By Lee Hamilton As Congress and many state legislatures get under way for the year, there are lots of new lawmakers out there starting to learn the ropes. It’s an exhilarating, exhausting time, and they’ll have plenty of questions about the challenges. But here’s one thing they might not even have imagined: The hardest part of their new jobs may be the most basic — casting a … [Read more...]
Why do politicians run for office?
If you followed this year’s elections, at some point the question probably occurred to you: Why do people do this? The endless campaign events, the constant scrutiny... and increasingly, the very real and alarming threat of political violence. What drives someone to put up with it all? I suspect that if you asked a roomful of politicians, you’d get a roomful of answers. For … [Read more...]
The January 6 committee reminds us of what Congress can do
Watching the hearings held by the January 6 committee as it delves into the events at the Capitol last year and what lay behind them, I’ve been struck by what you might think of as the “meta-coverage.” It’s been fascinating to see. Most news stories, of course, have focused on the alarming revelations uncovered by the committee — in essence, the lengths to which a sitting … [Read more...]
Remember what government can do
By Lee Hamilton Here’s a question: When was the last time at least half of Americans said the government in Washington could be trusted to do the right thing all or most of the time? It was right after 9/11, according to the Pew Research Center, and that was really just a blip. Before that, you’d have to go back to the 1960s. And after the 9/11 bump subsided? You won’t be … [Read more...]
The Supreme Court’s evolution
In the wake of the leaked draft opinion by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito overturning Roe v. Wade and holding that there is no constitutional right to an abortion, there’s been a tidal wave of commentary on the Court’s politicization. Much of it recently has come from the left or from abortion-rights advocates, arguing that the Court has fallen prey to the same partisanship … [Read more...]
How the U.S. has remained a world leader for so long
An interesting thing happened after Russia invaded Ukraine. Though U.S. standing in the world had taken a knock after the much-needed but chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, there was no question where the world’s democracies would turn for leadership in the Ukraine crisis. As much of Europe and Asia has found a new resolve on behalf of democratic values, in the time since the … [Read more...]
Why good investigative journalism matters
By Lee Hamilton Recently, a couple of reporters at The New York Times published an intriguing story about conversations between House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy and other members of his leadership team. It was shortly after the events of January 6 at the Capitol, and they were talking about what to do about then-President Trump. His conduct, McCarthy said, had been … [Read more...]
What does it take to be important in America?
By Lee Hamilton Maybe it’s the perspective a long life brings, but I find myself eyeing with some skepticism the glut of “personal brands” that assault us every day on television, in print, and through social media. Entertainers, celebrities, politicians striving for acclaim, artists and writers who’ve mastered the public-relations game, journalists and media stars who are … [Read more...]
Navigating the next few years
A few weeks ago, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman made a startling suggestion. He proposed a cross-party 2024 presidential ticket: Joe Biden and Liz Cheney, perhaps, or Kamala Harris and Mitt Romney, or another combination of a leading Democrat and an anti-Trump Republican. Friedman’s reasoning is that the U.S. is at a crossroads, and he contends that the main body of … [Read more...]
How’s Joe Biden doing?
It’s been about a year since Joe Biden took office as President, and though it’s still too early to draw firm conclusions about his performance, it’s not too early to discern some trends. Especially in light of how Biden positioned himself in the 2020 campaign and, I believe, how he still sees himself: as a centrist and a moderate who can unite the country by bringing … [Read more...]