From the Author
At a big press dinner one night in early 1985, when I was settling into my first job in Washington, I found myself sitting next to a man who was a lot more interesting than the official speaker at the rostrum. In person, David Stockman, the architect of the "Reagan Revolution," was as brilliant as his reputation, but what was most striking was his candid bitterness. Stockman had come to Washington, with Ronald Reagan, determined to change things. But he had failed, and he knew it. They had failed.
Over the next few years, I encountered a few other young reformers. One was the earnest and deeply knowledgeable governor of Arkansas. Bill Clinton's mastery of the inner workings of government policy was astonishing. Ask him about health or welfare or education, and his answers combined the savvy of a politician with the knowledge of a bureaucrat. Then there was an obscure but ambitious young Turk congressman by the name of Newt Gingrich. I'll never forget this starry-eyed back-bencher explaining to a gaggle of conservative activists how Washington could be changed--if only you'd think "outside the box."
Clinton and Gingrich, as I saw first-hand, had brains, talent, determination. They both attempted "revolutions" to rival Stockman's. And they both failed, each more spectacularly than the last. This book revisits the ideas that I first published in my book Demosclerosis, which suggested that Washington's disease is more complex and cunning than even a Clinton or a Gingrich realized. The new edition has a new title, because it is partly a new book. The earlier ideas are here, but I've also tried to account for the experiences of the 1990s--and to peer into the future, where a new relationship between the people and their government is taking shape.
About the Author
Acclaimed as the smartest young political journalist in Washington, Jonathan Rauch writes a bi-weekly column for National Journal and contributes widely to other magazines and journals. A graduate of Yale University, he lives in Washington, D.C.