How Spiro Agnew Gave My Life Direction

by Joel Goldstein, author of The White House Vice Presidency: The Path to Significance, Mondale to Biden

I got my start due to Spiro Agnew.

I have spent much of my career writing about the American vice presidency and America’s system for handling presidential succession and inability, including my most recent book, The White House Vice Presidency: The Path to Significance, Mondale to Biden (2016).  It never would have happened had not Agnew, one of our least distinguished vice presidents, gotten in trouble for allegedly taking kickbacks from contractors and been forced to resign as vice president and plead nolo contendere to tax evasion to escape more serious criminal charges 45 years ago, on October 10, 1973,

I was a sophomore at Princeton University then and in those days, before cell phones and inexpensive long-distance call options, college students called home on Sunday to check in with our parents.  On my call home one Sunday in October, 1973,  I reported that I was looking for a paper topic for Professor Stanley Kelley, Jr.’s course on Party Politics. My father mentioned having heard a discussion on the Today Show about the Twenty-fifth Amendment and its procedures to allow a president to nominate someone to fill a vice-presidential vacancy subject to confirmation of both houses of Congress.  President Richard M. Nixon had nominated Representative Gerald R. Ford, the minority leader of the House of Representatives, as the first person presented under the Amendment which had gone into effect in February, 1967 and Congress was preparing for its first application.  Professor Kelley approved the topic and it later expanded to become my Princeton senior thesis topic which Professor Kelley, a gifted and dedicated scholar and teacher, supervised.

In spring, 1975, in the course of completing my senior thesis, I met John D. Feerick, who had, as a young New York lawyer, played a critical role in designing and achieving ratification of the Twenty-fifth Amendment and who had established himself as the leading scholar regarding it.  Although Feerick was incredibly busy as a large-firm lawyer and active public citizen, he spent a lot of time speaking to me about the subject and, in one discussion, suggested that I write a book on the vice presidency since no serious academic study had been produced for a couple of decades.  A year and a half later, he included me in a Symposium on the Vice Presidency he organized for the American Bar Association along with luminaries like Senators Birch Bayh, Robert Griffin and Margaret Chase Smith, presidential scholars and former White House aides George Reedy and Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., and Charles Kirbo, the confidante of President-elect Jimmy Carter, among others.

The project Feerick suggested became my doctoral dissertation at Oxford University and, after revisions and expansions, my first book, The Modern American Vice Presidency: The Transformation of a Political Institution which Princeton University Press published in 1982.  The book, which focused on the vice presidency from Richard M. Nixon in 1953 to Walter F. Mondale a quarter century later, argued that the office had changed dramatically during that period but that the development was due largely to major shifts in the larger context of American government and politics beginning with the New Deal and World War II.  As national government had assumed an expanded role and international and national security issues loomed larger, the presidency became more important and drew the vice presidency away from the legislative branch towards the executive branch, the book argued.  The study taught me that constitutional institutions do not operate in isolation but in a larger context in which changes in one part of the system have repercussions elsewhere.

I continued to write about the vice presidency, the Twenty-fifth Amendment, and presidential succession and inability during the rest of the twentieth century and, as I did and as history unfolded, I realized that the Mondale vice presidency was really part of a new era.  Mondale had not only introduced a new model of the office but the new design had stuck.  Mondale and the very talented people he surrounded himself with, people like Robert Barnett, Mike Berman, Jim Johnson, Richard Moe, and others, had imagined a new vision of the vice presidency as an across the board adviser to, and trouble-shooter for, the president and had identified the resources the vice president would need to succeed in that role.  President Jimmy Carter had embraced this new vision and had brought Mondale into the White House and made him part of his inner circle.  When Carter and Mondale lost in 1980, Mondale and his associates had educated the incoming vice president, George H. W. Bush, regarding the new institution they had created and the practices which made it work, and Bush and President Ronald Reagan had adopted the Mondale model.  Bush had continued it with his Vice President, Dan Quayle, as had Bill Clinton and Al Gore, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, and Barack Obama and Joe Biden. They didn’t all do it exactly the same way, or exactly as Mondale would have done it, but they all operated as general advisers and trouble-shooters, kept the resources Carter gave Mondale, and functioned as an integral part of the White House.

Whereas my first book demonstrated the dynamic whereby the vice presidency moved from the legislative to the executive branch, The White House Vice Presidency explores the development of a new orientation away from a focus primarily on providing a prepared presidential successor to trying to help the president succeed on an ongoing basis.  Although the new book provides a portrait of what has become a consequential political institution, the White House vice presidency, it also explores two more universal themes: How enduring constitutional change occurs in America through the repetition of practices and the role of enlightened leadership in transforming political institutions.

It’s been a wonderful journey.  I’ve learned a lot and met some terrific people along the way.  And it’s not over.

But who knows what path my life would have taken if the 39th vice president had not gotten into trouble with the law and had not had to resign 45 years ago on October 10, 1973 when I was looking for a topic for a college paper

I owe a lot to Spiro Agnew, and to a number of other people, too!.

Sanford Horwitt (Conversations with Abner Mikva) Q&A

It was 1948 when Abner Mikva, fresh out of college, volunteered at the 8th Ward Democratic headquarters in Chicago. “Who sent you, kid?” the leery ward committeeman asked. “Nobody,” Mikva said, and the man informed him, “We don’t want nobody nobody sent.” That marked the beginning of Abner Mikva’s storied political career, which would take him to the Illinois Statehouse, the US House of Representatives, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Clinton White House—culminating in a Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded by a young politician he had mentored, Barack Obama.

