Assistant Mosaic Editor
Former U.S. Vice President and state Senator Joe Biden, one of the university’s most distinguished alums, participated in an afternoon of respectful political discourse with Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Tuesday afternoon as part of the National Agenda Series.
“It’s not that hard for John [Kasich] and I to get along,” he said.
The event, which took place at 1 p.m. in Mitchell Hall, was the result of a partnership between the 2017 National Agenda speaker series, “As We Stand Divided,” and the Biden Institute. The talk was moderated by Associate Communication Professor Lindsay Hoffman.
President Dennis Assanis delivered the opening statements and welcomed the pair to the stage. The two touched on several issues throughout their discussion, including the divisiveness of the current administration.
When Kasich alluded to Trump and the extreme partisanship of his government, Biden took a much more direct approach toward criticizing the President.
While he admitted that members of former administrations typically do not criticize their successors, he was perplexed and frustrated by the decisions made by those currently in the White House.
“We have a president who does not understand governance,” Biden said.
Kasich similarly discussed the conduct of politicians, stating that he now often sees people in Washington who only care about their own elections. He stressed that the general population plays a larger role than those in office.
“That’s the strength of our country, is you,” he said.
When Hoffman asked Kasich and Biden to travel back in time to the 2016 election, Kasich cracked a joke: “Do we really have to?”
Because two kept the audience laughing throughout the discussion, Biden had to remind the attendees at times that he was not being “facetious,” but instead talking about serious, relevant issues.
Biden then moved on to discuss the danger of the Trump administration’s disregard for certain norms, a topic of particular interest to Dannagal Goldthwaite Young, an associate professor in the university’s communications department. Young studies political communication.
“I think the most important piece of the talk for me was about the importance of social and political norms,” she said. “These are things that are not necessarily institutional or procedural, but just the way that we treat one another… and that when those things break down, that can be problematic in terms of the sanctity of our institutions and whether or not they’re going to hold up under pressures or crisis.”
As the event drew to a close, Hoffman asked Biden and Kasich what advice they would give to young people who wish to help “rebuild” the country. The two offered differing advice.
Biden believes that anybody could, and should, try to be an activist, whereas Kasich thinks people should finish their education and have more experiences before they try to enter the political world.
Despite their varying perspectives, Biden and Kasich appeared to have a genuine respect for each other, which senior Emily Rogalin, a student who helps with the National Agenda series, admired
“They seem like not only they have respect for each other, but they seem like good friends and they seem like they truly enjoy each other’s company,” she said. “That’s truly inspiring to see from a Democrat and Republican because I feel like what I see and what so many other people in America see is just unwillingness to compromise.”
Senior Grace Hanoian, who is also taking the National Agenda class, voiced a similar opinion.
“I think it’s really important to see these two figures… can still get together and have a conversation, even if they don’t agree on everything,” she said.