tv Civic Engagement Civility Panel at William Mary CSPAN August 31, 2019 10:06pm-11:15pm EDT
of behavior as being one that was functional and suited to our current technological democratic capitalistic society and comparing it to other cultures, which aren't as functional. we gave examples, and that immediately caused a firestorm. >> sunday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span's q&a. >> former virginia senator john warner talked about his political career at a forum of the future at the college of william and mary. panel discussion on civic engagement with congressman bobby scott of virginia, a local scientist larry sabitow, and david rubenstein. this is about one hour and 10 minutes. ♪ >> good afternoon.
it is not often that i get a musical introduction so i appreciate that very much. i think we will have some fun with our panel when they come up but as i think you know, i believe this is the program, we are going to have a special guest first and a little intimate conversation between this special guest and me and i feel very privileged to be able to chat with them. an old and dear friend, senator john warner. senator warner is approaching but you would never know it. we have been sitting in the back and talking about old times in this race and that race and all kinds of things. i was thinking about his career and that is absolutely incredible because you can go back as far as world war ii and korea. he was in both of those wars, and he did not have to, he did
not have to do the second one if he did the first one, but he was always willing to jump in and participate. he did lots of things in between, but let's start with secretary of the navy and early 1970's. then he became head of the bicentennial commission, those of you old enough as i am to remember the tall ships in the wonderful celebration of the which inial of the u.s. think helped to bring the country together, we could use something like that these days. went to a place many of you have never heard of, the united states senate. he was elected in 1978 and elected narrowly, 5000 or so votes. well, that was pretty much the end of his contest forget occasionally, he would have one that was a few percentage points, but mainly, he was unopposed. untilved from early 1979
2009 when he yielded the seat to another warner who was completely unrelated to him, but the voters thought that he was. that is what enabled him to win that massive landslide, mark warner. on a personal note, i have to tell you this because it describes his life and no way. senate,n he ran for the i was already a pungent back then because i bit -- a pundit back then because i basically had a life as a hobo, no real employment that mattered, doing all kinds of things. i wrote andit, and really nasty piece about john warner. i am embarrassed to admit that now, talk about being wrong. i wrote a piece about him. most politicians that i have known would have never spoken to me again.
said,d, he called me and i want you to get to know me. maybe he will still criticize me, but i can tell from that piece, you do not know what you are talking about. we got together and sure enough, our friendship has endured. this man has served not just virginia but the nation. he was a national senator in no way that we do not have many of anymore. he served the national interest. not his party's interest. we need more of those in both parties. proudxtremely pleased and to have the honor of introducing senator john warner. [applause] ♪ [laughter] sen. warner: thank you.
larry: a standing ovation. sen. warner: i appreciate that. standing ovation. larry: that tells you something. to do it, theym did it spontaneously. the best kind of standing ovation. getting right into it because you and i have been talking on the phone, and we were talking backstage just a few minutes ago, and we talked wrong with our system today because clearly, this extreme polarization has hurt us in lots of different ways and that is here in virginia as well as nationally. and we are having a hard time, and i hear this from both parties, having a hard time recruiting people to public office. anymore't want to run
or at least a lot of the good ones. the ones in this room are all exceptions. every single one, ok? uva is a public institution, so you are all exceptions. but a lot of your colleagues who are not here right now do not fall into that category. senator, you were there for so many years. arrows fore controversial things that you did not just from democrats but also republicans and pundits , they are the ones i really hate. they were all attacking you for the things you did, but you stayed there and you toughed it out. what can we do today to attract people who want to serve the national interest and not just their party's interest? fmr. sen. warner: before we get too serious, let's lighten it up a little bit. first, i want to introduce my wife, jeannie. jeannie, stand up please.