Around that time, eighty-seven years old and in declining health but as wise and wry as ever, Mikva sat down with his former speechwriter and longtime friend Sanford Horwitt for the first of the conversations recorded in this book. Separated by a generation, but with two lifetimes’ worth of experience between them, the friends met monthly to talk about life, politics, and the history that Mikva saw firsthand—and often had a hand in making.

1. How long did you know Abner Mikva? How did you meet?

We met in 1974 as the Watergate scandal was unfolding. We were both in a place where we didn’t want to be: Mikva was only temporarily—he hoped–practicing law while starting his campaign to get back to Congress after having lost a close race in a new suburban Chicago district. I was an assistant professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago but wanted to be doing something political. I volunteered in Mikva’s campaign, stuffing envelopes on Thursday afternoons but soon becoming a full-time volunteer and then Ab Mikva’s press secretary and speech writer when he returned to Congress. He was my inspiring friend for 42-years until his death on the Fourth of July, 2016.

2. When did you first have the idea to work on Conversations with Abner Mikva?

I heard that Mikva’s health was declining, and I wanted to talk with him– before it was too late–about his fascinating, inspiring political and legal journey and his unvarnished end-of-life insights about our country, then and now. As a writer, I saw parallels between the story I wanted to write about our monthly conversations and the book “Tuesdays with Morrie.”

3. Can you describe your process of writing? How long did you spend working on the book?

The book is based on monthly conversations Ab Mikva and I had over three years, the last conversation shortly before his death. The conversations, all tape recorded, were mostly at Chicago eateries, including the legendary Valois Cafeteria in Hyde Park where Mikva mentored a young state senator, Barack Obama. I started writing while we were still talking and completed the first draft three months before Ab died. I read it to my friend who by then couldn’t see a butter dish across the table. The version that Ab heard was about 90 percent of the final manuscript. After his death, I spent six months fine-tuning the manuscript, adding material from our final conversations and updating some sections after Donald Trump’s unexpected election.

4. What was the most challenging aspect of writing about your old friend?

To a significant extent, the book is an Abner Mikva memoir which captures the remarkable public life of a gifted liberal icon and brilliant man of unquestioned integrity. But I also have a presence in the story because the narrative is based on our conversations. Often Ab’s reflections, including his regrets, provoked me to examine and re-consider my ideas and shortcomings. I learned a lot. But I wanted to keep the focus on Ab Mikva so that our conversations and the narrative would be much more about him, not me.

5. In Conversations, you write “Abner Mikva saw death coming but not Donald Trump.” How do you think he would respond to the election and current status of the Trump administration?

Days before he died, Ab and I had our last, brief conversation. He told me he couldn’t wait for the Republican convention to start. It was three weeks away. “I’m afraid Trump may self-destruct before the convention,” he laughed weakly. I told him that the Republicans were probably stuck with Trump. “I think they are, too” he replied. “And it couldn’t be better.” He envisioned a resounding Hillary Clinton victory. Ab Mikva had become a big fan of Hillary’s despite their sometimes-rocky relationship when he was Bill Clinton’s White House Counsel and despite his support of Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008.   Ab thought Hillary had learned from her mistakes, was a true liberal at heart and had a chance to be a transformative president. Perhaps she would have re-nominated Ab’s friend and protégé, Merrick Garland, to the Supreme Court. So, Ab would, first, have been hugely disappointed by Hillary’s loss and the lost opportunities for a progressive agenda and, second, appalled by virtually every aspect of Trump’s leadership and administration—Trump’s incessant lying and disregard for the traditional independent role of the Justice Department and judiciary; the flood of right-wing judicial nominees. especially Trump’s picks for the Supreme Court; the president’s attacks on immigrants and a free press; tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, and so on. Ab had already lamented the decline of the Republican Party so he would not be surprised that Republican leaders, with few exceptions, have become Trump enablers. But even with Ab’s multitude of health problems, I am certain he would be doing everything he could to restore our faith in American democracy if he were still with us–and hopeful that the disastrous Trump years will be followed by a democratic reform agenda that he and I discussed.

6. You illustrate how Mikva was a true believer in the lofty possibilities of American democracy. What would you consider the two or three most important lessons learned by reading the book?

In our representative democracy, we as citizens must often trust elected officials to make good decisions for the general welfare. Mikva learned an early lesson that I hadn’t quite considered before he told me about it. On a train ride from Chicago to Springfield in 1957 when he was about to begin his first term in the state legislature, another rookie legislator asked a group of Springfield veterans what it took to be a really good legislator. “Guts,” they answered in unison. And Ab said to me some 60 years later, “I’ve never forgotten it. I still think the first criterion for public officials is guts.” But Ab also learned early in his legislative career, when he became an outspoken leader for gun control in the 1950s, that courageous leadership alone was not enough. Political change comes most often from the bottom up, driven by voluntary, powerful citizen organizations.

7. Mikva might be most well-known for identifying and nurturing the talent of Barrack Obama. What do you think he would consider his greatest professional achievement?

Mikva was proud of the role he played in helping to mentor young Obama and seeing him elected first to the U.S. Senate and then as president. And he took pride in his own legislative achievements and one of his judicial decisions. But he was most proud of two other parts of his legacy: the inspiring model he provided for unquestioned honesty and integrity throughout his public service career, and his leadership, with his wife Zoe’s, in establishing and nurturing the nonpartisan Mikva Challenge. The Mikva Challenge over the last 20 years has become one of the country’s leading youth civic education organizations, providing high school students, especially low-income students of color, with opportunities to make their voices heard on issues that are important to them and their communities—and, in the process, they learn lifelong skills of how to be effective citizens in a democratic society.

8. If you could have any one person read your book, who would it be and why?

A young person who does not vote and is already cynical about government, politics and politicians.

