The Honors College and The Tampa Bay Times co-hosted former congressmen David Jolly (R) and Patrick Murphy (D) for a town hall style discussion in the oval theater Thursday evening about the effects of gridlock on the U.S. political process.
Gridlock is a term used to explain the lack pf legislation productivity due to the inefficiency of the two major political parties to work with one another.
“I learned early on that there were certain structural problems that were preventing things from getting accomplished,” Murphy said.
Prioritizing the issues that matter to Americans before party lines is something that is important to both Jolly and Murphy. The bipartisan tour of Florida college campuses titled, “Why Gridlock Rules Washington and How We Can Solve the Crisis,” aims to share some of the experiences of both Jolly and Murphy while they served in Congress as well as to show what could be accomplished if more republicans and democrats were willing to work with one another.
Murphy said some of those structural problems include the constant hunger among politicians to do anything to secure their re-election.
Approximately 150 students and community members attended to engage with the former representatives for Bell Air Bluffs and Jupiter.
Both of the former congressmen shared first experiences when they first entered Congress. Murphy said what surprised him most about his initial moments in Congress was how fundraising was prioritized over working between party lines on legislation.
Jolly echoed the experiences by expanding upon the effects of fundraising in D.C.
“I spent a great part of 15 years working for a member of congress from a very different generation,” Jolly said. “When legislating was still a skill, a craft and an art. The interesting thing about my experience of working for a man of a different generation is I never saw congressman (Bill) Young make a single fundraising phone call.”
Murphy said that though there may be hardships with passing legislation, the U.S. democratic system was not designed to be easy.
“Congress was designed to be somewhat dysfunctional,” Murphy said. “You look at the rules; things weren’t made to happen overnight. It has to be very methodical and very thought-out. Something had to pass the House, pass the Senate and then be signed by the president and upheld by the Supreme Court.”
For Murphy there is a horizon on how to prevent gridlock’s reign over politicians and decision makers from continuing.
“The way to fix it (The U.S. political system) is you all,” Murphy said. “To get people out there voting, educating your friends and family members, because we can save it, but we need better voter turnout.”