The Blackfoot Valley's News Source Since 1980

Articles written by Lee Hamilton


Sorted by date  Results 1 - 21 of 21

  • A Who's Who of Partisanship and Non-Partisanship in Congress

    Lee Hamilton, Center on Representative Government|Updated Jun 5, 2024

    Back in mid-May, the Lugar Center and the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University released the latest of their studies looking at bipartisanship in the US House and Senate. They summed up the bottom line in their first sentence: "The results show a slight improvement in bipartisanship in 2023 but remained near record lows." In the scheme of news stories coming out of Washington, the "Bipartisanship Index" rarely gets much ink, except for a one-day piece in...

  • Congress Just Accomplished Something. Can It Do It Again?

    Lee Hamilton, Center on Representative Government|Updated May 10, 2024

    Until recently, it seemed like you couldn't turn around without finding a headline lambasting the current Congress as the least productive ever. There was good reason for that, which we'll get into shortly, but it's worth noting that they've suddenly disappeared. Clearly, that's because of April's passage of the foreign aid package that includes significant aid for Ukraine, Israel and Gaza, and Taiwan, and a measure that attempts to force a sale of TikTok. There was a great...

  • Can We Bridge Division?

    Lee Hamilton, Center on Representative Government|Updated Apr 1, 2024

    Disagree Better. That's the name of an interesting initiative at the National Governors Association this year, spearheaded by the organization's current chair, Utah Republican Gov. Spencer Cox. The idea, in a nutshell, is to "reduce partisan animosity and foster healthy debate by modeling a more positive and optimistic way of working through policy problems," as the NGA puts it. It would be easy to scoff, of course. In this era of bitter political hostility, as we head into a...

  • You May Be Tempted to Tune Politics Out, But Here's Why You Shouldn't

    Lee Hamilton, Center on Representative Government|Updated Feb 13, 2024

    Back in January, the Pew Research Center released the results of an intriguing set of focus groups they carried out last year. Ordinarily, of course, survey research organizations test the sentiments of registered or likely voters to check in on their mood. But these groups were voters who, in Pew's words, "look at the nation's politics as a topic better avoided than embraced." What those voters had to say is a sign of these highly polarized, highly politicized times. They're...

  • Why Does the House Speaker Matter, Anyway?

    Lee Hamilton, Center on Representative Government|Updated Nov 6, 2023

    Wednesday, November 01, 2023 It would be a stretch to say that the US government came to a standstill after GOP members of the House unseated Kevin McCarthy as Speaker at the start of October. The Senate and the executive branch both kept working to move their priorities forward during the three weeks before the House finally found a replacement. Federal workers kept programs running and operations on an even keel. Yet the House's dysfunction had a clear cost: an inability to...

  • The Dialogue of Democracy Needs Tending

    Lee Hamilton, Center on Representative Government|Updated Jul 10, 2023

    There are so many things I worry about these days. Are we going to default on our debts? Can we adapt to the accumulating impact of climate change? How are we going to handle the dangers posed by China and Russia? But bigger than all of those is this: Can we as a nation confront those challenges by arriving, together, at reasonable solutions? Or to put it another way, do we even know any more how to carry on a public dialogue about the issues we face and how to resolve them?...

  • This is How Divided Government Should Work

    Lee Hamilton, Center on Representative Government|Updated Jun 20, 2023

    Before the memory of the recent debt ceiling negotiations disappears and we confront the next new drama in Washington, let's pause a moment to acknowledge what just happened. You can debate from here to eternity whether the American people were winners or losers in the deal (I'd say winners because the government didn't default, losers because we had to go through the whole charade in the first place) but what's not debatable is one key point: Congress and the White House...

  • Why You Should Want Your Representative to Learn Things

    Lee Hamilton, Indiana University Center on Representative Government|Updated Mar 7, 2023

    In the pantheon of political attacks on sitting legislators, probably none is more damaging than the charge that they've lost touch with the people back home. If they're in Congress, it's usually couched as having caught "Potomac Fever"; in a state legislature, that they don't care about the views of the people who put them in office. The ranks of ex-legislators are filled with people who faced this. Even Abe Lincoln, who served a single term in Congress, was accused as a fres...

  • Comments on Congress: Twenty Years On, There's Still Work to Do

    Lee Hamilton, Center on Representative Government|Updated Sep 22, 2021

    As the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks approaches, I've been thinking a lot about the 9/11 Commission, which I co-chaired with former New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean. Not just the work the commission did, but the work it didn't do-and the work that remains to be done. The commission was formally established in November of 2002, though it didn't start in earnest until the following spring. It consisted of five Republicans and five Democrats, all of whom had held high f...

  • Comments on Congress: Why voters vote as they do

    Lee Hamilton, Center on Representative Government|Updated Aug 18, 2021

    Maybe it's just a professional preoccupation, but I've always been intrigued by why voters cast their ballots as they do. I've never made a formal study of it but have talked with plenty of them over the years, and one thing sticks with me from those conversations: There's no one thing. People find a myriad of interesting-and sometimes idiosyncratic-reasons for voting this way or that. Some care mostly about a single issue-abortion, say, or climate change-and if a politician d...

