Statesmanship

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The Paul Simon Institute has launched an initiative to study, teach, and celebrate statesmanship which we define as inspired leadership characterized by civility, vision, courage, compassion, and effectiveness. We are committed to studying statesmanship at all levels of government and imagining what a rebirth of such leadership could look like in contemporary American politics.

Senator Paul Simon worried during his final years that statesmanship appeared to be at low ebb. “We have spawned ‘leadership’ that does not lead, that panders to our whims rather than telling us the truth, that follows the crowd rather than challenges us, that weakens us rather than strengthening us,” he wrote. “It is easy to go downhill, and we are now following that easy path. Pandering is not illegal, but it is immoral. It is doing the convenient when the right course demands inconvenience and courage.”

We have created an advisory committee to help refine the Statesmanship Initiative and are proud to be working with Richard Lugar, former chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Lee Hamilton, former chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Jan Eliasson, former Swedish Foreign Minister and former Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, and Jim Edgar, former Governor of Illinois. The Institute will publish a book on statesmanship that will be used as a teaching tool. 

The Institute is inviting historians, political analysts, and leaders from all levels of government to come to campus and discuss the challenge of statesmanship.

The Institute will publish a book at the end of this year that is designed to challenge both political leaders and the public as the 2020 campaign picks up. It will be called, The Urgent Need for Statesmanship: A Citizen’s Guide

The Institute’s overarching commitment is to advocate for an approach to public policy that is civil, courageous, rigorous, and transparent and reflects the best of Paul Simon.  We wish to answer this question: "How do we create a new generation of bold, independent political compromisers?"

In the news:

01/13/19 - Is There a Statesmen in the House? Either House? (History News Network)

12/29/18 - Guest View: It's time for a new era of statesmanship in Springfield and Washington (SJR)

12/26/18 - Shaw: It's time for a new era of statesmanship (Peoria Journal Star)

12/20/18 - U.S. Historians Frame Challenges Posed by Trump Presidency into Broader Context

12/11/18 - Newsradio WJPF interview with John Shaw on Statesmenship

12/01/18 -  SIUC's Simon Institute tackles 'ugly' politics with Statesmanship Initiative

Town Hall Best Practices (Download PDF)

This year the Institute also developed a set of best practices for the conduct of congressional town hall meetings in Illinois that has become the basis of a national program that we are developing with the Lugar Center in Washington, D.C.