Former senator Graham calls for more millennial input in politics during UWF lecture

By Drew Drohan
Staff writer

Former United States senator and Florida governor Bob Graham joined a panel discussion for “The Art of Public Dialogue” on Tuesday at the University of West Florida Conference Center.

Associate Dean of CASSH Jocelyn Evans and Assistant Professor of Communication Kelly Carr joined former Sen. Bob Graham on the lecture’s panel. (Photo by Drew Drohan)

The inaugural event of the Seligman First Amendment Lecture Series, Associate Dean of the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities Jocelyn Evans and Assistant Professor of Communication Kelly Carr joined Graham on stage during the lecture and answered audience questions afterward.

The majority student-filled conference center listened as the panelists voiced the need for greater millennial involvement in politics.

“While voting is the most sacred right of our democracy, it not the only way to get engaged,” Carr said. “Organizations and institutions contribute to public discourse that is so important to democracy.”

Graham insisted on getting younger voters a part of national and local politics. He expressed his concern using data from the previous presidential election.   

“I’m particularly worried about younger Americans,” Graham said. “The voting patterns of the Millennial generation showed a low turnout in the last election.”

Evans noticed the reduced interaction between politicians and voters, recalling heated town hall debates following the 2016 election. The fear of confrontation between officials and the public was a focus point.

“Elected officials have used technology to avoid the organized mobs and heckling found at town hall meeting,” Evans said. “New online-based meetings, on platforms such as Facebook Live, have allowed for politicians to talk to the public as well as hear their concerns.”  

Graham spoke at length on the importance of engaging in public discussion in local and national politics.

Bob Graham expresses his concern about lack of local government knowledge and participation in millenials. (Photo by Drew Drohan)

“Democracy was never intended to be passive,” Graham said. “A government by the people was designed to be a government emphasized by civilian involvement.”

An audience Q&A followed the lecture with many topics besides civic discourse, such as voting and environmental problems, being discussed.

Exposing students to politics in public education was stressed by Graham during the lecture. He reflected on his own public school curriculum.

“I am worried about the fact that we’ve simply stopped teaching civics over the years,” Graham said. “Most of my grandchildren have taken zero civics classes and are not required to.”

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