David Axelrod, American political operative and political analyst, gave this week's forum address sharing stories from his journey in presidential politics. He urged listeners to not turn away from the political process.
Recalling his first experience with politics as a young boy, Axelrod said it wasn't the words Senator John F. Kennedy spoke that impressed him, rather the hopeful feelings he felt for America's future. This fundamentally shaped his understanding about how politics improve America's future.
"The way we achieve a future in democracy is through politics," Axelrod said. "That's how we decide which direction we take. That's how we grab the wheel of history and steer."
Axelrod explained he felt similar feelings when he met Barack Obama, who at the time was a recent graduate of Harvard Law School, in 1992.
"I was impressed by him. I was impressed that he had his values," Axelrod said. "The world of politics basically divides into two categories. There's the larger group of people who run for public office because they want to be somebody. Then, there's this smaller, more admirable cohort of people who run for public office because they want to do something — because they want to make a difference. He was clearly in that group."
Axelrod didn’t work with Obama for another decade, but he still kept tabs on Obama's political career. Obama eventually asked Axelrod to help lead Obama's run for the United States Senate in 2002. After consulting with his wife, Axelrod felt helping Obama run for the Senate was something he could be proud of and "recharge" his hope in America.
As the former chief strategist and senior advisor to President Obama, Axelrod explained the former president helped him understand why politics matters. He said it came down to a single issue: improving lives.
"It is not about whether the blue team wins or red team wins," Axelrod said. "It is not about who is up and who is down. It is not about that. It is what we can do together to try and solve problems that affect people’s lives."
Axelrod said democracy allows for disagreement, citing how the Founding Fathers created a system that allows for debate and compromise, and recommended Americans focus more on the spirit of compromise.
"I want to urge you not to get trapped in a social media silo, a virtual reality world in which everyone shares your view and everyone outside of it is considered an alien. I urge you not to turn away from this political process which can be so discouraging at times because the democracy demands our participation."
Next Devotional: Elder Wilford W. Andersen, General Authority Seventy, LDS Church
The next BYU Devotional address will be given by Elder Wilford W. Andersen, General Authority Seventy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Tuesday, Nov. 7, at 11:05 a.m., in the Marriott Center.
His remarks will be broadcast live on BYUtv and BYUtv.org, KBYU-TV 11, Classical 89 FM and BYUradio.