Democracy in Trump’s America: political science professors talk election aftermath

Rachel Telljohn

Two months into President’s Trump administration, discussions of how to process the election – and Trump’s rise to power – are still ongoing on campus.

Democracy in America, a series of talks hosted by the College of Business, concluded Thursday afternoon with their final talk, Race, Radicalism and Resistance. Political science professors Courtenay Daum and David McIvor facilitated Thursday’s talk.

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“We need to engage with people that disagree with us and show that we can have reasonable conversation,” Daum said.

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Political science professors Courtenay Daum and David McIvor host Democracy in America talk. (Photo: Rachel Telljohn)

Highlights of the talk included examinations of the Trump administration rhetoric prior to, and following, the election, the influence of young voters, and how attacks on the media can be considered detrimental.

McIvor and Daum linked the attacks on, and general distrust of, the media as part of why Trump has gotten away with the incoherent nature of his politics so far.

“At this moment, (Trump not acting like a president) is attractive,” Daum said.

Public trust in government and the media is experiencing a continual decline, according to McIvor and Daum. Polarization and distrust were two markers of the election.

“The Trump administration has a practice of completely isolating the media,” Daum said. “Media is one of the biggest checks of power. Constant (negative) rhetoric could undermine the limited trust of the media going forward.”

McIvor said that most people limit the media outlets to those which align with their beliefs.

“Everyone wants to be assured their side is the right side,” McIvor said.

Daum said young Republicans preferred Marco Rubio to Trump and and young Democrats preferred Bernie Sanders to Hillary Clinton, something she attributes as being extremely odd for an election.

“Millennials are the least trusting of institutions (like the media and the government),” McIvor said.

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McIvor and Daum advocated for cohesion between two parties, on both the overall and the individual level. Daum said people are not engaging enough with one another.

“Politics is about relationships,” McIvor said.

People who are not part of the majority feel like they have no voice, according to Daum.

Daum emphasized the increased importance of local politics, following the election and for the long term success of democracy in America.

“A lot of our future starts next week when we vote for city council,” Daum said.

Daum said, too, that people are outraged enough to call their representatives, but that when they call, they are largely uninformed.

“People (who are engaged) really have no idea how our government works,” Daum said.

However, those same uninformed people are now seeing an increased interest in learning how the government functions, according to Daum, and it makes her more hopeful.

“(People are starting to ask), ‘What am I supposed to call my senators for?”” Daum said.

Collegian reporter Rachel Telljohn can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @racheltelljohn.