In our troubling times, widespread cynicism is understandable but not tolerable if we are going to restore our endangered democracy. After Abner Mikva’s lifetime of civic engagement, from volunteering in political campaigns as a young man to serving at the highest levels of government, he remained idealistic and hopeful. “[H]is moving story of personal honor and pragmatic politics [comes] during a fraught period of our nation’s history,” writes professor David Farber. That is why it’s timely and important—and why the book is dedicated to Democracy’s Next Generation.

News and Reviews


Drawing Fire; A Pawnee, Artist, and Thunderbird in World War II

Review in Publisher’s Weekly: “…Echohawk movingly recalls the language and warrior traditions he and his fellow Native soldiers followed—and, in one episode, humorously recalls fake ones they invented to intimidate insolent German captives. This excellent and fascinating account is a unique contribution to the literature of WWII.”


Napoleon’s 1796 Italian Campaign

Review in New York Journal of Books: “The translation is excellently done, with copious footnotes and annotations by the authors on their reasoning for choosing certain English translations for Clausewitz’s strategic thinking, particularly his major themes such as the schwerpunkt, or center of gravity, a term he frequently used to describe the concentration of forces for an attack that have long been debated among Clausewitz scholars.”


Justice Robert H. Jackson’s Unpublished Opinion in Brown v. Board

Review in The Review of Politics: “…we should be grateful that he has now made Jackson’s opinion so easily accessible, along with background material on the Court’s struggle to do the right thing in Brown. ”



Mark Harvey, featured in The Washington Post


Robert Rebein, featured on Kansas Public Radio


Mark Eberle, featured on Kansas Public Radio


Greg Weiner, Op-Ed featured in The New York Times


Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert, featured on The University of Illinois website

Dennis Raphael Garcia Tells His Cousin’s Tales

(article originally appeared in the Socorro Independent School District newsletter)

An author, who spoke to Ernesto Serna School’s eighth-graders about a family member’s rise to the high levels of the U.S. government, wants students to plan for their future and understand there are no barriers that cannot be overcome.

Dennis Garcia wrote “Marine, Public Servant, Kansan: The Life of Ernest Garcia” about his cousin, the grandson of Mexican immigrant field laborers, who went from a being a poor student in elementary and high school to become the first Hispanic sergeant of arms for the United States Senate. Ernest Garcia escorted President Ronald Reagan to the podium to deliver the State of the Union address in 1986.

Ernest Garcia rose to be a lieutenant colonel in the Marines before retiring, traveled around the world, met with Pope John Paul, and worked with many prominent politicians.

“I wanted to relay the inspiring and amazing story of my cousin’s life and his experiences,” Dennis Garcia said. “I am using those experiences to encourage and inspire students to put forth an effort and improve their efforts to concentrate on their studies. Even though they are just in the eighth grade, I wanted to let them know they are just starting and they have to work hard.”

Ernesto Serna School Principal Alejandro Olvera wanted his students to learn from an author with an inspiring story to tell.

“We never had the honor and the privilege of having a published author at our campus, I think, especially for the middle school kids,” Olvera said. “So, I thought this was a good opportunity for them. For them, it really changes the way they think. It’s not just coming from the teacher or principal. It’s coming from somebody that has lived life. Somebody that knows of other people’s struggles and the importance of school.”

Ernesto Serna was the first school on Dennis Garcia’s book tour. He also had a book signing at a Las Cruces Barnes & Noble that same day.

“I chose El Paso because my family’s roots and their ultimate success went through El Paso,” Garcia said. “This was their first step in the United States. My great grandfather is buried in Concordia Cemetery. I thought this would be a good place to begin trying to build inspiration with the book and encouragement with the kids.”

Olvera loved the immigrant story and the struggles Ernie Garcia overcame. How the Kansas-native didn’t prioritize school, disregarded his grades and almost missed his opportunity for success. He wanted students to understand the endless opportunities afforded to them at school.

“His message is very loud and clear,” Olvera said. “He basically told our eighth graders ‘you’re going to be in high school so prioritize your school work because you will open all these opportunities for your life. Start now. You have to work hard. You have to be dedicated and never give up. You need to take advantage, so that you can have those opportunities as you go through high school and college.’ I think it really makes our kids think and process the importance of planning now. How your day of instruction and your goal setting starts today.”

English Language Arts and Reading teacher Monica Elizondo agreed. She wanted her students to learn to value their education and for the story to, especially, reach those youngsters that don’t like school or claimed to not like it.

“At first, the students were shocked,” Elizondo said. “I tried my best to read their faces to no avail. They were very quiet even throughout the day, or so I thought, but my colleagues later informed me that the students enjoyed the presentation and talked about it amongst themselves and to the rest of their eighth-grade class. Mr. Olvera also informed me that Mr. Garcia’s presentation had been the topic of conversation during lunch. I always emphasize to my students the value of an education but hearing it from someone who they have never met and who has published a book made a huge impact.”

Eighth grader, Alan Pinal, who earned a free autographed book from Garcia for answering history questions, got the message. He was fascinated with the lecture and hopes to be either a police officer or lawyer.

“I liked that his cousin was able to meet so many famous people like President Reagan,” Pinal said. “I know I have to work hard to get my dreams. I know I can’t slack off and also have too much fun in high school.”

His classmate, Miguel Montoya, said listening to Garcia tell his cousin’s story was amazing.

“It made me think,” Montoya said. “I really want to be a doctor. I’m going to pass all my grades and keep going. I am never giving up.”

It was because students like those eighth-graders that Dennis Garcia decided to write the book about his cousin, Ernest Garcia.

“As a teacher, I wanted to make a difference and change the situation that many students are in right now,” Garcia said. “I was there, so I wanted them to see first-hand they, too, can be successful. This is one formula for what they want to achieve in life. They can follow it or choose their own.”

