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Donald Devine

TFAS Grewcock 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 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



Biden Administration Politicizing Civil Service Background Investigations

One would think we could all agree that foreign spies and domestic crooks are not good for government employment and that a universally accepted and fair methodology for keeping them out is essential to good administration. Unfortunately, the Biden administration has just now proposed a major new regulation called “OPM Suitability and Fitness Vetting Proposal,” which could dramatically politicize the whole civil service employment vetting process.

Implementing Ronald Reagan’s Recession Survival Kit

Don’t be confused by the latest numbers. Smart forecasters still predict a deep recession. Brian S. Wesbury and Robert Stein at First Trust Portfolios have been reliable guides over recent decades. They expressed some hope for a correction over the last two years, but by mid-year they saw a serious recession coming. Not misled by a late government-reported 2.9 percent increase in gross domestic product and more jobs, they explained that about half of the increase in real GDP was due to building inventories, “which isn’t sustainable and is almost certain to slow by late 2023.”

Pope Benedict’s Parting Challenge

With all that has been said about the passing of Pope Benedict XVI, most of it neglects the larger historical context—his prediction of the end of our era and his vision for the one to follow it. One must begin back in the decade following the horrors of World War I in April 1917. By then the Enlightenment Era’s victory for universal peace and prosperity was reckoned so successful as to justify a serious proposal to “outlaw war.” It resulted in a Kellogg-Briand Pact that was signed by all the world powers, including the US and Germany.

The Enormous Influence of the Decidedly Conservative Ohio Tafts

Which is America’s longest-lived influential political dynasty? Author George W. Liebmann says it is the five generations of Taft Ohio Republicans, compared to only “four generations of Adamses, three of Rockefellers and Kennedys, and two each of Oyster Bay and Hyde Park Roosevelts.” Liebmann even contends that the Tafts had an impact on the present shape of American society that “may well be greater than that of any of the other political families” that are better known. The well-researched and captivating details about the several dozen successful family members of both sexes in his new book, The Tafts, proves him correct.

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.