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64th Secretary of State Madeleine Albright Speaks on Bipartisanship at the Bush School

November 28, 2018

Madeline Albright with Bush School faculty and students

Madeline Albright with Bush School faculty and students

On election day, November 6, 64th Secretary of State Madeleine Albright traveled to Texas A&M University to deliver a talk titled “Bipartisanship and Foreign Policy” to a full house. Albright spent the day engaging with Bush School students and had lunch in an informal conversation-style Q&A with TAMU students and faculty members, followed by a book signing featuring her latest volume, Fascism: A Warning.

Albright was the first female Secretary of State, the highest-ranking woman in the history of the US government at the time, and is a professor, author, and businesswoman. She served as US Permanent Representative to the United Nations and as a member of the President’s Cabinet. In 2012, President Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in recognition of her contributions to international peace and democracy.

The event was co-hosted by the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University and the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation. David Jones, CEO of the Bush Foundation, began the evening by sharing a personal note from President George H. W. Bush, who shared his regret at not being able to attend.

“I truly hate missing tonight’s event, just as much as I hate playing the ‘old guy card’ as my excuse. But the fact is the old guy card is the only card I have left in my deck,” Jones read.

Bipartisanship was at the heart of the conversation during Albright’s trip. She stressed that conversations must not be just talking but also listening to others’ points of view. The information revolution has made it too easy to state one person’s opinion without engaging in real discussion. Albright spoke on the toll this has taken in government, particularly in international affairs.

Turning from foreign engagement to matters affecting Americans at home, she said she worries about the state of democracy and the current attacks it is undergoing.

“In almost every region of the world, democratic institutions and values are under attack,” Albright said. “It seems as if everywhere you look, the euphoria that accompanied the end of the Cold War has been replaced by doubts about the capacity of democracy to deliver on its promises.”

But Albright said despite these worries, she continues to be an optimist because she believes in the resilience of democracy and in people’s desire to unite and work together.

Albright also stressed gender equality during her visit to College Station. At lunch with forty students and faculty members, Albright advocated gender equality, especially in government. She said we cannot have all men or all women in government; instead, we must have both to balance each other out.

Throughout the day, Albright spread the message of cooperation, civility, and conversation in government, leadership roles, and all roles people play in their day-to-day lives. She stressed that leaders and citizens must have humility. Albright left her listeners with what she believed was the most vital thing she learned during her time in government.

“My time in Washington has taught me many things, but perhaps the most important lesson I have learned is that the best leaders have a gift for listening, not just hearing themselves talk,” Albright said. “They are open to the arguments of others and to the possibility that they might be wrong.”

 

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