Government and the Common Good

What role do government and politics play in the advancement of the common good?

Former U.S. senator and two-term Indiana governor Evan Bayh will discuss his views on government’s role in advancing the common good in a global economy.


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About Evan Bayh

Elected to his second U.S. Senate term in November 2004, Bayh announced publicly that he would not run for a third term in early 2010, citing the partisanship on Capitol Hill as a major reason for his departure from politics. In his announcement, Bayh stated: “For some time I’ve had a growing conviction that Congress is not operating as it should. There is much too much partisanship and not enough progress; too much narrow ideology and not enough practical problem-solving. Even at a time of enormous national challenge, the people’s business is not getting done."

Throughout his Senate career, Bayh had a history of trying to reach across the aisle to his Republican peers on important legislation. While some were content to let partisanship continue to threaten progress on the nation’s most pressing issues, Bayh looked for ways to build consensus to do what was right for Americans. In January 2005, he spearheaded the creation of the Third Way, an organization focused on common sense legislative solutions on issues that would otherwise remain bogged down in political turf wars. Bayh also served for more than four years as Chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council, which offers support to elected officials and community leaders who take a progressive approach to the issues facing the country.

As senator, Bayh served on five Senate Committees: Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, for which he was the Chairman of the Subcommittee on International Trade and Finance; Armed Services; the Select Committee on Intelligence; the Special Committee on Aging; and the Small Business Committee.

Before his election to the Senate, Bayh was elected in 1988 to the first of two terms as Governor of Indiana, where he established the state as one of the strongest, most financially secure economies in the nation. “Mr. Bayh’s record,” reported the Wall Street Journal in 1992, “is one of a genuinely fiscally conservative Democrat.” Stressing fiscal responsibility, lower taxes, job creation and lean government, Bayh’s list of achievements include: eight years without raising taxes; the greatest single tax cut and largest budget surplus in state history; national leadership in moving people from welfare to work; more dollars for schools every year; high academic standards and new college opportunities for all, including low-income students; more than 350,000 new jobs; tougher laws on crime; and improved environmental quality.

Bayh was born in Shirkieville, Indiana. He graduated with honors in business economics from Indiana University in 1978, and received his law degree from the University of Virginia in 1981. After clerking for a federal court judge and entering private law practice in Indianapolis, he was elected Indiana’s Secretary of State in 1986, the first of Bayh’s five statewide victories.

Senator Bayh counts as his most important role and greatest responsibility a position he assumed in November 1995: proud father of twin sons Beau and Nick—a joy he shares daily with his wife, Susan.