Tributes to Daniel J. Elazar from Colleagues and Friends
The following tributes were contributed in late 2015 and early 2016. Unfortunately, with the passage of time since Dan’s death in 1999, others who would surely have contributed tributes have passed away.
Professor Emeritus, Indiana University, Bloomington, and Cathedrádico Instituto Universtario, Ortega y Gasset, Madrid
I probably have known of Dan Elazar long before anyone else in the profession, but not in the context of federalism. It goes back to the 1940s in our hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota. I would occasionally see Dan at the Jewish Community Center, when I would go to play sports there in the winter. His father was officed there as superintendent of the Talmud Torah Hebrew School. So I first was aware of Dan in my role as a “gym rat.”
Many years later, probably the 1980s, when I became involved in intergovernmental affairs and teaching intergovernmental management, I returned to Dan’s work (since graduate school) in The American Partnership and American Federalism: A View From the States, where he captured the non-centralized nature of the United States, de jure and de facto constitutional diffusion, and the matrix model of federalism. This has carried me a long way in my study of intergovernmental management.
When I subsequently became involved with the International Political Science Association’s Comparative Federalism and Federations Research Committee, as a result of my teaching and research in Spain, I was able to personally interact with Dan at meetings and conferences. It was great. To me, his insights on this complex and messy domain in administration was sharpened by Elazar’s insights, many of which were not published but remained as part of his vast storehouse of knowledge. While I am clearly more of a “Hamiltonian” federalist than Dan was, I valued his insights. For one, it led me to sharpen Deil Wright’s overlapping authority model. More recently, it would influence Frank Thompson’s Medicaid Politics and Beryl Radin’s work on Federal Reform in a World of Contradictions. Personally, I am completing a book for Georgetown Press on the rise of intergovernmental management, law and politics, jurisdiction interdependency, government-NGO interaction, and networking and networks. While a public administration volume, Dan’s spirit is behind all four phases.
One personal incident I will never forget regarding Dan occurred at a small Federalism Committee Conference in Madrid. We found when arriving at the conference hotel that the facilities at the hotel’s meeting site were inaccessible for Dan’s wheelchair. The elevator door was too narrow. The hotel manager responded that he could use a house wheelchair. It soon arrived. It was narrow in width (about 12-14 inches). I immediately said to the manager, “esta para niños; mas estrecho.” [translation: That is too narrow, it is for children.] To all of us, it was the last straw. We arranged to move to another hotel. As I was wheeling Dan in his own wheelchair to the taxi, he looked up at me and said, “The European Union cares more about the length and shape of a banana than the rights of the disabled!”
Earl M. Baker
Principal, Earl Baker Consulting; former Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Temple University, Faculty Associate of the Center for the Study of Federalism, Chester County Commissioner, and Senator (R-19) in the Pennsylvania General Assembly
I believe the field of the study of federalism exists, as it has over the past fifty years, because of Dan Elazar and, moreover, as it will continue into the future under leaders like John Kincaid who studied under Dan.
As a prolific author, Dan was a role model! The list of his publications takes a book itself! Dan attracted colleagues, and even more so, followers and disciples. Those who didn’t quite understand probably viewed them somewhat as a cult. For years, they have led the field of federalism. Those who rate writers in disciplines by how often they were footnoted by other writers in their field would, by that measure, have Dan at the top of the pile in the field of federalism.
I valued the chance to read and learn from Dan’s scholarly work, first as a graduate student at American University and then as a colleague at Temple. I joined him as an active faculty associate of the Center for the Study of Federalism at Temple. We remained friends even after I left academic pursuits to enter elected office as county commissioner and state senator. I think it puzzled but intrigued him that I would take this road. But having done so, I still highly valued the opportunity to attend the periodic dinner discussions of federalism that he led in a downtown Philadelphia law office, as well as to occasionally attend and present at seminars conducted by the Center. Attending a federalism conference in Washington, D.C., with Dan at which Daniel P. Moynihan was the speaker was the inspiration to me to take my interest in federalism into the crucible where such issues are fought out!
One of the most valuable memories I have is that when I came to Temple in 1970, one of the first things he asked is whether I would help him initiate Publius: The Journal of Federalism, which he had decided to start. He did this knowing that I had just come from being a staff associate at the American Political Science Association in Washington, D.C., where I had been the founding editor of PS: The News Journal of the APSA. Dan was obviously the overall content editor of Publius, but he asked me to handle the routine editorial functions and management issues involved in a new publication. He valued this role, and we worked together to start one of the major publications in political science, which is now being carried on in many respects as a tribute to his inspiration.
As a faculty member, Dan taught those who cared, and he brought many students under the tent of federalism who, while perhaps already good students, had never had their intellectual muscles exercised as Dan did. As a friend and colleague, he cared about you and your family just as he cared for his own, and he wanted to know how he could help you attain your goals. He did not view federalism as purely an academic exercise but saw it in practical, current terms. In that, he reminded me of W. Brooke Graves, under whom I had studied at American University, who used to come to class armed not with notes or books, but rather with bunches of clippings from newspapers and magazines, each of which posed or illustrated a federalism issue!
Working on a Center project outlined for us by Dan, one of the most exhilarating experiences I had as a young assistant professor was working with Bernadette Stevens, Stephen Schechter, and Harlan Wright to explore and compile the political science literature for theories about states within the federal system. For a period, it was a highly popular Center publication.
One of the “greatest books never written” was “Federal Democracy,” an American government text based on federalism as a theme, on which Dan worked for ten years and then with John Kincaid. Because he was so concerned to get it all edited right, all up to date, and all properly formatted and illustrated, it never became what I am convinced would have been a classic along with his other classic works.
What better member could there be of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations than Dan, who served on it for many years, bringing his thoughts and ideas to that now unfortunately terminated body that spawned much valuable work.
I can still picture Dan sitting at his massive desk in the old brownstone house in North Philadelphia, piled high with papers for which he knew each document, with busy Broad Street behind him and the subway trains rattling beneath us, ordering tuna hoagies and reading, dictating to his secretary, talking with his staff and colleagues, taking phone calls, and personally being at the hub, conducting the business of the Center at the “center” of the intellectual network of the field of federalism!
Ann O’M. Bowman
Professor and Hazel Davis and Robert Kennedy Endowed Chair in Government and Public Service, the Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas
Daniel Elazar was a remarkable individual. His federalism scholarship remains unparalleled. Among his many books, one that was particularly important to me was American Federalism: A View from the States, precisely because of its state-centric focus. In the book, Dan developed an argument about political culture that continues to structure debate and spark research more than a half-century since publication of the first edition. Related to “a view from the states” is a point I heard Dan make more than once at scholarly conferences about the planes—not levels—of government in the U.S. federal system.
I would be remiss if I failed to mention another feature of Daniel Elazar: his kindness. His seriousness of purpose and his prodigious intellect could be daunting, especially upon first meeting him. But it did not take long for his fundamental kindness to become evident. He was always generous with his time to younger scholars seeking to understand the partnership that is American federalism.
Professor Emeritus, University of Windsor. Retired, Kingsville, Ontario, and Founder and Director of Canterbury ElderCollege, Windsor, Ontario, Canada
On The Perpetual Omnipresence of Dan Elazar
He said, “you’ll recognize me. I’ll meet you in the lobby. I’ll be the guy with glasses and crutches.”
And so it transpired in 1983, after an unanticipated telephone call from a fellow named Daniel Elazar, calling from the Center for Federalism at Temple University in Philadelphia, USA, I was to meet the highly regarded and, as I was to learn, respected font of federalism, Dan Elazar.
“You’re at the University of Windsor…that’s across the river from Detroit. I’ll be in Detroit for a couple of days next week. Tuesday is open; I’d like to meet you.” Of course, this was the noted observer of federalism, editor of Publius: The Journal of Federalism, and author of books on federalism. “It would be a privilege to meet you,” I replied. Indeed, I thought, “why is he contacting me?”
Although my interests were predominantly comparative and Canadian federalism, I’d been peripherally involved in studies of Canadian constitutional law as it pertained to federalism and the intricacies of Canadian intergovernmental and, especially, financial relations for years. My late friend and former professor, Donald V. Smiley, had introduced me to federalism, and friend, colleague, and former professor Alan Cairns hooked me on federal fiscal relations in Canada while I was an undergrad at the University of British Columbia.
In 1976, now as a professor of Political Science at the University of Windsor, I attended my first IPSA World Congress in Edinburgh, Scotland. That participation was not related to federalism but rather to work I was doing on the use of cross-impact matrices models for analysis of global resource management.
By 1981, I had returned to the field of Canadian federalism and intergovernmental resource issues. When the call came to organise panels for the IPSA World Congress in Rio de Janeiro, I proposed a panel on comparative federalism. On the day our panel met in Rio, it was doing something most unusual–it was pouring rain for most of the day. That is the only plausible explanation I can offer for the enormous crowd that abandoned Rio’s beaches and peopled the room in which our comparative federalism panel performed.
The apparent popularity of the federalism theme led then IPSA Secretary John Trent to suggest I found an IPSA Study Group on Comparative Federalism. Eventually, that was approved by IPSA, and for the next three years, we held Study Group meetings in various locations in Switzerland and Belgium. However, based on some of the Papers given and offered for the Rio Congress, I also assembled and edited a book titled Centralising and Decentralising Trends in Federal States (University Press of America, 1988). That book was a product of Dan Elazar’s encouragement, enthusiasm, and contacts.
Our meeting in Detroit in 1983 was the beginning of a fascinating and, perhaps, unusual relationship and friendship that evolved over the years. It remained solid until his tragic passing in December 1999.
At our Detroit meeting, it was clear that my initiative in creating an IPSA Research Committee on Comparative Federalism was treading into Dan’s territory and his world. He made it clear to me that he welcomed the initiative, and as the dean of students of federalism, he had every hope and expectation that we could collaborate and work together.
For ever after, I was alert to the Elazar prominence and to my fledgling efforts to encourage comparative federalism analysis. But Dan, because of his enormous intellect and enthusiasm, became a wonderful collaborator as needed.