[applause] fmr. sen. warner: the reason i do it is it ties into the theme of what i want to talk about as public service, but any public servant with your family. and the commitment particularly of your wife, but secondarily, your children because so much sime is taken away by event that you must attend everywhere. em to make sureh they are solidly with you and you give them an ear. i wanted you to meet my half. and then there is george allen. george and i have as much fun together as two clowns in the senate circus. strengths,erent in mine,ice is stronger than his overpowering six foot two inches will hit you going down
the hall, and that is his lovely wife next to him. today --e in here where is bobby scott, you still here? larry: he's in the back. talking. warner: he was about the first african-american on the bench. i remember going and seeing bobby and i said bobby? -- virginiaever had has never had an african-american on the bench or a woman on the federal bench. i said, i want you to help me select that individual to go on the bench and we did. it was jim spencer. our guest earlier today on the circuit court, and jim came up from the district court. i have wonderful experiences with all of these great pa ls of mine. boy, everyone of us are facing a
challenge today. i go back and reflect for a moment for the basis of my thoughts on 30 years of traveling for the senate, i am always laughing at the congressman. they got to rush out and get home to the district, and the district's driving distance are the most of them in virginia, and then it is only a short shuck group of people. senators go from the tip of the state, george, to the atlantic ocean all the way to the valley of virginia. senators have a lot more to cover than members of the house. andnt to thank those of you i bet there is a few here that might have voted for me one time or another -- is there a hand going up, yes, there is a hand going up. because ik you enjoyed and enjoyed every minute. and this shows you how politics
in virginia has worked in those end i said, ennd -- you are 80 years old, you had a good role of the dice, no one has tried to send you to jail, i think it is time to move over and let someone step forward. i did do that even though the democrats offered not to run anybody against me in turn of commitment to give them one year to decide who should run. tookenough, so i the option and here i am today having the pleasure to be with you. we are here to talk about what we can do. and all of those 30 years talking to someone he -- so many young people, they would often say, we admire you. i appreciate that. but how do you get into politics
-- a very fundamental question. how do you get into politics? so i did not spend the time of trying to answer their questions. here i am in the twilight of a career and i'm am going to dedicate my efforts very severely working with my buddy over here -- by the way, he is all smiles now, and i ran with the opposition if you can't beat him, join him. so i join you, rascal. he has established himself not only in the university of virginia and virginia, but nationwide, an authority on politics. bipartisan, he is not picking one or the other, just on the system of politics. together we are going to try to come up with a concept and sell it to our state and we will help finance it. but sell the concept to the
state of having an all day work session, and run an ad all across virginia saying, you interested in possibly serving in public office someday? sign up. we will feed you lunch, but you are on your own, you get here, and you leave. it is a tight schedule, but we will introduce you to politicians and other public figures from all over the state and the cameras and so forth, and tell you what it is like in the hopes that you can make up your mind -- we are not going to sell you to do it, but you better know it before you get in it, and believe it, getting into it today is very important. for reasons that were not present when i came into politics. t is the severity of the been 30gy that has years of my senate time.
all the things that have been developed from the internet to social media, to unmanned spacecrafts and all kinds of things. figures haveical to be persons that have to learn and learn quickly because a spectrum of problems they will be confronted with is unlimited. stumble through one little last personal story to make a point clear. my campaign was over a year and two months. i ran against the former governor dick and nathan a distinguished state legislator, and for one year, the four of us traveled all over the commonwealth, sat on boxes, and picnics, and had a friendly
debate. now we have down to to decide which of the four. they came up with the idea of let's have a convention. showedople, 1100 people up at the virginia coliseum for that convention. i will never forget it. night, on until late at and i remember, one of my campaign manager said, you want to win this race? you are on the fifth ballot. and i had one on all of them and i was tied with the sixth ballot coming up. he said get out there and start a parade and do not let the parade end until after midnight. 12,aid, at the stroke of of this about 1/4 audience, evangelical in their beliefs, they have to quit
politics, it is a sabbath sunday morning, and they are going home. [laughter] fmr. sen. warner: and you lose. and i said, i said, after think about this. it seems to me fraudulent and distrustful. he said, it is up to you. you want to be a senator, get out on that parade. if you don't, pay me off, and i am gone. well, i didn't, and i lost. had one coming in and the plane hit the top of a tree, and he lost his life. -- youas given 90 days got that? 90 days. i did not have a stick of frontage or, an employee, anything to put together a campaign and seek the election. i got into it again and i never
forget, i won the nomination. city councilhe old of fathers of the republican party were tough gangs in those and they were -- you are not conservative enough, you have to commit to do this. i don't make any commitment. blah, blah, blah. walked aopened and in woman, very quietly, and simply said to those guys, my husband lost his life. he would be here tonight telling you to give the nomination to warner. it was dead silence. i took her by the hand, walked out, and next morning they announced i had the nomination. i will rush up to the last story.
