Richard Hanna Critiques the GOP & Trump Administration
Former New York Congressman Richard Hanna who represented the 24th (2011-2013) and 22nd Districts (2013-2017) recently spoke at Utica College as part of the Pi Sigma Alpha Speaker Series.
1. Pressures of Polarization
Hanna was very open about party divides in Washington and the loss of a pragmatic center. He stressed its loss reveals "diametrically opposed parties," complicated by problems emanating from pandering to party platforms rather than working towards comprehensive bi-partisan reform. Gerrymandering allows members of Congress to appeal to their base without regard to bipartisanship. They decide who to associate with through "fear of being outside orthodoxy." Hanna believed the GOP’s lack of readiness to lead after winning control of the White House and Congress has become seemingly obvious.
2. Hanna as Party Outsider
Hanna felt he thrived most in challenging the party platform. Over his six years in office he placed his constituent’s needs above party orthodoxy, so as not to negotiate out of fear. He prioritized getting things done when opportunities arose and understood that all legislation will have imperfections. This approach sought to overcome gridlock for the sake of productive governance.
3. Response to President Trump's Executive Order on Immigration
Hanna was outspoken about his disapproval of President Trump's executive actions regarding immigration and refugees, which sent “an inappropriate, unsophisticated message to the world,” furthered by people being “taught to see immigrants as criminals” and the “myth we are not vetting people well in this country.”
He highlighted how the United States was founded by immigrants and generations following have sustained diversity and talent. Immigration is a key component of American civic life, and to turn our backs to these people will only act as a disservice to our ancestors and those seeking to pursue a better life here.
4. Response to President Trump's War on the Press
"The ability of the press to release and expose information is one of the single most important components of democracy." Thinking it is acceptable to openly condemn news sources of releasing fake news or alternative facts is not what the President or his administration should be endorsing. Hanna felt that this is the moment for the press to take a stand and to defend the facts.
5. Authoritarian Nature of Trump Administration
Hanna controversially voted for Hillary Clinton in the general election as he felt she was more qualified for the job than Donald Trump, stating "of course I have issues with Secretary Clinton, however I felt she was competent . . . I could have not left this office doing anything differently than I did, and I don't feel bad about it." Loyalty to the President is regarded as sacred, which characterizes the authoritarian nature of the Trump Administration. Hanna encourages citizens to speak up when there are wrongdoings and participate in the electoral process.
Chris Lauzon, intern at the Utica College Center of Public Affairs and Election Research and graduating senior at Utica College, filed this report on location.