By 1985 and the Paris IPSA World Congress, the Study Group had morphed into IPSA Research Committee 28 and Dan Elazar became a major participant. Thereafter, and when it could be managed both in terms of religious holidays and physical access, Dan attended many of the Research Committee gatherings.
The most notable of those was the 1989 annual Research Committee conference in Brugge, Belgium. This conference was notable for several reasons. First, it marked the first joint-conference venture between the Center for the Study of Federalism (Temple University), the International Association of Centres for Federal Studies, and the Comparative Federalism Research Committee with the late Ron Watts as chair. Second, the Research Committee changed its name to Comparative Federalism and Federation Research Committee, a name it would keep until 2013. Third, the papers presented at the Brugge conference eventually appeared, with Dan’s guiding influence, as a book: Federal-Type Solutions and European Integration (University Press of America, 1995).
This was also the annual Research Committee conference where Dan Elazar told the world’s worst joke. Of course, because it was also so funny, I regularly repeat it, and each time I think of the big grin on his face across the table as we enjoyed food and drink in Brugge. Oh! The joke–well, it is all about bull fights, a Spanish restaurant, and giant meat balls and, as it happens, one occasion when small meat balls were served. Enough said.
Dan Elazar had two distinct sides. One was his intellectual love of questioning and often intense debating style. His other side was his humour, his smile, and his genuine friendship. He was wont to quiet conversational asides whenever we sat proximate at various meetings and conferences.
I’m not an habitual tear shedder, but on the day in December 1999 when I learned of Dan’s passing in Jerusalem, tears trickled shamelessly down my cheeks. In those 16 years I knew him, I came to respect him as a brilliant student of federalism and more. And in the parallel 16 years since we lost him, I have so often quietly remembered him and recalled so often his legacy, his will, and his presence. The world did not become a better place the day we lost Dan Elazar.
Research Fellow, Centre for Quebec and Canadian Studies, Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), Canada
I first met Dan Elazar in August 1985 at the meeting of the new Research Committee on Comparative Federalism of the International Political Science Association (IPSA) convened by Lloyd Brown-John in Paris, France. This was particularly memorable because not only did I meet Dan but I also first came into personal contact with the scholar, Alain Gagnon, who was to become my intellectual partner and best academic friend in Canada for the rest of my career.
As a young academic, I had, in a sense, gate-crashed this meeting because I was not formally registered, and my private accommodation was on the Rive Gauche rather than in the army barrack-like hotels booked by IPSA. But my derring-do was well worth the attendant risk of being collared because of the quality of the participants. Apart from Dan and Alain, Ron Watts, John Kincaid, Tom Hueglin, David Caputo, Frank Delmartino, and Ivo Duchacek were among the large scholarly throng of “federalists” who rubbed shoulders in what I recall as a cramped seminar room. In retrospect, this was really the inaugural meeting of what was officially named the Comparative Federalism and Federation Research Committee (RC28), which caused more than one scholar to pause and reflect upon what the conceptual distinction meant.
Both young and established scholars of comparative federalism (broadly understood) mingled at this important meeting. It was ably chaired by the always amiable Lloyd Brown-John whose humor, enthusiasm, and energy ensured a very lively discussion of the papers. I remember that I was catapulted into that part of the debate that had as its principal focus the so-called “European” tradition of federalism, which I felt was little understood and superficially discussed in the conversations. It was only after this garrulous intervention as lunch approached that Dan came across to me to ask who I was and invite me to his table. We struck up an instant rapport and agreed to keep in touch on the international circuit and in correspondence.
Between 1985 and 1999 when Dan sadly passed away, we met several times at meetings either of the RC28 or of the International Association of Centers for Federal Studies (IACFS) of which Dan was the co-creator and president until 1991. As a young inexperienced scholar, what stood out to me about Dan was his generosity with his time, his patience, and his good humor. I always had the sense that he knew a lot more than he cared to divulge to me and that he wanted actively to encourage new people into the expanding research community of comparative federalism. My most enduring memory of him was his unusual (at least to a budding British/European scholar) knowledge of and sensitivity to the distinct “European” political tradition of federalism, including its philosophical and historical antecedents evident in the works of Johannes Althusius and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. In my own experience at that time, few U.S. scholars of federalism went much beyond the Federalist Papers, the U.S. Constitution, and the War(s) of Independence (with the important exception of some scholars who populated Publius: The Journal of Federalism) and had obviously not addressed the European tradition upon which much of it was based.
In hindsight, I now fully understand precisely from where this interest and knowledge derived. Anyone who is familiar with his four huge, weighty volumes of “The Covenant Tradition in Politics” will understand immediately how and why Dan had an encyclopedic knowledge of both the Roman Catholic and the Protestant Reformed strands of this tradition. They were a key element in developing his thesis of historical and religious continuity that led him back ultimately to what he took to be the original (covenantal) source of federalism: its Jewish origins from the earliest biblical times.
Whatever one makes of this highly tendentious but monumental narrative of (let us call it) the birth, life, and times of federalism, it was and remains an impressive thesis that continues to repay re-reading. The notion of “covenant” was of course pivotal to his thesis, and this conceptual lens brought to federal studies an intriguing story and conversation that illustrates both its enduring contemporary significance and its rich contextual background. The more discerning student of federalism will find much of his thesis in fragmentary form in the early volumes of Publius. Dan was nothing if not an original and innovative research scholar as anyone who is aware of his early work in the 1960s on U.S. federal political culture in terms of “the view from the states” will testify. So it was this colossal breadth of knowledge about his subject that I will always remember about him, together with the man’s accessibility and good humor.
A good example of his friendly intellectual humor and goodwill springs to my mind when I recollect his invitation to me to participate in one of the international conferences he arranged in 1995 in Philadelphia. My high-risk provocative paper on terminological uses and abuses in the conceptual debate in the Federalist Papers and the European Union in comparative perspective elicited many critical comments and observations and led to all kinds of deliberate misunderstandings, relative truths, and genuine falsehoods about the separate quests at union-building two centuries apart. Amidst this gentle amusement, I remember Dan and the tiny coterie of his contemporaries sat both sides of him nodding in at least some partial agreement with what I had been saying, and he let me off the Hamiltonian hook at the end with good-natured banter. It is important to be able to laugh and poke some fun at one’s own history!
To summarize my overall thoughts, memories, and opinions of Dan Elazar, I remember a great scholar of comparative federalism who has left an indelible mark on this important subject and whose work had an enormous influence on the international community of scholars in this field. But I also recollect the man himself as a highly personable character who was so thoughtful (I recall his lovely letter written to me after my minor medical setback in 1995) and who possessed a generosity of spirit that I shall never forget. Those of us in federal studies who knew him–and I do not claim to have known him very well–owe him a huge debt for his inventive scholarship, his organizing initiatives, and his warm friendship among the international community of scholars of federalism which he did so much to promote. He was a true pioneer of federalism in theory and practice.
Richard L. Cole
Professor, College of Architecture, Planning, and Public Affairs, University of Texas, Arlington
Unlike many who have contributed their personal memories and reflections on his life and scholarship, I never knew Daniel Elazar personally. I was not one of his formally enrolled students, nor did I have a working relationship with Elazar. But through his writings, and through collaborative interactions that I have enjoyed with others who did have such intimate relationships, I very early in my career came to understand the significance of Dan Elazar’s contributions and his role as undoubtedly the most influential federalism scholar of our times. Looking back, I realize that few other scholars influenced my own teaching and scholarship as did Daniel Elazar.
My first introduction to Elazar’s writing was his classic work, America Federalism: A View from the States (1966), where he hypothesized a classification of the America states according to his (now) well-known traditionalistic, moralistic, and individualistic cultural schema. His innovative classification, of course, immediately received considerable scholarly attention, both empirical and theoretical. Some found much merit in the scheme (see Sharkansky in Polity 1969); others questioned portions of its utility (see Clynch in Polity 1972). I relied heavily on Elazar’s scheme in my state and local government teachings and invariably found students from various parts of the county agreeing that his concepts nicely meshed with their life experiences and helped them understand the variety of approaches to politics and policies evident in the United States. His scheme continues to represent one of the most interesting and theoretically satisfying ways to classify and understand the politics of the American states.
Later, I came to understand and appreciate deeper meanings of Elazar’s cultural insights and their importance to an understanding of the world-wide federal scheme. Elazar showed us that “federalism” is far more than simply an alternative way to organize the governing of political society (as contrasted with “unitary,” or “confederal” options). From Elazar’s perspective, federalism is a way of thinking; it defines a particular way that people feel about government and how they act toward it and how they act toward each other. It is essentially a way of political life, distinctive from all others. As Elazar put it, “Federalism implies the cultivation of balance, of collegiality, of the involvement of the widest variety of groups in consultations surrounding decisions if not in actual decision making” (Exploring Federalism 1987). In this sense, federalism is both congruent with and contributory to liberal democratic values and policies. Indeed, on many measures of civil liberties, quality of life, and democratic practices, federal countries of the world score significantly higher than others (see John Kincaid, “Federalism: The Highest Stage of Democracy” 2008). Daniel Elazar and his notions of the cultural preconditions and underlying pinnings of the federal scheme help us understand why this is so.
As I noted at the outset. I regret not having had a personal, working relationship with Daniel Elazar. For Elazar, the concept of “federalism” occupied an almost biblical status. It is no wonder that many of those who were fortunate to have had such a relationship became life-long disciples of his teachings and scholarly theories. Yet, even without that personal relationship, few scholars have had as great an impact on my own teaching and writing as Daniel Elazar. I am certain that legions of federalism scholars say the same.
Professor, Department of Politics and International Affairs, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
I never had the opportunity to meet Dan Elazar. But I am honored to serve as current editor of Publius: The Journal of Federalism, which Dan founded and edited. Along with so many other students of federalism, I continue to benefit from his path-breaking and wide-ranging scholarship. I will focus here on one of Dan’s publications that has been particularly influential in my own work.
