Editor's Note

Editor's Note

Michael Tomasky introduces Issue #21.

By Michael Tomasky

When we think about the health or weakness of the economy, we tend to look first to the big indicators: the Dow Jones industrial average, the sales figures of the Big Three automakers, and the success (or not) of other large and well-known corporations. What we forget is that small businesses and startups are the real drivers. Job growth in the United States originates almost entirely in new firms. Further, it’s mostly these newer and smaller businesses that produce the innovation that we’ll need to stay competitive in the years and decades ahead.

Government absolutely must foster this entrepreneurship. The task is all the more urgent now, as the economy still needs plenty of kick-starting. What more should government be doing to encourage greater entrepreneurship? With the generous help of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, we enlisted five esteemed experts—led by William Galston of the Brookings Institution and our editorial committee—to look at different aspects of the question. We examine the growth of regional innovation clusters; the vital role that immigrants play in American entrepreneurship; the need to educate children to be entrepreneurs; the particular hurdles faced by minority entrepreneurs; and the political tensions within the progressive coalition that sometimes constrain the ability or willingness to embrace an entrepreneurship agenda.

Each of the pieces presents information both alarming and hopeful. And, as is our custom, each offers specific prescriptions about existing policies that could be changed, or new ones that could be adopted, to promote entrepreneurship in America. We hope policy-makers and all concerned readers will study these fact-filled essays and think hard about their arguments.

Another matter requiring hard thinking: how progressives should frame their legal and constitutional arguments against “originalism” and “judicial restraint.” In this issue, we publish a riveting debate on this question between Geoffrey R. Stone and William P. Marshall on the one hand and Doug Kendall and Jim Ryan on the other. All distinguished scholars or advocates who’ve given extensive thought to the question, these experts present a fundamental choice for progressives in how we view and argue about the Constitution itself. This debate is sure to spur a great deal of response in the progressive legal community and will introduce these important arguments to a wider audience.

Elsewhere, we return to our “America 2021” rubric, this time exploring climate and energy policy with five distinguished panelists who have worked in Democratic administrations past and present, on the Hill, or in independent organizations in Washington for many years. In a discussion moderated by Bryan Walsh of Time magazine (and our thanks to you, Bryan), our roundtable has some fascinating and surprising things to say about how we get closer to a clean-energy future.

Finally, in the feature well, at this time of amazing developments in the Arab world, as observers wonder whether the Administration has a plan for dealing with it all, we delve into grand strategy. Princeton’s G. John Ikenberry, one of the leading authorities on the subject, lays out an American future guided less by hegemony than reciprocity—and a future that is in fact more secure because of it. Ikenberry’s vision of a “milieu-based grand strategy” adjusts to the realities of both a multipolar world and one in which the major challenges will not involve wars between nation-states but threats that may be environmental, related to public-health crises, and so on.

Elsewhere, Jeffrey Herf of the University of Maryland responds to Anatol Lieven’s review of Charles Kupchan’s book from the previous issue, arguing that the United States does, alas, have enemies who want to destroy it, and we must remain mindful of that. In the books section, Harold Pollack dissects the vaccine-autism controversy of recent years and the damage it has caused. Heather Hurlburt considers Dwight Eisenhower and the military-industrial complex and suggests that real change, if it is to come, will come from the military itself. And David A. Strauss surveys the astonishing career of William Brennan, the most consequential Supreme Court justice of the twentieth century.

And finally, Democracy this summer celebrates its fifth anniversary. We think we’ve accomplished a lot in five years, but none of it would have happened without readers. So permit us to take this opportunity to thank you sincerely for your support.

Michael Tomasky is the editor of Democracy: A Journal of Ideas.

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