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Charles R. Kesler


Charles R. Kesler is a senior fellow of the Claremont Institute, editor of the Claremont Review of Books, and professor of government at Claremont McKenna College.

Dr. Kesler also teaches in the Claremont Institute’s Publius Fellows Program and Lincoln Fellows Program. He received his A.B. in Social Studies (1978) and his A.M. and Ph.D. in Government (1985) from Harvard University.

From 1989 to 2008, Dr. Kesler was director of CMC’s Henry Salvatori Center for the Study of Individual Freedom in the Modern World. From September 2000 to March 2001, he served as vice chairman of the Advisory Committee to the U.S. Congress’s James Madison Commemoration Commission. He was selected in June of 2000 as a member of The Scholars Commission on the Jefferson-Hemings Issue sponsored by The Thomas Jefferson Heritage Society.

Dr. Kesler is editor of Saving the Revolution: The Federalist Papers and the American Founding (Free Press, 1987), and co-editor, with William F. Buckley, Jr., of Keeping the Tablets: Modern American Conservative Thought (HarperCollins, 1988). He has written extensively on American constitutionalism and political thought, and his edition of The Federalist Papers (Signet Classics, 2003) is the best-selling edition in the country.

Dr. Kesler contributes regularly to the opinion pages of The Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times. His articles on contemporary politics have also appeared in The Washington Times, Policy Review, National Review, and The Weekly Standard, among other journals.

Articles found on this site:
Draining the Swamp
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: October 17, 2017
This article appeared in: Volume XVII, Number 4

Draining the swamp might require a presidential commission.

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A Decade of CRB
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: September 11, 2017
This article appeared in: Vol. XI, Numbers 1 & 2 - Winter/Spring 2010/11

A decade of CRB.

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The Health Care Schmozzle
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: July 31, 2017
This article appeared in: Volume XVII, Number 3

One big disorderly mess.

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The Old New Left and the New New Left
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: July 31, 2017
This article appeared in: Volume XVII, Number 3

How today’s campus radicals differ from their ’60s forebears.

 

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The Hundred Days Hustle
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: April 25, 2017
This article appeared in: Volume XVII, Number 2, Spring 2017

How did he do?

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Big Barack Candy Mountain
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: January 31, 2017
This article appeared in: Volume XVII, Number 1, Winter 2016/17

Hope and change. 

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The Republican Trump
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: January 31, 2017
This article appeared in: Volume XVII, Number 1, Winter 2016/17

Donald Trump, meet Calvin Coolidge.

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The Good War
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: November 8, 2016
This article appeared in: Volume XVI, Number 4, Fall 2016

Americans never shy away from a good fight. 

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Moderation in Pursuit of Trump
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: August 26, 2016
A response to John Marini's "Donald Trump and the American Crisis."...
 
Change-Makers
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: August 10, 2016
This article appeared in: Volume XVI, Number 3, Summer 2016

The state of play in the 2016 election. 

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Trump and the Conservative Cause
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: May 13, 2016
This article appeared in: Volume XVI, Number 2, Spring 2016

The politically incorrect candidate. 

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War Without Victory
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: February 23, 2016
This article appeared in: Volume XVI, Number 1, Winter 2015/16

Can we end our wars without winning them? 

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The Outsiders' Appeal
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: November 12, 2015
This article appeared in: Volume XV, Number 4, Fall 2015

Donald Trump. Ben Carson, and the necessity of constitutionalism.

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You're Fired!
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: August 25, 2015
This article appeared in: Volume XV, Number 3, Summer 2015
never thought reality TV was going to work out well. If a show couldn’t afford a good script and good actors, why should anyone watch it? But millions did, and here we are, wondering what Donald Trump’s campaign, more improvised than his television show, tells us about the state of Ameri...
 
The Obama Transformation versus the Reagan Revolution
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: August 25, 2015
This article appeared in: Volume XV, Number 3, Summer 2015

The great contest in 2016.

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I'm Offended
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: May 29, 2015
This article appeared in: Vol. XV, Number 2, Spring 2015
You can’t teach at an American college these days without wondering if—and at some schools, let’s face it, you wonder when—it’s going to happen. A student, fellow faculty member, or administrator is going to charge you with offending him. For 30 years in my introduct...
 
