[MUSIC PLAYING] CHRISTINE TODD WHITMAN: Hyperpartisanship today is about much more than the rabid exchanges that have become commonplace on television and radio programs. It's also about rigging the very process of government to encourage a partisan response and to achieve partisan ends by any means. So what can we do to lower the partisan fervor that we see in Washington and, frankly, all around us today?
First, I believe that we as a people have to get more involved in the political process. Walden's motto is "A higher degree for a higher purpose." I hope that each of you will use the higher degrees that you are earning here for the high purpose of demanding more of our politicians, both on the campaign trail and in the halls of government.
Many took great pride last year that the turnout in the presidential election was the highest we'd had since 1968. Even so, that was less than 60% of the eligible American voters. We had less than 60% voter turnout. With all those lines-- you saw that talk about how great the fervor was in the country-- a less than 60% voter turnout.
Next, I would urge the leaders of Congress and the White House to abide by a pledge that President Obama made during the campaign. He promised to post on the internet the text of every major piece of legislation that he was going to sign at least five days before he would sign it. That would increase transparency while giving the public an opportunity to digest these pieces of legislation to get a better understanding of what the true implications were going to be for all of us.
Third, I would urge the president and the members of Congress and the majority leaders to remove the artificial deadlines that they have set for passing health care reform and other major pieces of legislation. If our leaders continue to insist on passing this legislation within the next few days or the next few weeks, they are virtually guaranteeing that it will be passed along party lines.
And when that happens, then you have the ability of the other party to slam it only because they didn't vote for it. And if anything doesn't work out perfectly, and no major piece of legislation like this will be perfect from the get-go, instead of trying to solve the problems, they'll be using those problems as a hammer for the next election in order to ensure that they get more of their members seated.
Finally, I would urge the leaders of both political parties to seek to restore to the political arena the sense of dignity and respect for their opponents and for the American people that we have seen in the past. It is often said that in a democracy, people get the government that they deserve. I think we deserve better. And I think it's time that we started demanding it.