A U.S. Representative from Indiana for 34 years reviews the best of the commentaries he sent to his constituents during his years in office.
Hamilton (Global and International Studies/Indiana Univ.; Strengthening Congress, 2009, etc.) provides a solid look at the thinking, actions, and failures from the Lyndon Johnson years to the present. He covers each administration, listing accomplishments as well as the majorities in Congress. The short essays he sent on a regular basis gave the population of Indiana an illuminating view of what was going on in Washington, D.C. He deals with history, policy issues, and how Congress might work better. As a young representative, he learned from the best. As the Medicare bill came up for consideration, Wilbur Mills’ talent at consensus building and respect for minority views taught Hamilton how to get along in Washington. The author has a folksy style, making this book both informative and easy to read. The importance of Congress’ process and procedures hits home immediately, as we see how it has wandered away from its established practices for developing and passing laws. Hamilton’s views on politicians might just renew some readers’ faith in our elected officials. At once encouraging and enlightening, his writings stir hope, and what he says is still important all these years later. In spite of our ills and need for reform, Hamilton has an abiding belief in the essence of representative government and the search for the common good. The need for “civility in Congress,” he writes, “is an art that requires continual application.” He encourages us to find what is “right” in America and to see how well we have endured.
The book—essentially an encapsulation of the author’s philosophy of politics and politicians—is a good choice for those who want to believe in government again.