Tag Archives: David Davenport

David Davenport: Is Freedom On The Decline?

Each year Freedom House measures freedom around the world using several criteria. Unfortunately, its recent report showed the 14th consecutive year in which freedom worldwide has declined.

The world is full of more dictators and citizens possess fewer political rights and civil rights. Ethnic and religious groups are under fire. 64 nations lost ground on the freedom scale last year, with only 37 making gains.

Surprisingly, the U.S. is not the bastion of freedom you might think. Its score on the freedom scale is going in the wrong direction, from 89 two years ago to 86 this year. Nearly 50 other nations score ahead of us. Outside interference by Russia challenged our free and fair elections, while religious and minority groups battle for rights.

You can question the criteria, but whenever there is a test of freedom, we want the U.S. to score well.

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David Davenport: Whatever Became of Socialism?

With the news dominated by Covid-19 and racial injustice, you might not remember one of the big stories of the past year: the rise of socialism. Previously a dirty word, socialism became popular among young people and polled well with Democrats.

But now we hear nothing about socialism. Bernie Sanders is gone and the Green New Deal has gone silent.

The fact is, young people were never interested in formal socialism. The same polls showing their attraction to it also showed they prefer a market economy over government control. They really didn’t want socialism, but free stuff: free college tuition, forgiven student loans, help with expensive housing and maybe a guaranteed income.

That agenda is now, quietly, Joe Biden’s platform, without the socialism name. He has embraced versions of all that and more. He is the candidate of free … and expensive … stuff.

 

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David Davenport: From and For: The Prepositions of Freedom

When Independence Day comes around, we mostly celebrate what we’re free from. The Declaration of Independence proclaimed our freedom from the King, from his abolishing our laws and taxing us without consent.

But the other side of freedom is to ask what we are free for? What is it we want to do in a positive way with our freedoms? We are free, the same Declaration said, to pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

That same dilemma faces Americans now as we celebrate another Independence Day. America seeks to be free from the interference of other countries, from undue interference even from our own government. Of course we’d like to be free from viruses and face masks and racial injustice.

But to accomplish that, we must accept the responsibilities of freedom. We must be free for living as responsible citizens every day.

Happy Independence Day!

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Davenport: Bending the Wrong Curve


Thanks to the coronavirus crisis, we have a new vocabulary, including “bending the curve” of the disease to protect the public health system from collapse.

But other curves should be bent upward and not down including America’s civic education.

Recent national test scores show once again that young people do not know American history or how their government works.  Only 24% of 8th graders tested as “proficient” in government and proficiency in history dropped to a pitiful 15%.  Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos rightly called the test results “stark and inexcusable.”
But these scores have been low for years and little has been done.  It’s time that we require students to study as much civics and history as they do math and science.  It’s past time that we demand our students understand the country they will soon be running.

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David Davenport: Coronavirus Crisis Revives Federalism

One silver lining in the dark coronavirus cloud is the revival of federalism, the old-fashioned idea that not every issue has to be decided in Washington. While most every policy issue—from education to health care and beyond—has traveled a one-way road from states and local governments to Washington, the coronavirus crisis rediscovered a leadership role for state and local government.

Early on we learned that states like New York, California and Washington needed to address the crisis more quickly and their governors began to lead. In California, there were higher concentrations in Silicon Valley and San Francisco, so mayors and county commissioners took action. Important work was done well before there was a national consensus, and these laboratories of experimentation informed larger policies.

This is exactly how the founders saw our government working. Hooray for the revival of federalism.

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David Davenport: Coronavirus Crisis Revives Federalism

One silver lining in the dark coronavirus cloud is the revival of federalism, the old-fashioned idea that not every issue has to be decided in Washington. While most every policy issue—from education to health care and beyond—has traveled a one-way road from states and local governments to Washington, the coronavirus crisis rediscovered a leadership role for state and local government.

Early on we learned that states like New York, California and Washington needed to address the crisis more quickly and their governors began to lead. In California, there were higher concentrations in Silicon Valley and San Francisco, so mayors and county commissioners took action. Important work was done well before there was a national consensus, and these laboratories of experimentation informed larger policies.

This is exactly how the founders saw our government working. Hooray for the revival of federalism.

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Davenport: Celebrating Rugged Individualism


One lesson from the coronavirus crisis is that American rugged individualism is still alive.  While many wait for government to solve the problem, countless Americans are at work on it.

Perfume companies and distilleries retooled to make sanitizer, automakers manufacture ventilators, architects make face masks. Everything from education to funerals has reinvented.

Rugged individualism was prized on the Western frontier but is now attacked as selfish and out of date.  But when a crisis comes, we’re glad it’s there.

One misunderstanding about rugged individualism is that it stands against community, but just as pioneers traveled in wagon trains and built houses together, Americans today help one another with meals, hotel rooms, and groceries. Generosity abounds.

When the story of the Covid-19 crisis is written, rugged individualism should be a hero.

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