The Shape of the 2018 Elections: The Blue Wave in 2018

by Betty O’Shaughnessy and Dick Simpson, authors of Winning Elections in the 21st Century

This year’s elections have revealed the most polarized nation since 1968. With the recent conviction and plea bargains of two of the president’s top aides, Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort, presidential impeachment is now part of political discourse.

In addition, both parties show divisions, Republicans between the old-line moderate Republicans and rabid Trump supporters; Democrats between independent-minded progressives and establishment Democrats.

Money is certainly still a factor in this election — candidates from both parties depend on massive donations which have been unregulated since the Citizens United court decision. Nonetheless, it is likely that turnout rather than money will be the deciding factor in the November general elections.  Marches in the street may presage marches to the polls this year – at least by comparison to other non-presidential elections in the past.

The elephant in the room is the threat of presidential impeachment. Leaders from both parties are reluctant to push for impeachment before the election, preferring first to let Robert Mueller’s investigation run its course. According to The Hill, Democrats feel that focusing on impeachment could be politically unsafe for Senate Democrats, who are defending 10 seats in states won by Trump in 2016. At the same time, the New York Times reports that senior Republican Party leaders are urging their most imperiled incumbents to speak out about the wrongdoing surrounding President Trump, with the fear that “Where there’s smoke, and there’s a lot of smoke, there may well be fire.” This is enlarging the rift between the Trump White House and the Republican-controlled Congress.

Although both parties show divisions, they are more pronounced in the Republican Party. Some Republican leaders are calling on their candidates with tough races to stop defending Trump, but to paraphrase the once-party leader and recent primary loser Tim Pawlenty, the Republican Party has become “the Party of Trump.”

No one faction is winning all the primary elections in either party. Rather, the extent to which candidates’ positions are in harmony with those of their constituents seems to determine the winners In this election, especially “all politics is local.” Both moderates and radicals have won their party’s primaries.

While money is an important factor in any election and this will be the most expensive non-presidential election ever held, turnout will determine election outcome. Generally low during midterm elections, Pew Research reports that U.S. House primary turnout is 84% higher for Democrats and 24% for Republicans than 2014.  It has also been higher in most gubernatorial and senatorial elections. Turnout has increased most among women but also groups who have not voted in recent elections, such as minorities and young voters. Since the Parkland shooting, registration for voters 18-29 has increased by 2.16% nationwide, and among several battleground states like Pennsylvania it has gone up 16%.  The goal for various national organization has been to increase youth voting from a low of 19% four years ago to above 30% and that goal is almost certain to be achieved, with an increase of more than 2 million voters in this category alone.

Post-millennials have a higher sense of political efficacy than slightly older Millennials. And they tend to vote Democratic/progressive. Younger candidates on the ballot may also be more appealing to this generation, who believe they can make a difference.  In 2108 challenging candidates are younger and more have won their primary elections. Governing magazine reports that while the average age of incumbent governors facing election is 62, most candidates running against them are 50 or younger.  The same is true up and down the ballot.

Turnout remains the key. If women, minorities, youth and the LGBT community come out to vote, the Democrats will win in 2018.  But to build a long-term winning coalition, they must also truly listen to the people who felt so ignored that they voted for Donald Trump in the first place.  In a time of polarization in a politics of resentment, it is hard to mobilize the base and bring back alienated voters.

It is impossible at this point to predict whether Republicans can maintain their Congressional majority or the Democrats can take over the House and change U.S. policies. The election will be critical.  If the Democrats win back either House, they will block all future Trump administration policies and legislative efforts.  The election will set the stage for the 2020 election which will determine whether progressives or conservatives guide the future of our country.

Dick Simpson and Betty O’Shaughnessy are authors of Winning Elections in the 21st Century, which provides a guide to understanding the nuts and bolts of current elections.

UPK Announces New Series: Rethinking Careers, Rethinking Academia

The University Press of Kansas is excited to announce a new academic series: Rethinking Careers, Rethinking Academia.

As more and more academics at various career stages are exploring different options for work outside the professoriate, changes to academia are causing a rethinking of both the curricula and the ethics of PhD programs. People considering alternate career paths after academia continue to need resources to guide them. The aim of this new series is to redefine what success means for current and former PhD students.

Rethinking Careers, Rethinking Academia seeks projects that lead to meaningful professional development and create lasting value. Topics should speak to graduate students, recent and experienced PhDs, university faculty and administrators, and the growing alt-ac and post-
ac community. The series will offer affordable books marketed to a wide readership. Projects could be analyses of the academic and alt-ac or post-ac landscapes; how-to guides about dealing with a PhD program or transitioning into various professions; memoirs about different stages of an academic journey; (re)examinations of the purpose, structure, and ethics of graduate education in the twenty-first century; or something else. There’s plenty of room for creative approaches!

“This series is being launched at the perfect time, as there are so many people who are questioning their PhD track or who have PhDs but are thinking about careers outside academia,” explains Joyce Harrison, press editor in chief. “Joe Fruscione and Erin Bartram have their fingers on the pulse of the ‘alt-ac’ world, and I’m looking forward to working with them to produce helpful guides not only for PhDs and PhDs to be, but also for university faculty and administrators.”

About the series editors…

Erin Bartram, PhD, is a freelance writer and historian of women and religion in the United States. After three years on the tenure-track job market, she left full-time academic teaching in 2018. She currently serves as the associate editor of Connecticut History Review, and her writing on history, teaching, higher education, and post-academic life has appeared in the Washington Post, Common-place, the Chronicle of Higher Education, U.S. Catholic Historian, and on the pedagogy blog Teaching US History.

