Kozak closes forum with take on 2012 election


Lori HumphreysStaff Writer

Talk about political coincidence.

On Saturday, two days before the Republican National Convention begins, Chautauqua’s own political observer and commentator David Kozak will analyze “The Campaign and Elections of 2012” at the 3 p.m. Contemporary Issues Forum in the Hall of Philosophy.

Kozak will take the microphone for his 25th year sharing his nonpartisan, informative take on the annual political scene. This is his seventh presidential election, and he describes the 2012 election as “one for the books.” Kozak describes the current political environment as a time of governing without majorities in an era of ill feeling, affected by stunning historical events amid challenging problems he called “wicked.”

Kozak will discuss the importance of both the Republican and Democratic conventions and would argue they are relevant for the maintenance of a national party. He said that the appointment of Rep. Paul Ryan as the Republican vice presidential candidate is the last major surprise in the campaign.

“(The convention) is the glue that holds the national parties together. They are not held for public entertainment,” he said. “They also tell us who might be running in four years.”

He suggests a good subtitle for his presentation is “America in Search of Itself, 1956–1980,” a compilation of author Theodore White’s election histories. Kozak believes that the election will be defining and close, which is not news. He also believes it will be “uninspiring with low voter turnout,” which might be.

His presentation includes a handout listing the historic features which form the backdrop of this election. One of them is “running mate hopefully will do no harm.”

As Chautauquan audiences know, a Kozak presentation would not be one unless there was an optimistic take on the election.

“The candidates will be forced by the debates to come up with a platform that addresses the issues,” he said.

Kozak is a professor of public policy and director of the Institute for Policy and Leadership Studies at Gannon University in Erie, Pa. He is a visiting professor at the United States Military Academy at West Point, served as a congressional fellow and program chair for the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress. His talk is a natural culmination to the Week Nine theme, “The Presidents Club,” which explores past presidential relationships.

Kozak’s snapshot is in the future perfect.

Today’s presentation is also a personal landmark. On the 25th day of August, Kozak will make his 25th appearance at Chautauqua. Happy anniversary, David Kozak!