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November 12, 2012

McGovern Conference discusses party politics; pays tribute to George McGovern

MITCHELL — Dakota Wesleyan University paid tribute to George McGovern Monday during the annual McGovern Conference – an event that brought members of both sides of the political arena to campus to discuss political polarization and bipartisanship.

The late senator and presidential nominee was a 1946 alumnus, former history professor and longtime friend of DWU, leaving behind a library and legacy in his name. The McGovern Conference is a daylong event with a different theme each year tackling political, social, economic and environmental issues. This year’s conference focused on political polarization and the value of bipartisanship – a subject McGovern chose himself before passing away Oct. 21.

Keynote speakers Gil Gutknecht (R-Minn.) and Max Sandlin (D-Texas), both former Congressmen, shared their views and advice on how they believe the country can look beyond partisanship, how it has done so successfully in the past and can so again.

The conference began with a special tribute video and speech by DWU President Robert Duffett. Multiple speakers and moderators throughout the day contributed words of thanks and remembrance to McGovern, giving stories or sharing advice he once gave, and the conference also ended with a moment of silence in remembrance.

During the conference, the theme of political polarization was explored through the historical aspect with DWU history professor Sean Flynn starting things off as the first speaker. The topic was then propelled into the present as Ben Nesselhuf, the South Dakota Democratic chairman, and Tony Post, the executive director of the South Dakota Republican Party, discussed “Partisan Hearts and Minds” and discussed a little more in depth the issues that might separate the parties and strategies they each use.

The last speaker panel of the day discussed the role of media in partisan politics with Seth Tupper, editor of the Daily Republic in Mitchell; Jonathon Ellis, reporter for the Argus Leader, Sioux Falls, and correspondent for USA Today; Denise Ross, Web editor and reporter for the Daily Republic; and Cara Hetland, news director for South Dakota Public Broadcasting.

The entire McGovern Conference will air in sections throughout the week on South Dakota Public Broadcasting. Visit their site at www.sdpb.org/.


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Last updated: 11/12/12