i think it is fun to hear about people with all of their non achievement in life and little things that made a difference. it is the last week of the campaign, my opponent was a very able democrat named andrew miller. his family and friends had been a part of the famous byrd machine for a while and they broke off. but he was well known and he was an attorney general and a very able campaigner, and a good guy. pictured the last debate. -- picture the last debate. cleverly put in old town alexandria which is a very strong democrat stronghold. the odds were against me to begin with. we went to the debate and the moderator said each of you have two minutes to stand before this in very simple language, tell them one reason
why you should be the next senator. andy miller being the attorney up,ral, he got up, walked look them in the eye, and he did not say anything. he stood there, my watches clicking, and i'm like this guy is burning up his time and not saying a thing. he looked them in the eye and i was born ae, virginian. it was dead silence. he turned around and walked off. the silence was still in the room. walk of was the longest my life from my seat up to wherever i was going to speak. give me the god, strength to figure out what to do now. i've been 18 months trying to do this. in three minutes, what
do i do? boy.d, go for it, said, i am very impressed with what my opponent said tonight, and you should take into consideration because it is important. i call it the virginia way. we know in virginia how things should be done and often we do not put them down in writing, myt we as think tivoli=---- dad used to say, it is the virginia way, son. so i got up and there is my mother at 86 years old right there in the front seat in front of me. i said mom, you heard my birth.t talk about his we have great pride in it, our
family comes from amherst, virginia. mom got up and said i heard him, too. but i want him to know that if i and dr. john -- my father is an andtime surgeon -- if i he john ever thought that would be a united states senator , i would've crossed over and had them under the magnolia tree. that broke the audience up. headlines,anner mother speaks were assigned. i won the election 48 hours 1% of a vote.of you didn't know that story? larry: no. fmr. sen. warner: it shows you what you aree of doing here today and have done.
it has been a common theme throughout today's speeches and yesterday. thet the need to get only best and the brightest to come in to our political system. hope we are initiating a work session to help those who want to know more about the fundamentals of politics to step up and come forward. but the importance of family is so at number one, and unless that family is with you, don't bother. .e are not here to convince you we are here to answer your questions with other expert people, and i would like to put our great state on the map as having a real, honest to god, old-time forum of what it is to be a politician, what is expected of you, and hopefully, more of you will come and step up to the challenge.
larry: there you go. [applause] larry: that was wonderful. that was the easiest interview i have ever done. [laughter] pay.: frank, no fmr. sen. warner: frank, you have done a wonderful job pulling this together. get up and get a standing ovation. come on, get up, lazy bones. various. [applause] that frankyou know was one of my first students? fmr. sen. warner: you did a damn good job. larry: thank you. i take full credit. i want to ask jeannie up. fmr. sen. warner: wait a minute, hold everything. that was not a part of the deal. larry: well, i'm doing it. come on up, jeannie. the truth is, she is going to -- we aresmall token
presenting you with the special 19-2019a's heritage 16 wine commissioned by the american revolution in honor of this commemoration year. you have a designated driver, right? fmr. sen. warner: right here. larry: i just want to make sure there was not going to be any drinking on the way back. our panelists want to come out and shake your hand. we are proud to have known you. you are still good of great ideas and we also love the history lesson. thank you. [applause] fmr. sen. warner: thank you , larry. larry: thank you, god bless. ♪
panel on civic engagement incivility. there aren't many examples we can cite at least from the current day, but we will have a good conversation about what we can do to strengthen civic engagement and to strengthen civility. ofhave a fantastic group people to discuss this -- i do want to tell frank something -- just between us, you can all not listen. frank, you wrote a wonderful script, i loved it. these three panels have insisted on rewriting the whole thing. i do not want you blaming me for the subject they will bring up. are we all agreed on that? thank you so much. going to bel sweetness and light. there will be some controversial topics discussed. not necessarily with our first
speaker, because he is somebody i think -- we all know his work and the great things he has done for virginia. i will introduce him in just a second. the second speaker is bobby scott, the representative from the third congressional district of virginia. we met, of course, in politics. our congressional dean, both houses of congress in virginia. the we have kirk cox, speaker to the virginia house of delegates. i think you've seen some of them during this conference. i haven't seen much of him but i have seen a lot of his son working with the center for politics and doing a terrific job. my staff loves him. i criticize him heavily anytime he gets something wrong because
he should know everything with the speaker of the house as his father. he gave me permission. he knows most things but not everything. we will get to that in a second but i want to start out by introducing a man that i haven't had the opportunity to meet before now, but who is the philanthropist's philanthropist. for historicale preservation and institutions, including monticello near me, than anybody i've ever come across, and he does it quietly and effectively, to think of the history that we'd not have preserved or wouldn't have discovered had it not been for you. opportunityke this to thank you on behalf of everybody for what you have done and having focused on history i
would like to see what you can tell us about the ideas of civility and civic engagement from that perspective. >> when i am trying to do is to remind people a little bit about our country's history, and the theory, not a novel theory, that if you remember the past you may not make the mistakes we've made in the past and will maybe do better in the future. the theory behind studying history is that we might learn something from it and do better in the future. one of the problems we have now is that because of the education of stem history is not being taught in our school systems as it used to be when many of you were in school. we don't teach civics very much, we don't teach american history. you can graduate from virtually any college without having to take in american history course. you can graduate from 80% with a history major without having taken american history. so what do we get?
