Mollie Hemingway on Religious Liberty in Modern America

On November 4th, 2017, Mollie Hemingway spoke at the Buckley Program’s conference on The Constitution and the Courts.

Mollie Hemingway is a senior editor at The Federalist. A longtime journalist, her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, the Guardian, the Washington Post, CNN, National Review, GetReligion, Ricochet, Christianity Today, Federal Times, Radio & Records and other publications.

The Buckley Program had the chance to interview Ms. Hemingway at the Omni Hotel in New Haven, CT. The transcript has been condensed and lightly edited from a longer interview.

By: Alexander Sikorski

Alexander: How serious is the threat to religious liberty in America today? Continue reading

High School Essay Contest: 1st Place

This semester, the Buckley Program held a high school essay contest with the topic: If you could propose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, what would it be? The following essay by Andrej Elez, a sophomore at Montgomery High School, won 1st place. 

Although the country is dealing with hurricane relief, gun control, and health care reform, the most pressing long-term domestic issue that leaps out to the casual observer is the massive growth of the Federal government into areas in which it was never intended to intervene. Continue reading

High School Essay Contest: 2nd Place

This semester, the Buckley Program held a high school essay contest with the topic: If you could propose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, what would it be? The following essay by Holden Whaley, a freshman at Xavier High, won 2nd place. 

The Change I Hope to See

To have a fair democracy every vote needs to count for the same amount, allowing each person to have the same voice in our government. This is essential to any indirect democracy as it is built on the social contract theory.  This theory states that the people of a nation give a smaller group of people the right to govern them, if they respect the will of the people. As Abraham Lincoln said, it’s “government of the people, by the people, and for the people”. This in turn means that democracy is based on the popular will of the people, as not everyone will agree. However, in America, that is not always the case; while most elections and votes are won by majority rule, the presidential election does not always work this way. The system for electing a president in America is known as the electoral college, and due to several factors, it sometimes allows a president to win without amassing a majority of the vote. In my opinion, if someone can win without a majority, the system is unfair. So, if I could propose an amendment to the United States constitution, I would propose that the electoral college is abolished in favor of the two-round system. Continue reading

High School Essay Contest: 3rd Place

This semester, the Buckley Program held a high school essay contest with the topic: If you could propose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, what would it be? The following essay by James Heavey, a junior at Greenwich High, won 3rd place. 

AMENDMENT XXVIII:

Sec. 1  The length of a term in the House of Representatives shall now be four years

Sec. 2  No person shall be elected to Congress if they surpass the term limits.  The term limits shall be 2 terms in the House of Representatives, totalling 8 years and 2 terms in Congress totalling 12 years.  In total, one person may only serve in Congress for 20 years.

Sec. 3  A Congressional Advisory Resource Agency shall be established to provide legislative insight and experience to Congress. Continue reading

High School Essay Contest: Honorable Mention

This semester, the Buckley Program held a high school essay contest with the topic: If you could propose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, what would it be? The following essay by Naomi Kostman, a junior at Greenwich High, won an Honorable Mention. 

The New Face of America

The United States prides itself on being a nation of immigrants. The Statue of Liberty, reads, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” However, Article II Section 1 of the Constitution states, “No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President…” This section has discredited the population of naturalized citizens that has grown by 6.6 million in the past decade as not “American” enough. The 28th Amendment to the Constitution should allow for an individual who is a citizen and is at least 35 years of age to be eligible to run for president regardless of his/her country of birth. It is time for the United States to earn its reputation of giving a voice to all people by allowing those who have worked hard to become citizens the right to represent this country. Continue reading

Buckley College Essay Contest: 3rd Place Winner

This semester, the Buckley Program held a college essay contest with the topic: If you could propose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, what would it be? The following essay by Abhay Rangray, a sophomore in Benjamin Franklin College, won 3rd place. 

