A Dinner with Journalists

Last year I learned about the President’s Associates dinners and attended an informal discussion with Mr. Robert Gates. This year I was eager to finally attend one of the actual dinners. Last week, that opportunity came. A friend of mine and I went together to the dinner, ready to hear from two giants of journalism, Bob Schieffer and Jim Lehrer. Although journalism is not among my fields of interest or study, the insight of these two men was phenomenal. Both of them had worked for many years reporting from Washington, and so their thoughts on the current political environment were particularly interesting.

They explained how, in their opinion, many of the problems in Washington stem from the “industrialization” of politics. The political sphere has become an industry dominated by professional players. It’s not about getting stuff done, it’s about getting in. This has increasingly led to the polarization of parties. The moderates are disappearing from politics. And it’s the moderates who are most important in Washington. Without compromising on little things, the government shuts down, literally. I agree with them wholeheartedly. Politics shouldn’t be like picking teams in schoolyard sports. “I want pro-choice so you have to be pro-life” or “I’m fiscally conservative, so you can’t be!” That’s not how party politics should be. If it is, maybe we shouldn’t have party politics. I don’t know why no one in the world of politics seems able to say “I agree with you” to anyone of another party. I feel like on most things we should agree. We all want our country to function, right? Surely none of us really want to eternally spiral deeper into debt. Instead of starting all our debates and decisions from a position of opposition, we need to start by identifying our common goals and interests. We can only make progress if we start from common ground.

America can’t lead the world if it can’t lead itself. We will lose any and all respect we have in the international community if we can’t get ourselves together. And because of the money, that’s not going to happen from the top down. It has to come from the bottom up. If we, the voters and the future politicians of America, don’t step up, nothing will change. And if nothing changes, there won’t be anything left to lead. We are the future of America. We need to be knowledgeable and willing to take the hard steps to make politics about governing again instead of about getting elected and making money. The longer we wait to make a change, the harder it will be to change the system. This is our country too. Let’s focus on bringing people into office who are willing to work with one another rather than unilaterally push their own agendas through. I don’t care how good those agendas seem—we’re better off with a team player. And it’s up to us, the people, to make that happen.

 

P.S. If that started to sound rant-y I apologize. I strive to avoid political rants in anything I post online. (Partially because I’m not informed enough to be worth listening to.) However, I wanted to discuss the dinner, and that was the part that most resonated with me.

Watching the Weather

When I was young I never cared about politics or the news. It didn’t concern me, or so I thought. However, I’ve grown up since then, and, in doing so, I learned a very important lesson: when you’re getting ready to fly, you need to know the weather. Politics, the news, these make up the weather of humanity. So now, I am making an effort to understand the weather in order to be more prepared for my coming flights.

Since arriving here at the University of Oklahoma, I’ve been searching out ways in which to watch the global weather. One way I found was to join a political discussion group. In these groups, a few students will come together weekly and read articles in the Economist, a British news magazine of sorts. I love the system, because we each read the articles that most interest us and then summarize them for the group. This gives me both the resources and impetus to research topics of interest to me while also learning about what is occurring elsewhere.

I found another opportunity in the President’s Associates Dinners. Throughout the school year at OU President Boren will invite prominent men and women to speak at his President’s Associates Dinners. I had the opportunity recently to attend an informal discussion with President Boren and his most recent Dinner guest, Dr. Bob Gates, former Secretary of Defense and former Director of the CIA. It was fascinating to hear his practical opinions on a variety of topics that I was only familiar with from an academic standpoint. From drones to international aid, Dr. Gates covered a wide range of topics of both domestic and international significance. I cannot go into all the topics Dr. Gates discussed; however, they were all informative, and his logic was always sound as far as I could tell. Because of his talk, I now have a better idea of the roles of the Central Intelligence Agency and the Department of Defense in the administration of our country.

The variety of tools I have found here at OU to aid me as I try to watch over world affairs has been incredible. I love learning from such a wide range of perspectives. I hope I can continue to find ways of watching the weather in preparation for my coming flights. The skies are calling to me, and I’m slowly but surely nearing the date of my first major departure. All I can do now is try to make sure that I’m ready for it.