Inside Congress: The Inconvenient Truth

Led by Congressman Chris Shays – Tuesdays at 4:15 PM in FDR

Overview

When I was in elementary school I became a voracious reader, consuming every kid's version

of great Americans, and felt from that point on I wanted to be part of our government and its

glorious history.   

 

In middle school, the 1960 Presidential campaign of John F Kennedy, his championing of the Peace Corps, and his famous words, "ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" only increased my enthusiasm, but it was not until I was in high school that I thought part of my government service might include running for public office.

 

Two years in the Peace Corps with my wife Betsi; eighteen months as a mayor's aide; thirteen years as a State Representative; twenty-one years as a Congressman; and two years chairing the Commission on Wartime Contracting; were the result of my heartfelt desire, nurtured by devoted teachers, and a caring wife and parents.   

 

With this as background, I want to engage students from the perspective of elective office, and hope to inspire an appreciation of what it takes to be an active citizen, a persuasive public advocate, a dedicated government employee, and an effective elected leader. 

 

2/14 First study group will focus on the WORK REQUIRED OF CONGRESSMEN AND WOMEN, and what it means to be an effective representative, understanding who they represent, and how they represent them.  In this 24/7 job, serving as a Member of Congress is like attending a large university, and being required to know something about nearly every subject the university offers.  Legislators tend to know a little about practically everything, and specialize and are truly knowledgeable, in just a few areas. No guest... Inside Congress: The Inconvenient Truth.

 

2/21 Second study group will examine Donald Trump’s stunning upset victory, in what Hedrick Smith calls the “most dramatic populist rebellion in American politics since the election of Andrew Jackson in 1824.”  Smith will help us understand why we are a DIVIDED NATION, by money, power and whom we trust, and what can be done to restore Americans' faith in their government and its elected leaders.  Hedrick Smith...The Great Populist Earthquake of 2016: Mass Mutiny Against the Power Elite.

 

2/28 Third study group will build on the work of the second study group, and look at how Republicans and Democrats tend to view the world and why. To do this we will make a number of assumptions, since there isn’t one Republican and one Democratic Party, but fifty state Republican and Democratic parties that come together every four years to choose their nominee for President. Richard Swett… State of the (Dis) Union: What Have We Become?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next five study groups will examine five inconvenient truths, five issues that have festered because of inattention, and a failure on the part of the leadership of both parties to address them, by pass legislation they can agree on.  These issues are selected based on their importance, and the difficulty (Congress and the White House; Senate and House; Democrats and Republicans; liberals and conservatives; white and black, urban and rural; east and west; north and south; in land and coast land; rich and poor) have finding common ground, or even wanting to find common ground. 

 

3/7 Fourth study group will look at HUMAN TRAFFICKING - The inconvenient truth: Millions of women, and young girls and boys, are slave laborers, sex slaves, child soldiers, victims of internet porn and torture, with the world community turning a blind eye.  We will examine... why should human trafficking be an issue the United States and other countries need to address, and how do they successfully confront it?  Christine Dolan... Shattered Innocence: Slavery in the 21st Century.

 

3/21 Fifth study group will look at the US GOV’T DEFICIT LADEN BUDGET - The inconvenient truth: We are bankrupting our children and denying them a better future.  We will examine... how do we get our federal government's financial house in order when entitlements and debt service are on automatic pilot with costs continually rising, and defense spending is such a large part of the budget?  David Walker… $20.000,000,000,000 and Counting: How We Fix the U.S. Debt Crisis.

 

3/28 Sixth study group will look at IMMIGRATION - The inconvenient truth: We have lost control of our borders.  We will examine... who should be allowed to immigrate to the United States, and who that are here illegally, should be allowed to stay?  Barney FrankA “Frank” Discussion: Immigration and Other Issues.

 

4/4 Seventh study group will look at the so called AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE – The inconvenient truth: Health care costs are rising at an unsustainable rate, and Americans are clearly divided on what to do about it.  We will examine… how do we prevent distortions to our economy as employers hire part-time employees to reduce their full-time benefit generous work force?  And we will examine the difficulty Republicans now have repealing the Affordable Care Act a large number of citizens feel benefit them. …Obama Care: Repeal and Replace It, or Keep It and Fix It?

 

4/11 Eighth study group will look at ISLAMIST TERRORISM - The inconvenient truth: The cold war is over but the world is a more dangerous place.  How dangerous is it?  We will examine... how does the Western World successfully confront the asymmetrical threat of Islamist terrorists, without being at war with all of Islam?  Pete Hoekstra…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

4/18 Ninth and final study group, (if there is interest), will look at what REFORMS, advocates champion that are designed to enable our leaders to better address the inconvenient truths that confront us. We will examine… the merits of these reforms, and what it will take to implement them?  As in the proceeding study groups, students will be asked to analyze these reforms from the perspective of serving in elective office.  Betsy Hawkings…

 

When time permits the last 10 minutes of each study group will be spent discussing a major event of the week.