How do you feel about the state of politics in America? Where do you think the political system is heading? Marianne asks two strategists to share their views on the present-day political climate in America: Jill Alper, a Democratic strategist with five presidential campaigns in her portfolio; and Matthew Dowd, an author and GOP strategist for President George W. Bush in 2004.
Jill Alper has worked with campaigns in all 50 states on the state and federal level. She has also worked with five presidential campaigns, including the 2000 Gore/Lieberman and 2004 Kerry/Edwards presidential campaigns. She currently advises Governor Jennifer Granholm of Michigan and heads the Dewey Square Group's campaign practice.
Jill says she sees both a call for bipartisan thinking, as well as a trend toward an "us versus them" mentality. "While people are saying, 'Gee, we want a more civil discourse,' they're fixating on the things that really are the distinctions and the cleavages that exist and what direction our nation ought to be heading," she says. "I think it's a real conundrum. I feel something happening—where it's going to take us as more and more people show up, I don't know."
Matthew Dowd is a Republican strategist who served as the chief strategist for California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006 and for President George W. Bush in 2004. He's also coauthor of Applebee's America: How Successful Political, Business, and Religious Leaders Connect with the New American Community, and the founding partner of ViaNovo, an international communications and brand positioning firm.
Matthew says he has witnessed a shift in the way we communicate with regard to our opponents intentions. "We don't often ask and assume that what the other person wants to accomplish is good and they're doing it from a perspective of helping other people—whether you're coming from the left or the right or Democratic or Republican perspective," he says. "I think we've lost the ability in many conversations in politics to say, 'Yeah, I might not agree with [the other person], but maybe they're coming from a good and right place.'"
Marianne points out that her guests have been pitted against each other in various political contests at different times, however, she says they don't think in strictly black and white terms. "Neither of you are involved in a conversation that is limited by what we traditionally think of as only Democratic views or only Republican views," she says. "There's something new happening in America which is 'both' and 'and.'"