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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Bipartisan Policy Center holds panels at JFK Library

The+panelists+spoke+to+a+packed+house+at+the+library
The panelists spoke to a packed house at the library

On Wednesday, March 26, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum hosted the Bipartisan Policy Center and a forum on congressional gridlock and reform. The event included former elected officials and White House chiefs of staff with a focus on creating a national conversation about solutions to the nation’s congressional gridlock.
The event is part of BPC’s Commission on Political Reform (CPR). Some notable speakers included former Senate Majority Leader, Trent Lott, Washington Bureau Chief for USA TODAY, Susan Page, Senator Olympia Snow, and Harvard University Institute of Politics Director, Trey Grayson.
The panel included former White House Chiefs of Staff Josh Bolten, Mack McLarty, and Andy Card, as well as former Secretary of Agriculture and current BPC Co-chair, Dan Glickman. Additionally, Global Vice Chair of Burson-Marsteller, Karen Hughes, and Co-founder of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate, Victoria Kennedy, were also on the panel.
The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) was founded during 2007 by past Senate Majority Leaders, Howard Baker, Tom Daschle, Bob Dole, and George Mitchell. The BPC hosts events such as its “bridge-builders breakfasts” political summits, and policy discussions. Its objectives include bringing people together and fostering civil conversations to overcome partisan divisions in government.
A key BPC initiative is its Commission on Political Reform (CPR). Launched in March of 2013, the CPR was created to tackle the challenges facing America today and to explore specific reforms to improve the political process. As part of its fact-finding mission, the CPR is engaging the public in a series of discussions at presidential libraries, universities, and other public institutions around the country.
According to Dan Glickman, “Americans would be more supportive of Congress if it focuses on reforms that allow it to function more effectively within the polarized atmosphere.”
Former Senate Majority Leader, Trent Lott, stated, “Our commission is looking at practical solutions that can restore Americans’ trust in Congress and the administration to rise together and meet our biggest challenges.”
At the event two panel discussions were presented. During the introduction given by Victoria Kennedy, there was nostalgia of the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy and his belief that the future of America depends on understanding the importance of tapping into and inspiring civic engagement.
The first session, “The White House and Congress: How to Get Things Done” was moderated by Trey Grayson, director of the Harvard University Institute of Politics. The participants shared their views on presidential appointees and nominations.
Everyone seemed to believe that the president should receive the benefit of the doubt when choosing his own nominees, which would stop any reservations about qualifications or ideological differences. The primary focus though for this particular segment was on the dynamics between the White House and Congress. A large percentage of the panel members spoke about their yearning for a greater degree of communication.
The second panel, “A National Conversation on American Unity” was moderated by Susan Page of the USA TODAY and took questions from the audience and Twitter. This type of inclusiveness for the audience really livened up the discussion because social media played a direct influence on the direction of the conversation.
A multitude of reform agendas were shared, including term limits, interaction between the executive and legislative branches, primary guidance and campaign finance rules. The panel once also mentioned a lot of concern about the communication and relationships between members of Congress and the president.
A notable part of the event was when Susan Page asked the panel, “Who in Congress today can fill the shoes of Ted Kennedy in restoring a bipartisan environment?” And the response was Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY), because according to the panel, they were the best leadership choices.
Something that was noted though by the entirety of the panel, is the lack of experience for many representatives because they are not seasoned and many of them are in their beginning terms.
This event was packed with discussion topics and there were varying perspectives, but the overarching goal was to make our nation work better. Though there were candid views and passionate rhetoric, the goal of these panels was illustrated and information was abundant for anyone who chose to listen.
In June, the commission will craft recommendations and advocate for certain electoral and congressional reforms to help Americans achieve shared national goals.