Michael Waldman

Former White House Chief Speechwriter & Presidential Scholar

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In an illuminating program, Michael Waldman turns to the Constitution to show how the fight for American democracy and freedom have been at the center of the country’s history from the start. A scholar and passionate advocate, he shows the founding ideals have driven the country’s progress, and applies them to current topics including voting rights, gun safety and the power of the presidency. He leaves audiences inspired to continue to struggle for the values of American democracy and the Constitution.

All eyes were on Michael as he captured the imagination of everyone in the room with his stories of life as a presidential speech writer. He referenced White House staff members and inside views no one in the room had ever heard before.

- Nichols College

About Michael Waldman

Michael Waldman is a constitutional lawyer, writer, and one of the country’s leading experts on the presidency, American democracy, and the Constitution. He is President of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law, a nonpartisan law and policy institutes that works to reform and revitalize our system of democracy and justice. As leader of the Brennan Center since 2005, he has been on the front lines of the fight for voting rights, campaign finance reform, criminal justice reform, and civil rights, while building the organization into a major national legal force, with 120 attorneys and scholars who work to craft and advance new solutions.

Waldman was Director of Speechwriting for President Bill Clinton from 1995-99, serving as Assistant to the President. He was responsible for writing or editing nearly 2,000 speeches, including four State of the Union and two Inaugural Addresses. He was Special Assistant to the President for Policy Coordination from 1993-95.

He is the author of The Fight to Vote (Simon & Schuster, 2016), a history of the struggle to win voting rights for all citizens. The Washington Post wrote, “Waldman’s important and engaging account demonstrates that over the long term, the power of the democratic ideal prevails — as long as the people so demand.” The Wall Street Journal called it “an engaging, concise history of American voting practices,” and the Miami Herald described it as “an important history in an election year.” The Fight to Vote was a Washington Post notable nonfiction book for 2016 and a History Book Club Main Selection.

He is also the author of The Second Amendment: A Biography (Simon & Schuster, 2014). Publishers Weekly called it “the best narrative of its subject.” In The New York Times, Joseph Nocera called it “rigorous, scholarly, but accessible.” The Los Angeles Times wrote, “[Waldman’s] calm tone and habit of taking the long view offers a refreshing tonic in this most loaded of debates.” In a Cardozo Law Review symposium devoted to the book, a historian wrote, “The Second Amendment is, without doubt, among the best efforts at melding constitutional history and constitutional law on any topic – at least since the modern revival of originalism two generations ago.”

Previous books include My Fellow Americans: The Most Important Speeches of America’s Presidents from George Washington to Barack Obama (2003, 2010); A Return to Common Sense (2007); POTUS Speaks (2000); and Who Robbed America? A Citizens’ Guide to the S&L Scandal (1990).

He appears frequently on television and radio on policy, the presidency and the law, including Good Morning America; The Colbert Report; Morning Joe; PBS Newshour, CBS Evening News; Meet the Press Daily; All In with Chris Hayes; The O’Reilly Factor; Nightline; 60 Minutes; Tavis Smiley; Hardball with Chris Matthews; The Rachel Maddow Show; NPR’s Morning Edition; All Things Considered; Fresh Air; and Diane Rehm. He writes for publications including The New York Times, Politico, The Washington Post, Daily Beast, Slate, Democracy, Reuters.com and Bloomberg.com.

He is a graduate of NYU School of Law and Columbia College.

Speech Topics

  • Democracy in Danger
  • The Power of Presidential Rhetoric: How to Use the Bully Pulpit in Politics Business and Law
  • The Second Amendment
  • Voting Rights

Books and Media

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