With only days leading up to the election, political analyst Jamal Simmons detailed the past year in politics – a period in our country he views as turbulent, but fascinating- during his President’s Forum address on Wednesday.
“Jamal is a keen observer of politics – especially in this critical time with only weeks until the election,” remarked President Mark D. Gearan, as he welcomed members of the HWS and Geneva communities to the Geneva Room.
Between the multiple Republican primary candidates and President Barack Obama’s ‘you didn’t build that’ gaff, Simmons outlined a sobering four years – ones of economic uncertainty and partisan bickering. However, Simmons does not disparage. “All of that theatre was necessary to get here,” said Simmons.
For Simmons, the layers of drama are the result of politicians attempting to get at the heart of what motivates citizens. “People want to make a decision based on trust – trust that their leader will protect their families from what they fear,” explained Simmons. “They are looking for leadership and strength – we like presidents who have confidence, but also empathy. Voters want a president to understand what they are going through.”
Simmons says that we also seek out courage, competence -and most importantly vision. “Americans are optimistic – they are constantly looking for a better life.”
One of the most compelling issues of the election, Simmons believes, is the major shift in demographics that has changed dramatically since even the 2008 election. In the future, Simmons says we could see Florida change from a swing state to a more progressive state, and places like Arizona – and even Texas – emerging as battleground states. For the GOP to survive, they would have to learn to better incorporate these changing numbers into their party platform, he said.
Simmons also expressed his views regarding the current partisan divide – one that seems nearly insurmountable. “Our two parties need to move to accommodate a multitude of views,” he posited. “There needs to be more interaction across party lines if we want to be able to get anything done.”
In conclusion, Simmons offered his advice to the students in attendance. Although he graduated from Morehouse College with aspirations to be a banker, he quickly realized that was not his passion. “Find your own voice,” he urged, citing that as significant to his success. “Speak in a way that is authentic for you.”
Following his talk, Simmons took time to answer audience questions, discussing thresholds of trust – and how candidates must tread carefully around matters of gun control, immigration and abortion – as well as the current “ground game” of both former Gov. Mitt Romney and Obama.
“You have the choice of which way this country will go,” concluded Simmons as he encouraged students to vote on Nov. 6. “You get to choose whether the country will be better off tomorrow – or not.”