Democratic statesmanship changes American history for the better, as it did in the 1780s, the 1860s, the 1930s, and the 1980s. Is statesmanship of this caliber still possible in the 21st Century? Why or why not? If it remains a possibility, what would it look like? What forms might it take? How would it need to be similar too, or different from, previous examples of statesmanship in American history? What are the tasks of statesmanship in the current moment? How can we distinguish between statesmanship and its perverted form–demagoguery?
Lyceum Labs is seeking institutional and individual partners interested in joining forces with us to explore these big questions. Given the complexity of the topic and the challenges we face, such an exploration needs to be at once wide-ranging and conducted with all deliberate speed. It will involve familiar elements — e.g., workshops, convenings, public-facing panels, commissioned papers, blog posts, etc. But our ultimate aims will be to initiate a public discussion about the need for and possibility of statesmanship, and to equip and enable rising leaders who aspire to practice it.
Lyceum Labs plans to help with coordination and funding for project participants, and to add our own ideas into the mix (e.g., A Time for Statesmanship, an essay Daniel Stid published last year in National Affairs). However, given the scope of the task and the stellar contributions we know others are in a position to make, we are not presuming we can or should tackle it ourselves. Hence we plan to marshal leading political scientists, political philosophers, and historians—as well as practitioners, think tankers, commentators, and civic educators—who share our concerns for the country and its leadership.
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