Submitted by Spencer Critchley
In this age of political rage, can liberals and conservatives even talk to each other?
The answer is — and must be — yes, according to a bipartisan group of political experts with national and statewide experience who are coming to Aptos. And they aim to prove it, during a panel discussion called “Saving Democracy” at Monschke Hall of Twin Lakes Church Friday, June 29.
Gathering will be former Congressman Sam Farr; Debbie Mesloh, adviser to Obama and former Deputy Assistant and U.S. Trade Representative for Public Affairs; Obama White House adviser Adrienne Harris; USC and UC Berkeley politics professor Dan Schnur; former Vice Chair of the California Republican Party Kristin Olsen; Santa Cruz County Supervisor Zach Friend; and communication consultant Spencer Critchley. Friend and Critchley are veterans of Democratic presidential campaigns.
The six will discuss the state and fate of our democracy, now shaken by division and dysfunction, with an emphasis on what can be done to preserve it.
“We may disagree about issues,” said Critchley, the Managing Partner of Seaside-based Boots Road Group. “But we’re united by a shared commitment to fundamental democratic values: freedom, equality, the rule of law — and vigorous but civil debate.”
“I tell my students that someone may be my political opponent, but that doesn’t make them my enemy,” said Schnur, a former Republican consultant, now an independent, who has worked for John McCain and Pete Wilson, among others. “When it’s working right, politics is fought between the forty-yard lines, not from opposing end zones.”
Last May Farr, Harris, Friend, and Critchley took part in a similar event, “Hope for Democracy,” at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey. That one saw all available tickets snapped up, and then some.
“People really care about what’s happening, and we believe they’re hungry for more than they get from social media memes or cable TV flame wars,” said Critchley. “The panelists we’re bringing together this time have experience in national and statewide campaigns, elected office, media, and teaching, and we give them the chance to share real insights, instead of just having to cook up 30-second zingers.”
Among the topics Critchley expects to come up are populism, race, “fake news,” media echo chambers, money, gerrymandering, mistrust of institutions, and the rising role of women.
“That’s for a start,” he said. “I hear suggestions everywhere I go.”
Attendees at “Saving Democracy” will be invited to contribute their own questions and thoughts.
The evening will be filmed by Joyce Anderson Productions for later broadcast by Community Television of Santa Cruz County, and will become an episode of the podcast “Dastardly Cleverness in the Service of Good.”
All participants are donating their time, as is Boots Road Group, which is organizing the event and underwriting expenses.
Admission is free, but registration is required to confirm a seat. An RSVP form is at savingdemocracy.eventbrite.com.
“Saving Democracy” Friday, June 29, 2018, 7-9 p.m.; doors open at 6:30, Monschke Hall, Twin Lakes Church, 2701 Cabrillo College Dr., Aptos. Admission: Free with registration.