Maryland Lieutenant Governor talks persuasion

By: Marcus Whitman, Staff Writer

Photo by Marcus Whitman

Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, the ninth and current Lieutenant Governor of Maryland, visited Towson to speak to students in TU Professor Richard Vatz’s rhetoric and persuasive speech class Oct. 29.

Rutherford spoke about his political experiences and how common it is to hear persuasion and rhetoric from politicians. According to Rutherford, persuasion is challenging nowadays in politics because of the strong divide. 

“It is a particularly challenging thing to view in persuading people, particularly in this time when we have a polarized political climate,” Rutherford said. “And people view themselves as fixed in one corner versus another and trying to get them to come together to really listen and hear another point of view.”

He also spoke about the advantages the newspapers back in the days before electric media became so easily accessible. 

“You might read through and read different articles and find something that is interesting that you would want to read about, and see something else that you didn’t know you were interested in and find yourself reading,” Rutherford said. 

Throughout his lecture, Ruthorford mentioned how hard it can be to agree on topics, especially when people may not share the same ideas. He talked about how in his work with politics he and colleagues may agree on some goals but may not agree on how to achieve or implement the goals. 

Rutherford also explained why it is important to keep conversations going and find more common ground.

TU student Teresa Barnaba shared her thoughts on having Rutherford visit the class. 

“I enjoyed having Lt. Gov. Rutherford come and speak to my class,” she said. “I’ve never had a guest speaker come to one of my classes before, so it was a new way to learn about relevant issues in our community. And it’s always beneficial to have a better understanding of who our state representatives are, especially someone who has influence and personal connections in our city.”

Rutherford took breaks within his lecture to hold question and answer sessions with the class. Rutherford aimed for audience interaction to have more discussion on persuasion and rhetoric with the class. 

According to Vatz, having guest speakers come to his class helps with the college education experience because it allows students the chance to interact with individuals they may not get to interact with on an everyday basis. Vatz has brought a variety of speakers to his class from ex-governors to Nancy Pelosi, the current Speaker of the House of Representatives. 

“I thought it went very well,” Vatz said. “This is a great experience for the students and I try to have good speakers come in to give them some background you know. People are always saying that a college education isn’t important, and I think a college education is very critical…I think [these speakers are] a great advantage to the students.”

According to Barnaba, Rutherford also took an interesting approach to his lecture in the class.

 “I liked that he divided his time between talking about his role in office and then opening up the floor for questions,” she said. “This kept his visit engaging.  I enjoyed hearing what my peers were interested in and what they had to say regarding different issues.”

Barnaba also brought up what she felt was one of the more interesting highlights from having the Lieutenant Governor speak. 

“I did find him to be an interesting speaker,” she said. “He primarily talked about education, young voters, and his experiences as a politician, so I felt that I had a better understanding of who he was and the different issues that are plaguing our state. Many of the points he brought up were relevant to us as students, which was useful.” 

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