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The newly-announced Harvard Institute of Politics spring 2023 resident fellows discussed the divisiveness in current American politics at their inaugural JFK Jr. Forum on Wednesday.
IOP Interim Director Setti D. Warren moderated the panel discussion between the fellows, who were announced last month and include eminent political figures and state representatives. Some of Setti’s questions centered around bipartisanship and the panelists’ views on the political atmosphere leading up to the 2024 election.
Quentin Fulks, the political strategist and campaign manager for recently elected senator Raphael G. Warnock (D-Ga.), talked about the importance of listening to voters.
“Regardless of how partisan or rigid the electorate is, voters are complex — they are listening,” Fulks said. “People have gone through a lot over the past couple of years with Covid, but they really care about who represents them.”
Chief Counsel of the Republican National Committee Matthew Raymer, whose family members sat in the front row, asked the audience to raise their hands if they had ever been to a meeting of their state or county political party.
“When you talk about politics in this country, I think it’s really important to remember that the future belongs to the people who show up, and it belongs to the people who are going to put in the work, who are going to take part in the stuff that’s not fun,” Raymer said.
Jamie Herrera Beutler — one of the 10 Republican representatives who voted to impeach former President Donald J. Trump – said she would be discussing the value of respecting diverse opinions in her upcoming study groups.
“I really, truly believe we have to get back to the point where we have healthy governing officials,” she said.
“We also need to value one another,” she added.
Other fellows who participated in the discussion included Kristin L. Amerling ’87, the chief counsel and deputy staff director to the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol; Negah Angha, former director for multilateral initiatives for the National Security Council; and Jason Rezaian, an opinion columnist for the Washington Post who was detained in Iran for 544 days.
Jonathan Haileselassie ’26, who attended the forum, said he found the wide political spectrum represented by the fellows interesting.
“It was really cool seeing all that diverse thought,” he said. “Seeing how successful they’ve all been able to be just by following their belief to the fullest extent possible — it was really inspiring.”
Attendee Kimani E. Panthier ’24 said the group has a broader policy scope compared to that of previous fellow cohorts. He said he hoped the fellows will be “authentic” and engage with young voters.
“As we head into 2024, I want to hear how we can change the tide of what’s been happening in politics so that we can mobilize younger voters to have more of a say,” Panthier said.
Tenzin R. Gund-Morrow ’26, a Crimson editorial editor and IOP Fellow and Study Groups’ co-director of community, said he “loved” the forum and looks forward to the fellows becoming more candid with the smaller study groups.
“Having a forum with six people is never really going to let you take full advantage of the people, but the best part is that we have a whole semester to continue taking advantage of having them on campus,” Gund-Morrow said.
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