Simon van Oort read US History, and Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law at the universities of Oxford (MSt) and Leiden (LLM). He wrote his MSt dissertation on the origins and uses of the phrase 'Founding Fathers' (supervised by Dr. Gareth Davies) and his LLM dissertation on the history of the Dutch constitutional ban on judicial review (supervised by Prof. Andreas Kinneging). He currently works as a trainee legislative adviser and writes in a personal capacity.

Book Review: The World Reimagined by Mark Philip Bradley

In June 2018, Nikki Haley, United States ambassador to the United Nations, criticised the scathing Report of the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights on his mission to the United States of America, arguing that the UN should instead focus on developing countries such as Burundi and Congo. Her response highlights America’s complex political geography of human rights, the subject of Mark Philip Bradley’s bridging of diplomatic history and cultural analysis in The World Reimagined: Americans and Human Rights in the Twentieth Century. Continue reading

Book review: The Royalist Revolution by Eric Nelson

In recent years there has been a renewed interest in executive power on both sides of the Atlantic. In January 2017 the Supreme Court had to decide whether the United Kingdom’s EU membership withdrawal notice could be given by Government ministers without Parliament’s prior authorisation. It could not. The royal prerogative was insufficient. [1] In August 2017, President Trump controversially used the power granted to his office to pardon former law official Joe Arpaio. [2] He could. The President has the “Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States”. [3] Eric Nelson’s ambitious and provocative book The Royalist Revolution: Monarchy and the American Founding successfully demonstrates that these events are in a way deeply connected by uncovering the historical link between the British royal prerogative and the powers of the presidency. Continue reading

‘Strangers’ Revisited: Reading Donald Trump through John Higham

Media Coverage and the Presidential Election of 2016

Foreshadowing the expressed foreign policy by the incumbent President of the United States, the National Association of Manufacturers confessed in 1920 that immigration might endanger the nation and exclaimed that policy must rest on “the needs and interests of America first”. We learn this from reading John Higham’s seminal work, Strangers in the Land, which quietly celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2015. The book’s subject is American nativism, defined by its author as “intense opposition to an internal minority on the grounds of its foreign (i.e. un-American) connections”. Continue reading

Book Review: Presidents and Their Pens: The Story of White House Speechwriters by James C. Humes

Presidents and Their Pens is a short book about presidents, presidential speeches and presidential speechwriters, in that order. In a vignette-like fashion, Humes discusses a president per chapter, twenty-three in total, analyses one of their speeches, and discusses the role of the speechwriter, if any. Continue reading

Primaries as Sports and Spectacle: Sports Metaphors in Twenty-First Century Presidential Primary Debates

‘The Brawl Begins’, an article about the 2016 primaries in The Economist provides the most overt manifestation of how a discourse of sports has permeated contemporary political reporting. Describing elections as a “jaw-dropping spectacle” or referring to the Iowa caucuses as the “opening round” in a political boxing match, a prime example of horse-race journalism, is particularly prevalent in presidential primary elections. Continue reading