American Political Thought: Winter 2020 Issue

Independence Hall with snow

American Political Thought Journal: Winter 2020 Issue


American Political Thought: A Journal of Ideas, Institutions, and Culture, has recently published its Winter 2020 issue, which features pieces by JMC fellows and faculty partners Jordan Cash, Daniel DiSalvo, Bryan McGraw, Keith Whittington, and Forrest Nabors.



>> Table of Contents <<


  1. Walt Whitman, White Revanchism, and the Dilemmas of Social Criticism,” Lisa Gilson
  2. Tocqueville on Pantheism: The Theory of Democratic Despotism,Yuji Takayama
  3. George Sutherland and the Contextualization of Executive Power,” Jordan T. Cash
  4. Edward C. Banfield and the Defense of Political Parties,Daniel DiSalvo

Essay Reviews:

  1. “The American Founding as a Blended Scotch: A Reply to Thomas West,” Robert P. Kraynak
  2. How Many Cheers for the Peace Pact?David Hendrickson

Book Reviews:

  1. As a City on a Hill: The Story of America’s Most Famous Lay Sermon, by Daniel T. Rodgers,” Bryan T. McGraw
  2. The U.S. Supreme Court and Racial Minorities: Two Centuries of Judicial Review on Trial, by Leslie F. Goldstein,” Keith J. Bybee
  3. Democracy and Truth: A Short History, by Sophia Rosenfeld,” Keith E. Whittington
  4. Untimely Democracy: The Politics of Progress after Slavery, by Gregory Laski,” Forrest A. Nabors
  5. Tocqueville, by James T. Schleifer,” Raul Rodriguez
  6. A Political Companion to Frederick Douglass, edited by Neil Roberts,” Leslie F. Goldstein
  7. Race and the Making of American Political Science, by Jessica Blatt,” Nick Dorzweiler
  8. Libertarianism, by Eric Mack,” Jacob Segal
  9. Future Politics: Living Together in a World Transformed by Tech, by Jamie Susskind,” Kyong-Min Son



George Sutherland and the Contextualization of Executive Power,” Jordan T. Cash

Humphrey’s Executor v. United States (1935) and United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp. (1936) have long been considered landmark cases on presidential power. Yet despite being decided within 1 year of each other, they appear contradictory. Humphrey’s Executor limits presidential authority, while Curtiss-Wright expands it. This article argues that we can understand these seemingly inconsistent outcomes by examining the constitutional thought of the man who wrote both of them, Justice George Sutherland. Examining Sutherland’s thought throughout his career, we see that his conception of executive power was highly contextual. Based on his understanding of the origins of the Union and the Constitution, he drew a distinction between domestic and foreign policy. This has major implications for his views on executive power and presidential authority, allowing the president much more discretion in foreign affairs, while circumscribing the executive’s control of domestic administration, effectively enshrining the “two presidencies” thesis into constitutional law.

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Jordan CashJordan T. Cash is the 2018-2019 Pre-Doctoral Research Specialist in the Program on Constitutionalism and Democracy at the University of Virginia. His research focuses on American politics, constitutional law, American political thought, and early modern political theory. His doctoral research examines how presidents who were isolated from other institutions used their constitutional authority to achieve their policy goals, providing a clearer view of the institutional logic of the constitutional presidency. His work has appeared in American Political Thought, Presidential Studies Quarterly, Law and History Review, and Laws. Cash was the 2018 recipient of the Richard D. Huff Distinguished Graduate Student in Political Science Award at Baylor University and has been nominated for the American Political Science Association Founders Award, given to the best paper on executive politics presented by a graduate student.

Cash is a JMC fellow.

Learn more about Jordan Cash >>



Edward C. Banfield and the Defense of Political Parties,” Daniel DiSalvo

Activists have sought to make American government more democratic or more effective by reducing the role of political parties. In opposition to such hostility to parties, a group of scholars and intellectuals has emerged to defend parties’ mediating role and make a case that they should be strengthened. However, the philosophical premises of the pro-party perspective often remain unarticulated. To animate a debate over the foundations of party reform, this article examines Edward C. Banfield’s political thought and how it informs his support of strong parties. Banfield is an important forerunner of the strong-parties position, and he offers a broad philosophical perspective that could underpin it. Based on an examination of Banfield’s political thought and his defense of the American party system, the article concludes that Banfield presents a challenge to contemporary scholars who reject his conclusions about the prospects for rational reform of the party system.

