Summary of the town hall “Implications of the 2012 US Presidential Election” at the 2012 Annual Members’ Conference.

Senator Chuck Hagel, Chairman, Atlantic Council
Moderated by Mr. Frederick Kempe, President and CEO, Atlantic Council

During the first town hall of the fourth Annual Members’ Conference, Senator Hagel discussed the 2012 presidential and congressional races, the prospects for further gridlock on Capitol Hill, and the implications of the presidential election on foreign policy and American power. The discussion, moderated by Atlantic Council President and CEO Frederick Kempe, highlighted the need for US leaders to grapple with new realities and unprecedented challenges in the 21st century. Key topics included: 

The volatility of elections. Although the race will eventually open up, it could remain tight and thus unpredictable until after the debates. Among the three key drivers of elections (momentum, trends, and turnout), turnout is key, particularly as the demographics within the United States continue to shift. In the next few years, solid red or blue states could flip completely due to increased voter turnout, immigration, and a shift to a minority-majority country.  

The importance of Congress. Every four years, Congressional races tend to be overshadowed by the presidential. Who we elect to serve the populace in Congress is incredibly important. Over the next decade, we should expect a more assertive Congress. Although highly polarized today, we will break through the partisan lines for real results. This is particularly true as the freshman class elected in 2010 (the largest number of freshmen congressmen in decades) continue to grow in understanding of the legislative process.

Foreign policy in the 21st century. Although the United States will continue to refocus its resources towards the Asia-Pacific region, the country cannot and will not focus on only one region of the world. Particularly today, our relationship with Europe is more important than ever, and our role in the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America is essential to promote economic freedom and international security.