The conference entitled BPC's Third Annual Political Summit: Taking the Poison Out of Partisanship is scheduled for November 15-16 at Tulane University Tulane University (Freeman Auditorium & the Kendall Cram Room, Lavin-Bernick Center).
One of the panelist for her third straight year is Catherine “Kiki” McLean , who has had senior positions with the campaigns of Al Gore, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Kerry and the Democratic National Convention. McLean also has been a frequent guest on national television news and talk programs.
Bayoubuzz recently interviewed McLain regarding various topics such as the upcoming elections, the rancor in the current political environment, the purpose of the BiPartisan Policy Center, the Tea Party and the Occupy Wall Street phenomena, Herman Cain and other issues.
Below is a summary of the questions and answers posed to Kiki McLean by Bayoubuzz’s publisher Stephen Sabludowsky.
(The below is only a summary of the interview. Please listen to the audios to obtain the actual interview)
Bayou Buzz interview with Kiki McLean
- Let’s talk about what’s going on with the BPC summit.
- It’s a terrific meeting that people are excited to be a part of. People are excited to get an invitation now.
- What is the message of the Bi-Partisan Policy Center?
- Can we lay down arms long enough to have a legitimate conversation about what challenges our country is facing and what role, in this case political people can have in solving it? That’s the message. When you become more familiar with other people it’s a lot harder to demonize them. When people come face to face to learn about the shared passion and commitments and values you have, it makes it a lot easier to come together. There should still be healthy debates, but the poison of partisanship (as the BPC likes to call it), no. It serves no one’s best interests. When you sit down with Republican and Democratic operatives, we all share a great passion for our country and we care about making our country better, that’s a healthy debate. We just disagree on what will make it better and how to do that. The BPC summit is the place you start that conversation
- Comparing the general rancor of politics today to what existed during the Clinton administration, thoughts?
- The country has been through a lot in the last 10 or 11 years, and I would suggest to you that we are, in the last year, at one of the lowest points I’ve ever seen, which is why BPC is so important. Change doesn’t come in wholesale over night, but change comes in moments that are repeated over and over again. So what the Bipartisan Policy committee does, by bringing people together, the way BPC seeds conversation, in a high-end way with some high-end folks.
- Why is there such rancor, the worst that you’ve seen? Is it that they do not like each other or they feel concerned that the country is going down?
- When times are really tough, people tend to close up, they ball up. It’s hard to worry about how to help someone else when you’re concerned with yourself and taking care of the people you’re responsible for. In both parties, there are people in the extremes that put their own political career first instead of doing what is right for the country. There are shortsighted people who believe a win at all costs is worth it. The reality is that a win at all costs is not the best thing for the American people, and that’s where we end up not solving the problems and that is where we end up with stagnation, and that’s a real problem.
- What about Occupy wall street, tea party?
- I don’t know that occupy wall street is monolithic across the country or even across the globe, but I do think they represent a significant level of discontent, which is a prism that lots of people across the country can look through and see some sort of relevance to their lives. Something they are discontent with as to how our country is working right now. To that degree it’s a vehicle. Not sure that all these groups can be measured on the same spectrums. I think they’re different at different places at different times.
- Do you think there are any parallels between Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party?
- I think they are extremes at both ends of the political spectrums. I think they are minorities but I think they have the loudest voice. Frequently there message is to draw to a standstill as opposed to how to focus on what it would take to come to an agreement. So, the big question for people may be do you want to be always right and set in your ways or do you want to move the country forward. The political threats that are going on against our leaders about ‘don’t cooperate with the other side, whatever you do, you must not coordinate or try to find a solution together , that’s a cultural function now that has really hurt, I believe, our governing process.
- Herman Cain popularity growth
- That is within the republican party and I am a Democrat, so I am looking at it as an outside observer--that’s one of the great things about a campaign—different people get a chance to have their say. While Herman Cain isn’t someone I’m ever going to vote for, but I think what’s going on in the Republican party is a great demonstration of people getting to see what different candidates backgrounds and what they have to offer offer, which is really how a democracy should work. And then the voters would have their say whether it should be Herman Cain. Rather than anointing one person at the beginning and driving it home, they all ought to get a shake and right now he is getting his shake.
- With the tea party screaming at the Wall Street group and vice versa, I’m wondering whether or not TV will be a safe place for kids to watch period.
- I tend to watch news very early before they’re up and frankly most of the time I turn it off when my kids come to the table for breakfast.
- We’re one year away from the big elections—do you have any feel of the tenor or the issues?
- My hope is that Americans really stand up and vote for what they believe in and what they’re for, and not what they’re against. I think when people focus on what they want from their leadership and create an environment that calls for leaders to find solutions, like BPC, saying personal attacks and vitriol are unacceptable and hamper our ability to solve problems, then we’ll have an election that they want and an outcome they are looking for and will result in the kind of leadership that they are asking for. I personally believe that President Obama is equipped to give that leadership and has made some really tough decisions. Ultimately the power in that is with people. Those of us involved in politics have a responsibility to make sure we get the information out there and have a legitimate debate, and by the way, a legitimate debate includes calling other people on the carpet for falsehoods. It does not mean you can’t stake your ground out but it also means it’s about offering the real facts and the real information so voters can make informed choices.
- In close, what BPC does here is groundbreaking. The fact that so many people come, they’re drawn to two things:
- oThe very idea that BPC put on the table—they want to see politics work better.
- oThey do it out of respect for a company like BPC doing such great