Lawmakers talk bipartisanship


Emma Shafer, Assistant Editor

Lincoln Land Community College saw two important speakers on Sept. 11, 2018: Rodney Davis, who currently serves Illinois’ 13th Congressional district, and Jimmy Panetta, currently serving California’s 20th Congressional district.

The discussion about bipartisanship and civility was titled “Can two people with different viewpoints work together?” It focused on the friendship that Davis and Panetta have formed while serving on the House Committee on Agriculture and playing baseball together for the Republican and Democrat Congressional teams. The two are also the co-founders of the Congressional Agriculture Research Caucus.

Davis and Panetta say their friendship is based on both representing heavy agriculture districts. Davis, who represents a majority of Lincoln Land’s district, has many constituents who earn their living through corn and soybean production. Panetta’s district is nicknamed the “Salad Bowl Capital of the World”.

Panetta stated, “Obviously we both have professional interests, but the fact is that Rodney Davis is someone who I like not only professionally, but personally.”

The discussion took place with 12 students, five faculty members, and six members of the Lincoln Land administration. Students who attended were given invitations by members of the faculty, who were given 5 tickets each to distribute to students. Lynn Whalen, the executive director of public relations and marketing, said it was not the college’s decision to make the event private, but the Former Members of Congress who contacted the college and set up the event.

Natalie Baker was a student who attended the event on campus. She asked the congressmen about the message behind the event and what the goal of it was supposed to be because she said the point was unclear.

Rodney Davis responded, “That’s too bad.”

After the event Natalie Baker said “I wanted to give the event a fair chance, but found that it played out more like a photo opportunity where we all show up just to say what we did. I came with the hopes of engaging in a real discussion of civil responsibility. Instead, I found both Congressmen to be underprepared and unable to communicate a clear message.”

Both Congressmen are currently up for re-election this November and are both running opposed. Davis traveled to Panetta’s district in February of 2018 to present on a similar topic. Lincoln Land was the Congressmen’s third stop of the day; they had previously visited Taylorville and Edwardsville High Schools to speak with students.

Emma Shafer can be reached at [email protected].