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Donald Devine

TFAS Senior Scholar


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 11 books, including his most recent, “Ronald Reagan’s Enduring Principles: How They Can Promote Political Success Today” and “The Enduring Tension: Capitalism and the Moral Order.”

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



Apples and Oranges: Mixing Atheists, Agnostics and Nothings

The highly regarded Pew Research Center has released its latest analysis of the religious beliefs of Americans and consequently acquired its usual major media headlines. The Washington Post print version led: “Nones — nonreligious Americans — increasing in U.S.”

Does Economic Recession Loom in Our Future?

The first 2024 Wall Street Journal front page headline set a euphoric economic outlook for the coming new year: “Optimism Flows on Wall Street, Fueled by Economy, Rise of AI.” With the “S&P 500 within 0.6% of a record high,” what could go wrong?

Confronting the ‘Artificial Intelligence’ Backward-Looking Bureaucracy Trap

Former Secretary of State and White House national security administrator Henry Kissinger’s last service for his country was to warn his fellow Americans that substituting artificial intelligence for real human intelligence was “simply a mad race” toward “catastrophe.”

Was Reagan a New Dealer?

Just when Ronald Reagan seems to have survived a Nationalist Right charge that his philosophy was a kind of zombie Libertarianism, here comes Henry Olsen promoting his 2017 The Working Class Republican book theme saying that Reagan was a Franklin D. Roosevelt New Dealer.

Sorry, Republicans: Joe Biden Will Not Be the Democratic Nominee

Donald Trump’s pollster now brags that his candidate will win the election against Joe Biden in an “electoral landslide.” Even a recent Washington Post/ABC poll seemed to confirm it. But this assumes that Biden will be the Democratic nominee, and he will not. The Post/ABC survey found that Biden’s approval for managing the economy dropped to the lowest of his presidency, into the 30 percent range, with a 21-point advantage for Republicans.

The FBI’s Own History Exposes the Often-Rogue Agency

With Federal Bureau of Investigation whistleblowers regularly informing Congress about agency abuses, it is difficult to remember that the FBI was once a quiet little bureaucracy mainly confirming facts for U.S. Department of Justice legal decision-making. Today the FBI is involved in everything from national-security excesses to charges of playing politics to protect one president and indict another. Just now, an ex-FBI counterspy chief has pled guilty to laundering funds for a Russian billionaire.

The Thales Way: The Book That Can Save American Education

Would you be interested in a book on reforming education by a man who created flourishing grade, middle, and high school charter schools, all with waiting lists today, found them too mired in government bureaucracy and so started 13 even more successful purely private campuses in 2007 — and who is willing to share his secrets of success with you?

Republicans Need a New Approach to Foreign Policy

In a speech reprinted in National Review, former Trump National Security Adviser John Bolton attempted a resolution to the debate by quoting George Washington’s warning that Americans should have “as little political connection [to foreigners] as possible” and support only America’s interests. But then he pivoted to add a long list of countries where U.S. values must be defended: “China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea all qualify.”

Thank Media’s Toxic Culture Wars for Today’s Universal Unhappiness

Is there anyone in the U.S. who doesn’t think America is in serious cultural decline? Trumpists, Never Trumpists, conservatives, progressives, the far Left, and the radical Right all define it differently, but all are unhappy, even our serene centrists.

The Strange Idea That a Cabinet Officer Should Report to the President

David L. Bernhardt, former U.S. secretary of the interior, deputy secretary, solicitor, and an independent agency commissioner, lets us in on an intriguingly strange secret about what insiders like him would recognize was an exceptional command he received from a U.S. president.