tv Former Atlanta Mayor South Carolina Congressman on Urban- Rural Divide CSPAN May 31, 2022 6:40pm-8:01pm EDT
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c-span now, your front row seat to washington anytime anywhere. former atlanta mayor keisha lance bottoms talk about the misunderstandings between urban and rural voters, their political views and commonalities. ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the stage emily fisher and georgetown university classic 2022. [applause]
>> good evening, everyone. thank you for joining this event at the school of public policy. tonight, we are excited about the inaugural event for our new series called the cease-fire, where we will prior terms dialogue over debate on some of the most pressing issues of our time. tonight we will feature former atlanta mayor keisha lance bottoms and former congressman trey gowdy. in one of the most pressing conversations of our time, the urban-rural divide. please join the conversation on social media.
>> thank you everybody. emily is a very smart democrat and i am a lot smarter republican from new york. it really fits our speakers well to show how people from different backgrounds can come together for an productive conversation. with that, we would like to introduce our special guest tonight. keisha lance bottoms served as the mayor of atlanta, georgia. she became the first mayor in atlanta has history to serve in all three branches of government. she is committing herself to realize her vision of an affordable, resilient atlanta. she served during one of the most challenging times of atlanta.
she became a spokesperson for the challenges of communities facing mayors across america. shape by a childhood that highlighted the inequality of most americans, she let her administration and taken several initiatives that would seek to eradicate many issues facing atlanta. she was selected as chair of the 2020 democratic national
convention. >> i have the honor of introducing our second guest, trey gowdy was born in south carolina. he is a graduate of baylor university. and the university of south carolina school of law. after law school he clerked for judge in the south carolina court of appeals. in 2010 he ran for congress. he served on the judiciary committee, intelligence committee, education in the workforce committee and ethics committee. while in congress, he participated in numerous congressional investigations, sponsored bills signed into law and had relationships with the
scores of colleagues on both sides of the aisle. after four terms in congress he announced he would not seek reelection in 2018. in 2019 he returned to south carolina to practice law. he has an author, host of the television show and podcast. >> we would like to welcome mayor keisha lance bottoms and representative trey gowdy. thank you all and enjoy the conversation. [applause] >> good evening everyone. congratulations on making it to the end of the semester. almost there. thanks for joining us tonight
for our inaugural kickoff event for the new series cease-fire. we will just explain what this is about. it is different than what a lot of us are use to seeing if you watch cable news. there used to be a show called crossfire. it was about bringing people together from different perspectives. our goal here is to identify some big issues that are dividing our politics, bring two people together from different perspectives, ask them to lay down their swords and to have a conversation to help us understand those different
perspectives. this is not -- this is not a debate, it is a dialogue. as we were putting together the concept for the series, we thought of starting with the urban-rural divide because it is one of the most defining divides in our politics today. one of the biggest predictors of how you voted was your geography more so than your ideology. the closer you live to the downtown of a major city the more likely you voted for the democratic nominee for president. the further you lived, the more likely you voted for the republican nominee. and when you think about it, you
realize there are a lot of preconceived notions about the people who live there. some of those may be rooted in some truth. some of them may be misconceptions. that is what we will talk about tonight. exploring the urban-rural divide , what voters are looking for, what the people who live in those communities are looking for. maybe by the end of this conversation we will find some commonality in terms of motivation. even if we do not, that is ok. maybe with a little bit better understanding we can and still
more respect in the dialogue. that is the goal. let's find out if it works. i am incredibly pleased for this conversation to bring two people who are amazing public servants. mayor keisha lance bottoms and congressman trey gowdy, two people really exemplify what it means to represent their constituents. coming from very different areas, every different communities, and who both did not take very much convincing at all. too bad i want to say thank you. with that, i have a couple of questions. i will let you guys do most of the talking. i have a few questions, but i
want to start with the basic one. to each of you. mayor, what is it that rural voters do not understand about people who live in cities? fmr. mayor bottoms: thank you for having me, it is great to be here. i think the biggest misunderstanding is that we are not the enemy. we are not full of criminals and drug addicts and people who wish to wreak havoc on society. i base this upon the way the city of atlanta is often vilified in the state of georgia. we are a blue city in a red state. it is often said there is atlanta and there was the rest
of georgia. the reality is that we care about all the same things. we want safe communities. we want access to health care. we want to be able to send our kids to great schools. i think we have more in common than not. but i think that is the biggest misconception, that cities are the enemy. fmr. rep. gowdy: i want to start by saying thank you and thank you for the students for being here. i think you met amir for being -- and thank you madam mayor for being willing to be seen with me. for me to understand the divide,
what is our burden in south carolina, i have two of the largest cities in my state in my congressional district. but they are nothing compared to atlanta. i did some thinking. what i have been able to come up with and i am sure i am wrong. it is just a question of how wrong i am. i think there is this natural human nature to an us versus them. often times it is good-natured. us versus them is not always good-natured, and the second thing that popped into my mind. the closer you are to an urban
area, i think the more you get to see what your government can do. and what your tax dollars can do. and the further removed you were , may be the less you understand why we need our tax dollars to go for a park. the further removed you are from major highways, maybe you question -- so i think the size and scope of government. and the third point, i think president bush and president clinton both wanted the urban and rural votes. so what has changed? i think what has changed is that there was longer a desire to persuade people who live in a different zip code that we do have something in common. i think politics now is about radicalization.
