30/04/2017 America this Week


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What has been going on while I have been gone?


Wonderful to be at the University of Chicago.


Wonderful to be on the South side of Chicago.


CHEERING And wonderful to be with these young


What I want to do is just maybe speak very briefly at the


Then, I want to spend most of the time we


are together hearing from these remarkable young people.


Who are I thinnk representative of some


amazing young people in the audience as well.


I was telling these guys that it was a little over 30 years


I had gotten out of college filled with idealism and


absolutely certain that, somehow, I was going to change the world.


Or where or what I was going to be doing.


And so I worked first to pay off some student loans.


And then I went to work at the city colleges of New York on the


Harlem campus with some student organising.


Then there were a group of churches out on the south side.


Who had come together, try to deal with the steel plants that had


And the economic devastation that had been taking place.


But also the racial tensions and turnover


They had formed an organisation and hired me as what


I did not really know what that meant.


For the next three years, I lived here in Hyde Park,


but I worked further South in communities like


Roseland and Auburn Gresham and Altgeld Gardens.


Many of which had changed rapidly from


Full of wonderful people who were proud of their communities,


proud of the steps they had taken to try and move


But were also worried about their futures because,


in some cases, their kids were not doing as well as they had.


In some cases, these communities have been badly


The distribution of city services were unequal.


For three years, I tried to do something


I am the first to acknowledge that I did not the world afire.


Nor did I transform these communities in any significant way,


This community gave me a lot more than I was able


Because this community taught me that ordinary


people, when working together, can do extraordinary things.


This community taught me that everybody


This experience taught me that, beneath the surface


differences of people, that there were common


Aspirations. Common values.


That stitched us together as Americans.


And asylum, even though after three years I left for law school, the


lessons that had been taught to me here as organiser are ones that


stayed with me. And effectively gave me the foundation for my subsequent


political career and the themes that I would talk about as a state


legislator and a US senator and ultimately as president of the


United States. I tell you that history because, on the back and now


of my presidency, now that it is completed, I am spending a lot of


time thinking about what is the most important thing I can do from next




And what I am convinced of is that, although there are all kinds of


issues I care about, that I intend to work on, the single most


important thing I can do is to help in any way I can prepare the next


generation of leadership to take up the batten and to take their own


crack at changing the world. Because the one thing that I am absolutely


convinced of is that, yes, we confront a whole range of challenges


from economic and equality, lack of opportunity, criminal justice system


that too often is skewed in ways that are not productive, to climate


change to issues related to violence. All those problems are


serious, daunting, but not insoluble. What is preventing us


from tackling them and making more progress really has to do with our


politics and our civic life. It has to do with the fact that because of


things like political gerrymandering, our parties have


moved further and further apart and it is harder to find common ground.


