On February 21, 2019, former congressmen Patrick Murphy and David Jolly visited UNC Charlotte to give a speech to the University’s students. As a part of their “Let’s Fix Washington,” the two spoke on the lack of bipartisanship in Congress and how that negatively affects our nation. Despite the ex-congressmen both holding many differing political beliefs, the two have been traveling together across the United States in an effort to start conversations about gerrymandering, closed primaries and campaign financing.
Murphy, the former Democratic representative of a historically Republican district of Florida, spoke on many of the issues he noticed during his time in office. According to Murphy, the means of gaining and holding an office in Congress is greatly flawed. He stated that, “92% of the time, people with the most money win their election.” In order for someone to gain a position in Congress, they must first campaign. Campaigning is a very expensive process which forces candidates to look for sponsors. These sponsors often have their own political agenda and will only support candidates who fit that agenda. This often places candidates in a position in which they must choose between adhering to their beliefs or having a chance at winning. Jolly, the former Republican representative of a historically Democratic district of Florida, also commented on the issues of campaign financing. The self-proclaimed “modern-day Bull Moose Republican stated that the United States has ‘the worst campaign finance system in the entire world.’” Jolly stated that in order to fix this, Congress must “restore an ideological system where consistency is rewarded.” He purposed many ways to fix this issue including changing Congress’ term limits and eliminating campaign financing altogether.
The two also spoke on the issue of gerrymandering. According to Murphy, “Gerrymandering is the single biggest issue in America.” Murphy later added that “90 percent of seats in Congress are already predetermined” due to gerrymandering. “Fourteen percent (of US citizens) are determining 90 percent of Congress. This 14 percent tend to lean farther right or left,” said Murphy expressing that this lack of voter turnout and gerrymandering is a recipe for partisanship.
Although both Murphy and Jolly do not share many political beliefs, the two both believe that the primary key to fixing this issue is to get more citizens voting regardless of their party. According to Jolly, “A lot of these changes are within reach of voters right now.” He also stated, “There are politicians out there trying to take these issues on, and the encouraging thing is that they are backed by voters.” It is our duty as citizens to elect new officials that are willing to address these systemic issues and will do what is best for the United States.