Scott Walker, Unplugged
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: March 12, 2015
This article appeared in: Vol. XV, Number 1, Winter 2014/15
For the past few weeks governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin has had the unpleasant experience of running the gauntlet of the American and British press. Do you believe in evolution, they asked him. What is President Obama’s religion? Can a college dropout be a good president? To these imperti...
 
Red Tide Rising
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: November 6, 2014
This article appeared in: Vol. XIV, Number 4, Fall 2014
Republicans are ready to party like it’s 1929. In the House of Representatives, they will hold a majority nearly 250 seats strong, their largest showing since Herbert Hoover won the presidency in 1928. Though final numbers are not in, the GOP now controls both houses of the state legislatur...
 
Mount Rushmore Expansion Plans on Hold
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: August 12, 2014
This article appeared in: Vol. XIV, Number 3, Summer 2014
In his most recent colloquy with the president, David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker, noted that in the Oval Office “you could hear, between every long pause that Obama took, the ticking of a grandfather clock.” Could you ever! The clock is ticking on this administration, and Mr. Obam...
 
The Apology Game
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: May 19, 2014
This article appeared in: Vol. XIV, Number 2, Spring 2014
Apologizing is rampant these days. Hardly a week goes by without some public figure (or unlucky private citizen, become a public figure) offering to apologize, usually at the demand of some group or other who has taken offense at something said or done. If extorting apologies were an interstate crim...
 
The Tea Party and the Constitution
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: November 25, 2013
This article appeared in: Vol. XIII, Number 4 - Fall 2013

The original Tea Party was neither a political organization nor a populist movement.

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Hello, Berlin!
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: August 8, 2013
This article appeared in: Vol. XIII, Number 3 - Summer 2013

President Obama doesn't understand that the more he speaks the less people listen.

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Editor's Note
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: May 28, 2013
This article appeared in: Vol. XIII, Number 2 - Spring 2013
The first time I heard George Jones in concert was on March 16, 1982, at the Paradise Theater in Boston. He was to play two sets, and my three close friends and I opted for the first one, fearing that "No Show Jones" (a nickname richly earned) might ditch the later show. Bobby Bare was ...
 
How Low Can We Go?
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: March 18, 2013
This article appeared in: Vol. XIII, Number 1 - Winter 2012/13
Though it wasn't the filibuster heard round the world, it certainly reverberated around Washington. Rand Paul's nearly 13-hour talkathon not only extracted from the Obama Administration a rare constitutional limit to executive power, it made the senator from Kentucky a conservative hero and ...
 
The Age of Obama?
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: December 30, 2012
This article appeared in: Vol. XII, Number 4 - Fall 2012
Cheer up, conservatives. Election night was gruesome, but it produced neither a landslide for President Obama nor a wipeout of the GOP. Judging by the numbers alone, the message was not so much "Forward!" as "Sideways!" The president's 332 electoral votes (counting Florida...
 
Romney's Dilemmas
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: August 13, 2012
This article appeared in: Vol. XII, Number 3 - Summer 2012
With three months to go, Mitt Romney's campaign faces three strategic problems: what to say about his governorship of Massachusetts, how to describe his relation to the policies of George W. Bush's administration, and how to explain to the public the stakes of the 2012 contest. Despite a ...
 
The Crisis of Liberalism
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: August 7, 2012
This article appeared in: Vol. XII, Number 3 - Summer 2012

Is it on its last legs, or about to be reborn?

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Promises, Promises
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: June 4, 2012
This article appeared in: Vol. XII, Number 2 - Spring 2012
Out of the mouths of babes, and pirates, can come wisdom. The pirate in this case is the Pirate Captain, as he's called, brilliantly voiced by Hugh Grant in the new stop-motion animation film, The Pirates! Band of Misfits. His quest to win the Pirate of the Year award brings him in contact ...
 
Change, Change, Change
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: February 20, 2012
This article appeared in: Vol. XII, Number 1 - Winter 2011/12
At a press conference shortly after the 2008 election, President-elect Obama was asked if he was appointing to his administration too many Washington insiders and retreads from the Clinton Administration, including Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. Not at all, he replied. The important thing wa...
 
Debating the Debates
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: October 22, 2011
This article appeared in: Vol. XI, Number 4 - Fall 2011
Saturday Night Live, that reliable and now venerable source of political satire, took aim recently at the race for the Republican presidential nomination. It announced its spoof as "Either the 7th or 8th GOP Debate," nicely capturing the ennui already setting in. With nine candidates on st...
 
