Sister Simone Campbell: Mending the gaps

March 9, 2016 1:15:00
Kaltura Video

Sister Simone Campbell talks about Pope Francis' challenge to mending the gaps as well as discuss her own policy proposals. March, 2016.


>> Susan M. Collins: I'd like to thank the non-profit and public management center and their director, Marina Wittman and Megan Tompkins-Stange for co-sponsoring our event today. And I'd also like to thank St Mary's Parish for helping us to host today's very special guest. While policy talks at the Ford School aims to create a very full picture of the policy making process, throughout the year we have heard from presidential cabinet members, from state and local politicians and activates, from ambassadors, political scientists, and more. Today, I'm really delighted to include a highly respected voice from the heart of non-profit, religious, and social justice persuasion on the US legislative process, Sister Simone Campbell. Sister Simone belongs to the Catholic Sisters of Social Service. She is also a lawyer, lobbyist, and activist and since 2000 she has led Network, a national catholic social justice lobby focused on economic justice, immigration reform, health care, peacemaking, and ecology. Network's Nun's Letter to Congress was instrumental in the reform of national health care in 2010 and despite provoking a very harsh critique from the Vatican, the nun's efforts prevailed. The Affordable Care Act as we well know was signed into law [laughing] and Sister Simone stood right next to President Obama at the signing ceremony. This experience inspired Sister Simone to create Nun's on the Bus, which, on the one hand, is exactly what it sounds like. Nuns tour the country on a bus in service of the Catholic Church's commitment to social justice. Beyond that, though, it's really a brilliant strategy for connecting with thousands of Americans around the country and pressuring politicians for change in social policy. Since 2013, they've tackled a number of critical policy issues including immigration reform, voter turnout, and wealth inequality. And many of these are issues on which Sister Simone will elaborate in her lecture today. Well, following Sister Simone's remarks, we will take questions from the audience. So, at around 4:30 or so, we will have staff members in the aisles to collect questions. Please write them on cards that you should have received as you came in. They'll also have other cards to distribute if anyone needs one. And we will also welcome questions for those of us watching online via Twitter. Please use the hashtag policy talks. Professor Ann Lin together with two Ford School Students, Carson Smith and Brenda Duverce, will facilitate the question and answer period when we get there. So, now, please join me in a very warm Ford School welcome to Sister Simone Campbell.

[ Applause ]

