RealClearPolicy Newsletters: Original Articles

Introducing Weekly Policy Picks

Introducing Weekly Policy Picks
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

This is the first installment of a new weekly newsletter in which RealClearPolicy editor M. Anthony Mills highlights the key stories, essays, and policy ideas of the preceding week.

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Dear Reader —

One of the many ironies of November 8, 2016, is that while the crack up of the Grand Old Party had seemed a fait accompli to many inside the Beltway, it was the Democratic Party that ultimately lost power and, perhaps, also its identity. The debate over the soul of the party of FDR and JFK began almost immediately. Some on the Left have blamed Trump’s victory on resurgent racial and nativist sentiments, while others fault the Electoral College; others accuse the Democratic party of abandoning its erstwhile base, the white working class.

The soul searching has not been limited to Democrats. On the Right, Trump’s win vitiated entrenched views about political philosophy no less than campaign strategy. And conservatives continue to wrestle with whether and how to square Trumpian populism with their own political principles.

As the GOP struggles to figure out what conservative governance looks like in the age of Trump — whether to embrace economic nationalism or double down on Reagan’s legacy of free trade, or to adopt Keynesian-style spending or cut entitlements — the Democrats have a different task. Theirs is to determine how to advance progressive goals without wielding federal power. So the concepts of localism and federalism, long associated with American conservatism, have begun cropping up on the pages of liberal publications. And some constitutional conservatives, meanwhile, hope that a new Republican majority will join forces with the Democratic minority, now fearful of an expanded executive, to reinvest power in the federal and state legislatures. Electoral upsets make for strange bedfellows. 

These are some of the many policy issues taken up at RealClearPolicy over the past week. Below you will find just a few highlights. 

— M. Anthony Mills, editor | RealClearPolicy


Trumpism: A Pattern of Backlash Against Social Progress. In Vox, Bradley Proctor looks at Trump’s rise in the context of America’s fraught racial history, seeing a backlash against the Obama era.

Populism Challenges Democracy from Within. Writing in The American Prospect, Marc Fleurbaey contends that populism is a natural component of democracy that nevertheless threats constitutional democratic procedures and institutions.

The American Political System Is Broken. Mehdi Hasan asserts in the The Washington Post that the Electoral College is an archaic mechanism that hampers the democratic process.

Can Democrats Woo White Working Class? Also in The Washington Post, Charles Lane considers what it would take for the Democrats to win back their historical base.

Republican Anti-Union Efforts Made a Difference on Election Day. In our own pages, Alex Rowell and David Madland argue that despite Trump’s success with the white working class, the GOP’s anti-union strategy paid off by weakening turnout among union voters.

Conservatives Should Embrace Principled Populism. For National Review, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) outlines an agenda for addressing populist concerns with conservative solutions. 

No, Conservatism Should Not Embrace Populism. Also in National Review, Andrew C. McCarthy offers a retort to Sen. Mike Lee and other conservatives who want to make peace with populism. 

A Trump-Ryan Constitutional Revival? Christopher DeMuth considers whether wariness of Trump could spur congressional Republicans to abandon “lazy delegation” and “relearn the art of legislating.”

The American Right Needs to Become Liberal Again. In The Federalist, Dan Jones urges American conservatives to get back to their classical-liberal roots, starting by warming up to the word “liberal.” 

Coming Out of the Bubble. Peter Augustine Lawler reflects on the miscalculations of the intellectual class — including conservatives and progressives — and suggests how conservatism in the age of Trump might attend to the “ordinary dignity of the relational lives of ordinary men and women.”

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