On Nov. 30, a five presentation forum about the recent presidential election was held in Doudna Hall. Political science associate professor and department chair Travis Nelson worked as the host of the forum.
Sociology professor Claudine Pied’s presentation discussed the white working class. She broke down the demographics of who voted for who and how Donald Trump got elected.
Pied started with her understanding of what the working class is. She discussed wage versus salary and described how working class citizens often obtain jobs which require no college education. They also tend to have less control over their labor, meaning they don’t get to decide when they show up for work and when they leave.
Pied pointed out how African-American men and women with no college education voted. The majority voted for Hillary Clinton, with 83 percent of African-American men and 95 percent of African-American women voting in her favor. On the other side of the equation, Pied explained how there is a strong support for Trump among white men and women without a college degree.
“If we look at the unemployment rate and see people who were most effected by recession and we break it down by race, black workers are recovering at a much slower rate than white workers are,” she said.
Political science professor Rosalyn Broussard then spoke about the demise of the white middle class and how they participated in it.
“The country is changing, [it] no longer feels that the government works for them,” Broussard said. “So we ask ourselves why so many working class whites went with the Trump movement and why many working class minorities went with the Bernie Sanders Movement.”
Broussard then went on to discuss the history of the middle class. She pointed out how the history of the middle class started in the Industrial Revolution where we first had mass production.
“White collared jobs came from this idea that these people, especially men, would go out and they would have these starch collars, they didn’t work on the floor, they weren’t getting dirty. So they were considered to be clean,” Broussard said.
Right after the Civil War, the 13th amendment ended slavery and 15th amendment gave African-American men the right to vote. However, this was 50 years before women had that right. This was around the time that schools were segregated and Jim Crow laws were set in place.
“As long as things are equal you can separate people by race,” Broussard said.
From the Civil War until the mid 1970s, the South would vote democrat. There were some counties in the South that wouldn’t allow your name on the ballot if you were a republican. President Ronald Reagan appealed to the South as a former democrat by saying, “I didn’t leave my party, my party left me.” The South then ended up going republican.
English professor Phillip Gordon pulled people’s attention with his presentation on LGBTQ+ concerns post election.
“How would I get your attention if I wanted to talk about LGBTQ concerns? So, I’ll start out with a question that I will come back to at the end. Do any of you need to pee right now? Does anyone here have a bottle of water with them?” Gordon said.
Gordon told the crowd about his election night. He spent it at a bar with like-minded friends. At some point in the night, they stopped drinking and started to feel a sensation of fear.
Gordon texted his stepdad a long list of things said during Trump’s campaign that might make a minority concerned. “He responded in a way that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. His response was, ‘Well let’s hope it works out favorably.’ That’s a big hope for a large number of people,” he said.
Gordon then got back to how he started his presentation by asking the same question again.
“So who in here has to pee? Interestingly enough if any of you have to pee, we have a very convenient nearby bathroom in this building that’s unisex, just right out that door. I don’t know how many of you are aware of that fact that this campus has unisex bathrooms and how rare that is at public institutions.”
Gordon described what happened at a school in Virginia. A transgender student who identified as male had been fighting for the right to go the bathroom wherever they would like to during the day. The student didn’t drink water in fear they would have the urge to go to the bathroom and because of this the student has had multiple urinary tract infections and bladder infections.
Clare Forstie spoke about the resurgence of social movements and protests after the election.
“Social movements have a lifecycle. They have a beginning and end,” said Forstie. Social movements can be organized into different organizations. They can go mainstream in different ways and they may start with a local concern and go beyond that.
Social movements help frame the debate in public. They involve resources and allow access. Multiple organizations can be working together within.
Protests are basically a tool of social movements. They have to do with raising awareness around something and there can be different strategies, some violent and some non-violent.
“To answer the question ‘why do people protest?’ protests are pretty effective”, said Forstie. They are effective because they frame social problems. Protests create social change.
The last presentation was by associate professor of political science Shan Sappleton and focused it on democracy.
“One of the reasons we’re here talking about all of this is because we all exist in a democracy.”
Sappleton explained that we have a right to freedom of speech and that democracy is not just about elections. Democracy is a simple rule of the majority. Individuals get to have a say within the democracy on how the government is going to be run.
She asked the audience what values they have to which they answered: justice, equality, freedom and liberty.
“Elections are not unique to democracies,” said Sappleton. “Even North Korea has a democracy. There are different measures to show if a country is a democracy.”
Sappleton explained that we should not see democracy as an endpoint. We should instead look at it as more of a process that can go in different directions. Over time, the country has become more and more democratic.
King asked Gordon to speak on Vice President Mike Pence’s stance on conversion therapy.
Gordon explained conversion therapy is not considered good science or medicine anymore and has been banned in numerous states. The most extreme forms of it involve electroshock therapy. Pence has been on record supporting this.
President-Elect Trump’s social media presence was discussed by Nelson. He talked about how some students are now starting to cite Trump’s words as facts in his class.
Nelson announced that there will be more forums when the President-Elect takes office in January 2017.