Restoring American Statesmanship

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U.S. Capitol Building

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 in decline. “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 convenient when the right course demands inconvenience and courage.”

We have created an advisory committee to help refine the Restoring American Statesmanship Initiative and are proud to be working with 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 late Richard Lugar, former chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also served on this advisory committee.

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

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.