A sign advertising an early voting site and voters waiting on line to enter West Side High School during early voting in New York City. (Photo by Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

It was 34 years ago, but I remember it well: Election Night 1988. I was a very young editor at the Washington Monthly, and I was at a friend’s house, cross-legged on the floor, watching the returns as the broadcast networks projected state after state for George H. W. Bush. It wasn’t the 49-state Republican blowout of four years earlier, but it was a drubbing for the Democrats. I remember walking home late on the warm, clear night to my group house in Washington’s pre-gentrified Logan Circle neighborhood, having stayed to see if Michael Dukakis would pull it out in California. (He didn’t.) I slept fitfully on my futon with plenty of time to think about why Democrats had blown three straight presidential elections.

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There will be a lot of soul-searching this week among Democrats as the too-giddy expectations of the early summer likely give way to a more sober autumn. The finger-pointing will surely begin, and so will the Democratic search for new ideas that can simultaneously capture the public imagination, solve pressing national problems, and get passed by an ornery Congress.

The crossroads of politics and policy is where the Washington Monthly shines and why I have loved it for decades. If you believe in our mission of promoting ideas like vigorously enforcing antitrust laws, preserving the VA medical system for our deserving veterans, and championing community colleges for the tens of millions of Americans who need and want more than a high school education and less than a four-year degree, then you’re already part of the family. If you want accountability journalism and bold policy prescriptions, you can help us by donating generously to the magazine.

We do things differently here. Most news outlets are suspicious of reporters who have worked in government, although they may tolerate it from a few editorial writers. Not us. We believe that experience in government is an asset, not a liability. The magazine’s founder, Charlie Peters, was a West Virginia state legislator who endorsed John F. Kennedy in the state’s crucial 1960 Democratic primary. Peters followed JFK to Washington after the election and served as an executive at the Peace Corps. In 1969, he launched this magazine to explain how government really works—and how to make it better.

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Many on the Washington Monthly team served in government. Monthly contributing editors James Fallows and Walter Shapiro use their tenure as White House speechwriters to inform their work, as does our editor in chief, Paul Glastris. I’ve served on the staff of two federal commissions. Phil Keisling, another Monthly alumnus, was Oregon secretary of state and is the godfather of vote by mail, which he and the magazine continue to champion. Two of the several Pulitzer Prize winners who have worked here—Jon Meacham, the presidential historian, and Taylor Branch, the Martin Luther King Jr. biographer—have had extraordinary access to Presidents Joe Biden, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. Jonathan Alter, the award-winning journalist and historian, has written acclaimed volumes on Franklin D. Roosevelt, Barack Obama, and Jimmy Carter.

When it comes to covering elections, we’re not conducting polls and are not so interested in whether this senator’s campaign manager is mad at that state party chair. What we are fascinated by are good ideas and how to turn them into reality. This cycle, we’ve run pieces by Bill Scher on how environmentalists can prevail but only when they can divide the business lobby; Will Norris on how vote by mail drives up turnout not only for Democrats but also for Republicans, who have become increasingly hostile to it during the MAGA era; Phillip Longman on how antitrust enforcement is key to fighting inflation; and Jamaal Abdul-Alim on how dual enrollment programs are helping students of color get postsecondary degrees and vocational certificates. That’s the Washington Monthly way to cover an election. If you think the Monthly’s brand of solutions-based, policy-focused journalism is essential, and if you want to do something to help the country as the midterms end, there’s something you can do: Make a donation right now.

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Matthew Cooper

Follow Matthew on Twitter @mattizcoop. Matthew Cooper is Executive Editor Digital at the Washington Monthly. He is also a contributing editor of the magazine and a veteran reporter who has covered politics and the White House for Time, The New Republic, Washingtonian, National Journal and many other publications.