In a 1982 Publius article, “The Principles and Traditions Underlying State Constitutions,” Dan called for more attention to “the underlying theories and philosophic assumptions of the fifty state constitutions.” In particular, he challenged the tendency “to assume either that the philosophic assumptions of the state constitutions are the same as those of the United States Constitution or that state constitutions are wordy patchworks of compromises having little, if any, rhyme or reason.” Dan was not alone in viewing the distinctive theoretical assumptions underlying state constitutions as worthy of scholarly inquiry. As he noted in this article, Ronald Peters and Donald Lutz, among others, were already studying state constitutions from such a perspective and generating key insights. But Dan’s article highlighted the need for further study and set out a framework for understanding conceptions and patterns of constitutionalism in the fifty states.
I am one of several scholars who has been heavily influenced by Dan’s contention that “The debates over the framing and ratification of these constitutions also show that political theory is not the exclusive domain of an intellectual elite in America. Instead, the ‘common people’ can be found to have made important and informed contributions even if not always expressed in the formal language of philosophy.” After reading the debate records from conventions that drafted inaugural state constitutions and revised these documents throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, I have been persuaded that state constitutional debates have much to offer for students of American political thought and political development. I was just starting the research for my book, The American State Constitutional Tradition, when I presented a paper on Progressive Era state constitutional debates at an APSA conference and received a generous note from Dan offering encouraging comments about my work. In recent decades, scholars have shown increasing interest in state constitutional debates, whether in particular regions or eras, and these studies, along with so many other studies of American federalism and constitutionalism, have been inspired in no small part by Dan’s work and encouragement.
M.Ed., RYT, Childbirth Educator, Abington/Jefferson Hospital, Abington, Pennsylvania, and singer with husband Bill Gioioso in “309 Express,” a country-rock band
The first time I met Daniel Elazar was in 1973 when I was 17. I was the secretary/receptionist at the Center for the Study of Federalism at Temple University. The Center had just moved from Broad Street into Gladfelter Hall, a new beginning for the Center in its larger location and for me fresh out of high school. It wasn’t until about a month into the job that I actually met Dan. Bernadette Stevens had hired me and within a week she went on vacation, leaving me in charge of 20 work-study students. Dan moved his family to Israel that summer and returned for the yearly APSA conference in the United States. I remember everyone bustling around and tidying up for the return of Dr. Elazar. A few years later, I became head secretary and administrative assistant to Dan. I remained in this position until 1987 when I matriculated as a full-time student at Temple.
I have so many memories of Daniel Elazar and working at the Center. From 1973 on, he was never in the office for more than a few weeks at a time, so I was responsible for the office staff and all of Dan’s work related to the Center for the Study of Federalism and his writing. In those days, computers were just coming into being, so we were still using typewriters and white-out, lots of white-out for Dan’s manuscripts and proposals. When he was in town, I became the one bustling around in preparation for his return, and I warned family and friends that I’d be working late hours. Then we would embark on going through the piles on his desk as he categorized the priorities into smaller piles, dictated letters and instructions, and made new piles to be addressed next time. I never met anyone with as much stamina as Dan when it came to multi-tasking and keeping things straight in his mind. He was a master with puns, and we would go back and forth, competing with each other to see who could have the last pun—a skill that I still practice with my younger son. I had the opportunity to travel for CSF conferences and seminars. I remember driving into the mountains with him in Montana at the Big Sky summer seminar. It was the first time that I was the passenger; he was heavy on the gas pedal, and it was a little unnerving. But Dan was a man who appreciated nature, and as we were driving, he marveled at the beauty of our surroundings and would share anecdotes of previous times in the mountains.
I often think that if I didn’t take the suggestion of Doris Shinn (the political science department secretary who was from my neighborhood) that I apply for a job at the Center, how my life would have turned out. For it was at Temple that I grew from a suburban girl into a responsible and confident adult. The people I met at the Center, who are now scattered all over the country and abroad, became my new family, the new influences who opened my eyes to memorable experiences and options for choosing my life path.
When I left the Center to become a full-time student and then on to graduate school at Temple, I took with me the ability to administer as a manager and development director of a dance company, writing proposals that had the same numerous attachments, and frantically working all hours to get them in by the deadline. I attribute my writing skills to Dan Elazar, who wrote so eloquently and to the point in his letters. His way with words influenced me in a subliminal way. I learned to drive like a maniac and to weave in and out of traffic as we zoomed to the airport to catch a plane. Dan had confidence in me to handle his office affairs and even travel on my own to Colorado to choose the location of the 1986 summer seminar at Copper Mountain. I was fortunate to be a part of the 1984 and 1986 summer seminars and spend time with the CSF Fellows in Montana and Colorado. I met people at the Center who have become lifelong friends and are still a part of my life. So I am grateful to have met Dan Elazar and to have been a part of the Center for the Study of Federalism family for so many years.
Member of the Royal Society of Canada; Canada Research Chair in Quebec and Canadian Studies; Trudeau Award 2010-2013; Université du Québec à Montréal
Daniel J. Elazar is a giant in the field of federalism. He is the one whose work has had the most profound impact on my own understanding of federal contractual arrangements in complex societies. His work on self and shared rule both in federal and federalizing states has been crucial to our understanding of power relations in the West and in the East. Daniel Elazar will be remembered for his intellectual generosity and commitment to transform the world in order to be able to accommodate legitimate claims made by people, political communities as well as by small and large nations. He has to be considered as the scholar who contributed most at making federalism a genuine field of research in the social sciences. Daniel Elazar’s intellectual influence has simply been most remarkable and imposing over the last half century.
Thomas O. Hueglin
Professor of Political Science, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
I first met Dan Elazar in 1978, at a conference on regionalism and federalism in upper Italy. I was a postdoctoral student and in search of what to do with the rest of my academic life. Over lunch, I mentioned that I was interested in the history of federalism. I asked Dan whether he thought it worthwhile to make a study of what I then thought was some obscure early-modern political theorist by the name of Althusius. Dan’s eyes lit up, and the rest has been history, at least for me. There and then Dan invited me to submit a paper on Althusius to Publius, which would become my first journal publication. Among the many conferences and workshops Dan asked me to participate in over the next twenty years, the one that stands out for me was a workshop in Philadelphia for which he had gathered a group of interested people, both academic and non-academic, for the sole purpose of simply reading Althusius’ Politica. My greatest regret has been that a copy of the book on Althusius I eventually published in 1999 arrived in Jerusalem a few months too late for him to see.
Dan was the quintessential scholar, a voracious reader, a lover of books and of book-length perspectives more than of specialized scholarly articles, and an insistent yet always patient debater. Surrounded by a large circle of colleagues and friends, he expected loyalty, but he always remained open-minded and generous. So he took issue at times with my left-leaning German social democratic views on politics, and we differed even on Althusius. Dan never ceased to see him as the “real father of modern federalism” more generally, whereas I came to believe that Althusius represented a more specific tradition of European federalism distinct from the American model of the modern federal state. Dan had more important arguments, as for instance with Bill Riker, over the nature and operation of American federalism. Drawing strength from the Talmudic disputes informing his faith, however, all this was just part of what it meant to be a scholar and a human being.
It is impossible to compress into a few sentences the scholarly contributions to the study and understanding of federalism Dan made over the course of his long career. Some of them, such as his characterization of federalism as a combination of self-rule and shared rule, have become part of federalism’s everyday language. I personally think, however, that his greatest contribution has been to bring out the best in so many others whom he inspired with advice, commentary, encouragement, and friendship. Most certainly, that is true in my own case.
A few weeks before his untimely death in December 1999, I received one last email from Dan. He appeared at peace with the inevitable, but he complained about having to leave so many plans and projects unfinished. What he left behind, most of all, is a void that has not been filled since. There has not been a scholar since with such optimistic enthusiasm for a better world organized on federal principles despite a profound understanding of human imperfection and its consequences upon the operation of federal systems in practice. His conviction and message of Federalism as a Way to Peace was the legacy he wanted to leave behind. For all those who are working tirelessly in the present world to find federal solutions to conflicts in so many parts of the world, from Nepal to Iraq, Yemen, and perhaps even Palestine some day, his towering presence and encouraging critical support would have been a major inspiration.
Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Dan Elazar and I worked together in the Department of Political Science and Center for the Study of Federalism at Temple University for thirty-five years. He was my colleague, my friend, and my mentor. Our first joint undertaking was the Center’s evaluation of two bills in Congress to provide funding for local law enforcement and criminal justice agencies. Democrat members of Congress tended to support a categorical grant program; Republicans favored a block grant. Dan, while suspicious of any federal funding for local law enforcement, believed that a block grant would be superior. We did our evaluation and Congress passed the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets of 1968, which included a block grant in Title I administered by the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA). The way we worked together provided a model for our future collaborative efforts. Dan provided the conceptual leadership, and I did the research.
We followed this effort with an evaluation of a pilot program to encourage planning by state courts funded by the LEAA. Again, Dan provided the thinking, and I traveled to the pilot states to gather data. I was happy with this arrangement. My travels took me to Nevada and Colorado, Maine and Massachusetts, Georgia and Louisiana. Before I set out on my travel, I would meet with Dan to discuss the project. I was consistently amazed at Dan’s knowledge of each state. He seemed to know every highway, every bridge, every museum, and every good restaurant.
Dan also introduced me to the world of foreign travel, first inviting me to conferences at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) in Israel, a research center that I knew very little about. I quickly learned that Dan had a whole second life as director of the JCPA. The research and public education projects focused, of course, on Israel, and his network of associates consisted primarily, but not exclusively, of Israelis. They included many highly placed Israeli elected officials and public servants.
It took several years for me to understand what connected Dan’s work in Israel with his work in Philadelphia. It was the concept of covenant, an idea well accepted in Israel but not well known in the United States. Dan put together a series of conferences and workshops to introduce the concept to American scholars. The idea took root, and several books were published exploring the concept of covenant as it affects the U.S. Constitution and other political institutions both in the United States and abroad.
Dan was interested in federalism all over the world. He found and met with directors of federalism research centers from all over. Together, these leaders of seven research centers in five countries created the International Association of Centers for Federal Studies (IACFS). Today, the IACFS has twenty-four members spread across sixteen countries. Dan always found a way to take me along to IACFS conferences and meetings, giving me a unique opportunity to learn how federalism worked in these diverse settings. Traveling with Dan was fun. He seemed to know everybody and everything. I leaned so much from him, not only about travel and federalism, but also about life.
