November 6, 2017 - 9:45 AM

Vision of America


by Stacie Hartman

A discussion with top Clinton White House advisors, reflecting on President Clinton’s vision of America and the domestic agenda it inspired.

Panelists: 

  • Bruce Reed, former Chief Domestic Policy Advisor
  • Rahm Emanuel, former Senior Advisor for Policy and Strategy
  • Minyon Moore, former Director of White House Political Affairs
  • Maria Echaveste, former White House Deputy Chief of Staff
  • Mike Bailey, Interim Dean, McCourt School of Public Policy (Moderator)

This event was co-sponsored with the McCourt School of Public Policy.

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On the morning of Monday, November 6th, the Georgetown Institute of Politics and Public Service and the McCourt School of Public Policy held a panel discussion with top Clinton White House advisors that focused on reflecting back on Clinton’s domestic policies while President and his vision for America.

The dean of the McCourt School, Michael Bailey, moderated the discussion, first asking each panelist what they thought summarized Clinton’s domestic agenda and why they thought his vision brought him to office. Bailey mentioned that Clinton laid out his vision in three new covenant speeches dealing with social, economic, and national security policies, which he gave during the 1991 election season right in Gaston Hall.

The first panelist was Bruce Reed, the former Chief Domestic Policy Advisor from 1996-2001. Reed reflected that Clinton was able to effectively take on the basic problem Americans had with our governing philosophy. He was a leader that challenged the country rather than just making promises. Second panelist Maria Echaveste, former Deputy White House Chief of Staff, noted that people often complain about what Democrats stand for. During his presidency, Clinton was able to define that Democrats stand for opportunity, responsibility, and community. This sentiment became a theme for the rest of the discussion.

Former Director of White House Political Affairs Minyon Moore found that Clinton was exceptionally good at representing all people, not just those that looked like him, and was always willing to take on the toughest issues in order to make America greater. Current Mayor of Chicago and former Senior Advisor for Policy and Strategy, Rahm Emanuel, brought up the topic of bipartisanship by stating Clinton was a centrist in his domestic policies. Emanuel thought Clinton, “redefined the debate from left vs. right to moving the country forward vs backwards.” With Clinton in office, people once again thought the government was effective in getting goals accomplished as he was able to revive the “brain dead policies of both parties.”

The discussion then moved into a Q&A-style forum with a number of students asking questions about the idea of bipartisanship and the increased polarization of both political parties today. Maria Echaveste gave advice to students about how to become less polarized with others of the opposite party, saying that it is crucial to “force yourself to talk to people who don’t agree with you.” She added that people need to hear the best arguments from the other side of the ideological spectrum and incorporate it into their thinking because, “the way that Washington works now is fundamentally unnatural.”

When asked by a student about what issue could bring the most Americans together to move the country forward today, Mayor Emmanuel answered “national service” without hesitation because service is something that brings all Americans together toward a common goal. Before it became voluntar,y it was a common thread connecting all citizens. The panel concluded by looking towards the true purpose of politics--getting something accomplished. Each panelist encouraged students to use their voices, whether that be by voting in elections or writing their congressmen, so that politics can become more efficient.

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