in a recent survey that was done by annenberg, three quarters of americans could not name the three branches of government. one quarter of americans could not name one branch of government. 30% of americans think that george washington crossed the rhine river during the revolutionary war. [laughter] can high school sophomores name the first three names of the three stooges than any founding fathers. amazingly, 10% of american college graduates now believe that judge judy is a member of the united states supreme court, which is not yet the case, i would add. [laughter] so think about this. if anyone here is a naturalized citizen -- any naturalized citizens here? citizens, naturalized you have to reside in this country for five years and then take a citizenship test.
it's 100 questions and you need to get 60 of them right and you are a citizen. 91% of the people that take that test pass it, that's pretty good. done by theas woodrow wilson foundation recently and discovered that if you give the same test to people ,ho were nativeborn americans only the citizens in one state were able to pass it, vermont. and 49 of the other 50 states, the average citizen without studying could not pass. there is no one way to solve this problem. when i try to do is this. i am trying to buy historic documents, the magna carta, the declaration of independence, the emancipation proclamation, and put them in places where people can see them. why is it so important to see the documents? facsimile but the human brain has not yet evolved to the point where looking at a
computer screen document is the same as looking at the historic document. carta,see the magna which is on permanent display at the national archives, you are more likely before after you go to read it. the same thing is true in historic buildings. monument hadington earthquake damage i would put it up -- monticello needed some work, montpelier, iwo jima memorial. i said let me fix these up, i will pay for it, and maybe more americans will visit and if they visit they will learn more. that is not going to solve all the problems. congresslped american learn about history so i started a program five years ago to educate members of congress more about american history and once a month i have a program where i bring a great american historian
and i interview them, typically 200 plus members of congress. peace has broken out in washington dc but i think the congress would learn more about our history and our camaraderie. do to helpying to with civic engagement is to get people to think about our history -- thomas jefferson was an extraordinary man but he was a slave owner. when i put up money to help monticello get restored, i said i would like the slave quarters to be built out. people should know that thomas jefferson was a slave owner. the same was true with montpelier. the people can see the good and the bad, you learn the good and the bad. my theory is that if people
learn more about our history we will have more informed citizen. the theory of democracy is that you have an informed citizenry that can make intelligent decisions. if you don't have an informed citizenry, democracy will work as well. that's my basic premise. >> it's a tremendous premise. [applause] it's a tremendous premise, but you are leaving an unbelievable legacy. you caught some of these things just in time because deterioration occurs. what i was really impressed with was your ability to look in a balanced way at historical figures. they weren't perfect, unlike us. i think everyone here would , some of them were at fault. the declaration of independence and the statute -- we could go
on and on. it was horrible that he was a slave owner and he knew better. you have to balance the accomplishments and the achievements with the less attractive side. don't we all want that? maybe in our obituary, if not years later? i would love to see that view of history and historical figures become standard. >> when we were in grade school we may have read how great george washington was, we wouldn't have had the constitutional convention, wouldn't have won the revolutionary war. but he was a slave owner as well. the only founding father who freed his slaves upon his death. faults with our founding fathers, as we have faults with lots of people. would you mentioned the
man whoes, there was a was sitting down in stockholm in 88, and he was reading the newspaper and he read his own obituary. , the inventor of dynamite, was sitting at his breakfast table in stockholm and he read "alfred nobel has died, thank god the inventor of dynamite has gone.' the newspaper had made a mistake. it was his younger brother who had died. but he has the advantage of looking at his own obituary. i ask people all the time, suppose you were going to read your own obituary tomorrow. would you be happy with what you read? if the answer is not yet, you have some more time to do something about it. i try to tell people all the time to think about this. the earth is 5 billion years old. humans as we are, roughly 400,000 years old, modest in the grand span of earth, and average life expectancy is 80, 90, 100