and less about persuasion. if i can win with just the rural vote, why would i try to appeal to others? in the opposite would be true as well. >> i think we have moved our politics to a place where you both know it is cheaper to mobilize than it is to persuade. we see both in terms of politics and the media. if you watch the media, if you watch what people would consider progressive leaning media talk about rural voters, what do you hear? you hear these are voters that are constantly voting against their economic self-interest. that they are living in communities that are economically dying and wondering why they just do not move to urban or suburban areas. you hear that they are haber --
harboring racism. if you watch conservative leaning media, what do you hear about our cities? you would think every city is a burning hellscape right now. that it is crime infested and the home of elitism and the welcome mob -- the wpke mob. i think media is stoking into that. i am trying to figure out why is it that rural voters are so concerned about urban voters.
and why is it that urban voters are so concerned about rural voters? i think about president kennedy who used to give speeches and talk about the disaffected in both. why don't we do that today? fmr. mayor bottoms: i like to think that i do a. my mother always said you only have to tell the truth once. i found a far easier to be consistent because it is hard to keep up with a lie. my vantage point was very different because i was not mayor in the state controlled by the republican party. it behooved me to work well with our republican leaders. i remember having a meeting with
the leader. we had a great meeting and he said you better not walk out of here and tweaked that we had a good meeting. and i thought if only we could. as i look at david perdue and governor kemp, i think if i were to ever publicly speak about how well we work together and how helpful they both were, it would probably sink both of them. therein lies the challenge that it is not politically expedient for us to say that we work together. the reality is, especially with african-american seniors, they are often s conservative as a guts -- as conservative as it
gets. it has become popular to say that you do not get along and that you do not compromise. i think that makes for very poor politics. it hurts our people when we are afraid to say we work well together or that we compromised. you look at the 2020 election, jill biden won. he was a moderate candidate. if i were to go by social media, even based on what my policies were, i did not want to defund the police. but if i looked in social media, i did. i did not want the all-star game to leave georgia. but if i look at social media, i
ran the all-star game out of georgia. it has become easier for people to attach tags to you. as elected officials, we do not do enough on our am a to push back and say we actually like each other and we work together well. it is not popular to say. >> a lot of your former colleagues in congress railed against the urban elite on a daily basis. what is your take on it? fmr. rep. gowdy: i do not know if that is a supply issue or demand issue. i do not know if they believe if that is what the voters want to hear.
it does make a difference if you are reacting, and i do think politics reacts more than it leads. at least when i was in the house, it was reactionary. either you win the primary -- i remember during the health care debate, there was an advertisement of speaker ryan pushing a senior citizen off of a cliff. you can disagree with him on the affordable care act without thinking he wants to engage in a genocide of elderly people. when i start with is what makes somebody neatly more democrat or republican. -- lean more democrat or
republican. i think it boils down to your view of government and what government is responsible for and what government can and should do. i may be dead drunk -- wrong. i think the more you see government up close on a daily basis, the more appreciation you have for it. the two cities in south carolina that are destination cities are charleston and greenville. people cannot wait to go to them because of services and infrastructure and the opportunity that you have there. i do not live in rural south
carolina, but i do not live in the city. when i take my trash to the dump, i have less of an appreciation for trash service. when i do messy police on a regular basis, i think i have less of an appreciation for my text was to support a robust police force. that is simplistic. i would rather stay there. there are politicians who can bridge that chasm. there was a new york times editorial today a state representative in maine who one in a district and nobody thought she could win.
she told a story in the op-ed about stop at somebody's house and she ordered her off his property. but she stayed and she had a conversation. in the end, he was a supporter. i do not know many people in elected office that are willing to spend 30 minutes per voter when you can micro target using social media. fmr. mayor bottoms: the reality is it is exhausting now to be in politics. not to discourage anyone, but nobody is ever satisfied. the left is mad, the right is mad, and those in the middle are quiet. you are constantly feeling like you are not doing enough come out that everybody is angry with you all look the time.
and i do good about not staying on social media. i used to like to look at social media to see what was happening, but it gets so toxic, and from the right and the left. i remember when i announced i was not run again, somebody called and asked, did we failed you? did we not do enough for you? i thought that was an interesting question that speaks to how the solid majority feels. nobody wants to put themselves in the middle of a fight. only politicians do that. regular people do not usually like to be screamed at. but i do think for the sake of our country it is going to be extremely important for people with moderate views to be more
vocal. there was a reason you have a lot of elected officials not to running for office again. i did not sign up to have fun, but i did not sign up to be miserable either. coming out of 2020, there were a lot of miserable days. what we are experiencing in our country right now is a tone. fmr. rep. gowdy: can i pick up on what the mayor was saying.
