Federalized Healthcare (National radio commentary, Salem/Townhall) August 29, 2017

Posted by daviddavenport in Radio Commentaries.
comments closed

No matter how the efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare turn out, I’m sorry to say that President Obama’s Affordable Care Act has federalized health care forever.

It has changed the conversation so that, instead of debating whether the federal government should or constitutionally may take over health care, we are instead debating how.

As political scientist James Q. Wilson pointed out, once Congress has entered a field of regulation, the legitimacy of federal action is established and is rarely debated again. Sadly, in the case of Obamacare, this was accomplished by a straight party-line vote of Democrats.

Surprisingly, in that same time frame, the federalization of education policy was also accomplished, but is now turning back to the states. There was such an outcry over Common Core and federal testing that teachers and parents changed the law in Washington.

Unfortunately that’s not likely to happen with an entitlement like healthcare, which has now—almost certainly—been federalized forever.

https://w.soundcloud.com/player?url=https%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F339883428&visual=true&color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false

Free Speech Under Threat (National radio commentary, Salem/Townhall) July 5, 2017

Posted by daviddavenport in Radio Commentaries.
comments closed

This summer, Commentary magazine published a forum on the question: Is free speech under threat in the United States?

Ironically, in a country where the Constitution and the courts carefully protect free speech, many people do not feel free to speak freely. Why? Because of a smothering blanket of political correctness that starts in our colleges and permeates our society.

Speakers with points of view that differ from the liberal orthodoxy are not welcome on many campuses, and in some cases have been subject to threats and violence. Students are supposed to be protected from so-called trigger words and microaggressions in the classroom. So much for free speech and the open debate of competing ideas.

The problem is that the First Amendment protects free speech from limitations by government, but the big challenges to free speech come from our culture and our campuses. It will take a strong fight to protect free speech, which is clearly under threat.

http://www.townhallreview.com

The Future of Freedom (National radio commentary, Salem/Townhall) June 30, 2017

Posted by daviddavenport in Radio Commentaries.
comments closed
A new survey by the Fund for American Studies reminds us that millennials do not understand economics. The same group that does not know basic civics—such as who their senator is or whether Judge Judy is on the Supreme Court—also doesn’t get how free markets work.

While 60% of millennials said they would choose liberty over security, in turn 54% want more government, not less. A majority of even Republicans and conservatives believe government should regulate oil and drug company prices, and place tariffs on goods coming from overseas.

This survey is described as a “freedom index” but millennials really favor more government regulation. I suppose it’s no surprise that young people who have grown up knowing nothing but big government fail to see the connection between more government regulation and less freedom.

Young people who value freedom in their personal and social lives need to understand that political and economic freedoms are necessary to sustain that.

https://w.soundcloud.com/player?url=https%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F330551022&visual=true&color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=falsehttp://www.townhallreview.com

Tax Reform Should Not Increase the National Debt (National radio commentary, Salem/Townhall) May 24, 2017

Posted by daviddavenport in Radio Commentaries.
comments closed
This is David Davenport of the Hoover Institution for Townhall.com.

 

One more dilemma for our leaders in Washington is that we desperately need tax reform, but we can’t afford to increase the national debt.

The debt is already large and growing. Our leaders say it’s nearly $15 trillion, but that doesn’t count another $5 trillion of debt to our own government, making the real number closer to $20 trillion. And Senator Ben Sasse has recently reminded us that even that number doesn’t count entitlement bills coming due that we can’t pay, perhaps pushing the number as high as $75 trillion.

But there are reasons to worry that it’s about to get worse. First, rising interest rates could make the debt more expensive. Second, Trump’s tax reform could bring in even less revenue. He’s counting on stimulating growth, but it will take a lot of growth to pay for lower tax rates.

Senator Mitch McConnell is right to say that tax reform must be revenue neutral to keep from growing the national debt.

https://w.soundcloud.com/player?url=https%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F324130419&visual=true&color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false