The Constitution is full of structures created to separate the public’s role in electing and governing. In fact, the Constitution was written explicitly to protect legislators from tracking public opinion too perfectly. In The Federalist Papers, James Madison wrote: “[The republic can] refine and enlarge the public views, by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country, and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations.” Madison speaks to the heart of today’s gridlock. Traditions that created the space for legislators to form relationships and govern have been overturned by demands for unending public input. The balance the Constitution sought to impose is unraveling.
At BPC, we’re conducting an experiment?creating the productive environments that once defined the alchemy of congressional committees. Former officials, collaborating with experts and interest groups from across the political spectrum, participate in private meetings steeped in research and debate. They rely on shared staff, trust that deliberations will be kept private, and socialize together throughout the process. In turn, every major BPC negotiation has produced consensus. One panel recommends cutting entitlements and raising taxes; another proposes increasing domestic oil drilling and renewable energy production; a third argues to wind down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac even while garnering support from bankers, builders, and affordable housing advocates. At best, these efforts provide Congress with battle-tested ideas, distinct from party orthodoxy, and supported by an ideologically diverse and potent alliance. At worst, these efforts offer “existence proof” that, given the right atmosphere, groups of thoughtful people can bridge policy divisions. We seek to revive the best traditions of democratic collaboration. We hope you’ll join us in that mission.
Select the links below to download individual report sections for BPC’s policy programs: