Congress comes to ASU campus


Matt Oxford

Arizona State University and the School of Politics and Global Studies welcomed two former members of Congress to campus this fall: Barry Goldwater Jr. and Glen Browder. Goldwater Jr., who is an ASU alumnus, served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for California from 1969 to 1983 while Browder served for Alabama from 1989 to 1997.

Their visit was part of the Congress to Campus program, which brings former members of Congress into the classroom to engage directly with students. The former members give students a candid look into the workings of American government and politics with the hope of inspiriting greater democratic participation.

The two congressmen began their talk with ASU students by explaining that you do not have to be wealthy to run a successful campaign. Pointing to the front row, the congressmen said they too were once in those chairs and encouraged students to one day run for office themselves.

The students in professor Tara Lennon’s and Henry Sivak’s political science classes followed up with questions surrounding how politics will evolve going forward, voting fraud, term limits and the growth of the third party. 

“Students enjoyed the first-hand account of policy making and were surprised to hear how partisan politicians worked together well decades ago,” Lennon said. “Congressmen Goldwater and Browder addressed every student’s question with excellent examples, demonstrated gracious and informed political debate with each other, and expressed their heartfelt interest that students become more civically engaged.“

Goldwater Jr. told the students that the only thing that changes for the Republican Party are the personalities.  He spoke about what working in Congress and what working with a president was like.

“Communication should be open and flowing at all times between Congress and the president,” Goldwater Jr. said.

Browder took questions from students on the Black Lives Matter campaign as well as the political movements of candidates such as Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.

“I would really like the establishment to be shaken up,” Browder said. “They’ve lost touch with the American people.”

Student’s lined up after the class was over to continue asking the former congressmen questions. One student even asked for autographs to prove he in fact met someone who served in Congress.