>> Sister Simone Campbell: Thank you. What a treat to be here. I was thinking as I was coming that the utter richness of being able to spend some time reflecting on policy in a time where the practice of public policy is so challenging. And I know you all survived primary yesterday so I just want to acknowledge that the up-close reality of politics is quite near and dear to my heart and to all of us at this point as we're struggling through the presidential cycle. But I want to talk more about the policies that are what we say in DC are more about how our people live and the flourishing of our nation than I want to talk about the partisan divides that are going on. Part of me feels like I just want to put my head under the covers some days. I don't know if any of you share that pain. But there's got to be a better way than this. But, let's focus on the needs of our people and I think that can make the difference. So, the theme is Pope Francis's challenge to policy makers, mend the gap. I had the opportunity to be in the congressional chambers when Pope Francis addressed Congress. I was in the front row. It was really cool. The gallery. It was this amazing thing of somewhat of a harmonious congress. And the parties had agreed that no one party would -- that they would all applaud. They didn't want to make partisan campaigning around Pope Francis's talk. And so the first few things that Pope Francis said was about the economy, a critique of the economy. And the democrats jumped up and applauded. And you could see the republicans get up slowly and applauded. And then the, you know, that happened a couple of times. And then Pope Francis said the code word, that's why we're for the dignity of all life. And the republicans jumped up and applauded and the democrats got up slowly. But then Pope Francis said, "And that's why I've made my papacy about the global abolition of the death penalty." And it was like a wind in the room because everybody went [sighing] and that collective reality created this vacuum. I mean it was amazing. But what I realized was that Pope Francis's focus on the needs of real people and the needs of the common good create a politics that is not [inaudible] that is not partisan. He creates a space where his focus is on the needs of those who are left out. And so in the recent -- well, I guess it's about almost a year now, the encyclical Laudato Si, there's a lot of conversation about how it's about the environment, it's about economics. But the amazing thing is it's also about politics because there are 32 paragraphs out of 200 and some where he discusses the political responsibility. And in paragraph 57 he says that, "Politics must pay greater attention to foreseeing new conflicts and addressing the causes which can lead to them. But powerful financial interests prove most resistant to this effort. And political planning tends to lack breadth of vision." And then he goes on to say, "What would induce anyone at this stage to hold on to power only to be remembered for their inability to take action when it was urgent and necessary to do so?" I believe that's the Speaker Boehner clause. That explains a fair amount of what happened when Speaker Boehner reasoned the next day after -- or said he was reasoning the next day after Pope Francis was in -- addressing Congress. So, for me, what that challenges us to be is to be a nation where politics has a broader view, where we see the consequences of policy not just in terms of me and mine, but in terms of we and the common good, where we reclaim our constitution to be we the people. Now, in the Great Depression, there appears to have been a commonality, a sense of coming together, where the extreme wealth of the 20s, the Roaring 20s, got balanced out and people came together. And my mother used to tell this story about her dad who ran a newspaper, a weekly newspaper, in Colorado. And the Arora Democrat. And he received in barter, payment for ads. Now, my mother, to her dying day, detested movies because my grandfather was paid by -- for the ads for the movies by tickets to go see the movie. And my grandmother said, "Of course we have to go be an audience for the person who ran the theatre. We're going to the movies." So, they used every single theatre -- or to the movies ticket that they got and my mother detested it because every day, according to her memory of her youth, they went to the movies. She hated it. But what it taught me was that my grandmother wasn't so much concerned about the quality of payment and what that was good. She knew that by being paid with tickets, that the owner of the theatre needed an audience. And she knew her responsibility was to help make an audience. So, he -- the owner felt like he was doing something for the community. It's a level of the common good which is not usually thought of these days. And the challenge I believe is to reframe who we are as a nation. And I'm a Californian. Many of you know that. And we exported -- I'm sorry to say -- one of our governors to be president in the great campaign of 1980. We exported Ronald Reagan who had this idea of -- who actually successfully rewrote the founding story of the US. By -- in my view -- by coming to this idea that one lone horseman -- a man -- rode off into the west and settled the west all by himself. Now, I watched television and I know there were wagon trains west. It was more than one person because if you only had one wagon even and somebody hollered, "Circle the wagons," you had trouble. And I also know that, for barn raisings, that we had more than one person -- if only one person showed up, well, you weren't going to raise much of a barn. And I know from personal experience that when it came to quilting, I had a quilt I worked on for over five years and I finally decided, "Oh my glory, let's finish the damn thing." I got my friends together to do it. You couldn't quilt alone. It required community. And the challenge that we're facing in our nation right now is that we've changed the story of our nation from community to an individual, to each one of us alone. And only in the richest nation on earth could we get away with this arrogance. And what we're trying to do is to -- what I believe Pope Francis is challenging us to do -- is to mend the gaps, to bridge the divides, to bring us back together to the truth that we're based in community. Now, what I've discovered in community is that we don't all agree. Have you noticed that? That we have some very different perspectives and the challenge that we face is how do we bring these different perspectives to the table? So, in this effort, Pope Francis in Joy of the Gospel, which was a document he -- document he issued in November of '13 I believe. In paragraph 54 he does his economic analysis. And since the Ford School is so engaged in the economics of all of this, I thought I should include it. He said that -- Pope Francis says, "Some people continue to defend trickle down theories, which assume that economic growth encouraged by a free market will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power. And in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile -- meanwhile the excluded are still waiting." This is the problem that we're facing in our society. Is that trickle down -- 30 years of trickle down, 40 years of trickle down has failed to lift all boats. It's lifted the boats of the few. And the boats of the few continue to amass more and more money. And then we have translated money into speech. And so money into speech now controls our political reality. To bridge -- to mend the gaps, we have got to bridge the divides that have been created by a failed effort of trickledown economics. What's the alternative? Hmm. Some people like to tell me, "Oh, it's socialism. That's the only thing." No. There's a long way between trickle down and socialism. And I think that's some of the challenge of academic institutions is to figure out ways forward. So, I'd like to raise up a few of the stories that I've heard as we've done these business roundtables around the country. I talk about the 100%. We're trying to be for the 100%. I have a favorite part of the 100%, but I want to be for the 100%. So, I realized in 2014 that we didn't know much about business. I'm a lawyer. I practice law. I ran a law office. But that's not exactly the, you know, sort of entrepreneurial, but I wanted to understand the entrepreneurial reality more. And so we did these 13 business roundtables around the country and learned some very interesting things. The one in Chicago, which was early on in the process, it had just come out before that roundtable that the average salary for a CEO of a publicly traded company was $10,000,000 a year. And that they were going for 11,000,000. So, I had this gaggle of, you know, entrepreneurs and hedge fund guys and heads of corporations and so I said to them -- they were all men and I said to them, "Well, you know, I heard this about the average CEO salary of 10,000,000 and that they're going for 11,000,000. I don't