Spectator Sound-Off: What do you think of the presidential election?

Marlana Dolan


A condensed version of the following was featured in the March 2016 print edition of The Spectator. Below are the full comments of each faculty member.

 “I think I am disheartened by some of the extreme positions that are being taken by some of the candidates. I hope that perhaps as the field gets narrower on both sides – Republican and Democrat – we can have some more substantive sort of discussions about some of the positions they take, as well as policies that they want to put in place once they are President. I think it’s profoundly unhelpful for there to be a kind of intensely divisive attitude on the part of the candidates, but also that they feed into this kind of attitude often. A lot of the redirect they use is overlaid with emotional, sort of force and import that I feel like is very unhelpful – and dangerous, actually – for the political community and for the processes of democracy.” 
-    Jeffrey Courtright, assistant professor of philosophy

“This has been, by far, the most entertaining of election years and presidential debates and goings-on on both sides. I think that the Republican candidates started out with maybe having too many in the race, which might have caused issues with picking a clear favorite, and that maybe there’s not enough running on the Democrat side – that you have two very different choices and that’s all.”
-    Wesley Garrett, director of the legal studies program

“This year, unlike most election years, we have real contrast between the outsiders and insiders. Just look at Hilary Clinton and Sanders. They’re locked in the duel for the Democratic nomination. Clinton is not really firing up a lot of people but has a pretty sound message and certainly the experience and probably a heck of a lot of financial backing. Bernie Sanders is not seeking a lot of financial backing. He doesn’t have a super PAC. He’s that, you know, outside-looking-in guy, but that’s the way he wants it. And he’s charging up supporters with the promise of turning Washington on its head, which is very much what you hear from a lot of Republicans - like Donald Trump especially, and even Ted Cruz, though he’s elected Senator. You know, the Senate leadership of his own party doesn’t get along with him. So these individuals have gotten very far with the outsider message more so than in previous years, and it reflects that little unease that Americans have with politics-as-usual. Some of the issues out there that just seem untrackable, unmovable, unchangeable, by the people who end up in positions of power, [and] we’re now giving serious thought about putting at the highest office people who are promising to tear it all down and rebuild it in some way. I’m not sure that message will survive into November, but it certainly lasted longer than I thought it would. You know, Clinton – and, say, Rubio, as relatively established candidates – might end up winning in the long run, and the outsiders might end up fizzling in some way. There might be a shelf-life to the idea that you can just keep bashing the politics and the people in the political positions of power and expect people to have faith in you as a leader if you then get elected to hold that position of power. But this might be an exceptional time, because there’s so much frustration about everything, from the size of deficits in debt, to the sluggishness and unpredictability of the economy, to the question of healthcare and how best to guarantee it, and are we satisfied with Obamacare or do we just need to tear it down and try something else, and then the just general lack of confidence – profound lack of confidence - with our elected officials. Congress’s approval rating is 8 percent. It’s absolutely amazing how low it is. Presidential approval is, I think, still roughly 50 percent, so we’re not liking what we see. I think – this year more than others before where we’ve been dissatisfied with the status quo – we might actually carry that all the way to November with this.”
-    Brian Anderson, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences

“In any election year, it always feels like a bit of a circus. As a conservative Christian, I do feel that there are not a lot of good options available of candidates that share my views and beliefs. Celebrity status seems to be playing a bigger and bigger role these days, while substance and the values that made this country the world power that is are definitely being challenged and pushed aside.”
-    Thomas Haffey, professor of marketing

What do you think of the current presidential election? Let us know in the comments below, or share your opinion on social media with #SpectatorSoundOff!