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Article by Ann Manser - Photos by Evan Krape and Kathy F. Atkinson
The University of Delawares National Agenda speaker series continued Tuesday, Oct. 17, with a bipartisan conversation between former Vice President and UD alumnus Joe Biden and Ohio Gov. John Kasich two veteran political figures introduced by UD President Dennis Assanis as true servants of the people and the country.
The event, entitled Bridging the Divides, was presented in partnership by the Center for Political Communication and the Biden Institute. In a series titled As We Stand | Divided, the discussion stood out for its emphasis on the value of political cooperation and consensus. Biden, a Democrat, and Kasich, a Republican, served together in Washington, D.C., for years.
In welcoming the speakers, Assanis told the audience, which filled the 600-plus-seat Mitchell Hall to capacity, that political divides represent perhaps the biggest challenge America faces today.
Were so much focused on our differences that we forget our common goals, he said. Our country needs all of us to work with each other, to work together.
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UD President Dennis Assanis welcomes former Vice President and UD alumnus Joe Biden and Ohio Gov. John Kasich to Tuesday's National Agenda discussion at Mitchell Hall.
Biden and Kasich - both regarded by pundits as potential presidential candidates in 2020 - elaborated on that view and offered personal observations from their years of public service. Although from different parties and with different views on such questions as the role the federal government should play in various issues, both leaders said they shared similar blue-collar backgrounds, a practical approach to solving problems and mutual respect.
More than 20 media outlets a mix of international, national and regional, print, TV, radio and online covered the UD event.
Its not that hard for John and me to get along, Biden said. We both believe strongly in the capacity of the American people [and that] personal relationships matter.
Kasich agreed, saying that the dysfunction in Washington today is extreme and harmful to the country. Focused on getting re-elected and avoiding a primary challenge, politicians increasingly play to the more extreme voters in their base, he said.
The system itself has been breaking down on base politics, he said. The whole system is polarizing.
Mitchell Hall was filled with more than 600 people to hear former Vice President Joe Biden and Ohio Gov. John Kasich talk about the state of U.S. democracy.
Biden recalled other times when Americans and their politicians were strongly divided on the issuesduring the Vietnam War era, for examplebut he said the political system operated more smoothly then. Legislators from both parties knew one another personally and were more likely to find common ground than they do today, he said.
Its not possible for this country to function without reaching a consensus, Biden said.
Kasich added, You solve problems from the center out.
That philosophy is central to the National Agenda as well, said Lindsay Hoffman, who directs the series and moderated the discussion. A key National Agenda goal is to demonstrate civil dialogue in debating different points of view, said Hoffman, who teaches communication and political science and is the associate director of UDs Center for Political Communication.
When asked about the Trump administration, Biden said the biggest concern may be, not policies, but what he called a breakdown in the norms of behavior. When the president insults a foreign leader on Twitter, for example, that does global harm to the image of the U.S., he said.
In answer to questions from Hoffman and from students in the audience, the two men also discussed their views on free speech, economic and technological changes that have led to upheavals in the lives of many people, the news media and assaults on the electoral process in the U.S. and Europe.
Original article available on UDaily.