Hamilton Professor Phil Klinkner, along with several of his colleagues from the Government Department, hosted live election coverage discussing the presidential race and its potential implications on the evening of Nov. 3. Klinkner also provided analysis of incoming data and results with assistance from students in his Political Parties and Elections course.
The event was broken up into presentations from five different faculty members. First was Professor Rob Martin, who spoke about self-government and the consequences of the election at large. He focused largely on the dangers posed by what he called the “attack on the very notion of truth,” seen most pointedly through President Trump’s behavior throughout his presidency.
“The deeper issue here,” Martin said, “is not that people believe the lies; but that people come to believe in nothing ... if there are no facts, then people are left only with alternative facts.”
This first hour of the coverage also featured two Hamilton students, Libby Militello ’22 and Federico Romero ’22, who interned recently with the congressional campaigns of Anthony Brindisi and Claudia Tenney, respectively. The two spoke briefly about their experiences working in the race for New York’s historically competitive 22nd district.
Next, Professor Peter Cannavò considered the election in the context of climate change and environmental issues. He reiterated that the stakes of this election are “enormous,” especially for the maintenance of a “habitable planet.” He highlighted a projection from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which identified 2030 as the crucial date by which a number of environmental issues need to be addressed.
The reason that a second term for Trump would be so damaging, warned Cannavò, is that he has not merely sat on the sidelines of the global fight against climate change; instead, he has “actively sabotaged efforts to address this problem and has put us at quite a bit of peril.”
Professor Gbemende Johnson spoke about the election’s implications for the federal court system. She discussed the significance of Trump’s many appointees to the system at multiple levels and went through potential reforms of the Supreme Court that Democrats may push for if they win control of the executive and legislative branches. Questions for Johnson from the audience revolved largely around how the Supreme Court may be able to influence politics in the coming years, in addition to asking about expectations for its newest member, Amy Coney Barrett.
Coverage included presentations from Professors Erica De Bruin and Alan Cafruny as well, both of whom discussed the potential consequences of the presidential race for foreign policy. De Bruin and Cafruny seemed to agree that American foreign policy would look fairly similar under either Trump or Biden. While it was mentioned that foreign policy has taken a backseat of late, with domestic issues commanding the bulk of the public’s attention, De Bruin was still sure to emphasize its importance to the 2020 race.
“Foreign policy is an area in which presidents have a great deal of autonomy ... and so we can expect there to be long-term repercussions to the election,” she said.