Former Senator Bob Bennett was the keynote speaker at the latest University of Utah Business Alumni Association luncheon held at the University Guest House. About 80 alumni and students had a chance to hear from Bennett as he discussed the current political climate and his thoughts on the changes that need to be made.

Bennett, a self-proclaimed Pollyanna, says that though the political times we are in now seem desperate, they are far from the worst we’ve seen. History shows there was a time that politics were in such turmoil that it caused the country to be split, which led to years of deep anger and damaging policies. “Today, it’s not the gridlock that is the problem, but what’s behind the issues that is the bigger problem.”

Bennett explains that the problem, as he sees it, has two components; the first being the constant news cycle. It used to be that in a 6-year term you had two years to be a statesman, two years to do your job and two years to campaign. Now, because of the perpetual campaign, politicians are concerned with what the media covers and are hesitant to cooperate because they don’t want to upset their base.

In his 16 years as a senator, he saw first-hand that politicians took the opportunity to collaborate and compromise when the heat of the campaign was in the distance. Today, politicians on both sides of the aisle don’t feel they can risk appearing too far from the party line because it could affect a campaign years in the distance. In today’s digital age, everything a politician does is reported by the mainstream media, as well as bloggers and s