Joseph Fruscione, PhD, is a freelance editor, stay-at-home dad, and communications director for the nonprofit PrecariCorps. After fifteen years in aca¬demia as an adjunct teaching American literature, film, and first-year writing, he left teaching in May 2014 to pursue a freelance career. He’s worked as a post-academic consultant for The Professor Is In, and he occasionally does freelance consulting for new alternative academics or post-academics. He’s written Faulkner and Hemingway: Biography of a Literary Rivalry (Ohio State University Press, 2012) and edited Teaching Hemingway and Modernism (Kent State University Press, 2015), among other scholarly writing projects. He’s also published pieces about adjunct life and higher ed for Chronicle Vitae, Inside Higher Ed, Digital Pedagogy, PBS NewsHour’s Making Sense series, and elsewhere.

Please send inquiries and questions to

UPK Names Bill Allison New Modern War Studies Series Editor

The University Press of Kansas (UPK) is pleased to that announce Bill Allison has been named the new editor of the acclaimed Modern War Studies Series. Allison is an accomplished scholar of American military history, specifically the Vietnam War, and a professor of History at Georgia Southern University.

Initiated in 1986, UPK’s Modern War Studies series publishes several books each year in military history, from the mid eighteenth century to the present. More than 250 titles have been published in the series, and series books have been awarded prizes by the Society for Military History, Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, Naval Historical Foundation, Army Historical Foundation, Air Force Historical Foundation, Organization of American Historians, and American Historical Association, among others.

“Modern War Studies has been the gold standard for the field, still so among a growing number of really solid military history-oriented series from several outstanding presses,” Allison said. “From operational history to the non-combatant war experience to remembrance and commemoration, and a whole slew of areas of study in between, Modern War Studies has both reflected as well as shaped the amazing scale and scope of “military history” for over thirty years. I want to continue the work that Ted Wilson and Mike Briggs did so well for so many years. I have the greatest respect for both Ted and Mike – both have mentored me over the years, taught me a lot about not only the field and ‘doing’ history, but also about how university presses work and how book publishing has changed over the years.”

Allison earned his BA and MA in History at East Texas State University in 1989 and 1991 and completed his PhD in history at Bowling Green State University. His academic work is complemented by his accomplished writing career. He is author of The Gulf War (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), My Lai: An American Atrocity in the Vietnam War (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012), Military Justice in Vietnam: The Rule of Law in an American War (University Press of Kansas, 2007), and American Diplomats in Russia: Case Studies in Orphan Diplomacy, 1917-1919 (Praeger, 1997), and is co-author with Janet Valentine and the late Jeffery Grey of American Military History: A Survey from Colonial Times to the Present (Pearson, 2013), among other works.

Allison has presented and lectured at numerous conferences and universities, including Oxford, Cambridge, the University of Zurich, the Australian Defence Force Academy, the US Army Heritage and Education Center, and the USAF Air Command & Staff College. He is a former Trustee and Vice-President of the Society for Military History and has served on the editorial board of the Journal of Military History as well as editor for Routledge’s Critical Moments in American History series. Allison has served as a visiting professor at the United States Air Force Air War College, the University of Utah, the United States Army War College, and other institutions.

“Bill Allison is one of the most highly regarded military historians working today,” said Joyce Harrison, UPK editor in chief. “He has an exciting vision for the series, and all of us at the University Press of Kansas are thrilled that we’ll be working with him in the years ahead.”

Allison plans to hit the ground running.

“I believe continuing an emphasis on operational history is important – operational studies contribute to the field and often stimulate other scholars in turn to pursue projects that place those experiences on other contexts, be it from the perspective of place, time, race, gender, imperialism, institutional, theory, whatever,” he said. “Collectively, this is what is so exciting about military history and this series – obtaining balance among the range and variety of perspectives from scholars both seasoned and new to the discipline, from around the world, to bring this work together in this series to move us forward and get us thinking of more questions to explore.”

Born and raised in Texas, he lives in Spartanburg, South Carolina, with his wife Jennifer (Registrar – Wofford College) and three-year-old black lab Tucker.

The Legacies of Justice Kennedy

By Frank J. Colucci, author of Justice Kennedy’s Jurisprudence: The Full and Necessary Meaning of Liberty

By announcing his retirement last week after 30 years on the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy assures two aspects of his legacy:

(1)   His conservative precedents will be more secure than his liberal ones.

(2)   A Senate confirmation process as politically and constitutionally consequential as the one that resulted in his nomination.

As I demonstrate in my book on his jurisprudence, Kennedy exercises a broad conception of judicial power to protect ideals of liberty. By embracing expansive conceptions of human dignity and free speech as well the judicial role to enforce it, he has been the justice most likely to strike state and local laws for violating the Constitution. On a Court divided for most of the past two decades between blocs of four more liberal and four more conservative justices, Kennedy’s assertiveness has held the balance. “The enforcement power of the judiciary,” he said in his 1987 confirmation hearings, “is to ensure that the word liberty is given its full and necessary meaning.”

Nominated to the Court by Republican Ronald W. Reagan, Kennedy has drawn charges of betrayal from conservatives for critical votes on high-profile constitutional issues. He wrote opinions for five-justice majorities reaffirming a woman’s right to abortion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) and Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstadt (2016). In other 5-4 decisions he voted to strike official prayer in public schools, limit presidential power to hold suspected terrorists, affirm rights to political dissent, and narrow the classes of defendants eligible for the death penalty. Kennedy also wrote several opinions, culminating in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) which found a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

Even with these prominent liberal departures, Kennedy’s essential conception of liberty and his overall record remains predominately conservative. He consistently joined majorities on the Court to limit federal power to regulate commerce and enforce voting rights, to uphold law enforcement, and to expand free speech protections to commercial and corporate speakers such as in Citizens United v. FEC (2010). Kennedy joined opinions advancing claims of religious liberty, upholding displays of the Ten Commandments on government property and prayer at public meetings as well as concurring in Hobby Lobby v. Burwell (2014). And of course Kennedy joined the 5-4 majority in Bush v. Gore that first stayed then ended the Florida recount and effectively concluded the 2000 presidential election.

