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Citizen Leadership

Chapman Center for Citizen Leadership

Caesar’s Wife and the Politics of Destruction

Senate Democrats wrote President Trump Wednesday asking him to withdraw Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination over unproven charges of sexual misconduct: “The standard of character and fitness for a position on the nation’s highest court must be higher than this.” That standard seems to be an unquestionably blameless past. If someone has said something that attaches blame to you, however unsubstantiated, you no longer meet the “higher standard.” It’s reminiscent of the old saying that in a position of public trust, one must be “like Caesar’s wife, above reproach.” Yet no one is above reproach. Neither was Caesar’s wife. Read More ›
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Book Review of Politicians by Coyle Neal

There may be one or two Americans left in the country who don’t know that we are currently living in an anti-Establishment, anti-professional, anti-politician era. Nationally we have voted someone into the Presidency whose primary claim to high office is that he has never held office. (In my own state, we have had a smaller version of the exact same phenomenon.) In virtually every Congressional and state-level campaign beyond the Presidential elections, we have candidates (including incumbents) engaged in an ever-escalating rhetorical battle to claim the low ground of experience. In Politicians: The Worst Kind of People to Run the Government, Except for all the Others, Bruce K. Chapman argues that this disdain for long-serving public servants has to stop. Read More ›

Book Review: “Politicians” By Bruce Chapman

There may be one or two Americans left in the country who don’t know that we are currently living in an anti-Establishment, anti-professional, anti-politician era. Nationally we have voted someone into the Presidency whose primary claim to high office is that he has never held office. (In my own state, we have had a smaller version of the exact same phenomenon.) In virtually every Congressional and state-level campaign beyond the Presidential elections, we have candidates (including incumbents) engaged in an ever-escalating rhetorical battle to claim the low ground of experience. In Politicians: The Worst Kind of People to Run the Government, Except for all the Others, Bruce K. Chapman argues that this disdain for long-serving public servants has to stop. Keep reading.

Make the Seattle City Council Great Again

There seem to be cycles in city politics. Fifty years ago a small band of Young Republicans and Young Democrats came together in an unusual alliance to overturn the existing Seattle City Council. They called themselves CHECC: Choose an Effective City Council. It took a couple of elections, but they prevailed and it was then — in the 1970s — that formerly sleepy, somewhat stodgy Seattle began to get national attention as the “most livable city.” Sixty years before that, in the early 20th century, another group of novice politicians introduced the “Progressive Era” that gave us Seattle’s city water and light dams (providing abundant, cheap water and electricity), the public park system we enjoy today and the ship canal connecting Puget Sound …

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Darwin, Marx, and Something Called Political “Science”

The materialist influence of 19th-century thinkers still chills 21st-century thinking. It is true in biology, economics, culture, and government. In much of  the popularization and misuse of the claims of natural science and in much of modern German philosophy, tendencies toward atheism and gnosticism (searching for hidden meanings) are found. So are economic determinism and a serene resolve to change human nature. It was considered foolish by many 19th- and early 20th-century intellectuals to believe in God or self-evident truths, but “advanced” to aspire to the perfectibility of man. Read More ›
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"Stump Speaking" (1853-54) by George Caleb Bingham (1811-1879), oil on canvas, Saint Louis Art Museum, Gift of Bank of America.

New Book Says Politicians Are “The Worst Kind of People to Run the Government, Except for All the Others”

Political “middlemen” who infringe on the relationship between the people and their elected representatives constitute a growing danger to democracy, according to new book, Politicians, by Bruce K. Chapman. “Politicians themselves are partly to blame for ceding responsibilities to unelected powers,” says Chapman, himself a former elected and appointed official. “Those powers include bureaucrats and judges, but also media, academics, non-profit cause groups, ‘professional reformers’ and  campaign businesses that ‘live off of’ politics, rather than ‘for it.” A good example of shifted responsibility, says Chapman, is Congress’ relinquishment of authority to government regulatory agencies. Another, Chapman says, is the “scandal business” that increasingly monopolizes public attention and is incentivized by unrealistic federal legislation. The advent of social media, which might Read More ›

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Politicians

About the Book

Americans love to trash their politicians as corrupt and self-interested, but they don’t agree on a solution. How can America attract good leaders to the thousands of elective offices in the land? In Polticians: The worst Kind of People to Run the Government, Except for All the Others, Bruce Chapman lays out a bold plan for the changes we need to make in our public life if we are serious about enable worthy leaders to emerge to and to succeed. Drawing on history as well as his own extensive experience in politics and public policy, Chapman challenges the conventional wisdom about politicians, arguing that their chief rivals — the media, bureaucrats, college professors, and even political “reform” groups — are often sources of further political demoralization rather than renewal. Republicans and Democrats alike, conservatives and liberals, have a stake in responding to the stirring and provocative challenge raised by this book.

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Knute Berger at Crosscut Recalls Miller and Chapman

Former Washington Congressman John Miller died this week. He was a Republican who served a decade of terms in his Seattle-area district. First elected in 1984, he was later appointed as a U.S. ambassador by George W. Bush to focus on the scourge of human trafficking. Little remembered is that Miller was part of a cohort of ambitious young politicians who replaced a stodgy, aging Seattle City Council Read More ›