Bruce Barry

Bruce Barry

Bruce Barry is a professor of management at Vanderbilt University who teaches and writes about ethics, conflict, rights, politics, policy, and other things that pop into his head.

Metro Public Healthy Molly Shine preps a vaccine while sister Maya and Sara Gana wait at a recent Nashville mobile vaccine clinic. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Commentary: The vax of life

By: - July 7, 2021

Bringing her vaxo-enthusiasm tour of the south to a Nashville distillery last month, Jill Biden told the assembled dozens that the COVID-19 vaccine “offers almost perfect protection,” plus “it’s just absolutely free so why not?” It’s a fair question, Madame First Spousal Unit, if you assume your intended audience of the unvaccinated can rationally evaluate […]


Commentary: Lost in America

By: - May 10, 2021

Like many political junkies cooling their heels while awaiting herd immunity, I’ve spent a lot of time this spring puzzling over the present state and future trajectory of the post-Trump Republican Party. Will it transition from something that looks like a cult back into something that looks like a party? And maybe take up governing […]

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - JANUARY 15: Demonstrators participate in a protest outside of McDonald's corporate headquarters on January 15, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. The protest was part of a nationwide effort calling for minimum wage to be raised to $15-per-hour. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Bare Minimum

By: - March 1, 2021

I need a research assistant. I’ll pay you $725 a week. Assuming your performance is good the first year I’ll drop your weekly pay to $702. The next year it’ll be $688, and then $678. In year five your pay is $667, and if you hang in with me for a decade, I’ll reward your […]

U.S. President Donald Trump participates in the final presidential debate against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Oct. 22, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn. Photo by Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

Red Reckoning

By: - January 13, 2021

Thanks to recent events, cogitation about the future of the Republican Party is now a growth industry bursting at the seams. How Trumpy will the party remain now that the Trump brand wafts the stench of insurrection? What political price will be paid by the stop-the-steal dead-enders in Congress who even after the mayhem of […]

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 26: Ivanka Trump, daughter and assistant to U.S. President Donald Trump, and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) attend a lunch meeting with Republican lawmakers in the Cabinet Room at the White House June 26, 2018 in Washington, DC. The president called the Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling in favor of the administration's travel ban a "tremendous victory," according to published reports. (Photo by Al Drago-Pool/Getty Images)

Column: Go home, Lamar.

By: - December 8, 2020

Culminating 18 years of distinguished mediocrity in the halls of power, Lamar Alexander took to the Senate floor last week to give what was billed as his (capital F capital S) Farewell Speech. As public address it was comically self-delusional, projecting an inflated sense of accomplishment and self-satisfaction that in normal times we might easily […]

U.S. President Donald Trump participates in the final presidential debate against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Oct. 22, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn. Photo by Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

The End of Stupid?

By: - November 23, 2020

President Toddler’s post-election tantrum slash adventure—a third-rate legal team flooding the courts with fourth-rate filings, with a few feeble attempts to intimidate local election officials tossed in for effect—is going nowhere fast. Or it would be going nowhere fast if it was fast, but almost three weeks after the election it’s more accurate to say […]

Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 12 - Mayor John Cooper speaks at prayer vigil at Shrader Lane Church of Christ.

Commentary: Losing my religion

By: - October 26, 2020

Public officials doing the people’s business are entitled to govern with religiosity as a defining personal attribute, if that’s their bag. If the governor wants to praise Jesus fifty times in his state-of-the-state address it would be odd, but he’s welcome to have at it and let voters decide at the next election if he’s […]

Photo: Getty Images

Commentary: Survey says?

By: - October 5, 2020

This is where I reassure panicky Democrats and assorted anti-Trumpers that it’s all going to be okay. With under a month to go, the polls paint a reasonably optimistic picture of 2020’s electoral landscape. At this point in the column, readers are urged to refrain from having a glance at my then-seemingly-spot-on August 2004 piece […]

A U.S. Postal Worker monitors packages on a conveyor belt at a processing and distribution center on April 29, 2020, in Oakland, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

To Hell With Absentee Ballots

By: - August 31, 2020

With the bluster and propaganda of the political conventions in the rear view mirror we can turn our attention back to the things that really matter in life: fretting over operational details of the U.S. Postal Service, spiffing up our yards so they look nice when MS-13 members show up for the open house next […]

California voters at a protest against Medicaid cuts. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Show Me The Democracy

By: - August 10, 2020

What do you do when your elected representatives ignore the people’s wants and decline to do the people’s business? I’m talking here about simple and direct refusal to enact measures that clear majorities of the voting public want. The good people of the great state of Missouri showed me an excellent answer just last week: […]

Email from Trump-Pence campaign.

Column: Inbox Assault

By: - July 27, 2020

With campaigns so thoroughly filtered through polls, press, pundits, and other words starting with p that will come to me eventually, sometimes it’s worth taking a step back, turning it all off, and looking at what candidates have to say directly to their supporters. In that spirit, then, comes the experiment in political self-harm I […]

A screenshot of GOP Senate candidate Bill Hagerty's twitter feed. (Photo: Twitter)

Commentary: Home invasion

By: - July 8, 2020

We can think of what Donald Trump has done to the Republican Party over the last four years as a perverse sort of home invasion: He kicked in the door, forced his way in, tied up the occupants, grabbed the silver, and busted up the place. Did the victims summon assistance? Did they call 911? […]