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Gary Gregg; Daniel Hayes

Gary Gregg, director of the McConnell Center at the University of Louisville, discusses the 25th anniversary of the Center. Bill also speaks with Daniel Hayes of the online magazine Thought Catalog.
Season 11 Episode 36 Length 28:02 Premiere: 09/25/16

Gary Gregg of the McConnell Center and Writer Daniel Hayes

The McConnell Center at the University of Louisville is celebrating 25 years of helping Kentucky students and teachers learn more about American politics, history and government.

A Lexington writer explains why he thinks people in his native eastern Kentucky are supporting the presidential candidacy of a New York real estate tycoon.

KET’s Bill Goodman talked with Gary Gregg, director of the McConnell Center, and in the second half of the program, online columnist Daniel Hayes in this weekend’s One to One.

McConnell Center Trains Young Leaders
In 1991, U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) founded a center in his name at his alma mater, the University of Louisville. He wanted it to be a place that would emphasize leadership, scholarship, and service by nurturing young Kentuckians who had the promise of becoming tomorrow’s leaders. In the first quarter-century, 250 so-called McConnell Scholars have gone through the program.

When Gary Gregg became director in 2000, he says Sen. McConnell told him two things about the center.

“This is not a prep school for politicians [and] the job is not to create a bunch of little Republicans,” Gregg says.

Students in the program come from all political stripes, says Gregg. They explore a range of disciplines from politics and government to religion and philosophy. They make trips to different regions of the state to learn about the culture, economics, and challenges in that part of the commonwealth. They also get to spend time with renowned lecturers that the center brings to Louisville – people like Vice President Joe Biden, U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Roberts, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi.

“We’re trying to really create well-rounded, multidisciplinary students who can think and be free and make decisions that are best for them, their communities, their families, and the commonwealth of Kentucky,” Gregg says.

The McConnell Center also offers one of the few continuing development programs in history, economics, and government for Kentucky teachers. Even with greater emphasis being placed on science and math classes, Gregg says it’s important that students learn about state and national history and how their government works.

One of the newer initiatives at the center is a month-long Strategic Broadening Seminar for U.S. soldiers. It’s designed to help prepare Army leaders for the challenges presented by contemporary world events.

In addition to a distinguished speakers series, the center presents a number of other public programs. For Constitution Day on Sept. 17, the center hosts a debate between scholars representing key figures from early American history. This year’s contest featured Alexander Hamilton versus John Adams, with the audience selecting Adams as the MVP of the founding of America.

On Oct. 12, the center will offer a lecture by Georgia Southern University history professor Bill Allison about the experiences of American soldiers in the Vietnam War.

Rural Voters and Donald Trump
“I grew up among Second Amendment people and I’m a Second Amendment person myself,” wrote Middlesboro native Daniel Hayes in an Aug. 21 opinion piece in The New York Times entitled Donald Trump Takes Aim.

“Back then, in the late ’80s, being a proponent of gun rights was far less of a party position. But a dozen years later, as communities like the one I grew up in lost industry and jobs, and finally dignity and hope, guns became more political.”

Hayes now lives in Lexington and is a writer for the online magazine “Thought Catalog.” In his essay for the Times he says that simply labeling rural gun owners as conservative Republicans is too simplistic.

He argues that historically many gun owners in his home region were Democrats. Some of those gun owners even voted for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders in this year’s state Democratic primary, Hayes says. But he contends several forces have encouraged gun owners to leave their Democratic roots and support Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

First he says the Democratic Party lost sight of economic issues that affect blue-collar workers in favor of promoting social issues pushed by urban liberals. Then he says NAFTA and similar trade agreements drained small towns of the businesses and manufacturers that could sustain a thriving middle class. And then for Appalachian communities, there’s the added burden of the decline of coal.

“When you have an industry like coal that starts to go down, all the industries that may have built up around it start to go down too,” Hayes says. “So really what you have is a wholesale change of the economic culture over about 15 to 20 years.”

So it’s no surprise, according to Hayes, that eastern Kentuckians have lined up behind Trump. Hayes says they believe what Trump promises because they are downtrodden and they’re scared about their futures. He argues that people in Appalachia wouldn’t give their support to the Republican if they felt like Democrats truly listened to their concerns.

Hayes says he thinks rural America will eventually reach equilibrium if economic opportunities start returning to small towns. But for that to happen Hayes says the government will have to take significant steps to steer industrial development to those areas.