Because of money in politics. Special interests dominates the


debates in Washington. Anyways that do not match up with what the broad


majority of Americans feel. Because of changes in the media. We now have


a situation which everyone is listening to people who already


agree with them. And are further reinforcing their own realities. To


the neglect of a common reality that allows us to have a healthy debate


and try to find common ground and actually move solutions forward. And


so, when I said in 2004 that there were no red states or those days,


they are the United States, that was an aspirational, it -- red states of


blue states. I still believe when you talk to individuals one on one,


there is a lot more that people have in common that divides them. -- than


divides them. But it is not as true in politics as civic life. Maybe


people are not as involved, they get cynical and give up. As a


consequence, we have some of the lowest voting rates of any advanced


democracy. Low participation rates translate into a further gap between


who is governing us and what we believe. The only folks who can


solve that problem and the next Generation, young people. I have


been encouraged everywhere I go in the United States and around the


world to see how sharp and astute and tolerant and thoughtful and


entrepreneurial our young people are. There are lots more


sophisticated than I was at their age. The question becomes, what are


the ways in which we can create pathways for them to take


leadership, for them to get involved? Other ways we can knock


down some of the barriers discouraging young people? About a


life of service. If there are, I want to work with them to not down


those barriers. To get this next-generation to accelerate their


move towards leadership. If that happens, I think we will be just


fine. I end up being incredibly optimistic. So with that, what I


would like to do is to have our panellists here today, each tell us


a little about themselves, and I have asked them ahead of time, I


gave them the question ahead of time, to describe from the what it


is they see among their peers that they think discourages voting,


participation, paying attention to some of the issues and getting


involved. Do they have immediate suggestions of a kinds of things


that would get young people more involved and engaged and discover


their voices? Once we have gone through the entire panel, we will


open it up and see how it works. Hopefully, it will be interesting! I


will find it interesting, hopefully you will. We will start with


Chelsea. Good morning everyone. It is an honour to be here with you. I


am a senior at University, I have studied leadership qualities. I have


been involved on campus. I am looking forward to graduating in


less than two weeks and my masters. My passion for working with college


students stems from a community and activist. And understanding that the


transformative time is an opportunity for students to learn


about important issues and find their voice. Understanding we cannot


get discouraged when something does not go our way immediately but also


working towards the common cold. Fantastic. OK.


APPLAUSE Good morning. I grew up in


Milwaukee. I am a US Army veteran, majoring in sociology at University.


Currently, I am a research assistant. Collaborative research


projects, we have worked on landlord tenant issues, youth leadership


programmes. We are working on a project about the date labour market


in Chicago. It is a pleasure, Mr President. I am taking it. I was


raised on the south side of Chicago in a low income household, graduated


valedictorian and in the top ten. Broncos in the House. Number one


from Chicago State University with my bachelors in chemistry. And


graduated a second time with my doctorate in pharmacy.


APPLAUSE I have a community pharmacy manager


on the south side of Chicago for the three years. I am also author of ten


tactics to tackle spending, the guide to elementary school, as


school and undergraduate success. You can see where they have merely


follow! I have been involved in civic engagement and civic life


through the Institute of politics here at the University which has


been a blessing and a fantastic resource to all of us. The summer


after my first year here they gave stipends, I think the number was 16


of us going to Des Moines for the summer of 2015 to work with press


agencies or campaigns. That was eye opening in terms of having to


campaign directly and how far you can move the needle by moving one


vote in the caucus. I have also been involved on campus with student


government and College Republicans. APPLAUSE


Hello everyone, I am the baby of the panel. I am currently a senior at


Kenwood Academy high school. CHEERING


And throughout my high school career I have been involved in numerous


student led organisations, multiple sports teams etc and outside of high


school I have been involved in a lot of community-based organisations to


volunteer my time with the youth as well. In the fall I will be


attending college in Dallas, Texas with multiple scholarships to my


name and I am also an entrepreneur. I will say, with my own clothing


line. OK, all right. Peace and blessings everyone. I am living on


the north-west side of Chicago, I arrived as a proud immigrant around


the age of 14 with my mum and sister from India. I attended public


schools and went to the University of Illinois, Chicago. Boil for my


undergraduate studies and for my masters in planning and policy.