80% of the congressional races are decided by more than 10 points, which is a landslide in politics. 80% or landslide districts, which means the primaries all that matters. what i would tell them on the right is the most conservative candidate usually wins. to your other point, i think, who sets the expectations for whether you were doing a good job or not? on the right, the expectations are set by people primarily who never held office for cast a vote on legislation.
fmr. mayor bottoms: when i made the decision, my poll numbers were at 68%, which was incredible, not a 2020 and everything we had been through. i was an interesting position. i very likely would have won. the self-analysis, i did i run for office? i ran for office because i wanted to do good. i wanted to do better for my community and at some point, when you feel as if your best is not good enough, it begins to wear on you. despite the fact that the 60% -- 68%, it was exhausting. it does not mean i won't ever run for office again.
but i needed to put a period on that season just for self-care. and that is what you are seeing for a lot of people who are seeking not to run again. fmr. rep. gowdy: i would not have lost in the general. could i do most in the primary to somebody who said i will give you a dollar if you could guess the most contentious know i cast the eight years i was there. you will never guess what it was. the most contentious vote i cast was for john boehner for speaker of the house and he was the only nominee. the fact that the two of us left
should tell you about the state of politics. the question is how do you fix it? bill clinton and george bush both won the urban and rural votes. it can be done. it cannot be done if you make no effort to do it and if you have no interest to do it. >> we will get to our guests question soon. but i want to throw a couple of questions out there that i think exemplifies the urban-rural divide. let's start with one that still baffles me, covid. if there is an issue that should be unifying as the people come where there was a clear adversary, it is a pandemic.
and get you look at the divide between left versus right, but really pronounced in urban versus rural in how we have been mitigating the pandemic. and i wonder why. has this come down to the basic argument of individual freedom versus collective responsibility , or is it something else? i would love to hear from each of your perspectives why we are so divided. why urban versus rural is so divided and how we tackled this pandemic. fmr. rep. gowdy: i am not in epidemiologist but that does not keep most people on television from talking about it. i would imagine the more you live around other people, the more interested you are in map. -- maps -- masks.
the morgue you are around people, -- the more you are around people, the urban voter is more interested in restrictions than the rule voter. -- rural voter. the closer you are to government probably the less distrustful you are of it. i am in the minority among people who live in rural areas when it comes to the vaccine. fmr. mayor bottoms: i was surprised to see with the mask on because of stereotypes.
i was very surprised, pleasantly surprised. even coming here to have this discussion, i still made assumptions, which goes back to what you said about these inherent ideas that we have about who people are and what they think and what they feel. there were many alarming conversations i had in my city, in the african-american community. there were times i because, my son's ideas of covid, on the things my younger kids say, they just say things just to bother me, she does not believe half of what he says. he only does it for me. but, easter had a cousin come
over, who is not vaccinated, so i demanded that he take a test. my very smart cousin explained to me why he can't get covid. based on nothing other than the fact that he believes he cannot get covid. [laughter] other than that he is brilliant. that divide there were a lot of people, rural, urban, all races, who really had crazy ideas, in my opinion, not based on science as it relates to covid. at the beginning of the pandemic, the governor asked me to lead his task force on homelessness. we were working together quite well, right up until we were not. at some point, i began to go, who is this guy? he was getting one set of information out -- and i was
getting another. and it we had a very public split on the pandemic. in my mind, it's science. look at the science. at some point, quite frankly, began to think, maybe it is because, maybe i am so very sensitive to this, because i can see the numbers in the african-american community. there are other reasons, when you look at minority populations, often congregate living conditions, underlying health conditions in all of these things that made covid-19 more deadly. minority populations -- in minority populations but i begin to wonder, if this virus were killing people at the rates we are seeing in cities, rural communities, what the response have been the same? i don't know the answer to that.
fmr. rep. gowdy: i don't either. i am tempted by the individual liberty versus collective responsibility argument. i'm tempted by it. i would be shocked by -- if the majority of men and women who signed up to serve our country and the uniform did not come from rural areas. i think they do. so, immediately, i have impeached my own idea that there is this lack of interest in a collective responsibility. i used to talk about it, it fell on deaf ears or no one was watching. even if i'm not doing it for my own well-being, i would wonder what the church attendance rate of a rural people would be, my guess would be it would be pretty high. why is it not enough to help someone else? even if you do not think it is going to help you? all the major religions teach that.
