Colgate Alumni Talk Politics From D.C.

Jackie Dowling, Maroon-News Staff

On Thursday, February 26, Colgate’s Common Good Network, one of Colgate’s Professional Networks, organized an event titled “What to Expect from the New Congress.” Held in Washington, D.C., the event was broadcasted in Case Library through LiveStream. The panelists, five Colgate alumni working in different fields of government, spoke about bi-partisan cooperation on major issues, especially after the 2014 elections to the Senate.

The mission of the Colgate Professional Networks is to promote alumni engagement and undergraduate professional development. This event brought together Colgate alumni and current Colgate professors and students to discuss major world issues and the approaches taken by both parties to address these issues. Some topics mentioned were the 2016 presidential election, the potential shut-down of the Department of Homeland Security and the controversy surrounding Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming visit to the United States. Panelists included Amanda Terkel ’04, David Smith ’88, Amy Dudley ’06, Elizabeth Oblinger ’10 and Paul Lobo ’89.

Terkel moderated the event, presenting the panelists with questions to structure the direction of the debate and fielded questions from audience members. She currently works at The Huffington Post as Senior Political Reporter and Politics Managing Editor. Terkel launched the discussion by asking the panelists what mechanisms they believe promote bi-partisan cooperation. 

Smith is a current partner at Greer, Margolis, Mitchell, Burns (GMMB), a strategic communications company. He has worked on multiple political campaigns, both in the field and as a consultant in D.C., striving to elect progressive candidates. In response to Terkel’s question, he mentioned the tendency of members of Congress to make decisions based on how it will affect their party’s position in the 2016 presidential elections.

“The kind of member of Congress that socializes with the opposing party is an endangered species,” Smith said.

The conversation then shifted to discuss the possible shut-down of the Department of Homeland Security. Many panelists mentioned short-term funding as a viable solution that both parties are considering.

Dudley works for Senator of Virginia Timothy Kaine as his Communications Director. She worked for both the White House as Deputy Press Secretary under Vice President Joe Biden and for Delaware Senator Ted Kauffman’s office.

“Nobody wins from shut downs, everybody loses. It reminds everyone that Congress is broken,” Dudley said.

For their final topic the panelists discussed their opinion on the decision of the United States to host Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Only half of the panelists supported the invitation and continued positive relations between the United States and the leader of Israel but believed the timing of the Prime Minister’s visit to be inappropriate, as it is scheduled to take place on the eve of his possible election.

All panelists mentioned the importance of 2015 in terms of bi-partisan cooperation and progress on policy reform, especially in light of next year’s presidential election.