James Baker talks about the Baker Institute's 25th anniversary and politics


HOUSTON – The Baker Institute for Public Policy is hosting a gala Tuesday to celebrate its 25th anniversary.

Ahead of the event, KPRC2 anchor Dominique Sachse sat down with James A. Baker III in his office for an interview.

They discussed how President Barack Obama will speak at the gala, plus problems with the country's current political climate, Baker's take on the southern border and his long-time friendship with late Houston Texans owner Robert McNair.

You can watch the entire interview in the video player above.

Here are some highlights:

Bob McNair

Sachse: Let's talk about, it's so sad, the passing of your friend Bob McNair.

Baker: Bob and I have known each other for more than the 25 years that we're celebrating tomorrow night in this gala. He was a very early supporter of the Baker Institute in fact he endowed the chair that is occupied by our director, current director and founding director. He also started an economic program here at the institute. He and Janice McNair have been unusually generous benefactors to this city, everywhere you look, I think of bob. He and I did a lot, like quail hunting together, we did a lot of playing golf together. He was an extraordinarily good friend. I consider him one of my very best friends.

Southern Border

Sachse: I'm wondering how we got to this situation and what are we doing right or not right. 

Baker: You know I'm one who thinks that every country has an absolute right to protect its border and that's one of the most important elements of sovereignty… your ability to protect your borders against people who want to enter it illegally. If people want to come into this country they ought to get in line and get behind those who are trying to come in legally. 

Political Divide

Sachse: What's it going to take to get past this bipartisan bickering? 

Baker: I can tell you why our polity is dysfunctional now our politics are dysfunctional now, I can give you some reasons for that.  Redistricting has eliminated the  responsible, consensual middle of American politics, because now races are won with the far left on the democratic side and the far right on the republican side in the primary. The primary is the important race now, not the general election and that's one problem, that's constitutional, that's redistricting, you have to do it every ten years. Another problem is we are basically evenly divided nation between blue states and red states that makes divisive combat a bit more likely…. the truth with democracy is, no one side gets to make all the rules so there needs to be a reaching across the aisle.  There needs to be some recognition that compromise is not a dirty word and that's the way historically ... that's the way our nation has been governed.