As the capital buzzes with speculation about Obama’s cabinet nominations, one “hotly circulated” name for Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs, Maryland Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown, spent last Monday evening addressing the College.
In his lecture, “The New American Democracy,” Lieutenant Governor Brown addressed a thin crowd and discussed the direction our country is moving, key priorities for the next administration and the renewal of the American promise. The event was sponsored by the Center for the Study of Democracy.
Though Eric Shinseki was recently announced as Obama’s nominee for the position and Lieutenant Governor Brown promptly explained the possible nomination was only a political rumor, his name seemed in the running, as he is the co-chair of Obama’s Veteran’s Affairs Department Agency Review Team. “I think he has been putting in a great deal of work into [Obama’s] transition team, which suggests he was interested in a nomination,” said the Center’s Director and Chair of the Political Science Department Michael Cain.
While Lieutenant Governor Brown’s popularity is gaining steam in national politics, the event was not as well attended as Cain had hoped. There were about forty audience members in the Auerbach auditorium of St. Mary’s Hall. “The Center has done a really good job of bringing people down but it upset me that a potential Obama nominee came all the way to St. Mary’s and so few students came out,” said senior Matt Fafoutis.
In addition to students, faculty and administration, community members joined the audience. “A lot of people in the community and from the Base come out for events with speakers like Tom Brokaw, this seemed like something they would have come out for in larger numbers,” said Fafoutis.
Lieutenant Governor Brown spent last summer on the DNC Platform Drafting Committee and focused his lecture on what he felt was the Democratic Party’s compelling argument for change and a new promise for Americans.
He criticized the Bush Administration’s “broken promises” and outlined the four key principles of the platform he helped draft: “come together to renew the American dream, restore American leadership at home and abroad, revive the American community by reaching beyond our borders and change the system of politics and policies to revitalize America’s trust in democracy.”
As America transitions to embody those values, universal health care coverage, preventing more home foreclosures, investment in early childhood education, exiting Iraq and refocusing in Afghanistan and implementing a new GI bill were among his top priorities.
Lieutenant Governor Brown piqued students’ interest when he highlighted the Democratic platform’s offer to pay college tuition for Americans who give back through military and community service. “Today, the most valuable economic commodity is not iron or ore or access to a deep seaport — it’s knowledge and the blunt reality is that countries who out-educate us today will out-compete us tomorrow,” he said.
Other initiatives that caught the interest of St. Mary’s students included the expansion of the Peace Corp and the AmeriCorp and the importance of language and cultural awareness. “I think those were really important things to emphasize as we look to gain international trust…When we go out into the world we can either send the Peace Corp or a military with guns—I think the international community would much rather support the former,” said Fafoutis.
While Lieutenant Governor Brown was highly critical of the past eight years and stressed the obstacles before our nation, his message was constructive and optimistic. He said, “We are a great nation, we are strong but we are not perfect. We have a unique opportunity to come together to prefect our nation. This is a time like any other but despite challenges, future generations will see the greatness of our generation.”