King's Hour: The Trouble with Trump
October 2, 2017
The first King’s Hour of the academic year held Wednesday, September 27, 2017 consisted of a 30-minute expert panel discussion, followed by Q&A, on the Donald Trump presidency in the United States. King’s Hour is a series of culturally and academically engaging lectures, discussions or performances of common interest to the entire King’s community. King's Hour is held in the Joanne and Peter Kenny Theatre and is open to the community.
During his talk, “The Knucklehead with the Nukes,” Dr. Graham Broad, King’s Associate Professor of History stated that while Trump has a pretty good national security team, “the problem is that everything we know about the Trump White House suggests that he has very little propensity to listen to his military advisors.” The advisors President Trump listens to are those ideologues he brought to the White House with him. "These people have a curious isolationist world view contemptuous of long-standing alliances and trading agreements yet favour massive increases to already gigantic military expenditure and have a willingness to use force globally without regard to the consequences," says Dr. Broad.
In speaking about North Korea, Dr. Broad says, “there is no solution to North Korea’s nuclear weapons short of war. And war is impossible without South Korea’s support, which Trump does not have. Living with North Korea’s nuclear weapons, just like we’ve lived with other nuclear weapons pointed at us for decades seems to be the only sensible option. Unfortunately, sense is in short supply because the world’s most powerful nuclear arsenal is in the hands of an internet troll.”
Dr. Jacquie Newman, Associate Professor of Political Science at King’s, spoke about Trump’s charisma in a talk entitled “The Undemocratic Impulses of Populism.” Dr. Newman argues that although it’s hard to see charisma in a pudgy man in an ill-fitting suit with a bad comb-over charismatic authority is not about the leader. Charisma is about emotional resonance followers have with the leader. Charisma is emotional.
Dr. Newman went on to say, as legal rational authority, Trump is a failure. He has been unable to pass a substantive agenda through a congress dominated by the party he is leader of. His response is to go on the road and hold campaign-style rallies to bring focus on his personal magnificence and to attack those who appear to question signifiers of The Great America such as the flag and national anthem.
Dr. Newman says she is concerned because basing truth on feelings and romantic idealization of America and Americans sets a framework for action that is based on emotion and not the rule of law. For example, “we only have to look at the disdain shown for legal institutions, the Attorney General’s Office, the lack of concern and attention to legal issues of conflict of interest, sexual assault, and if any part of this Russian scandal is true – treason,” says Dr Newman.
Dr. Scott Kline, Vice President Academic and Dean of St. Jerome’s University contextualized Trump’s supporters in his talk entitled “Hillbillies, Evangelicals, and Donald Trump.” Dr. Kline states that “rural isolation is not only a geographical boundary but also a symbolic boundary that has shaped the worldview of rural working-class folk.” Those who voted for Trump believed “he was the only candidate willing to defend religious liberty, protect traditional moral values and listen to their stories of fighting against a system they genuinely feel is rigged in favour of the establishment and liberal elites.” For those that voted for him, Trump is doing what he was put in office to do – disrupt the system, according to Kline. He is not focused on legislative victories but on his ability to disrupt.
Following Dr. Kline’s remarks, audience members were invited to submit questions for the panelist.
King’s Hour resumes on Wednesday, November 1, 2017 with "Indigenous Storytelling and Humour" with Drew Hayden Taylor. All are welcome.