After graduating I did become an organiser with somebody in the


audience I want to point out, and mentor of mine. That experience led


me to run for office and most recently now I work for new America,


I am the deputy director here in Chicago where we do what we are


doing today, infusing new ideas and voices into public policy


conversation so I am really looking forward to that. Excellent. All


right. So as you can see we have an extraordinary group here. Sharp


young people. But you would also notice the kind of avoided my


question! But that's good because it sets up the next segment. Look... In


the presidential election you have maybe half of your peers voting. In


mid-term elections about a third of your peers vote. I suspect that if


you ask a lot of young people about a wide range of issues, regardless


of where they sit ideological ideological way, they will say they


are concerned about the economy and foreign policy and this or that. But


a lot of them feel as if their involvement would not make a


difference. It's not worth their time. And in fact, they are


discouraged and feel disempowered. So all of you have already shown


yourselves to be willing to get out there and be involved. To make a


difference. I am curious as to what it is you think prompted you get


involved in some fashion. And when you talk to your friends, what is it


you think that is preventing them from doing so which might make a


difference? We don't have to go in order, so if anybody wants to start,


I like that a new! Although I am in high school a lot of my peers, I am


a senior so of course some of my peers were able to double this year


but overall I am grateful to take courses at Kenwood Academy high


school that involve political science, we take African-American


studies except job but not a lot of schools have that opportunity. So I


would say awareness is something that holds a lot of our youth back


from getting involved. Because I am privileged and therefore I step up


and I encourage others to get involved and to have a voice. But I


think the youth feel like they don't have a voice. So that plays a huge


factor as to why the results are the way they are if that makes sense? It


makes a lot of sense, do you think that as you were coming up, social


studies, civic education, what kids are getting in the classroom, would


make a difference? Do you think it would make more of a difference if


young people had the opportunities to volunteer with organisations, to


engage in community service? What is it you think would make the biggest


difference in young people saying you know what, if I volunteer for


this organisation I might make a difference in my community? Or if


either to spit on this issue? Somebody might hear my voice, what


do you think would be most effective? I feel like in order to


encourage the youth it involves having a strong support system


behind it to bring the youth up. For instance, in school, we are taught


social studies but we tend to focus on mathematics, science, English,


because that's what we are always brought up on because of tests,


exams, etc. So social studies and civic education is pushed to the


side. So I feel like it should be encouraged in a school system


because the majority of our youth are in school of course. And then


from there build outside programmes. From there, yeah... Come on. I


agree. I also went to Kenwood, it was the start of me getting my foot


in the door to want to expand and to outside things. Also funding


after-school programmes and summer programmes because I had to- three


jobs ever since eighth grade, every summer. Because first of all you


make money, so... So that was the first thing but also it helped my


resume, helped me get my feet wet to allow me to see different


opportunities, see if I liked being a councillor, if I wanted to be a


cheerleading coach or a tutor. Trying different things every summer


helped me hone in on what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.


After-school programmes as well, the funding for that helps keep the kids


off the street, hopefully in Chicago we will have less violence as they


will have something to do and you are enriching their lives in school


and after school and also in the summer. I'm


I'm sorry, did you work in the Bronx during the summer, what prompted you


to first of all, describe the experience was and then give us a


sense of what inspired you to do something like that. I have been


involved in an alternative break and merging programme which sends


students on trips over spring break and winter break. Spring Break of my


junior year of college I was in the South Bronx working with a group at


an elementary school. We took ten students and we were there to enrich


the students lives. What is so unique about this programme is we


understand the privilege we have to be welcomed into these communities.


