Every three months Democracy brings you the latest in progressive thinking, whether it be Mark Schmitt’s widely read critique of the campaign finance reform movement (“Mismatching Funds,” Issue #4) or Elizabeth Warren’s influential proposal for a Financial Product Safety Commission (“Unsafe at Any Rate,” Issue #5), which quickly appeared as a plank in John Edwards’ campaign platform.
Our current issue, which you have just received, is one of our most important yet. Eschewing our usual format, we have dedicated the bulk of our front section to a groundbreaking symposium on the future of American policy in the Middle East. Entitled “After Iraq,” the symposium includes contributions from a dozen leading foreign-policy progressives, from terrorism expert Peter Bergen to Carnegie Endowment President Jessica Tuchman Mathews. We also have two other features, both on pressing economic issues: One, by Bill Clinton’s economic adviser, Gene Sperling, examines how progressives can embrace policies that both raise the economic tide and make sure that the tide lifts all boats equally; the other, by business leader Bernard Schwartz and New America Foundation Fellow Sherle Schwenninger, argues that progressives should resist pressure to focus on budget reduction and instead look for ways to boost public investment. We also have several strong book reviews in the issue, with contributions from Gregg Easterbrook, Tom Bender, and Mary Frances Berry.
This issue puts forward ideas for reform of institutions critical to American life. Elizabeth Warren, the Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law at Harvard, argues that financial products—such as credit cards and mortgages—need regulatory oversight just as consumer products do. Jason Bordoff, of the Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project, puts forward a new way to understand the obligations that the state, private sector, and citizens have to one another. Jason Kamras, former National Teacher of the Year, and Andrew Rotherham, a member of the Virginia Board of Education, call for an overhaul in how we educate, mentor, and compensate teachers. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, a physician and the head of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, examines the health of our health care system. And in response to Cristina Rodríguez’s article in our last issue, Yale Law School’s Peter Schuck argues that the bilingual education system fails the very immigrants it is supposed to promote.
Moving to important moral issues facing our nation, Jonathan Moreno of the University of Pennsylvania says that progressives need to take seriously the ethical challenges of advances in biotechnology, such as stem-cell research. Jonathan Rauch counters the conservative case against gay marriage. And William Galston—a frequent contributor and member of our Editorial Committee—argues for a distinctly progressive form of doubt to reenter public life.
Looking abroad, Carter Malkasian—who spent several months in Iraq’s Al Anbar province advising the Marines—posits that, once there is an American drawdown, what’s needed is a “grassroots Iraqization” that looks to Sunni militias and local police forces to keep the peace. Shadi Hamid of the Project on Middle East Democracy says that we must continue with democracy promotion and be willing to accept moderate, non-violent Islamist parties as part of that effort. And Kenneth Baer, writing the “Recounting” column, cautions progressives not to lose sight of future threats while dissecting what went wrong in Iraq.
Understanding our past is a key to understanding our future. Accordingly, in this issue, Fred Siegel of the Cooper Union takes a close look at the history of American liberalism, and Michael Kazin of Georgetown does the same for American communism. And Fred Wertheimer, who has worked on campaign finance reform for more than three decades, counters Mark Schmitt’s take on the historic accomplishments of the movement.
In our lead feature, Mark Schmitt looks back at the 1990s effort, asks what went wrong, and offers a blueprint to revive campaign finance reform by celebrating, not castigating, the resurgence of a citizen-centered democracy. In our “Recounting” column, Democracy co-editor Andrei Cherny makes the progressive case for reviving the legacy of Louis Brandeis and against “bigness” and the concentration of power. And Kathleen McCarthy, an expert on philanthropy at the City University of New York, argues that in a world in which foundations will have more power than ever before, they need to enhance transparency and openness.
