cover image Laboratories of Democracy

Laboratories of Democracy

David Osborne. Harvard Business School Press, $24.95 (380pp) ISBN 978-0-87584-192-2

Osborne, a freelancer who frequently writes for the New Republic and Atlantic, maintains that the real ferment and innovation in politics today is taking place at the state level. In argument, he offers mini-case histories of six governorsMichael Dukakis (Mass.), Mario Cuomo (N.Y.), Bruce Babbitt (Ariz.), Bill Clinton (Ark.), James Blanchard (Mich.) and Richard Thornburgh (Pa.). He applauds their sundry efforts to create venture-capital funds, restructure welfare, spur technological advances and build partnerships between the public and private sectors. But his insistent claim that a number of these governors are ``neoprogressives'' whose ideas go well beyond traditional party politics is arguable, judging from his own pointed critiques of their spotty administrations. Drawing up a balance sheet, Osborne recommends decentralized community-development programs that would invest in the capacity of the poor to hold jobs and create businesses. (June)