By: Megan Foy
Jeb Bush launched the 2016-2017 Omnibus Lecture Series by sharing his thoughts on important issues including partisanship, the presidential candidates and leadership.
Prior to the lecture, a group of political science students and honors students were invited to an informal question and answer session in the Honors Center.
“These kinds of interactions make a lasting impact on (the students),” Chancellor Carwein said in her introduction before the lecture.
Among the students who participated in the class were political science seniors Ian Lese, Matthew Danielson and Cody Fuelling.
“I think he is more personable than he was made out to be. Trump definitely characterized him as boring and robotic, which I found to be false,” Lese said.
“He did seem to be very warm in the room,” Fueling said.
An issue that came up often during the class was the growing concern for political partisanship. Bush went into detail about how effective leaders need to be able to overcome their ideological disputes and reach across the aisle in order to make compromises.
“Our government, historically, has functioned. We haven’t always been this inept, dysfunctional, crazy, frustrating beast of a government,” argued Bush. “How do we restore it? We start with the premise that if someone disagrees with you, they aren’t a bad person.”
Despite the need for compromise to take place, Bush believes that there are important characteristics that many of our politicians are missing. This absence of necessary skills has made coming to a consensus on many issues a difficult task.
“Good naturedness, humility, curiosity, listening and compassion are the leadership skills that will forge consensus and solve problems,” Bush said. “Bullying people, castigating them and disparaging them is utter weakness.”
Bush described the joy in his heart instead of anger as a key reason for his success in the Florida gubernatorial elections and as a conservative leader, which is something that he believes is needed today among the presidential candidates.
“Appealing to people’s fear and angst works for a while, but the emerging group of people don’t want to hear this over and over again. They want to have hope,” Bush said.
Bush said that he is still unsure of what his decision will be come election day, but he is certain that he will not be endorsing Donald Trump or voting for Hillary Clinton.
“I think we could consider (Jeb’s lecture) as redefining leadership in a way that isn’t Donald Trump,” Danielson said.
A popular subject during Jeb’s lecture was an update on his family.
“My mom and dad are doing spectacularly well. My mother … is perhaps the greatest caregiver on the planet. (My dad) likes a good martini at night. He likes a massage; he likes to eat a lot … I think he deserves it,” Bush said.
“My brother as you might remember was president for eight years … now he is a painter. Apparently he called up an art instructor in Dallas, TX a couple of years ago and said, ’ma’am, there’s a Rembrandt in me; your job is to get him out,’” Bush said.
Bush also spoke about many important political issues including immigration reform, economic growth, shifting the power to the states and how our political culture has changed since the Reagan era.
“(Reagan) embraced his enemies. He didn’t disparage them. He didn’t make fun of them. And he called on them where there was enough common ground to act on it,” Bush said. “He worked with Tip O’Neill, a liberal democrat … because the first thing they did was assume that someone who disagreed with them wasn’t a bad person.”
Bush also brought up memories from his time spent as the governor of Florida from 1998 to 2007.
“I shared my personal email with everyone. I released all my emails too.” he said.
After discussing some of the various issues that America is facing, Bush shared what he believes to be a good way to start fixing them. Throughout his visit to IPFW, he stressed the need for a constitutional convention of the states.
According to the U.S. Constitution, a constitutional convention can meet in order to amend various sections of the Constitution. This process can start in the legislature with two-thirds of the house and the senate voting for a convention. It can also start when two-thirds of the states find a convention necessary.
The next Omnibus lecture is scheduled to take place Nov. 10 at 7:30 p.m. in the Rhinehart Music Center. Charlie Savage, Washington correspondent for the New York Times, will give his lecture “Power Wars: Obama, Bush, and the Post-9/11 Presidency.”