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ENGAGE at the Bush Center: Takeaways from Martin Frost and Tom Davis

March 13, 2015 by George W. Bush Presidential Center

Last evening, the Bush Center hosted former Democratic Rep. Martin Frost of Dallas and former GOP Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia to discuss their book, The Partisan Divide: Congress in Crisis. As the title suggests, the pair spoke about the breakdown in Washington. They also suggested ways to increase the chances for bipartisan solutions. The Dallas Morning News’ Rudolph Bush moderated the evening, which is part of the ENGAGE at the Bush Center program.

Here are four takeaways from the conversation:

*"Now, instead of being a member of the minority party, I'm a member of the opposition party,” said Davis.

He offered that description as a way to explain what he thinks is the prevailing mindset in Congress. The polarization is part of a shift toward parliamentary-style voting, he observed, where parliamentarians vote more along party lines.

*Frost and Davis identified three factors that have gotten us to this point: redistricted safe districts, media business models, and money in politics.  Davis described the situation this way:

"This is the world that we live in, this is the world where today you can get up and yell ‘you lie’ in the middle of the State of the Union and then raise a million dollars next week online. There is no penalty from that because these members are from absolutely safe, partisan districts and partisan hype coupled with the media and money back them up."

*Frost on why the bipartisan pair wrote the book: "I hope a lot of people, not just the two of us, will look at this situation and make recommendations and make suggestions and eventually maybe the country will decide we need some changes."

*And from the audience came this poignant question, which got a good reaction from the panel and attendees alike:

"These are good ideas, but is anyone in Washington listening?”


George W. Bush Presidential Center



As the 13th presidential library, the Bush Library and Museum promotes an understanding of the American presidency, examines the specific time in history during which President Bush served, and provides access to official records and artifacts from the Bush Administration.



The Bush Institute is an action-oriented, nonpartisan policy organization that cultivates leaders, fosters policies to solve today’s most pressing challenges, and takes action to save and change lives. Our work is inspired by the principles that guide President and Mrs. Bush in public life.

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