Message from the Director

David C. Barker, Director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies

At the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, we like a good fight. Whether it’s politics, sports, or cooking competitions, we are big fans. But one thing distinguishes politics from the others: it matters — a lot. Politics determines who prospers and who fails. It affects who lives and who dies. And it reflects who we are, which is to say that it determines which values our community prioritizes.  

But the struggle isn’t a simple one between good guys and bad guys. It’s between values that we all value: liberty vs. equality, discipline vs. compassion, and tolerance vs. tradition, just to name a few. But politics forces us to make choices. For that reason, and others, it can be challenging. Part of our mission is to make the political landscape easier to navigate.

Because the stakes are so high, emotions tend to run hot. And that is fine; “politics ain’t bean-bag,” as the famous quote goes. But passion need not — and must not — preclude reasonableness. Indeed, for the democratic arena to ultimately endure, political disputants must compete vigorously and earnestly with an open mind, an eye toward evidence, and a willingness to compromise. But too often, in these polarized times, those competing in the so-called “marketplace of ideas” substitute misinformation for fact-finding, rancor for civility, and obstinacy for open-mindedness, making the marketplace more of a flea market. As such, the second prong of our mission at the Center is to foster a more reasonable public square.

We pursue these goals through the research we conduct, the events and conferences we host, the awards we administer, the training we provide, and the journal we publish. Please take some time to surf around our website and learn more about each of these activities. If something catches your eye, reach out to me at, and let’s have a conversation.

David C. Barker, Director
Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies