Moderator Hugh Moore, who is the Associate Dean, Center for Business, Management & Entrepreneurship at Seminole State, guided the conversation, often asking questions of both the audience and panel of four experts gathered for the dialogue. The audience was also able to ask questions of their own. According to the Seminole State website, students and faculty are encouraged to express “different perspectives and share thoughts” on the particular issues being covered in each dialogue. After being introduced, each panelist shared their thoughts on political mudslinging, based on their experience.
“I saw what happens to a country when 16 million people have no rights and 3 million people have all the rights.” said panelist Ann Hellmuth, “I believe very, very strongly about what America has.”
Hellmuth is on the Board of Directors of the League of Women Voters and formally was the Deputy Managing Editor for the Orlando Sentinel as well journalist who worked for the Associated Press and several other news organizations. She referred to her time covering Nelson Mandela in South Africa as very influential on her opinions of the American political process.
Florida Campus Compact’s website describes organization as advancing “the civic purposes of colleges and universities by deepening their ability to improve community life and to educate students for civic and social responsibility.” Hosting the Civic Dialogues at Seminole State is one way it is trying to accomplish that.
Many opinions were expressed during the dialogue, though there was a near unanimous agreement that politicians should be held responsible for what their campaign and supporters say about their opponent. It was also pointed out, however, that the voters have a responsibility to be informed.
Not that coming to a consensus was necessary. The point Civic Dialogues is meant for students and faculty at Seminole State to have a constructive conversation about civic topics, not for one opinion to win out over another.
“It’s not what people are doing, it’s why” the moderator Hugh Moore said after the dialogue, “let’s debate why all this stuff is going on.”