Faculty React to the US Presidential Elections 2016
“I am devastated. It’s hard for me to even kind of put it into words. I am sort of dizzy with so many things at once. It feels like a tremendous step backwards for America. I am just absolutely appalled that they would elect somebody who is so… it’s so transparent to anyone with a modicum of intelligence that he is a bigot and a xenophobe, a misogynist, and so on. Yeah, devastated.” Michael Cohen, associate professor, Department of Arts, Languages and Literature
“Like most people (including the Trump campaign) I was shocked when Trump won. But as I and my psychology students discussed after Election Day, this shock stems from our own confirmation biases – we only saw the data that confirmed our hoped-for outcomes. All the polls said one thing, but the enthusiasm at the Trump rallies should have indicated that our biases were not accurate.
My view of Trump is that he is a personally despicable person with zero experience in running government, obtaining compromises, and displaying prudent judgement on anything. This is entertaining as a reality TV personality, but gravely dangerous as the President of the United States. Fortunately, he cannot run the United States like he runs his businesses. But he is our President-elect. The people have spoken. I want President Trump to succeed as much as possible while doing as little damage as possible. I think most of his policy proposals (what few are recognizable as such) are impossible to achieve or would be disastrous if implemented. This is a good thing. For example, there will never be a border wall. However, I agree with him about rebuilding America’s infrastructure. This is what I mean in wanting him to succeed while doing as little damage as possible.
But most importantly, it disturbs me to see how polarized the American electorate was (and continues to be) over the campaign and election results. In a very real sense, people are talking about and from two different Americas, and it is obvious that the two rarely, if ever, interact. This must be remedied if the United States can go forward. Unfortunately, neither party or candidate seemed to want to do anything to improve this situation, and one candidate actually exploited this rift rather effectively to mobilize his supporters.
As a community psychologist, I realize that this cannot go on. I sincerely hope that everyone, including President Trump, rises to the needs of the times and can find a way to ‘Make America United Again’.” Ronald Harvey, adjunct assistant professor, Department of Political Science and European Studies
“After I got over my first wave of shock, I’m left with a feeling as if I have very little understanding of the people who make up my country. I also feel anxious about the future. I feel as if as a journalist and as a citizen, I have really been called to action. I have got to step up and help kick some democracy ***.” Laura Kelly, assistant professor, Department of Journalism and Mass Communication
“In terms of Trump as a whole, [I am] concerned. As I have been processing it over the last couple of days, I don’t know what to feel because it’s not entirely clear what he actually stands for. A lot of the stuff that’s coming out concerns me in terms of some of the stuff he’s moving with his cabinet, some of those decisions. He’s also trying to remove certain things from his website, some of the more inflammatory statements apparently have been removed, kind of the whitewashing of the site. But because in one minute he says one thing, the next minute he says the other, I don’t really know what to think about it. I also try to have a lot of faith in the checks in balance in our system and the fact that in some cases it’s gonna be very difficult for him to get the things that he wants to even though there’s Republican support because they don’t support everything that he does.
In terms of the election, I’m very surprised, I was not expecting that. There is always a possibility because you never know what’s gonna happen. But I couldn’t believe how far it was. I’m deeply disturbed that many of the people who voted for him [are] hopeful that he’s not gonna do that one, [they] don’t believe everything he says.
