Professors to analyze Trump Era


Jackie Jahfetson

When the results of the 2016 Presidential Election were revealed, a dividing line separated the country. Some felt confident, others questioned the legitimacy of the newly elected president. Two years later, President Trump still has Americans questioning the extent of his executive power and whether the democratic process is being replaced by an authoritarian state. With this new era, there’s a rise of “dangerous political currents” and it’s important for all Americans to sit down and talk about what’s happening in our country today, Department Head of Political Science Carter Wilson said.

A panel of political science professors will discuss their thoughts on the rise of authoritarianism during the Trump presidency at 7 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 19, on the second floor of the Ore Dock Brewing Co. Wilson organized this event in hopes of having a serious academic discussion about political trends in the country and worldwide, and understand what “threatens” our democratic society, he said.

“The intent of the panel is not to attack President Trump. The discussion is likely to include both criticism and defenses of the president,” Wilson said.

Political science professors Jonathan Allen and William Ball will present with Wilson and former department head of political science and professor emeritus Robert Kulisheck. They will discuss their different perspectives on both the positive and negative effects of the Trump presidency by looking at how certain political waves are rippling in the United States.

Authoritarianism has to be analyzed at both the “individual level” and the “regime level,” Wilson continued. The overall personality factor of an authoritarian leader is “overly aggressive” toward diversity and those who are different. Whereas on the regime level, authoritarian leaders often demand loyalty rather than upholding the law, such as calling out critics and labeling them as “traitors,” attacking opponents and the media, he said.

Though the rise of authoritarianism is a matter to discuss, it is not the only thing Americans should be concerned with, Wilson said. Today’s culture has also seen a rise in xenophobia, Islamophobia and racism levels have increased since Trump has taken office, Wilson said.

“As bad as people say things are, there are still a lot of things in place that keep us from going over the edge,” Wilson said. “However, we should be aware of these dangerous trends and be opposing them. It’s not a partisan issue. This is an American issue.”