On November 2nd, 2017, we hosted former Congressman Jason Altmire for our Political Pageturners event series to discuss his book, How Political Polarization Divided America. The conversation was moderated by Jon Ladd (Associate Professor, McCourt School of Public Policy; Faculty Liaison, GU Politics).
Altmire shared that, in the process of writing, he researched the issue of partisan deadlock in government extensively and concluded that it is impossible to change the minds of partisan individuals in our country. Altmire explained that partisan individuals actively seek information that agrees with their pre-conceived points of views in a phenomenon he considers to be "motivated ignorance." In the midst of this troubling conclusion, Altmire developed optimistic recommendations for the future that, based on his research, would minimize partisan decisions and bills from being proposed in Congress.
During the event, students engaged with Altmire by asking thoughtful questions, especially regarding his views on the Affordable Care Act and whether they have changed since he was one of the few Democrats to vote against the legislation during his time in the House of Representatives. Despite conceding that the law does work, Altmire said that he did not regret his decision in hindsight, seeing it as the best decision for his district. He did, however, express interest in crafting a health care law that would keep up the progress of the Affordable Care Act, while driving down the costs through competition.
We enjoyed hearing such a thoughtful analysis that continues to remind Georgetown students about the pressing issue of close-mindedness in politics. Students could not help but reflect on this event with greater perspective and ideas for addressing such issues in collaborative ways.