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 Historical Record Shows America Was Founded Against Racism, Not to Promote It

In recent years, some prominent voices on the left have contended that America is and has been from its inception a nation established...

How the Mayflower Compact Changed History Forever 400 Years Ago

The Plymouth colony was not the first English colony in the New World. It was not even the first successful English colony. But it...

Commonsense Solutions to Our Civics Crisis

Bottom Line: In order to reverse the precipitous decline in civic knowledge among Americans, David Davenport proposes that...

Frederick Douglass’s American Identity Politics

Mark Twain copied a friend’s remark into his notebook: “I am not an American; I am the American.” That is a claim—to be the American...

The Fiction of American Democracy

America’s independence was won on the battlefield, but American democracy was written into existence. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution created the country that Am...

The Mayflower Compact and the Foundations of the Rule of Law

Faced with the possibility of deep rifts within their new community, the signers of the Mayflower Compact did something almost...

Mystic Chords of Memory: Learning from the American Story

Christopher Flannery is a senior fellow of the Claremont Institute, contributing editor of the 'Claremont Review of Books," and host of...

Wilfred McClay on 'Land of Hope'

The Martin Center's Fifth Annual Policy Banquet featuring Dr. Wilfred McClay, author of "Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story"...

The Constitution and the Rule of Law with Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost

In this webinar, originally held on November 18, 2020, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost spoke with Ashbrook Executive Director Jeff Sikkenga...

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“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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Roundtable Discussion on "The Age of Illusions: How America Squandered Its Cold War Victory" by Andrew Bacevich

Bottom line: This symposium review of "The Age of Illusions: How America Squandered Its Cold War Victory" by Andrew Bacevich generally agrees with the author's thesis that American f...

2020 Arms Sales Risk Index

Bottom line: The Arms Sales Risk Index indicates that the U.S. has pursued increasingly risky arms sales to other nations under President Trump, while also selling more weapons than ...

Worse than Nothing: Why US Intervention Made Government Atrocities More Likely in Syria

Bottom line: Washington's foreign policy in the Middle East has been based on wishful thinking, divorced from an analytical approach to civil war. By meddling in the region, American...

Saying "No" to NATO-Options For Ukrainian Neutrality

Bottom line: NATO membership for Ukraine is an impossibility. Therefore, the U.S. and Allied nations should halt their support for its inclusion in the alliance, reducing tensions wi...

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...

The Blob

What exactly defines this Blob can be as amorphous as the movie monster, so we reached out to three people to explain who exactly belongs in this group. The term, we learned, describes a perspective that transcends party lines and has remained relatively unchallenged for decades. In this episode, we'll explore the moment that all changed, and the Blob came face-to-face with... the anti-Blob.

How to Stop America's 'Endless Wars'

The Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft is promoting a more restrained foreign policy from inside the Beltway. But will the Biden administration listen?

America the Unexceptional: The Foreign Policy the American People Want

The idea of “American exceptionalism” — and the worldwide military dominance that often comes with it — has long been seen as an untouchable third rail in U.S. politics. But recent polls from the Eurasia Group Foundation and the Chicago Council show that Americans, especially younger Americans, are increasingly skeptical of the idea that America is exceptional or needs to police the world.

US Left Exposed as Joe Biden Denied Transition Security Briefings

John Glaser joins to discuss Trump's plans for an early withdrawal of US troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and the incoming Biden administration officials' wait for vital security and defense briefings

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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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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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