The Ripon Forum

Volume 43, No. 4

Fall 2009 Issue

In This Edition

By on October 23, 2014

One of our goals for each edition of The Ripon Forum is to focus on a particular issue or theme. This current edition is no different. But as we began work on it, we began to wonder whether we had failed to accomplish this goal.

This edition does, after all, feature as its cover story a terrific essay by former Utah Governor and Cabinet Secretary Mike Leavitt on the growth of government in Washington and the complacency of the states in standing up to what he views as an unprecedented – and possibly unconstitutional – federal power grab.

At the same time, however, this edition also includes an essay by a Governor who is anything but complacent – Rhode Island’s Donald Carcieri, who writes about his efforts to reduce spending in the Ocean State. If Carcieri’s is a success story, the essay by political reform expert Steven Hill is not – it is an account of the dysfunctional political process in California, and the effort underway to rewrite the state constitution and turn this process on its head.

Three different essays on three different topics. At first glance, the three have very little in common. But upon further reflection, we came to realize that, collectively, they depict the good, the bad, and the ugly of American governance – which, after a summer of town hall protests and voter anger, struck us as an appropriate theme to convey.

We hope you enjoy these essays. We also hope you enjoy some of the other pieces included in this Fall edition, among them: John Barrasso’s expert commentary on the importance of personal behavior in driving down health care costs; Gail Wilensky’s spot-on assessment of the flashpoints and areas of agreement in the current health care debate; and Darrell Issa’s practical advice on how to keep partisan politics out of the Census next year.

Finally, at a time when it seems that every other political staffer has a “tell-all” book that he or she wants to write, we hope you take a moment to read the essay by Joel Sawyer, a political professional who not only has every reason to write such a book, but whom, for reasons he discusses in his essay, has chosen not to.

As with all editions of the Forum, we would like to know what you think. Please write us at with any thoughts or opinions you may have.

Lou Zickar
The Ripon Forum

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