Pugh Panel discusses Trump’s first 100 days

Colby Conversations On Race hosted an open forum to discuss the first 100 days of Trump’s presidency. The forum, part of the continuing series titled “Political Dialogue Not Debate” was led by a panel of students and professors moderated by Professor Atkins. Representing the conservative viewpoint, Professor Reisert and Nile Dixon ‘20 expressed their optimism that the administration would work to reduce “burdensome” regulation and promote domestic hiring. Dixon remarked that the “reversal of the keystone pipeline [decision]” would provide a boon for domestic oil production and that the Buy American, Hire American executive order, would protect high-skilled jobs with the new requirements for H1B visas. Reisert commented that he supported President Trump’s steps to reduce federal oversight of public education. “[Ideally] There should be no federal role in education,” remarked Reisert. On the topic of education, Professor Maisel commented that he believed Betsy DeVos to be a terrible appointee. Arguing that her lack of experience with public education disqualified her from the job. For Lily Hermann ‘19 the issue is personal, coming from a struggling school district with a low graduation rate she expressed concern with DeVos and emphasised the importance of providing free meals as an incentive in disadvantaged school districts.

On the issue of executive orders, Reisert remarked that the judicial block of President Trump’s controversial immigration executive order stands on tenuous legal footing. “Congress has delegated a lot of discretionary authority to the President,” he said. The Constitution, according to Reisert, does not limit the President’s authority to deny entry to non-citizens. Judicial opposition to the order is primarily a “reaction to his rhetoric” according to Reisert. The executive actions taken against so-called sanctuary cities have limited legal ground “Where Congress tells you to spend it you have to spend it,” he said.

The panel also discussed legislative accomplishments in the first one hundred days of the Trump presidency. Hermann commented that his agenda has been hampered due to large “schisms within the Republican party.” But that he “hasn’t stepped back from any of his campaign promises.” Maisel commented that Republicans “achieved a majority in both the house and the senate but has not passed any legislation.” Maisel also highlighted that the failure of the Trump administration to make significant legislative accomplishments could be exacerbated by the fact that there are currently “700 [federal] positions for which he has not nominated anyone.”

The panel concluded with a discussion of whether there is reason to be optimistic about the new administration. Despite fierce ideological differences, the panel reached a consensus of optimism with Reisert remarking that “a moral attitude of optimism is preferable even under the worst of circumstances.”