Policies work best when they are fair, consistent, and well implemented. Politics work best when they are representative and support effective policy. Principles work best when they are applied to both policy and politics to ensure just outcomes. But when these three interface, we often have tensions and challenges. That has especially been the case in the recent decisions of the Trump Administration relating to separating children from adults crossing the border and also in the recent decision to withdraw from the U.N. Human Rights Council. The following provides some perspective on each of these decisions in light of recent policy, political, and principle challenges.
On Valentine’s Day 2018, my family was celebrating together at home and at our children’s schools. Cards, chocolates, flowers, and sentiments of love and affection abounded. But in the backdrop were news reports of the school shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida — such a stark contrast from the Valentine’s Day sentiments and such a terrible loss of 17 lives.
Commencing deliberations in the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case, the Supreme Court is poised to render a momentous decision on the future direction of First Amendment rights to free speech and free exercise of religion.
The essential facts of the case are as follows: In July 2012, a gay couple from Colorado, Charlie Craig and David Mullins, planned to marry in Massachusetts and return home to celebrate their wedding. Colorado did not recognize same-sex weddings at that time and the Supreme Court had not yet ruled on Obergefell v. Hodges that found marriage to be a fundamental right that extends to same-sex marriages. Mr. Craig and Mr. Mullins visited Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado to purchase a cake for their upcoming wedding reception. “The owner, Jack Phillips, told them that he would happily provide baked goods for them for other occasions, but he would not create a cake for this event, citing his general policy, based on his religious convictions against participating in same-sex marriages.” Mr. Craig and Mr. Mullins did obtain a cake from another bakery, but filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission alleging discrimination by Masterpiece Cakeshop on the basis of sexual orientation. The Commission supported the discrimination complaint and the case has subsequently wound itself through the appeals process until reaching the Supreme Court this fall.
Recent May Day protests around the globe received significant media attention as these marches prominently featured economic issues linked to an overall theme of social equality and justice. Coincidentally, but perhaps prophetically, this year also marks the hundredth anniversary of the communist revolution in Russia. Communists pledged to rid the world of injustice by uniting workers in a stateless society, devoid of cruel rulers, greedy capitalists and religion, which they concluded, all resulted in the exploitation of the masses. How the notion of communism came about, why it imploded, where we are now, and what the future portends is worth examining if we are to prevent its re occurrence.
Dear Mr. Trump:
Congratulations on your victory after a long election night and even longer campaign year. This race was hard fought and against a formidable opponent in Hillary Clinton. And your electoral win says much about your tenacity and skill in this political effort.
Given that I have spent the past 38 of my 48 years studying, commenting, writing, teaching, and engaging in government and politics, I must say that this was one of the most fascinating and difficult presidential election years I have ever witnessed. As such, I am taking the liberty to share some thoughts not only about the process but also about the prospects ahead.