Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Former senator Olympia Snowe to talk congressional gridlock at Bridges to the Future

More than five months since she left her 34-year-long U.S. congressional career, former Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) frequently finds herself answering the same question from people from all walks of life: How did it get this bad?

Congress hasn’t always been quite this dysfunctional, notes Snowe, who in February 2012 announced she would not seek re-election due to increased partisanship. But she believes her congressional experience can help the public understand how America’s leaders became so mired in partisanship and what the average American can do to change the tone in Washington.

In February, Snowe joined the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) in Washington, D.C., and took her message on the road; her latest stop is at DU’s Bridges to the Future lecture series at 7 p.m. Monday, May 6, in Gates Auditorium in the Newman Center for the Performing Arts. Through her national talks, she hopes to hold productive conversations about how to unify the country.

“She has said she wouldn’t be doing this if she didn’t believe people could make a difference and change Washington,” says John Richter, Snowe’s former chief of staff and speechwriter and her fellow senior adviser at the BPC.

“Her feeling has been that she has seen how it can be different, and she felt this was the time to bring her insider’s knowledge and viewpoints to bear and try to be a voice for people’s frustration on the outside of the institution,” Richter says.

Snowe’s May 6 lecture will focus largely on the economy and its future in the midst of congressional gridlock. She’ll share her own theories on where she thinks we’re headed economically, but more importantly, Snowe wants to hear audience suggestions, Richter says.

“This is really the window of opportunity to get things done and for people to urge Congress to get things done,” he says. “Once you get past October, you’re really into another campaign cycle.”

Snowe’s latest book, “Fighting for Common Ground: How We Can Fix the Stalemate in Congress,” hits bookstores on May 14.

You can register online to attend Sen. Olympia Snowe’s free Bridges to the Future talk, “Telling it Like it Is: Will Congress Rise to Meet the Great Challenge of Creating an Economic Revival in 2013?” You can also watch live video of the lecture at starting at 7 p.m. Monday, May 6.



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