I last spoke with Dan just a couple of days before he died. We had been working on a grant application to the National Endowment for the Humanities for a summer institute on federalism for teachers. There were still a couple of details to work out. I was at the Center for the Study of Federalism in Philadelphia and he was in Israel, so I called him on the telephone. We chatted for a few minutes. His voice was very weak. He quickly agreed to the few changes in the grant application that I was proposing. We said good night and hung up. I knew Dan was very ill, but I did not know that would be the last time I would speak with him. Had I known, I would have told him how much he meant to me and how much he had enriched my life.
Robert B. & Helen S. Meyner Professor of Government and Public Service and Director of the Meyner Center for the Study of State and Local Government, Lafayette College, Easton, Pennsylvania
I met Dan Elazar accidentally. Registering for classes at Temple University in Philadelphia in 1965, I stood in a long line before the Political Science table in the gymnasium. The available faculty member at my turn was Harry Bailey, one of America’s first black political scientists. I had had an enjoyable course with Harry. “Why,” he asked, “are you not registering for the honors seminar?” “Never heard of it,” I replied.
The honors seminar was a two-year course with Dan Elazar. It fulfilled all remaining requirements for the political science major. Nine students enrolled. We met in what was once the dining room of the row home on Broad Street that housed the department. At our first meeting, Dan announced that our text for the two years would be William T. Bluhm’s Theories of the Political System. He explained why he chose the book and described its structure. He provided no syllabus. “One textbook for two years?” I thought. “This will be a breeze.” After a pause, however, Dan said we would have to read all of the literature cited in Bluhm’s footnotes and bibliographic notes, as well as other readings he would assign from time to time. Our smiles turned to scowls, but no one dropped the seminar.
It was the most wonderful educational experience of my life. For a first-generation commuter student from a working class neighborhood, the seminar opened a world of intellectuality. Dan regaled us with his encyclopedic knowledge and exemplary stories, and the seminar participants often engaged in intense discussions. Over the two years, we completed Bluhm’s book, though we skimmed through Chapter 13 on Marxian Theory, probably because Dan had no love for Jacobin-inspired ideologies. My senior thesis somehow melded the political theory of James Harrington with black power and community participation in the “war on poverty.” Dan rather liked Harrington’s Oceana.
Dan was playful at times. Confiscating a water pistol from a student, he vowed to squirt student X every time one of us answered a question incorrectly. Student X was soon damp. At our last seminar meeting, Dan opened the top of his cane, extracted a vial of whiskey, toasted us, downed the libation, and reassembled his cane.
After graduation, I earned a Master’s degree in Urban Affairs from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, taught at several institutions, did draft counseling, ran a Peace Center in Phoenix, organized anti-war demonstrations, managed the legal defense of Daniel Ellsberg and Anthony Russo in the Pentagon Papers trial, and engaged in other pursuits. I stayed in touch with Dan intermittently. He pressed me to revise a paper titled “The American Vocation and Its Contemporary Discontents,” which he published in the first issue of Publius: The Journal of Federalism in 1971. Founding Publius was Dan’s most important and enduring institutional contribution to the study of federalism.
As the Vietnam War ended and the movement swerved in unpleasant directions, I returned to Temple for a Ph.D. I wanted to study with Dan and Peter Bachrach. In part, I was attracted by Dan’s commitment to “the federal idea as the key to peace.” Dan also sympathized with the decentralist wing of the then New Left. He once shared a platform and a taxi with Tom Hayden. The first stop was for Hayden. He exited the left side of the cab into traffic. According to Dan, the cabbie yelled, “Hey, you wanna be a revolutionary but you can’t get out the right side of a cab?”
Dan ensured the financial support of my graduate studies through Earhart fellowships and other means. In exchange, he engaged me in myriad projects. I spent as much time on projects with Dan as on my courses and dissertation, but Dan was always generous with his time and supportive of my intellectual pursuits, no matter what their direction. Our one failure during those years was an inability to publish an introductory textbook on American government. We completed a manuscript, but reviewers deemed it too high level for most undergraduates. We declined to dumb it down; publishers declined to publish it.
My Ph.D. was formally conferred in February 1981. Dan then asked me to serve as associate editor of Publius: The Journal of Federalism. I soon assumed principal responsibility for the journal. Dan and I worked on the journal and many other projects until his untimely death 18 years later.
Working with Dan was a continual pleasure and regular intellectual adventure punctuated by genuinely fascinating moments, especially because Dan’s interests and capabilities were wide-ranging and multi-disciplinary. For instance, Dan held a remarkable two-day seminar at the Brown Palace in Denver on liberty in western novels. We read, among other books, Wallace Stegner’s Angle of Repose, Thomas Berger’s Little Big Man, and Frederick Manfred’s Lord Grizzly—the latter a story depicted in two movies, Man in the Wilderness (1970) and The Revenant (2015).
We worked on many Liberty Fund seminars and conferences, four-week summer institutes for high-school teachers funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), six-week summer institutes for young international scholars funded by the U.S. Information Agency (USIA), and the long-running Workshop on Covenant and Politics. The biblically rooted covenant idea was Dan’s first love, and he published a four-volume work on it. The moral dimension of covenanting—the going beyond the letter of the law to keep the promises of the spirit of the law—was paramount for him.
Dan also found ways to transcend the drabness of academic life, especially in the context of the concrete bunkers that dominated campus architecture after 1960. He held the summer institutes at ski resorts in Colorado and Montana. The high-school teachers and international participants loved those locations. Those of us who served as institute faculty could bring our spouses and children, as could the teachers who participated in the NEH institutes. We all socialized and created a familial environment for everyone at the institutes. The NEH and USIA were initially skeptical; so they dispatched observers to make sure we were really working. They discovered that our mountain retreats stimulated a work ethic and built collegiality.
I learned so much over those years, not only intellectually but also entrepreneurially. Dan was an academic entrepreneur and grantsman par excellence who founded or helped build not only Publius but also the Center for the Study of Federalism at Temple, the International Association of Centers for Federal Studies, the Federalism Section of the American Political Science Association, the comparative federalism research committee of the International Political Science Association, and the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
Dan also fought for disability dignity. As his muscles weakened over the years from his adolescent bout with polio, Dan could not climb steps; then he was confined to a wheelchair for the last decade of his life. Pushing him around at conferences, I learned firsthand the indignities of inaccessibility and the hazards of handicapped ramps so steep that I almost lost control of his wheelchair. I wheeled him through many backdoors, delivery entrances, freight elevators, and kitchens in order to gain access to restaurant dining areas and conference venues. When a conference organizer arranged a meal at an inaccessible restaurant, Dan refused to be carried up the steps in or out of his wheelchair. Landing in Brasilia, he refused to be carried down the gangway. We negotiated with ground crew until, two hours after landing, they brought a freight lift to remove him from the plane. Amazingly, Dan traveled constantly, and to every continent.
Dan had a gentle charisma rooted in intellect and humor that attracted many colleagues and quite a few disciples. He had a remarkable ability to draw people to him and his ideas, and he had more good ideas than most. He told many bad jokes, but always delivered clever puns.
I was unable to visit him in Jerusalem before his death. At the end of our last telephone conversation shortly before his passing, he said simply, “Goodbye, my friend.” Life goes on, and Dan is still a dear companion.
Managing board member of the German Institute for Federal Studies, Hanover, Germany
It was in 1991 that I had a chance to meet Dan Elazar for the first time. Our Hanover institute joined the International Association of Centers for Federal Studies (IACFS) in 1992 and became a member of this great scientific community, which was Elazar’s brainchild. For me as a young scholar, it was amazing to realize how easy it was to talk to him and how open he was to all kinds of thoughts and questions, not at all letting one feel what an amazing record he had and what he had already achieved by then in his life. He opened a completely new and different world of thinking to me. Having this enormous philosophical, historical, and theoretical background, he was able to explain problems and offer solutions so that it would be hard not to agree with him.
Yet he had such a generous personality and curious mind that he never stopped inquiring about other people – no matter how bad his health had become. In 1996, he travelled to Germany in order to attend the IACFS conference we organized at Hanover, and I know it had been already difficult for him. But his compassion for the scientific exchange of ideas, the personal encounter with colleagues and friends, and his overall curiosity prevailed. He later told me that he did not know that Germans could have such a great sense of humor, and his whole body was shaken from laughter. We left it at this point. The year when we all went to Jerusalem for his institute’s hosting of the IACFS’s annual conference, I was invited to his home. I will always be grateful for the unreserved welcome I received from his wife Harriet and himself. I know it has not been easy for all of their guests. Dan Elazar had not only a great intellectual mind but was also an amazing person and good friend – and I still can hear that gentle giant’s laughter!
Professor Emeritus, School of Public Administration, University of Nebraska Omaha
My first encounter with Dan Elazar was in New Orleans on an APSA panel in 1974. To me, he was the distinguished professor. As a newly minted Ph.D., I was thrilled to interact with an author whose work I had been reading for classes and research. Surprisingly, this was one of the rare occasions our paths crossed over the next several decades. The most important influence Dan had on my scholarship was his book American Federalism: A View from the States. I had become interested in state government during my undergraduate studies; for me, Elazar’s political culture approach as well as his emphasis on non-centralization served as foundation stones for my research. These ideas influenced the book, Mississippi Government and Politics: Modernizers versus Traditionalists, that Stephen D. Shaffer and I did for the Politics and Governments of the American States series under John Kincaid’s editorship. Dan was generous and kind in his introductory comments for the book, especially about the “approach-avoidance” dilemma we had used to describe Mississippi’s relationship with the federal government.
The other day, I went back to my files and reviewed the bibliographies of articles and chapters I had written. This exercise confirmed my suspicion that I would find one or more references to Dan Elazar in most every essay. A former colleague of mine once said his posthumous memorial would be his books on library shelves in places around the world. That is also true of Daniel Elazar, but even more important than his books on library shelves are his ideas and the influence they have had and will continue to have on the scholarship of federalism.
