Former members of Congress Max Rose, a Democrat, and Fred Upton, a Republican, will discuss strategies for countering political extremism at a Tuesday, March 21 event on the Ithaca campus. They will describe a path for governing at a time when performative politicians appear to be ascending. 

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Former members of Congress to offer ideas to counter extremism

Two former U.S. representatives will lay out strategies Tuesday for restoring civil discourse in the face of performative politics.

“Searching for the Center” will take place March 21 from 5-6:30 p.m. in Kaufmann Auditorium in Goldwin Smith Hall on the Ithaca campus. Sponsored by the Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy, it is an in-person event and open to all.

The speakers are former congressmen Max Rose, a New York Democrat, and Fred Upton, a Michigan Republican. They will discuss the potential for a rebirth of bipartisanship in Congress. Their appearance is arranged by No Labels, an organization seeking ballot access in many states to run a bipartisan “unity ticket” for president in 2024 “if the two parties select unreasonably divisive presidential nominees.” Cornell University does not endorse or oppose candidates for elected office.

Dean Colleen Barry will introduce the program and describe how it fits into the Brooks School’s new Learning and Leading Through Difference Initiative. It is a wide-ranging effort to build on Cornell’s commitment to public engagement, strengthening democracy, advancing conflict resolution, and developing the capacity to be thoughtful, purpose-driven leaders.

The Roosevelt Institute at Cornell, a non-partisan student-run think tank, is co-sponsoring the event.

Liz Morrison, Co-Executive Director of No Labels, will moderate the discussion between Rose and Upton.

Rose represented Staten Island and a section of Brooklyn in the 116th Congress. A decorated Army Infantry Officer, he chaired the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence and Counterterrorism and successfully advocated for one of New York City’s first drive-through COVID testing sites. A recent Politico profile described him as a moderate who was “quick to distance himself from the national Democratic party, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whom he opposed in a leadership vote during his sole term in Congress. He was one of the last Democrats to come out in support of impeaching Donald Trump and says President Joe Biden shouldn’t run for reelection.”

Upton represented southwestern Michigan in Congress for 36 years. For six years, he served as Chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce and is credited with passing 354 legislative measures, many with bipartisan support. When Upton’s name was briefly floated as a compromise candidate for House Speaker earlier this year, he earned this endorsement from Washington Post columnist Perry Bacon Jr.: “He has strong enough ties with President Biden that Biden praised Upton in a 2018 speech right before the midterms — infuriating local Democrats who felt Biden’s remarks helped Upton win reelection. Most important, Upton is one of the few reasonable Republicans who have served in office in recent times. He voted for Donald Trump’s impeachment after the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, one of only 10 Republicans to do so.”

Jim Hanchett is assistant dean of communications for the Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy.


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