Citizen Leadership

Chapman Center for Citizen Leadership

Alexander Haig’s 1981 Warning: Fixing Presidential Succession

On March 30, 1981, as President Ronald Reagan lay at death’s door in Georgetown Hospital, and with Vice-President George H. W. Bush in a plane bound for DC but without air-to-ground communication with the White House, Deputy Press Secretary Larry Speakes stood at the podium in the press room of the White House. Asked about who had control of the Read More ›

George Washington’s Tear-Jerker

Civilian control of the military is a cherished principle in American government. It was President Obama who decided to increase our involvement in Afghanistan, and it is Congress that will decide whether to appropriate the money to carry out his decision. It is the president and Congress, not the military, that will decide whether our laws should be changed to allow gays and lesbians to serve in our armed forces. The military advises, but the civilian leadership decides. Yet if not for the actions of George Washington, whose birthday we celebrate, sort of, this month, America might have moved in a very different direction. In early 1783, with Revolutionary War victory in sight but peace uncertain, Washington and the Continental Read More ›

Civility Lite: Civil — Yet Robust — Discourse

In his Tucson speech at the memorial service for the victims of the horrific shooting attack by a mentally deranged man, President Obama stated that while lack of civility in America’s political discourse did not motivate the shooter, public discourse would be improved were more civility shown by participants in the debate. Liberals instantly blamed the right’s “incivility” for the Read More ›

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columns of building art decor
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Legislating a Second Bill of Rights

If you think the worry about too much power in the federal government is new, then you need to take a quick trip back in history to the original debates surrounding the ratification of the Constitution between the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists. Read More ›

Could Snowdrifts Bury Prime Minister Brown?

Labour has been running behind the Conservatives in British popularity polls, though lately the Tories have been fading a bit. But that was before a record-breaking and determined blast of cold and snow descended on the Sceptered Isle, and before the taciturn Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, failed to find the weather very invigorating. Mr. Brown’s reported response is a classic: “I think Read More ›

Muddling the Manhattan Declaration

The way the New York Times tells it, the Christian leaders behind the Manhattan Declaration have declared same sex couples un-persons. Laurie Goodstein writes: Citing the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s call to civil disobedience, 145 evangelical, Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christian leaders have signed a declaration saying they will not cooperate with laws that they say could be used to Read More ›

The Rapture of the Atheists

“This is the way the world ends This is the way the world ends This is the way the world ends Not with a bang but a whimper.” —T. S. Eliot, The Hollow Men The level of maturity of the New Atheism movement was on florid display at the national convention of the Freedom From Religion Foundation this past weekend Read More ›

mail-in ballot
Closeup of a mail ballot envelope
Closeup of a mail ballot envelope

Election 09: All-Mail Ballots Drain Elections of Their Majesty

On November 3, 1992, I strode into the United Methodist Church in Colfax, Washington to cast my first ballot in a U.S. presidential election. I remember the moment vividly — not only because I was doing my part to help choose the next leader of the free world, but because of the excitement I felt at the people I saw Read More ›

While There Are Sister Cities There Will Be No Wars

America celebrated its bicentennial in 1976. We were 200 years old. As a part of our celebration locally, Fort Wayne formed a sister city relationship with the city of Takaoka, Japan. During that summer, a woman named Hisako Tanabe brought 10 Japanese high school girls to Fort Wayne to spend a month with host families, to learn about another culture Read More ›

Palin and the Politics of Familial Destruction

Governor Sarah Palin’s stunning early resignation elicited predictable surprise and sympathy from most of her supporters, and equally predictable surprise and sheer glee from most of her detractors. The question uppermost in the minds of political types was when, if ever, she might run for President. That question, while intriguing, is secondary. Front and center is how much the politics Read More ›