Talk show host Chris Matthews spoke about bipartisanshipand political cooperation in Lohrfink Auditorium Thursday evening.

The lecture, “Making Politics Work,” was co-sponsored by the Georgetown University Lecture Fund and the Tanous Family Endowed Lecture Fund.

Matthews recalled the cooperation he saw while working in Congress in the ’80s.
Matthews recalled the cooperation he saw while working in Congress in the ’80s.

Matthews, who is known for his hour-long talk show “Hardball with Chris Matthews,” opened the presentation by talking about bipartisanship, using the relationship of former President Ronald Reagan and former Democratic Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill as an example.

“The country we built here is all about the kinds of people we sent here,” Matthews said, referring to elected representatives in Congress. “The older I get, the more I believe in the system. I just want it to work. I just want the right and the left to get together and negotiate and compromise and find a way to make this thing work and stop kicking so many cans down the road.”

Matthews, who served as an aide for O’Neill during his tenure as speaker, is currently working on a book about Reagan and O’Neill.

“[Reagan and O’Neill] both loved the country, and in their own ways they wanted it to work,” Matthews said. “For a half dozen years in the 1980s I was on the inside politically … The Speaker of The House, an old-time liberal Democrat, and his adversary Ronald Reagan, [who was] destined to be one of the most popular presidents in history. I think I saw American government run the way it was supposed run back then.”

Matthews said that O’Neill and Reagan’s relationship emphasized how bipartisanship and government ought to function.

“If politics was zero sum, we wouldn’t get anywhere with self-government,” Matthews said. “Sometimes the success of a whole thing depends on good competition, a balance and where a fight makes both guys look good.”

Students said they were impressed by Matthews’s speech.

“I’m just voting for the first time and it’s important … to hear other perspectives,” Alexandra Daniels (COL ’16) said. “I think he has a lot of good points and that people do need to see … what we can collaborate on and what we can agree on is more important than what separates us.”

“I like that even though he is a pretty liberal guy, he still thinks that we all need to compromise and work like Tip O’Neill and Reagan did to actually make politics work,” Elyssa Skeirik (SFS ’15) said.

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