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The Future in Context

The Constitution meant for Congress to pass bills by a simple majority. But the process has changed over the decades, turning the Senate’s cautious view on legislation into a major obstacle that can only be fixed by reform.
Governing’s humanities scholar in residence lays out four coping strategies for dealing with the troubled state of America. One of them demands something of us for the common good.
For nearly 80 years, a small town in Maryland has played host to presidents, world leaders and the media, taking the glamour and attention in stride.
A new report from the federal government brings urgency to a veteran geologist’s longtime warnings about the crippling of the Colorado River.
The country is long on problems but short on levers that might help lift it out of a quagmire of its own making.
Scholars have always placed two New Deal era federal agencies at the center of the racist policy that steered private mortgage lenders away from Black neighborhoods. However, new research paints a different picture.
In the 1930s, the U.S. became adept at building world-leading infrastructure to support its growing competitive economy and social aspirations. Today, the advantage has slipped in favor of China and other players.
Last week marked the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and witnessed the removal a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee in Richmond, VA. The events reflect on the country’s changing national identity, symbols and myths - and the cost that comes with them.
They provide nonpartisan advice and expertise on the legislative process. In recent decades, their role has grown more influential, especially with budgetary matters, but not everyone agrees that’s good.
Most Americans associate Labor Day with the end of summer. But the holiday was originally a form of worker activism during a period of rapid industrialization. Solidarity, not barbecue, was the buzzword back then.
The world changed on Aug. 6. The Taliban seized power in Afghanistan, triggering a hasty withdrawal and changing the world’s perception of the U.S. while causing Americans to question the state of the national soul.
Thomas Jefferson’s meaning has been up for grabs since he penned the phrase in 1776. The country has proven to be all too comfortable with the ambiguity. Depending how we answer the question, it could help redeem the reputation of the third president or leave us with a lesser Jefferson.
America has had resounding success in telling the story of its birth and rise as a nation. So too has Israel during the 20th century. Now, Palestine must do the same if it wants to succeed, says Middle East scholar Rashid Khalidi.
Are the postmodernists and critical race theorists correct when they say America and some of its founders should appear with an asterisk behind their names from now on? The legacy of the Enlightenment and the American Experiment is in the balance.
A new book makes a multi-generational examination of the origin stories of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin to understand how they were shaped and by whom – their mothers.
Congress and state legislatures dealt with dozens of bills on voter identification and other legislative measures aimed at more full election integrity — but there is no agreement on what a more perfect voting process would look like.
Political gridlock and one-term presidents, are there recognizable patterns in how the Constitution plays out as the country moves through and beyond our times?
Imperial presidents, a diminished Congress and powerful judicial review. History and its players have shaped a Constitution that might surprise the framers.
Sandy Stosz, a self-described stubborn retired vice admiral, digests the lessons in leadership from a 40-year career in the U.S. Coast Guard.
Jealously guarded as the country's most sacred text, the highest law in the land is an artifact of history even as competing forces put demands on it to guide the country into the future.
The Great Depression crushed the economy. The New Deal saved it. Can an analogy be made with today’s economic situation? Professor Jason Scott Smith talks about what happened in the 1930s and what might happen today.
The author of a new book on the pioneers of the civil rights movement says, as different as the two were from each other, they were also each other’s alter egos in the struggle against racism.
A new book the author calls “an owner’s manual for American citizens” recovers a lost language that Americans need to talk with each other about things that matter.

As a divided country wrestles with its future, it may be a good time to think about how we constitute a more perfect Union.
In the early years of the Republic, wives of politicians were often helpmates and could wield power despite their gender. Today, spouses challenge traditional gender norms in politics and have broad work portfolios.
The Constitution is silent on the number of justices on the Supreme Court. The independence of the judiciary is put in jeopardy when partisans settle political scores by rebalancing the courts.
As Congress debates the massive investment in American infrastructure, President Biden announces the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan.
Ken Burns and his team have helped put American history in context through documentaries on topics ranging from the Civil War and Vietnam to jazz and baseball. Their latest takes on one of America’s greatest and complicated writers.
A prolific and outspoken author contends the term "populism" has been turned on its head, and not since Franklin Delano Roosevelt has the White House been occupied by a man of the people.
A new book chronicles the stories of sometimes broken, often desperate men who ventured to the northern plains in service of an industry that exemplifies late-stage capitalism.
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