RealClearPublicAffairs is a new series of sponsored curation designed to provide coverage of important and trending public policy issues. It's a deep dive into curated content that we think will engage our audience and deepen their understanding of topical concerns facing our nation's decisionmakers.

The American republic rests upon the foundation of “E Pluribus Unum” — out of many, one. Although the Founders knew from their own experience that a vast diversity in outlooks and opinions would be present among the country’s citizens, they understood that such diversity must rest upon principles and practices we hold in common. It is up to each generation to make sure that this foundational unity remains intact. This project on American Civics seeks to contribute to that worthy cause.

These pages will bring together, into one place, the clearest, most accessible materials on the American experiment. Visitors will gain insight into topics ranging from the “self-evident” truths described in the Declaration of Independence and the framework that the Constitution set in place to prevent tyranny and secure rights and liberties to the virtues citizens must possess in order to enjoy freedom and self-government. Nor will we shy away from exploring the greatest injustices in U.S. history, including slavery and racial discrimination. Present at the Founding, they were departures from the nation’s founding principles. Neither this paradox, nor these injustices define the American Identity, however. Rather, it is on the basis of those principles that they are rightly condemned—and ultimately addressed.  

Users will also find the 1776 Series: a collection of accessible essays written by scholars that explore how the American Founders understood themselves and the system of government they implemented. These essays will give readers a clear and concise understanding of important American themes, such as the republican nature of the U.S. Constitution and Abraham Lincoln’s deep appreciation of the moral foundations of American self-government. These pages will also curate modern thinking on topics such as balancing the desire for security with the innate American impulse for individual freedom; the challenge of preserving judicial independence in a polarized political environment; how to simultaneously foster intellectual curiosity and tolerance among a generation ready to take democracy’s baton and run with it.

About RealClear's American Civics Portal

The Founders' Understanding of Equality

We have reached a time when each of us must make an effort to rediscover what Adams and Jefferson and the other Founders...

Of, by, and for the Freedmen

Abraham Lincoln had scarcely been elected as the sixteenth president when the death threats began to arrive. They continued...

The Time Has Come to Reaffirm America's Institutions

We stand at the crossroads. Over the next several years, the noble sentiments and ideas that gave birth to the United States will either...

U.S. Constitution

Our newest theme portal explores the oldest governing document still in operation: the U.S. Constitution. From the debates...

Podcast: Time for Revolution: A Long Train of Abuses

The Founders believed that Prudence would prevent revolutions so long as evils were sufferable - until the government...

White House Conference on American History

On Constitution Day, Sept. 17, a panel of distinguished historians and scholars led by Dr. Larry Arnn spoke at the National Archives on civic education...

COVID and the Constitution

What should we think about the broad delegations of power from legislatures to executives to implement new and draconian...

Constitution Day: Virtual Student Town Hall with Justice Neil Gorsuch

National Constitution Center CEO and President Jeffrey Rosen interviews Justice Neil Gorsuch on Constitution Day...

Multimedia

“America well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own…she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom.” So cautioned John Quincy Adams on the Fourth of July in 1821.

Have generations of Americans since heeded the counsel of our sixth president?

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It’s been three-quarters of a century since the Axis powers were defeated, nearly 30 years since the Iron Curtain was lifted, and 19 years since terrorists weaponized planes on U.S. soil, killing nearly 3,000 Americans. Today, America is neither entrenched in a great war, nor frozen in the kind of nuclear game of chicken that induced Baby Boomers to undergo fire drills that had them hiding under their elementary school desks. We are not anticipating another 9/11-style terrorist attack.

Yet the U.S. military is still operating in 40 percent of the nations of the world. It is has been engaged in nation-building efforts in Afghanistan for the better part of two decades. Some $5.9 trillion has been spent to fight the “war on terror” in that time only to see the pool of jihadists grow ever-larger. Little wonder that nearly half of Americans believe U.S. foreign policy over the last 20 years has made the country less safe.

The newest addition to the RealClearPublicAffairs family seeks to address and answer the profound questions raised by this experience: Is there a realistic alternative to this expansive, global military footprint? Would a different approach better ensure America’s security and prosperity? If America cannot be the world’s policeman, what grand strategy should guide U.S. foreign policy? The mission of these pages is to provide a curated and serious examination of these vital questions.

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Diplomacy & Restraint: The Worldview of American Voters

Bottom Line: In a survey of Americans on foreign policy issues, respondents favor a less militaristic foreign policy and increased foreign diplomatic engagement. These positions are ...

Scenarios for Post-U.S. Afghanistan

Bottom line: The existing balance of power among Afghan forces and other powers means that Afghanistan will not be further destabilized by U.S. military withdrawal. The U.S. can succ...

Creating Refugees: Displacement Caused by the United States’ Post-9/11 Wars

Bottom line: Since the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks, at least 37 million people worldwide have become international refugees or become internally displaced due to U.S. fore...