quite understand. Is it that you're not getting by on 10,000,000? Is that the problem? You just need a little extra? Is that the deal?" And this guy said really quickly -- Rich said to me, "Oh, no, Sister Simone. It's not about the money!" And I go, "What? You could have fooled me." And he said, "No. We're very competitive. We want to win. It just happens that the current measure of winning is money." Now, I tested it out at other roundtables after that and it got affirmed. One guy in Northern Virginia, I'll never forget. He heads up a -- a what do you call -- a hospitality industry corporation. And they have over 400 hotels around the world. And he's the CEO and he said, "Oh, that's absolutely true. I'll be damned if I'm paid less than my competitor when I'm doing a better job for my company. Why would I do that? That's wrong." Hugh. OK. I can see it's wrong. But the competitive salaries, this measure of winning, couldn't we find some other measure that's a little less toxic for the people who are doing the cleaning or the janitorial work? How do we bridge -- how do we yet win and -- here -- I am a lawyer. So, I'm extremely competitive. I don't play board games because I'm a sore loser. So, you -- I get competition! But what I don't get is competition with a measure that can be so toxic in our society. At another -- at another roundtable we were talking and this one guy volunteered -- we did that riff and he volunteered that he was getting upset. He's a 35 year old. He built his 3rd corporation. He was about ready to sell it off because he was going to be a new dad and he wanted to have time with his new baby. But he said he was getting upset because he realized that he paid all of his workers a living wage. And in paying a living wage, he realized his tax dollars were going to fund his competitors. So, I go, "What?" his competitors don't pay a living wage to everybody. They pay low wages. And so his competitors have lower personnel costs. Lower personnel costs then causes those low paid workers to go use the social safety net, which used to be just for folks who fell on hard times. And so the low wage workers were going to use things like food stamps, Medicaid, and housing vouchers if they could get them. And what they -- what Jason, this Entrepreneur said, he realized his tax dollars were paying for the social safety net. So, his tax dollars were funding his competitors who could underbid him. But he, in principle, believed he should pay a living wage. Well, I never thought of it that way. I came to realize that our current social safety net's become a business subsidy. As much as it is for people who've fallen on hard times. In 2014, 67% of the people who used any of the social safety net programs, 67%, had at least -- those households -- had at least one adult working full-time. We've got trouble. So, I raised that at other business roundtables and this one guy said to me -- in Denver, this guy says, "Well. Yeah. If you take an edge, why wouldn't you get it? Why wouldn't you take it?" And where were we? In -- oh, shoot. Where were we? I can see the room, but I don't remember where we were [laughing]. Oh! In Richmond, Virginia. We're there and this guy said, "Well, you know, if you don't make us internalize costs, we won't." Internalize cost. Becomes code words for paying a living wage. I always thought the idea of the market was that the market charged a rate that covered it -- the fees, the costs covered actual costs. But we've changed that to the market being about profit. And anything you do to create profit is what matters. That is eating the heart out of our democracy because it's not like we're in this together. OK. So, what do we do? Network has this new effort. We are trying to mend the gaps. And it's kind of fun in a time of paralyzed politics that we create a chance to do something positive. So, we've got seven policies that we're working on to mend the gaps. And I'll just treat them briefly and then you can ask me questions about it. But we've realized that we have got to find a way to come together as people, as business, workers, families, us non-profits, us advocates, everybody. We've got to find a way to have conversation about the commons, about the contribution to the commons. And we're now setting up for a -- or Speaker Ryan is setting up for a big effort of tax reform 2017. And in that conversation, we have got to be clear about tax policy for the common good. And the common good means that it's good for Jason and Rich, the Entrepreneur, but also good for Robin who works full-time at a profitable clothing store chain but still tells me that by looking at her I would never know that she still has to live in a homeless shelter because she doesn't make enough at minimum wage to pay rent in the DC area. We have got to make sure that everyone's voice is at the table. Part of the challenge of that is that private industry hires pesky lobbyists. Since I'm a lobbyist I -- I'm a lobbyist and a lawyer so I can make noise about pesky lobbyists. But what we discovered was is that most regulations, most proposed laws start off very simple. And what happens is is business hires lobbyists and lobbyists are very effective to carve out a little space, a little special gift. Making sure that my industry is considered specially. Then, in that carve out it creates five, 10 more pages of regulation to create the carve out. And if everybody's getting their little carve out, by the time you get through with permanent regulations, you've had very successful lawyering has created this small little regulation into a message regulation. And then you know what business has the nerve to do? Rail against the regulation! Well, at the business roundtable, we discovered that the complexity of regulation is created by effective lobbying. Which business hired to create their little separate entity? And then they rail against their result. In the tax process, we have got to find a way for everyone to be at the table. We've got to find a way where we see our tax dollars as investment in our future. And we have got to see our way that part of our responsibility to the future is that we invest not just for ourselves, but for our posterity as it says in the constitution. Tax policy is going to be the center -- the ground zero in a military metaphor. Of trying to create the common good. Let's have more conversation about that. The second piece that we've got to work on is wages and organizing. Michigan's a great state for this. You all led the way we good wages, good jobs, labor organizing. That got undermined. Again, by beloved President Reagan who very effectively put a wedge between the worker and the unions. Some of what he said was true. But the problem was that it wasn't because they were unions that they were bad. It was because they were humans they were bad. And so, as a person of faith, I talk about original sin. And that seems to be the stumbling block. So, what we -- and nobody talks about the -- well, some people do, but not terribly effectively -- the flaws of corporations. At that very same time, Reagan was lifting up corporations as being a great one, you know, leaders of corporation, leaders of industry, competence of industry. And putting a wedge between the worker and the union. That effectively kept wages flat for the last 40 years. We've got to change that reality. Either through unions, through organizing, through something that raises wages. Because, for me, it's wrong that you work in the richest nation on earth full-time and you still live in poverty. That's wrong. While the leader of your corporation that you're contributing to collects $10,000,000 and is going for 11. The $10,000,000 a year number works out at 40 hours -- works out to be $5,000 an hour. So the CEO makes in three hours what the minimum wage worker makes in a year. Doesn't seem right to me. It's not good for our society. And it's creating the huge gaps and the huge anger that's currently being seen in the electorate. I believe. So, we've got to deal with wages. And, finally, we've got to create -- well, on the economics side, we've got to create family friendly workplaces. The fact is if we're going to value our families, we cannot just be seen as cogs in the wheels of production. Work in Catholic social teaching, which is what we're rooted in, work is supposed to be at the service of humans, not humans at the service of work. So, that means pesky details like, hmm, perhaps fast food workers ought to have some paid time off for sick days. Do you know without paid time off, desperate low wage workers in fast food industry have a tendency to come to work so they can have their hours and support their families even if they're sick? I don't know about you, but I don't think that's a great public health model. Please? Keep your germs at home! But desperate people will do what they need. That's just wrong. Simple, wrong. So, at least paid sick time makes the most sense. So, those are our economic ones. Then we've also got access gaps. Access gaps that are sucking