In the years that followed, it was clear to me that we were often on the same wave length. While we didn’t always agree on policy approaches, Martha’s work became the cornerstone for me. I’d like to emphasize the themes in her work that especially resonated with me.
First, Martha did not demean the world of Washington. She did not belittle those who had caught Potomac fever. She was able to understand the reality of those who operated inside the federal bureaucracy, the Congress, and the world of interest groups. Her work reflected her ability to listen to informants in a way that respected their reality. She was not uncritical but clearly heard their concerns and depicted their issues. Her perch at Brookings gave her a wonderful vantage point for this effort. At the same time she understood that not everything comes from Washington.
Second, Martha was able to move the study of federalism away from narrow legal and structural approaches to an approach that defined the field as intergovernmental relations. Along with others (such as Deil Wright) her work gave us a model for understanding the complexity of the US shared powers system. By focusing on policy impacts of federalism, she showed us how important it is to analyze intergovernmental relations with sensitivity to the differences between policy areas.
Third, as the daughter of a journalist, Martha had an unusual ability to communicate her analysis in an accessible way. Her books and articles are very readable. One has the sense that she was trying to broaden her audience and speak not only to other scholars but also to the individuals who were her practitioner informants. She never tried to obfuscate her findings in narrow academic language. At the same time, her work clearly reflected her familiarity with essential theories and a broad base of literature.
I cannot conclude my remarks without acknowledging that Martha was one of the very few women in the policy and federalism field. While she was not usually thought of as a feminist, she was someone who was accessible to other women. I knew that she was someone I could talk to – whether about social services policies or our individual research on the Social Security Administration or other current work. We shared sources when our work intersected. I still love looking at her citations in the Social Security book where she cited items from Beryl Radin’s archives. We would often catch up at APSA at federalism sessions.
My last contact with her occurred when I received the Gaus award and sent her a copy of my remarks. I had noted that she was one of the two women who had received that award before me. She called me and thanked me for that acknowledgement. She is missed.