J. Wesley Leckrone
Associate Professor of Political Science, Widener University
Most likely, I am the only person writing a memorial who still intuitively refers to Daniel Elazar as “Dr. Elazar.” He died while I was an advanced graduate student at Temple University, and he will forever be etched in my mind as my professor and mentor. While Joe Marbach was the last person to receive a Ph.D. under him, I take great pride in knowing that I was the last graduate student to study under Dr. Elazar.
I worked my way up the ladder at the Center for the Study of Federalism (CSF) at Temple University. Starting as a work-study student, I became an Earhart Fellow and eventually the Program Director. In all my experiences with Dr. Elazar during this time, I was constantly amazed at the breadth of his knowledge and the broad range of contacts he had both inside and outside the academic community. Even within the field of political science, he wrote about and associated with scholars in such a broad range of subfields that it almost seems astounding: federalism, political culture, political theory, legal and constitutional studies, state and local politics, religion and politics, and comparative politics.
Dr. Elazar’s ability to engage in all of this scholarship was only made possible by his incredible work ethic. In the late 1990s, he spent most of his time in Jerusalem. However, when he came to Philadelphia, there was always a wave of excitement for a month or two as there were non-stop meetings with the lineup of scholars who wanted to talk with him. Packed into the schedule was an array of conferences, seminars, meetings on CSF activities, and of course discussions about ongoing research projects. Indefatigable is the only word to describe him.
There was more to Dr. Elazar than his scholarship. One of my fondest experiences with him was at the last conference we organized. We were in Bozeman, Montana, for a Liberty Fund Conference on Liberty in the Ancient Near East. He was greatly energized by the beauty of the surroundings at Big Sky Resort. He wore a very satisfied grin during one session when the discussion ground to a halt as a moose ran across the green right outside the window. Later that afternoon, we were able to sneak away for a drive to Yellowstone National Park where we came across a herd of bison, complete with spring calves. On the drive back, he told me a wonderful story about the time he and his family went snowmobiling in Yellowstone. He said scholars needed to take time away from their work and appreciate the world around them – particularly nature. This discussion had a profound effect on me as a young scholar, particularly coming from an accomplished academic.
Daniel Elazar has had an enormous influence on me as a person and as a scholar. There isn’t a writing project that I start without consulting his work to make sure that I begin with the necessary “first principles.” In the years since Dr. Elazar’s death, I’ve been blessed to continue working with former fellows of the Center for the Study of Federalism. None of us will ever fill Dr. Elazar’s enormous intellectual footprint.
However, if we each continue to work on one niche of his scholarship, we can make sure his ideas continue to evolve.
Donald S. Lutz
Professor Emeritus, Political Science, University of Houston, Texas
I have too many memories of Dan Elazar. It is difficult to choose.
I do remember overall Dan Elazar’s phenomenal memory, especially with respect to American history. He told the world’s worst jokes, also the world’s longest jokes. He had an impish sense of humor. All of this was just a part of Dan’s ability to enjoy life even when he was on his crutches. Even strangers could sense Dan’s joy of life and respond to him quickly, openly, and positively. Strangers could also sense his goodwill for all. He was boyishly happy and open to sharing that happiness.
All of the above did not blunt his serious professionalism. His academic judgments were strictly attached to high standards. Since his great mind always moved to the heart of a matter, his judgments could be harsh. Small infractions, on the other hand, could be met with a shrug, a correction, and a face expressing his goodwill that had no interest in tearing another person down.
I always wanted to work with or for him; so, in retrospect, in our overall relationship, I chose him often. It seemed that that was his wish. I often worked very hard for Dan Elazar, and he always found a way to reward that work with a surprise and an unasked-for reward—an invitation to a conference, a trip to Israel, or maybe an invitation for joint work. Dan also had a knack for putting tasks in front of me that turned out to be great fun, very educational, and, in part, career-makers. His invitation to write a possible article on something about which I knew nothing (for example, covenants and state constitutions) produced my first real article and led ultimately to several books and a major reputation as a historian of the American founding. Ten years later, he asked me to summarize that which all state constitutions share. I said this task was impossible. He replied, “Read the constitutions and then say that, if true.” I read them, saw a pattern, and wrote an article titled, “What are state constitutions for?” This article turned out to be widely read, as I found out twenty years later when it formed the basis for a festschrift involving many prominent academics spread over all fifty states. Thanks, Dan. Typically, he would not have seen his role in my success. He would relish my success simply because we were friends. And he was always a good friend for these and many other reasons. I bask in the memory of our friendship. How is it I became so close to this great and good man?
I think of Dan often, smiling to myself and looking for that next unusual project that would have interested and pleased Dan Elazar.
FAREWELL AND GREETINGS, DAN, FOR NOW AND FOR ALL TIME.
Joseph R. Marbach
President, Georgian Court University, Lakewood, New Jersey
My association with Daniel J. Elazar began in 1983 when I entered graduate school at Temple University. To my great fortune, my academic advisor and now good friend, Ellis Katz, recommended that I sign up for Dan’s American federalism seminar. As one of two students registered for this class, I enjoyed what amounted to a personal tutorial on American federalism by the world’s foremost authority. In 1984, Dan sponsored me as an Earhart Fellow to assist in his ongoing research, thus beginning my 30-year association with the Center for the Study of Federalism.
Part of my work as Dan’s research assistant included data collection to update the “Cities of the Prairie” project that he began in the 1960s. He and his colleagues were completing the second round of the ongoing research when I was added to the team. Eventually, my work in continuing this investigation throughout the third round of study became the basis for my dissertation and the book Opening Cybernetic Frontiers: Cities of the Prairie, which I edited and co-authored with Dan and others.
In 1990, Dan hired me as the assistant director of the Center for the Study of Federalism. In this role, we secured funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the U.S. Information Agency (which was later absorbed into the Department of State), and the Bradley foundation, to name a few. These projects provided me the opportunity to meet teachers from around the country, engage with emerging scholars from around the world, and travel throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia.
While I was at the Center, we also organized and conducted an average of two Liberty Fund conferences a year. At these meetings, I had the privilege of meeting and listening to some of the nation’s leading political, economic, and philosophical scholars, who mused on topics ranging from the medieval thinker Althusius to contemporary fiction on the American West.
I left the Center in 1994 for a tenure-track position at Seton Hall University; however, my affiliation with its activities did not end, and eventually I was named an associate of the Center. During this time, Dan and the Center were active in sharing federal models of governance with local leaders from South Korea and Turkey. The Center also hosted irregular gatherings of scholars from the Delaware Valley to discuss historical and theoretical aspects of American federalism.
The insights that Dan provided to me from that first meeting as a graduate student, to the private dinner we enjoyed celebrating the successful defense of my dissertation, to our international travel together was priceless. I am forever grateful to him for being my mentor and my friend.
Joseph P. McLaughlin, Jr.
Director, Institute for Public Affairs, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Someone in Chicago sent me to Dan Elazar in the spring of 1971. I don’t remember who it was, but it was one of my sources as a very young political reporter for The Chicago Tribune, in other words, a “pol” who must have known Dan from his University of Chicago years. I mentioned to this unremembered advisor that I was heading home to Philadelphia to work with my father’s political consulting firm and had decided I needed more formal education in politics than I had had as an undergraduate English major at Middlebury College. I said I was more interested in state and local politics (I covered both for the Trib) than in national politics. My mystery mentor said, “Go see Dan Elazar at Temple.” I did.
I also looked into the University of Pennsylvania’s political science department where I learned that federalism–as was the case in many universities in the late 1960s and early 1970s-was not only untaught but also seen–in the words of William Riker, who later recanted his view–as a cover for “states’ rights” and racism. Dan welcomed me as a student and talked me into Temple. I enrolled in the master’s program and in his federalism seminar. The Center for the Study Federalism then was producing mimeographed working papers that evolved into one of Dan’s greatest achievements, Publius: A Journal of Federalism.
I did not finish my degree. In 1974, my dad retired. Needing a job, I went to Harrisburg and worked for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives under a speaker who was a leader in the national movement to improve state legislatures. There, I met a young scholar committed to that cause, Alan Rosenthal. Four years later, I left to be the spokesman for the National Governors’ Association (NGA). I pushed the governors to support the “sorting out” agenda of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (ACIR) and to make a deal with President Ronald Reagan on his version of that initiative, the so-called Great Swap. Reagan offered to take on all health-care costs if the states took over welfare, food stamps, education, economic development, transportation, etc. We failed to close the deal and simplify the marble cake, which Dan, who was not a big believer in tidiness, would have predicted. Reflecting Dan’s stature as a leading federalism scholar, ACIR took on a Temple look in subsequent years. Dan eventually became a commissioner, and his Temple protégé John Kincaid became the commission’s executive director. They were influential in guiding the commission’s work before it was put out of business two years after they both departed the ACIR. This closure was a great loss for scholars, students, and policymakers in our federal system.
Carol Weissert, later a Publius editor and winner of the APSA’s Elazar award but then a young staffer at ACIR, succeeded me at NGA in 1982, when I returned to Philadelphia as a deputy to Mayor Bill Green. I then joined a lobbying firm. Over the next 19 years, I represented the city under four mayors. I kept in touch with Dan. At one point, he invited me to join thinkers inside and outside the academy in systematically reading and discussing the colonial and early state constitutions. We met for months after hours in the offices of Philadelphia’s largest law firm where Joe Hennessey practiced after his teaching career at Temple. It was typical of Dan to delve into foundational documents no else was reading (except, of course, Donald Lutz). No one got paid or got credit for this work; we all did it for the pure love of learning, and we all carried out whatever assignments Dan gave us.
In the early 1990s, at the urging of two federalism scholars of different persuasions–Earl Baker and Sam Beer, whom I had befriended in Washington–I reenrolled at Temple. This time, I finished, and Dan was on my dissertation committee, participating in my defense by long-distance phone call from Jerusalem, where he was spending most of his time. In 2004, after a year as senior advisor to Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, I came to Temple, where I teach American politics and public policy and run a policy institute that works with state and local public and private sector leaders on pressing problems. I would not be here but for Dan.
