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Articles written by Lee Hamilton


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  • Comments on Congress: Why civility matters

    Lee Hamilton|Oct 13, 2023

    Given everything that’s been taking place on Capitol Hill, I’d guess you missed the announcement a few months back that the House Civility Caucus has been revived. It would be hard to call this earth-shattering news, but it’s a notable measure of hope. The caucus first came into being in 2018, when two members of Congress from Columbus, Ohio — Democrat Joyce Beatty and Republican Steve Stivers — launched the group with the idea that disagreement is inevitable in politics, but being disagreea... Full story

  • Comments on Congress: Why trustworthiness matters in our democracy

    Lee Hamilton|Apr 14, 2023

    Early this year, the Gallup organization came out with a survey of Americans on how they view the ethics of various professions. Nurses ranked at the top. Doctors, pharmacists, and high school teachers did well, too. Real estate agents and bankers were considered about average. Down at the bottom? Telemarketers. And members of Congress. So you can imagine how our representatives in Washington feel, knowing that a proven liar in their midst, George Santos, continues to garner headlines and... Full story

  • Being a good citizen is harder now

    Lee Hamilton|Mar 17, 2023

    A couple of decades ago, I wrote a book in which I talked about what it takes to be a good citizen in a representative democracy like ours. I thought the principles I laid out were timeless, but I recently reread them and boy, they seem a lot less clear-cut now. In principle, everything I wrote back then is still key to the functioning of our democracy: you need to vote; you need to take the time to be informed about policy and politics; you need to be in touch with your representatives to let... Full story

  • Guest view: Moving forward means finding common ground

    Lee Hamilton|Nov 11, 2022

    I don’t know about you, but I [wasn’t] inclined to make many predictions about the outcome of the midterm elections this year. There’s one prediction, though, that I think is safe: After the dust has cleared, Congress will be narrowly divided and President Biden will have to work hard to govern effectively. Whether he can do so will depend on plenty of different factors, but none will be more important than his relationship with members of both parties in Congress. To the extent that Ameri...

  • Comments on Congress: Why political skills matter

    Lee Hamilton|Oct 14, 2022

    Now that this year’s primaries are over and general election campaigns are revving up, it’s time to take a step back. I know, it seems an odd thing to do when all the media attention is shifting to focus on the U.S. Senate, U.S. House, and legislative contests that might affect who controls those chambers. But for those of us who care about where the country’s headed, it’s also a time to look past the election and consider what our government and society as a whole need. I can tell you, in four... Full story

  • Guest view: Congress shows negotiation can work

    Lee Hamilton|Sep 16, 2022

    There are two especially striking aspects to the "Inflation Reduction Act," the sprawling climate-change/tax-reform/health-care legislation that just passed Congress and was signed into law by President Biden. The first is that it passed on strict party-line votes. And the second is that in an unexpectedly productive Congress, this makes it unusual. The measure was the product of a year's worth of patient negotiation and compromise in the Senate. And while there are portions of the law that...

  • Comments on Congress: Jan. 6 Committee reminds us of what Congress can do

    Lee Hamilton|Aug 5, 2022

    Watching the hearings held by the Jan. 6 committee as it delves into last year’s events at the U.S. Capitol and what lay behind them, I’ve been struck by what you might think of as the “meta-coverage.” It’s been fascinating to see. Most news stories, of course, have focused on the alarming revelations uncovered by the committee — in essence, the lengths to which a sitting president and his allies went in trying to short-circuit the clearly expressed will of the American people. But some covera... Full story

  • Op-Ed: Why good investigative journalism matters

    Lee Hamilton|Jun 3, 2022

    Recently, a couple of reporters at The New York Times published an intriguing story about conversations between House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy and other members of his leadership team. It was shortly after the events of Jan. 6 at the Capitol, and they were talking about what to do about then-President Trump. His conduct, McCarthy said, had been “atrocious and totally wrong.” Moreover, wrote Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin in their article, McCarthy “faulted the president for ‘incitin... Full story

  • Comments on Congress: Bipartisanship isn't dead, but…

    Lee Hamilton|May 6, 2022

    Having just watched a Supreme Court nominee supported by a comfortable majority of Americans draw just three Republican votes in the Senate, you could be forgiven for thinking bipartisanship in Congress is a thing of the past. And in the case of Supreme Court nominees, you’d be right: The last time a nominee got over half the votes of the opposition party was in 2005, and you have to go back nearly three decades — to Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 1993 — to find one who drew votes from almost all senat...