'A republic if you can keep it'

'A republic if you can keep it'

Miller Center Senior Fellow Melody Barnes explores a president's role in upholding the American Idea

A boy feels President Barack Obama's head
Melody Barnes begins her lecture talking about this iconic photo of President Obama. Photo: Pete Souza/The White House

In many ways, America is an idea: that individual liberty can coexist with order, that personal freedom need not lead to chaos. Striking a balance between government power, social order, and personal liberty was a critical issue for the founders of the nation—and still sits at the core of our political debates today.

As the country has evolved, each generation has reimagined what America is and what it could be, attempting to form "a more perfect Union." And our presidents have played a key role in upholding the idea of America in their eras.

In this Historical Presidency lecture, Melody Barnes, a former domestic policy adviser to President Obama and now a Miller Center senior fellow, explores this fascinating and important topic.