the life out of our democracy. The first one is access to voting. All of the work that's being done to drive people away from the polls. I mean, some of us were wonks. We're at the Ford School, so of course we care about this stuff. But the fact is not everybody shares our passion. And we were door knocking in the 2014 election when we were on the bus. Knocked on a lot of doors in a lot of places but I will never forget knocking on this one door in Colorado Springs, a conservative area. A tall African American young man comes to the door, opens the door, and we get talking. And turns out he's a disabled vet. So, either Iraq or Afghanistan. I don't know. And he was getting good support from the VA. And then I said to him, "Well, I'm out door knocking to see if people are going to vote. And so are you going to vote?" It blew my mind. He said no he was not going to vote. You put your life on the line for our nation and you're not going to vote? And what he said chilled my heart. "My opinion is not wanted in this neighborhood." Colorado Springs, a white community, didn't want this African American to vote even though he had put his life on the line for the nation. We have got to stand up for real democracy, which means even the people I disagree with have a chance to vote. The other thing that we found on the 2014 but trip was how negative advertising drives away the muddled middle, the folks who are not the base. Negative advertising causes people to end up saying, "A pox on both their houses. I don't know. Too complicated. Way beyond me. I'm not voting." Do you know our bus driver, 74 year old Bill Khan [assumed spelling] told me on the last bus trip in the fall, in September, "Well, Sister Simone. I'm going to vote for the first time this year." "Bill, you've been driving our bus and you haven't voted?" "Nope. I haven't voted. It's kind of complicated." And then he said to me, "Want to know who I'm going to vote for?" "Oh, Bill." And he's kind of conservative so I was like, "Oh, Bill. I'm not sure I want to know. Do you want to tell me?" "Oh, yeah. I want to tell you. Well, I'm going to vote for Donald Trump." "Oh, Bill. Please." And so, holy curiosity I tried to be concerned and not judgmental, always inviting everybody to the table. So, I said, "Well, Bill. Why are you going to do that?" "Well, I want somebody who can't be bought. The man is richer than God and can't be bought." And I thought, well, that's -- that's a good reason. I wouldn't have learned the reason if I had done what my insides wanted to do which was say, "God, NO!" But what I learned was, in complex times, simple emotion grabs people. And what we have to do, those of us who care wonkishly about all this stuff, we have to find another way to translate and connect. Because that emotion doesn't translate well into policy. And so how do we make a difference? So, we need to access to democracy. We need access to health care. Health care's a mess. The Affordable Care Act is a significant step forward. But states that have not expanded Medicaid, their health care systems are in crisis. And one of the things that I began -- that I heard from half of the business roundtables. Volunteered -- I didn't ask this question. But business leaders said that we've really got to move away from employer provided health care. We need to move towards a Medicare for all model. Which was surprising to me. Shocking to me because in the '09, 2010 fight, business was totally opposed to a Medicare for all model. But what they're finding is, the administration and the cost is still crippling and problematic. But I think that evidence is that if we listen to each other, we can find places of convergence and improvement. The third area is on immigration reform. We've got to solve this immigration issues of our time. The fact is the exploitation of the immigrant worker is undermining wages, undermining our society, and creating fear in our communities. We have a young woman who's a dreamer, you know, who was brought here as a young child and how has a DACA, a deferral of deportation. And so she works at Network and to hear her passion for fixing immigration reform so that her parents can have the same security that she has. And then talking with her, they've been here 18 years without going back to Mexico. She doesn't know Mexico at all. She came when she was three years old. And her parents have worked this entire time. And then her parents have also experienced wage theft, exploitation, but because they are undocumented, they won't complain. That's wrong in the richest nation on earth. It's wrong in any nation, but especially the richest nation. And finally our policies -- our proactive policy is housing. We've got to fix our housing policy. Housing is at the heart of a bunch of other policies. Housing is at the heart of our education system because that's how we fund our education is through property tax. A nutty system, but it's the one we've got. Housing is at the heart of the fact that we're segregated, we're resegregated. Housing's at the heart of the fact that our economic segregation is almost even worse than our racial segregation. We're better than this. We can make a change. And housing is at the heart of some of our biggest problems around transportation. In San Antonio, at the business roundtable there, I was told -- San Antonio did a study. They need 300,000 units of low and moderate income housing in the next 10 years. And they have no plan on how to get there. Because their state government is fighting so much with the feds, they won't ask for any help from housing and urban development. So, our city -- San Antonio said, "Could you get us a little provision in the law so we could negotiate directly with the feds because our people are suffering?" But this is where the polarization is hurting everyone. We have got to find ways to build bridges, to bridge the divide, to transform the reality that's keeping us separate. Because it is that division that is sucking the life out of our economy. It's sucking the life out of our democracy. It's sucking the life out of our nation. So what I believe we see with Donald Trump, and to some extent Cruz, is the anger at being left behind. And what I've released is is often that the source of that anger are middle-class white men, or lower middle-class white men who've never had a movement. There are a bunch of you guys here so you can speak up during the comment part, but -- but folks who feel they've never been part of a movement. We've got the women's movement. We have the LGBTQ movement. We've got the Black Lives Matter. We've got the Hispanic Movement. We got Dreamers. We're got a bunch of movements and quite frankly, I've always thought, as a woman, I've always thought the guys -- the white guys were in charge. But what I've come to realize is the loneliness of that position. Is they never know that we're in it together. And so what Donald Trump in his crass way is doing is touching that hurt and anger and now many feel like they've got someone who's championing them. But it's not a long-term solution because it's dividing us. It's not bringing us together. And democracy cannot survive divided. So, here's my policy idea that I'm planting here at the Ford School to see how you all might be able to pick it up and make it happen. And that is rather than focusing on rights, which has a tendency to divide us, maybe we should focus on civil obligations, that everyone in a democracy has an obligation to participate. Everyone has an obligation to step into the conversation. Everyone has an obligation to bring their part and to stay open to the parts of others. Perhaps this is called heaven. But I do believe -- I do believe we need to get closer to it if we're going to save our democracy. Because right now the jury is still out on whether or not this democracy can be saved in my view. The Greeks apparently had a vibrant democracy for about 200 years. And that as I understand it, mostly through Wikipedia -- so I shouldn't probably admit that -- but is that after about 200 years, the rich families of Athens started fighting. And then after about another 30, 40 years, a rich family sold Athens out to the Macedonians. Now, I'm not sure who the Macedonians are in our system, but I certainly see wealth fighting against each other. I see a division where we don't see the fact that we're in it together, a commonality. And I worry greatly, can we step back into the center. Can we step into our obligation for each other? Because that is what's going to mend the gaps. Is if I hold your concern dearly as I hold my own. If I know you have my back and you know I'll have yours. But we've got to find a way to agree. So, my basic urging is that we create a culture of civic obligations wherein our obligations, we come together and there's room for everyone in that. Because in a democracy, no one can be left out. So, planting seeds. Hoping they take root. So that, once again, here at the Ford School, we can have something flourish, a new time. Thank you very much.

