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Former Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich joined the national conversation about election politics on November 2 at National Agenda 2016: Road to the Presidency, hosted by the University of Delaware's Center for Political Communication.
From UDaily, November 04, 2016 (article by Ann Manser). See the entire conversation here .
Former Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. told a University of Delaware audience on Wednesday, Nov. 2, that he has never witnessed a more turbulent election season or unhappier voters than in this year’s presidential race.
And Ehrlich is no stranger to political turmoil. He served in Congress from 1995-2003, during the impeachment of President Bill Clinton and the GOP’s legislative Contract with America, and in 2003 he became his state’s first Republican governor in 36 years.
“The country’s in a bad place,” he said at the start of his talk, part of the National Agenda speaker series, “Road to the Presidency,” hosted by UD’s Center for Political Communication. Citing polls showing that most citizens think America is on the wrong path, Ehrlich described voters as “angst-ridden” about the election.
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Former Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich discussed 2016 election with moderator Dr. Lindsay Hoffman, director of the National Agenda 2016 fall speaker series.
“I’ve never seen an environment like this,” he said.
“I’ve never seen an American public so dissatisfied with their choices.”
When people are that anxious about the future, “Unpredictable things
happen in political campaigns,” and the old rules no longer seem to
apply, he said.
Ehrlich discussed four areas he sees for concern — people’s views of the wealthy, the top 1 percent of Americans by income; dysfunction in Congress; the role of social media in politics; and the trend on some college campuses and elsewhere to limit dissent and argument.
“The 1 percent” are a significant issue for both Republicans and Democrats, Ehrlich said, but the two groups see them in very different ways. While progressive Democrats view the wealthiest Americans as greedy and failing to pay their fair share to society, conservative Republicans tend to be most troubled by the idea that their children and grandchildren will be denied the opportunity to become wealthy themselves, he said.
In discussing congressional dysfunction, Ehrlich pointed to the redistricting that was done after the 2000 census, creating politically safe districts in which a member of the House of Representatives is almost guaranteed re-election for as long as he or she wants to serve. With very few seats in play, he said, the result has been the disappearance of legislators willing to compromise — almost no moderate Southern Democrats or Eastern liberal Republicans still exist.
Gov. Bob Ehrlich speaking at National Agenda 2016.
He also criticized the reliance on social media for contributing to both partisanship and superficial discussion of issues.
And he urged the audience, particularly students, to follow the American tradition of respectful argument, dissent and debate, which he said is “what this country’s about.”
Ehrlich, who left the governor’s office in 2007, now is senior counsel in the government advocacy and public policy practice group at the law firm King and Spalding, where he advises clients on a broad array of policy matters and their interactions with the federal government.
He is the author of three books, most recently Turning Point: Picking Up the Pieces after Eight Years of Failed Progressive Politics.
He is married to UD alumna Kendel Sibiski Ehrlich, a 1983 graduate and a former trial lawyer.