We are not there to support them, we are supporting them but we are there


to learn from them and understand the experiences they are having. To


understand just how wonderful so many of these young kids are. I


remember the principal at Immaculate Conception which is the school we


were at coming up to us and saying I hope you realise this is the only


weak eyed of the year the students get to finger paint because it's too


messy with just one teacher. It took a lot of us being there to let them


do that. It shows the impact young people can have in these


communities. You're going to say something and obviously your service


in the military is an example of public service that thankfully


everyone now appreciates, that wasn't always the case. But what I


discovered was once our veteran 's take of the uniform, leave the


service, sometimes people forget how much talent is there and the need to


tap into the amazing young people that have served in our military so


that they can work in the community and continue the leadership they


have shown while they were in the military. You have been able to make


that transition but talk a little bit about your mindset both when you


went into the military and after you left, how did that change your


perception in terms of your responsibilities to your community


and how you might be able to make a difference? When I joined the


military I joined six months out of high school. I was working


full-time, I was not in school or college, being in college is a big


deal and graduating is an even bigger deal where I come from. But


it is about graduating high school, getting a job, stuff like that. I


was in the military and I realise there is so much more to that. And


that I am being afforded this wonderful opportunity to engage with


so many different people from all over the country. Have so many


different views but we all share the same goal. And I realised that if I


wanted to make a larger contribution I was going to have to go to school


and so that's what I did. I served my initial contract and received an


honourable discharge in March 2014 and moved to Chicago in June. I was


in Roosevelt by August. I did not do it by myself, when I got out the


military I was part of a programme called veteran 's upward bound. It's


a programme perfections that need to brush up on their academic skills


before they enter college. And being a part of that literally saved me


taking extra courses, remedial courses. I benefited immensely from


that. And I was fortunate enough to get a research assistant position at


Roosevelt and that really, that really got me going. I was working


with different projects, youth, landlords, it was amazing because


these are regular folks. That's something I definitely wanted to get


involved in. To answer your question about what I think is preventing the


youth, I think we need to connect personal problems with public


issues. I feel like sometimes, you are working two jobs and cannot


afford daycare, it's not because you are lazy. So if we can establish a


connection which demonstrates that connection, I am big on collecting


data and numbers, 80% of people are experiencing this in your community


for example and you don't know it. You don't see it but here is a


number, this is the fact. I believe that a huge thing we can do to help


them. You are making a terrific point, one of the things I learned


when I was organising, and this is true for I think a lot of young


would-be do-gooders, you show up in a neighbourhood and your initial


instinct is to tell people what they should be interested in. Instead of


spending the first six months listening and finding out what they


actually are interested in. And then connecting... APPLAUSE


Connecting their immediate needs to the policies that are having


influence on those areas of concern. And the more that you can make


concrete for people, the fact that the reason there are not enough


after-school programmes is not just because they are impossible to set


up but have to do with budgets. Here are the people who are making the


decisions about the budgets. And the reason there is a lack of childcare


is not because, you know, you are the only single mum who need


childcare, everybody needs childcare. But there are not enough


facilities in place with trained childcare providers and this is what


a change in public policy could do to provide everybody support. That's


when you start bringing people together and their voices are


amplified. Because what is certainly true is that one voice by itself


rarely changes something. Two voices have a better shot. 20 voices, OK,


we are getting somewhere. It begins with the


listening process. So people feel like they are being


heard at the outset. Were you someone always interested


in politics generally, or is this something that


came to you? In a sense, you have been active


in College Republicans. One, do you feel as if on college


campuses sometimes you are not heard I think there is certainly


a perception sometimes among young people who are on the more


conservative end of the spectrum that colleges are a bastion


of political correctness. Also, have you found ways


in which you can connect and have a conversation


with the college Democrat and the person who has a different


point of view so that we can encourage better conversations


and better understanding I think, being interested in


politics, I don't know that I came My mother was involved


in the PTA when I was a child. The PTA is a lot


of work, you know. And think the message


something like that would send, She did that because the


educational system, more broadly fostered in the town,


was important to her and something I think, in eighth grade,


which was your first election, At the beginning of the year picked


a campaign to follow Each week, we did a report


for the teacher on how the candidate Polling information


that we had accumulated. It was an interesting process and it


taught us to care about the news at a time when maybe that was not


something you went home and watched. Something that made you more


aware of the issues. I was fortunate enough to go to


high school in New Hampshire. It is just part of the whole ethos,


every four years they care. That people care about


what New Hampshire has to say. One of the things that is a shame


in that process is that there is a group that is as active every


four years because They are big in the


towns they are from. You have people active every four


years and are sort of gone You have some if you are brought up


a certain way, you are brought up to believe that your opinion


is going to count for something, then go


on to do big things... I had a friend that I went to high


school with, she has been She ran for an open seat.


