Mickey Edwards’ experience during eight terms as a U.S. Congressman is enough to make him an expert on the country’s democratic system. But it is through his work during the 22 years since leaving office that Edwards shaped a unique perspective on what has gone wrong in American politics as well as an optimistic vision for setting things right.
On Tuesday, Sept. 9, Edwards brings that perspective to Northern Virginia as featured presenter at Morven Park’s annual “Distinguished Voices in Civics” speaker series. He will discuss the principles of his latest book, The Parties Versus the People, in which he offers possible solutions to the hard-line partisan divisions that characterize today’s politics.
Edwards currently is vice president of the Aspen Institute, an international non-partisan organization that promotes the pursuit of common ground, fosters value-based leadership, and provides a neutral venue for discussion of and action on critical issues. After his eight terms in Congress representing Oklahoma, he taught for 11 years at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and for five years at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
In an Atlantic Magazine article published in 2011 titled “How to Turn Republicans & Democrats Into Americans,” Edwards maintained that if reforms are not enacted, “American government will go on the way it has, not as a collective enterprise, but as a battle between warring tribes.”
Morven Park’s “Distinguished Voices in Civics” each year features notable authors, historians, and educators who can address challenges to civic engagement in the modern world and offer strategies for change. The event begins at 7 p.m. and is free to the public. Seating is limited, so pre-registration is encouraged by going to www.MorvenPark.org, or by calling 703-777-2414.
During the event, Morven Park also will present its Governor Westmoreland Davis Civic Leadership Award, given to an individual who, in the tradition of Gov. Davis, demonstrates leadership in encouraging civic participation among youth and adults. This year’s recipient is Carol Kost of Ashburn, chairman emeritus and a founder of Loudoun Youth, an organization established to develop out-of-school programs to help teens become confident and contributing members of the community. In addition, Kost has worked for many years with state and local government agencies to build understanding of youth issues.
The “Distinguished Voices in Civics” event is part of Morven Park’s CivicsNOW! program, created in 2012 to empower people to engage in their democracy and community by teaching skills and values of civil and active civic participation.
Morven Park preserves and advances the ideals of Virginia’s governor from 1918 to 1922, Westmoreland Davis, including civic responsibility, sustainable agriculture, and enhancement of life in rural Virginia. Its educational and recreational programming utilizes the site’s 1,000 acres of woodlands, pastures, and open spaces as well as three museums and a sports/equestrian complex. The non-profit organization receives no operating support from federal, state, or local governments.