In a recent Bryan Series event on Nov. 12, the presidential election was at the forefront of conversation as “Firing Line” host Maragret Hoover and CNN correspondent John Avlon gave their analysis on current post-election events.
Mark Updegrove, a presidential historian, acted as a moderator in the conversation.
The Bryan Series event was the third event held virtually this year. The conversation focused on the post-election situation surrounding Biden’s victory and Trump’s refusal to concede the election.
The speakers first discussed that even though Trump lost the election, he still has a significant voter base and people who support his ideals.
Hoover stated that Trump’s loss of the election was a “repudiation of Trump, but not Trumpism,” indicating that even though Trump has lost the election, a large voter base still supports the ideals he has introduced and his policies will most likely affect future Republican candidates who run for president.
Avlon commented on the current condition of the transition of power. He stated that the main reason why many Americans voted for Biden was that they are tired of the partisan politics and policies practiced by Trump.
The pandemic was also central to discussion, and both Hoover and Avlon talked extensively about how the pandemic has affected the transition of power and how it led to Trump’s failure to win re-election.
“I think without (the coronavirus) Donald Trump would have sailed to re-election,” Hoover stated, citing that 55 percent of Americans disapproved of Trump’s handling of the virus. She also discussed how the pandemic definitely hurt Trump’s election campaign, as many Americans did not approve of his pandemic policies.
Avlon elaborated on Hoover’s points, pointing out how divisive politics coupled with poor pandemic handling accelerated Trump’s demise.
The discussion then transitioned to Biden and his side of the election. Avlon stressed that Biden’s victory did not lead to more Democratic seats in the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Avlon also emphasized that even though Biden has won, he still has to manage a divided government. He pointed out that one of the reasons many still voted for Trump was because of strongman-style politics. He stated that “ … that swaggering style of politics appeals to some people,” which goes to show how an individual’s personality in addition to their policy can lead to them holding public office and having a large voter base.
“Donald Trump has exposed a lot about our politics that it’s not as much about ideas as we would like to think,” Avlon added, reinforcing the point that many voted for Trump due to his style rather than his policies.
The final points of the conversation analyzed how damaging not conceding the election will be for Trump and the country. Hoover deliberated on this matter and stated that it would be harder for Biden to unite the country, especially after such a divided four years, and that it would damage the country’s democracy.
“Refusing to acknowledge that you lost fair and square is far more damaging than any Russian disinformation campaign or any effort by a foreign adversary to undermine our democracy,” Hoover said.
The conversation concluded with final comments from all speakers about how vital the next six to eight weeks would be for the presidential transition, and how the actions taken by both sides will affect how power is transitioned.
Guilford College students were asked about how they felt about the Bryan Series event and the post-election situation.
Arul Sharma, a sophomore interested in politics, stated that he liked the broad perspectives that the Bryan Series provided and enjoyed the discussion between the guests which attended. When asked about the post-election situation, he stated that “the next few weeks will determine how smooth the transition between power will be,” and later added that a quick transition of power will be necessary since the pandemic still lingers.
“The situation still isn’t clear and it would benefit everyone if transition happened quickly and peacefully,” added sophomore Sarvesh Somasundaram.
The Bryan Series event provided meaningful insight into the post-election process, and provided the Guilford College community with opinions and discussion that offered a glimpse into the complex situation following the election.