Polarization: A View from Political Insiders, Think Tanks, and Academics

Former White House Counsel Robert Bauer, distinguished scholar in residence and senior lecturer at NYU School of Law, and NYU Professor Sally Katzen, former deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget, recently hosted in D.C. one of the best public discussions on political polarization of which I've been a part.

Two things stood out about this discussion.  First, it was more politically diverse than usual — not only because it included leading Republican and Democratic presidential campaign managers and consultants, but also because of the participation of a wide range of “outside” groups, such as AEI, Cato, Center for American Progress, the Hudson Institute, and others.  Second, most events on polarization do not integrate perspectives from high-level political “operatives” with those of the think tank, media, and social science/academic vantage points.

Here's the outline of the subjects and discussants.  In separate posts, I will provide the videos of each session.  To locate all of them in one place, see here.  The program:

Opening Presentation: Framing the Issue (1 hr, 3 min)

  • Richard Pildes, Sudler Family Professor of Constitutional Law at NYU School of Law
  • John Sides, associate professor of political science at George Washington University

Polarization: The Role and Response of the Media and Think Tank Communities (58 min)

  • Moderator: John Fortier, director of the Democracy Project at the Bipartisan Policy Center
  • Karlyn Bowman, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute
  • Major Garrett, chief White House correspondent on CBS
  • John Samples, director of the Center for Representative Government at the Cato Institute
  • John Halpin, Center for American Progress
  • Tevi Troy, visiting fellow at the Hudson Institute

“Polarization” in the “Political World” (50 min)

  • Moderator: John Fortier, director of the Democracy Project at the Bipartisan Policy Center
  • Eliot Cutler, independent candidate for governor of Maine
  • Anita Dunn, managing director for SKDKnickerbocker
  • David Keating, president for the Center for Competitive Politics
  • Rick Davis, partner and chief operating officer for Pegasus Sustainable Century Merchant Bank and National Campaign Manager, 2000 and 2008 McCain Presidential Campaigns

Keynote Address: US Senator Tom Daschle (D-SD) (49 min)

* * *

     As a side note on changing models of legal education, Bob and Sally established this year a new NYU Legislative and Regulatory Policy Clinic at NYU’s campus in Washington DC, Students have spent a semester examining the multi-faceted role of government lawyers while gaining experience at federal agencies and congressional offices. Clinic students work four days a week at a federal agency or government office, in addition to weekly classes.




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