The Body PoliticThe Body Politic Archive

The Dwindling Rate of Veterans in Congress

As lawmakers debate military intervention in Syria, it’s important to consider their professional background. Drew DeSilver of the Pew Research Center compiled the rates of veterans in Congress over the years, and the results may surprise you.

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Bruce Cole to Join Eisenhower Memorial Panel

Former chairman of the National Council of the Humanities and adviser to the National Civic Art Society Bruce Cole has been named to the Eisenhower Memorial panel, AP News reports. Cole has been an outspoken critic of Frank Gehry’s “metal tapestry” design, and will join a panel of 10 other commissioners to oversee the project’s development.

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The Rise of Single-Parent Households in America

Since 1960, single parents have more than tripled as a share of American households. In an article for The Atlantic, AEI’s Aparna Mathur and her coauthors Hao Fu and Peter Hansen note that single-parent households face significantly lower incomes, higher rates of health problems, and poorer educational outcomes.

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The Effect of Declining Home Ownerhship on Neighborhoods

The share of households that own their own home has plummeted during the recession. Shaila Dewan, writing for the New York Times, describes the consequences of the increase in rental properties, including less social stability and lower voter turnout.

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Tolerance and American Exceptionalism

In a new essay published by the Claremont Review of Books, Richard Samuelson makes the case for “American exceptionalism,” arguing that America’s national identity is rooted in the Constitution rather than a unified culture. Owing to the Constitution’s embrace of universal rights, America is more tolerant of minority groups than most other nations, Samuelson argues.

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Do Community Service Requirements Decrease Volunteerism?

While “service learning” is popular in many schools, with 19 states granting graduation credit for volunteer work, a recent study suggests that mandatory volunteer work may actually result in a decline in long-term volunteering from students. Sarah D. Sparks, writing for EdWeek, makes the case that incentivizing service learning in schools, rather than outright mandating it, may help students become more invested in volunteerism.

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Civic Engagement in the Digital Age

There is more to civic engagement than going to the polls every four years. Tom Spengler, writing for the Huffington Post, offers a more robust guide to civic engagement, relying on the power of the digital age to stay involved in your community.

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Slavery and the Constitution: An immoral compromise?

2013 marks both the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation as well as the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. In an effort to understand the complex legacy of slavery from our nation’s founding, AEI’s Program on American Citizenship will host the second annual Walter Berns Constitution Day Lecture, featuring Michael Zuckert, professor at the University of Notre Dame. The lecture, “Slavery and the Constitution: An immoral compromise?” will examine the “pro-” and “anti-slavery” interpretations of the Constitutional Convention.

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A Response to James Ceaser’s “The Role of Political Science and Political Scientists in Civic Education”

Last week, University of Virginia professor James W. Ceaser’s essay discussed the divided state of modern political science. This week, Peter Levine of CIRCLE responded to Ceaser’s piece, agreeing that political science ought to take a more active role in civic education.

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Tocqueville’s Consideration of Aristocracy and Democracy

In the New Criterion, Harvard professor Harvey Mansfield reviews Lucien Jaume’s 2008 book Tocqueville: The Aristocratic Sources of Liberty (recently translated by Arthur Goldhammer). In his review, he asks if a democracy can sustain itself without the help of its rival, aristocracy?

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Addressing the Backlog of Veterans Disability Claims

The backlog of disability claims waiting to be resolved by the VA reached 611,000 in March, an all-time high. President Obama spoke at the Disabled American Veterans’ convention in Florida on Saturday and acknowledged that the problem was far from being resolved, but progress had been made.

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How Old Were the Founding Fathers?

While famous paintings of our America’s Founding Fathers typically portray them as middle-aged or older, most were actually much younger than we tend to think during the founding of the nation. Todd Andrlik, in a post for the Journal of the American Revolution, compiled the ages of the Founding Fathers on July 4, 1776, and the results may surprise you.

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The Role of Political Science and Political Scientists in Civic Education

In the latest addition to “The Professions and Civic Culture” series, University of Virginia professor James W. Ceaser discusses the divided state of modern political science. His essay, “The Role of Political Science and Political Scientists in Civic Education,” argues that the field has moved in two opposing directions — one toward greater concern with civic education, with an emphasis on producing engaged citizens who can transform the political order, and the other (and more dominant one) toward a positivist political research agenda that is agnostic about the principles and ends of the American constitutional order.

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Remembering Jean Bethke Elshtain

Renowned political philosopher, ethicist, and professor Jean Bethke Elshtain passed away on Sunday at the age of 72. Elshtain was known for her deep commitment to civil society and advocacy of civic education.

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The Role of Soft Paternalism in America

Drawing on behavioral psychology research and Cass Sunstein’s new book Nudge, David Brooks argues that a form of soft paternalism may be beneficial to the American public. Writing for the New York Times, Brooks suggests that there is a middle ground between government mandates and fully uninhibited consumer decision-making, which would improve society’s well-being. Recent […]

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Re-examining James Wilson’s “The Moral Sense”

In this week’s The American, Sally Satel revisits James Q. Wilson’s The Moral Sense, arguing that scientific research supports Wilson’s argument that the core pillars of morality are innate. While modern biological explanations of human behavior lead some to question the utility of punishment, Satel argues that our natural affinity for virtues means criminal punishment is both essential and appropriate.

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Civic Education and the Common Core

The implementation of the Common Core State Standards represents a tremendous opportunity to rethink educational priorities and promote civic education. However, Web Hutchins, writing for Education Week, argues that the current version of the standards almost entirely neglect to address civics, leaving students unprepared to engage in our democracy.

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Supporting Veterans as a Moral and Practical Duty

Providing adequate services to America’s veterans is not only a moral obligation, but also a critical step in ensuring the future vitality of the military, Alexander Nicholson argues. In an article in The Atlantic, Nicholson makes the case for improving veterans services to ensure that the benefits promised by the VA are actually delivered to veterans in an efficient manner.

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Families and the Modern American City

In City Journal, Joel Kotkin and Ali Modarres argue that our “childless cities” are ripe for change. “If cities want to nurture the next generation of urbanites and keep more of their younger adults,” the authors write, “they will have to find a way to welcome back families, which have sustained cities for millennia and given the urban experience much of its humanity.”

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Civic Education in the 21st Century

The tools for improving civic education in the 21st century are constantly evolving. Holly Korbey, building off of Robert Pondiscio’s recent op-ed, suggests that innovative or novel techniques may be needed to overhaul civics education, apart from more intensive classroom instruction.

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