Beyond Humanity: How to Control America’s Use of Force

Bottom Line: Rather than debating how war should be fought, Americans should debate whether war should be fought in the first place. Policymakers should focus on how to control the u...

Grand Strategy Symposium

History has made something of a comeback since Francis Fukuyama provocatively announced its untimely death at the closing of the Cold War. Since 2016, the biggest and most decisive g...

Will the Afghan Peace Deal Actually Work?

The US has now been at war in Afghanistan for almost 20 years, and three administrations have all failed to find a solution to this war. Now the clock is ticking, with the Taliban gaining more and more ground every day, and the US risks a second "Rout from Saigon". So the US is looking to a peace deal, but will it actually bring stability to the region or simply further splinter an already expanding civil war.

Fear and Loathing in the Imperial Capital

This week on Empire Has No Clothes, we talked with Harry Kazianis of the Center for the National Interest about why America’s policy on North Korea has gone awry and whether there’s hope yet for the Trump/Kim bromance. We also discussed the new Bob Woodward book and its implications for the Trump administration.

Barnett Rubin Interview: 'Peace is Unpredictable'

Shabeer Ahmadi interviews Barnett Rubin, a senior expert on Afghanistan and South Asia, about the intra-Afghan negotiations, the US policy on Afghanistan, and other current topics.

October Surprise: Is the Trump Administration Pushing for War With Iran Ahead of Election Day?

Responsible Statecraft contributing editor Kelley Vlahos chats with Qi Executive Vice President Trita Parsi about Trump administration officials latest moves towards confrontation with Iran ahead of the November vote

Multimedia

Electronic cigarettes were a product a long time in the making, with many architects. The concept dates in a serious way to the 1920s; the first patents were issued to American inventor Henry A. Gilbert in the mid-1960s; in the late 1990s, former NASA engineer and microprocessor pioneer Phil Ray experimented with a new, non-smoking technology. Although Ray’s efforts didn’t go anywhere commercially, they did deliver the word “vape” to the lexicon.

The big breakthrough arrived 15 years ago. It was achieved by a Chinese chemist named Hon Lik, whose motivations were a combination of intellectual curiosity and entrepreneurial rewards -- and human welfare. Cigarette smoking had hastened his father’s death. Hon Lik had a heavy tobacco habit himself, and was experimenting with ways to quit.(((break)))

Public health is the dominant underlying context for the arrival of e-cigarettes. In the United States alone, they are credited with helping millions of people quit or reduce smoking cigarettes. According to a recent report from Public Health England, e-cigarettes are currently the most popular stop-smoking aid in England. American smoking rates continue to decline as well, according to the National Health Interview Survey, with the biggest drop among young adults.

A significant role in this success story is played by e-cigarettes, a product measurably safer than combustible cigarettes. Yet, the long and sometimes partisan tobacco wars took its toll on the U.S. media, which retains a residual skepticism of new products in the overall inhaling marketplace. The same is true among the American public. Two-thirds of adults think vaping is equally or more dangerous than smoking, for instance, a belief unsupported by the best available evidence.

This erroneous perception suggests a knowledge gap, one which these curated pages seek to address. Reasonable minds can differ on the public policy questions raised by vaping. What restrictions on market e-cigarettes are reasonable? Which are counterproductive? How can the government and the private sector maximize the health benefits of weaning smokers off tobacco without marketing vaping to young people who were non-smokers to begin with? The aim of these curated pages is to expose those who think critically to viewpoints they might otherwise not see–to give readers information necessary for informed judgments.

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Free speech, freedom of association, viewpoint diversity, and open inquiry--these principles are essential to the educational mission of the university, and to the health of civil society.

RealClearPublicAffairs' Free Speech on Campus page is designed to be the leading online forum where conversation on these critical issues can take place.

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In 1974, Yale University published a document officially titled the Report on the Committee of Free Expression at Yale. Widely known as the Woodward Report, after its chairman C. Vann Woodward, it contained this unequivocal line:

“The history of intellectual growth and discovery clearly demonstrates the need for unfettered freedom, the right to think the unthinkable, discuss the unmentionable, and challenge the unchallengeable.”

This was not a new insight. Although he died 150 years before the American Revolution, Francis Bacon hit unerringly on the requirements of a genuine education: reading, writing, and debate. Today, however, college campuses in the United States and much of the western world are replacing debate with coerced conformity. 

The result is an environment that once would have been considered an anathema to the very purpose of higher education: Rigorous exchanges of competing ideas have been replaced by university speech codes, constricted speech zones, commencement speaker “disinvitations, and “no-platforming,” which is university-speak for the heckler’s veto.

Some institutions are pushing back against this trend. By the summer of 2019, 67 U.S. institutions of higher learning had adopted the so-called “Chicago Statement” or a “substantially similar” statement guaranteeing freedom of speech on campus. That leaves nearly 1,600 schools that haven’t, including, ironically, Yale.

A majority of college students, according to a seminal Brookings Institution survey, do not fully support the precepts of the First Amendment; and one-fifth of them believe it’s acceptable to use physical force to silence a speaker who is making “offensive and hurtful statements.”

