Author and journalist, Cokie Roberts, spoke at the Dillon Lecture Series today. She talked about various things and I just want to share a couple of quotes that illustrate the gist of her talk.
She said people are continually asking her if today’s partisanship is the worst it has ever been and she assured us it is not. The 1850s, when politicians were killing each other in duels, was far more contentious. She said one of the calmest times was the 1950s, and said she has, “Come to believe that time was aberrant.” She attributed it to the post-war mentality.
But for today, the answer is straightforward. “In the end, change has got to come from us. Voters have to punish politicians for being partisan,” she said.
She explained how redistricting has really increased partisanship. She mentioned speaking with President Bush about it at length. Computers make it even easier to sort voters now and that has affected redistricting even more. But she said, “I am essentially a pollyanna about these things… they go in cycles.”
At the luncheon she talked about how the poverty rate now is the highest it has ever been in history. She said people need to realize that cuts for deficit reduction are, “not just waste, fraud and abuse – real people get hurt.” She said when we talk about balance we need to remember cuts are real. Priorities matter.
She also spoke about education and how it was the one thing that really gave people a chance in this country. She said, “We no longer have an economy where you can work on a manufacturing company line and have a good middle class lifestyle… The only way you can do that is with an education.”