i don't have an answer other than, you mention follow the science. i admit, i was -- you correct me on my geography, there are parts of the district of columbia that are next to virginia. they'll sort of come close to one another at one point maybe. why, if you're following the signs, would you have three different policies? -- following science would you have three different policies? science, in some ways, the ultimate casualty of the pandemic. it used to be unified. there's not a person in this room who had not been inoculated in something. i have an arm full of shots when i was a kid. i get a flu vaccine every year. i don't know why this vaccine became a political issue other than we are in an environment where we are dying, us versus
them ideas and arguments. >> i want to get to students questions. i want to throughout two more issues. while i am doing that, feel free to line up at the microphones. there is one in each aisle. i want to throughout two more issues. there so many i can go through. two issues where the rural and urban divide is apparent, the economy. right? you listen to conventional wisdom and narratives, urban areas are the economic hubs of the country. they are generating the gdp, all of the economic growth. they are all access to capital. the rural communities are getting screwed. i remember taking mark warner when he was running for governor in virginia back in 2001 to a peanut factory in southeast virginia and the guy down there said, you know what our number one export is down in this part of the state? our young people.
they cannot get jobs here, they are leaving for the city. this is 20 years ago. but, at the same time, poverty is not just a rural issue. there are a lot of people in urban areas that are struggling with access to opportunity, to economic opportunity. why this pronounced divide between urban and rural? where is there commonality there? fmr. rep. gowdy: there is an interconnectivity. there are rural voters that drive to the city for jobs because manufacturing jobs have let -- we moved to a service-based economy. if you want work you drive into the city. that may wind up being the best hope for curing the divide, the more time you spend around people, not like yourself, the more appreciation you have for them. the interstates and my state, thinner state passed you by when
they were building the interstate -- the interstate, pasty by when they were building the interstate, they are dead. it is not us versus them, it is a consequence of the loss of manufacturing. it's the consequence of where we put the interstate systems. if you think your life is not going well, you can look at yourself or you can blame an exterior force. the temptation is to sometimes want to blame an exterior force. fmr. mayor bottoms: i will give you another example. affordable housing. when i went over to the state legislator to talk about my agenda, debated. should i talk about affordable housing? i want to meet with the republican leaders, mostly from rural communities. i thought, they will never want to hear about atlanta's horrible -- affordable housing issues. i was dead wrong. i assumed they would not want to
hear about it but they were very interested. one, because they'll have to come into the city during the session. they were looking for housing. secondly, just what you mentioned, their kids and grandkids were moving into the city. housing was an issue. there were people, even from the metropolitan area of the second-grade teacher that cannot afford in the city she was driving an hour. all of these reasons that made people care. but i cannot stop in my office in city hall and said, they don't want to hear about this or care about affordable housing, i'm not going to bring it up. but i did and it was a very productive conversation. i think, often times we have to get out of our own way in making assumptions about what people care about. i may not be for the same reasons that i care. but, often times, there is much
more commonality than we often get people asking people credit for -- give people credit for. >> one more question. race. a lot of times when people talk about urban versus rural, they talk about not -- white versus nonwhite. a lot of that had spilled out into the public discourse in a real way in the summer of 2020. mayor you were on the front line of that conversation in a very real way in an. -- atlanta. i think it is more nuanced as every other issue. 20% of the people who live in rural communities are people of color. president trump do not just win white rural americans, he won the majority of white america, urban and rural. it's a little bit more nuanced than just white, nonwhite, rural, urban. i would love your thoughts on
how that divide -- the race and geographic divide plays out. fmr. mayor bottoms: my mom said to me at some point, during 2020, that it felt like 1965 to her all over again. that was heartbreaking to hear. so, i believe what trump did and what made popular in our country was division. my concern is that that was not a one-time event. i don't know how we turn the corner from that. it's like you put a torch to it. and it has taken hold and it does not seem to be going away. that worries me. i was very hopeful, with the
election, because i thought, ok, where coming back -- we are coming back to some sense of normalcy. but i don't know how long that will last. because, again, it is not popular. it's not popular to work together and get along. extremes are popular and that concerns me. fmr. rep. gowdy: i think about mr. clyburn who represents the large geographic part of south carolina, much of which is rural. i don't know. as you know, tim scott is not only my best friend in politics, he is a man who will preach my funeral, but i don't pretend to be able to see issues of race to the eyes. the best hope i have is to borrow the eyes of someone, who has lived it. i don't have an answer to that,
i will say this. i think even before president trump we figured out the divisiveness is not just good for politics it is good for business, it is good for television, newspapers. i think you started by saying is there constituency for compromise? i don't think there is. what we have to ask ourselves is, is that a supply problem or demand problem? is it are we not getting it but we wanted or have we stopped wanting it? i don't have the answer to that. i know this, i spoke about it last night on a very light television show that i host. but, redistricting is going to give you house of representatives that consists of the squad and freedom callers.
