McCaskill talks about the importance compromise for Weil Lecture
November 3, 2021 | Kristen Chavez
On October 25, 2021, former U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill delivered the Weil Lecture on American Citizenship to attendees in Hill Hall and on Zoom.
In her remarks, titled “Finding Common Ground: Bipartisanship Within Political Turmoil,” she examined three possible reasons for the lack of compromise in politics. She pointed to the impacts of redistricting on elections, the segmentation of modern media and the normalization of disinformation, and growing cynicism and apathy towards government.
With “safely drawn” congressional maps, McCaskill explained, there is little incentive for representatives to compromise.
And “to get to common ground, you have to have common facts,” McCaskill noted. She criticized disinformation spread online, and the echo chambers created by major news outlets.
“People have the ability to go places for affirmation rather than information,” she said.
McCaskill discussed her experiences as the district attorney in Kansas City, as well as her tenure in the U.S. Senate, where she served from 2007 to 2018, where she courted voters in the middle of the political spectrum. She expressed worry that some of the people in the middle are too cynical to engage in this current political climate.
It’s rare for a voter to call a senator or representative and ask for compromise. If it happened, “believe me, it would be a notable call in their call log that day,” said McCaskill.
She spoke of the courage needed to compromise, particularly for elected officials fearing negative press or a lost election.
“Everyone needs to be less afraid of losing elections and more afraid of Americans losing faith that our government still functions.”
After her remarks, Institute for the Arts and Humanities Director Pat Parker moderated the Q&A portion of the event, inviting questions from the Hill Hall and virtual audience.
McCaskill was originally scheduled to deliver the lecture in March 2020, which was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Weil Lecture was established in 1915 by brothers Henry and Solomon Weil and has been hosted by the Institute since 2000.