Editor's Note

Editor's Note

Michael Tomasky introduces Issue #30

By The Editors

One thing we’re proud of here at Democracy is the incredible collection of people who are affiliated with the journal. If you’re reading this in print, and if you normally breeze by our masthead, turn the page and take a look at our editorial committee. It’s a formidable group.

Two committee members, William Galston and Elaine Kamarck, wrote what is arguably the most important political white paper of our time. Their 1989 essay “The Politics of Evasion” addressed the ills festering inside the body of a Democratic Party that had lost three straight presidential elections. Their analysis was both praised and condemned, but everyone—including a fellow named Clinton, who read and adopted much of its wisdom—knew it was seminal.

Early in the year, we started thinking that the Republicans of 2013 were looking more than a little like the Democrats of 1989. And this made us think the time was right for a revisiting of this landmark paper roughly a quarter-century after its original publication. Bill and Elaine readily agreed, and the resulting product is in this issue. They review what they got right, what they got wrong, and the changes they did and did not anticipate; and then, having covered that history, they assess where both parties are today and discuss how the Republican Party might reform itself. But they are not optimistic: “[U]ntil party intellectuals are willing to go beyond policy prescriptions and call extremism by its rightful name, it is unlikely that any candidate will be willing to do so. The phrase ‘liberal fundamentalism’ made us few friends a quarter of a century ago, but it was necessary for us to say it. We’re waiting for our counterparts among today’s Republicans and conservatives to do the same.”

Few issues today are more confusing than the question of America’s relationship with Russia. From Syria to Iran and Edward Snowden to the Tsarnaevs, we seem to fight about everything. The stakes may not be as high as they were during the Cold War; but even so, we are the two countries with more than 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons between us. Leading Russia expert Andrew Weiss of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace does a brilliant job sorting out the relationship.

Isabel Sawhill of the Brookings Institution is another scholar who has lent her prestige to our masthead. Belle has long been an advocate on children’s issues and education, and in these pages, she and colleagues Richard V. Reeves and Kimberly Howard write about a new frontier in education—the “parenting gap” between affluent and poor parents. Finally in the feature well, political scientist Henry Farrell, who wrote previously for the journal about the European Union, draws open the curtain on the world of the technology intellectuals. Is this, Farrell asks, the kind of intellectual activity we need?

We’re pleased to welcome well-known union leaders Bruce Raynor and Andy Stern to our pages with their response to the much-discussed “Fortress Unionism” essay by Rich Yeselson from the last issue. And, as usual, we think the menu of book reviews is first-rate. The marvelous Joan Walsh on George Packer; the great J.J. Goldberg on Daniel Jonah Goldhagen’s new book on anti-Semitism; the celebrated philosophy professor Seyla Benhabib on the recent Albert O. Hirschman biography; MIT’s distinguished Meg Jacobs on austerity politics as seen by Robert Kuttner and Mark Blyth; and Diana Wueger, a respected writer and blogger on security issues, on how it’s come to pass that we’re less gun crazy than we were 30 years ago (this is true) but the gun industry and lobby are stronger than ever.

Finally, I want to share some news about the nice summer we had. We and our good friends at the Corporation for Enterprise Development co-hosted an event celebrating the second anniversary of the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau with Senator Elizabeth Warren, an event that (as luck had it) took place the day after the Senate finally confirmed Richard Cordray as director. The bureau was Warren’s idea, and she first wrote about it in our pages back in 2007. So we were pretty proud to hear her say: “Democracy journal provided that start. You created a place for an idea to grow, a place where others could add to it and make it grow. You will always hold a critical place in the history of this agency.”

Also in July, President Obama gave a major economic speech in which he said he wants an economy “that grows from the middle out,” not the top down. That he did so just a few weeks after we came out with our symposium “The Middle-Out Moment” is no mere coincidence. Democracy, our board members Nick Hanauer and Eric Liu, and the Center for American Progress have been working to move the President and other progressive leaders in this direction. It’s a gratifying sign of our growing influence and centrality.

The Editors of Democracy: A Journal of Ideas are Michael Tomasky (Editor) and Jack Meserve (Managing Editor).

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