I loved Dan’s scholarly work in federalism, all of it, from his completion of Morton Grodzins’ The American System to his authorship of American Federalism: A View from the States, Cities of the Prairie, Building Cities in America, and more. The creator of an enduring theory of political culture—found to have explanatory power decades after he expounded it by scholars as eminent as Robert Putnam and Robert Erikson—had a great theoretical mind. But Dan also had a deeper understanding of the communal foundations and fine-grained texture of American politics than almost anyone else I read. In that respect, and in his prolific output of seminal work, he reminds me of Max Weber.
I also loved Sam Beer’s work. He and Dan had different understandings of federalism, but both were great scholars who recognized the dangers of over-centralization in the Cold War and Great Society eras and saw the advantages of federalism in governing our vast and complex country. I served on a panel honoring Sam at the 2008 APSA meeting, along with Dick Nathan, Martha Derthick, Hugh Heclo, and Tim Conlan. At the 2014 APSA meeting, I organized and chaired a similar panel with leading state and legislative politics scholars to honor Alan Rosenthal, who had just passed away.
I regret that I never had an opportunity to remember Dan that way. On a rainy night years ago, I was driving to a memorial gathering of his family, friends, and colleagues in suburban Philadelphia when one of my headlights failed, so I headed home in semi-darkness. I always have regretted missing that night and an opportunity to say good-bye. I thank today’s CSF fellows for giving me this chance. Goodbye, Dan. History has proven you right about federalism. If we find a way to make our troubled country and world work, your understanding of federalism as an institutional response to the often conflicting impulses of religiously and culturally based communities and states will be key. What more need we say?
Kenneth T. Palmer
Professor Emeritus of Political Science, University of Maine, and Book Review Editor, Publius: The Journal of Federalism (1987-1997)
I read Daniel Elazar’s American Federalism: A View from the States (1966) soon after I began my teaching career. I found the book unusually insightful. Until then, studies of state politics had mostly concentrated on political processes. Dan’s idea of political culture added a new dimension. The book showed that citizens in the various states thought differently about politics, and expected different things from their state governments. Its hypotheses about the impact of political culture would drive a significant body of research in political science.
When I got to know Dan in the 1980s, I found he was an exciting man to work with. As the editor of Publius: The Journal of Federalism, he asked a colleague and me to put together the “Annual Review of Federalism” issue for Publius for the period 1984-85. Also in that decade, he built a relationship with the University of Nebraska Press, leading to a series of books on the American states. Three of us at the University of Maine authored a volume in that series, Maine Politics and Government (2d ed. 2009). Dan offered many suggestions that improved our book.
Dan Elazar made major contributions to both the theoretical and practical sides of American federalism. He stressed the importance of community and citizen engagement in his writings, and he followed up his beliefs by encouraging other scholars to write about their own communities. The literature in our field is richer because of his distinguished work.
Laureate Professor Emeritus, Founding Director Centre of Comparative Constitutional Studies, Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne, Australia
I remember Dan Elazar as both mentor and friend, at a time when I was still a relatively junior scholar, beginning to take an interest in comparative federalism. He was unfailingly generous with his time, his thoughts, and his advice. Many of the insights I gleaned from his work on the theory and practice of federalism have become basic building blocks of my own thinking. These include the characterisation of federalism as involving self-rule and shared-rule, which is even more significant an observation today than it was when Dan first developed it, decades ago. Amongst his many institutional legacies is the International Association of Centers for Federal Studies–a multidisciplinary, international community of scholars of federalism, founded by Dan Elazar and still going strong. The establishment of such a body to continue to explore the complexities of comparative federalism is a testament to Dan’s leadership and foresight in the field of federal studies.
Stephen L. Schechter
Professor of Political Science, Russell Sage College, Troy, New York
Dan was my best friend, and I miss him terribly. We shared an appreciation of good music, good food, and bad jokes. We loved the American West and good Westerns (novels and movies alike). Our souls soared in the Rocky Mountains and in Jerusalem. I met Dan in 1972 at the APSA’s job market. He hired me to hold a joint appointment at the Center for the Study of Federalism and in the Department of Urban Studies at Temple University. My broad mission was to develop the Center’s international programs. He was my mentor and teacher on American federalism; I helped extend the Center’s reach to comparative federalism and to partnerships with foreign centers of federalism studies. We shared a passion for community politics, and it did not take much for him to convince me to join the Cities of the Prairie Project. I assisted him in developing municipal programs for his Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, and we commiserated on the resistance of largely European-trained Israeli local government officials to American notions of civil community and public administration.
Our interests were wide-ranging, but I looked to him for insights much as he looked to me for administration. I often wondered where he found those insights. The simplest answer is that he had the gift of genius. But what did that mean for Dan? A recent commentary by Eric Weiner provides one answer. Borrowing from Schopenhauer, Weiner observes: “Talent hits a target no one else can hit. Genius hits a target no one else can see” (“The Secret of Immigrant Genius,” Wall Street Journal, January 16-17, 2016, C3).
Dan certainly hit targets few others saw in quite the same way. Part of his genius was that he dared to look in directions few others cared to explore because the terrain was less well travelled. He began these quests as a young man. As a teenager, he and his brother developed a library classification scheme for Judaica. As a graduate student at the University of Chicago, he and Leo Strauss spoke at length on comparing the political thought of Athens and Jerusalem. After Morton Grodzins died (another Chicago mentor), Dan edited Grodzins’ magnum opus, The American System in which Grodzins (and Dan in his dissertation on The American Partnership) dared to ask the question, what if we looked for American federalism’s history in places other than landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases? They boldly announced the shift in perspective in the subtitle to The American System, A New View of Government in the United States (bold added). Then, Dan dared to look at American federalism from another much-neglected and occasionally maligned vantage point in American Federalism: A View From the States (bold added). Next came Cities of the Prairie, a proud departure from the existing field of urban politics in which Dan looked comparatively at a dozen medium-size cities of the American prairie-plains while urbanists were focused on large cities and small towns as single case-studies or mega-samples.
Some mainstream U.S. political scientists felt threatened by these assaults from the margins of their world even as practitioners lauded Dan’s work as spot-on representations of their world. Dan’s transgressions from the mainstream multiplied in the research materials and methods he used. He poured through city directories and drove into neighborhoods mapping the institutional landscapes of civil communities. He then used elite specialized interviews to actually ask community leaders and public officials what they thought. In those interviews, he probed but did not prompt because he genuinely wanted to learn what his interviewees thought. He brought political culture norms, historical traditions, and institutional propensities to the study of politics in the midst of the behavioral revolution. He continued to draw on political philosophy to frame and guide his inquiries in an anti-theoretical age, and then, to the horror of many skeptics, he divulged what he regarded as one of the enduring threads of American and worldwide federalist thought, namely, the covenant idea. He couldn’t just do this in a single thought-provoking article in a friendly magazine such as Commentary. No, he had to write a four-volume series on the Covenant Tradition in Politics from biblical times to the present.
Dan’s genius was indeed hitting the target few others saw, and his oblique perspective came from two sources. Dan was a proud son of the American heartland. But he was also an Elazar who was proud of the biblical origins of his name as well as his Sephardic heritage and his parents’ involvement in the Jewish community. Dan was born in Minneapolis where his father directed the communal Talmud Torah school system. Dan’s parents raised a family with a powerful family narrative and together contributed to the life of the Jewish communities wherever they lived.
Dan was raised as a patriotic American and Zionist; he was educated in political science and Judaic studies; he was conversant in the U.S. Constitution and the Hebrew Bible; he lived in Israel and the United States; he founded the Center for the Study of Federalism and the Center for Jewish Community Studies both at Temple University in Philadelphia; and he founded the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. I could offer more examples, but the point is that Dan’s intellectual life and oblique perspective came not from traveling back and forth between these worlds but by living simultaneously within them, and doing so quite naturally.
Dan was a polymath and appreciated other polymaths. Dan was amazed when he visited the home of the renowned historian and journalist Allan Nevins (1890-1971) who, in the pre-computer age, had a typewriter in every room and, wonder of wonders, a different manuscript in every typewriter.
Dan’s two multi-volume studies — of the covenant idea and of the Jewish community – may be the most integrated expressions of his wide-ranging life and thought. Community and Polity (1976; 1995), the first in a trilogy on the civic and political organization of Jewish communities, unpacks the scholar’s return home to the Jewish community life in which he was raised.
Dan’s political science contributions to Judaic studies are more apparent and hence more widely recognized than his Judaic contributions to political science. Jonathan D. Sarna, Professor of Jewish History at Brandeis University, credited Dan with founding the field of Jewish Political Studies. Various websites credit Dan with bringing political science in full force to studies of the Jewish political tradition and the Jewish community. As a result, Dan’s Judaic colleagues know more about how Dan’s political science contributed to his Jewish studies than U.S. political scientists know about the ways in which Dan’s Jewish thought and life contributed to his political science. Finding the influence of Dan’s Jewish thought on his political writings is a far trickier business.
I think Dan had a Bible translator’s righteous indignation at the misuse and abuse of certain words. He insisted quite rightly that the reference to the Old Testament carried with it the connotation that it had somehow been replaced by the New Testament. He advocated for the terminology of Hebrew Bible and Christian Bible. He carried this sense of righteousness over to the pre-nineteenth century nonhierarchical language of federalism he sought to resurrect. In that language, federal systems are polities (not states) that consist of a general (not central) government and constituent (not subnational) governments interacting along planes or in arenas. He rejected the term “levels of government” because ‘levels’ imagines a pyramid that is anathema to federal thinking.
This care for the right words is not exclusively Jewish, of course; political thinkers of all creeds debate the Federal Constitution and which translation of Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America is the best one. Yet, this example unlocks a Jewish world of Bible translation in which Dan lived.
