May 9, 2022
BEVERLY HILLS, CA – The director of Salve Regina University’s Nationhood Lab addressed the Milken Global Conference last week to discuss the nature of the divides in the United States and approaches to healing them.
Colin Woodard, who directs the project at the university’s Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy, made his remarks as part of a May 1 town hall panel at the high-profile international conference moderated by former Republican strategist Frank Luntz. Attendees included Miami mayor Francis Suarez, Rep. Jonathan L. Jackson (D-IL1), Voto Latino founder Maria Teresa Kumar, ABC News Washington bureau political director Ron Klein and Mick Mulvaney, chief of staff to former President Donald Trump.
“We were founded as separate “countries” really,” Woodard told the audience at the Beverly Hilton where the Milken Institute-sponsored conference is held each year. “It’s the backstory to why we have ‘red’ states, ‘blue’ states, and – because the rival settlement streams didn’t respect state boundaries — states that have always been sectionally riven.”
“It’s our Achilles Heel,” he added.
Woodard, author of six books including “American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America” and “Union: The Struggle to Forge the Story of United States Nationhood”, founded Nationhood Lab which is working to develop and test a story of U.S. purpose and identity that a supermajority of Americans can united behind.
The Milken Global Conference, held annually since 1998, is the marquee forum of the Santa Monica-based Milken Institute, a think tank founded in 1991 by convicted junk bond trader Michael Milken, and focuses on economic and social issues. This year’s speakers included former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, Exxon CEO Darren Woods, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va), Govs. Glenn Youngkin (R-Va.) and Gavin Newson (D-Ca.), entertainers Snoop Dog and John Legend, actors Ashton Kutcher, Ed Norton and Seth Rogan, and Milken himself, who served 22 months in prison for securities fraud in the early 1990s and was pardoned by Trump in 2020.
While in California, Woodard spoke with National Public Radio’s “Here and Now” program about Nationhood Lab’s recent work on the geography of U.S. gun violence. The segment, produced by member station WBUR, aired on over 400 public radio stations nationwide May 3.