The Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics featured four panelists in Tuesday’s “One Year into the Trump Administration” event at Wallis Annenberg Hall.
The event aimed to provide analytical insight into President Donald Trump’s first year in office and his first official State of the Union address.
The panel included Bloomberg View journalist Francis Wilkinson, The New York Times’ Los Angeles Bureau Chief Adam Nagourney, author Lynn Vavreck and CNN and Fox News commentator James Lacy. Jessica Yellin, who previously served as the Chief White House Correspondent for CNN, moderated the conversation.
The panel emphasized the issue of polarization in the current political climate. According to Vavrek, this polarization throughout the nation has defined the past year of Trump’s presidency and the 2016 election.
“Part of what’s hard about this moment in time in America politically is the separation between the two parties,” Vavreck said. “It’s now fully transformed. The parties are so different from each other now, and then there’s an emotional aspect that gets layered on top of that.”
The discussion shifted to analyzing Trump’s State of the Union address as it aired live.
In the address, Trump focused on nationwide issues such as veteran care, environmental work, medical care, immigration laws, opioid and drug addiction, military funding, nuclear weapons, ISIS and Israel.
After describing his vision for the next year to resolve these issues, Trump stated that “the most difficult challenges bring out the best in Americans.”
Several attendees agreed that Trump’s address started off well, but that the president eventually reverted back to one-sided campaign rhetoric.
“I think there were way too many anecdotal experiences [in the address],” said Sahiba Gill, a freshman majoring in neuroscience. “It felt very much like exploiting these people’s stories and using it as propaganda.”
Vavreck said that Trump minimized statements about what defines a “true American” and how to “make America great again,” which she believed contradicted his plan to promote a theme of bipartisanship and unity in his address.
However, to Lina Goggins-Rendon, a freshman majoring in theatre, the address was rather enjoyable to watch, and she plans to attend more events that provide further analysis on politics and current events.
“[In the past year,] I avoided the news a lot, so [the event] was a nice refresher to get the current perspective and reflect on the things that I did know about and was really involved in,” Goggins-Rendon said.
In a statement, Mayor Eric Garcetti expressed concerns about the “weak and misguided ideas” that were promoted in Trump’s address.
“We heard this Administration’s mistaken priorities — giveaways for the wealthiest corporations; breaking up immigrant families; and nothing real on infrastructure,” Garcetti said in the statement. “My message is loud and clear: Listen to America’s Mayors who run police departments, build infrastructure, and create jobs. We need a Washington that listens to America, not one that threatens and divides.”