so far were going to fix something in our politics right now, i would probably fix the way political lines are drawn. and make it where you actually have to talk to people that may not currently agree with you. >> i want to come back to that point. start taking some student questions, we will start over here and go over there. tell us who you are, your school, where you are from and what you're studying. >> hi, my name is river and i am from atlanta. my question is for you madame mayor. i'm a sophomore in the school of foreign service. thank you for being here. i have lived in atlanta my entire life, so it is an honor to see you here. my question is, two years ago, many of us in atlanta were expecting you to either be mayor or to be in joe biden's cabinet or maybe even vice president.
but -- what you think you have maybe learned during her time out of office and what you think the future holds for you? --what do you think the future holds for you? fmr. mayor bottoms: i learned more than i ever expected to learn because we didn't -- there was no playbook, coming out of 2020. in many ways, as frustrating as it was for me to watch president trump, it made me a stronger leader, because i had to rely on what i knew and often what i didn't know and to figure it out. i don't know that i would have had to work as hard as a leader, under different president. so, i learned so much about
myself. i also learned intuition as a superpower. women, especially often dismiss feelings, because we think it makes us weak and it is not tangible. but i learned that it's a gift. sometimes you will not have all of the facts, so you just have to make decisions based on what you think and what you feel. i learned that did not fail me. in terms of the future, i'm trying to still figure it out. i have not had a break yet. from being mayor. i'm still going full speed. once i settle down, i am a woman of faith, i think, if god were to give me a message, i'd be too busy to listen to it right now. i think when i take the time to slow down, i will have some
clarity on what my next will be. >> you didn't come here to make an announcement tonight? fmr. mayor bottoms: i did not. we are going to run on a ticket again. >> you heard it here first. [applause] fmr. mayor bottoms: someone will make this into a commercial and he will never win again. [laughter] fmr. rep. gowdy: i promise you i will never win again because i will not run again. >> thank you for being here today i am incredibly excited just for the future of this program because cease fire brings a lot of interesting voices and perspectives together. my name is joe, i'm a freshman in the school of foreign services, originally hailing from philadelphia, which is an urban area, but my family is from maine, a rural area. so i appreciate you mentioning chloe maxman,, who was a bright future for main. my question is, we face a lot of
different issues so you have the issue of broadband in maine or homelessness and food insecurity in philadelphia. he also shared issues, health care misinformation, what advice do you have four young leaders such as myself for seeking to navigate the current political space and how can we bridge the divide and hope to take different issues, nail them together and create a policy plan that'll work for all americans, wherever you are geographically living? fmr. rep. gowdy: when i hear policy i think you, because i was a lawyer. i'm not good on policy so i will let you take the policy. i can take the policy but i'll let you take the policy. fmr. mayor bottoms: i would just say, beatrice teller. you all, you know what your issues are. i find out more in my kitchen
about what people care about between my kitchen and my mother's kitchen that i do from any other pole -- poll, or roundtable in the mayor's office. i would say, because you are such savvy students, you are savvy young people, take what you know to be the challenges and then work to find solutions. the reality is, as elected officials, we can get lazy sometimes. we are often dealing with what is in front of us and not thinking 10 steps ahead. some of the best policies that i was able to create came from people telling me what needed to be done. my affordable housing plan came from someone saying, hey, i think you can set aside and make a goal of $1 billion for affordable housing. i thought, that was crazy, i can?
by the time, i was in, were 40 million in. cash bail bond, eliminating cash bail bond in atlanta. somebody came to me and said, you need to look at this and i did, yeah, this is impacting poor people. this is a penalty on poor people. we did it. you know what the issues are. you know what people care about. you also know how to disseminate the truth. in ways that i never could come i don't know how to get on snapchat or do tiktok. [laughter] but you do. >> this is a tough political environment, this is what you're thinking about. fmr. rep. gowdy: by the time you run. what i would tell you is to embrace the reality that there is a difference between losing and failing. and if you run as what you are, you mentioned easter.
