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 Professor Sidgwick Speaking

Current speaker So far we have been talking in very general terms about politics and political philosophy. We haven't said a word about the most dramatic turn of events since the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 -- the emergence of Donald Trump as a politician. Trump came almost from nowhere in the 2012 presidential election. He had never held elected office and he was ridiculed by any number of political commentators. In 2016 he was back, and this time he garnered the support of a solid core of people in the Republican Party primaries. He defeated 16 other Republicans and emerged as the party's candidate for the presidency. The leaders of his own party opposed his nomination. A number of prominent conservative intellectuals criticized him and eventually left the Republican Party. The National Review, the conservative magazine founded by William F. Buckley in the 1950s, devoted a cover story to opposing Trump. Experts who study polls for a living predicted that Hillary Clinton would win easily. But they were wrong. On November 8, 2016 Donald Trump lost the popular vote but won a majority in the electoral college. On January 20, 2019 he became president of the United States. What happened? What do you think of the Trump phenomenon? Here are some questions to consider:

Questions about Donald Trump and the Trump Movement

  • Mr. Trump's critics have repeatedly said that he is "unfit" to be president. His supporters think he is perfect for the job. What do you think?

  • How should we describe Donald Trump? He has been called a conservative, a populist, a demagogue, a xenophobe, a fascist, a Nazi, a patriot, a nationalist, a white nationalist, an economic nationalist, a racist, a sexist, a member of the alt-right, and more. What do you think is the best way to describe him?

  • Who are Mr. Trump's core supporters and what are their concerns? I'm thinking here of the people who supported him early on in the 2016 presidential campaign.

  • What are the lessons and the likely consequences of the Trump movement and the Trump presidency?

There has been a lot written about these questions. What I would like each of you to do is to look at Trump from your own perspective. Apply the principles you have presented in this dialogue, and tell us what you think of the Trump phenomenon.

I have asked someone new to join us for this discussion. His name is Mike. He's a student in the political science department. I brought him in because I know that he is pro-Trump; and I thought it would be helpful to have someone here to argue a pro-Trump point of view.

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