Many justifications for changing the constitution have been used; two are particularly important. To solve practical problems facing the nation and to limit the power of the federal government. The 21st amendment demonstrates the utilization of both criteria. The 21st amendment repealed the 18th amendment thus ending alcohol prohibition. This amendment fulfilled both justifications for amending the constitution. The amendment solved the practical problem of illicit alcohol consumption and organized crime. Furthermore, the amendment limited the power of the federal government over the individual. The freedom of an American to drink increased while the power of the government to prohibit decreased. Thus, the 21st amendment met both justifications. Continue reading

Fall 2016 Yale College Essay Contest 3rd Place: “Where is the American Political System Heading After 2016 and why?”by William Merrill ES ’19

The tension between populist and establishment politics has been a recurrent theme in the 2016 election. During the primaries, both Democratic and Republican candidates gained a following by arguing that the mainstream parties’ positions of the last decade do not coherently represent the interests and values of most Americans. After highlighting rising socioeconomic inequality, Bernie Sanders took a firm position against center-left neoliberals and called for the resurgence of radical leftist economic policies. Appealing to existing Tea Party sentiment within the Republican Party, Donald Trump challenged the ideological hegemony of party elites, claiming that free trade and interventionist foreign policy negatively impact everyday Americans. A similar dynamic persists in the general election: Trump has visibly defined himself as an alternative to Clinton’s status quo in an effort to attract Sanders supporters and minorities who feel abandoned by mainstream Democrats. It is clear that the rise of populism as a major political force has significantly impacted this election, but how will it shape the evolution of America’s political parties? Although America’s electoral system and the legacy of two parties make it unlikely that a new populist party can exist alongside the Democrats and Republicans, history suggests that a two party system in which both parties represent the elite is unsustainable in the long term. Therefore, a new movement aligning itself with populist interests and values will arise to replace the Republican party within the two party paradigm.

 

The failure of the People’s Party of the 1890s illustrates why a small third party cannot grow out of a populist movement in American national politics. As is evident in its 1892 platform, the People’s Party was a left-wing populist group devoted to bringing the interests of the “producing class”. Specifically, it sought out the support of disenfranchised rural Americans by claiming that mainstream politicians only represented industrial capitalists. This message was compelling among rural communities at the time, but the party never gained the same traction among the urban working class. Because of this, it could never form a suitably large coalition to challenge the Democrats or Republicans, and therefore it remained a small leftist third party. This position was not stable within an American two party landscape: without preferential voting, People’s Party voters continuously allied themselves with Democrats, and by 1896, they became just another voting bloc within the Democratic coalition. Such a dilemma would face any populist party which could not reach the critical mass of support necessary to beat one of the major parties on the national level. Therefore, the success of a populist movement relies on its ability to gain enough support to replace an existing party: the new movement will either grow big enough to become one of the two major parties, or it will vanish back into an establishment-dominated coalition.

 

The rise of Labor in the United Kingdom during the early 20th century shows how a populist movement with enough support can supplant an internally conflicted major party. Since the early 19th century, the Conservatives and Liberals had been the dominant forces in British politics. The Liberal Party had originally represented classical liberalism and the interests of British capitalists, but, during the late 19th century, it began to advocate for labor unions and increased social benefits. Thus, by the 1920s it could no longer claim a clear ideological vision: to some it was the party of workers, while to others it represented an old-school laissez-faire approach to the economy. This contradiction in interests allowed Labor to reach the critical mass of support that it needed to supplant the Liberals as the dominant political party among the working class; by the second half of the 20th century, the Liberal Party was no longer relevant.

 

Like the Liberal Party of the 1920s, today’s Republican Party is an artificial union of groups with conflicting interests and values. While strict conservatives might find no problem supporting the full Republican platform, two of the other important groups within the coalition are fundamentally opposed: to neoliberals, the Republican Party is the party of big business, but to the Tea Party, it represents small-town America. Thus, a new party rooted in populism could attract many Tea Party Republicans and some anti-establishment Democrats in the same way that Labor attracted the support of those who were dissatisfied with the Liberal Party. According to RealClearPolitics, well over 60% of Americans disapprove of Congress; clearly, the potential is there for an anti-establishment coalition to achieve the necessary threshold of support. Therefore, while it is unlikely that a third party will arise alongside the Democrats and Republicans, it is entirely possible that a populist movement might replace or entirely take over the existing Republican Party, and in so doing reframe American political allegiance in terms of populist and establishment interests.