Santa Clara University

Markkula Center

Yelling Across the Aisle

Combating the corrosive effects of hyper-partisanship

Public Sector Roundtable

From the government shutdown to the Senate’s filibuster rules—it’s no secret that hyper-partisanship has been interfering with effective government in recent years. Members of the Center’s Public Sector Roundtable have been seeing those same problems at the local level.

In 2013, the roundtable, a group of mayors, councilmembers, county supervisors, and other local public officials, hosted Mickey Edwards to talk about partisanship (podcast). Edwards, a former Oklahoma Congressman and member of the House Republican leadership, is the author of The Parties Versus the People: How to Turn Republicans and Democrats into Americans.

Edwards argued that officials have a primary duty to their constituents, their consciences, and the Constitution, and that party loyalty must take a backseat to these commitments. Michael-and-MaryOver the course of the year, the roundtable also delved into campaign ethics, the difference between law and ethics, and other topics.

Mary Ellen and Mike Fox Sr. have been major supporters of the Center's Government Ethics Program. As Mike Fox explains, "The program is a much needed one, bringing into focus many issues in the state, in our cities, and in the nation. Some of the toughest challenges I see in this area are those of transparency and, of course, money."

Bringing officials together to address these issues is a key way to affect the quality of public service at the local, county, and state level.

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