Expert examines Founding Fathers’ still-relevant and inspirational views on political dysfunction

NEWPORT, R.I. (Sept. 8, 2017) – Dr. Aurelian Craiutu, professor of political science at Indiana University where he also directs the Tocqueville Program, will present a public Constitution Day lecture on “Moderation, Partisanship, and Free Speech: What the Founding Fathers Can Still Teach Us.”

Craiutu’s lecture will be presented on Friday, Sept. 15 from 11 a.m. to noon in the State Dining Room at Ochre Court, 100 Ochre Point Ave. The event is free and open to the public.

Political theorists agree that a viable democracy depends on the existence of a vibrant associational life consisting of a multiplicity of groups, parties, churches, and social networks. All these associations are credited with enhancing the quality of democracy by promoting open fora for public deliberation, self-government, and collective rule. The principle of free speech allows all these groups to publicly express and defend their interests. Yet, pluralism and free speech often entails messy partisanship and civil and political associations can also divide citizens by making dialogue and cooperation extremely difficult. 

“In this lecture I will reflect on these issues by revisiting a few lessons from our Founding Fathers, with special emphasis on George Washington’s Farewell Address,” Craiutu said. 

Washington confessed: “I was no party man myself” … “and the first wish of my heart was, if parties did exist, to reconcile them.”

“While he tried to be non-partisan, he was never neutral, lukewarm, or indifferent to the common good, nor was he ever fanatic or single-minded in his devotion to his principles,” Craiutu said. “His example continues to inspire us today.”

Craiutu has published extensively in the field of modern French political thought from Montesquieu to Raymond Aron. His publications include “Liberalism under Siege: The Political Thought of the French Doctrinaires,” “Tocqueville on America after 1840,” “America through European Eyes,” “A Virtue for Courageous Minds: Moderation in French Political Thought, 1748-1830,” and “Faces of Moderation: The Art of Balance in an Age of Extremes.”

This Constitution Day Lecture is presented with generous support from The Jack Miller Center.