Panel discusses Trump’s first year as president


(From left to right) Bloomberg View journalist Francis Wilkinson, CNN and Fox News commentator James Lacy, author Lynn Vavreck and The New York Times’ Los Angeles Bureau Chief Adam Nagourney discussed the role of polarization in Donald Trump’s presidency. Autria Mashian | Daily Trojan

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.”

1 reply
  1. JendaStenda
    JendaStenda says:

    This recap of your discussion reminds me of the tale of the 3 blind man describing the features of an elephant. In this case your panel along with the seated democrats in the Room were not able to acknowledge or celebrate the turnaround the country is experiencing on so many important metrics, many that previous administrations have failed to do. W and Obama failed miserably with the economy and this president, despite tepid support from his own party and lock step opposition from the left bolstered by a media that is far from doing its mandate of reporting the news…this president has provided leadership to America and to the world where we see so many other countries policies shifting.

    As a legal immigrant to the USA and Trojan grad, the administrations promoted immigration policies is as fair a compromise as one could expect. It promotes personal growth within our system, punishes bad behavior, enables the illegals to build on their accomplishments and most importantly, allows us to remove bad actors and it is a price we as Americans pay for and acknowledge for the open border policies we have had.

    My only disappointment with the SotU Address is that the state of the union is split, there is a grave cancer set in the Justice Department and especially the FBI that has not only wasted fantastic amount of resources in both capital and goodwill but also has contributed to severely in slowing down the turnaround that is occurring in our country and by default the world.

    Future comparisons to the Reagan Revolution will fall significantly short if this Administration continues building on momentum it has developed and unleashing the great American spirit that first drew me to this country.

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