The Elazar family’s neighbor and close friend during their early years in Philadelphia was Chaim Potok, beloved Jewish story teller (author of The Chosen, The Promise, and My Name is Asher Lev, for example). Less well known, Potok was the editor-in-chief of the Jewish Publication Society (JPS) from 1965 to 1974. He oversaw the relatively noncontroversial publication of the second edition of the JPS Torah (of five books), its expansion to the Tanakh, including Prophets and Writings, and, with preeminent biblical scholar Nahum Sarna (Jonathan’s father), the journey from a new Bible translation to a new set of Bible commentaries. Reflecting on biblical interpretation, Sarna warned against “the exposition of Tanakh as a self-contained, autonomous and closed field of intellectual endeavor.” Traditional interpretations, he wrote, “are replete with critical observations of a historical, textual, theological, and halakhic nature” (“Writing a Commentary on the Torah,” Studies in Biblical Interpretation, ed. Nahum Sarna, Philadelphia: JHS, 2000, 260). Dan approached constitutional and political documents in much the same way.
Again, Jewish political thought does not have a monopoly over these approaches either generally or in Dan’s political thinking. Dan also drew heavily on Aristotle, Althusius, Harrington, and many other thinkers. I offer Dan’s Jewish political thought in the hope of shedding a different light on the sources of Dan’s political science. In the same vein, I think Dan’s studies of the American civil community were informed in no small part by his father’s work in the community-based Talmud Torah system, a time-honored system that dated back to the 1550s. Dan’s work on American federalism was inspired by his understanding of its founding and re-founding experiences as covenantal and his belief that many if not most effective American founders and reformers were covenantal in their thoughts and deeds.
When I remember Dan, I remember lively discussions about all these sources in his thinking, but I also remember his Jewish sources, and it is those I offer in his memory. May his memory be for a blessing.
Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Federalism, University of Fribourg, Switzerland
I was fortunate enough to meet Dan Elazar for the first time in Murten, during the meeting of IPSA’s Comparative Federalism Study Group, chaired by Lloyd Brown-John, which took place from 12 to 15 March 1986. As a young fellow, I was discovering the world of federalism, of which Dan was already a prominent lighthouse helping us to “Explore Federalism.” For the organizing team of the meeting in Murten, Dan was the “guest star.” Everyone was waiting for him. I was also very excited to see in real life a famous person everybody was speaking of. But I discovered that there was a concern with Dan. Organizers should avoid any obstacle on his path. It was necessary to foresee an elevator, but the elevator was located in the hotel’s kitchen and was not really used for passengers. How would such a prominent person react to the use of an awkward means of transportation? When the star arrived, I was completely bluffed by his kindness and the resilience with which he accommodated his mobility problems. At that time, it was for me just unthinkable that an intellectual could be simultaneously a person with reduced mobility (PRM). What a stupid prejudice! But can you imagine that the building of the University of Fribourg, a piece of art erected in the 1940s, is full of stairs, stairs, and stairs everywhere! At the time of construction, no one could conceive that a PRM could study at the university. Amazing! Now it costs a fortune to adapt the building and facilitate handicapped access. I discovered in Murten that Dan Elazar was not only a great specialist of federalism but also a great example of humanity, accepting with a charming smile all the problems caused by its walking difficulties, including the use of the famous elevator.
I met him several times again. I was always fascinated by his way of dealing with his physical problems. He was a shining example not only for federalism, but also for the integration of handicapped persons. He proved that the strength of the spirit can replace the weakness of the body, which is nothing but the shrine of the brain. Considering the fact that in the last decades the number of federations did increase, even if not significantly, and that (at least in the developed countries) the status of the PRM improved greatly, Elazar’s contribution to the progress of civilization was really considerable on two levels… at least!
Deputy Director, Institute of Economics and Industrial Engineering / Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Novosibirsk, Russia
I was fortunate to meet Professor Elazar in the early 1990s. It was a period of very difficult economic and political reform in Russia following the collapse of the USSR. Only at this time did our country—and also the society, scientific community, and politicians—begin to gain some understanding of federalism, its nature, and its laws. Although the Soviet Union was formally considered a federal state, it was a quasi-federation.
At that point in time, I met Professor Elazar by chance, during one of my trips abroad. My very first impression did not deceive me. He was a great scholar and a very strong organizer. We agreed to start a joint Russian–American project named “Federalism in Russia” under the auspices of our organizations: the Institute of Economics and Industrial Engineering SB RAS (Novosibirsk, Russia) and the Center for the Study of Federalism at Temple University (Philadelphia, USA). We managed to get financial support for this project from USAID, and it was successfully implemented over a number of years. The results were a few Russian–American seminars held in Russia; internships in the United States for leading Russian politicians and scientists; three collections of papers Federalism and Regional Policy: Russian Issues and Foreign Experience, which we published in Russian. In this collection, we also published selected chapters from Exploring Federalism, Elazar’s brilliant monograph, which we had specially translated into Russian. For this collaboration, Elazar engaged wonderful American scientists, such as professors John Kincaid, Ellis Katz, G. Alan Tarr, and others.
Professor Elazar’s initiative had a strong impact. First, it allowed many program participants to better understand the essence of federalism; for some this knowledge was highly useful in their future career (e.g., a member of a two-month internship in the United States, Vladimir Ryzhkov from Barnaul in Siberia, later became one of the strongest Russian federal politicians, served as First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma, and now is a moderate opposition leader in Russia). Second, it greatly intensified the research on the issue of federalism conducted at my institute (which is one of the leading economic research institutes in Russia, but the gap in the research on federalism was still open). Third, thanks to Professor Elazar’s support, our institute and the Siberian International Center for Regional Studies were accepted into the International Association of Centers for Federal Studies. This gave me the opportunity to get acquainted and make friends with brilliant scientists in the field. Fourth, in the scientific journal Region: Economics and Sociology (http://recis.ru), where I have been editor-in-chief for more than a quarter century and which has become the best Russian journal on this issue, we have introduced a special section “Economic aspects of federalism.”
I met with Professor Elazar on numerous occasions: in Moscow, during his visit that I organized, in Philadelphia (even visited him at home), in Jerusalem, and during IACFS conferences in other countries. I retained my impression of him as a very intelligent man and an excellent conversationalist. Even back then I realized that I was speaking to a living legend, whose name and scientific legacy will outlive time. After all, people live as long as the memory of them lives. While we are still alive, we will always remember Daniel Elazar, Ronald Watts, and our other colleagues who are no longer here. We should pass on this memory to the younger generation, so that the link between times, traditions, scientific achievements, and scientific thought will remain intact.
G. Alan Tarr
Board of Governors Professor of Political Science and Director of the Center for State Constitutional Studies, Rutgers University, Camden, New Jersey
Although I had read his books, I never met Daniel Elazar until I was a tenured professor at Rutgers-Camden. Nonetheless, he was the most important mentor of my career, and I frequently reflect on how different things would have been had I not met and learned from him. I had studied American politics and political theory during graduate school, but it was Dan who widened my horizons and impressed on me the importance of looking at federalism comparatively. He did this through his writings, conversations, and involving me in work abroad. It was Dan who enabled me to go to Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union to discuss federalism with scholars and officials in Siberia. That led to six trips in total to Russia and to contacts that continue even now.
It was Dan who also involved me with visiting officials from other federal systems or potential federal systems. I particularly remember meeting with a group of Greek and Turkish Cypriots at an event that Dan orchestrated, which has led to four trips to Cyprus to speak about federal arrangements in divided societies. Dan also encouraged me to have the Center for State Constitutional Studies join the International Association of Centers for Federal Studies (IACFS), an organization that he co-founded to encourage dialogue among federalism scholars from around the world. My involvement in the IACFS has been one of the highlights of my career.
Professionally, I had focused my reading on political science, but it was Dan who led me to look more broadly at American political development, and that changed my entire research direction. Dan also—both by example and by involving me in Liberty Fund conferences—encouraged me to expand my focus even further. He invited me to Liberty Fund conferences on diverse topics, from the books of Bernard Malamud to ancient understandings of liberty, and these stimulated my intellectual curiosity in manifold ways. The conference in Mystic, Connecticut, that he organized on Moby Dick was the best academic event I ever attended. I continue to be involved with Liberty Fund, but I never would have had the chance without Dan’s inclusivity.
My experience, I suspect, was not far different from others with whom Dan came in contact. Some scholars who achieve eminence are arrogant and dismissive of those who have achieved less. Dan was just the opposite. From experience, I know that he took seriously the idea of a community of scholars and was extraordinarily generous with his time and his encouragement, and he actively sought out opportunities for other academics with whom he came in contact. He was a terrific scholar, a wonderful role model, and a friend. I was blessed to have him as part of my life.
Frank J. Thompson
Distinguished Professor, Rutgers School of Public Affairs and Administration – Newark and Rutgers Center for State Health Policy – New Brunswick, New Jersey
I met Daniel Elazar and benefitted from his many presentations on APSA panels. But I did not have the good fortune to know him at all well personally. That said, his writing and institution building on behalf of the study of federalism have greatly affected my research and professional development.
Elazar, of course, brought enormous empirical and normative breadth to the study of federalism. My own interests have focused on a smaller slice of the political and administrative dynamics fueled by federalism – the role of the states in implementing major national programs, such as Medicaid. More specifically, I have targeted how the states use their vast discretion and leverage in the implementation process to shape who gets what, when, and how from government. In pursuing this line of inquiry, I have benefited from understanding how this specific sphere of governance fits against the broader backdrop of federalism that Daniel Elazar so perceptively presented and explicated.
Elazar’s insights have illuminated my research in myriad ways. To cite just one example, I have long found his typology of state political cultures to be analytically helpful. Scholars continue to debate the meaning, categorization, measurement, and utility of this concept. But Elazar’s core typology of moralistic, individualistic, and traditionalistic political cultures has endured and cast light on the vast variation in intergovernmental implementation from one state to the next. Having lived substantial periods of my life in Georgia, Minnesota, and New Jersey, I even have an intuitive feel for the parsimonious potency of his categorization.
In this and countless other ways, I owe Daniel Elazar a huge intellectual debt.
