HOUSTON – Rice University’s Baker Institute celebrates 25 years with the help of special guest of honor, former President Barack Obama.
"Reaching across the aisle" was the driving theme for the discussion between Obama and former Secretary of State, James Baker III. The discussion worked to also address the need for more civility in our political and public discourse.
The two former politicians compared their administrations from both sides of the aisle and how the lack of bipartisanship is nothing new.
Whether it’s through gerrymandering districts or the growth of partisan media outlets, these two say Americans find it easier to divide.
Obama said it’s made worse when people feel their status is being threatened and they react. For civility to return, we must embrace our common interests for this country, Obama said.
“There were certain ideals no matter how they were viewed, there were certain ideals we had to follow because that was part of American leadership in the world and it was part of what made us a great country. Those are now being contested in part because we don’t have this common base of information,” said Obama.
While President Donald Trump was never mentioned by name, there were often jokes poking fun at the appearance of a dysfunctional White House.
Earlier Tuesday, Obama visited with his longtime friend, President George H.W. Bush, at his home.
Since its inception in 1993, the Baker Institute has now hosted every living former president of this country.
According to institutes chairs, those attending Tuesday gala raised $5.4 million to further the think tanks future endeavors.