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Donald Devine

TFAS Grewcock Senior Scholar

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Donald Devine is senior scholar at The Fund for American Studies in Washington, D.C. He served as President Ronald Reagan’s civil service director during the president’s first term in office. During that time, The Washington Post labeled him “Reagan’s Terrible Swift Sword of the Civil Service” for cutting bureaucratic excesses and reducing billions in spending.

Before and after his government service, Devine was an academic, teaching 14 years as associate professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland and for a decade as a professor of Western civilization at Bellevue University. In the definitive work on Frank Meyer’s essays, Devine was listed as one of the dozen “leading lights” of the postwar fusionist reevaluation of conservative and libertarian thinking.

He is a columnist appearing regularly in The American Spectator, The Imaginative Conservative and Law & Liberty and is the author of 10 books, including his most recent, “The Enduring Tension: Capitalism and the Moral Order” and “Political Management of the Bureaucracy.”

Today, Devine writes and teaches young people, speaking about reviving the Constitution and what Reagan called the secret of its success: the way it harmonized freedom and tradition in its fragile balance called federalism.

To learn more about Devine’s lectures and seminars, please visit the links below:

To book Dr. Devine to speak to your campus or organization, please contact TFAS Special Events Director Jane Mack at jmack@TFAS.org.


Op-Eds by Dr. Donald Devine

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Bureaucratization and Peril Haunt the Modern Presidency

We normally think of bureaucracies as those dull gray buildings in Washington, D.C., full of career civil servants pursuing the interests of their bureaus and looking forward to retirement, certain that they cannot be fired or disciplined beforehand as long as they don’t rock the boat. Unfortunately, bureaucracies exist in the White House too.

Fixing the Market Means Fixing the Fed

To anyone with any knowledge of math and economics, it must be a great mystery how the U.S. national government can keep spending so wildly—now with debt in the multiple trillions. How can this massive debt be kept under any kind of control?

Restoring Faith in America Requires Putting the Founders’ Republicanism First

The top news story in Washington and with big media nationwide is that the multi-billion dollar mis-named Inflation Reduction Act and other policy victories will not only solve inflation but everything from global warming (or is that climate change?) to universal health and free college — resulting in the election of Democrats in November because they prove they get results.

Even the Washington Post Knows the Government Has Messed Up the Economy

Most of my political friends are proud to tell me that they do not read the Washington Post any longer, ever since its final conversion to aggressive woke journalism. This is a shame since conservatives are in effect cutting themselves off from the institution most responsible for setting the political agenda for the nation from its capital. Indeed, it is the bible of Washington, D.C., without which the government cannot be understood.

A Century of Bureaucratic Failure — and the Coming Opportunity to Fix It

The Donald Trump administration’s Schedule F proposal to make it possible to discipline and fire “tens of thousands of federal employees” — and the former president’s recent threat to reestablish it if reelected — shocked political Washington. But the pro-bureaucracy Government Executive (GE) magazine warns of an even more dangerous threat.

American Religion Slouching Towards Gomorrah — Or a Dobbs Over Roe Future?

A good many years ago after Robert Bork’s opponents had turned his last name into a term for character assassination, I was sitting in an auditorium with Judge Bork at the lectern delivering his classic book-title Slouching Towards Gomorrah speech. Obviously, it was not optimistic about the future of America’s freedom and moral order, indeed despairing of all Western civilization.

Conservative Nationalist or Fusionist Manqué?

Yoram Hazony’s 2018 book The Virtue of Nationalism—followed by a glitzy conference inspired by it—basically initiated “national conservativism” as a serious enterprise. Being a William F. Buckley Jr.-type “fusionist,” my book review at the time found it fascinating in its challenge and material but contested its major thesis that modern states were either empires or centralized nation-states, rejecting federalism as a valid type.

Stan Evans: Fusionist Father

Steven F. Hayward’s wonderful new book gets Stan Evans just right. Stan was a journalist of the top rank, a political activist at the highest level (including access to Ronald Reagan), far-seeing about our declining social order, and a “first-rank thinker and theorist.” He was also the most amusingly thoughtful speaker ever.

Was Locke Religious Enough?

After four decades of apparently losing the argument that the 17th-century English philosopher John Locke was religious and not a hedonistic utilitarian, I apparently recently proved my case here in The American Spectator so well that Locke is now being attacked as too theological!

The Countless Failures of Big Bureaucracy

Ludwig von Mises’ Yale University Press classic Bureaucracy explains in a relatively few pages the difference between public and private-sector bureaucratic management. The private sector can measure what is going on in large hierarchies of bureaucracy below its CEO simply by asking whether each unit is making a profit. The public sector has no equivalent measuring device.