By Justin Provo, Contributing Reporter
In the hand-carved decorations of Ganz Hall, a faculty panel discussed ways in which the American Dream needed to be reconsidered with respect to the 2016 presidential election.
Panel members gave passionate pleas, brimming of several important topics for the audience members to consider as areas to affect change.
Professor Margaret Rung of history discussed the importance of referencing historical precedent.
“The 1890s… was a period of extreme economic distress, it was a period of substantial class conflict… of racial tension, and of contested ideas about America’s role in the world.” Rung said.
Many of these themes mirror today’s political climate. When considering the importance of this election given the historical precedent, Rung suggests that there is likely to be a restructuration of the two major parties.
“I think they will be forced to restructure,” Rung said. “And I think there’s a real possibility of a major political movement… to help the parties reform from within.”
Professor Leon Bailey of the sociology department continued from Dr. Rung’s discussion of the Populist Party formation in the 1890s and made a contemporary connection to the campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders. While Bailey referred to mainstay American political parties as “corporate parties,” he argued that Sanders successfully “gave young people a more favorable impression of socialism.”
Bailey also identified Sanders’ ability to mount a seriously competitive presidential campaign “based upon small contributions without huge infusions of corporate capital.”
Professor Marjorie Jolles of women and gender studies discussed Secretary Hillary Clinton’s evolution and embrace of gender between her two presidential campaigns.
Jolles indicated that that being a woman unfairly contributed to Clinton’s criticisms throughout the majority of her career. Clinton avoided the topic of gender in her 2008 presidential bid as strategy.
“She wouldn’t mention gender again until her concession speech… she told her audience that ‘we weren’t able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling,’” Jolles said.
Jolles noted that Clinton has since chosen to identify as a woman and has since experienced her best success in a presidential campaign.
Professor Mike Bryson of sustainability studies discussed the political polarization of climate change.
“As we revisit and redefine the American dream… we’re going to have to figure out how to live on a warming and increasingly unstable planet,” Bryson said.
Bryson claimed that climate change is not a partisan issue, and deserves the immediate attention of all politicians.