That is just how it goes up there. In terms of being involved


in politics, I was fortunate enough to take a year between high


school and college. I worked in Washington,


DC at the Senate. That is an eye opening


experience because it forces you to confront,


in a real way, what You gain a lot of information


very, very quickly. I am immensely grateful


for the opportunity. After coming here, that


changed my worldview. I thought I would come


here and be an economist, like every first-year believes


at some level here. And that, coupled


with my time at the Institute of Politics, which was a good,


structured force to show that there was many venues


to engage civically. Let me explore things


like campaigning in Iowa. As for being a Republican


on a college campus, yesterday, NBC ran an article on their website


and it did not say who we were, just the composition was one


Republican, and the rest Maybe three people sent me


the article and say, is it you? It depends on the setting


whether it is something you are At the Institute of Politics,


most people know at this point. In the beginning of 2016,


caucus season going on, those of us who had been in Iowa


and could do the caucus maths, The issue of the hot


commodity in the room There were venues certainly


when I would not have brought it up or would not have been particularly


forthcoming with it. I think people suspected


it, but I did not... I will leave that to the other


student Government people I don't necessarily know


what I was afraid of, but I think there is a sense that,


if you harbour a view that does not jive with the majority view,


that you can expect some level of ostracisation


from certain people. You can expect people to assume


the worst aspect of you based I don't think anyone sitting in this


room agrees with their party on 100% I might be wrong, but if you raised


a hand I can't see you. So I think being a Republican


on a college campus is, Most people don't agree with you,


and when you engage in the dorms and the dining halls with those


people who are able to see you, the person, and you,


the person with the political views, you are forced to know yourself well


and do soul-searching well. And to understand why


it is you think what you think. And what part of your past


about what you believe now. I think the other thing is there is


a significant empathy gap. Not just here but everywhere. I think most


people have not had in their homes for dinner in a real weight someone


who is significantly different from them, politically racially. We have


cloistered ourselves. The liberal bastion of college campuses


certainly can be true. I lucky year. The School is committed to accepting


our thoughts. I think a broader societal problem, if you look at the


county map of 2016, you had a lot of counties where it was over 80% of


the vote and the reverse was true for the president now. There is not


understanding. It is not just that we are reading different use, we do


not each other any more. -- difference news. We require more


civility I think. APPLAUSE


A lot of problems with our politics that at home we blame politicians a


lot for the failure of each of us to grasp each other well. Your mentor,


Lugar, ... People could not stand to see their member bridge a gap on a


human level. There is an empathy gap and people see politics in this


generation and say, this is ugly, this is mainly, this is something


you have pretty experienced people doing. And if the country is a ship


and politicians are sellers, maybe at the ballot moves a degree either


way. -- sailors and the vote moves a degree either way.


You cannot really run a country where half of it hates the other.


Somehow, we are going to have to find ways to bridge that with people


who are not like us. On this page, other than me, you have run for


office. I am the oldest. I know you last, but I did, too, once. Right


here in this cutie. -- community. What prompted you to run for office,


which is a different kind of engagement. What did you take from


the experience? Digital discouraged, did you feel, OK, this was fine? Or


if not fun, was it worth it? Would you encourage other young people to


take their shot? For me, the first time I ever did something that is


considered separately engaged. I could not vote until after the Iraq


war had already started. The first time I thought of doing something


for this country was protesting the Iraq war. I felt passionately we


were in the wrong part of history there. I think you are also at that


point. I agreed with you at the time. I could not vote but I felt at


a lot of the time civic engagement in a sense gets stuck in the dynamic


of voting, electoral engagement, does not always expand. We have to


expand, the wager mother date. Or being on a board for nonprofit. --


the way your mother date. -- the way your


to directly answer the question around why I went from protesting to


working at a nonprofit, organising, thinking electoral politics is one


of the many routes I am going to engaging, for me that happened in


2010. After organising I saw a lot of the jargon used against us as


young people at that time, I did not understand. I went back to college


to understand public policy language. When I rang, my last and


is Patel, not a lot of Patels in office. There are a lot more Patels


men Obamas. I had a joke, but I am not going to. I do not want to get


stuck in this two party language. But there is a lot of different cult


of personalities and politics that people get drawn to. Can't really go


beyond the questions you are allowed to ask within. I wanted to protest,


run for office, run a small business, do the organising, figure


out what is the most effective way that I want to live my life, be


happy, and inspire a whole generation of folks who look like


me, or South Asian immigrants or Muslim background. I want people to


feel like they can do anything. Also, Illinois has establishment


politics that is really old. Not all day and age, but I thinking. A


monopoly of power, money, ideas that only come from few families or


sometimes a few zip codes. I want to say that is not how we should move


forward. APPLAUSE


A couple of thoughts based on some of the things that folks have said.


