Heated Discussion on Race and Politics at SMLS

Heated Discussion on Race and Politics at SMLS

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Christian Holm
July 15, 2016

In the wake of one of the worst periods of violence in American history, students addressed tough questions and plotted a way forward at the first Simspon-Mineta Leaders Series of the summer semester.

Joining students was April Ryan, white House correspondent for the American Urban Radio Network and Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union. Moderating was CSPAN Chief Political Editor Steve Scully.

The discussion came in the aftermath of a violent week in which more unarmed black men were killed by police officers, resulting in domestic terrorism that left four Dallas police officers dead.

The conversation focused on what is next for a nation tired of senseless violence and what the next President should do about it. Scully started off by gauging student sentiment, asking the summer cohort what they make of the back and forth bantering of the two presidential campaigns.

The response was a mix of frustration and disappointment. The most common answers were “racism,” “inequality” and “nothing,” giving the crowd a sobering take on how today’s students view the American political process.

Scully then asked the two panelists to give their take on what they think America’s next move should be to overcome the status quo. Schlapp advocated for a more balanced government with thorough separation of powers, while Ryan emphasized the role of the government in fueling social progress.

Students then had a chance to ask questions and dig deeper into the issues. Here are some of the highlights:

Kevin Markowski (Institution: Florida International University; Internship: U.S Department of Commerce International Trade Administration) With race and inequality such a big focus in this election, what is the media’s role in giving people an honest examination of the two party’s solutions?


Ryan: We need to get back to a place where the media is the chief fact checker in our nations politics. We need to make sure as citizens that we demand that type of reporting and ask for better answers

Sierra Bulson (Institutions: Grand Valley State university; Internship: U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee) After a primary season where two populist candidates (Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders) did so swell, what will be the effect on public policy?


Schlapp: From a conservative perspective, we hope it results in a more equally weighted government. We really think that a restrained Executive Branch and empowered Congress will give us better government. And if Trump does get elected, Congress will have the opportunity to get more involved and take the lead on policy.

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