What It Takes to Be an Effective Citizen

It’s so easy in a presidential election year to forget that our system is not about a single person. This year especially, when the dynamics of the presidential contest have dominated news coverage so thoroughly that even the Senate and House races h … [Read more...]

Those Who Know Congress Best Are Shaking Their Heads

I had the good fortune last week to spend some time in Washington, D.C. with about a dozen former members of Congress. As you’d expect, we got to talking about the current Congress. Very quickly it turned out that the same question was troubling all o … [Read more...]

It’s Getting Harder to Govern, And It’s Not Just Politicians’ Fault

We may not know who our next President is going to be, but here’s one thing that’s almost certain: he or she will take office with roughly half of the electorate unhappy and mistrustful. The notion that the President speaks for a broad coalition of Am … [Read more...]

Sadly, Congress Seems Okay With Being Weak

Not many people outside of Capitol Hill paid attention last month when the congressional leadership released next year’s legislative schedule. Its headline feature is a strikingly long summer recess: half of July and all of August, along with a few s … [Read more...]

Members of Congress Need to Spend More Time on Capitol Hill

When Paul Ryan became House Speaker a few weeks ago, he made it clear that he has no intention of spending too much time in Washington. His wife and children are in Wisconsin, he pointed out, and he plans to commute, as he’s done since he got elected … [Read more...]

Washington’s Latest Deal: Little Cause for Celebration

You can understand why President Obama and congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle sought to cast their end-of-October budget deal in the best possible light. They avoided a potentially catastrophic national default. They reduced the … [Read more...]

Dysfunction Exacts a Cost

Earlier this month, The Economist, the renowned British weekly, ran an editorial advocating an end to the U.S. dollar’s supremacy as the world’s chief currency. The magazine offered several economic motives and one supremely political one. “For how lo … [Read more...]

What Do We Mean By “Representative Government”?

With a presidential election year fast approaching, we’re in for a lot of public talk about the state of American democracy. Much of that discussion will be insightful and thought-provoking, but there’s a good chance you’ll also find a lot of it vague … [Read more...]

Politicians Are Failing Us on the Economy

A couple of months ago, the Congressional Budget Office issued a sobering report on the U.S. economy’s long-term prospects. Not to put too fine a point on it, we’re headed for the fiscal rocks. Federal spending accounts for about 20 percent of the … [Read more...]

On Voting … And Not

The campaigning for next year’s elections is starting to draw more attention, and with it comes a focus on voters and their mood. Which is all well and good, but it leaves out of the equation one large bloc of citizens: people who are eligible to v … [Read more...]