  • Comments on congress: Summing Up Democracy

    Lee Hamilton, Indiana University Center on Representative Government|Updated May 5, 2021

    It's so easy, in the course of our day-to-day lives, to get caught up in the political preoccupations of the moment. What's the Senate going to do about the filibuster? How should infrastructure money be spent? Is the country going to come out of this year as badly divided as it started? These and many other questions matter a lot-but sometimes, it's helpful to step back and take stock of what we've learned over the course of our history. I've been thinking about this because...

  • Coments on Congress: Our Country Rests on People Doing the Right Thing

    Lee Hamilton, Indiana University Center on Representative Government|Updated Mar 3, 2021

    As the events of the past few months have unfolded, I have often found myself wondering what our Founders would have made of it all. Impossible to know, of course, but they had plenty of insight to offer. In particular, I keep returning to these lines from James Madison. He delivered them during the Virginia convention to ratify the Constitution, arguing that the surest safeguard against legislators and a government bent on malfeasance is the people themselves. "I go on this...

  • The New President's Toughest Job: A Polarized America

    Lee Hamilton, Indiana University Center on Representative Government|Updated Jan 20, 2021

    If the months since the November elections have shown us anything, it’s that the US is more deeply divided than we’ve experienced in a very long time. This has been building at least since the 1990s, starting in Congress and ultimately coming to be reflected in a polarized electorate, but it’s reached the point where, rather than take pleasure in the success of a politician elected to the presidency, you have to keep your fingers crossed on his behalf. For starters, we now h...

  • Op-Ed: This is a testing time for all of us

    Lee Hamilton, Center on Representative Government|Updated Jul 8, 2020

    A few weeks ago, The New York Times ran an article noting that with the US preoccupied by the coronavirus pandemic, Black Lives Matter protests, and massive unemployment, "its competitors are moving to fill the vacuum, and quickly." Russia, China, North Korea, Iran... All are testing how far they can go, seeking to exploit our weaknesses and fill the vacuum they perceive in world leadership. Our allies, meanwhile, are expressing dismay at the US's inability to come to grips wi...

  • Op/Ed: Without civility, our system doesn't work

    Lee Hamilton, Indiana University Center on Representative Government|Updated Feb 18, 2020

    When he was just a young teenage schoolboy, George Washington sat down and copied out 110 "Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior." Many of these had to do with simple manners. "Cleanse not your teeth with the tablecloth, napkin, fork or knife," reads Rule 100. Good advice at any time. But the first rule the future president wrote down and followed for the rest of his life was especially notable: "Every action done in company, ought to be with some sign of respect to those that...

  • Op/Ed: Why Trust Matters

    Lee Hamilton, Center on Representative Government|Updated Jan 1, 2020

    To me, it was a thunderclap. Years ago, when I was in Congress, we were in the midst of a tense, contentious debate. Members had gotten irritated, levying charges back and forth, and tempers were rising. It was starting to look like we might just go off the rails. Then one member stood up, asked for our attention, and said to us, "Let's remember: trust is the coin of the realm." His statement at that moment hit me broadside: If we were to have any hope of progress, we had to...

  • Commentary: We Make Progress When Citizens Tackle Small Stuff

    Lee Hamilton, Indiana University Center on Representative Government|Updated Dec 10, 2019

    One of the not-so-small gifts of living in a representative democracy is that you can’t accomplish things alone. Whether you’re trying to get a stop sign put up on a dangerous corner or to change US policy on greenhouse gas emissions, you have to reach out to others. And learning how to persuade, motivate, and involve them — learning the skills of active citizenship, in other words — makes this a stronger, more resilient country. So I want to make a case for building and usi...

  • Commentary: To improve, congress needs to look inward

    Lee Hamilton, ndiana University Center on Representative Government|Updated May 22, 2019

    There are a lot of reasons why Congress finds itself hamstrung in Washington and discounted by the people it serves at home. These include long-term trends over which it has little control: the political polarization of the country; the oceans of money that get dumped into the political process; the push by successive presidents to amass as much executive power as possible. But in the end, the demons Congress has to fight are its own. If it is to return to relevance, effective...

  • Comments on Congress: The Political Landscape Ahead

    Lee Hamilton, Center on Representative Government|Updated Jan 9, 2019

    In the days following George H. W. Bush's death, it was impossible to ignore the mood that settled over much of the country: a yearning for the civility, dignity and inclusiveness that the former president represented. It was a form of bipartisan nostalgia for a time when the nation seemed to work. As we head toward 2019, it's equally hard to ignore the ground that this yearning sprang from: a deep-seated doubt that the system can work, and great worry that our democratic...

  • Comments on Congress: A More Perfect Union

    Lee Hamilton, Center on Representative Government|Updated Aug 15, 2018

    You know these words, but how often do you stop to think about them? "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity..." They belong, of course, to the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution. That remarkable document is not just the blueprint for our political system. Its Preamble...

  • Comments on Congress - Politics: We Need It

    Lee Hamilton, Center on Representative Government|Updated Jun 20, 2018

    Every so often, I jot down a list of the things that discourage me about our country. There's the widespread disregard for our core values of tolerance and mutual respect, for instance. Our declining national optimism. Our relaxed attitude toward fixing our election machinery, overseeing financial institutions, and making sure that our key democratic institutions and processes are working effectively. There's wage stagnation, income inequality, a high poverty rate, failing inf...