Kasich and Axelrod criticize “culture wars” and technology at third Speaker Series event


Maddie Hamilton, Photography Editors / The Bucknellian

Michael Taromina, Assistant News Editor

Bucknell University hosted its third forum on the series theme “The State of American Democracy” on Feb. 28, this time President John Bravman was joined by guest speakers John Kasich, former governor of Ohio, and David Axelrod, former Democratic chief strategist and senior adviser to President Barack Obama. 

After being introduced by Bravman, both Kasich and Axelrod dove into conversation on the current state of politics and particularly the division consuming the parties today. 

Kasich, a Republican, acknowledged that moderation is still within the demographics of America, proof being the past 2022 Congressional elections. Axelrod took a broad outlook by highlighting the profits that come with division. Both spoke of the disdain of “culture wars” and the threat of immense change facilitated by technology within our society. 

Throughout the discussion of the polarization of politics, Axelrod specifically remarked about the essential workers and the plight of the Democratic Party for not recognizing and respecting the true American worker. 

“One thing that struck during the pandemic was that there are a lot of people out there that do the things we need,” Axelrod said. “Somehow, when the crisis is over, we do not recognize their heroism anymore. We have to be more sensitive about that.”

Kasich furthered the conversation of respect in America by tying to religion and faith, by saying “whether they are Jewish, Christian, or Muslim or other, there is an element of respect there in that person. We owe those people respect.”

With that, Axelrod and Kasich discussed their views on the 2024 Presidential Election and their beliefs on who will be on the ticket. With people from both parties sharing their intention to run, both men speculated the popularity and electability between all the potential and declared candidates. 

Additionally, they discussed issues that might arise on the presidential debate floor and how each nominee and party should handle them in order to obtain enough swing voters to win a general election.

From there, Bravman took the conversation from the White House to the Supreme Court. Each man discussed their views on the legitimacy of the judicial branch and how the Congress has acted and should act on checking the court. With the justices overturning Roe v. Wade and hearing cases pertaining to student debt, both Kasich and Axelrod debated in a friendly manner whether precedent should overrule ideology.

Both agreed that there is a crisis in regards to the price there is to pay for not only education but also entitlements and how Congress needs to act in a nonpartisan way to alleviate this problem and deal with the debt ceiling crisis so the younger generations are not burdened with it. This would require, as Kasich said, “both parties to recognize ideas from the other side because the longer we wait, the tougher it’ll get.” Axelrod responded in turn saying, “so many politicians weaponize our problems instead of solving them, and I think that really frustrates Americans.”

They finished the forum with a bipartisan discussion on gun control and the mental health crisis in this country. With differing, yet similar views and solutions on the regulation of guns and the gun lobby, both men stressed the importance of increasing mental health resources and funding across this country by touching on personal experiences.

Each man was asked to say something nice about the other man’s party. Kasich, being a person who grew up in a Democratic household, remarked that he admires how close the Democrats are to America’s biggest problems and how he never saw the opposing party as “the enemy.” 

Axelrod commented on the invigorating history of the Republican Party in shaping the power of the United States and spoke highly of its founder, Abraham Lincoln.

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