[ Applause ]

Now, for my favorite part.

>> Brenda Duverce: Hi. Thank you so much for speaking to us today. My name is Brenda Duverce and I am a second year graduate student here at the Ford School, a master of public policy program. My interest lies in sociopolocies and poverty alleviation strategies. You spoke a bit about civil -- well, a lot about civic obligation, domestically speaking on Black Lives Matter movement, LGBT movement. But I was wondering, and I guess the audience was also wondering, can you comment a little about our international responsibility for the refugee crisis happening in Europe both in refugees coming to Europe to stay and refugees fleeing Syria?

>> Sister Simone Campbell: Thank you for that. That's an issue really close to my heart. I stayed mostly domestic because that's mostly what we advocate on. But in 2008, I got to go to Biuret, Lebanon and Damascus to see the Iraqi refugee situation. And learned a lot in that setting about the fluidity of borders and the fact that, in the face of violence and crisis, people move. That is true. The part that is driving me nuts is that the US in our specialness fails to see and accept our role in creating the refugee crisis. And that we fail to see that it's been our analysis -- our failed analysis of Middle East politics that has generated this reality. And so from my perspective, we have a responsibility to stand up and welcome the various refugees into our culture, into our society, into our nation. Now, the challenge is, because we feel so special, we don't have a very deep analysis of what's going on. And the reason I think we are in large measure responsible for the current Middle East crisis is because -- it started with the Iraq war, the invasion, under the misguided idea that we were going to go rescue the Iraqis and just happen to save their oil for us. That then it created a huge disequilibrium because whatever you said about Husain is that he had protected religious minorities. And he was not -- they were not organized around religion. They were organized around politics, [inaudible]. And then our analysis, Brenner's analysis, was that it was around religion. So, we imposed in an already complex world our analysis. Which created a new balance of power. That balance of power has never found equilibrium because it was imposed from the outside. And so the same thing is happening in Syria. And when we were in Syria in 2008, I met a Good Shepherd Sisters, they were Syrian. And they have -- had the first shelter for abused women in the Middle East. Had the first hotline for abused women. That Assad had held them up as an example in the Middle East, encouraged other Middle Eastern countries to respond to the needs of battered women in their society. Who knows that? We don't know that. And so when we were thinking about bombing Syria, since we're so effective at the military option, that we reached out to the Good Shepherd Sisters and said, "What do you think? What?" Because we try to base our policies from people on the ground. And Sister Mary Claud [assumed spelling] wrote back and said, "Assad can be trouble. The insurgents are a problem and they make us nervous. But the US terrifies us because you have no idea who we are. Please don't bomb us." So, I say let's deal with the humanitarian crisis. Let's give people food. Let's bring people in. Let's get over our specialness, but let's get some sanity about our international analysis of what's going on so we stop stomping around the world to get what we want. In 25 words or less. That's what I think. Not that I have any feelings on the subject. Good question. Thanks. Go for it.

>> Brenda Duverce: Thank you.

>> Carson Smith: Hi, Sister.

>> Sister Simone Campbell: Hi.

>> Carson Smith: My name's Carson. I'm a undergraduate here at the Ford School, junior year and with a focus on public ethics but also a minor in religion. So.

>> Sister Simone Campbell: Oh, good.

>> Carson Smith: Yeah.

>> Sister Simone Campbell: Glad to hear it.

>> Carson Smith: I also have a question, so a question from the audience. But how does your Zen or contemplative practice inform the policy work you do? And I'll add something else on there which is if there were a spiritual tool or practice you could recommend to policy makers, what would it be?

>> Sister Simone Campbell: Well, you know, actually meditation's at the heart of what I do. Because all of this stuff -- I say is like a snow globe. You know? I'm a Californian so I didn't know snow. I'm not a Michigander. So, the only thing I knew about snow as a kid was that in the snow globe -- is that you shake it up and then all this stuff goes on. Well, meditation is like when you put it down and you let it all sink down. And for one brief shining moment, there's clarity. Occasionally doings and practice, there's clarity. Now -- and the clarity is often about the pieces left out. About the -- the HOLE -- not the WHOLE. The pieces missing. And that, for me, has been the really important for trying to move policy in a way so we don't get caught in our certitude where we can see what's missing. Also, I could say -- you introduced the bus and the bus was a direct response to the Vatican Censure that named us as a bad influence on Catholic sisters. And, but meditation led me to ask the question, "How do we use this moment for mission?" Because four days before the Vatican Censure we'd been asking the question, "How do we let people know we've been doing this?" We had our 40th anniversary party. How do we let people know we've been doing this for 40 years? Who knew the Vatican could answer our prayer? I mean, really. But meditation, rather than -- meditation leads you to not push back, not to fight against, but rather to fight for a vision. At least that's my experience of it. Where all can be included. And so what would I recommend to law makers, that they do meditation. I mean, it opens you up to the fact, I'm not the measure of everything. I'm not in control. And if I accept that, then I need help, I need others. Politicians don't often think they need others. But it's true. They do. So, that'd be my John the Baptist activity, you know the Christian metaphor.

>> Brenda Duverce: Well, since we are in a political season.

>> Sister Simone Campbell: Ah, yes.

>> Brenda Duverce: We have a question from Twitter. In your address to the 2014 Unitary General Assembly, you spoke about walking towards trouble. You've written against Trump's policy as an example of walking towards trouble. What impact do you hope to have on this election?

>> Sister Simone Campbell: Trouble [laughing]. I really think that too often we are tempted in politics to do the collected, the focus group, the -- distilled, refined, sanded down boring stuff. And I think really what's called for in this time is to walk -- to not withdraw, but to engage, to walk towards it. And the fact is -- OK, my community social workers -- and what you do with a bully is you confront them. And quite frankly it appears to me that Donald Trump is acting as the bully in the schoolyard trying to intimidate people. Well, stop it! So, that's what Bishop Carcano, Minerva Carcano is a Methodist bishop and I wrote an op-ed to say stop it. Now, it got some good play. He hasn't stopped it yet, but if I get a chance, I would like to meet with -- we've been trying to meet with the republican candidates because I'd really like to talk to him about this. Why are you doing this? You're better than that. Our nation is better than that. But see what it requires is the willingness to engage. And not write him off. Too easy -- it's too easy to say, "Fluke." I mean that's what's been said for months. Well, it's taking a long time for this fluke to peter out. So, we better get serious about engagement. And that means real conversation. And so that's my walking towards trouble is you don't -- when there is challenge and a problem, you go -- you lean into it. There was all that leaning in for a while. That was weird. But you walk towards it. But that's also the product of meditation is that if you're meditating, we know that we only do our part -- if I'm just doing my part, why should I be afraid? I mean, really. I believe in the Holy Spirit, so the Spirit's in charge. I'll just do the best I can. And some days, poof, lightning strikes and it has an effect. And then there's other days where you write an op-ed and nothing happens. But -- but we do our part. That's what makes a difference. Good question.

>> Carson Smith: So, this next question I'm going to read verbatim from the card. It says, "Why does it seem like Catholic leaders are the ones destroying social justice policy?"

>> Sister Simone Campbell: Yeah! Why does it?

