From Democracy‘s Pages to Law of the Land

A letter from Editor Michael Tomasky on the signing of the financial regulatory reform billand the new consumer financial watchdog it establishes that was first written about in Democracy.

By The Editors

Dear Friend,

Four years ago, Kenneth Baer and Andrei Cherny started Democracy: A Journal of Ideas based on the conviction that even in this quick-hit, five-alarm political culture, an old-fashioned quarterly journal could still influence the debate and change events. Not many experts would have agreed.
Four years later, we have reached the week when President Obama will sign the Restoring American Financial Stability Act, and Ken and Andrei’s bet is looking pretty strong. A key provision of the legislation — arguably the centerpiece of the most comprehensive financial regulatory reform in 75 years — began life as an article in Democracy’s pages.

The Consumer Financial Protection Agency that has attracted so much attention started out as “Unsafe at Any Rate,” Elizabeth Warren’s essay in the Summer 2007 issue of Democracy in which she asked: “Why are consumers safe when they purchase tangible consumer products with cash, but when they sign up for routine financial products like mortgages and credit cards they are left at the mercy of their creditors?”

Hopefully, they won’t be any longer. And it all started in our pages. It’s a rare thing indeed for an idea to go from the pages of a small-circulation journal into law of the land in three years. We believe it is testimony not only to Democracy’s quality and intellectual rigor, but to the fact that ideas still matter.

If you’ve been reading Democracy, you know that with every issue, we publish pioneering and provocative articles about economic innovation, higher education, the present and future of progressive politics, and a vast range of domestic and foreign-policy questions. And you know that several of our contributors and board members have joined the administration: Anne-Marie Slaughter and Susan Rice from our Editorial Committee, and contributors such as Jason Furman, Michael McFaul, Lael Brainard, and others.

We’re extremely proud of Warren’s piece; proud to have played a central role in something we’re confident will be seen in the future as a major positive consumer reform; proud to be proving with every issue that in this age of rapid-fire harangue and insult, serious writing about serious ideas matters. There’s more on the way.


Michael Tomasky


Democracy: A Journal of Ideas

The Editors of Democracy: A Journal of Ideas are Michael Tomasky (Editor), Jack Meserve (Managing Editor), and Delphine d'Amora (Associate Editor).

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