years. you can do in your lifetime is relatively finite, but we are all on the face of the earth for such a short time that we should try to take advantage of it and do something so that you can leave a mark and justify your existence. this is what i have done to make myself proud of what i've done, my parents proud, my children proud. i ask all of you to think about what you can do and i have coined a phrase for one thing i've tried to do, patriotic philanthropy. give back to our country. all philanthropy is patriotic and honest, but when you were doing things to remind people of our history and heritage, i think you do contribute to our country. all of you may say well, you are already doing good things. if you are not yet doing good things, think about this. i am convinced that those people
that give back to their country will live a longer life. all of you want to live a long life, right? why do i say that? i say that because people that give back to our country are happy. happy people live longer. to be happyoing about giving back to your country, try to do that now. and there's a special place in heaven reserved for people to give back to their country. you might laugh about that, but why would you want to take the chance i'm wrong? [laughter] >> i love that. i agree with you. if you were a betting person, you would take that bet, and you have, that's for sure. we will come back. chairman,go to mr. chairman of the education and labor committee.
he used to make me call him congressman, now it is mr. chairman. you know what power does to people. guy.a terrific supporter ofeen a public education in general and civic education in particular. people aren't born with those things in their genes, but i think chairman scott is an exception. his mother was a science teacher, his father was the first african-american to serve on the school board. >> in about a century. >> we already established we want to take care of that another way. so he's got education in his blood and i want to ask about
the role of education and cultivating good citizenship, and also about civility. you are in an institution, congress, where civility is in short supply and the same is true with the other end of pennsylvania avenue. how do you deal with this today? is there any coming back? >> i mentioned before that the virginia delegation -- you can credit john warner for really making that a priority. if you have a role model of civility, most delegations don't have that. thank --ohn warner to if there is any dignity within the virginia delegation, it is probably one of the best delegations in terms of cooperations and civility in the
nation because of his intervening. >> give john warner another hand. [applause] >> one of the problems as you have suggested, education is extremely important. you have people trying to debate the issues when one side doesn't believe in science. how are you going to debate somebody who doesn't believe in science? if you look at the budgets we produce, a lot of them don't believe in arithmetic. [laughter] cuts that will not affect the budget. are trying to have civil debates with people you can't debate. one of the things that is frequently said is public butiment is so important -- if they are acting in an uncivil constituents have to
respond. but education is extremely important and we need to focus on making sure education is and increasesll the level of education for people across the country. the supreme court said it was doubtful that any child could be expected to succeed in life without the opportunity of an education. it's a light that must be made available to all on the terms. then we start funding education with the real estate tax, which virtually guarantees it will not we passed no child left behind, which pointed out that even if the money is trade you want to make the achievement
gaps can deal with it. the response to achievement gaps was so convoluted that everyone hated no child left behind, so we passed every student succeeds, which gives the states more power to do something that doesn't give them any flexibility on the requirement that you ascertain achievement gaps and then have a credible response to those achievement gaps. that, we't succeed in would go a long way to having an electorate that is knowledgeable and can deal with all the complexities of the legislation. without that, there is no civil way to have a discourse. you see this in policy more than anywhere else. i was on the judiciary committee for the whole time i was in
congress up until i became a democrat on the education committee. policy is really just a matter of choice. try to reduce crime and save bunch of slogans and sound bites. unfortunately it is slogans and sound bites, whatever sounds tough on crime or sounds like you are doing something. some of the initiatives have been studied and researched and shown to increase the crime rate. i think we are gradually getting to a research-based approach where we can have more intelligent crime policies. processnt through this but six years ago the appropriations committee was told that they needed $2 billion for the apartment of corrections
to deal with increasing prison populations. suggested a freed intervention and rehabilitation to spend about 2% of the money on that. we may not have to build all the prisons. so we did. billion, it2 reduced crime so much that they not only didn't have to build any new prisons that they cleared from the head. coalition a nice because there's a more humane, evidence-based approach. think that is where people are now looking at criminal justice you have to have people who are willing to have an educated approach to politics, and that in recent history is very difficult.
