Recap of Overby Event 2/27

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Partisan divisions are standing in the way of America’s influence in international affairs.

In a jointly-sponsored program by the Lott Leadership Institute and the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics, General Wesley K. Clark, former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, and Overby Center chairman Charles Overby joined in a discussion on Feb. 27 in the Overby Auditorium.

Retired U.S. Army General Clark spent 34 years in the military. He served as the Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO, as well as worked with Ambassador Richard Holbrooke in the Dayton Peace Process. Clark also launched a presidential campaign in 2003 for the 2004 Democratic Party presidential primaries.

Founded in 2019 by General Clark, Renew America Together aims to reduce partisan division and revitalize political discourse in America. 

“They’re looking for leadership, but most of all they’re looking for a way to communicate and stop the ugliness that’s in American life,” Clark said. “Reasonable people can disagree. It doesn’t mean they’re enemies.”

Clark further emphasized that partisan division is dividing America’s global influence as well as its perceived military power. He said President Joe Biden ought to be a stronger voice on the world stage.

“If I were advising the president, I would say ‘This is a perfect issue for you. Stand up and be the leader for America and show military strength,'” Clark said. 

Senator Trent Lott represented Mississippi in the House of Representatives from 1973 to 1989 and in the Senate from 1989 to 2007. He attended the University of Mississippi where he obtained a degree in public administration as well as a Juris doctor degree. 

With more than three decades of experience working in Washington, D.C., Lott has learned to appreciate communication.

“They don’t talk a lot, and I learned to appreciate comradery,” Lott said. “When I get in an elevator in Washington (D.C.), I talk in the elevator.”

Clark advised students to reach out and build relationships with their peers.

“I think you just got to reach out, take the initiative, and do everything you can to build a relationship with your contemporaries,” Clark said. “You just never know what’s going to happen, who’s going to help you, who you’re going to find meaning from, [and] who you’re going to learn from. I think you have to really look laterally as well as up.”