Putting Bipartisanship to the Test: Week One of Inside Washington 2015

Putting Bipartisanship to the Test: Week One of Inside Washington 2015

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Christian Holm
January 12, 2015

The 114th U.S. Congress arrived in Washington on Monday, Jan. 5 – but so did 127 students and 14 faculty members from institutions across the country. The latter prepared for Week One of the 2015 Inside Washington academic seminar, and they would be tasked with answering a complex question: Can a bitterly divided Congress find solutions national challenges like the federal budget, health care, immigration and more?


The two-week program educates students about urgent policy issues facing the United States and facilitates a dialogue about them, emphasizing need for bipartisanship among next generation of policymakers. The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars co-hosts the annual seminar with the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington think tank that encourages the nations’ governors to develop moderate, politically sustainable solutions.


“It’s great to hear a wide range of opinions and viewpoints, even if you don’t agree with all of them,” said Jordan McDowell of the University of San Diego in California.


Here’s a quick recap of what McDowell and his fellow seminar participants enjoyed during Week One of Inside Washington:


Access to insiders: Political operatives from both parties spoke to Inside Washington students during the week. Libertarian political strategist Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, stirred conversation about the federal budget and challenged students to ask themselves, how much government is too much? And how will Americans pay for it?


“People always ask me, what level of taxation and spending would you be happy with? What is the end goal? My answer is always, less.”


Two days later, Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor and 2004 Democratic presidential candidate, spoke about the role of progressive politics in today’s political environment – his hard stance on the need to invest in education and preserve entitlement benefits marking a contrast with Norquist’s.


“It didn’t take me long to become dedicated to education policy seeing some schools across the country and how much work it will take to give kids the education they deserve.”


Engaging with experts: After the keynote speakers, the Bipartisan Policy Center steered the conversation. They staged panel discussions comprised of policy experts from both sides of the aisle and challenged the students to think critically about finding solutions to major problems.


“I’m excited to see how what we learned about bipartisanship during week one segways with week two, which focuses on how the media impacts politics. To me, the media is a part of why the two parties are far apart, so I’m interested to see how we break it down,” said Carly Hviding of Quinnipiac University.


Time around town: Students had ample opportunity to explore the nation’s capital during a first-day bus tour and several site visits. Many were must-see spots for aspiring politicos, such as Capitol Hill, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, No Labels and the Atlantic Council.


To view photos from Inisde Washington click here


To view videos from Inside Washington click here

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