A slow week or two at The Decembrist, in case you didn't notice, although a burst of new entries tonight. The main reason for delay is that I had a couple of other writing projects. My comments on liberals sense of our own history led to an invitation from Michael Tomasky at The American Prospect to write a semi-frequent online column on these issues, ideally looking at a current question in the light of recent history, or reviving some forgotten idea. I'm very excited to do this column, in part because it will be a real challenge. There's a lot of people who know more about this history than I do, but probably not many who are also wonky enough about current politics and policy debates to be able to connect the two. We'll see how it turns out.
The first installment was posted last Friday at http://www.prospect.org/web/page.ww?section=root&name=ViewWeb&articleId=7765
Also, last weekend I spoke at a conference co-sponsored by the New Democracy Project and the Nation Institute, What We Stand For I have a low tolerance for full-day or multi-day conferences -- although if I'm not careful, I could spend my life at them -- but this was superb. The opening sessions on terrorism and war, with Gary Hart, James Fallows, Anne-Marie Slaughter and others were thoroughly informative and lively, as were the Saturday sessions. It was a serious, creative two days, ample proof that the left is not without ideas. The crowd was huge, totally filling the new auditorium at NYU. (I left before the last panel, but I'm told that Eli Pariser of MoveOn.org asked the crowd how many had learned about the conference through MoveOn, and almost every hand was raised.)
I spoke on a panel on political reform, along with Miles Rapoport of Demos , Rep. Gregory Meeks from Queens, and Hendrik Hertzberg of the New Yorker. The conference was based on contributions to two recent books, one called Take Back America and published by Nation Books; the other What We Stand For: A Program for Progressive Patriotism was edited by Mark Green, the former Public Advocate of New York City and is a follow up to the Agenda for America book that the first incarnation of The Democracy Project issued in time for the last election in which an incumbent President Bush was defeated.
I wrote the chapter on political reform in the book. I recommend the entire book, which is inexpensive, but here is the .pdf of my chapter: Beyond Money: Restoring the Rules that Make Democracy Work.