Congressional Tragedy of the Commons

I wrote an opinion column that was published today in the Washington Post under the headline “The Tragedy of the Commons”

Here’s the background: Recently, I stepped down as Chairman of the Congressional Management Foundation ( while remaining active on its Board of Directors. In these roles I have been deeply concerned about the polarization of Congress into two camps that have more interest in undermining each other than in collaborating to solve pressing national problems. There are several reasons for this state of affairs but pleas for bi-partisanship and civility remain thwarted by the dynamics of the system itself.

In the process of facilitating retreats for a wide range of congressional offices over the last few years, I came to the conclusion that it is unlikely these dynamics will change anytime soon. Ultimately, constituents will need to insist that their representatives work together to solve problems and will need to vote out of office those who cannot or will not do so. Once again, we are talking about courageous followership.

Meanwhile, members of congress and other political figures need to protect the institutions that form the core of our representative democracy. The column charges members of congress with this responsibility. I invite you to read it at  If you find it relevant to our national situation I invite you to pass it along to your own lists of friends and colleagues. Our political leaders need courageous followers to hold them accountable for being good stewards of our democratic institutions.

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