>> Carson Smith: "Paul Ryan's tax policy, Catholic justice's recognition of corporations as people, Wisconsin's governor's destruction of collective bargaining. Has Catholic education gone wrong?"

[ Laughter ]

>> Sister Simone Campbell: No. Seminary education went wrong [laughing].

[ Laughter and Applause ]

Oh, glory. Yeah. We got Pope Francis. And then we still have trouble with middle management. That's a challenge. But the -- the -- the fact is that Catholicism's really a big tent and Pope Francis has these four characteristics -- In Joy of the Gospel -- four characteristics for peace building, which is what I think we really need to do. And what Pope Francis is trying to do within the Catholic Church and globally is -- and the first is he says that dialogue matters. Dialogue is more important than protecting your turf. So -- and that's what you see. I mean, he goes towards the archbishops that are most critical of him. It's so cool. When he was in Philadelphia, Archbishop Chaput is, you know, so critical of Pope Francis. And all the pictures, Pope Francis smiling and greeting him and Archbishop Chaput. And -- but -- but it's all about dialogue. Not protecting your turf. The second point is the hunger for unity. Everybody hungers for unity. And Pope Francis is trying to nourish the hunger for unity. There is a problem -- I thought that was beautiful. I could hunger for unity. But, if you do that, if you hunger for unity, I discovered there's a really challenging corollary. To build peace, I have to give up my desire to win. I want to build peace with everybody agreeing with me. And that's not going to happen. The third one is realities are more important than theories. And that goes to our politicians and much of our church leadership is they have no experience as a real story as a real people. And so Pope Francis is saying if we want to build peace, we got to build the relationship with real people. And then finally the whole is greater than the part. We knew that. But what Pope Francis says is if you're missing a part, you're missing a whole and you can't make peace. So, we've got to find a way that there's room in this big table for the conversations with the Paul Ryans. Which, I have to confess, I thoroughly enjoy my conversations with Paul Ryan and -- because it's just so much fun. Because he's all in his head. And so you give him a story and then you give him another story and you give him another story and he exceptionalizes, exceptionalizes, exceptionalizes. One of these days, I'm chinking away, it will break. So, I have a new -- I have a new -- want to hear my new plot? OK. Cone of silence. I'm still raising the money for this so I don't have the money for it but we're thinking about doing a new bus trip in July. And I want to start in Paul Ryan's district and get Paul Ryan to come to the opening of the bus trip so that he can meet my people. And then we want to wonder around a bit and then take the bus to the Republican Convention and then take the bus to the Democratic Convention. So, it's about bridging the divides, transforming our politics. Doesn't that sound cool? But I have to raise money so send money or prayers or whatever that can generate that. But I think that -- I think there's a vision in this. But it goes back to walking towards trouble. That -- that why would we stay away? If we stay away, we've ceded the whole field. I did that for a while. I -- in the '80s when -- you know when all that -- when faith got -- faith and politics got hijacked by the right? Ugh. I didn't want to talk faith and politics. I'll talk politics but I won't talk faith because I didn't want to be identified as a right. We ceded a huge ground. So, now we're making up for it. Thanks.

>> Brenda Duverce: So, we're going to take a little shift from politics and politicians and to wages that you.

>> Sister Simone Campbell: Oh, good.

>> Brenda Duverce: Spoke briefly about. So, given the gender and racial wage gap, what are your thoughts on advocating for equitable pay?

>> Sister Simone Campbell: Do it, dammit. I mean that's such a -- that's such an easy thing that can be done. But you know what we've experienced at Network? We started a new policy. Is that at Network, when we interview for candidates for jobs is the guys always negotiate pay and the women always accept what we give them. So, we've started a new policy. We don't negotiate wages. And we make sure everybody knows on the interview. Because rather than trying to get women to negotiate, I mean, that seemed hopeless. Because I couldn't call up somebody and say, "Now, I'm going to call you in a minute and offer you a job and negotiate, would you?" I mean, that's not -- you know, I've got enough of an Entrepreneurial spirit. I told you I was competitive. I'm not going to do that with our budget. But the -- the -- that's what happens. So, we went to this no-negotiation of pay. And then we'll give merit increases and all this other step increases -- but we're trying to level the playing field on that. The law should be clear! Equal pay for equal work. Duh. And it's such a throwback to the old cultural reality. I don't understand why it's taken us this long. And we still haven't succeeded. I mean, it's like the '50s. All the little lady's leaving the house. Isn't that sweet? Pat her on the head but give her a paycheck for God's sakes. I -- I just -- I don't understand why it's so impossible. I know the free market and this idea of regulation, mandating wages, you should be able to negotiate whatever. Only the CEO's who think they need $11,000,000 might resist. So, we've got to find a way forward. The other issue that's critical in this is the issue of wealth gap. But that's the racial wealth gap. It's horrifying. And we have got to stand up for the fact that many of -- the average wealth of a white household in 2013 dollars is $112,000. The average wealth of an African American household in 2013 dollars is $6,000. And of a Hispanic household is $5,000. That is wrong. And that creates the segregation -- the economic segregation creates racial segregation creates misperceptions, creates hostility, creates all kinds of problems. And that's why Black Lives Matter. Is to raise those issues up. And we've got to do better than that. And I, as a white woman, wondering around in a white body, have come to realize that I breathe privilege and I have no clue. I have no clue the advantage that I have. And we've got to find a way to bring that to consciousness so we can change it as a society. Not out of guilt, but out of making our nation better. Anyway. So, we got to get over our white guilt, but we've got to deal with our white privilege. Make sense? I hope. Anyway. Sermon number one.

>> Carson Smith: So, what would you recommend for steps to design political institutions that can adapt and be responsive to, as you said before, all persons?