I am grossly demeaned and deeply disturbed at the rhetoric that he is unleashing and that he is invoking in others. [I am] just so fundamentally unsettled by what people are not wanting to recognize as a concern.” Lynnette Leonard, associate professor, Department of Journalism and Mass Communication
“I guess I am like a lot of people who are sort of taken by surprise. I could see several ways that it was possible for it to come out this way but that’s kind of where I am at now. I am just trying to figure out, okay, based on this is what we are looking at. Where do we go from here? I think there’s going to be a lot of disappointment over the next four years because I do think that there’s a lot of people who thought that they were voting for a certain set of specific things and they will be greatly disappointed when things don’t happen. It’s still very complicated because I think a lot of Trump voters don’t realize what they voted for but a lot of the reason for that is because I am not sure we know exactly what he is meant to be anyway.” Mark Leonard, assistant professor, Department of Economics
“The “better of two evils” ideology emerged, that’s the part I don’t like about the 2016 elections… I would have looked at my international friends with shame either way, because of what America has done to itself. But at the same time even with the implosion, the disastrous of evil, that became this very brutal campaign in the last year, I am hopeful that we will finally have a blood-red example of how not to do it in the future. That there needs to be other options, that we need to define for ourselves a clear picture of what the presidency really should look like, and hopefully we will look at that. That’s my hope, could be wishful thinking, I could be denying myself the reality of this situation, because, honestly, there are more Trump supporters than I could ever imagine.” Cyle O’Donnell, assistant professor, Department of Journalism and Mass Communication
“I am worried about the results of this election. Part of this is because we really don’t know what real policies will be put into place. A good amount of Trump’s campaign rhetoric cannot be realistically put into place as it was described on the campaign trail, for example the mass expulsions and the wall with Mexico. So, there is simply a lot of uncertainty about what policies his administration will pursue. The other cause of my worry is the tone and language of the campaign rhetoric. Vilifying entire groups of people is not acceptable in a democratic society’s discussions. There may be genuine frustrations, but we must recognize that words matter. Leadership in a democratic society requires that leaders understand this. Leaders may make mistakes when they are tired or frustrated, and this may come out in their language from time to time. But this ought to be a rare occasion and apologies should follow when it happens. Criticizing one’s opponent is one thing; vilifying entire groups of people is another. I hope that we will see a change in tone and more considered words from President Trump than we did from Mr. Trump.” Robert Phillips, associate professor, Department of Political Science and European Studies
“I try to stay positive and look at the bright side of things. I don’t vote for Republicans or Democrats, and I haven’t [done so] in a very long time. But I see some advantages to it. Number one, it’s a rejection of the establishment and I see that as a positive thing.
People in the US are tired of the wars, they are tired of the policies of military interventionism and since Trump is not part of the establishment, it’s going to be a lot harder for him to get any kind of political approval for new wars. In addition, he seems to have a better relationship with Russia, with Putin. Hillary Clinton was actually advocating that we escalate the situation in Syria, which Trump isn’t advocating that we do. So, I see that as a positive benefit. Certainly, if we escalated the situation with Russia, whether in Ukraine or Syria, that could have had devastating consequences. We get one more war that we are involved in, and so I see that as a positive. People aren’t free to speak up in the US. We had the media saying Hillary is going to win by a land slide, it’s an overwhelming victory for Hillary. But you had the Trump campaign manager saying that there is a secret Trump vote. People are unwilling to say that they are voting for Trump, because they are afraid to speak up. And it turned out they were absolutely 100% right. There was a huge Trump vote and people are simply afraid to say it. And so I think it’s exposed some political correctness in our society that people are afraid even to talk about what candidate they are voting for. And so I see that positive side of things.
I think Trump is significantly more limited than most people realize. I got here students who are concerned about the J1 visa, but he can’t eliminate J1 visas. The way our employment visa system works is jobs have to be advertised for American workers first, before they can be given to foreign workers. So these guys that are hiring J1 students, they were already advertising those positions to American workers, but there are far more seasonal positions than there are American workers for. So they can’t eliminate the J1 visas. In addition, it’s part of the comprehensive legislated system, our immigration system, J1 visas, B visas, H visas. Congress would have to amend that, it would take years. So you don’t need to worry about your Work and Travel visas. It will be fine.
I did not expect him to win. Well, I think it was very much a rejection by the people of the current political establishment. When Bush was president, you saw all the protests against the wars and everybody saying “Stop, this is outrageous”. When Obama was president you didn’t see the protests, but they are still there and there are still a lot of people saying “No more of these drone attacks, no more invasions, no more Libya, no more Iraq”. But the press was not talking about it, because it wasn’t Bush. And so I actually see that as a silver lining, it’s for the political makeup to say “Politicians, they can still be voted out.” The public can mobilize and say “You know we’d better actually listen to our constituents”. Every cloud has a silver lining, right?” Bruce Whitfield, assistant professor, Department of Business
This article was a joint effort of AUBG Daily’s Owls Katerina Avramova and Marina Georgieva.