Kennedy’s votes during the recently concluded term confirm his fundamental conservatism. His majority opinion in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case criticized officials of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission for statements that violated first amendment rights to religious neutrality from government. He explicitly called for greater First Amendment consideration for compelled speech. While “the free speech aspect of this case is difficult,” he writes, it “is an instructive example, however, of the proposition that the application of constitutional freedoms in new contexts can deepen our understanding of their meaning.” Kennedy also dissented in Carpenter v. U.S, where in a 5-4 opinion for the Court Chief Justice John Roberts extended Fourth Amendment protections to records of cell phone locations. Kennedy argued that these location records belong to the cell phone company and not the individual. Had Kennedy’s view prevailed, law enforcement would not be required to obtain a warrant to obtain from a provider 127 days of a person’s cell phone location data.

Kennedy’s last actions on the Court reiterated his fear of government compelling speech and expression contrary to conscience. His last separate opinion in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra—striking California regulations requiring facilities that offer pregnancy –related services to provide women information about obtaining an abortion—focuses on fears of compelled speech. “Governments must not be allowed to force persons to express a message contrary to their deepest convictions,” he writes. California’s law to the contrary “imperils those liberties.” In his final morning on the bench, Kennedy joined the majority in Janus v. AFSCME finding requirements that public employees either join a union or pay agency fees violate individual rights to free speech on matters of political concern.

One jarring late departure, however, can be found in Kennedy’s concurring opinion in Trump v. Hawaii. Kennedy states “it is an urgent necessity that officials adhere to these constitutional guarantees and mandates in all their actions, even in the sphere of foreign affairs” and concludes “an anxious world must know that our Government remains committed always to the liberties the Constitution seeks to preserve and protect, so that freedom extends outward, and lasts.”

Yet Kennedy joined the majority in allowing the president’s ban on entry to travelers from several nations to remain in force. He concedes “the very fact that an official may have broad discretion, discretion free from judicial scrutiny, makes it all the more imperative for him or her to adhere to the Constitution and to its meaning and its promise.” Kennedy’s statement of judicial weakness in the travel ban case contrasts starkly with the confidence about the meaning of liberty and the obligation of courts to enforce it he expressed at his confirmation.

Kennedy’s recent opinions and decision to retire at this time have the effect of securing the conservative aspects of his legacy while leaving unsettled the 5-4 liberal precedents he wrote and joined.  His former clerk, Neil Gorsuch, sits on the Court as Trump’s first appointment. Replacement by a Trump nominee would secure conservative victories of the current Term and provide a likely fifth vote to overturn liberal 5-4 landmarks that Kennedy wrote, joined, or affirmed.

The current judicial nomination process invites comparisons with the confirmation battle over Robert Bork that led to Kennedy’s elevation to the Court. When Lewis Powell announced his retirement in 1987, Senate Democrats led by Edward Kennedy attacked Bork’s nomination for fear his vote on the Court would overturn Roe v. Wade, limit civil rights and labor protections, and roll back the liberal precedents of the Warren Court. These hearings took place following a summer of Iran-Contra hearings and with a presidential job approval rating under 50 percent.

Bork’s nomination was defeated 58-42 with six moderate Republicans (Arlen Spector, John Chaffee, Lowell Weicker, Bob Packwood, Robert Warner and Robert Stafford) joining 52 Democrats voting no.  Only after Bork’s rejection and the withdrawal of Douglas Ginsburg’s nomination was Kennedy tapped as a third choice and eventually confirmed by the Senate in February 1988 by a 97-0 vote.

Democrats argue for delaying confirmation hearings for Trump’s nominee until after the upcoming midterm elections, but one stark political difference exists between the confirmation process that produced Kennedy and the one that will vote on his successor. Democrats won the Senate in the 1986 midterm elections and had enough votes to control the chamber even without Republican defections.  Today Republicans hold a slim majority in the Senate, and in confirming Gorsuch’s last year the majority has eliminated the filibuster for all federal judicial nominations. Democrats need Republican votes to defeat a Trump nominee—just as they needed Republican votes last year to prevent legislation that would have gutted the Affordable Care Act (which they got) and to stop the tax bill (which they did not).

While Justices have life tenure, the timing of Kennedy’s retirement reaffirms that the Supreme Court follows the election returns. In 1987, Democrats alone could stop Bork. Going forward, defeating any Trump nominee and salvaging any of Kennedy’s liberal legacy requires action from Republicans in the Senate or on the current Court.

Frank J. Colucci is associate professor of political science at Purdue University Northwest and author of Justice Kennedy’s Jurisprudence: The Full and Necessary Meaning of Liberty

The Shape of the 2018 Elections: New Volunteers, New Movements?

by Betty O’Shaughnessy and Dick Simpson, authors of Winning Elections in the 21st Century

Results of the primary elections held during April through June begin to paint a picture of an evolving politics in the country. The results of the May and June primaries show that grassroots campaigns with women activists can be successful, although heavy financial support of the national parties’ leadership often gives victory to their endorsed candidates regardless of gender. For instance, in May, the Georgia Democratic primary for governor showed charismatic, heavily endorsed Stacey Abrams crushing Stacey Evans, whose campaign strategy seemed geared toward winning back poor rural voters.  Incumbent and heavily backed Dianne Feinstein easily won the Democratic nomination for California’s Senate seat; a Democratic takeover of the Senate would make her chair of the powerful judiciary committee. Pundits are now predicting that women in Congress will reach at least 25% representation from their current level of 20%.

