Bill Clinton Lied Center

Bill Clinton Receives 2015 Dole Leadership Prize

“Cooperation Over Conflict”–Former President Bill Clinton received 2015 Dole Leadership Prize

Former President Bill Clinton received the 2015 Dole Leadership Prize and gave a speech stressing bipartisanship at the Lied Center yesterday afternoon, on November 23rd, 2015.

Clinton addressed the importance of bipartisanship, and exemplified this by talking about his past rivalry with Bob Dole in 1996 presidential election.

“The polarization of American politics is present not just in Washington but in American life,” said Clinton, who was speaking to a full crowd at the Lied Center.

Clinton said over the course of time, Americans already become “less racist,” “less sexist,” “less religiously bigoted,” and “less homophobic.” Clinton continued with, “We have one remaining bigotry; we don’t want to be around anybody that disagrees with us.”

Clinton said America is making progress by its increasing attention on networking and cooperation, and states that we are at America’s scariest and greatest time. However, he made it clear that America still has plenty of potential within it.

Bill Clinton Lied CenterThe event, hosted at the Lied Center, was open to KU students and the general public, who gave the president a warm welcome from the full house. KU Students responded positively to the chance given by KU to see with a former president and hear his speech.

“I really liked everything he said about bipartisanship and making changes,” third-year KU student Gabrielle Naylr said, “I think it’s definitely something that our campus needed to hear.”

Freshman Nidhi Patel, major in Biology, said she felt very inspired by his speech, appreciating this “once in a lifetime opportunity.” She said she felt the speech was relatable when Clinton brought up details about the human genome and thought this was a crucial to his dedication towards humanity.

“We’re 99.5 percent the same,” Clinton said, “it is an act of supreme arrogance to believe that our differences are more important than our common humanity and it’s a recipe for disaster in an interdependent world because it unleashes us to act on impulse in a dehumanizing way to other people.”

First year KU student, Mona Ahmed, said she heard the event online and she was excited for the cool opportunity to hear to President Clinton speak.

Bill Clinton Lied Center“It’s an important opportunity that everybody should try to attend,” Ahmed said. “You don’t have to be a Democrat or Republican. I think everybody should come watch and see him and try to learn something new, despite what political affiliation you’re in.”

Ahmed appreciates how KU gives access of these events to students because she thinks it is important for her generation to learn from his presidency. Events like this fuel student knowledge, which will hopefully lead to more participation when the upcoming election approaches.

Dole Institute of Politics honored Bill Clinton on his success towards economic expansion with the 2015 Dole Leadership Prize.

“None of us are complete economic animals,” said Clinton, identifying that the challenges beyond trade, technology, cellphones and social media, which serves to push for progress.

During the speech, Clinton also discussed the U.S. Constitution, keeping the emphasis on bipartisanship, saying that the Constitution mandates compromise. He even subtitled the Constitution as “Let’s Make a Deal.” Clinton clarified the establishment of the Judicial Branch and the procedures of veto, treaty and bill passing.

Bill Clinton Lied CenterClinton spoke about diverse representations from different groups and how they are crucial in making political decisions. He said, “We can accomplish nothing if (we’re) not politically diverse,” and “no matter what you are, groups make best decisions,” assuring his hope of making an inclusive society.

Clinton donated the $25,000 prize, which comes with the award, back to the Dole Institute of Politics. The money will help fund a women and leadership event in the future.

The Dole Leadership Prize was previously awarded to Nelson Mandela, former U.S. Senators George McGovern and Howard Baker, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, and former President George Bush. Clinton is now the most recent recipient of the award.