Chet Edwards to talk Capital politics


By Mallory Hisler

Former U.S. congressman Chet Edwards will speak about the problems in Washington and the positive aspects of American infrastructure and government at the W.R. Poage Legislative Library 2012 Spring Lecture.

The lecture will be held at 4 p.m. Tuesday in Bennett Auditorium.

Edwards began work as Baylor’s W.R. Poage Distinguished Chair for Public Service in February.

“The W.R. Poage Annual Spring Lecture provides an excellent opportunity to bring in legislators and scholars who have been involved in public service,” Pattie Orr, dean of university libraries and vice president for Information Technology, wrote in an email to the Lariat. “Chet Edwards brings many years of hands-on public service, so he provides a rich understanding of the political process that he can share with our community and, particularly, with students who are thinking of ways they can engage in public service.”

Edwards will lecture on the topic “What’s Wrong With Washington and Right With America?”

“I believe there is far more right with America than wrong,” Edwards wrote in an email to the Lariat. “We are still the greatest economic, military and political power in the world, and Americans have more freedoms and opportunities than others could ever imagine.

However, the combination of the imperfections of our democracy, such as today’s harsh partisan atmosphere in Washington, and the national media’s approach that if it is not conflict, it is not news, makes it easier for many to focus on what is wrong with our nation.”

Carl Flynn, director of marketing and communications for university libraries, said a large portion of Edwards’ speech will focus on what is right with America’s system.

“He’s going to talk about what’s right with America — and that’s that we work together,” Flynn said. “He is going to compel the audience that America is still a great idea.”

Ben Rogers, director for Poage Library, said he believes Edwards’ lecture will have a large focus on public service, partly due to his position.

“One of the main interests is getting students involved in public service,” Rogers said. “The idea of serving the public should be more grand, not a backup.”

The library has invited the political science, history, journalism and honors departments on campus to come to the lecture, but encourages everyone to come, he said.

“This is the type of subject that any student should be interested in,” he said.

A reception will follow the lecture with light refreshments. Additionally, Rogers said Edwards will be talking with attendees at the reception and setting up meetings to advise students on beginning careers in public service.

“He will mostly be advising them on how they get into public service,” Rogers explained. “Not necessarily elected, but more along the lines of how they get into the process — like start working with a representative.”