>> let me ask you one follow-up. education is primarily a state and local function you are chairman of the education committee -- are there any ways the federal government can encourage in the elementary and secondary schools more civics education and maybe civility education? [laughter] congress -- to talk about civility -- [laughter] attach significant money in the way we deal with the achievement gap and try to equalize funding. individual with civility, english as a second language, make sure they are taught. the absence of civics is one thing we need to start looking
people going up without any basic knowledge of don't or civility -- i know how you can teach civility, but if you have civics and the discourses more intelligence and less acrimonious, for example you can have more civility. now wheresituation people are reelecting answer ordering and not criticizing civil.who are not being >> you heard david's description, that the average american's knowledge of civics -- it is almost a crisis because in the end, the average citizen's about government and politics determines the type of government that we have.
>> the legislative didn't fall out of the sky, they ran campaigns. served a long time they can be reelected. when they behave the way some are behaving we have a problem. >> with respect to civic engagement i should have mentioned that one of the greatest responsibilities or obligations of the citizens to be engaged is to vote, yet even in presidential elections we have roughly 50% of eligible an off yearg, and elections we have well less than 50%. of the eligible voters in a typical congressional election you might have 25% of eligible voters voting. in a primary, 10%. some people who have the right to vote don't choose to exercise it. when you think about the people who have given their lives to preserve our right to have the
right to vote, it's a sad commentary on the current state of civic engagement. >> there is a little positive good news. last year in the midterm elections, it was only a 50% turnout but it was the largest midterm turnout since the first midterm of woodrow wilson administration. it was very exciting at the time. 2020, you will see turnout through the roof, and you can guess the reasons why but it is turnout by normal standards. in some countries they force people to vote, but you might have 80% or 90% of eligible voters voting stop we will be lucky to get 60% of eligible voters to vote. if we can get to that it would be better because the government
itself will have more authority once you have more people voting. now to speaker kirk cox. this notperspective on just formed by his many years of public service and his current high position, but also for 30 years he was a civics teacher in virginia. either way, i want people to know, don't even bother to look for corruption connected to kirk cox because the man has been a schoolteacher in the never virginia general assembly and if you want to get rich, those are not the places to do it. i have had a number of students come to the university of virginia -- he was a great civics teacher, he would often bring them up to the university and show them around and get
some of us to chat with him about it. obviously you have a strong political philosophy but they pointed out to me, the democratic students, that you never insisted that they agree with you and maybe we would gain extra credit for agreeing to disagree -- that's the way it should be. mr. speaker, what's your view of civic education and civility? >> i would say first of all, some great points have been made. we don't teach enough civics and history, but the key to all of it is the teacher in the classroom -- there are two kinds of kids, the kind of kid who loves government, but they are very emotional and passionate and then you have 80% of the theirhat doesn't affect lives, and they just don't see the utility of it. your challenges as a teacher -- we have so many education staff
and your challenges to make sure you give them the critical thinking skills. -- have to have an example my first day of school, i taught all young teachers, don't pass materials for the entire class. you have insurance forms and everything. i used to shoot the present -- i was bipartisan. which is exercise by would give a two-page scenario. i would give all the background, the president is in a coma, i say, you are the vice president and you have 15 minutes to figure out what to do. stand up in front of the class and explain what you will do.
