Time and again the current presidential campaign has defied tradition, shedding any familiarity to previous election cycles. After a brutal primary season for candidates, the two presidential nominees and their running mates are ramping up the rhetoric.
The next 100 days are sure to mired in mudslinging, with more tweets, nicknames, and distractions from the real issues facing the nation.
Not all political discourse is petty. This weekend, I had the great opportunity to moderate a round table discussion in Austin, Texas. Three panelists with extensive backgrounds in politics and government provided a fascinating look at what is steering the national conversation into uncharted territory, including what one panelist called our “Kim Kardashian culture” that invents drama for entertainment.
This weekend’s A-List round table included:
Ted Jarrett is the go-to manager for the largest and most complicated mail projects in the political arena. He implements voter communication projects for high-profile political campaigns & nonprofit groups. Some of his clients include: President George W. Bush, Sen. John McCain for President, Rudy Giuliani, & Gov. Chris Christie. Ted has worked as a senior advisor for trade associations, Fortune 50 companies and political figures in the private sector. Over the years he has serviced a wide array of corporate and issue-oriented clients including Ford Motor Company, Microsoft, AT&T and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Josh Phoebus, who has held senior-level positions for Democratic candidates at the federal, state, and local level. Phoebus was responsible for designing and implementing field strategies in Monmouth County for New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine’s successful 2005 gubernatorial campaign. He also managed fundraising efforts for Virginia Gov. Creigh Deeds and led fundraising events for Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Vice President Joe Biden. Phoebus currently works for the American Academy of Nursing in Washington, DC as its Development Manager.
General Tom Carter, who served as Air Force Aide to President Ronald Reagan, carrying the “nuclear football” and attended the President on the days he was reelected and re-inaugurated. Later selected as the Assistant for National Security Affairs to Republican Leader Bob Dole in the U.S. Senate. Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney recruited Tom to serve as as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs, guiding the passage of the Use of Force Resolution to start Operation Desert Storm. After several years of consulting and flying, Tom returned to government serving in Iraq as the chief legislative liaison for the Coalition Provisional Authority, hosting congressional members in Iraq weekly.
The panelists’ conversation was civil, even if they strongly disagreed on a range of topics, including the economy, health care, foreign relations, military, terrorism, domestic security, and missteps made by each campaign. They also analyzed the strategy involved in planning party conventions and selecting vice presidential candidates to create an ideal ticket.
With all the chatter on traditional and social media, dissecting the 2016 election will certainly be no easy task for the average voter. It’s my hope that civil, informed discussions like these will help America select its next President based on personal convictions, rather than fabricated narratives.