The New Model Federalist is a series of thirteen essays written between 2016 and 2020 that apply the United States of America’s founding principles to our Union’s present challenges. They are published here in the hope that the thoughts contained within may, in some small measure, help to preserve free government throughout this century.
Read them as individual PDF files by following the links below. For a more portable, user-friendly format, they are also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and the Apple bookstore as an inexpensive ebook, which contains a unique foreword reflecting on the momentous events of 2020 and early 2021. For in-depth thoughts on some of those events, see the blog and my portfolio of externally-published opinion articles.
Our Republic was the first nation deliberately designed on Enlightenment principles. Now its freedom is menaced by ‘illiberal democracy.’ Old ideas must be reinvigorated, and a new path taken.
Free society cannot exist without free speech, a free press, free worship, and peaceful protest. We must adopt the spirit of Voltaire: “I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
The United States of America is a country conceived not as a uniform entity but as a federal Union of States. Yet, as the old idea of Union has faded, over-centralization has polarized society and paralyzed government.
The Founders intended our Republic to be governed by representation; and representatives are elected to lead, not follow the polls. They should use their judgment, and be replaced if they do not.
Just laws are made by consent of the governed, and our Republic’s people conferred lawmaking power on the elected legislature. Congress has delegated too much of this power to the executive branch, which warps it.
A well-funded public debt can be in the national interest, if it has a means of extinguishment. Yet today a crisis shakes our Union’s economy and vastly grows its deficit, while a rival nation vies to replace it.
The present system of entitlements renders States and citizens alike dependent on federal funds, and so on the uncertain benevolence of the federal government. Yet the poor, the sick, and the elderly may not be left to fate.
American prosperity is founded on the right of property and the spirit of enterprise. Free markets remain the best means to create opportunity, but they fail to do so when the competition underlying them is hindered.
World trade is the inevitable result of human progress, and free trade is a wellspring of prosperity. Americans ought to step back into the arena; their government should contribute tools with which they may thrive.
It is by the consent of its citizens that a republic is born, and by their industry that it grows. To keep its enlightened character and unparalleled might, our Republic must uphold an equal citizenship for all.
Immigration brings people from beyond our Union’s borders; assimilation and naturalization make them devoted citizens. Our Republic ought to welcome new immigrants, but also expect them to take up the duty of citizenship.
Decency in government must be accompanied by might, and might can only be built and preserved by looking abroad. Republics must thus compete in the perpetual contest of nations to secure their interests.
International cooperation is ingrained in the history of our Union, which was once a confederation of thirteen sovereign States. It later built institutions across the globe; yet that world order is now under strain.
There are some great works which all nations must strive to achieve. Their importance arises from morality, their urgency from self-interest. We must finish them, or leaving them undone will finish us.
Our Republic has for four years been assailed by the insidious delusion of illiberal democracy, and disease has entered a house divided and in disrepair. The result of this struggle lies undecided ahead of us.
This work cannot be considered the product of a single mind working in isolation. There are some individuals whose thoughts and advice have been particularly valuable to me. I owe a great debt to them all.
Although most of the classic works I draw on are in the public domain, I owe a debt of gratitude to the translators, editors, biographers, and publishers who have made those storied words available to the modern reader.