David Durenberger Interview

Assignment: talk to former Republican Senator U.S. David Durenberger about the current policymaking process.

Durenberger made these comments in a recent Civic Caucus interview:

The policymaking process is grievously disconnected today. The problem, Durenberger said, is the prominence of money and the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision that the First Amendment prohibits the government from restricting independent political expenditures by corporations, labor unions and other associations.

“Today,” he said, “if you run a business and you make a lot of money and then run for public office, other people who make a lot of money are going to give their money to your campaign, because they know you’ll put your own money into the campaign, if it looks like you’re going to lose. There’s not much we can do about that one.”

People in local public leadership positions today are as qualified or better qualified than people who were in those positions 40 or 50 years ago. Durenberger said he sees those qualifications in the gender, preparation, experience, motivation and political independence of people in elected and appointed local government positions today. He believes they are probably better qualified today to take on the kind of challenges they face than those of us who were in those positions back then.

Durenberger does not share this opinion about people in elected positions at the state and national level, where “ideological partisan politics, perennial elections, and campaign financing have destroyed both the power of the informed citizen and that citizen’s ability to be elected to state or national office from anything but the extremes.”

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