by Nicole Silverio ’22
Last Wednesday, February 5, five professors from the political science department, Dr. Bill Hudson, Dr. Joseph Cammarano, Dr. Paul Herron, Dr. Adam Myers, and Dr. Matthew Guardino, held a panel discussion in the Arthur F. and Patricia Ryan School of Business discussing contemporary politics in the past week.
This week has shaped American politics with the start of the Democratic primary and caucus elections, the presidential impeachment trial, and the State of the Union Address, which took place the night before the panel.
The first topics of discussion were the articles of impeachment, in which President Donald Trump was officially acquitted by the Senate. Only one Republican senator, Mitt Romney, voted to convict President Trump.
Dr. Hudson made the claim that Trump was not cooperating with Congress. He then cited a book published in the 1970s titled The Imperial Presidency which discussed the impeachment of former President Richard Nixon. Nixon allowed witnesses to testify in his trial, unlike the current president.
“Trump has not been forthcoming in providing information. This administration would not participate in the impeachment at all. Nine witnesses called to testify refused to appear,” said Hudson. “There’s going to be more stonewalling from the Trump administration which may depend on court cases that may come up.”
After the discussion on impeachment, a long discussion arose on the State of the Union Address, in which President Trump spoke before Congress, Supreme Court justices, and the American people, addressing the progress made in this country.
Dr. Myers stated that historically, “The State of the Union Address was not public until Woodrow Wilson’s presidency. The reasoning for this was the fear of demagoguery. Meyers says, “We should go back to the way it was in the 19th century, where the President submitted a letter to his Cabinet and Congress. The current State of the Union is a ridiculous tradition.”
Dr. Cammarano added, “We have to acknowledge that Trump has done a lot of what he said he would do in 2016. However, I have been studying politics for several years and this State of the Union made me not want to study politics anymore since it was a classic example of what politics has become. It has become political professional wrestling. What we’re seeing is not politics, it’s political wrestling.”
What he was referring to was the tension between President Trump and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who visibly tore Trump’s speech on camera. After, Trump refused to shake her hand.
In regards to Trump’s claims in the State of the Union, Dr. Guardino said, “Last night was an object lesson not only to fact check but to critically evaluate claims in context. The economy is doing well largely due to many grassroot movements, which has led to states across the nation increasing their minimum wages, which the Trump administration has opposed doing.” President Trump’s accomplishments may have been embellished or have happened without his involvement.
Dr. Hudson mentioned that Trump is “a very clever showman and administered that in the State of the Union. It’s in Trump’s best interest to be the kind of showman that he is when he talks to the press in order to get reelected.”
On the topic of the recent conflicts between political parties, the professors talked about how fifty years ago, political parties were weaker, causing differences in opinions to have less of an impact on legislation.
“Up until the 70s, we did not have strong political parties,” said Myers. “When we have strong parties like we do today the system breaks down.” Cammarano added, “I want weaker parties and for Republicans and Democrats to focus on the common interest of the people.” In today’s political climate, it is difficult for people with different political views to understand others opinions, which reflects how the parties treat one another in Congress.
In today’s polarizing political climate, the political science department wants students to understand what is currently unfolding in politics because, as Cammarano put it, “the young people are going to be the ones to have to fix the major issues in today’s politics, and it is essential to get today’s youth involved in political events in order to make significant changes needed in today’s crazy political climate.”