they are panicking and it's the first day of school. one kid had all the answers so he is holding up his hand and everyone is scared to death. i tell them stop looking at your feet because i will call on you. kidscall on two types of and i told the rest of the question -- the rest of the students or the press corps. i called the first kid in, all the kids stand up and start clapping -- that's terrible. the free press doesn't clap. so then the kid walks in, he expects no sympathy, but he's passionate. give him certain little nuggets within my two-page there are so many russian-made weapons on the black market, so he accuses the
russians of shooting the president and starts world war iii. then i start asking questions and i ask -- mr. vice president, how does the 25th amendment except the situation? he says the 26th amendment? to be viceained president for 30 years and you don't know the one that deals with the disability of a president? but here's what's really important. america, wetates of cherish our democracy stop you trying to do good things, and now your career is over. that is very important. i keep the simulation going but ask a new vicei
president -- what you think about monetary policy? he says raise taxes. the fed does that. -- here'srying to do the her'es the problem. you're very passionate. i'm going to do a similar situation. the passion, you will return them to public policy. and i know this is a bit of a long story. so then we proceed to teach the constitution. i make them memorize the amendments, teach the federalist papers. and i say remember that simulation i did? you need to understand these fundamental principles. and i had my kids debate the federalist papers. let me tell you, they grouped a lot of kids, xyz.
every one of those kids can do that. we debated separation of powers, checks and balances, federalist and anti-federalist. we heard a lot of great discussion. we debated the bill of rights, et cetera. and those kids did great. and even when elections came along, how could you be treated to get kids to see what they truly stand for? who are you for? they would be very passionate. they would write who they were for. flip over the page. i would list six major policy areas. for president obama, the aca. explain to me was his position. it's funny. they would flip it over to look at it. i would look at them. literally a minute would go by and all the pencils were down. i'd actually wait for 10 minutes, everybody totally uncomfortable. the point is we're going to talk
about these campaigns and the platforms of these candidates. you have no idea what this candidate stands for. so, by the end of this particular lesson, you will know that and then you can make an informed choice. i know i'm going on about this, but i think it's very, very important that we engage all students and we make sure that they develop that factual basis, and they also develop those social skills. did a mock assembly. i teach them procedure before everything. i make them come through the speaker and make sure they conduct himself in committee the right way. and there are small things you can teach students about how to conduct themselves, but those exercises are very valuable. example, but one this is a great forum today, that we learned so much about
that. when i became speaker, my promise to myself was -- and this is difficult because i'm a conservative republican. bobby and i disagree on a lot of issues. but i'm speaker for the entire house. when i gave my speech, and you've got to remember it was very controversial. we were 50-50 for a long time. the election was decided by drawing from a black film canister, ok, because it was a tight election between republican and democrat. and we,, of course won that drawing. and i said it feels like we're five miles apart. whether there's only five feet difference, it's an obligation for citizens to work together. we try to do that. we're not perfect, but we try to do that. that's the way i've approached it. i'll end with this. where do you think you've had the most influence? i will tell you i think it's the
teacher. i love being in the general assembly. and you've been a tremendous teacher. i really do think i've had a lot more influences than i ever had because i think that's where it starts. >> i would just add that we're here to celebrate the anniversary of virginia's founding. once we have nice discussions, we go about our business. what have we accomplished? i think one of the things we all might consider is what can virginia do to improve civic engagement in this state? and what can virginia do to improve voting precipitation in the state? virginia has a special obligation, i would argue, because it was the virginian who during -- drafted the declaration of independence. father of the constitution, presided over the constitutional convention. it was a virginian who was most upset about the constitution because it didn't have a bill of
rights. it was a virginian who drafted the bill of rights. so virginia has been involved for a long time in civic engagement and doing the things that are now the governing visible and governing structures -- governing principles and governing structures for our country. so you would think virgina would say we want to make sure that going forward, people in this state do a better job than any other state in knowing what the constitution is, knowing what the declaration of independence is, and be engaged by voting a higher percentage, making sure citizens who take the citizenship test do better job than any other state. so when you think about what you want to do going forward after the celebration is over, i hope the people involved say we should leave a legacy for those people who are coming in the future, and the legacy should be we are the most civic leader engaged state, the most informed state, and we're honoring the
great virginians who came before us because of what they've done. >> let's hope so. let's hope so. [applause] yes? we're running out of time, but i want to ask one other question. we talked about civic education. it's easy to talk about and difficult to do. but an even more difficult subject is the dramatic and disturbing decline incivility. not just between elected officials, but in our system, generally. citizens to public officials, you can throw the news media in. i actually think that social media is the cause of the great deal of it, not the actual news media. and you can't put all these genies back in the bottle. we're stuck with it, or relatively few people are going to jump off twitter. in most days, i'd like to. you can't. you're engaged with people.
