Public Affairs Lecture Series: Margaret Woolley Busse

   On February 21st, BYU Lecture Series was blessed to have Margaret Woolley Busse speak to students. Margaret Busse started her lecture by asking students, “What would you be if you were what you thought about in the shower?” She explained how in the shower one can let their mind naturally think and go where it wants, when there really is nothing else to think about. She went on to share that for herself, Busse thinks of the most effective ways to help people lead lives of dignity, purpose, and prosperity. This seemed to become the focus of her lecture, to give insight that might help BYU students live lives of dignity, purpose, and prosperity.

Margaret Busse graduated with her bachelors from Brigham Young University. She then went to business school at Harvard University. In the past she has worked with the U.S. Treasury department and The Bridgespan Group-nonprofit. As well, Busse has served in her local Massachusetts government and recently was a candidate for State Senator. Busse spent the majority of her time sharing some of the lessons she learned from running for State Senator.

Even though she was not voted senator, Margaret Busse learned several important insights that are beneficial for anyone who might be interested in running for a political office. She was gracious in sharing her insights. She started with a pretty important factor to consider when running for office; the potential sacrifice of one’s integrity. Busse shared that keeping her integrity and doing what was needed to win often did not coexist in her political campaign. This become a hard balance as she was never willing to give up her integrity, even when she was advised it would work in her favor. Another sacrifice that hit her while running for senator was a loss in her social scene. Many of Busse’s friends were not willing to talk politics or listen to her side because they were not supportive of the republican party. She noticed that some of her friendships were hurt because many of her friends were hurt by President Trump, and they couldn’t separate Busse from him, as she was the candidate for the republican party.

President Trump was a whole other issue as it was hard for Busse to separate herself from him even when she would have liked to. Trump seemed to be the only face actually representing the republican party. She recognized that the United States is currently hyper politically polarized and acknowledged that this polarization had a huge negative impact on her campaign. To bridge some of the gap, Busse naturally wanted to find common ground with the democratic party and work together. However, she quickly learned that this was not an effective approach, especially in debates when the audience wanted to see the contrast between parties.

In the end Margaret Busse shared that she was grateful for the things she learned and opportunity she had to run for senator. To paraphrase she said, “losing is hard, but it was valuable to give voters a choice and I got to contribute my ideas to the public and give them more options.” She closed with sharing that her life has been a continual effort of figuring out where God wants her to serve. She said that making it all work requires faithfulness, flexibility, creativity, diligence, and spousal support. Her final invitation to students was to stay engaged in the politics of our country. She asked them not to look away but to uplift democracy by participating and staying engaged.

We are grateful for the inspiration and insight that Margaret Woolley Busse shared. Thank you!