i think i am right on this. i think he lost a voice vote to a guy name -- so anybody can lose. the question is, are you willing to lose is what you are? the statistic -- i'm not big on poles. -- polls. two thirds of all democrats not have a single republican friend and two thirds of republicans and not have a single democrat friend. i'm trying to understand why someone voted for president obama twice i know who i would ask except for someone who did. if i'm trying to understand why someone voted for trump twice, i don't know who i would ask except someone who did. policy is also smart politics. it's hard to eat someone you know. it's hard. -- it's hard to hate someone you know. it's hard. i would bring in my worst critics and i would engage them, they knew not -- they may not
support you, but they may be closer to neutral and that's a victory. when i stayed as a tough political environment, the experts will tell you is to identify your voters and gone out and suppress the votes from the other side. the question is do you want to win or make a difference? if you want to make a difference reject that mindset and engage in the art of persuasion. try to persuade people that your way is better, and understand there's a difference between losing and failing. every hero i have is lost. there is no shame in losing. >> thank you so much for speaking with us today. when you said that thing about friends across political lines, software people dupe fist bumps, so i think -- do fist bump so i think that is a good start. what do you think journalists can do to limit detrimental impact on the urban rural divide and how do you think journalists and news consumers can play a role in that?
fmr. rep. gowdy: you both now work for cable networks. i think we have to sort out whether it is a supply issue or demand issue. i tend to think that the media reacts. keep in mind, you can have a fabulously successful show on any cable news network, with a couple of million voters. you're not going to win an election, but you have what they call a successful new show. i'm trained as a lawyer. i did that a whole lot more than anything i did, i would cross-examine everything i hear no matter what show it is, including my own. you should ask, how do you know that? and what are the limits of your knowledge? you should ask that anytime anyone says something on television or anyone else.
cross-examination is the most powerful tool to the truth -- to get the truth and understand that so -- that just because something is said. don't assume because it is said in a series voice with a lot of gravity that it is true. cross-examine everything. >> again, i think we see things their own lens. fmr. mayor bottoms: i would say, cnn is pretty neutral. a lot of people would not say that cnn is neutral. but it is to be. -- to me. again, that is the lens that i am looking through. i think, again, we have to demand more. so we speak with our dollars.
we support networks or don't support networks. it impacts the bottom line. when we demand more, we get more in return. fmr. rep. gowdy: i would give some thought to supporting individuals as opposed to networks or newspapers, if you find a columnist you think is fair, and find where she writes. you mention cnn. i don't want to get in trouble. [laughter] but she has been a friend of mine -- he has been a friend of mine for 15 years, i think by any standard, a progressive commentator on cnn. fmr. mayor bottoms: see i don't think he is progressive. [laughter] fmr. rep. gowdy: for south carolina he is pretty progressive. but i have never had a crossword with him. we just decided, friendship. he is never going to vote for
me, but again, she should not vote for me. i shouldn't vote for him. but you can get along with someone. you can support them. something happened to him recently and i texted him and i said i am thinking of you. he has made the mistake of supporting me publicly which is a dumb thing for them to do. but he did it anyway. pick people that you think are worthy of your trust as opposed to institutions. >> i do wonder, on this point, so much of our national political dialogue is being driven by media outlets that are either new york or dc-based. you are seeing local press, even in metropolitan areas, especially in rural areas, local press around the country, really taking the shorts. it is a slow painful death that you're seeing out there. i wonder how much of that is driving this? if new york ndc -- and dc are
dictating the terms of the debate and were losing the local nuance, whether it is in a major city or rural community, changes the nature of our discourse on these issues and people think about it differently. ok, over here. >> my name is tyler. i'm originally from a farm in wisconsin and now i am here setting economics. i'm from a farm in wisconsin and now i am with the georgetown bipartisan coalition. so this issue hits home for me. it means a lot that you're here. my question for you, when we think about better polarization and geographic divide, people tend to blame the internet. i have lost track of how many times you mentioned a social media in a negative tone. but it is difficult to go out into your local community and have a conversation with people who disagree with you, when our
local communities are sorted into red america and blue america. my question for you, to what extent can social media be a force for good and for healing and one needs to change in order for that to happen, policy wise and culturally? fmr. mayor bottoms: again, there is an opportunity to spread truth. via social media. but social media also has its limits. talk about my best polling sources. i was on cnn today, i promise you my son did not see me, he did not even watch tv. he gets everything on his phone. my mother saw me, if i posted it on social media, she would never see it, because she is not on social media. so i think it is important in the same way we run campaigns. when we run campaigns we knock on doors, we get on the radio,
we are on television, social media, mail, we do it all. i think if we did a better job doing that, not just in campaign season, then we would be better off as a country. i think we could communicate better with our constituents. they would understand that we are not all bad. washington is not awful. all elected officials are not crooks. but when we only spread information what it is campaign season, i don't think it helps us very much. fmr. rep. gowdy: a someone who is not on social media at all, this will be a very short answer. i think technology is benign. it is how you use it. i think social media is great for raising issues, have not seen it great for resolving them. i think i said it last night.
