Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom returns to speak at UC Berkeley

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For the second time this year, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom spoke to students at a lecture Wednesday evening about technology transforming everyday life.

Newsom was invited as a lecturer for Political Science 179, a speaker series facilitated by Haas School of Business professor Alan Ross. Speaking to roughly 700 students in Wheeler Auditorium, Newsom addressed digital media’s role in innovating civic engagement -— the premise of his new book, “Citizenville.”

“Technology has radically leveled the hierarchy of the top-down structure of governance,” Newsom said.

He stated that digital tools have empowered citizens to seek their own change in a bottom-up approach.

Throughout the lecture, Newsom expressed his distrust of politics and government. He criticized politicians from his own party and emphasized that politics cannot continue to operate in a 20th-century mindset, in which politicians act independently of their constituents’ needs.

“We have to meet people where they are and engage them peer to peer,” Newsom said in the lecture. “Your generation is more civically engaged than any other generation. How do we re-engage you? I believe we can do so much better.”

Citizens have adapted to creating their own change, Newsom argued. He pointed to examples like online petitions, saying that people have become “hyperconnected” and involved.

Newsom also addressed online education and the role of special-interest funding in politics. Above all, he urged students to stand firmly on their principles.

“Don’t try to be perfect — just try to be outstanding,” Newsom said in the lecture. “Be open to argument and interested in the evidence. Share your voice, because no one else has it.”

This is the fifth time Newsom has delivered a lecture for Political Science 179. Earlier in the semester, students heard lectures on issues including human trafficking, solar energy and drug policy.

Ross said that Newsom’s lectures “just get better and better,” noting that no other speaker is able to generate as much interest and enthusiasm from students.

“Even students who have heard him before have said he’s always mind-blowing,” Ross said.

Ross said that he will ask Newsom to return for the fall 2014 semester to address issues regarding the election.

“I thought his lecture was very interesting,” said Anna Costello, a UC Berkeley freshman at the lecture. “It was interesting that even though he’s a progressive Democrat, he dislikes government and how it works.”

As for Newsom, he said he enjoys speaking with students and hearing their questions.

“I feel more of a connection with students in the front row than people back in Sacramento,” Newsom said. “I love the idealism and authenticity of the students.”

Contact Sophie Ho at [email protected].