You Can Learn a Lot From Libya
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: July 18, 2011
This article appeared in: Vol. XI, Number 3 - Summer 2011
Groucho Marx sang it in at the circus in 1939, and the young Virginia Weidler, playing Dinah Lord, sang it in the great movie The Philadelphia Story a year later. It was already a classic. I mean Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg's "Lydia the Tattooed Lady": Lydia, oh Lydia, ...
 
The Wilderness Years Conclude
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: November 29, 2010
This article appeared in: Vol. X, Number 4 - Fall 2010
A short two years ago, the Democrats basked in the glow of their dynamic new president, elected by their largest popular-vote margin since Lyndon Johnson in 1964, accompanied into office by a fiercely Democratic House of Representatives and a veto-proof Democratic Senate. A long two years later, aft...
 
The Stakes of Obamacare
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: September 28, 2010
This article appeared in: Vol. X, Number 3 - Summer 2010
Its ill effects on health care, politics, and our character....
 
Did We Win?
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: September 3, 2010
This article appeared in: Vol. X, Number 3 - Summer 2010
One of the last American combat soldiers to leave Iraq exclaimed, according to the New York Times: "We won! It's over! America, we brought democracy to Iraq!" It's easy to understand his giddiness as he exited Iraq for Kuwait and soon America. Over here the reaction to the ...
 
Are People Being Nice?
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: May 12, 2010
This article appeared in: Vol. X, Number 2 - Spring 2010

It's commencement speech season.

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The Tea Party Spirit
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: March 21, 2010
This article appeared in: Vol. X, Number 1, Winter - 2009/10

The Tea Party sees the threat of despotism in the Obama Administration's policies.

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The Politics of Repeal
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: November 16, 2009
This article appeared in: Vol. IX, Number 4 - Fall 2009

Everything depends on health care reform.

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The Red Beating Heart
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: October 19, 2009
This article appeared in: Vol. IX, Number 3 - Summer 2009
Dan Rather, the former CBS news anchorman, called the other day for President Barack Obama to appoint "a White House commission on public media" to study ways to save journalists' jobs and keep news organizations, especially newspapers, alive. "A truly free and independent press,&...
 
The Conservative Challenge
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: August 21, 2009
This article appeared in: Vol. IX, Number 3 - Summer 2009

The Reagan Revolution vs. the Obama Revolution.

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The New New Deal
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: May 25, 2009
This article appeared in: Vol. IX, Number 2 - Spring 2009

Obama and American capitalism.

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The New Patriotism
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: April 6, 2009
This article appeared in: Vol. IX, Number 1 - Winter 2008/09

Charles Kesler reviews President Obama's first inaugural address.

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The Audacity of Barack Obama
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: January 19, 2009
This article appeared in: Vol. VIII, Number 4 - Fall 2008

Taking the Democratic nominee seriously.

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A Righteous Wind
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: July 14, 2008
This article appeared in: Vol. VIII, Number 3 - Summer 2008

The Lincoln-Douglas debates set a bad example for American politics.

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Buckley's Legacy
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: April 18, 2008
This article appeared in: Vol. VIII , Number 2 - Spring 2008

We honor Buckley by taking up the work of defending and restoring the Republic.

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Indecision 2008
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: January 7, 2008
This article appeared in: Vol. VIII , Number 1 - Winter 2007/08

The uncertainty of the Republican primary of the 2008 presidential race.

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Forcing the Spring
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: October 29, 2007
This article appeared in: Vol. VII, Number 4 - Fall 2007

What comes after the surge?

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No Euphoria Yet
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: October 3, 2007
This article appeared in: Vol. VII, Number 4 - Fall 2007

Have we learned anything from the Iraq War?

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Iraq and the Neoconservatives
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: July 5, 2007
This article appeared in: Vol. VII, Number 3 - Summer 2007

Beyond the Bush Doctrine.

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Bring Back the Constitution
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: April 30, 2007
This article appeared in: Vol. VII, Number 2 - Spring 2007

Bringing the Constitution back would lend the 2008 race a presidential seriousness and focus.

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Business as Usual
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: January 31, 2007
This article appeared in: Vol. VI, Number 3 - Summer 2006

George W. Bush, decider-in-chief.

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After the Thumping
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: January 17, 2007
This article appeared in: Vol. VII, Number 1 - Winter 2006/07

Conservatism moving forward.

