Barry McNamara  |   Published September 10, 2020

‘Tuesday Afternoon Politics’ Debuts

Weekly political science discussion series on Zoom kicked off Sept. 8 with analysis of upcoming presidential election.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – A new political discussion forum made its debut at Monmouth College on Sept. 8, featuring a lively one-hour exchange about the upcoming presidential election.

Hosted by Mike Nelson, chair of the College’s political science department, the initial “Tuesday Afternoon Politics” discussion was led by his faculty colleague, Andre Audette.

WHAT'S ON T.A.P.? It's 'Tuesday Afternoon Politics,' a weekly discussion series s...WHAT'S ON T.A.P.? It's 'Tuesday Afternoon Politics,' a weekly discussion series started this year by the College's political science department. Via Zoom, students, faculty and staff discussed presidential candidates Donald Trump and Joe Biden, following an introduction by Audette that focused on the recent national conventions.

“(Conventions are) about bringing partisans home, bringing people like Bernie (Sanders) voters back to the party,” he said.

Two of the students who participated in the discussion said bringing one demographic of those people home is a legitimate concern for the Democrats.

“Young people don’t feel the need to vote after Bernie lost,” said Josh Case ’24 of Grand Junction, Colo. “My candidate is not there, so what’s the point of voting?”

Agreed Frida Gonzalez ’21 of Chicago: “Young people are almost treating it like a strike. I think young voter turnout is going to be horrendous. A lot of young people feel hopeless right now.”

“Young people are almost treating it like a strike. I think young voter turnout is going to be horrendous. A lot of young people feel hopeless right now.” Frida Gonzalez ’21

Speaking as an older voter, faculty member Ann Capion said: “Biden was not my first choice, but I still think we stand a better chance under a Biden White House. I’m disappointed to hear that young people aren’t willing to take a chance on him.”

Matt Datlof ’22 of Las Vegas sees both pros and cons for Biden. While agreeing there’s a widespread “lack of enthusiasm” for the Democratic nominee, he also pointed out “there are a lot of upset voters, and they may be more motivated than they were in 2016.”

During that election, Trump came up with nicknames for the candidates who appeared to stand the greatest chance of challenging him for re-election in November. Although some might find that off-putting, Audette said it worked well strategically.

“His nicknaming the candidates was successful politically,” he said. “If he were to find something that sticks, some way to define the Biden campaign – maybe something stronger than ‘Sleepy Joe’ – he could do that before Biden can define himself.”

A definition from Biden needs to happen soon, said Abierre Minor ’21 of Chicago.

“I don’t think Biden has defined his candidacy, other than to say he’s not Donald Trump, which I don’t think is enough,” she said.

No matter who wins the Nov. 3 election, Audette said unity will be a key moving forward.

“I think there will be a peaceful transition of power,” he said. “But at the mass level, a large segment of people will be unhappy with the results. Efforts will need to be made to unify people a little bit more, regardless of the outcome. This is an iffy time in American politics. I don’t know how much further we can divide ourselves.”

“This is an iffy time in American politics. I don’t know how much further we can divide ourselves.” Andre Audette

As the first hour of “Tuesday Afternoon Politics” wound down, Audette was asked what to look for in the weeks leading up to the election.

“The debates will begin at the end of this month, which is something for people who have been starved for campaigning, because there hasn’t been much of that lately,” he said, before referencing what figures to be a surge in mail-in ballots because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “I think it will also be interesting to see how the voting procedures in various states will influence the election.”

Audette was also asked to offer his opinion on the biggest question of all: Who will the election?

“My prediction is, I don’t know,” he replied. “But I’m leaning toward saying Trump will win re-election, but it’s a lot closer than it was a while ago.”

“Tuesday Afternoon Politics” will occasionally feature guest speakers, and that will be the case next week when Illinois state Sen. Mattie Hunter, a 1976 Monmouth graduate, will participate in a special Constitution Day discussion of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.

To receive an invitation for that Zoom session or future sessions of “Tuesday Afternoon Politics,” contact Nelson.

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