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Parallel Diplomacies


Parallel Diplomacies

Governors gallivanting around the globe, play-acting as Churchill, undermines their focus on state issues and America’s ability to engage in meaningful diplomacy with its chief political rival.

(Governor Eric Holcomb/Flickr

Governors are well-travelled. Gubernatorial campaigns are filled with photo-ops at steel mills or press conferences in forgotten exurbs. In the late 1980s, many governors decided to leave their states—not just for visits to neighboring governors’ mansions, but for palaces and parliaments abroad.

Forty-four of the nation’s fifty governors left the United States between the middle of 1985 and December 1986. Most of them went to Japan, angling for new plants from one of the nation’s burgeoning auto giants. Governor Martha Layne Collins of Kentucky was on seven trips to Japan. This included a $800 million Toyota plant located in rural Kentucky, a Scottsville wiring facility, and a gold-and silver-star decoration in the Order of the Rising Sun.

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