On Thursday, January 18, 2018, the Georgetown University Institute of Politics and Public Service introduced the campus community to its Spring 2018 Fellows class with an open house in the Healey Family Student Center Great Room. Moderated by POLITICO Playbook Co-Author Anna Palmer (Spring '17 Fellow), the Fellows took questions as a panel on the current state of politics in the United States and the work they hope to accomplish on campus in their discussion groups.
Nadeam Elshami, former Chief of Staff to Nancy Pelosi and Executive Vice President of the SIGNAL Group, is excited to jump back into politics after recently leaving his career on Capitol Hill. In his discussion group, “The Art of the Impossible in the Age of the New Abnormal,” he hopes to give students a look into the inner workings of Washington and how members of both parties work together -- and clash -- in the process of policymaking. He brought up the current prospect of an impending government shutdown as well as the balancing act lawmakers must manage in competing with the other side to avoid blame and catering to members of their own caucus who may actually be pushing for the shutdown.
Having recently served as Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations in the Trump Administration, as well as Chief of Staff to the Republican National Committee, Katie Walsh Shields is looking forward to providing her firsthand insights into the 2016 presidential election as well as how the American political system is changing. In particular, she mentioned issues regarding how the two-party system works and how data functions in campaigns. She’ll be engaging more with these and similar issues in her discussion group, “Presidential Campaigns -- How does a national campaign really work?”
Steven Law, President and CEO of the Senate Leadership Fund and American Crossroads, opened with John Adams’s doubtful thoughts on the viability of democracy in introducing his discussion group, “Democracy and its Discontents.” However, he’s hoping to challenge Adams’s pessimistic view by focusing on the state of democracy and its challenges, as well as bringing in experts in the field to get a better idea of “what needs to be done as citizens and institutionally to maintain a robust democracy.” His discussion group will be taking a look at the decline of the power of political parties and institutions and the necessary steps to pull people on both sides back together.
Former First Lady of Virginia Dorothy McAuliffe said she is “excited to engage with young people who are excited about politics” and talk about the importance of politics and civic engagement. Concerned about low levels of interest in public service, her discussion group, “Revitalizing American Democracy Through Public Service” will spend time addressing how to reignite passion for civic engagement, especially among younger generations. She is also looking forward to bringing forth her own experiences working on Capitol Hill and in state government.
Eugene Scott, who reports for the Washington Post’s The Fix will be addressing how policies affect people differently based on their backgrounds and demographics in his discussion group “Identity Politics in the Age of Trump.” He said he wants to encourage students to “learn more about people outside our bubbles” and find a way to repair the divisiveness many perceive as a central element of modern American politics.
The Fellows ended their panel with a brief Q&A with the audience, covering everything from intersectional policy, to voter ID laws and bipartisanship on the Hill.