The Political Science Student Association hosted a multidisciplinary perspective discussion with LBCC professors on Thursday, May 25.
By Denny Han/Staff/@DennyH_
A president’s first 100 days, while arbitrary to some political scientists, are often used by the public to measure the success or failure of an administration’s policy agenda. Deviating from the models and theories of conventional social scientists, President Donald Trump’s unconventional rise to power and heterodox agenda has shocked the public into looking for answers.
To help with those answers, LBCC’s Political Science Student Association hosted a multidisciplinary panel discussion on Trump’s first 100 days at noon on May 25 with professors Frederick Hemker, Matthew Atkinson, Carlos Ramos, Paul Savoie, Sean Dinces and Eugene Goss leading the discussion.
“It’s something we’ve been planning all semester,” Deanna Pitman, the PSSA’s president, said. “Part of the difficulty in vetting out questions and topics to address was the fact that there was always something in the news every day.”
PSSA member Carmichael Carrick added, “We also had to evolve the questions as the news evolved.”
“And we made sure to frame each question in a way that was both unbiased and unrevealing of a professor’s beliefs,” Jessica Downey, another Association member, said.
Trump’s first 100 days were met with largely negative scrutiny by the panelists, who began the discussion by evaluating President Trump’s April 12 tweet:
Jobs are returning, illegal immigration is plummeting, law, order and justice are being restored. We are truly making America great again!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 13, 2017
Hemker and Ramos argued that illegal immigration had already been on a downward trend prior to Trump’s inauguration, while claims of jobs returning to America were largely unfounded — especially due to the fact that 100 days is too little time for such success to take place.
Trump’s hyperbolic rhetoric was a major criticism point for Savoie, who in the context of North Korea-United States relations, said, “How seriously can we take his message? One day, he’s praising Kim Jong Un for his intelligence, calling him a great guy and how [Trump] would like to do business with him, and the next day, Trump calls him an awful person.”
Atkinson called attention to Trump’s inability to accomplish many of his 100-day promises by pointing out the Republican Party’s full control over the House of Representatives and Senate, saying, “He should’ve been able to get something done. He’s a test case of what happens when you try to do everything all at once instead of focusing on just one particular issue.”
On the recent controversy surrounding the firing of FBI director James Comey, the panelists were asked if the United States was “in the midst of constitutional crisis.”
While Hemker proposed a more positive outlook, nothing that “we have a system that takes care of this,” Atkinson said, “we’re not in a constitutional crisis, but we are certainly knocking on the door of it.”
“Pushing the limits of the constitution is something that every modern president before Trump has done, but government meddling with intelligence services is something that sets a dangerous precedence.”
Atkinson and Ramos explained Trump as a symptom of the current political climate, Ramos saying, “Trump reflects and exacerbates the fissures of race relations in America, as well as the economic divide between working class and educated White Americans. By tapping into the worries and fears of this demographic, Trump proves that running a campaign on nativism and protectionism is possible in this climate.”
Goss went on to note the divide between this demographic and the political elite.
“We have to come to grips with the fact that we have 320 million people in this country with a 17 trillion GDP. We are a massive country and we have to help these people understand the purpose and function of government.”
Other topics discussed during the panel included funding of the Environmental Protection Agency, the propensity for success of a Mike Pence presidency should Trump be impeached and Secretary of Education Betsy Devos’s plans to defund various programs, such as programs for student loan forgiveness.
“It’s low hanging fruit,” Goss said. “Nobody wants to touch medicare that we can’t pay for.”
Goss went on to encourage the audience to create associations centered around young people as a counterpart to the American Association of Retired Persons.
“This is why you guys [young Americans] need to vote,” Atkinson added.
In response to the negative reception and analysis of President Trump’s first policies, Trump tweeted on his 100th day:
Mainstream (FAKE) media refuses to state our long list of achievements, including 28 legislative signings, strong borders & great optimism!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 29, 2017