AEI: A Platform For Political Discussion

By Alexander Khan

What will our government do going forward? This issue serves as more than mere content for nightly news shows. It is on the minds of students at Middlebury who want to see something done about the issues that our country is facing. While it is discussed among friends sitting around a table at Proctor, unfortunately, the debate and discussion usually stops there.

The American Enterprise Institute club began at Middlebury as a way to extend this debate. The American Enterprise Institute, a nonpartisan think tank based in Washington D.C., does research and analysis on the political and economic situations of the United States. At Middlebury, AEI provides a platform for open debate and discussion on issues ranging from the economic situation of America’s middle class to the possibility of U.S. military intervention in Syria. Through weekly meetings, discussions of articles, books and movies and bringing speakers to campus, AEI hopes to facilitate the much-needed open debate that is missing on Middlebury’s campus.

Today, Republicans hold control of both the House and Senate, while President Obama is in the White House. As politically responsible citizens, we are driven to ask – how will our government function under these conditions? A divided government will not only affect what bills are passed, but also what bills are brought to the floor. When looking at the issue of divided government we are really looking at the future of the immigration debate, tax reform, the issue of climate change, as well as many other issues that affect us in the present as well as after college.

The vast effects of divided government on the American populace as well as the Middlebury student body must be discussed and debated. For this reason, the topic of AEI’s first policy conference, to take place on March 14, will be divided government and what it means for both the constitution and the legislative process.

Professor Shep Melnick of Boston College will give the conference’s keynote address. Melnick, who currently teaches courses on American politics, is a scholar of the Constitution and examines the intersection of law and politics. In addition to giving the keynote address, Melnick will be sitting on the first of two panels, which will focus on divided government and the legislative process.

The first panel also features former governor of Vermont, Jim Douglas. Governor Douglas, now an Executive in Residence at Middlebury College, started his career in Vermont politics as a representative in the Vermont House of Representatives. He has also served as Secretary of State, State Treasurer and Governor of Vermont. Professor  of Political Science Matt Dickinson and Chair of the Political Science department and Professor of Political Science Bert Johnson will also be sitting on the first panel.

 The subject of the second panel will be the legislative agenda of the 114th Congress. This panel features Governor Douglas, Melnick, Assistant Professor of Political Science Adam Dean and Stan Veuger, currently a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Veuger’s research focuses on political economy. He is also a frequent contributor to The Hill and the U.S. News and World Report among other publications, and writes on a range of topics including health and tax policy.

AEI’s policy conference will begin at 11:00 a.m. this Saturday, March 14 in Wilson Hall (formerly the McCullough Social Space). It is open to the public and is intended to serve as a platform for debate and discussion on a wide variety of issues that affect America in the present and future. Whether you are interested in politics and economics, or you simply want to learn more about an issue, this conference will be the first step towards sparking a larger conversation about the future of America at Middlebury.

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