While grassroots efforts are not always successful, they are effectively harnessing the renewed political awareness spreading – in both parties.  In Kentucky, schoolteachers came out to support one of their own, Travis Benda, to defeat the GOP state House leader, Jonathan Shell.  In the Democratic primary for Kentucky’s 6th Congressional district, former fighter pilot Amy McGrath won over DCCC endorsed Jim Gray. found that in Texas, more than half of the 50 women running for Congress in both parties won their primaries. In California, Katie Hill, a grassroots progressive, won the Democratic primary for the 25th District Congressional seat.

While the “Blue Wave” of winning Democrats likely to turn districts from Red to Blue is continuing through the summer, nonetheless, pundits are commenting that the Republican party is now really the party of Donald Trump, whose tweets are effective in supporting his followers, and that many Republicans in Congress are reluctant to counter him for fear of losing in the November election. While some extreme candidates – such as former coal executive and ex-con Don Blankenship of West Virginia – have been defeated in Republican primaries by more moderate candidates, others are still winning important elections. In June, for instance, longtime incumbent Mark Sanford lost South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District’s Republican primary, to Katy Arrington, a vocal Trump supporter, and white-supremacist-backed Corey Stewart gained the Republican nomination for the Virginia Senate contest.

So although Democrats will clearly make gains in 2018, it is still problematic whether they can take back either house of Congress and probably will remain unpredictable until November. The final primaries will be held in August, after which we will know most party slates for the midterm election in November. It is important to remember that a lot can happen in the five months between now and then.

As we write in our book, Winning Elections in the 21st Century (Kansas University Press, 2016), the theme of the campaign is critical.  In 2016, Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” and Bernie Sanders theme of fixing income inequality both resonated with the country.  In 2018, both the women’s movement and disgust with Washington are working for candidates, and is reflected in both the campaign themes and the number of volunteers in especially many grassroots campaigns. This year, 422 women are at this date running for US House seats, and 49 women are running for the Senate.  And they are often winning, especially in close races. In the May 15th Democratic primaries, women won one US Congressional district in Nebraska, two in Pennsylvania as well as two contested state house races, and won one of two highly contested state senate races in Oregon. Many of the women ran in Democratic primaries but more Republican women are running and winning as well. Most women candidates have the help of grassroots local groups, using the strategies described in Winning Elections. These (mostly) women are active mainly in local groups that are similar but not closely connected across the country.

This is not just a case of a reverse Tea Party on the left taking over. As Lara Putnam and Theda Skocpol relate in a recent article, Progressive candidates have clearly won some elections but much of the change – especially the movement from Red to Blue is taking place in the suburban areas and being led by people who are pragmatic about winning. The new activists are not primarily leftist ideologues but retired teachers, librarians, and community leaders who don’t like the way the 2016 elections turned out or the Trump policies since then. Moreover, issues that have sat dormant, such as gerrymandering, ERA, and doing away with the Electoral College, are mobilizing activists. Some activists are addressing the fairness of wealthy candidates — such as the gubernatorial nominees for both parties in Illinois — self-financing their primary campaigns. But these volunteers — whether supporting candidates, issues, or both — as part of the “Me too” movement, the resistance, or just unhappy with the state of the country, are using their skills to do the old fashion precinct work, phone calling, and neighbor-to-neighbor contact that we recommend as essential for winning elections in the 21st century.

Dick Simpson is professor of political science at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is the co-editor with Dennis Judd of The City, Revisited: Urban Theory from Chicago, Los Angeles, New York.

Betty O’Shaughnessy is a visiting lecturer in political science, University of Illinois at Chicago and coauthor of The Struggle for Power and Influence in Cities and States.

Charles Delgadillo (Crusader for Democracy; The Political Life of William Allen White) Q & A

The editor of the Emporia (Kansas) Gazette and the ‘Sage of Emporia,’ William Allen White is known for his quips, quotations, and a sharply crafted view from Main Street expressed in his 1896 essay, “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” But for all his carefully cultivated small-town sagacity, White (1868–1944) was a public figure and political operator on a grand scale. Writing the first biography in a half-century to look at this side of White’s character and career, Charles Delgadillo brings to life a leading light of a once-widespread liberal Republican movement that has largely become extinct.

  1. 1. When did you first have the idea to work on Crusader for Democracy?

I discovered William Allen White while working on my dissertation. White was one of a group of four liberal reformers I was studying who were coming to terms with America’s rise as a great power between the World Wars. I admired White’s vision of America as the leading champion of democracy at home and abroad, and his willingness to act on his views by writing editorials, by privately lobbying policymakers, and by helping to lead the fight for public opinion. It wasn’t just White’s views that hooked me, though. I was impressed by White’s essential humanity. He was a man who never forgot what it’s like to be a human being: the hopes and disappointments, the victories and the defeats, the times when our path is clear and those when we lose our way. White’s name came up time and time again as I did my research, and the archivists at the Library of Congress told me that his collection is one of their most heavily used. I thought it was a tragedy that no one had written a biography of such a remarkable and important man in almost half a century, and it was a pleasure to take the job myself!

2. Can you describe your process of writing? How long did you spend working on the book?

Writing the book was fun! I was able to use about a third of my dissertation to jump-start the writing process, and it helped a lot that I already knew how to make the best use of the William Allen White papers at the Library of Congress. I started writing this book a few months after finishing my PhD in December 2010 and I worked on it fairly regularly through the summer of 2017. My work process was to accumulate as much raw material as possible during my three or four research trips each year. I spent most of the time reading and taking notes on the documents I had gathered, which I would then use to write up the narrative.

