The Norman Transcript

University

November 20, 2013

Former Congressman calls for change in political party power

NORMAN — Former U.S. Congressman Mickey Edwards said the U.S. Congressional system is functioning the way it was designed to, as people who compromise are accused of not being a real Republican or a real Democrat. And our Congressmen don’t reflect their constituents because we’re not really electing them.

However, Edwards said the system doesn’t work because we, the people, designed it not to work by creating political parties with the power to enact party primary laws, redraw district lines and enact sore loser laws

“We have created a polarized system that rewards the intransigent and punishes compromise,” Edwards said said Wednesday night at the University of Oklahoma President’s Associates Dinner.

OU President David Boren praised Edwards and how he challenges the public to change a system that penalizes those who work together.

“His book gives practical, concrete suggestions to put positive incentives back into the system,” Boren said.

Edwards was a U.S. Congressman from Oklahoma from 1977 to1993. Edwards served Oklahoma’s fifth congressional district as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 16 years and taught at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs for five years.

He currently serves as vice president of the Aspen Institute and director of the Institute’s Aspen-Rodel Fellowships in Public Leadership program. He recently was elected as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

He wrote two books, “Reclaiming Conservatism: How a Great American Political Movement Got Lost — And How It Can Find Its Way Back” and “The Parties Versus the People: How to Turn Republicans and Democrats into Americans.”

Edwards explained how Congressmen don’t represent the people anymore, citing an example from the State of Delaware. After President Barack Obama was elected, Joe Biden left his Delaware senator seat to become vice president.

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