Last Thursday, former United States Senator Robert Bennett (R-UT) spoke about the current political scene in the United State at a university forum at Brigham Young University-Idaho in Rexburg, Idaho.
“Beware of the Slogan Screamers,” said Bennett in thinly veiled reference to the Tea Party.
Bennett said that Democrats are the party of government solutions and Republicans are the party of market solutions. And both sides can be correct.
He praised Ronald Reagan, particularly on Reagan dealings with the Soviet Union, but also for his willingness to push back on long held economic views.
Bennett particularly emphasized the need for compromise and the working with people across the aisle.
He spoke warmly of Harry Reid, while dismissively referencing Ted Cruz.
“Keep your powder dry,” said Bennett while urging students not to be too quick to commit to causes before having all the information.
He also emphasized the need to not burn bridges by saying that “the most important vote is the next one.” By letting emotion or hate to get in the way, future opportunities for working together will be undermined.
In the question and answer period, Bennet encouraged students to participate within the two-party system and dismissed third-party efforts within the current system as a pipe dream.
Bennett argued that mandatory spending (social security, government pensions, debt payments) are straining the federal budgets, while the political dialogue focused on discretionary spending.
“On the discretionary spending side, we should be spending more,” Bennett said, because money spent on infrastructure and research boost the economy and these are the areas that are being most limited.
Bennett praised President Barack Obama for expressing a willingness to address entitlements and criticized Republicans for not taking him up on the offer.
Bennett failed in his attempt to serve a fourth term in the United States Senate in 2010. He was defeated by Republican challenger at the 2010 Utah State Republican Convention. One of those challengers, Mike Lee, is now the sitting U.S. Senator from Utah.