First of all, you say, Horatio, there are a lot of different ways to


engage being important. Sometimes, people think, if you are not running


for office, or it is not election day, there is no other ways of


getting involved. The parent teacher Association is a perfect example of


what we want to encourage. There are writers and social


thinkers out there who would argue that one of the problems we have


with politics right now is that the mediating institutions, the unions,


the churches, the PTA groups, the Rotary Club, a lot of the voluntary


organisations that used to exist, sororities and fraternities, that


used to bring people together to then work on issues, that those have


declined. And the statistics show that people are less likely to be


involved with various organisations in the community than they used to


be. And what that means is then people don't have some of the same


habits of being together on a common project. We become a more


individualistic society and that has spill-over effects when it comes to


political participation and empathy because you are interacting with


your people on a regular basis. The second thing is how to do with how


we get information so I want to see what people thank. I think a lot of


us who have been in politics for olive oil to see a change from 20


years ago, certainly 30 years ago, where it used to be everybody kind


of had the same information and we had different opinions about it but


there was a comment baseline of facts. And that the Internet in some


ways has accelerated this sense of people having entirely separate


conversations. And if this generation is getting all of its


information through its phones then you don't have to confront people


who have different opinions or different experience or different


outlook. If you are liberal then you are on MSNBC, if you are


conservative you are on Fox News. You read the Wall Street Journal or


you read the New York Times. Whatever your choices are. And maybe


you are just watching cat videos, which is fine. LAUGHTER


So one question I have for all of you is how do you guys get your


information about the news and what's happening out there and are


the ways in which you think we could do a better job of creating a common


conversation now you have 600 cable stations and all these different


news outlets that basically are offering one set of opinions. If


there are two sets of opinions they are just yelling at each other so


you do not get the sense there is conversation going on. And the


Internet is worse. It's become more and more polarised. How much do you


think that affect how people think about issues and are other ways that


that could be changed given that most of your information and


certainly for the younger people coming up behind you, even more,


they are getting their information primarily off their phones. I think


social media has its pros and cons. When it comes to getting information


about what is going on in the world it is way faster on social media


than it is on a newscast but on the other hand it can be the downfall


because what if you're passing the wrong information? Or the


information is not presented in the way it should be? So that causes a


clash in our generation and I think it should go back to the old school.


I think phones, social media, should be eliminated because, not, wait


wait wait, I think I should rephrase myself! I think when it comes to


politics and important information that can influence younger


generations it should be organic. Politicians should actually reach


out and physically talked to the community so there cannot be any


misconception on the information being passed because social media,


going on to Twitter or Facebook, anybody can hack your social media


page which causes problems. To actually go out to the community,


the community will feel more welcome and and I think that goes back to


actually getting involved because to have somebody shake your hand and


look at you and talk to you is more heartfelt feeling, to actually


listen to what that person has to say. Is interesting. One of the


other things you bring up and you have said what I am thinking, is


going back to the basics and having in person conversations. One of the


things I see as most important is people being able to listen and


understand rather than listening to respond. There does not have to be


an immediate response. I learned that in marriage by the way!


LAUGHTER Just a tip for you young people.


Listening to understand rather than listening to respond. That will save


you a lot of heartache and grief. Sorry. LAUGHTER


Just a little tip. I think it's something our generation, we find it


easier to hide behind Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, being able to


