Compass is an online journal that provides a space for the work of talented undergraduates who have original and well-articulated insights on important ideas and issues relating to American democracy understood in the broad contexts of political philosophy, history, literature, economics, and culture. Compass is a joint project of the Tocqueville Forum at Northern Illinois University and the Center for Political Thought and Leadership at Arizona State University.


Defining Criminality: Confronting Racist and Classist Narratives of the Criminal
June 12, 2020 Sophia R. Meacham

Defining someone as a criminal carries serious consequences for the individual in terms of a denial of resources, increased surveillance, incarceration, and dehumanization, and also for society as a whole.

The Proof is in the Pudding: The Myth of Equality
November 8, 2018 Emma Lentchner

Equality is treated as a universal and invariable concept, yet in practice authors manipulate it constantly to articulate their own interpretations, inadvertently transforming it into a political conception.

Restoring Civic Virtue: The Buckley Model
October 18, 2018 Moriah Poliakoff

The political life of William F. Buckley Jr. stands as a model for reinvigorating the civic virtue that the American founders recognized as necessary.

Originalism: Reclaiming the American Promise
September 26, 2018 Ayesh Perera

Originalism best reflects the Founding Fathers’ faith in self-government and also best preserves the legitimacy of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Omelas and Bensalem: Liberty and Utopias
September 6, 2018 Alexandria Marie Putman

Is it possible for a society to be good without liberty? Bacon’s The New Atlantis and Le Guin’s The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas both aid in exploring this important question.

Moving Beyond American Conditional Aid to Haiti
August 16, 2018 Chang-Dae David Hyun

A root cause of Haiti’s poverty is the IMF’s structural adjustment plan. A solution based on Chinese aid, unlike neo-liberal policies, allows Haiti to protect its rice and other industries.

Constitutional Individualism: The Ninth Amendment and the “Natural Rights of Man”
July 19, 2018 Lucas Benjamin Drill

The Ninth Amendment is not a one-off historical anachronism aimed at protecting nonexistent rights. Instead, it should be construed by the courts as a bulwark against undue governmental interference in people’s private lives.

Tocqueville and the Earthbound American Spirit
June 21, 2018 Compass

This article assesses the gulf between Tocqueville’s claim that human beings have naturally transcendent souls and his observations of the democratic souls of Americans.

Symposium on Alexander Hamilton’s Legacy
May 17, 2018 Quinn Carolan, Jack Sauter, and Wilfredo Najarro

Hamilton is often sidelined in favor of other founders such as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. The Tocqueville Forum students featured here reconsider Hamilton’s legacy, aided by careful reading of Hamilton’s own writings.

A Practical Solution to the Death of the American Dream
May 10, 2018 Pamela Larkin

Has slowing class mobility caused the shift in American culture away from the traditional “American Dream”? Or has this shift in American culture caused slowing class mobility?

Should Pornography that Patently Objectifies Women be Banned?
April 12, 2018 Jared Kelly

The debate around banning pornography that objectifies women fractured the feminist movement. Future attempts to outlaw pornography will follow the precedent set forth in Osbourne v. Ohio and attempt to ban pornography in order to protect public health and safety.