Presidential Forum Highlights Many Problems, Few Solutions

Hundreds gathered at the Hankin Academic Arts Auditorium on November 11 for the WCC Presidential Forum, an annual event in which a panel of experts is invited to to the campus to discuss current social and political topics. This year’s sponsors included Chase Bank, J.P. Morgan, and Con Edison.

The panel discussion was moderated by PBS radio talk show host Brian Lehrer. The panel included CNN co-anchor John Berman, Fordham political science professor Dr. Christina Greer, FOX national correspondent Douglas Kennedy, political strategist Alexis Grenell, and former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer.

A major topic of discussion was the political climate under the Trump administration. Kennedy opened the discussion by expressing discontent with both political parties. He claimed both sides are “playing a game of moral chess,” and are not focused on what they were elected to do; to solve social problems the country is facing.

Opinions were divided, with most claiming that the current era is marked by divisiveness and is filled with “Gotcha Politics.” The latter phrase was defined as politicians trying to get dirt on each other. One claim was put forth that the press is very unfair to President Trump.

The discussion included a number of current topics, such as voter suppression in some states, the high turnout in the midterm elections, and the historic year for women, a number of whom had just been elected into office. The overall tone of the speakers’ comments was pessimistic, as the panel focused on the clear disconnect between liberals and conservatives.

Ari Fleischer, the only republican in the panel, said that what needed to be done can be summed up in a single word. “The simplest word in the English language,” but the hardest for everyone in Washington to accept: compromise. “The Democrats and Republicans are both right and wrong on many things,” Fleischer said, “but without compromise we will continue to live in a world of disarray.”

The United States is currently “going through a phase” with President Trump, Fleischer continued, and while the criticism he receives at times is well warranted, there are other occasions when “he is being treated rather unfairly by the press.”

As the event came to a close, the panel turned to the audience for their opinions. Some students  asked about education and how they can benefit from it without going into a debt. Dr. Greer responded by recommending that students fully understand the benefit and effectiveness of community colleges. She said they play a substantial role in reducing the amount of potential student loan debt a student might accumulate during their educational careers. She added that education reform should be at the forefront for politicians.

The discussion was followed by a reception in the Hankin Academic Arts Building art gallery.  

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