how many do we get, 280 characters on twitter? look, you can share your faults -- thoughts with the world as long as you can reduce them to two or three sentences. i think issues often times or more complicated than that. so having said that, both of my kids are on it. i am not seeing their eyes and probably five years. i don't know what color eyes my daughter has because they are always looking down. i am a dinosaur. it is great for raising issues. from a mental health standpoint, i would be very careful letting what someone who does not know you well, thinks or says about you, have any impact on your life at all. i would say that to all young people. i saw my colleagues flipping through facebook and they read nine positive comments and then they focus on the negative one, but none of it -- none of the
tenant know them. so why do they care? the chances of you being the smartest or dumbest person in the world are not great unless you know everyone in the world. this is a radical for me to say. particularly to a group this age. social media, i would use it to raise issues, i don't know that it is not helpful in terms of resolving them. >> we are running short on time. apologies. we are going to do one more from each mike -- mic. for those of you behind, i apologize. we will go here and here and wrap up. >> my name is tom i am from the general public.
but, my question is, there's a lot of talk about compromise and coming to the center. if that's not popular. if both sides are on the extremes, why not have some sort of national divorce, or at least the system where one sides not dictating terms to the other because of where going to have a divorce, seems like an abusive relationship, especially for conservatives who might have a referendum on illegal immigration or homosexual marriage, only for some federal judge or justice far away to overrule the will of the people. fmr. rep. gowdy: i don't know that we are headed for divorce. i still naïvely think that if you put two people beside each other as we have done tonight, and we were to go through life, it would have exponentially more in common than we do not. we have one thing in common, faith. you could build a relationship on nothing but that. you could build a relationship
on nothing but the fact that we are parents. we are in an environment where we run to what we disagree on. i am not into a national divorce. we tried that once. it had disastrous results. i think we are one nation, indivisible, we gotta start talking to people with whom we don't currently agree. even if there is no reconciliation on the issue, i don't think the mayor and i are going to agree on certain issues no matter how long we talk but i think it is really hard to hate someone you know. so, i am not into a national divorce but maybe that is his field fashioned southern in me. i think it's about grace fmr. mayor bottoms: we have to give room for people to grow. we are not often willing to do
that. so, we say we want people to understand us, we want to know each other better and then when they ask us questions that may be insensitive, then we are done. i don't think we can do that because you're not giving people room to grow and to understand you better. you're going to ask them questions. i made the mistake of few weeks ago on social media, i said i'm on the fence about complete student loan that relief -- debt relief. that may not be a popular statement in this room. i said, i want to know more. and people went nuts. someone said, didn't you know you cannot have logical discussions on twitter? a woman said i would love to send you more information. she did. i was very grateful for that. but i ended this evening, the
night of the oscars, so will smith slapped chris rock and then i forgot all about it. but i ended the twitter discussion by saying, this is the first and last time i will engage in a twitter discussion because it is completely pointless. but thankfully, someone said i want to send you more information and she sent it to me in my dm which was great. my point is you have to give people an opportunity to say, oh i don't know, how i feel about that, i want to learn a little more. then you have to learn a little more and ask questions without trying to chop the heads off too. not just on twitter, but in general. >> lets go here and then i have a wrap up question. >> hello, i am a freshman in the school foreign service. i was raised in the bay area. not very rural. coming to georgetown adjoining
the bipartisan coalition was the first time i was friends with someone who was pro-life, first time i was friends with someone who was conservative, first time i made a friend from someone from a rural area. but i understood that it is a privilege i get my coming to school like georgetown. my question to you would be what do i get to go home and tell my family or friends back home who want a day-to-day basis don't see or meet rural people, what do i tell them to do to bridge the divide on their own personal intellectual level? fmr. rep. gowdy: is there any chance you are going to want to be a lawyer in life? >> possibly. fmr. rep. gowdy: the best lawyers are the ones who are always one fact away from changing his or her mind. there are very few people in the world, i was in dallas and i said, i am one fact away from
changing my mind on any issue. that was not a popular thing to say. they view that as a lack of conviction, a lack of you really believing something. lawyers should always be one fact. it needs to be good fact. so, i would ask people in my family or in my sphere, if you want to be the most knowledgeable person you can be, use an example, if you don't know anybody who voted for president obama who would you ask other than someone who did? i don't know the people who voted for mitt romney, john mccain, i don't know that they could tell you how president obama was elected twice, overwhelmingly. i don't know how anybody who did not vote for president trump could tell you how he won in 2016. it's not -- it's about improving yourself, making yourself a better advocate. if you don't know the facts on the others of the issue, i don't think you're going to be a good
as a lawyer or advocate you can be. how else would you find that out if you don't talk to someone who disagrees with you? fmr. mayor bottoms: i think the fact that you are in a bipartisan group, speaks volumes. you go home and say, hey, i met some people who don't think like me. they are ok. i think that makes a difference. >> thanks for the question. we are overtime so thank you for indulging us i want to ask one last question of each of you. let's say you are both back in your old jobs. what's one issue that you think you could lead with to help bridge this divide between urban and rural? one issue that you as a mayor could take to some rural lawmakers and find some commonality? one issue that you as a
congressman representing a significant urban community could take someone who represented an urban community and find some commonality, where can we bridge these divides? fmr. mayor bottoms: i think we are already there we just don't speak of it in those terms. so, we all want health care. quality health care. we want quality education, we want safe communities. i think where there. -- we are there, on what we want, how we get there together is the bigger question. i think we agree on a lot. i just don't think we message it is agreement. -- as agreement. fmr. rep. gowdy: i would say having a justice system that is not only respected but worthy of our respect, proportional, just, fair, in the eyes of all parts of the american family.