you need them and they need you and all the rest of it. what can we do, practically? our seniorare in people in elected bodies where we all can agree civility has declined. and yes, i know of the president's role, and that's certainly a big piece of it, too. but it was declining before he was ever elected. what, practically, can we do? learning history helps. being taught well helps. but there are other things that we've got to do. it's almost a crisis. an active civility, what can we do -- act of civility, what can we do? and do it in two minutes like last night with the debate. i'll say thank you, mr. speaker, just like the debate. >> you cannot allow some of the
things that have been said to become normalized. statement after statement, you can't defend them. there was one a couple of days ago, there was a press conference on legislative leaders. subsequent -- subscript under it was gop leaders defend racist comments. well, you should be calling it out. you can't defend it. because then it just encourages more of the same. if you don't call it out, it's going to continue. and the voters have to participate when people conduct themselves in that kind of way. they have to be adverse consequences of the election. >> i think you have to find some common ground, ok? let's be candid. when you go to issues, which are very important, like life, that's hard. but having said that, higher education, k-12, when i became
speaker, one of the things i tried to do with the talent this is a setay of issues we can work on. set ofu try to work on a issues and you have a few successes, obviously you have to work with those people and then you know them a little bit better. you have to be practical. don't go to the issue that is so polarizing, you're not going to get a start there. in virginia, and i do think we've had really good things happen, if you look at colleges and universities, what we've done. so that's really what we've tried to do the last few years. you have to try to tackle the tough issues, too. for us, virginia beach and in control, mental health issues -- gun control, mental health issues. if you have success and start working on those, you know who the players are, that really evolves much easier when you try to work on those.
that's my more practical solution. an educationited committee retreat in jonesville. we had a bipartisan retreat right after we had passed the everyone succeeds act. and i was just stunned with the serious, cooperative, evidence-based approach the committee was taking coming out of washington, where basically it's slogan based. but a really deliberate process. when you agree to follow the evidence and research, that knocks out a lot of the confusion right there. if you can get people to start off and follow evidence and research, it will eliminate 99% of the debate. because the research tells you exactly what to do. and a lot of stupid stuff gets codified. the research is cleared. it doesn't work.
complementst want to the house education committee for taking that kind of evidence-based constructive approach. >> two point. one, some of you may remember in the late 1960's, adolph eichler was captured and taken back to israel. the trial was held and he was sentenced to death and executed. a book was written about that. two articles, one in the new yorker, and she entitled it the banality of evil. what she meant was people had become so commonplace, that killing people and commonplace -- in concentration camps was accepted as the norm. while it's not killing people, when you accept as the norm outrageous statements or conduct that is not becoming of a civilized society, that society will openly not survive. so we have to speak up against these things and we have to do
things that might take some profiles encourage. profiles encourage was a book written about senators. there haven't been as many books written about profiles and courage in recent years, but maybe we should encourage people to be courageous. the what john kennedy said. ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country. anybody here, anybody that might be listening, what can you do? one of the things is speak up when there are outrageous things being said so that our civic conversation does not -- is not allowed to go off track, and so we don't have a banality of evil, banality of accepting the outrageous things people say. the final thing john kennedy said in that address. some of you may have remembered it. i was in the sixth grade but i remember that speech.
with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking his blessing and his help, but knowing here on earth, god's work must be truly be our own. we can't depend on god to solve these problems. it requires each of us to get engaged in order to make certain we don't have a banality of evil concept where we accept what anybody says that might be outrageous, and we allow people to do things that do not further civic discourse. [applause] >> that's a perfect note on which to end. it's actually kind of upbeat. courage. profiles and i talked to ted sorensen, the real author. we agreed the book was a really slim volume. maybe we can all work to expand the next addition of profiles
and courage. we all need to do it to make our society and help civic education. >> enjoy being with you. thank you, david. thank you, bobby. thank you, kurt. they did a terrific job. please join me and around of applause. [applause] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] ♪ cecil,ewsmakers, guy chair of priorities usa and his super pac, talks about the group's goals for the 2020 election, to elect a democratic acid and, and to put -- resident, and to put more immigrants in the senate. >> the most valuable thing in running for president is knowing and being able to explain why you're running for president. i know it's a basic
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