The Edmond Sun

Local News

April 18, 2012

UCO speaker: Congress lacks will to solve problems

EDMOND — A huge sense of unease exists in America about difference, change and a sense that we can’t talk to one another and solve problems, a democracy advocate said Wednesday.

George Mehaffy, founder of the American Democracy Project, made the remarks Wednesday afternoon at the University of Central Oklahoma, which hosted a civic engagement conference. Mehaffy recalled what the ADP has learned during the past 10 years and future challenges.

UCO was a charter member of the project and hosted the first regional conference in 2004. UCO President Don Betz, who will be inaugurated Friday afternoon at Hamilton Field House, was a key member of the think tank that created the American Democracy Project, Mehaffy said.

It began in 2003 as an initiative of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities in partnership with The New York Times. It focuses on higher education’s role in preparing the next generation of informed, engaged citizens for the American democracy.

When it was established, the nation had just been through the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Mehaffy said.

“We had a series of bewilderments and puzzlements on the part of the American people about where we were and where we were going,” Mehaffy said. “I wish I could say we solved those problems. But, in fact, in many respects those circumstances are worse today than they were in 2003.”

Mehaffy mentioned the sense of unease and that the nation is headed in the wrong direction. A prime example of the inability to talk and solve problems is Congress.

“People are essentially shut down and saying we’re not going to do anything, and that will persist to November of this year,” Mehaffy said, referring to the coming election.

Mehaffy said the surrounding environment includes a wild excess of money stemming from things like the political fundraising groups known as superpacs. Creating electoral districts to establish a political advantage for a particular party or group creates many districts that are no longer competitive.

It also includes the 24/7 news cycle. Many Americans are watching broadcasts supporting their opinions, Mehaffy said.

“We are increasingly isolated from the opinions of others,” he said.

Other examples are the nature of the blogosphere and permanent campaigns in Washington. The minute politicians arrive in the city, they are already asking for money.

“You can’t, it seems to me, be a legitimate leader while you constantly have your hand out,” Mehaffy said. “It just creates an enormously challenging environment for all of them.”

For more than 200 years, American-style democracy has been a shining beacon, Mehaffy said. It has been the most successful experiment of self-government in history, he said.

“The question for all of us is, ‘Are we going to be able to preserve and sustain it?’” Mehaffy said.

Mehaffy closed with the often retold story about Ben Franklin when he was approached by a woman after he had exited the Constitutional Convention in 1787. The woman reportedly asked, “Doctor Franklin, what sort of government have we created?”

Mehaffy mentioned that the convention was supposed to be a secret. Franklin is said to have replied, “A republic, madam, if you can keep it.”

“If we can keep it,” Mehaffy said to the audience. “So the question for each of you, and me, is the sun rising or setting on the greatest experiment in self-governance in the history of humankind?”

Mehaffy said he hopes all of those who attended the conference are contributing to a positive answer as the nation moves forward.

marks@edmondsun.com | 341-2121, ext. 108

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Oak Tree Official offers glowing update on Senior Open

    An official who has been in charge of tournaments since 2001 said the 2014 U.S. Senior Open is probably the best city event partnership he has seen.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Edmond soldier settles in housing benefits case

    U.S. Attorney Sanford C. Coats said Thursday a U.S. Army reserve soldier from Edmond has agreed to pay the government $20,000 to settle civil claims related to obtaining fraudulent housing benefits.

    April 17, 2014

  • Stevenson 1 Oklahoman returns home focused on pro-gay agenda

    Troy Stevenson remembers the day when football players discovered him and his boyfriend holding hands behind an Edmond high school. After they had been chased off school property, Stevenson, called to check on his boyfriend.
    “He was in hysterics,” Stevenson said. “… Like me, I thought he was scared. Did people see us? What would people think?”

