October 22, 2019

Panel of Professors Debate Over Recent Politics: Experts from PC Discuss the Current Political Climate and Election

posted on: Thursday October 3, 2019

Drs. Smith and Myers debate about the “whistleblower” dilemma. Nicholas Crenshaw ’20/The Cowl

by Nicole Silverio ’22

News Staff

On Thursday, September 26, the Providence College Board of Programmers (BOP) and the Political Science Department held an annual event in the Fiondella Great Room to discuss current political issues and what students should expect in the upcoming presidential election. 

Students gathered into the room where they were served pizza and soda. Three professors led the political discussion—Dr. Adam Myers, professor of political science, Dr. Steven Smith, professor of history, and Dr. Joseph Cammarano, who served as the moderator of the discussion. During the event, students were given the opportunity to register to vote. 

“Our purpose is to engage you guys, the students, into the political world and to leave here having better knowledge on what is happening” said Dr. Cammarano while beginning the discussion. 

Key themes and issues discussed were the eligibility of the Electoral College, election interference, voting patterns, comparing Trump to presidents of the past, the role of media in today’s political world, and the whistleblower. 

Regardless of one’s political views, one cannot deny the significance this election will have on the course of this country and perhaps the world. Smith spoke of the historical significance of the 2020 election, saying, “This election is going to see an impeachment period which is an extraordinary thing. We’re going to be in the midst of a memorable and historical moment.” With tumultuous events unfolding, Dr. Myers shared some positive news about the election, jokingly stating, “Chances are, the Union will stay intact after 2020.” 

Dr. Smith spoke of the media, saying, “Trump is a product of the hyper-selective media monopoly as it is selective and biased.” When comparing our current president to past presidents, the professors debated whether he is more like Andrew Jackson or Andrew Johnson, but, nevertheless, we have never had a president quite like him before. 

One of the biggest topics regarded the media, as the professors spoke of the significance that social media has had in politics in recent years; however, Dr. Smith made the point that the media has been involved in the political world since the 1790s. He also pointed out that media has become very biased and people choose what they read, whether it be The New York Times, Fox, CNN or MSNBC. This gives people different perceptions and biases on their outlooks. President Trump’s negative critique of the media was compared to the election of 1800 (between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson), and how Adams in large part blamed the media for his loss to Jefferson. 

Speaking of the election process itself, they added that the five states to focus on will likely be Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and Minnesota. These states played a significant role in determining the 2016 election, and will likely do the same in 2020. Myers mentioned that out of the 17 credible candidates, we should expect the democratic side to narrow down between Biden, Warren, and Sanders. 

When asked about the Electoral College, Smith responded, “It is not going anywhere in our lifetime,” though he added it has proven to be a disaster in the past. Neither professor gave a direct opinion on whether or not it should be abolished. 

Towards the end of the event the students were given the chance to ask questions. Frequent questions were about the likely candidates who will succeed going forward, moderate versus progressive viewpoints, and the whistleblower complaint. 

The whistleblower proceedings are far from over, and Pizza and Politics helped broaden students’ understanding of  its background and its significance in the upcoming election as the House of Representatives currently investigates the transcripts. 

Events like Pizza and Politics help college students have an in-depth understanding of the election process and the issues facing the nation. College students are in the early stages of being able to vote, so it is important that students have the opportunity to attend events like these to develop intelligent opinions and have a say on the major decisions that face this country today, for they are the future of this country. 

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