Pat Borchers’ wonderful holiday gift to the rest of us

Pat Borchers, former Dean  of the Creighton Law School, is a really good guy. True to the Jesuit tradition at Creighton, Pat is socially committed. But, he is also a self-styled conservative. He is brilliant, genuine, practical, funny and a terrific writer.

Pat has recently started a blog entitled “The Way I See It.” He explains his background and the purpose of the blog this way:

My full name is Patrick Joseph Borchers. As far as I can tell, there are only three people in the world with the name “Patrick Borchers” and I’m the only one with the middle name of “Joseph.” The paucity of Patrick Borcherses is perhaps unremarkable, as my name appears to have been a compromise. “Patrick” is quintessentially Irish, and my mother’s maiden name was Mary Bridget Hennessy.

My last name is German. A few years ago I received an email out of the blue from a Hans Borchers who had been born in the Goslar District of Germany, asking (essentially) if I were my father’s son, to which I replied in the affirmative. He was working on filling out a family tree. We Borchers are fairly easy to track as it’s an uncommon last name.

I was born in Madison, Wisconsin in 1961 to two brilliant parents. My father holds a PhD in Physics from the University of Wisconsin, where he taught on the Physics faculty and served in high ranking administrative positions (the last being Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs) until we left in 1977.

My mother majored in Mathematics, which was extremely unusual for a woman of her generation. She had significant course work later in her life toward an MPA, though I cannot recall whether she got a degree. My interest in politics was sparked by her. When I was young (12 or so) she ran for the city council in Madison. We worked like dogs on her campaign. She lost by three votes. But she eventually became chair of Madison’s Parks Commission and then Planning Commission, which made her — as a practical matter — one of the most politically powerful people in Madison. Although we have a lot of longevity in our family, she died in 2008 as a result of a rare cancer.

I got married at what now seems like the absurdly young age of 23. It worked out. Twenty-eight years and five children later, we’re still married.

Sharing my parents’ quantitative bent, I majored in Physics and graduated from Notre Dame in 1983. But I never completely scratched that political itch and I went to law school, which was a lucky break. I attended the University of California, Davis, School of Law and graduated in 1986. I met my wife in law school and I was a law clerk for Anthony M, Kennedy the last year he was a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals before President Reagan put him on the U.S. Supreme Court.

I practiced law in California, then got into academics, becoming Dean of the Creighton Law School, Vice President for Academic Affairs at Creighton University, and now as a Professor of Law (with an adjunct appointment in the Department of Philosophy) and directing the Werner Institute for Negotiation and Dispute Resolution at Creighton. Creighton is located in Omaha, Nebraska. Although a lot of people don’t know this, I suspect that with Creighton now in the Big East conference for sports that more people will figure this out. Anyway, that’s probably enough about me. There are a few more details about me located on Wikipedia. The link is here. Feel free to edit it, though please respect Wikipedia’s rules about “vandalism” and remember that there are laws about defamation of character.

I probably meet the technical definition of being a “public figure.” My jobs have made me fairly visible. I hold a minor public office in Douglas County, Nebraska. I flirted with running for the open U.S. Senate seat from Nebraska, before deciding to support my friend Shane Osborn. I plan on running for the Nebraska state legislature in 2016.

But having spent several paragraphs talking about me, I now tell you that this blog isn’t about me.

The last few years have reawakened my interest in politics. This may seem odd, because it has been one of the most dreadful eras for United States politics.

However, this blog will be devoted in some substantial part to politics, which brings me to its title: “The Way I See It.” Some of you will recognize this from folk musician Joni Mitchell’s hit “Free Man in Paris.” I picked it in part because I really like Joni Mitchell’s songs. But part of it is to say that this is just the way I see it.

If I had to put my finger on what I think ails our country and public debate in general, it’s that we’ve lost a respect for civil discourse. People don’t do much talking about issues anymore. There’s a lot of shouting past each other. People are more interested in scoring “gotcha” points than trying to solve problems.

As you will learn, I’m conservative. But please don’t mistake that for being closed-minded. I am genuinely interested in other points of view. Although a good deal of Hegelian philosophy doesn’t appeal to me, the notion of “thesis” and “antithesis” leading to “synthesis” contains an important insight. We are smarter collectively than we are individually.

If the first several posts from Pat are any indication, Pat’s blog will be eclectic, thoughtful and fun to read. Just this week, there is a post about a football coach, who is lawyer and a lover of pirates. There is another about two giants in the fields of economics, John Maynard Keynes and Friedrich Hayek.

Pat’s decision to blog is a wonderful holiday gift. I hope a lot of people read what Pat writes. If nothing else, you will be stimulated by the fine prose of good person and a serious, but not pedantic, thinker.


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