Uncomfortable Conversations: EU faculty and alumni talk national and local politics, post midterms

Category:  News
Wednesday, November 14th, 2018 at 6:34 PM
Uncomfortable Conversations: EU faculty and alumni talk national and local politics, post midterms by Anisa Venner-Johnston
Photo: Nathan Brennan

Edinboro University held their second event in the Uncomfortable Conversations panel series on Monday night, at Baron-Forness Library. 

The panelists — Dr. Gerry Gendlin, associate professor of international politics; Edinboro University alum Jezree Friend, former campaign manager; Dr. Bridget Jeffery, assistant professor of political science; and Dr. James Wertz, associate dean of the college of arts, humanities and social sciences — discussed the recent midterm elections and the possible outcomes citizens face on local and national levels.  

Two of the panelists, Jeffery and Wertz, both identified themselves as democrats, while Friend identified as Republican. Gendlin remained unassociated with either party.  

After the panel was introduced by Dr. James Fisher, interim provost and vice president for academic affairs, Jeffery jumped into some of the results of the elections, specifically in regard to which parties now control which chambers of the legislative branch. 

“Democrats won the majority in the U.S. House (of Representatives),” she explained. “On the other hand, republicans went from 51 to probably 53 [in the Senate] because there are still some U.S. senate seats we don’t know about yet. Democrats won more governorships and more state legislative seats.” 

Jeffery hinted at the possibility of a “blue wave” after the results of the election came in, but Friend and Wertz — despite different political affiliations — both agreed that there was no “blue wave.” Gendlin believed there was “a small blue wave,” but that it was not enough to allow the democrats to take the White House.  

Friend stated that this change was a normal trend we see in every midterm election. Friend referenced the 54 flipped seats in the 1994 election, as well as the 2010 election that resulted in 63 flipped seats. “It’s history. It’s not a ‘blue wave.’ I believe that the blue wave is a false narrative,” Friend said. “Historically, the party of the president loses 30 seats in the House,” Friend continued.  

As a result of the 2018 election, Gendlin believes that the House will conduct investigations into President Donald Trump, targeting his tax returns and his Russian connections. Gendlin claims that if the democrats want to take the White House, they need to “let Trump be Trump.”  

The panelists also touched base on the local election. Bob Casey (D) won the U.S. Senate seat up for grabs, Tom Wolf (D) won the governor’s seat, and the 18 congressional districts in Pennsylvania voted for nine Democratic representatives and nine Republican representatives.  

After panelists gave their evaluations and personal opinions, the floor was opened to students and faculty members who had the opportunity to pose questions to the panelists. No one identified their political party.  

Audience members asked about hot topics such as the impact the Brett Kavanaugh case had on the election and possible presidential candidates for the 2020 race.  

All the panelists agreed that the Kavanaugh case was not a defining feature of the election. The panelists discussed how the issue was used by some politicians, but had no real impact. “The boost from either side was relatively quick,” Wertz said, “but I don’t think that was a defining issue.”

None of the panelists were able to identify a strong contender for the 2020 presidential election, however they took guesses on people who might run for election as a republican against President Trump — Senator Jeff Flake (AZ-R) or Senator Ben Sasse (NE-R).  

Uncomfortable Conversations targets meaningful and sensitive issues that are having a direct effect on the nation. The conversation doesn’t end in the library lobby, though. 

Anisa Venner-Johnston can be reached at edinboro.spectator@gmail.com.

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