but part of that is i'm insulated from a bit of criticism because none of my critics put anybody in jail. i know what it is like. i know what our justice system could be like, what it should be like. there is, granted this is not the best atmosphere to be talking about criminal justice reform, but that -- you start in this deep precept do you believe in proportionality, fairness, in that lady blindfolded holding a set of skills? i don't think anyone no matter where they live is going to say no. you have agreement -- you mention health care, i don't know anyone in the world who thinks you should be denied health care based on your ability to pay. i would hope not. i would hope there is no constituency for letting people die. so if you can get consensus on
that broad issue and then you can begin to build consensus on how we get there, in this environment we do not talk about health care or the justice system. want to go to the issues that we disagree on and are probably not going to solve. that is better for politics, fundraising and probably better for media. fmr. mayor bottoms: i just want to add two more things. you mention criminal justice reform. a lot of our criminal justice reform in georgia came from nathan dille, republican governor. voting we had a motor voter registration in georgia, you get a license, transfer your license, you can register to vote. 800,000 voters put on the voter role, came from nathan dille's policy. again, there are these issues that are important to all of us,
there's commonality. i think we just need to be bolder as leaders and less timid in what we know our communities need and what our people are asking for. and push for it. >> can ask one question? fmr. rep. gowdy: there was a u.s. senator that told me one time, you should never tell the voters they are wrong. but if you're meeting with a group i need to think they are just mistaken, they don't have all the facts, the reason i told that young man it is ok to loses because -- lose is because if winning is all you want to do, may be do not have those frank conversations with someone and say you don't have the right facts. your facts are wrong. how did you tell people that you thought they were mistaken? fmr. mayor bottoms: someone on my team recently said, someone
asked what was the hardest thing about working for me and he said working for a politician who doesn't care about politics. so, that was easy for me, i didn't do the politics well, because i would have those conversations. i would say, but that doesn't make much sense. and it didn't always work out well for what i wanted to get done. but i did it. again, going back to what my mother always tells me, you have to tell the truth once. i found it far easier. i wanted to be able to sleep at night, good, bad, and indifferent. i wanted my soul to be well with decisions i made and if that meant telling someone that they were wrong or not misleading someone, having them walk out of the room thinking i'm going to
do one thing and then do another, that was important to me. how did you do it? fmr. rep. gowdy: i took ambien. that's how i slept at night. [laughter] i tried to do with questions. when i left congress i could have written a book about, well that's not true, cannot have written anything in the bold -- in the world because i don't know much. but i wrote a book about persuasion, honey's questions to change people's minds. -- how to change people's minds. i was there when they were impeaching president obama. i had constituents that would line up and want to know why was i doing more. i tried to use questions, like -- questions to try to get them to see the illogic of where they
were headed. i was not good at saying, a georgetown graduate and whatever flaws he has and he has a bunch of them, but he is very blunt. he would say, will that is just wrong, you're wrong. i do not know what it was, i was never good at telling a group of people sitting around in conference room table you are wrong. i would use questions to try to prove to them, that maybe there facts weren't reliable. if i had been as tough as you, my mom did not tell me, she probably did that is easier to keep up with the truth but i was not paying attention. i was doing something else. >> there so many issues that we did not get to tonight. i was hoping we might. everything from the environment, we touched on health care bit, but so many others. we're just going to have to bring you back to continue this
conversation at some point. [applause] our motto, our slogan at the institute of politics and public service is public service is a good thing, politics can be too. the past couple of years that has been tested quite a bit. we're hoping more conversations like this might show us the way back. so mayor, congressman, can't tell you how much it means to all of us here that you are helping us kick off the series and gave so much of your time and your wisdom to us. thank you both for being real public servants. [applause] and to all of you, thank you for sending -- spending part of your evening with us. this is it. finals are coming up. good luck all of you on finals and stay tuned, keep following an -- at gupolitics.
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