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Cafe Society to discuss the consequences of the Presidential election

By Staff | Sep 23, 2016

The Cafe Society’s next session on Sept. 27 will consider the wide range of repercussions that may result from the election. It will be far from over when the final votes are counted on Nov. 8. The emergence of non-traditional candidates in both major political parties has raised a number of concerns and even calls into question the relevance of the political party structure and procedures.

These informal weekly Cafe Society discussions, part of the Shepherd University Life Long Learning Program, are held from 8:30 to 10 a.m. every Tuesday morning in the Rumsey Room of the SU Student Center. There are no fees or registration requirements.

Cafe Society facilitator, Mike Austin commented, “Both major political parties will have to do some major realignments in terms of substance and policy advocacy on key domestic and foreign policy issues. Immigration, trade and entitlement programs are high on the list. Our American society is becoming increasing complex and it is much more difficult to craft political positions with sufficiently broad appeal to win elections. Traditional regional, ethnic, social and economic voting blocs are almost irrelevant certainly not politically reliable.”

“First and foremost,” Austin continued, “it will be a challenging task to regain credibility for our democracy after the chaos and opportunism reflected in the campaign tactics.

“Normal social mores, values if you will, particularly honesty and reliability — professional qualities expected of our national leaders have been simply ignored. Questions like, how and when do you entrust sensitive classified information to political candidates need to be answered.

“Perhaps the most damaging result has been that participants in this election campaign have aired our dirty linens on a global scale in seeking to gain advantage or curry favor.

“We have never experienced the extent of foreign meddling in our domestic political process as we have as we have this time a manifestation of our growing weakness. It will be very difficult for whoever ultimately seizes the magic brass ring to act presidential and be taken seriously by other governments.”

Austin added, “Undoubtedly many ‘lessons learned’ explorations are already underway. A big one is how campaign funding is used and when commitments are made. I am thinking of the millions of dollars left on the table when Jeff Bush and other early starters dropped out. And Trump’s self-funded campaign will ultimately get a thorough scrubbing when the final bills come in.

“Another aspect is the role of the media, certainly in how they organized and conducted the debates, but also the lack of substance in the reporting which often made the news little more than sensationalized tabloid gossip.

“And finally there are serious questions about fairness or even ultimately legal disparities between how the two parties approached selection of their candidate. Senator Clinton’s ability to tie up super delegates seemed to call into question the validity of her selection. The process in the Republican and Democratic primaries and conventions were very different.

“Present day conventions seem almost a side show. There may ultimately be some interesting parallels between the next four years and the period of reconstruction following the Civil War. It remains to be seen if the wounds caused by this election will heal.”