4 Oct

David Kohn

Kohn is the Executive Director of Public Affairs at the Union League Club in Chicago. The Union League Club offers a way for members to practice civic involvement, both nationally and locally. David directs the club’s public policy work and acts as a liaison to many levels of government. His role is similar to that of a lobbyist, only he advocates for the positions that the club has taken on a wide range of issues.

Q: What role do groups such as yours play in elections?

A: We host candidate forums for those seeking office at the local, state and federal levels; we also work with organizations like the Chicago Bar Association and League of Women Voters to help educate voters about the candidates and the political process.

Q: How important are debates to the election process?

A: Very important. In my view, those seeking public office have an obligation to come before the voters, answer questions and make a case for their candidacy.  Conducting political campaigns entirely via direct mail, radio and TV advertising is not sufficient.

Q: How has campaigning changed over the years, and how do you think that affects election outcomes?

A: This is a very important question and merits a much lengthier response, but the quick summary is this: political campaigns over the years have strayed further and further from substantive discussion of the issues that confront us and are increasingly characterized by negative attacks intended to demonize and attack the character of one’s opponent. While it is commonly accepted that negative campaigns ‘work,’ at the bottom line they increase cynicism among citizens and further alienate people from their government.

Lisa Klein

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