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Separating the Medium from the Message

Separating the Medium from the Message
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Dear Reader — 

Democrats handily won the 2017 Congressional Baseball Game Thursday night. But they gave the winning trophy to the Republicans to keep in the office of Steve Scalise, the House Majority Whip who was critically wounded when a gunman opened fire at a Republican congressional baseball practice Wednesday morning.

There is a sense inside the Beltway that the growing enmity which has characterized our politics over the past few years has finally gotten out of hand. Perhaps Wednesday’s shooting will be remembered — like the caning of Senator Charles Sumner, familiar to all elementary school students — as the low point of a period of unusually intense partisan rancor. Of course, the differences between the two incidents are significant. The deranged perpetrator Wednesday morning was not a member of Congress, as was Sumner’s assailant, nor should his actions be connected to any other person or party. And we can only hope that our current squabbles do not — like those of the 1850s — portend, much less precipitate, violent civil war.

Still, the collapse of reasoned public debate is characteristic of our times. Political ideas do not live in a vacuum — as if reason were entirely disembodied or ahistorical. But our increasing inability to separate the medium from the message, if only to engage in rational public debate, undermines our collective capacity to live peaceably alongside those with whom we disagree, even essentially and irreconcilably — that peculiar American idea whose political expression is our democratic republic. 

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

— M. Anthony Mills, editor | RealClearPolicy


Deconstructing the Administrative State. In Washington Monthly, Anne Kim argues President Trump’s deregulatory agenda will cost jobs. 

Is It Time to Rein in the Presidency? In The Atlantic, Julian Zelizer & Morton Keller discuss whether decentralization is the solution to current frustrations with the federal government. 

Ninth Circuit Deals Another Blow to Trump’s Travel Ban. In our own pages, Kristie De Peña and Melanie Huettman offer legal context for the appeal court’s decision to uphold the stay of Trump's executive order.

The Decimation of the Heartland Began a Long Time Ago. Stephen Franklin makes his case in The American Prospect

America’s Mass Incarceration Problem. In The Conversation, Tanya Golash-Boza spotlights data on incarceration rates over time. 

The Democrats’ Leftward March. For National Review, Ramesh Ponnuru documents how and why the party has changed since Bill Clinton was president.

Three Smart Reforms in Trump’s Budget. Also in our pages, Marc Goldwein defends some of the proposals contained in the spending plan.

The Paternalism of Paid Parental Leave. Also in National Review, Robert VerBruggen pushes back on a popular policy proposal. 

Trump Is Right to Tout Apprenticeships Over College. The Federalist’s John Daniel Davidson applauds Trump’s efforts to “draw people back into the workforce” by promoting apprenticeships. 

The American Economy Needs Manufacturing. Also in RealClearPolicy, Mark P. Mills argues strong manufacturing is necessary for the economy to return to 3 percent growth. 

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