Heartland Events

F.H. Buckley: The Once and Future King: The Rise and Fall of Crown Government

The Heartland Institute
1 S. Wacker Dr. #2740
Chicago, Illinois 60606
April 03, 2014, 11:30 AM - 1:30 PM

Frank Buckley was at The Heartland Institute on March 3, 2014 to talk about his new book, The Once and Future King: The Rise and Fall of Crown Government. Watch his presentation in the video player at left, and click here for information about future Heartland events.

Buckley's remarkable new book shatters just about every myth surrounding American government, the Constitution and the Founders, and offers the clearest warning about the alarming rise of one-man rule in the age of Obama.

Most Americans believe that this country uniquely protects liberty, that it does so because of its Constitution, and that for this our thanks must go to the Founders, at their Convention in Philadelphia in 1787. 

Buckley’s new book, The Once and Future King: The Rise and Fall of Crown Government, debunks all these myths. America isn’t the freest country around, according to think tanks that study these things. And it’s not the Constitution that made it free, since parliamentary regimes are generally freer than presidential ones. Finally, what we think of as the Constitution, with its separation of powers, was not what the Founders had in mind. What they expected was a country in which Congress would dominate the government and in which the president would play a much smaller role. 

Sadly, that’s not the government we have today. What we have instead is what Buckley calls Crown government, the rule of an all-powerful president. The country began in a revolt against one King, and today we see the dawn of a new kind of monarchy. What we have is what one of the Founders, George Mason, called an “elective monarchy,” which he thought was worse than the real thing.

Much of this is irreversible. Constitutional amendments to redress the balance of power are extremely unlikely, and most Americans seem to have accepted and even welcomed Crown government. The way back lies through Congress, and Buckley suggests feasible reforms that it might adopt to regain the authority and respect that it has squandered.


About the author:

Frank Buckley is a Foundation Professor at George Mason University School of Law, where he has taught since 1989. Before then, he was a visiting Olin Fellow at the University of Chicago Law School. He has also taught at McGill Law School in Montreal, the Sorbonne (Paris II),and Sciences Po in Paris. He practiced law for three years in Toronto.

His most recent books are The American Illness (ed., Yale 2013), Fair Governance (Oxford 2009), Just Exchange (Routledge 2005), The Morality of Laughter (Michigan 2003) and The Fall and Rise of Freedom of Contract (ed. Duke 1999). His The Once and Future King will be published by Encounter Books in Spring 2014.

He is a senior editor of The American Spectator and lives in Alexandria VA with his wife, Esther, two German Shepherd and two cats (the good one and the evil one). His daughter, Sarah, is a resident at the University of Washington Medical Center.