I spent the morning discussing policies of the National
Alliance for Civic Education. The meeting was at the American Political
Science Association (APSA) headquarters near Dupont Circle in Washington.
I love the building, which is an elegant, Victorian, stone row house.
I think the architecture could be described as Byzantine Revivalthere’s
an arch over the door carved with intricate plant forms. Inside, it’s
rather ramshackle: little rooms, piles of reports, filing cabinets that
don’t quite fit, window air-conditioning units. It reminds me of the houses
at the periphery of major universities that get turned into anthropology
departments or study-abroad offices.
Two draft articles have come across my desk lately indicating that peopleespecially
young people without a lot of educationare more likely to vote if
they receive a state voter guide in the mail. Washington and Oregon
produce guides that give space to every candidate to describe his or her
positions. Everyone (or every registered voter?) in the state gets one
automatically. I’m becoming a zealot for voter guides because they lower
the cost of acquiring information. They are also a form of campaign-finance
reform, because they subsidize communication with state moneyequally
for all candidatesand thereby lower the value of each dollar of
private money. Finally, you can make the candidates who choose to participate
swear that their statements are truthful. Rep. Wes Cooley (R-OR) was convicted
of lying on official documents when he claimed in the voter guide
that he had served in the special forces in Korea, when he had done no