Universities are increasingly closed off from Republican viewpoints, Professor Samuel Popkin of University of California San Diego told a post-election session hosted by the Woodrow Wilson School Nov. 17.
“There are very few scientists who can be Republican anymore,” said Popkin, author of a forthcoming book titled The Republican Crackup and the Future of Presidential Politics. That’s led to a cultural shift in universities, he said, aided by the growing religious-secular divide in America. “It’s very hard sometimes to get an understanding of the diversity of evangelicals, Republicans, and conservatives.”
Professor Nolan McCarty, chair of Princeton’s politics department, added that although Princeton is a fairly ideologically diverse place, Trump voters are not represented. “There are many conservatives and Republicans on the faculty, and I couldn’t find one Trump supporter,” McCarty said.
The panel, titled “What Happened? What's Next?” attracted about 200 students and community members. Other panelists were NPR international correspondent Deborah Amos and Ali Valenzuela, assistant professor of politics at Princeton.
Popkin and McCarty said major problems in both the Republican and Democratic parties paved the way for Donald Trump’s presidential nomination and election. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz ’92 damaged the Republican Party, “opening the doors to Trump,” Popkin said.
“It was Ted Cruz more than any person who destroyed the possibility of the Republican party making any headway on immigration, gay marriage, and women’s rights,” Popkin said, describing the three issues as the most critical for expanding party outreach. He argued that a candidate like Trump can be nominated only when their party has a major obstruction to serious discussions of policy.
Meanwhile, a rift in the Democratic Party and poor mobilization of voters played a large role in Trump’s victory, McCarty said, adding that “an utter collapse of the Democratic Party on the state level” weakened the Democratic Party on the federal level.
Valenzuela cautioned against those who say the Democratic Party should abandon minority voters “in favor of some rightward shift.”
“Latinos, blacks, Asian Americans, and other minority voters should not be scapegoated in this election,” he said. “They supported Clinton in record numbers; they showed up to vote in record numbers. So any talk at all about abandoning these voters … is frankly electoral malpractice.”
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Valenzuela warned against normalizing Trump’s actions, citing several examples of racist and sexist speech by the president-elect. “He’s not normal, and his campaign promises and behavior are not OK,” Valenzuela said, to audience applause.
Also on Thursday afternoon, Adm. Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, spoke about national security issues facing the new administration in a public lecture in McCosh 50.
Mullen, a visiting professor at the Woodrow Wilson School, discussed the complicated foreign policy legacy of the Obama administration and spoke about the behind-the-scenes setbacks and challenges that often plague presidential transitions.
The discussion touched on a variety of topics, from the problem with military officials inserting themselves into elections and the political process to the ways the Trump presidency might affect American strategic alliances across the world.