Matthew Dowd Says It’s Time to Listen to George Washington’s Warning Against Partisanship

Author and former strategist to George W. Bush sees the current tumultuous political era as an opportunity for change.

By Rhonda FanningApril 13, 2017 2:07 pm,

As the U.S. becomes increasingly divided along party lines, many are losing faith in the American political system. ABC News analyst and Texas resident Matthew Dowd says that despite current partisan struggles, trust in the system can be restored. He explores the topic in his new book, “A New Way: Embracing the Paradox as we Lead and Serve.”

Dowd says that he first talked about his dissatisfaction with the state of American politics after working as chief strategist for President George W. Bush’s second presidential campaign.

“In the aftermath of that, I decided that it didn’t meet what it said it was going to meet, which was to bring the country together,” Dowd says.

Dowd says he is focused on finding ways of bringing Americans together and restoring faith in politics. He says the current upheaval in American politics is challenging, but offers a chance to start again.

“It’s such a disruptive moment in America,” he says. “It only comes around a few times in our history and while it scares people, and people are anxious about it, it’s actually an unbelievable opportunity to create a new way of leading.”

Dowd says that the Civil War, the Great Depression and World War II are a few examples of time periods during which America experienced massive shifts in opinion about the political system. Today, Dowd says, the focus should shift to changing the two-party system.

“George Washington in his farewell address warned against partisan politics and we have now become a tribalized country,” Dowd says.

He says that more candidates and parties participating in future elections will help foster hope for change.

“The last two places in our society that seem to have been innovated are our politics and our government,” Dowd says. “We still only have fundamentally two choices, Democrat or Republican,”

Dowd says that changes in the political system need to begin at local and state level.

“The only way it’s going to work is if people in Austin, Dallas, Houston, El Paso, San Antonio, wherever, decide they want to change their politics on the local and the state level, and then it will rise nationally,” Dowd says. “I think you’re going to see a whole bunch of people in 2018 decide that they don’t like the system as it is, put their shoulder against the wall, and start pushing.”

Dowd says he has been approached by Democrats, Republicans and Independents about running for office, but that he is still deciding what he wants his own role in politics to be.

“I’m mulling it over,” he says. “I don’t know if it’s my path. I’m trying to live my mission, but I’m trying to do it in a way that fits me. I don’t know if running for office fits with who I am, but I’ve not decided, and I’ve not made any steps towards it.”
Written by Emma Whalen.