>> Sister Simone Campbell: Go to the Ford School and figure it out. But seriously, I think -- I think our model of doing these roundtables, I think the next evolution of the roundtable with business is trying to do a roundtables with more diverse people at the table. There's a bunch of efforts in civility, there's a bunch -- Sandra Day O'Connor has O'Connor House in Phoenix where they're trying to create a -- groups on civil discourse around Arizona. And if they can do it in Arizona, you would think they could do it most any place. So, I think there's some efforts at that. I think we may finally be getting tired of polarization and toxicity. But you know the real conversation that's going on in this election is about the role of government. What is the role of government? And we've got to be serious in trying to figure out how does government create a level playing field. In every one of the business roundtables they said the role of government was to create a level playing field for business. Everybody said that [laughing]. But don't get government too involved, OK? Because people want the edge. And we've got -- we the people have got to say, "OK, we'll create a level playing field, but that means realistic regulation." That doesn't become the volume. Oh, this one -- we were in Davenport. Do you know in Davenport -- at a business roundtable -- we had the Senior Vice President of a bank that's 150 years old, Clinton Bank of Iowa? Their opening in April of 1860 -- what was it? 1865, was overshadowed by the assassination of President Lincoln? They said they'd gotten over it over the years, but what happened is they have resisted the takeover from all the other big banks. Because they're based in a farming communities in relationship. But the think that could be the death now of them is Dodd-Frank because Dodd-Frank is built for the mega banks. And the Clinton Bank of Iowa didn't have any lobbyists at the table to say, "Hey, don't forget about us. Don't forget about us." And so they're having to do the very same things that Chase and IBM -- not IBM -- Bank of America and Wells Fargo are having to do. Doesn't make sense. But because Clinton Bank of Iowa didn't have a lobbyist, they got rolled into the whole story. So, we need some way to get everybody at the table. More conversation. One more?

>> Brenda Duverce: This may be a very challenging question.

>> Sister Simone Campbell: Oh, good. Unlike the others.

[ Laughter ]

>> Brenda Duverce: What policy changes do you believe both conservatives and liberals can agree upon in the near future? I warned you.

>> Sister Simone Campbell: Thanks. I -- you know, I say -- you know, brain transplants are not in the Affordable Care Act so I don't know that I can, you know, say what we'll agree on. There is a way where immigration -- well, OK. Where I really think we're close to something is on criminal justice reform. This is an intersection where, praise God, people are waking up that the economics and the social story are coming together to make a bridge. And Center Cory Booker and Rand Paul have created a coalition that are working on this. So, I think something -- and Grassley's been holding out for reasons I haven't quite understood. But he said the other day they're close to an agreement. So, that actually could happen in this year. I also think there's mostly an agreement about immigration reform. There's mostly agreements around some of the -- improvement of the earned income tax credit and the child tax credit which are some key issues to support low wage working families. My only problem with them -- I'm not -- I'm advocating for them. My problem is is that their business subsidies and we need to see them that way. And challenge businesses to stand up and speak for them. But our people need to be able to eat. So, I'm willing to take it. And then we have to talk living wage. We've got a long way to go on that one. So, those are some of the areas. Ironically, do you know what the big controversy right now is the Childhood Nutrition Reauthorization? It used to be a bipartisan think, kids should eat. What a radical thought? Now, it's polarized. But the irony is is many of the republicans that are opposing it have to deal with the farmers who want it because that's their constituents. So, they're caught in this political posturing versus really taking care of our kids. And Debbie Stabenow has been doing some really good work on this, your senator. So, any support that she can get from you all or just encouragement to keep at it. But it's a huge challenge which should not be a partisan issue. Something I think we could all agree on is kids should eat. But they're worried about waste, fraud, and abuse. The kids are throwing out apples. Having health standards. What a radical thought. If any of you have seen Michael Moore's new film? France. France is a lovely -- he does food in France. It's wonderful. Check it out. And I'm not a big Michael Moore fan because sometimes he's too strident. But this movie has humor, positiveness, enjoyment. It's a pleasure to watch. As he stomps around the world trying to invade. It's pretty funny. So.

>> Carson Smith: One more question. During the 1930s the Civilian Conservation Corporations hired untrained, unemployed people to replant the forests. Why can't the government hire the unemployed to build the housing that we need today?

>> Sister Simone Campbell: What a great idea? Why don't we hire people to rehab the bacon housing? Why don't we do something to invest in our society? It's because the partisan gridlock won't allow the funding of anything. New -- we have lost the idea that the role of government is to invest in our future. I mean, the interstate highway program was created by Dwight D. Eisenhower in order to -- ironically -- got sold as to evacuate our cities in case of a nuclear attack. I mean that was interesting but that was the politics of the time. So, let's figure out what the politics of our time are, but let's invest in our future. I was recently in Michigan -- not Michigan. Minnesota -- the other M. Sorry. Minnesota and they have serious infrastructure problems. I haven't learned what your infrastructure problems are, but the willful refusal of politicians to say, "Let's invest in our future." And this one gets me. This is where the tax fights going to be really serious. Is the idea of business that they should get a free ride in investing in the infrastructure they need to be a good business. This is going to be a big fight. But if you want to haul your trucks across our highways, you better invest in them. And you -- everyone pay their fair share. My other favorite one. This is my General Electric one. If you want to do business with the government, you have to pay a basic tax. You have to pay your part in because General Electric -- I forget what percentage of their business is done with government contracts, but it's a huge percentage. And they paid zero taxes for years because what they do is they buy up financial organizations that are belly up and they use the losses from those corporations to offset their profits. So, they end up not having a profit. So, they don't have to pay any tax. It's been going on for years. If you're going to do business with the government, you pay your fair share. That's the provision that I'm advocating. You can imagine a few might oppose that, but. But everybody should pay their fair share. Poor people do. Poor people do.

>> Brenda Duverce: Can you share any funny jokes or anecdotes?

>> Sister Simone Campbell: No. I have a very -- I'm very serious. I have no sense of humor. Can I share any anecdotes? I didn't listen. I'm sorry.

>> Brenda Duverce: Can you share any funny jokes or anecdotes about the Pope?

