A Civil Conversation With the Party Bosses

Posted on Categories Political Processes & Rhetoric, Speakers at Marquette

Yesterday, a packed room of more than one hundred people at the Law School was treated to the latest installment of On the Issues with Mike Gousha, featuring Wisconsin Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus and Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman Joe Wineke.  Gousha began the program by asking Priebus and Wineke about what role Wisconsin will play in the outcome of this year’s presidential election.  Both party chairmen confirmed that Wisconsin is considered “in play” for the presidential election, with recent polling showing Barack Obama with a narrow 2-3 point lead over John McCain in the state.  When asked what factor(s) will determine the election, Priebus suggested that the issue of trust — that is, which candidate voters trust most — will be dispositive.  Wineke countered that the election would turn on the economy.  Both also agreed that get out the vote (GOTV) volunteer efforts will be critical to success, in the state and nationally. 

Interestingly, both party chairmen acknowledged that because the margin of victory in Wisconsin for the last two presidential election has been small, both parties are targeting counties that are traditionally bastions of support for the other party.  In this regard, they have been focusing their GOTV and voter registration efforts in non-traditional ways.  Unsurprisingly, Priebus and Wineke disagreed on many issues, including the impact of Sarah Palin and which party will have control of the state assembly after this November election.  However, what struck me as refreshing was that while Priebus and Wineke disagreed on many topics, they remained respectful of one another and even seemed to enjoy one another’s company and banter.  Disagreement in politics is to be expected and, in many cases, healthy.  But perhaps the American public would hold its elected leaders in higher esteem if they approached their disagreements with the civility — and even the humor — that Priebus and Wineke demonstrated.  

There are two more On the Issues with Mike Gousha programs next week: On Tuesday, September 23rd, Gousha will interview Jay F. Hein, the former director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiative.  Hein will discuss the relationship between government and faith-based organizations.  The event will take place in the Alumni Memorial Ballroom at Marquette University at 12:15 p.m.  Then, on Thursday, September 25th, Gousha visits with Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Maxine Aldridge White, who will talk about her career, the community, and the pursuit of justice.  The event will take place at the Marquette University Law School in room 325 at 12:15 p.m.

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