By Nash Wills, Staff Writer
On Friday, April 1, Jon Kyl, a former United States Senator from Arizona came to campus to give two talks—one for executive education, and another for full-time students. Kyl attended the University of Arizona, where he received both his undergraduate and law degrees. After working as a lawyer and lobbyist in Phoenix for a number of years, he followed in the footsteps of his father, a former member of the US House of Representatives, and pursued a run for public office. Kyl served in the House of Representatives from 1987-1995 and then went on to serve as a Senator from 1995-2013. In December of 2007 Kyl became the Senate Minority Whip, the second highest position in Republican Senate Leadership. In 2010, Kyl was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine. Kyl now splits his time between Phoenix, where he teaches at Arizona State University weekly, and Washington DC, where he continues to work as a political consultant.
Thunderbird students seemed to have failed to grasp the gravity of such a powerful and experienced man giving up his time to come to campus—attendance numbered a whopping total of five students and two faculty. Nonetheless, the talk was informative and those in attendance revered the experience of conversing with a former US Senator. Kyl addressed a number of questions beginning with how the Republican Party got to its current state of affairs, one characterized by frustration and divisiveness. Kyl feels that GOP leaders have recently failed to do three things: First, they did not truly internalize or grasp how unhappy many Republicans are with the current party leadership and decisions. Second, the current leaders have not adequately explained the rules of government to their constituents and therefore have absorbed a lot of blame for unavoidable failures. Kyl cited the presidential veto power and required signature for proposed solutions as these preventative rules. Lastly, Kyl feels that GOP leadership did not do a good enough job at “hammering” Trump early and often by exposing his apolitical background and uniting other candidates against him rather than against each other.
Kyl also delved into the benefits of working in the public sector of the economy. For young and ambitious soon-to-be professionals like ourselves, Washington DC is the place to be. Capital Hill is filled with young, hardworking people and is influenced by them more often than many people realize. Kyl stated that although the monetary rewards are higher within the private sector, governmental jobs allow individuals to be on the front lines of change, and offer a comfortable job with great benefits. Concerning careers for T-birds, Kyl stated that countries like China, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, the Gulf States, Argentina, and Brazil are on the forefront of international business. He also stressed that we can make a difference by offering up our international experiences and perspectives, and that we should not hesitate to do so when we feel that public policy should be changed.
Kyl touched on the topic of the many Populist movements that are currently taking place throughout the world. He believes that these movements are very dangerous, are driven by fear, and could potentially bring a country like the United States to ruin. This is because of his belief that free trade provides economic benefits, and that current leaders are tending to blame free trade for economic problems in the United States instead of targeting the real issues at hand—free trade has turned into a scapegoat.
A final request from T-birds to Kyl was for advice. He urged us to go abroad, but to understand our own country very well first. He believes that a person needs to know their own country and self in order to understand differences between how they do things and how others do them. “As a United States citizen, we have a lot to learn from others, but we also have a lot to teach.”
To read about Senator Kyl’s visit to Thunderbird in February 2015, see: Senator Jon Kyl Visits Thunderbird
Photo Credit: www.wikipedia.com