>> Sister Simone Campbell: Oh, about the Pope. Oh, I did about his talk. Let's see. Oh, I've got a good one. This is from -- for the Catholics in the crowd. This is from one of our sisters on the bus last fall. She had been -- she's a school sister at Notre-Dame and she was at their mother house, their central house in Rome in August. And they had some kind of reception and a security guy from the Pope was there at the reception. There were several security guys. I don't know why. I didn't understand that part. But, anyway -- so, she's talking to the security guys with a group of her sisters. And the guy says to her, "You know, the Pope's impossible to guard. He's just impossible to guard because he keeps walking into the crowd." And so -- he said, "For example, in July, they'd been in downtown Rome and the heat of the day -- the heat of the afternoon and someone thrusts into the Pope's hands a glass of some refreshing drink." And the security guy reported that he jumped in and he's wrestling with the Pope to keep him from drinking this glass. And the security guy said that Pope Francis looked him in the eye and said, in Italian, "It's not from the cardinals. Don't worry."

[ Laughter ]

Pretty good, huh?

>> Carson Smith: OK. So, isn't campaign finance reform including overturning the Citizens United decision the key to reducing lobbyists' stranglehold on politicians? Wouldn't politicians create more equitable policies if they weren't indebted to PACs?

>> Sister Simone Campbell: Probably. But the pragmatic story is it ain't happening. So, we the people can't sit around and wait for a miracle of campaign finance reform. I mean, let's be real about this. It requires a constitutional amendment or more untimely deaths on the Supreme Court. And I'm not going to advocate for that. Because you see what -- what mess that creates. So, the fact is we can't sit by and wait. True, it'd be a lot easier if we could overturn -- well, I think it -- we could be a lot easier if we overturned Citizens United, but I think we have to be careful about the certitude that money's the problem. Because look at Jeb Bush. Jeb Bush had a gabillion dollars. He had untold funding and it didn't matter. There's something deeper than money. It's not just money. It's whether or not we have the sense that we're in this together. Do I have your back? And that's the piece where I think we the people make the difference. So, yeah, I'd love to have campaign finance reform. I think it's sort of like women's ordination in the Catholic Church. You know? It's going to be a long time coming. So, let's -- let's do what needs doing. Let's not stop because we can't get the ideal. So, let's keep at it. Let's work. Let's do what needs doing.

>> Brenda Duverce: So, this will be our last set of questions for today.

>> Sister Simone Campbell: All right. Whew, the exam is over. I feel like my oral -- do you think I'll pass?

>> Brenda Duverce: But they're both -- they're related.

>> Sister Simone Campbell: Oh, OK.

>> Brenda Duverce: As a role model for Catholic activists, what advice can you give us when we go to the polls?

>> Sister Simone Campbell: Vote.

>> Brenda Duverce: And a second question is what are your suggestions for balancing religious and political beliefs?

>> Sister Simone Campbell: Now, that's interesting. Because that is so balancing assumes two sides. I don't think they're different. For me, the faith perspective is about how we breathe. It's about how we internalize, how we take in the fact that we're all in this together. And to say that, "Oh, my faith is over here and my politics is over here." That's schizophrenia. That's a mental illness. We've -- we can't do that. And I think some of our leadership, the middle management trouble, some of that is because what our leaders did was substitute rules for spiritual leadership. And if you've just got the idea that faith is about this external set of rules, any faith -- you know? The Jewish tradition with the Ten Commandments or the -- you know -- all of the strictures in the Torah or we do with all of our church regulations or whatever. That creates an outside piece. And what I know as a spiritual truth -- OK, blah. This is risky. But what I know as the spiritual truth, the contemplative truth, is that we're created by God at every moment. I have this idea that God hums each one of us at every moment. It's not that God is separate out there. It's not that God is pulling the strings. It's that we're loved into being at every moment. And the challenge becomes how do I then embody that love and show it out? And that's where it comes into politics. Is how do I embody the love that creates me to meet the love that creates you? And we find a way forward together. It's not separate. It's not out there. It's not controlled with strings. It's hummed with a wonderful symphony as we all create different tones and different ways together. That's the chorus that we need. That's what we need. So, can I -- since it was the last question, can I end with a poem? Is that legit?

>> Brenda Duverce: Sure.

>> Sister Simone Campbell: OK. Because it fits right on this. And it's the last -- I've had some of my poems in my book. I think of it as like my children. But anyway. But this poem is called "Incarnation." It's what we're challenged to do is to do our part. And -- so it has some Middle East references because I wrote it. Can you -- I wrote it on the last night in Baghdad in 2002 so -- after we went to an Italian restaurant. But the -- we came back from the restaurant and in the light from our hotel's plate glass window was this wedding party. And they were dancing because it was in the light of the window. And they had an old violin and this accordion. And we got drawn in to dance. There were 11 of us. We got drawn in to dance. Well, I'm a poet. I'm not a dancer. And -- but this guy dancing next to me trying to show me this folk dance, he leans over and he says, "How long do my niece and her new husband have to live in peace? How long until you start bombing us?" The global aspect of what we're talking about. Well, anyway, so here's the poem that was given that night. It's called "Incarnation." That's the embodiment of God. That's that being, the love that we're being created by. And it goes like this. Let gratitude be the beat of our heart pounding Baghdad rhythms, circulating memories, meaning of the journey. Let resolve flow in our veins fueled by Basra's destitution, risking reflective action in a 15 second world. Let compassion be our hands reaching to be with each other, all others, to touch, hold, heal this fractured world. Let wisdom be our feet bringing us to the crying need, to friends or foe, to share this body's blood. Let love be our eyes that we might see the beauty, see the dream, lurking in the shadows of despair and dread. And let community be our body warmth radiating Arab energy to welcome in the foreign stranger even the ones who wage this war. And let us remember on drear distant days we are a promise Christmas joy. We live as one, this fragile gifted life, for we are the body of God. Thank you very much.

[ Applause ]

>> Susan M. Collins: Sister Simone, thank you so much for your remarks and for such a rich, wide ranging conversation. I'd also like to thank all of you for joining us here and for all of your questions. I hope you will come back on Monday. We will have our last policy talks of this academic year and our speaker will be General George Casey, Jr. So, I hope that you will also stay and continue this conversation. We have a reception and also a book signing just outside of our Great Hall, outside of the doors right here. And so please join us for that reception and if you'll join me in a final round of thanks for Sister Simone. That was wonderful.

[ Applause ]