In an interview with Indianapolis Monthly, Lugar says he is troubled by the coarsening of public discourse, particularly under Trump, suggesting it is symptomatic of a larger problem gripping the country.
“The current president is not one who has demonstrated civility in his leadership,” says Indiana’s longest-serving Republican U.S. Senator and former two-term mayor of Indianapolis. “The use of his Twitter account or other bombastic avenues he has taken have not been helpful in terms of reaching solutions. The need to talk about civility is perhaps important because we live in a country where people take the position that my way is the highway.”
Lugar’s remarks come before a visit to Butler University next Monday, where he will join former Democrat Rep. Lee Hamilton in a conversation moderated by Ivy Tech President Sue Ellspermann for the “Celebration of Diversity Distinguished Lecture Series.” The event begins at 6 p.m. in Clowes Memorial Hall at Butler Arts Center, and is free to the public, but tickets are required.
With casting that would make the feel-good buddy movie the world needs right now, the two Hoosier statesmen and friends will foster a kumbaya feel, according to a source familiar with the questions. “At a time when the country seems politically polarized and incapable of engaging in civil discourse, Lugar and Hamilton will talk about ways to bring us together,” said an Ivy Tech spokesperson. “Dr. Ellspermann will moderate with questions that will evoke conversation about civility, including conversations, atmosphere and partnerships, as well as ask Lugar and Hamilton why the topic is important to them.”
Lugar, 85, and Hamilton, 86, are throwback politicos of bygone bipartisan era. The two are fond of each other, occasionally making joint appearances. In late 2015, they sat for an exclusive interview featured in Indy Monthly‘s Bicentennial issue. Back then, though, the idea of a Trump administration seemed far off: the insurgent led in the polls, but many expected former Florida Governor Jeb Bush to skate through the coming Republican primaries. Lugar declined to disclose how he voted in the 2016 presidential election.
In the Facebook post promoting an event, some commenters criticized the selection of two white Midwesterners for an event tagged for what’s billed as a diversity lecture. “What I don’t understand is that if the topic is Celebration of Diversity, and don’t get me wrong Lugar was one of the few republicans I voted for, where are the diverse panel members,” wrote Lucy Reynolds in response to the thread.
Past speakers have ranged from the actor and writer Jordan Peele to the poet Maya Angelou to former President George H.W. Bush. In a statement to IM, Butler University states:
We chose Dick Lugar and Lee Hamilton because we think they have something significant to share about civil discourse, which is our topic this year. This is one of two events this fall—the first was hip-hop artist and activist Olmeca speaking about “LatinX Identity and Power: In The Face of Social Divides.” And as the series goes on into the winter, we will present other perspectives as well.
We just booked Rev. Dr. Jamie Washington as part of the diversity series. He’ll present “Diversity and Leadership in the 21st Century” on January 24, 2018.
In perhaps the most 2017 thing that ever 2017’d, a post promoting an event focused on civil discourse quickly devolved into a snake pit of political hissing on Facebook. “BOTH ARE LEFTIST GLOBALIST ELITIST ESTABLISHMENT MEMBERS DO NOT WANT REAL CHANGE FROM 30 YRS OF SOCIALISM CRAFTING FOR AMERICANS KEEPING THE SCAM OF AMERICANS GOING,” wrote William L. Ellis.
“If you can [sic] be polite to these two gentlemen — regardless of your politics — you’re part of what’s wrong with America today,” added Don Hanlin.
Butler University’s Distinguished Lecture Series featuring Richard Lugar and Lee Hamilton is Monday, November 13, 6:00 PM at Clowes Memorial Hall, Butler Arts Center. The lecture is free and open to the public, but tickets are required.