Washington is a case study in dysfunction. There’s no mystery about the country’s challenges: a mismatch between what citizens demand from government and what they’re willing to pay for; crumbling schools and roads; insufficient jobs for the millions who need them.
Yet nothing gets done, despite little dispute in many cases about the outlines of potential solutions.
We’re not going to fix all that in these pages. But here’s a start: a selection of ideas harvested from cities and towns across the country—and, yes, even Washington. Good ideas, squarely in the American tradition that no single party or place has a corner on wisdom. One solution at a time, they’re making life just a little bit better.
In a poisonous political season, they belong neither to Right nor Left but to the only philosophy that has ever had a lasting hold on the American psyche: What Works.
In Philadelphia, the city government saved taxpayers millions of dollars by cutting its fleet of official cars and having employees instead use short-term rentals. Western governors, Democrats and Republicans alike, created an accredited online university to give adults a second chance at higher education and better job skills. And in the heart of Texas, the town of Grapevine figured out a way to bust rush-hour traffic.
These may be comparatively small things. They won’t eliminate the trillion-dollar budget deficit or fix what ails the economy. But they can do something else. They can remind Americans that, despite our current troubles, we still know how to get things done.