pp. 863-865

The Jefferson Rule: How the Founding Fathers Became Infallible and Our Politics Inflexible, David Sehat

Reviewed by Ralph A. Rossum

BUY

   Facebook

   Twitter

   E-mail
 

David Sehat has written a breezy book about how politicians since the George Washington administration have invoked the Founders and the Constitution to advance their policies. Sehat claims that Thomas Jefferson was the first to do so, and thus the title of the book—Jefferson established the rule that any policy must be associated with and justified by the Founders. Sehat summarizes his principal findings in these sentences: “Jefferson spoke of the Founders as supporters of an agrarian ideal of liberty. Calhoun made them into promoters of states’ rights. Jackson used them to push political democracy. Others have gone in different directions, using the Founders for national economic development (Clay and Webster), slavery’s restriction (Lincoln), popular sovereignty (Douglas), business rights (American Liberty League), economic equality (Roosevelt), black civil rights (King), tax cuts and antigovernment retrenchment (Reagan), political moderation (Obama), and the revolutionary power of the people (the Tea Party)” (p. 242).

Yet surprisingly, Sehat never really discusses the Founders and their views, and he says even less about the Constitution they drafted. He begins with Washington’s inauguration and completely ignores the Constitutional Convention and ratification debates. The Founders and the Constitution are important for h

To continue reading, see options above.

More by This Author

Limited Government and the Bill of Rights, Patrick M. Garry
Reviewed by Ralph A. Rossum

About PSQ's Editor

Demetrios James Caraley

Full Access

Join the Academy of Political Science and automatically receive Political Science Quarterly.

From the Archives

LONDON TERRORIST ATTACK

Tactical Advantages of Terror

RICHARD BETTS applies offense-defense theory to explain the intense advantages that terrorist groups have in launching offensive strikes and in exploiting the defenses that a nation can put up in this era of globalization and asymmetric warfare.

Search the Archives

Publishing since 1886, PSQ is the most widely read and accessible scholarly journal with distinguished contributors such as: Lisa Anderson, Robert A. Dahl, Samuel P. Huntington, Robert Jervis, Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Theda Skocpol, Woodrow Wilson

view additional issues

New APS Book

Continuing Issues in U.S. National Security Policy   CONTINUING ISSUES IN U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY POLICY

Most read

Articles | Book reviews

Understanding the Bush Doctrine
Robert Jervis

The Study of Administration
Woodrow Wilson

Notes on Roosevelt's "Quarantine" Speech
Dorothy Borg

view all

About US

Academy of Political Science

The Academy of Political Science, promotes objective, scholarly analyses of political, social, and economic issues. Through its conferences and publications APS provides analysis and insight into both domestic and foreign policy issues.

Political Science Quarterly

With neither an ideological nor a partisan bias, PSQ looks at facts and analyzes data objectively to help readers understand what is really going on in national and world affairs.

Stay Connected
newsstand locator
About APS