As you will know from an earlier post, my coauthor and friend Gordon Lloyd passed away recently. Many wonderful essays and posts have been written about him, one of my favorites by our friend Steve Ealy at “Law and Liberty,” a site where Gordon authored a number of important essays.
It occurred to me that what I might uniquely add would be a few of Gordon’s favorite sayings. As coauthors we spent hundreds of hours together talking. In fact, that was the primary reason we wrote together: to spend time with each other. These Gordonian utterances help us understand the man from his own lips.
- “Go Back to Come Back”—The title of this blog has long been Gordon’s approach to policy questions of the day. Where can we go back in history—most often to the Founding period—to understand the background of today’s pressing issues? He was especially the “go back” man of our team with his richer understanding of history. I’m still debating whether I can continue our blog without his “go back” expertise.
- “It’s hard to love an ugly founding”—Several have observed that Gordon was a leading expert on the Founding period of the U.S., possessing an encyclopedic knowledge of the Constitutional Convention with all its participants and machinations. He was saddened by modern efforts to reinterpret the founding in such a way as to make it seem politically incorrect and ugly. Gordon deeply regretted that generations of young people were being taught an ugly founding—a narrative of property owners, wealth, slavery and racism—that would prevent them from loving or even respecting their country.
- “A MORE perfect union.” Following on #2 above, Gordon was quick to admit that the Founding, and indeed, the country was not perfect. Slavery, in his view, was an obvious flaw. But he constantly reminded us that the Founders had not given us a perfect union, but a more perfect union and that it was up to us to continue to perfect it.
- “The cool, deliberate sense of the community over time”—To Gordon, this was what policy and governance were all about: not the passions of the day, not a weighty 5-4 Supreme Court decision dropping out of the blue, but rather finding the deliberate sense of the community over time. He had his own annotated version of The Federalist ever at hand, with this language taken from Federalist 63.
- “A proud immigrant.”—Born in Wales, reared in Trinidad, educated in part in Canada, Gordon felt it was significant that he was an immigrant who had come to love his new country. In our partnership, I was always the one disappointed that the American system was not working better while he was Mr. Optimist. He felt it was immigrants, more than the native-born, who truly appreciated and actively pursued the American dream.
- “Conversation and deliberation”—This was how everything worked best in Gordon’s world, whether teaching a seminar, writing a book, or running a government. Modeled on the founding, things work best, he felt, when there is conversation, deliberation and compromise. This would be his constant refrain in this hyper-partisan world in which we have come to live.
- “A Four Act Play and a Christy Painting”—Gordon was perhaps the leading expert on the Constitutional Convention and he most enjoyed sharing it with teachers and others through websites he created. Because he was always researching and learning, he could update websites in a way that an author cannot update his book. His favorite ways of portraying and teaching the Convention were as a four-act play and through reference to Howard Chandler Christy’s painting of the signing of the Constitution. Gordon understood that history is story telling and that art helps tell a story. The Ashbrook Center through its website www.teachingamericanhistory.org has much of Gordon’s favorite work.
- “Jesus saves, Esposito scores on the rebound”—Gordon was fun to work with and also a big hockey fan. When we worked together, I generally kept notes from our conversations and every once in awhile, I had to slow him down while I captured and saved our work. “Jesus saves,” I would say, “and Esposito scores on the rebound,” he would add.
I could go on, but these are the gems I recall from our 20 plus years of writing and working together. We became best of friends, not just coauthors and colleagues, and I miss him dearly.