Retired civil servant of Swiss federal government who, in his last post, headed the section on international economic law at the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs and partipated in and led, with the rank of ambassador, numerous international negotiations
I was a research assistant at the Center for the Study of Federalism (CSF) from 1974 to 1976, an Earhart Fellow in 1976-1977, and a visiting research fellow in 1979-1980. Coming to Philadelphia and Temple University, the host of the CSF, in the 1970s from a comfortable life in Switzerland was somewhat of a culture shock. I had just finished law school in Switzerland and landed a few temporary jobs, which made it very evident that there was a high demand for law-school graduates, and the pay was very good. It all sounded too comfortable for a 27-year-old who was not yet prepared to settle into a comfortable but unexciting Swiss existence. So I applied for a research assistantship at the CSF. I had not studied federalism in depth at law school, but the topic was certainly familiar to me. In Switzerland, the federal structure is not a theoretical concept but a part of real life. I had always been interested in politics, and my father, who was a journalist at a major Swiss newspaper, frequently wrote on topics related to the subject.
Philadelphia and Temple University indeed provided an alternative to a comfortable life in Switzerland. The city had an interesting historical center but also several run-down neighborhoods, and Temple was located right in the middle of one of them. Living quarters were not available nearby, and students commuted to the university via an outdated public transport system. Not only was this different from Switzerland but also not comparable to the scenic campus and comfortable on-campus student housing at a southern university where I had spent a happy year before as a Rotary student.
The bright spot in this picture was Temple’s Gladfelter Hall, the building housing both the Department of Political Science and, one floor above, the CSF. It was not a good idea to leave the building through the back door after dark, but a light and bright spirit reigned inside, combining serious study, academic research, and earnest discussions with comradship, laughter, and easy relationships among students, staff, and professors. Easy relationships with professors was new for a Swiss student, who was used to viewing professors as aloof semi-gods lecturing in front of hundreds of students and personally only accessible with an appointment as for a doctor. At the CSF, the roomy secretaries’ office was the life center, work room, and informal meeting place all in one, where new research ideas were discussed, papers and projects scrutinized, daily events commented upon, and jokes told.
Dan Elazar had his office right next to it and presided over the Center’s activities like a benevolent father, observing with amusement, and sometimes participating in, the lively interactions and providing his expert advice when ideas and projects were at more advanced stages. In his office, he also held his classes, usually with a small number of Temple’s graduate students who knew that when he was in town, they needed to be ready to meet at unusual hours and be prepared to do homework and write papers at very short intervals. Dan was not always in Philadelphia, and it seemed that his activities in Jerusalem took more and more of his time. He could do so because the Center’s activities were also in good hands during his absences. Stephen Schechter, Ben Schuster, and Ellis Katz, to name just some of his associates, were teaching courses in the political science department and participating in and leading projects and academic research at the Center. Since Dan was head of not only the CSF but also the Center for Jewish Studies, several Israeli exchange students used the premises of the CSF, which provided an international touch. Dan was also instrumental in bringing federalism experts from other countries to Philadelphia and in promoting cooperation among federalism centers all over the world. For me, as someone interested in international relations, these were exciting events.
Although I did not pursue an academic career nor specialize in questions related to federalism after my return to Switzerland, the years I spent at Temple University and particularly at the CSF had a profound influence on my further life. I not only met my wife there and was able to lay the groundwork for my doctoral thesis, but political science also turned out to be an excellent complement to the more formal legal work that was the centerpiece of my further professional life. The concepts of political science, the approach to research, the standards and methods for presenting ideas to a wider public, and not least the language skills acquired during these years greatly influenced my later activities. They aided me in my functions as negotiator of international agreements for the Swiss government, as Director of the Trade Department of an international organization, and consultant assisting countries in the Middle East and the Western Balkans to cooperate with each other and improve their economic and trade relations.
It was also in the context of relations with the Middle East that I met Dan the last time. We were negotiating an agreement with Israel, and as chance would have it, Dan was in Jerusalem and available for lunch. Being at his house, eating a light meal, telling him what had become of his former research assistant, and reminiscing about earlier times was not only a happy moment but provided me with a lasting memory of this special person. Another memory also has to do with food-cakes. It is impossible for me to buy or eat a cake without reflecting on whether it should be a layer cake or a marble cake. Of course, we all know it needs to be a marble cake because this is how federalism in the United States can best be described. We heard and read it repeatedly from Dan.
Conrad J. Weiler, Jr.
Associate Professor of Political Science Emeritus, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
I have a number of personal remembrances of Dan Elazar. First, Dan had a significant intellectual influence on me even though I was never one of his students. I had read Dan’s book, American Federalism, when I was a graduate student at the Maxwell School before I had any expectation of meeting him. The book made quite an impression on me as a framework for envisioning American politics for two main reasons that have stayed with me throughout my career, though if I went back and reviewed my notes in the text, I am sure the book provoked other ideas as well. The first idea was his framework of the three major American political cultures at the regional and state level and how these cultures affected not only national but also state and local politics. This seemed to be a pretty new idea at the time, largely due to Dan. While, over time, I made revisions to the theory and decided to give it more or less weight than perhaps Dan had assigned it, the key thing is that it was one of those paradigmatic ideas that, once understood, one can never put out of mind and which helps one organize and test all political experience and knowledge against, primarily in the United States but also looking at other countries. I know that his work in this area influenced generations of scholars and students beyond me. Just the other day, I saw a brand new reader in state and local politics that included an excerpt from Dan’s work on political cultures.
The second great intellectual impression his work made on me was the idea that cooperative federalism–the idea that the federal government provided resources to state and local governments in return for the latter pursuing a federal policy goal–did not somehow originate in the New Deal. Instead, the practice and also the idea that the interaction in turn hopefully had some influence on federal policy in some ways went back really to the Founding or even before. While the relationship has its problems, this awareness has also become a key part of the way I have looked at American government and also other governments. The idea of continual interaction and exchange between levels of government is more common today, but the 1960s was probably a period where most of the domestic politics literature was very focused on the federal government. At that time, states were perhaps at a low point of interest and effectiveness, partly because the effects of reapportionment in helping them modernize had not yet begun to be felt, and also because the “states’ rights” movement in opposition to civil rights made them suspect to many. I think Dan’s pioneering work in showing the complex historical relationships that state and local governments had always had with the federal government also influenced many other scholars and presented a more balanced longer term view of the relationship.
Dan also began to influence me on a more personal level after I took a job at Temple University in 1968. I got to know Dan personally, as well as a number of his students who also became close colleagues and friends. Once I was at Temple, he made a point of periodically reaching out to me to see what I was doing, something very flattering to a junior faculty member from an already world-famous senior scholar. Looking back, probably the fact that Dan actually took the time to ask me about my work and encouraged me was as important or even more important than the extent to which he guided my thinking with helpful suggestions. In particular, he encouraged me with my work on German federalism, and later my activism and writing on American neighborhoods, especially. In fact, merely being able to talk with someone of his stature about my ideas was itself very exhilarating, as well as something that was relatively rare in academe. I would also like to mention that throughout my professional career at Temple, at least while he was there, Dan inspired his students, and they have carried his legacy forward. Dan also brought great international recognition to Temple and our political science department. Whenever I went anywhere professionally, someone was sure to ask about Dan and the department, and to know of the department because of Dan’s work.
Another influence was of a very different kind–Earth Day. I don’t know how much Dan was personally involved, but the Center for the Study of Federalism on the first floor of 1946 N. Broad Street sponsored all kinds of events for the first Earth Day in 1970, and I attended some of them. At that time, I was focused more on neighborhoods and did not think much of the environmental movement, but there too the influence stayed with me and grew over the years as concern for the environment became ever more of an issue.
Dan was surprisingly friendly and down to earth. I am sure everyone must have noticed how Dan never let his mobility problems get to him, even though they increased with age. As I grew older, I realized in addition to his intellectual force, how much of an example he was of simple human courage in the face of adversity. I also had the pleasure of being received by him and his wife in their home in Israel, and was very impressed again by both of their warmth, concern, and helpfulness. All in all, Dan made a major difference personally and professionally, especially to those who were his students, as well as to all those very many scholars and others who worked in some way with him, or even only met him, and to the wider world of knowledge beyond.
LeRoy Collins Eminent Scholar and Professor of Political Science, Florida State University, Tallahassee
I first met Dan Elazar at an Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations event on the Future of American Federalism in the late 1970s. I was the communications director and editor there and helped put the program together. Of course, I knew who he was and was astounded when he talked with me about my thoughts of his talk. Needless to say, I was thrilled. At the time, I was working on a master’s degree at George Washington University and had not really read federalism scholarship as I did later for my doctorate. But he was still interested in my impressions.
Fast forward to the mid 1990s when Sandy Schram and I edited the special issue on the State of American Federalism for Publius: The Journal of Federalism. Dan and John Kincaid would have dinner with us during the APSA meetings to talk about the past and future issues. I was better schooled in federalism by this point but remember mainly his good humor and desire to help us put out the most impactful issue we could. Unfortunately, he died before I became Publius editor. I would love to see what he thinks of the journal today. Hopefully, he knows he started something really good.
Robert F. Williams
Distinguished Professor of Law, Rutgers University School of Law, Camden, New Jersey
I began teaching at Rutgers University Law School in 1980. Soon after that, I heard of the legendary Dan Elazar who taught across the Delaware River in Temple University’s political science department. Through a colleague at Rutgers, I was introduced to Dan. He was quick to include me in various activities of the Center for the Study of Federalism (CSF). Dan was always respectful of my status as a legal scholar, which I believe he viewed as a fairly narrow focus on the issues involved in federalism. My focus was on the state constitutions within the American federal system, and Dan had a deep interest in this topic for some years before I met him. From Dan and others I learned, early on, the importance of a political science (as well as of history) perspective on the constitutions of the American states. Dan graciously invited me to one of his legendary Liberty Fund conferences on federalism, and I gained important insight from that interaction. In addition, Dan included me in a variety of more informal activities that he, as an important regional, national, and international figure, organized over the years. It was through him that I developed an interest in the “subnational” constitutions in other federal countries.
As faculty editor of Rutgers Law Journal’s annual issue on state constitutional law, I was able to prevail on Dan to give our annual lecture at the law school, which was published as the foreword to the law journal’s annual issue–Daniel J. Elazar, “Foreword: The Moral Compass of State Constitutionalism,” Rutgers Law Journal 30 (1999): 849. This important contribution to the literature on state constitutions, from a political science point of view, adds greatly to our understanding of the under-recognized and under-theorized state constitutions.