Master of Public Affairs candidate’17
At the beginning of the semester in Proseminar of American Politics, our professor told us that Chris Matthews of MSNBC’s HARDBALL would be guest lecturing sometime in November. As time got closer the arrival of Matthews expanded to a reception, a breakfast event and two lectures. We were all pretty excited.
Then the terror attack in Paris on November 13th changed everything. While we collectively mourned for those lives lost and changed forever, we knew that our time in class would change as well.
(Artist: Jean Jullien)
Due to safety concerns Chris Matthews was unable to join our class in person. But as a testament to what an amazing person he is, Professor Matthews decided to join our class via video chat. Leading up to our discussion we read his book, Kennedy and Nixon, The Rivalry that Shaped Postwar America, so we were prepared to chat about the political history of the U.S and what it looks like today. But what we go was so much more.
From the minute Chris Matthews sat down in front of the computer he captivated our class. He didn’t just lecture at us, he talked with us. He wanted to know what we thought and how we felt. Professor Matthews’ has an impressive ability to talk about complicated politics like it’s a story. His wealth of knowledge taught me so much about the details that are sometimes hard to find when you read a book or the newspaper. Matthews adds humor and personality to stories that otherwise depress us e.g. gridlock in D.C., political scandals and shady officials. Being a millennial means I wasn’t around during the post Cold War time in America, I don’t know what it feels like to experience air raid drills in school but Matthews is a product of that era. It informs his understanding of politics and thus it provides our class a context for understanding a world that we didn’t live in.
For me, Chris Matthews is the kind of person I could listen to forever. His undeniable intelligence combined with his honesty and humor make everything he says interesting! Clearly it shouldn’t surprise anyone why his TV show is so successful. Most impressive to me was the sense that if he can work as many hours as he does (he joined us after his work day at 9:00pm EST) read as much as he does and learn as much as he does, then I too can balance everything I have to do and I should never complain because I get to do what I love.
As we wrapped up our conversation, I felt hopeful about the future of politics. Professor Matthews reminded me that it is within the power of my generation to make change and create the kind of world we want to live in. I can only imagine how inspired we would all be if Chris Matthews had joined us in person. Hopefully he joins us again and we will continue to learn from him.