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Frmr Congressman Lee Hamilton at the APPAM luncheon
© Sophia Guevara, Wayne State University

Lee Hamilton: Academic Information Important at the Policymaking Table

November 19, 2013 12:00 PM

By Sophia Guevara, Wayne State University

On Thursday, I had the opportunity to attend the luncheon session held with Lee Hamilton. Mr. Hamilton has extensive experience in Congress and was selected to share the valuable knowledge he had gained during his extensive career. As an experienced policymaker and negotiator, Mr. Hamilton provided valuable insight that helped attendees better understand the needs of policymakers and stressed the importance of the information that academics bring to the policymaking table.

Providing his perspective on the thinking of a policy maker, Hamilton suggested that one should not stand in awe of them. The policymaker may or may not be elected and may have a substantial reputation, but this doesn’t make the person infallible. With this being said, some of the most pressing questions the policy maker may want answers to include:

  • What is known and what is not known?
  • When considering an issue, is it necessary to take up the problem at all?
  • How urgent is it to make a decision?
  • What problems can and cannot be solved?
  • What are the barriers to progress and the anticipated consequences?

Along with providing the crucial information to the policy maker, Hamilton stressed that the policy maker may also be more interested in how you communicate the solution as this can be very important. In either case, he emphasized the importance of facts. While facts by themselves may not solve the issue they remove a lot of questions. In addition, facts and impartial analysis are essential to the voter, something that is very important to the elected policy maker. As someone with extensive negotiation experience, he let the audience know that once you get people to agree on the facts, it is amazing the kind of consensus you can get from a group.

As a student, I truly appreciated the opportunity to gain value from the lessons Mr. Hamilton provided.

 

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