Each month, come to Café Des Taxis to have a drink and discussion with your professors and other experts about important events happening in the world. Share your questions and your views, and join the long tradition of politics in the pub. In October we are going to discuss the eclipse of American democracy in the Trump era.
Is American liberal democracy in trouble? Is it a recent trend or were there warning signs before? Or is President Donald Trump just the most vocal and visible embodiment of a social, economic and political change that sweeps across America today?
The lead discussant will be Steve Kashkett – former senior US diplomat, who among other things, held the post of Chargé d’Affaires/Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy here in Prague 2013–2016 and served as a senior advisor for Europe at the US Missions to the United Nations, N.Y.
This event is part of the Festival of Democracy, the associated event of the Forum 2000 Conference. #Fedem
REPORT FROM THE EVENT
Professors in the Pub – The Eclipse of American Democracy in the Trump Era
The whole world gazes in disbelief at the current President of the United States of America – Donald Trump. Is American liberal democracy in trouble? Is it “just” Trump’s eccentric persona, or is President Donald Trump in fact the most vocal and visible embodiment of social, economic and political change that is sweeping across America today?
Our guest for the evening Mr. Steve Kashkett – a former senior career diplomat with first-hand experience serving for over a year in President Trump’s diplomatic corps – is of the opinion that the situation we are in today is the result of a an old-fashioned interest-ridden electoral system characterized by permanent campaigning colliding with popular anger at the establishment and a desire to show dissatisfaction.
It is a fact that the electoral college system does not always reflect the popular will – as was the case with the most recent presidential election in which the eventual runner-up Hillary Clinton got more popular votes, but not enough votes in the electoral college to “get the seat”. It is also an acknowledged drawback of the electoral college system that it is vulnerable to so-called “gerrymandering” – purposeful change of electoral districts according to political preference of the local population to get a “safe” party-favorable result, often leading to disproportional representation across districts.
Furthermore, campaign length and financing are the big “elephants in the room”, both conducive to cooperation between candidates – presidential or senatorial – and big business interest. According to Kashkett, it takes about a billion dollars over two years to run for president, which automatically disqualifies less well-connected candidates. Similarly, it seems that as soon as Senate elections are over, the campaign resumes once more thus putting politicians and legislators into a state of “permanent campaign” …which is not such good news for the legislative process.
Throughout the evening, the “pub guests” got to discuss associated issues such as the impact of economic crisis on the US middle class, legacy of President Obama’s foreign policy, as well as a general rise in populism in the West. None of the current problems imply a clear cause, neither a simple solution.
The event took place on 11th October 2018, at the Anglo-American University, with 17 pub discussants.
By Daniela Lences Chalaniova