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • Lawn Experts’ tips can help your lawn bounce back

    Chances are your lawn is looking a bit bedraggled after this rough winter.
    That’s not surprising. Between brutally cold temperatures and drying winds, turf took a beating this year.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gracelawn grows larger

    The Edmond City Council voted 5-0 in favor of the city purchasing 20.5 acres of land immediately to the north of Gracelawn Cemetery. Purchasing the property is needed for future expansion of the cemetery, Mayor Charles Lamb, said.
    Gracelawn Cemetery is owned and operated by the city and is located on the northwest corner of Danforth and Boulevard.

    April 17, 2014

  • Warmth needed to grow tomatoes

    The time for those growing tomatoes in their garden is when the soil temperature is above 60°F and fear of frost has past. We are generally safe from frosts after April 5.  However, frosts have occurred as late as May 1 in the Oklahoma City area. If you planted your tomatoes on or before April 5 last year you would have covered them several times as there were several late frosts. If you plant early, be ready to cover your plants during nighttime frosts.

    April 17, 2014

  • Debate Senate hopefuls meet in first debate

     Accountability to the American people and the $17.5 trillion debt continues to be a major issue in the race for U.S. Senate office being vacated by retiring U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn.
    The Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee hosted a debate Wednesday for three of the seven Republicans running for the U.S. Senate seat that is being vacated by retiring U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Oklahoma City FC invites fans to design club scarf

    Oklahoma’s top-tier soccer club, Oklahoma City FC, invites soccer fanatics across Oklahoma to be a part of its future by designing its scarf.
    Scarves are a tradition among soccer clubs and are typically a team’s most recognizable accessory. Scarves are a matter of pride for hard-core supporters and feature team colors, logo and inspiring slogans. Scarves are a part of a team’s identity.

    April 16, 2014

  • MS_injection well.jpg Agency clarifies earthquake-related misinformation

    A state agency says misinformation related to the debate about the cause of more earthquakes across Central Oklahoma includes oil well types, well numbers and injection pressure.
    The Prague sequence of 2011 along the Wilzetta Fault zone included a significant foreshock, a main shock of magnitude 5.7 and numerous aftershocks. It has been suggested that this sequence represents tremors triggered by fluid injection.
    More recently, earthquakes have been recorded in the vicinity of Jones, Arcadia Lake, Edmond, Guthrie, Langston and Crescent. Regulators and scientists are working together to better understand what’s causing all the shaking.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sheriff seeks items for agency history project

    If you have historic pictures or artifacts related to the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office, the agency is asking the public to share them.
    “The Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office is working on a history project. If you, your family, friends or acquaintances have any old photos or artifacts related to the OCSO we would love to have them or a digital copy,” said Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel.

    April 16, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Video
Man Accuses 'X-Men' Director Bryan Singer of Sexually Abusing Him As a Teenager Lea Michele & Naya Rivera Feuding? Don't Be A Tattletale: Bad Bullying Tips For Students Jabari Parker declares for the NBA draft Singing Nun Belts Out Cyndi Lauper Swim Daily, Throwback Thursday The trillest thoughts on marijuana "RHOA" Star Charged With Battery Grizzly Bears Get Snowy Birthday Party Weatherman draws forecast when another technical glitch strikes WGN Elizabeth Olsen's Sexy Shoot Bay Area Teen Gets Prom Date With Help From 'Breaking Bad' Star Boston Bomb Scare Defendant Appears in Court Behind The Tanlines Jersey Strong Part 1 WATCH: Women Fight To Marry Prince Harry! Jenny McCarthy Engaged to "New Kid" Kate and Will Land in Oz O’Reilly Launches Preemptive Strike Against CBS Pixar Unveils Easter Eggs From its Biggest Movies Baby Sloths Squeak for Their Cuddle Partners in Adorable Video
Poll

Do you agree with a state budget proposal that takes some funds away from road and bridge projects to ramp up education funding by $29.85 million per year until schools are receiving $600 million more a year than they are now? In years in which 1 percent revenue growth does not occur in the general fund, the transfer would not take place.

Agree
Disagree
Undecided
     View Results