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Daniel DiSalvoDaniel DiSalvo is Associate Professor and Chair of Political Science in the Colin Powell School at the City College of New York–CUNY and a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute. His scholarship focuses on American political parties, elections, labor unions, state government, and public policy. He is the author of Engines of Change: Party Factions in American Politics, 1868–2010 (Oxford, 2012) and Government Against Itself: Public Union Power and Its Consequences (Oxford, 2015). Professor DiSalvo writes frequently for scholarly and popular publications, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, National Affairs, American Interest, The Weekly Standard, and the New York Daily News. He is coeditor of The Forum: A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics.

Professor DiSalvo is a JMC fellow.

Learn more about Daniel DiSalvo >>



As a City on a Hill: The Story of America’s Most Famous Lay Sermon, by Daniel T. Rodgers,” Bryan T. McGraw

In this book review, Bryan McGraw examines As a City on a Hill: The Story of America’s Most Famous Lay Sermon, by Daniel T. Rodgers. McGraw praises the book’s treatment of “Model of Christian Charity”: “We are, as innumerable politicians, pundits, and historians have assured us, a people who think of our-selves as a“city on a hill,” a bright shining example to all of humanity who desires to live free and enjoy the blessings of Providence. It is such a common trope that it frankly came as something of a shock to read through and digest Daniel Rodgers’s excellent book on the history of the ‘sermon’ that first made that phrase, sort of, a part of the American political lexicon, John Winthrop’s ‘Model of Christian Charity.'”

Click here to read the review >>



Bryan McGraw, Wheaton CollegeBryan McGraw is Department Chair, Associate Professor of Politics, and Dean of Social Sciences at Wheaton College. He has always had an interest in the normative and philosophical aspects of politics and only started learning about political theory in graduate school. Professor McGraw is particularly interested in the ways modern states seek to establish and enforce their own normative visions and how religion plays into that process. His first book, Faith in Politics: Religion and Liberal Democracy, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2010, and he is beginning a project on pluralism, law and religion, and political theology.

Professor McGraw is a JMC fellow.

Learn more about Bryan McGraw >>



Democracy and Truth: A Short History, by Sophia Rosenfeld,” Keith Whittington

Keith Whittington reviews Sophia Rosenfeld’s Democracy and Truth: A Short History, which he describes as “a relatively short and accessible book on a timely topic,” and praises how Rosenfeld “emphasizes how a persistent concern with the relationship between truth and democracy has taken different forms overtime as we have struggled with different conceptions of the relevant people whom we are trying to empower, different technologies for accessing and conveying knowledge, and different ideas about what kind of knowledge is valuable.”

Click here to read the review >>



Keith WhittingtonKeith Whittington is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Politics at Princeton University. He has published widely on American constitutional theory and development, federalism, judicial politics, and the presidency and is the author of many books, including Repugnant Laws: Judicial Review of Acts of Congress from the Founding to the Present (University Press of Kansas, 2019), Speak Freely: Why Universities Must Defend Free Speech (Princeton University Press, 2018), and American Political Thought: Readings and Materials (Oxford University Press, 2016).

Learn more about Keith Whittington >>



Untimely Democracy: The Politics of Progress after Slavery, by Gregory Laski,Forrest A. Nabors

In his review of Gregory Laski’s Untimely Democracy: The Politics of Progress after Slavery, Forrest Nabors examines and criticizes Laski’s view of American democracy and its historical legacy: “Fora strange and inadequately explained reason, the author of Untimely Democracy tries to make such a case on behalf of the error that indeed marred the book on American democracy. The position of Gregory Laski is that America’s original sin of slavery should forever shout that the beauty of American democracy was, is, and ever shall be a lie, and then all will be better with us.”

Click here to read the review >>



Forrest NaborsForrest Nabors is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Alaska-Anchorage. His current scholarship focuses on the changing character of American government leading up to the Civil War and Reconstruction, and his first book From Oligarchy to Republicanism: The Great Task of Reconstruction (MU Press) recently received the APSA American Political Thought Award for Best Book of 2017. He has also taught government and political philosophy at University of Oregon and Oregon State University, and prior to returning to academia, he was a high-tech business executive in Portland, OR.

Click here to learn more about Forrest Nabors >>



American Political Thought journal coverAmerican Political Thought: A Journal of Ideas, Institutions, and Culture is a JMC supported journal that bridges the gap between historical, empirical, and theoretical research. It is the only journal dedicated exclusively to the study of American political thought. Interdisciplinary in scope, APT features research by political scientists, historians, literary scholars, economists, and philosophers who study the foundation of the American political tradition. Research explores key political concepts such as democracy, constitutionalism, equality, liberty, citizenship, political identity, and the role of the state.

Click here to learn more about American Political Thought >>



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