Congressman Bob Dold on “The True Art of the Deal: Getting Things Done in Washington”

Dold's seminars will be held on Mondays at 12pm. All seminars will be held in the IOP Living Room unless otherwise noted. All seminars are students only and closed to press/off the record.


During Congressman Bob Dold’s two terms representing Illinois 10th District in the U.S. House of Representatives, he was not only ranked as one of the most independent, bipartisan and effective lawmakers in Washington, he also had the unique distinction of representing the most Democratic District of any Republican congressman in the entire country. During that time he also had the rare experience of running for his congressional seat as an incumbent, a challenger and in an open-seat race when the seat was being vacated. In his seminars, Congressman Dold will draw upon his experience as both a candidate and a congressman and discuss the strategies he used to unite people from across the political spectrum to advance both policies and his political campaigns. He’ll also take a real-time look at news of the day and give an insider’s analysis of the players and the politics as battles are fought and alliances forged on Capitol Hill during the spring legislative session. 

Session 1 (April 3): State of the Congress | RSVP

A confluence of events and circumstance have brought our country to one of the most volatile, unprecedented and unpredictable periods in American political history. While few initially predicted that Donald Trump would win the GOP presidential nomination, far fewer predicted that he would defeat Hillary Clinton and win the presidency. His stunning campaign victory upended much of what pundits and politicians alike thought they knew about political campaigns, and the early days of his Administration have been defined by an abandonment of traditional governing protocols, fierce partisan division and a reset in the relationship between politicians and the press. During the campaign, and into the first 100 days, Republicans and Democrats alike have been unsure of how to position themselves with the Trump Administration and things are in flux.

This seminar will examine the issues that propelled Donald Trump into the White House, and their impact on Congress – we’ll look at the status of his policy platform on the Hill, the internal dynamics and power bases of the 115th Congress, and a prescription for how Washington can address its most pressing issues in these wild and uncertain times. 

Session 2 (April 10): Congress, A User’s Manual | RSVP

What greets a freshman congressman when they arrive in DC? How do they get on committees? How do they form alliances and get their first bills passed? How do they balance party and constituent pressure, particularly when they are at odds with each other?  In this seminar, we’ll examine the inner workings of Congress and how a representative navigates the Hill.  

Session 3 (April 17): The Redistricting Wrecking Ball | RSVP

Following completion of the national census every ten years, politicians and political parties across our country conspire to preserve or grow their grip on power in a process called redistricting. The boundaries of congressional and state legislative districts are determined on a state-by-state basis. In most states, the majority party in the state government controls the map-making process, which has become a partisan political tool to strengthen or grow their existing majority and weaken or eliminate the chance for an opposing party’s candidate to compete for the seat

The byproduct of allowing politicians to pick their voters, as opposed to having voters pick their politicians, has been a deepening of the Red-Blue divide and a purging of moderate politicians from both parties.  Around the country, gerrymandering is increasingly being challenged – in January, a Federal Court struck down Wisconsin legislative maps as unconstitutional. This seminar will explore the impact that partisan redistricting has on Washington, and the efforts in Illinois and across the country to amend this process.  

Session 4 (April 24): The Man in the Middle | RSVP

While many politicians talk of bipartisanship, few truly embody it and even fewer have good reason to try in Washington. With a House of Representatives comprised primarily of deep red and deep blue seats, there is little incentive for most lawmakers to seek middle ground.  Bob Dold is the rare exception to that rule. Consistently ranked as one of the most independent, bipartisan lawmakers in Congress, Dold had both an incentive and responsibility to seek out the middle ground because he represented by far the most Democratic district of any Republican in the nation. In this seminar we will examine the role that the dying breed of political moderates plays in our governing process and how those few who remain in Congress may still impact federal policy.

Guest Speaker: David Stern, former Chief of Staff to Congressman Dold.

Session 5 (May 1): The Constant Campaign | RSVP

From 2009 through 2016, Bob Dold was constantly running for Congress in Illinois 10th District. While he was also busy serving the District as its voice in Washington, the Dold campaign never stopped—nor could it. As the member of Congress who represented the most Democratic district in the nation to be held by a Republican, Bob Dold had to work a lot harder both in Congress and on the campaign trail than most of his Republican colleagues in Congress. On paper, Illinois 10th District is deep blue and was drawn to be “unwinnable” for a Republican following the 2012 redistricting process. Nevertheless, after a loss in 2012, Dold managed to recapture the seat in 2014 and lost narrowly in 2016 despite Hillary Clinton’s massive 30-point margin win over Donald Trump in IL-10. 

This seminar will examine the challenges of running a district heavily predisposed to vote for the opposing party and how to appeal to those voters who ultimately will determine the outcome.

Session 6 (May 8): Immigration | RSVP

America’s immigration policy has been a constant fixture in the headlines this year, in large part due to President Trump’s Executive Order imposing a temporary travel ban on immigrants from six nations that have been associated with terrorism. However, we can expect the broader debate over America’s legal immigration system, our border security and our policies impacting the 11 million undocumented individuals in our country to continue to grow under the Trump Administration. We will explore the different components of the immigration debate and consider the likelihood of compromise that could lead to a deal on comprehensive immigration reform.

Session 7 (May 15): The Infrastructure Challenge | RSVP

One of the few bipartisan issues remaining in congress is the infrastructure that fuels our economy. The health of our roads, rail, waterways, airports, and sea ports is a key indicator of how our economy will grow. However, the proposed trillion dollar infrastructure package is fraught with political problems. This seminar will look at how the votes can be assembled to pass a bill in an era without earmarks. Is there a way to pay for it?  Or will members of congress be willing to add to an already stifling National debt?

Guest Speaker: Congressman Bill Shuster (R-PA) (via Skype)

Session 8 (May 18): Political Satire | RSVP

From the rise of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart as a primary “news source” for many Americans to SNL’s constant and often viral skewering of America’s political class, political satire has garnered growing influence in American culture and possibly on voter behavior as well. This seminar will consider the role that political satire plays in our culture, on how we perceive our elected officials and our leading political parties.

Guest Speaker: Scott Stantis, Chicago Tribune Editorial cartoonist