June 26, 2018

The Dilemma Democrats Face in How to React to Trump’s Insults and Lies
The Correlation Between the Intolerance of White Americans and Their Support for Authoritarians Rule
Addressing the Root Causes of the Immigration Crisis
Program Notes

We begin with the dilemma facing Democrats about how to react to Donald Trump’s relentless barrage of insults and lies without stooping to Trump’s level of gutter politics and hateful rhetoric. An historian of American political discourse, Jennifer Mercieca, a Professor in the Department of Communications at Texas A&M where she teaches courses on political communication and presidential rhetoric joins us. We discuss how much public shaming and protests against Sarah Sanders and Stephen Miller only serve to make these otherwise unsympathetic henchmen of Trump’s, sympathetic. And while Democrats are entitled to righteous anger at Trump’s inhumanity and immorality, how do they avoid the trap of playing into Trump’s hands by reacting in a way that Congresswoman Maxine Waters advocated as opposed to following Michelle Obama’s advice of “when they go low, we go high”?

Then we speak with Nicholas Davis, a Research Scientist at the Public Policy Research Institute at Texas A&M who is currently at work on a book about the popular meaning of democracy and is the co-author of a study “White Outgroup Intolerance and Declining Support for American Democracy”. As the Republican Party moves from family values to white nationalism, we explore the correlation between the intolerance of white Americans and their support for authoritarian rule as intolerant white people appear to be abandoning their commitment to democracy while their perceptions are shaped by Trump and Fox News to believe that undeserving minorities are benefiting more from democracy than they are.

Then finally we go to El Salvador and speak with Elizabeth Kennedy, an activist and scholar who focuses on the experience and needs of child, youth and forced migrants and asylum seekers fleeing gang-related violence. We discuss what can be done to solve the immigration crisis on the U.S. southern border by dealing with the root causes of why migrants are fleeing Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and El Salvador. Elizabeth calls for a need to address conditions of corruption and violence in these countries rather than have Trump score political points with absurd exaggerations that the MS-13 gang is taking over America when in fact it has all but taken over El Salvador.

Jennifer Mercieca | Nicholas Davis | Elizabeth Kennedy