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Our Predicament
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: October 23, 2006
This article appeared in: Vol. VI, Number 4 - Fall 2006

How America can sustain a coherent foreign and military policy for the Long War.

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Hard Questions
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: March 24, 2006
This article appeared in: Vol. VI , Number 2 - Spring 2006

Hard questions that conservatives will soon have to confront.

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Practical Atheists
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: January 4, 2006
This article appeared in: Vol. VI, Number 1 - Winter 2005/06

Only in latter-day America is "Merry Christmas" a politically incorrect affront to polite norms.

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The Crisis of American National Identity
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: December 5, 2005
This article appeared in: Vol. V, Number 4 - Fall 2005

Should America be defined by Anglo-Protestant culture?

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Bush's Philosophy
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: October 28, 2005
This article appeared in: Vol. V, Number 4 - Fall 2005

What is Bush's judicial philosophy?

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Bookless in America
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: July 11, 2005
This article appeared in: Vol. V, Number 3 - Summer 2005

Once liberals' faith that history is necessarily on their side is shaken, they are left bookless.

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Bursting the Chains
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: April 28, 2005
This article appeared in: Vol. V, Number 2 - Spring 2005

All roads lead to democracy, or so it seems.

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Democracy and the Bush Doctrine
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: January 26, 2005
This article appeared in: Vol. V, Number 1 - Winter 2004/05

Exporting compassionate conservatism.

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The Chief Justice and the Constitution
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: January 17, 2005
This article appeared in: Vol. V, Number 1 - Winter 2004/05

Hoping for recovery of both Chief Justice Rehnquist and the U.S. Constitution.

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Teach Them A Lesson
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: August 31, 2004
This article appeared in: Vol. IV, Number 4 - Fall 2004

President Bush has staked his presidency on his administration's conduct of the war on terrorism.

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For the Gipper
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: June 30, 2004
This article appeared in: Vol. IV, Number 3 - Summer 2004

Remembering Ronald Reagan.

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The War President
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: March 9, 2004
This article appeared in: Vol. IV, Number 2 - Spring 2004

The last thing George W. Bush wanted was to become a foreign policy president.

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Bipartisan Dreams
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: November 24, 2003
This article appeared in: Vol. IV, Number 1 - Winter 2003/04

Politics means disagreement, and no amount of enlightenment or good will can abolish that. 

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Recalling Political Science
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: August 26, 2003
This article appeared in: Vol. III, Number 4 - Fall 2003

It's a shame that bad political science can't be recalled as easily as the California governor.

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Republican Triumphs
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: June 11, 2003
This article appeared in: Vol. III, Number 3 - Summer 2003

Nation building doesn't happen in a day, a year, or even a decade.

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Hail, Columbia
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: February 15, 2003
This article appeared in: Vol. III, Number 2 Spring 2003

Space represents a second chance for mankind, a new world where we may start over and avoid our earthly mistakes.

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Misunderestimating Bush
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: December 4, 2002
This article appeared in: Vol. III , Number 1 Winter 2002/03

A Republican electoral realignment would have to challenge the premises of liberal Democratic government.

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Remembering 9/11
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: September 6, 2002
This article appeared in: Vol. II, Number 4 - Fall 2002

The political meaning of 9/11 has been less clear than one might have expected.

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Big Government Conservatism?
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: May 20, 2002
This article appeared in: Vol. II, Number 3 - Spring 2002

The last thing America needs is for conservatives to make their peace with bad government.

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Our Friend Tom
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: February 6, 2002
This article appeared in: Vol. II , Number 2 - Winter 2002

Remembering Tom Silver

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The Genteel Decline of America's First Dynasty
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: February 6, 2002
This article appeared in: Vol. II , Number 2 - Winter 2002

The age's general challenge to American ideals becomes more of a genteel story of the accumulating burden of the past within the family Adams

 
Why We Fight
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: November 28, 2001
This article appeared in: Vol. II, Number 1 - Fall 2001

What will be the shape of our victory?

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In Defense of Constitutional Democracy
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: November 24, 2000
This article appeared in: Vol. I, Number 1 - Fall 2000

Gauging the Democrats' enthusiasm for the Constitution

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A New Birth of Freedom
By: Charles R. Kesler
Posted: November 24, 2000
This article appeared in: Vol. I, Number 1 - Fall 2000

Forty years after Crisis of the House Divided, Harry V. Jaffa returns with second thoughts and a new appreciation of Lin...