have in-person conversations and listen to the other side is the only


way we are going to get anything done. I think it's important to


engage with the leaders of that community and instead of going in


there and thinking because it affects you in another city doesn't


mean it's going to be the same dynamics in this neighbourhood. I


think it's important to understand that. I want to help but I need to


be humble and listen to people that have lived through it and have more


of a clear understanding of what is needed. Dialogue is important,


deliberation is important. You need to critically analyse people's


views. Then you can create a plan off of that. I definitely think, as


far as like, where you get your news from, diversity is important. Not


every news station that leans Republican is horrible, it's nice,


you need to understand how the other side banks. -- how the other side


thinks. But I really believe that not shunning people who have


different views from you, recognising that you do want to help


but respecting the fact that there are people who have been here longer


than you that have lived through these issues and you need to work


with them instead of outsourcing help. Any other thoughts? I think,


there was an interesting, it was either in the Journal or the Times


shortly before the election that showed they made a generic


Republican Facebook page and generic Democratic Facebook page and they


showed you the news articles which would be in the feed. And the facts


of the case, we now live, there are rumours we do not have fact any more


in society, I am in a winger sticks class called truth now and they


played us a documentary with the man who was a defence attorney in the


Bronx during the 70s. He will tell you that if you ask somebody what


shape the table is you can get three answers. If you are sitting at the


table it's a rectangle, if you are underneath that it's the ceiling and


if you are looking at it from the side it's got a rounded edge so it's


a semicircle. I think that's basically where we are with the


news. I don't know if the coverage where of the same issues that people


would find factual difference anyway. I think part of the problem


is we don't agree on what the issues are that are pressing and facing the


country. I don't know how you get there but I don't think the national


dialogue messily starts online or in the press. I think it starts


door-to-door. That's how people go about campaigning, in that right now


it's easy to sort of know you have numbers if you can only get them to


show up and there is no onus to work to get somebody else to turn out for


you to persuade them your point of view is correct. Instead there is a


broad incentive to spend millions of dollars on advertising and is seeing


if my opponent is elected the apocalypse will a car, rivers or run


red and Hawaii will sink. There has to be aligned to make all things


happen. I think at all levels there has to be a conversation and people


have to be willing to talk to each other again. Maybe that'll start in


middle school where you see in a class who has different views and


commit part of social studies time to have people talk to issues of the


day and why they think what they think but we have to get back to a


place where people talk to each other again. That's been a running


theme. I will say this, the reason I was able to run for the United


States Senate was because, in addition to my base here in Chicago


I had spent a lot of time travelling around the state. And over time I


got to know people in parts of Illinois that today would be


considered red and I lucked out effectively that I was under the


radar screen so political ads did not characterise me. So people would


meet me, even though I am this Chicago lawyer from a liberal


district with an Arab sounding name, but I would show up. And you would


have a conversation. And you talk about their kids and basketball,


what was happening on their jobs. People got a sense that my frames of


reference and my values were not so different from theirs. And that gave


me the ability to break through some of the assumptions that people might


have otherwise had. And in some ways Iowa was the same way, I am


travelling around the state as you know from having worked there, its


retail politics. You're going door-to-door and talking to people.


We did not have a huge amount of money particularly initially for TV


ads so it was just meeting people. And that does change peoples


assumptions. When they get a chance to know somebody directly. So part


of what we are going to have to figure out is how do we create


greater opportunities. That's true between red parts of the state and


blue parts of the state. It is true even within the city of Chicago. I


was, yesterday, with a group of young men who are part of a


programme designed to give them opportunities and pathways away from


violence and crime. These are some young people from 18-24, all were


African-American except one who was Latino. Many of them already had


prison records. And had done some pretty rough stuff. Several of whom


had already been shot, in some cases multiple times. None of whom had


grown up with fathers. Many of whom had effectively been orphaned when


they were very young. So this would be the stereotypical profile of


somebody who has a good likelihood of shooting or getting shot here in


Chicago. Part of the violence. That has been plaguing the city. What was


striking when you sat down with these guys was there young people.


And if you had listened to them talking you would recognise them as


not that different from any other young man, 18-24. What was different


was the circumstances. They had grown up in some cases in foster


care or other mother was a drug addict and they have been neglected.


So even within the city boundaries, a lot of times we will characterise


our neighbours, as something entirely different than us. That we


cannot understand that we are afraid of we cannot communicate with and


political rhetoric reinforces that. And they need to be heard as well


because if the six of you had been in that conversation you would have


come away not saying these are some thugs or super predators that I


cannot relate to, you would actually say if I had gone through what they


went through I'm not sure how things would have worked out for me either.


And that creation of empathy then promises a different kind of civic


response and political response from the one we so often have. So that


hearing other people I think is vital and the question is are other


ways in which we can create opportunities to do that for more


young people earlier on? Before the lines and divisions start hardening.


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