The Ripon Forum

Volume 41, No. 3

June - July 2007 Issue

A Note from the Chairman Emeritus

By on November 3, 2015 with 0 Comments

Two hundred and twenty years ago this summer, fifty five delegates from America’s thirteen states locked themselves in a room in Philadelphia to hammer out a new Constitution for our Nation.   

Four months later, in September, they emerged with an agreement.  No one had been allowed inside the room during their deliberations.  James Madison took notes; others shared their thoughts through correspondence.  A transcript of the proceedings, however, does not exist.   

But it’s safe to assume the debate wasn’t pretty.  Egos were involved. Fortunes were involved.  Political futures were involved.  Yet somehow, the delegates managed to put aside their differences and reach consensus on a framework for government that was revolutionary for its time. 

Today, that same governing framework still exists.  But reaching that type of political consensus seems to be a thing of the past.  Clearly, there are exceptions.  But increasingly, partisanship has become the coin of the realm in our Nation’s capital, and distrust between the parties abounds. 

In this edition of the Forum, we look at some of the reasons for that, and some of the solutions being pursued.  We gear our coverage of this topic around two of the most widely respected former legislators in Washington – former Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker and former House Republican Leader Bob Michel.   

In a Q&A, Senator Baker talks about a bipartisan effort he is helping lead to break find common ground on some of the key issues facing our country.  In an essay that follows, Leader Michel discusses gridlock in Congress and some ideas he has to reform the institution. 

This edition of the Forum also looks at some other topics that are making news or will be making news in the coming months, including the debate over health care on the presidential campaign trail and the Bloomberg plan to fight poverty in New York. 

As with all editions of our journal, we hope you enjoy what you read, and hope you will not hesitate to write us at with any comments you may have.

Bill Frenzel
Chairman Emeritus
Ripon Society

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