These students are tomorrow’s judges, jurors, legislators, journalists, and teachers. Operating under the conviction that freedom of speech is essential to the educational mission of the university, and ultimately to the survival of civil society, this page is designed to provide a platform for conversation on this critical topic.

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Entrepreneurship is the process of bringing an idea to life and sharing it in the marketplace. The principal sources of innovation and job creation are new, young, and growing companies, responsible for nearly all of the net new job creation in the U.S. economy. As a result, entrepreneurship cannot be considered an afterthought. Whatever one’s politics, it is a national priority.

Having finally recovered from the Great Recession, the national entrepreneurship rate is at its highest level in two decades. The purpose of this page to gather the best thinking on what can be done to keep it growing. Declines in entrepreneurship reduce productivity and job formation – and with them economic growth, wages, and living standards for all Americans.

Recent research suggests that policymakers seeking to promote entrepreneurship in their city or state achieve the best results when they turn from past strategies and embrace a new economic model that recognizes the changing nature of work and need for an educational system that supports it. Steve Jobs put this concept simply. “Let’s go invent tomorrow,” he said, “rather than worrying about what happened yesterday.”

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Creating an environment to encourage that quintessentially American approach to life means intelligently identifying and targeting existing barriers to entrepreneurship. These range from lack of access to capital and geographic concentration to racial and gender inequities. Americans have the fundamental right to turn an idea into an economic reality, regardless of who they are or where they're from, with zero barriers in the way. It’s our natural impulse, too, and in these pages, we will try and highlight best practices, success stories, and learned lessons that will light future innovators’ path.

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Proxy Advisor firm recommendations are important tools for institutional investors, particularly passive investors with hundreds or thousands of proxy shareholder votes to submit annually and an increasing pressure to reduce fees for clients. Despite having little regulatory authority, they have succeeded in gaining an outsized role in our corporate governance system, with huge influence over the future of America’s public companies and their shareholders. Despite this influence, proxy firms have been criticized on a number of other issues, including: 

  • Conflicts of interest that can impact the objectivity of voting recommendations made to institutional investors. 
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  • A one-size-fits-all approach to voting recommendations that ignores the unique characteristics and operations of individual companies. 

  • A lack of willingness to constructively engage with companies, particularly small and midsize companies that are disproportionately impacted by proxy advisory firms. 

  • A lack of transparency throughout the research and development of voting recommendations. 

  • Frequent and significant errors in analysis and an unwillingness to address errors.

In addition to fiduciary concerns, these issues are cited as a hurdle by businesses to going and staying public. Over the last 20 years, the number of public companies in the U.S. has fallen by roughly half. This jeopardizes economic growth and limits investment opportunities for retail investors who rarely have the chance to invest in innovative private companies.

Recently these problems with the proxy advisor industry have garnered the attention of U.S. and global regulators, Republican and Democrat members of Congress, institutional investors, academics, and others.

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The most important event in economic history: the harnessing of heat to do work. First coal, then oil, and later natural gas – hydrocarbon energy powered the Industrial Revolution and transformed humanity’s existence for the better. Growth rates in the one and a half millennia before the Industrial Revolution averaged approximately zero. Since then, per capita incomes in a typical free-market economy have risen by amounts ranging from several hundred to several thousand percent.

Visual Capitalist

Yet today, businesses and consumers face demands for the forcible phasing out of fossil fuel energy over the next three decades to stop global temperatures rising by a half a degree Centigrade. This is not just incompatible with capitalism. It is incompatible with modern living. Some six in every seven humans today still live in undeveloped countries. Non-Western nations aspiring to Western standards of living now account for around three-fourths of global CO2 emissions. For this reason alone, whatever the US and other western nations do, net zero by mid-century is simply not going to happen.

Energy policy should be based on facts and reason, from the fundamental physics of energy production and storage to the relation between energy and economic growth. This page is meant to serve as a clearinghouse for research, news, and multimedia that can inform debate over the major energy policy questions of today. Together, these curated materials lay the foundation for the policies that will ensure reliable and affordable energy for businesses and consumers and help the economy bounce back once the COVID-19 pandemic has passed, as well as chart a course for genuine environmental stewardship. 

Pennsylvania is a microcosm of the United States. The state that sparked the American Revolution and fueled the nation’s industrial growth is playing an outsized role in public policy and socioeconomic trends. Its culturally distinct regions—from large metro hubs and sprawling suburbs to Rust Belt cities and rural counties—serve as a crucial bellwether in electoral politics.

From energy and technology to demographics and urban affairs, the Commonwealth figures prominently in national policy discussions. The Covid-19 crisis will only further showcase Pennsylvania as a battleground for public policy. 

This page features noteworthy research, analysis, commentary, and news stories curated from Pennsylvania-based media outlets, national publications, and think tanks. We will examine the most important policy questions confronted by Pennsylvanians.

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