By Kathryn Moore
Union faculty, staff, professional colleagues and community friends welcomed keynote speaker Stephen Hayes, senior writer at The Weekly Standard and FOX News contributor, to the 14 annual Union Forum March 19 in the Carl Grant Events Center.
The Union Forum, an ongoing luncheon lecture series, occurs biannually and has hosted some of the top experts in the fields of politics, business and religion. This semester’s was one of the largest Union Forum attendances to date.
Hayes’ presentation, titled “The Political Landscape in Washington, D.C.,” could have been subtitled “Two Cheers for Gridlock,” he said.
“I know not everyone is going to agree with me,” Hayes said. “I think … that that’s a healthy thing. These kinds of exchanges are ultimately what’s going to lead us forward in this room … and as a country.”
Hayes took the audience on a historical journey through the Barack Obama-era national elections, during which he pointed out the reasons that each political party continues to move away from the center.
He praised Obama for standing his ground and not changing his position when he was under fire for his health care plan and stimulus spending in 2008.
He attributed the Republicans’ move to the right to 2010 Tea Party members who channeled the thoughts and beliefs of average Americans by asking common sense questions.
“Strong differences are good,” Hayes said. “It’s what we make of those strong differences that will determine whether we succeed or fail.”
However, the Republican strategy of not making adjustments to the party platform caused presidential candidate Mitt Romney to embody all the negative stereotypes attributed to Republicans — which is ultimately, he said, why Romney lost the election.
Hayes discussed the government’s “sequester,” one of the most recent Washington controversies, saying it was the epic battle between two divergent views. He said he has not been confident America is on the path to solve its problems, but the current gridlock is opening the door for more debate.
“There’s no question that the framers didn’t intend for our government to be run (by) lurching from crisis to crisis,” Hayes said. “But when you’re having such a meaningful debate with contrasting visions … I think it’s a positive outcome that gridlock has forced the politicians we send there to focus on problems it has long ignored.”