Americans should “walk and chew gum at the same time,” said former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold to Crothers residents Tuesday evening, calling for Americans to balance the improvement of global awareness with domestic economic recovery.
Feingold–the inaugural Mimi and Peter E. Haas Distinguished Visitor at the Haas Center for Public Service this quarter–held his first talk of a weekly conversation series with Stanford students in Crothers, a global citizenship-themed dorm.
During his informal conversation with the students, Feingold discussed politics, his career, his decision to become a politician and the importance of travel.
“Private citizens should be encouraged and facilitated into going to other parts of the world,” Feingold emphasized.
Feingold first discussed his recent book, “While America Sleeps,” which covers the current lack of international knowledge among American citizens. While certain populations such as university students and faculty tend to be more globally aware, Feingold said, he believes the country at large needs to prioritize its global education.
When asked about the United States’ current relationship with Iran, Feingold acknowledged the danger of the country’s nuclear weapons program and stressed the importance of maintaining a positive relationship.
When another student questioned prioritizing internationalism while rebuilding the American economy remains a pressing issue, Feingold stressed the importance of balance in American politics.
As the discussion progressed, students raised concerns on topics from the importance of U.S. intervention in global affairs to the Arab Spring and the SOPA and PIPA bills.
Questions grew more personal, as Feingold described how seeing his political heroes–John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy–speak and later be assassinated inspired him to pursue a career in politics.
Feingold connected with students by describing the proudest and weakest moments of his career and described the difficulties as well as the importance of voting independently in a two-party system.
Crothers residents will see many other political figures visit during the course of the year.
“Senator Feingold is one of several key visitors to Crothers this year, including Kofi Annan, Ambassador Karl Eikenberry and, next week, anti-genocide activist John Prendergast,” said Stephen Stedman ‘79 M.A. ‘85 Ph.D. ‘88, Crothers resident fellow and Freeman Spogli senior fellow at the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law (CDDRL).
Feingold will speak to students in other venues, including leading a weekly workshop series facilitated by Stanford in Government (SIG) and two major lectures, among other events.
“His engagements include meetings with public and foreign policy scholars, evening dorm events, radio talk shows, a conversation about faith and politics with his sister, Rabbi Dena Feingold, and numerous class visits,” said Thomas Schnaubelt, executive director of the Haas Center for Public Service.
Contact Nithya Vijayakumar at email@example.com.