Lessons from C-SPAN

Lessons from C-SPAN

As some of you may already know, the Washington Center offers a unique opportunity to Political Leadership Students to participate in the C-SPAN course. The C-SPAN Road to the White House Class is a collaboration with TWC, C-SPAN, George Mason, and Purdue University that engages students in shaping political conversation. Each week, speakers are brought into the C-SPAN studio and students get to interact with them, ask questions, raise interesting points, and deliberate on a variety of topics each week. Throughout the semester I've put together a list of quotes and phrases from the C-SPAN speakers that I thought were notable and deserving of some reflection.


"Congress is a place where hope goes to die." - Roger Simon, Chief Political Columnist of Politico


When these words left Simon's lips I think the entire class was taken aback. Congress is a place where hope goes to die? I had never thought of it that way before, but I'm sad to say I somewhat agree. Over time, the American public has lost faith in our government's ability to make good choices for the people. I also began to wonder, is Congress the place where President Obama's "HOPE" went to die? Or should every aspiring President from this point forward be prepared for Congressional disappointments? People want to see our government thriving and full of life, not dying and losing hope.

"Nothing is physically or emotionally harder in this country than running for President." - John Heilemann, co-author of the New York Times bestseller Game Change


I think as the campaign dragged on this past year we all became increasingly critical of both candidates. We began to choose, as many said, "the lesser of two-evils." I think sometimes we all fail to realize that though our candidates and politicians may seem low or shallow at times, they are just people like you and me. For years their lives are scrutinized, marriages are questioned, and families are constantly watched by the unforgiving eye of the media. We must not forget the grueling toll these candidates take on in hopes of serving the public and leading the country in the right direction.


"We need excellence, not mediocrity."

-Newt Minow, Former Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission


This is a great piece of everyday advice. Even as interns, we must always remember to put our best foot forward and never coast through life. Striving for excellence always pays off and mediocrity should never be considered enough. In middle school, we never settled for satisfactory markings and we shouldn't start now as young professionals. Even when it comes to "intern work" like making copies or organizing office files, make everyday excellent and refuse to accept anything less from yourself.


"Candidates want you to feel, not think."

-Thom Mozloom, Founder of The M Network


Hearing this really reminded me of a Charlie Chaplain quote from the speech, The Great Dictator. He said, "We think too much, and feel too little. More than machinery, we need humanity." You know, the relationship we have with our President's is strangely intimate. We have to live with them for four years, hear their voice in our living rooms, and put up with their mannerisms. In one way or another, they will always be part of us, part of our history, and part of the policy that shapes our daily lives. We're all programmed to over-analyze, and criticize, and research, but sometimes it's a good thing to rely on your emotions and intuition about a person's character.


"People process more information when it is in light of their own beliefs."

-Robert Lichter, Professor of Communication at George Mason University & Co-Author of The Nightly News Nightmare


In a time when news media is beginning to appeal to niche audiences rather than the grander public, I think this quote digs deep. If we all take a moment and step back, I'm sure we'd realize how discriminatory our selective perception is. We expose ourselves to what we want to hear and how we want to hear it. A wonderful example of this is the wild success of Fox News with conservative Americans. Not to say this is wrong, but it is important to recognize our patterns in order to ensure we expose ourselves to a broad view of opinions and beliefs.


"Issues of character and personality speak volumes."

-Steve Scully, C-SPAN Host and Executive Producer


You've heard it your whole life -- actions speak louder than words. And it's true. Character is about doing the right thing even if it's not always in your best interest. You can't overlook people who have good hearts and solid values. This is a reminder and a token that in times of controversy, be true to yourself. People around you will notice.


"Embrace this reality of a new America."

-Geoffrey Garin, President of Hart Research Associates & Recognized Democratic Pollster


Our nation is changing in so many ways. Politics, economics, communication, technology, investment, engagement... the pace of our nation is accelerating and it is up to our generation to keep up. To use all that we have been given for the betterment of our lives, our nation, and our world. It is a new day for America, and it's up to us to live it.


"We are increasingly becoming a nation of division."

- Josh Bolten, Former Chief of Staff for the Bush Administration


We are living in a time of turbulence and uncertainty. Rather than be pulled apart by the things that divide us, we must learn to join together. Race, religion, gender, income, sexual-orientation, political affiliation -- these things only emphasize our differences rather than place focus on all of our similarities. Let us not be nation of division, but a nation that thrives on the diversity of its people.


Here's a picture of TWC's C-SPAN class with Josh Bolten!



If you're interested in more from the C-SPAN class, you can watch the archived classes Here! I hope these words of wisdom and some of my thoughts serve as a point of reflection. I've learned a lot this semester and gained clarity regarding things I believe in and are important to me.



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