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Season 11 Episodes

Mitch McConnell on Politics

S11 E49 Length 28:04 Premiere Date 12/19/16

Speaker-Elect Jeff Hoover

S11 E48 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 12/19/16

Kentucky Harm Reduction Coalition

S11 E46 Length 28:21 Premiere Date 12/18/16

Former Congressman Barney Frank

S11 E45 Length 28:36 Premiere Date 12/11/16

Kentucky Youth Advocates

S11 E44 Length 29:02 Premiere Date 11/20/16

Ramez Naam and Seth Siegel

S11 E43 Length 27:31 Premiere Date 11/13/16

Former U.S. Sen. Tom Daschle

S11 E42 Length 27:35 Premiere Date 11/06/16

Kentucky Book Fair Preview

S11 E41 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 10/30/16

U.S. Sen Rand Paul

S11 E40 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 10/23/16

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray

S11 E39 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 10/16/16

U.S. Rep. Andy Barr

S11 E38 Length 28:00 Premiere Date 10/09/16

Nancy Jo Kemper

S11 E37 Length 27:46 Premiere Date 10/02/16

Gary Gregg; Daniel Hayes

S11 E36 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 09/25/16

Adam Edelen and Matt Jones

S11 E35 Length 27:51 Premiere Date 09/17/16

Ky. Labor Secretary Derrick Ramsey

S11 E34 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 09/11/16

Stephen Pruitt on Education Policy

S11 E32 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 08/28/16

Work Ready Skills Initiative

S11 E31 Length 27:52 Premiere Date 08/21/16

Mary Matalin and James Carville

S11 E30 Length 27:18 Premiere Date 08/14/16

BBC Anchor Katty Kay

S11 E29 Length 29:02 Premiere Date 08/07/16

Fancy Farm 2016 Preview

S11 E28 Length 28:36 Premiere Date 07/31/16

Kentucky's Open Records Law

S11 E27 Length 27:51 Premiere Date 07/24/16

Kentucky's Medicaid Waiver

S11 E26 Length 28:16 Premiere Date 07/17/16

The Future of Agribusiness

S11 E25 Length 27:32 Premiere Date 07/09/16

Sen. Mitch McConnell's Memoir

S11 E24 Length 29:46 Premiere Date 07/03/16

Oral Health Integration

S11 E23 Length 28:42 Premiere Date 06/19/16

Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak

S11 E22 Length 28:26 Premiere Date 06/12/16

Pearse Lyons and Family

S11 E21 Length 28:51 Premiere Date 06/05/16

"Dreamland" Author Sam Quinones

S11 E20 Length 29:31 Premiere Date 05/29/16

Rethinking Pain Treatment

S11 E19 Length 27:11 Premiere Date 05/22/16

Drug Czar Michael Botticelli

S11 E18 Length 29:01 Premiere Date 05/15/16

Drug Addiction and the Brain

S11 E17 Length 27:41 Premiere Date 05/08/16

Kentucky's Opioid Abuse Epidemic

S11 E16 Length 29:01 Premiere Date 05/01/16

David Adkisson and Jason Bailey

S11 E15 Length 28:16 Premiere Date 04/24/16

Ben Chandler on Baseball and Family

S11 E14 Length 27:47 Premiere Date 04/17/16

Highlights from the Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit

S11 E13 Length 29:06 Premiere Date 04/10/16

Allison Ball and Ryan Quarles

S11 E12 Length 28:16 Premiere Date 04/02/16

Author Fenton Johnson

S11 E11 Length 27:31 Premiere Date 03/27/16

Rep. Sannie Overly

S11 E9 Length 28:06 Premiere Date 02/28/16

Kentucky's Republican Presidential Caucus

S11 E8 Length 27:51 Premiere Date 02/21/16

Education Secretary Hal Heiner

S11 E7 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 02/14/16

Presidential Politics in Kentucky

S11 E6 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 02/07/16

Gov. Bevin on Budget Proposals

S11 E5 Length 27:31 Premiere Date 01/29/16

Postsecondary Education Funding

S11 E4 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 01/24/16

House Speaker Greg Stumbo

S11 E3 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 01/17/16

Mitch McConnell on 2016

S11 E2 Length 28:31 Premiere Date 01/10/16

Senate President Robert Stivers

S11 E1 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 01/03/16

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