Another critical question facing our democracy is one as old as the republic: How to create a country in which e pluribus unum? Cristina Rodríguez, an assistant professor of law at New York University, counters the hysteria around immigration and the push to “preserve” English by arguing that bilingualism is actually essential to the cohesion of our country. Similarly, Spencer Ackerman, a senior correspondent at the American Prospect, looks at Muslims in America and explains how and why they have become a part of the national mosaic.
A vibrant democracy is founded on the rule of law and an economy that allows all to participate. So Neal Katyal—the Georgetown University law professor who argued the landmark Supreme Court case Hamdan v. Rumsfeld—calls for a new approach to defending human rights. Jerome Skolnick, past president of the American Society of Criminology, examines what caused the great crime decline of the 1990s. Brad DeLong of the University of California, Berkeley draws the lessons for progressives from the life of the recently deceased Milton Friedman. And Christopher Howard of the College of William and Mary reveals that the welfare state is larger than we think—but more unfair than we’d like. Turning abroad to the possible threats to our democracy, Jofi Joseph, foreign relations adviser to Senator Bob Casey, Jr., critiques the Bush Administration’s approach to nonproliferation and offers a different strategy for handling Tehran, while UCLA’s Steven Spiegel outlines a neo-regionalist strategy in dealing with the Middle East.
And because democracy—and Democracy—is, of course, about debate, we have two lively responses to essays from the last issue. Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, author of the global bestseller Hitler’s Willing Executioners, rebuts Peter Bergen and Michael Lind’s argument that humiliation fuels violent extremism; what’s important, he argues, is what makes those people feel so humiliated in the first place. And two experts in corporate social responsibility (CSR)—attorneys Dan Feldman and Sarah Altschuller—report back from the frontlines that, contrary to Aaron Chatterji and Siona Listokin’s essay in our Winter issue, CSR is an effective strategy to achieve progressive ends.
This issue’s contributors explore topics ranging from the mind of the average American to that of the suicide bomber and from the perils of overarching constitutional theories to the sins of zealous historians. Peter Bergen, who conducted the first television interview with Osama bin Laden, and his New America Foundation colleague Michael Lind expose the myth of deprivation—that poverty and poor economic prospects fuel Islamist jihadism. Joshua Kurlantzick, a longtime Asia-watcher, argues that similar confusion clouds our thinking in East Asia, where an emergent China is both menacingly strong and perilously weak. In response, the United States might need to rely on the other rising Asian power, India, to keep China from falling too far in either direction.
We also have a series of articles exploring international institutions and relationships. Jeff Faux, founding president of the Economic Policy Institute, contends that an elite “Party of Davos” dominates world financial institutions and the debate over globalization. To bring stakeholders other than global corporate investors into the decision-making process, he argues that progressives should support a new strategy that speeds globalization instead of slowing it by pushing for regional economic blocs that link workers and everyday people, a strategy that should be grounded in a fairer, but, in fact, more far-reaching, NAFTA. Nancy Soderberg, a former U.S. Ambassador to the UN and National Security Council official, looks at the legacy of outgoing Secretary-General Kofi Annan to show that the UN is more indispensable to U.S. interests than ever before. And Soderberg’s former colleague from the U.S. mission to the UN, Suzanne Nossel, argues that, after six years of the Bush Administration’s foreign policy, a concerted effort to resuscitate American legitimacy is vital.
Examining issues closer to home, Duke University’s Aaron Chatterji and the University of California, Berkeley’s Siona Listokin make the progressive case against corporate social responsibility, while Jerold Kayden—director of the Master in Urban Planning Program at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design—responds to Joel Kotkin’s take-down of “cool cities” from our second issue. Looking critically at the history of the American left, Open Society Institute Vice President Gara LaMarche explains what the history of the American Civil Liberties Union can teach liberal organizations today; law professor Erwin Chemerinsky looks at Kermit Roosevelt III’s case against judicial activism; historian Kevin Mattson tells us how and why his profession is AWOL from American public life; and the University of New Hampshire’s Ellen Fitzpatrick writes an incisive essay about how public polling and its quest for the “average” American has affected American democracy.