Robert Mickey, political science associate professor, analyzed shifts in voter behavior, predicted how the party system will change in the aftermath of the election and encouraged members to remain politically involved at an event hosted by the University of Michigan’s chapter of College Democrats.
More than 50 people attended the event titled “What Happened?,” which began with Mickey stressing there is no single answer to explain the success of President-elect Donald Trump.
“Any outcome that’s this close isn’t going to have any one cause,” Mickey said. “We don’t know what is a momentary glyph and what is a pattern because everybody engineers these explanations to advance their own goals for their own party.”
Mickey then discussed the relative newness of American democracy and how that could facilitate fragility in American institutions.
“Non-crazy people are worried about the stability of the American democracy,” he said. “One reason why we overestimate the strength of American institutions is because we mislead ourselves about how long America has been a democracy.”
Mickey provided warnings he had for members, citing the normalization of media-bullying and dirty politic as a hindrance to progress. He also cautioned against what he sees as plausible actions of the Trump administration: the bullying of the media and military corruption.
“The willingness of Trump to bully the media is scary, especially while he’s filling his cabinet with generals who have been fired or pushed into retirement,” he said. “The fact that they’re going to help oversee current generals is kind of troubling.”
Mickey then mentioned that, despite the unpredictable nature of Trump’s past behavior, his presidency has the potential to be popular, which could advance more of his policies considering the unified Republican government.
“Members of Congress are going to stick with him as long as he’s at this level of popularity,” he said. “He’s going to get his honeymoon for these first weeks or months and could even cross the 50-percent mark. Americans’ views on the economy have increased dramatically in the past three weeks due to this drug called party identification.”
Despite the Republican unification of the government, Mickey stressed that a lot of what Trump has promised is easier said than done.
“You’re not going to be on the outside looking in for a long time,” he said. “Dismantling policies that have defenders and constituencies is a lot harder than it looks. Policies that you may like are on the chopping block, but don’t expect that they’re going to go away. Republicans have been trying to undo them since the ’50s.”
Mickey ended his talk by encouraging the College Democrats to partake in more civil action. He warned against using elitist establishment rhetoric and argued a more populist stance with tangible civil action will prove more effective.
“I would caution you against inaction,” Mickey said. “The same whites in the Rust Belt who voted for Trump voted twice for Obama, so the people who support Trump are deplorable, but they’re not unpersuadable. You guys stood in the Diag for half an hour, which is great, but what are you going to do now? What policies are you going to put in place?”
It was the sentiment of discourse and action that LSA senior Shanthi Meron found to be Mickey’s most important point.
“The point that he made about us not alienating Trump supporters and instead engaging them in discussion was important because there is such a strong us-versus-them mentality,” Meron said. “We need to realize that there is common ground to be reached.”
Similarly, LSA junior Jay Nautiyal found Mickey’s push for action inspiring.
“Getting involved civically keeps College Democrats from seeming whiny and coddled,” Nautiyal said. “If we get out there and show that we are willing to work hard for our values we can work against that stigma and toward progress.”