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State Board Report

November 2016

Presidential adviser, political strategist and author Karl Rove told the NASBA meeting on October 31 that the 2016 presidential election was similar to the 1896 election of William McKinley in two ways: (1) The political system was broken back then, as evidenced by acrimony and intense partisanship. (2) There was a burst of populism, those on the left saying the poor are getting poorer and those on the right saying the elitists are getting richer on us. Mr. Rove’s latest book is entitled: The Triumph of William McKinley: Why the Election of 1896 Still Matters. He told the NASBA audience that his research for this book started well in advance of this year’s election. This year the political process managed to present voters with “the two most unpopular people ever having been nominated in the history of the United States,” Mr. Rove reported, with both candidates being viewed unfavorably by more than 50 percent of those polled.

Mr. Rove was asked by Director-at-Large Tyrone Dickerson (VA) about the differences between the elections in the 1960s and the present. “There was strong presidential leadership and more ticket splitters,” Mr. Rove observed. He noted there is a lack of collegiality on the Hill and warned some legislators will pay the price when they get back home. “There needs to be leadership from the top to say: ‘Let’s put things together and get things done’.”

NASBA Director-at-Large Ed Jolicoeur (WA) asked Mr. Rove if he was optimistic about the survival of the two-party system in the U.S. He responded: “Yes. It is hard for a third party to rise. The two-party system is embodied in state law and it’s hard for a third-party candidate to become a player. We need a government with the strong confidence of the people.”

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