New York Times/Al Drago

March 16, 2021

President Bill Clinton to Speak at Institute of Politics and Global Affairs Webinar

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Former President Bill Clinton will join Prof. Steve Israel, government, speaking to the Cornell community on Thursday on the state of American democracy following a year of deepening U.S. divisions.

Hosted by the Institute of Politics and Global Affairs and eCornell, the conversation will focus on the political challenges the U.S. faces and how students can preserve democracy for future generations. 

The event will launch the new Milstein State of Democracy Addresses series, and the conversation will include questions from undergraduate students and an introduction by Bob Harrison ’76, chair of the Cornell Board of Trustees and CEO of the Clinton Global Initiative.

Both Clinton and Israel have spent time in political office and worked in other fields after their terms. After Clinton’s time at the White House came to an end as the 42nd president, he created the Clinton Foundation, which aims to create economic opportunity, improve public health and inspire civic engagement and service. 

Israel is a former Democratic congressman from New York and represented the state’s second and third districts for 16 years. After his time on Capitol Hill, Israel left to pursue a career as a writer. He now leads the nonpartisan Cornell University Institute of Politics and Global Affairs in New York City. Israel is a frequent political commentator on MSNBC, and he regularly contributes to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and more. Israel has also written two critically-acclaimed satires of Washington.

Following the conversation, the University will hold a panel discussion with Cornell experts. The panel will consist of government professors Rachel Beatty Riedl, director of the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Suzanne Mettler and Douglas Kriner.

The panel will also inform students how they can get involved with the Campaign for the Future of Democracy, a new project founded by the Institute of Politics and Global Affairs that will offer a counter-message in support of democratic norms in response to the “steady diet of authoritarian messages on radio, television, cable news and social media,” that the American public has heard, according to the project’s website.

Campaign of the Future of Democracy operates in response to the growing fragility of American democracy over the last six presidencies, more recently evidenced by the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol incited by former President Donald Trump.

The project will aim to conduct voter market research and campaigns, build a bridge between political practitioners and academic researchers by creating a network of resources for K-12 students.

The virtual event is sponsored by the Howard and Abby Milstein Foundation and is also being supported by the Larry and Judy Tanenbaum Distinguished Speakers Fellowship of Sigma Phi.