UWRF hosts ‘Trump vs. Clinton: The Election of a Lifetime’ roundtable
November 2, 2016
A political issues roundtable called “Trump vs. Clinton: The Election of a Lifetime” was hosted by the Political Science Department on Wednesday, Oct. 26. The event was held from noon to 1:30 p.m. in Abbott Concert Hall in the Kleinpell Fine Arts building.
Six UW-River Falls faculty participated in the panel. They were Neil Kraus, Davida Alperin and Sooh-Rhee Ryu from the Political Science Department and Brian Huffman from Management and Marketing. Cyndi Kernahan and Travis Tubré from the Psychology Department also took part since the roundtable not only focused on people’s thoughts on the candidates but also how psychology factors affect one’s decision.
Panelists commented on the current presidential election for 30 minutes and a question and answer session continued for an hour.
About 37 students attended the event. “I thought the attendance was good. I was pleased that it was 90 minutes and a lot of people stayed for the whole 90 minutes. I think it was also good because different views were expressed on varieties, not just candidates,” Political Science Chair Kraus said.
The panels honestly expressed their thoughts on this year’s election. “I would never say anything I say here in class,” said Huffman, management and marketing professor.
“This election feels very different, in that one of the candidates is unfit to be president and it’s important that I share that, not push it on anyone,” said Alperin, political science professor.
Ryu, political science assistant professor, mentioned her thoughts on Trump’s position on foreign policy and how he is gaining much support. “Certain voters have conservation values. What Trump offers is very appealing to those people. He seems as a strong man who could build fortress around America. [His] positions are not completely wrong, it’s just the way he puts it is very problematic.”
Psychology Professor Kernahan mentioned how psychology takes a large part in the public’s decision. She said once voters make a commitment to a candidate, they come up with a lot of justification that supporters do not easily change their mind. “It’s confirmation bias,” she said.
Psychology Chair Tubré suggested that a lot the voters are ignorant about what they are ignorant about, known as the “Dunning Kruger Effect.”
Not only panelists but also audience members actively took part in the discussion. A woman came in during the discussion and shouted to one of the panelists how much she disagreed with what the panel said.
“I think that’s not too surprising. It’s much more difficult to have a civil discussion on this election, in particular. Some folks were very emotional, including some of our panels. I think that given this election and what has been going on in last several months, it’s hard to have purely logical, not emotional, debate. Still, I think it was civil, even if it was heated at times,” Kraus said.
Asked how much importance civil debates would hold, Kraus said it is critical for people to attend the events and also for more events to be held.
“If people were to be able to watch or attend to discussions like this event, I think it could have an impact on the election,” Kraus said. “Maybe somebody would find something new from the discussion or think about something in a different way because of the information they are presented with. They could have an effect.”