3. What was the most challenging aspect of writing about William Allen White?

One of the most challenging aspects about writing about White is that he knew so many people and was involved in so many things. There were many great little stories that had to be left out of the book simply because I couldn’t talk about everything, and there were many times where I had to devote considerable attention to sorting out White’s intricate web of relationships.

4. In Crusader for Democracy, you write “Throughout his life, White felt the greatest threat to American democracy came from uneducated, backward, shortsighted masses who were easily duped by smooth-talking demagogues.” How do you think he would respond to the election of President Trump?

I have no doubt that White would be appalled by the election of President Trump. White was a dyed-in-the-wool liberal, so he certainly would have opposed Trump on ideological grounds. However, White always displayed the unusual ability to remain personally friends with people who he ideologically opposed. For example, White established close friendships with conservative presidents such as Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge. Ideology alone would not have caused White to reject Trump.

The fact is that White believed in institutions of various kinds. He believed in what he called “neighborliness,” by which he meant that all Americans ought to treat each other with the same care and consideration they would give their small-town next-door neighbor. White believed in civility even in politics. Once, he asked his newspaper editor friends to be gracious towards a duplicitous opponent he had defeated in a bare-knuckles political campaign. Most important of all is the fact that White religiously adhered to a lifelong code of political and personal honor that prized honesty, sincerity, sacrifice, civic-mindedness, integrity, intellectual curiosity, and visionary leadership. Even if White had loved Trump’s policies (and he would have hated them), White would have rejected Trump simply because he would not have been able to stomach Trump’s many moral, intellectual, and personal shortcomings.

I cannot imagine that White would or even could have remained a Republican in the age of Trump. The GOP is now Trump’s party, and at the moment there is no room in it for liberal Republicans like White. White would probably not have joined the Democrats, however. Most likely he would be an independent today, like millions of like-minded moderates who have been forced out of the GOP. I have no doubt that he would have used his gift for mass communication to help lead Americans away from Trumpism and towards the liberal Republicanism he advocated.

5.  You illustrate how William Allen White was an outspoken progressive Republican. Can you speak to the similarities or differences between today’s GOP and the Republican party to which White belonged?

The Republican Party White knew was demographically comprised of middle-class Midwesterners, the Eastern business elite, and aspirational middle-class businessmen. The party was more ideologically diverse as well, consisting of strong liberal and conservative factions that each enjoyed periods of dominance. It’s also important to note that the Republican Party of White’s day was more centralized and institutional, which meant that a man like White who had worked in the party for a half-century could use his personal connections to exercise considerable sway.

Today’s Republican Party is very different. Demographically, the GOP rank and file is dominated by Southerners, the Rust Belt, and lower to middle class individuals who have suffered under globalization and fear America’s demographic trajectory. The wealthy business elite still controls much of party’s policy agenda, but there is always the danger that the populist fervor that drove the Trump campaign could be trained on them someday. The party’s ideology ranges from very conservative to hard-right, and liberal Republicans exist only in the history books. Today’s Republican Party is driven by charismatic personalities such as Trump, who are able to move the grassroots, and by the ultra-wealthy individuals who fund the GOP.

6. White is most well-known for his “What’s the Matter With Kansas?” Considering his ideological shift from the time he wrote that, do you think William Allen White would find something wrong with Kansas in 2018?

Absolutely. White was very proud of the fact that Kansas was a leader in the Progressive movement. During White’s lifetime, the state enacted “direct democracy” reforms, it expanded its support for public higher education, it experimented with reforms designed to ensure that powerful corporations paid their fair share of taxes, it created a state Industrial Court that was arguably pro-worker at a time when other states were crushing workers, it enacted criminal justice reform designed to treat prisoners more humanely, it forced corporations to treat consumers more fairly, and it later embraced the New Deal.

If White were to write “What’s the Matter With Kansas” today, he would have plenty of examples to sustain a fiery critique. To mention only one, White would be appalled at the way that the state government has defunded public education while gutting its own tax base. The state government is presently in the midst of a pitched battle between its judicial branch, which has ruled that the state’s education spending plan has unconstitutionally gutted education, and politicians who reject both the court’s findings and their constitutional duty to provide a quality education. Meanwhile, Kansas was ranked #5 on United Van Lines’ ranking of states that people are fleeing in January 2018. If White were to write his famous editorial today, he would not hesitate to connect the dots between the fight over education and migration patterns, just as he made the connection between populism and Kansas’ stagnation during the 1890s.

7. If you could have any one person read your book, who would it be and why?

I can think of a lot of people who need to read this book and who should, for the sake of the nation, learn to embrace William Allen White’s worldview, starting with Donald Trump. However, I can’t imagine that he or any other powerful political figure would actually change their ways for any reason, because they are all locked into the current political reality. I would want this book to be read by millions of ordinary folks, who I hope would be inspired by White’s concept of democracy and the way he went about making good on his dreams. I would hope they would see that we can have a democracy where everyone has the right to play the game of life, where everyone who works hard and follows the rules is entitled to a decent living, where every person is treated with the same dignity and respect we expect for ourselves, and where government works for all Americans rather than just the rich and powerful.

Is this a pipe dream? I don’t think so. White grew up in a reality where political machines, the wealthy, and corporations controlled American government at every level, from the lofty heights of Washington, DC to the city governments of America’s smallest towns. White and his progressive colleagues were a band of insurgents against that reality, and they eventually succeeded in making America more democratic after decades of fighting and striving and organizing and winning and sometimes losing. William Allen White had faith in change, but he also advised anyone who wanted reform “to persist; to keep vital; and to have faith that in the color of public sentiment no strong stain is lost.”

Charles Delgadillo is a lecturer in history at the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and Norco College, in California.