Former Senate Majority Leader Daschle meets with W&M in Washington program| May 4, 2011
Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle joined 70 students, alumni and Board of Visitors members April 27 for a reception and discussion about his thoughts on the relationship between government and the media. Hosted by the College’s Washington office, Daschle reflected on his experiences as a member of Congress from 1986 to 2003.
The event, which was moderated by W&M in Washington Spring 2011 Professor Dan Doherty, gave the current W&M in Washington students an opportunity to engage Daschle on the semester's theme, “Media as the Fourth Branch of Government." Board of Visitors Members Jeff Trammell and Laura Flippin arranged the invitation to Daschle on behalf of the College.
In his remarks, the former South Dakota senator expressed his mixed feelings on social media’s impact on politics.
“The degree to which we can count on [the press] to be factual has changed. We used to have rules. We had fact-checkers. But now with the blogosphere, people can write and say whatever they want to. And now that has even extended to the floor of the Senate.”
Daschle, a co-founder of the Bipartisan Policy Center, said Washington's atmosphere has grown increasingly partisan.
Returning Washington to the spirit of unity is "incumbent upon us to work a lot harder. We need to impress upon people that we won't allow[such divisiveness]," said Daschle.
Although the senator stated he has some dissatisfaction with the evolution of news, he acknowledged there have been some positive changes.
"Media is much more democratic than it was because anyone can be a member of the media by blogging, tweeting and posting on Facebook. It's exciting but the huge downside is that it is incumbent upon us to do our own editing."
Daschle acknowledged that losing his last election was frustrating but said he still leads “a fulfilling life and [is] able to contribute to society in other ways,” including his advocacy for healthcare for allAmericans. Also signaling his contentment with his current duties, the South Dakotan said, "I do not see elected office in my future."
Given his success in the public and private sector, students were eager to ask Daschle's advice on how to achieve their career goals, especially when starting out in this difficult job market.
Daschle's advice was simple: “work hard…be persistent…and be curious.”