In Constitutionally Speaking, Jay Cost and Luke Thompson make the case that all Americans should study the Constitution. They both think that for citizens to get the most out of their government, it is important for them to understand how the Constitution works. And their hope is that this podcast can serve as a nonpartisan (and fun!) source of information for people of all political persuasions.
A Deep Dive on Congress
Jay and Luke are back, this time to discuss the roots of our modern-day Congress.
Van Buren II and Tyler Too [Part 2]
Picking up with Martin Van Buren in Jackson's cabinet, Jay and Luke trace the Little Magicians rise to the vice presidency, his political knife fighting with John C. Calhoun, and his successful introduction of the party convention system. His presidency, bedeviled by the Panic of 1837 at home and trouble abroad with Britain and Mexico, gave rise to the hotly contested election of 1840 that saw the Whigs get organized and the ticket of William Henry Harrison and John Tyler take the White House. We move quickly through Tyler's presidency (after Harrison's death thanks to an inaugural address given in freezing rain) and see Van Buren aim for and nearly win the Democratic Party nomination in 1844. We look at his work forming the Free Soil Party, his increasing hostility to slavery, and his failure to defeat the rise of the slaveocracy within the Democratic Party. In the end, Van Buren remains one of the most consequential figures of his age, and deserves far more attention from the history books than he has received.
Martin Van Buren: The Red Fox of Kinderhook [Part 1]
Martin Van Buren, nicknamed the Red Fox of Kinderhook and the Little Magician, was the first American president born after American independence, the first raised in a home where English was not the primary language, and the first true political organizer. A political genius, who created the model of the nineteenth-century political machine, Van Buren is sadly consigned to the second or third tier of American presidencies. Jay and Luke push back against his undue relegation in this episode, the first of two covering Van Buren. They discuss his unique cultural background, his rise through the ranks of Jeffersonian politics, his creation of what became known as the Albany Regency, and his controversial efforts on behalf of James Crawford’s unsuccessful candidacy in 1824. That election saw Van Buren cast out of the center of political life with the return of DeWitt Clinton to the New York governorship and John Quincy Adams’s presidency. Yet in four short years, Van Buren managed to organize the Jacksonian resurgence, as well as his own political revival in New York. We end the episode with Van Buren elected governor of New York and called by Jackson to join his cabinet as Secretary of State.
One-Term Wonders: John Quincy Adams, the Last Jeffersonian?
Like his father in so many ways, JQA was a man of immense talents, a statesman of vast achievements, a brilliant political mind, and -- like his father -- a one-term president. JQA may, still, be the most qualified person ever to reach the presidency. And yet from the outset, his presidency was a failure. His political angling to get the presidency, the so-called “Corrupt Bargain” between Adams and fourth-place finisher Henry Clay, pitched Adams into the presidency via the House of Representatives. Even though this conformed to the formal constitutional method of selection, it offended the political sensibilities of most Americans and limited Adams’s effectiveness. Jay and Luke trace Adams’s policy priorities, his role in advancing what became the American System, and how his administration paved the way for the Jacksonian era.
The Decline, Fall, and Peculiar Afterlife of Federalism [The Federalists, Part 3]
The Adams administration saw the rapid, shocking collapse of Federalism as an organized force in American political life. The regnant faction that had forced through ratification, secured America's diplomatic position, and stabilized the public credit, disappeared utterly from the national stage. How did this happen? And if Federalist policies were so essential to American success, where did they go? Jay and Luke trace the ideological and personal divisions within Federalism, which led to its political weakening, the passage and deployment of the Sedition Act, and its complete collapse in the election of 1800. However, they also show how events and John Marshall conspired to preserve a species of Low Federalist ideology that, in the end, Jefferson's Republicans incorporated into their agenda and made their own.
The Federalist Agenda: Foreign and Domestic Policy [The Federalists, Part 2]
Foreign policy became a key divide between Federalists and the emerging Jeffersonian Republicans, all the more so as Britain and France escalated a rolling series of continental wars. At the same time, domestic polarization around Hamilton's plan of public finance and its successor policies, contributed to a roiling base of political support for Jefferson's growing opposition. Despite Washington's unanimous reelection to the presidency, the divisions between Federalists and Republicans that would eventually doom the former were already at work.
The Boys are Back!
I love this podcast, but there’s no consistency. There are always long, unexplained breaks between sets of episodes. Bring it back!
Awesome podcast if you’re looking for real, substantive, in-depth look at political issues.