State of the Union and Public Policy Forum


Photo Credit: Jamell Christian

Jamell Christian

On February 8th, Montgomery College hosted a public policy forum at the Germantown Campus for the State of the Union. The speakers were: Ira Shapiro, a democratic lawyer and author of “Broken: Can the Senate Save Itself?” and “The Last Great Senate,” and Amanda Carpenter, a conservative CNN contributor and former staffer to former U.S. senator Jim DeMint (R) SC and current U.S. senator Ted Cruz (R) TX. MC’s very own Aram Hessami, Professor of Political Science, moderated the meeting.

The speakers introduced themselves and where they stand on the political spectrum. Ms. Carpenter emphasized that “democracy is in danger.” Though Trump’s influence is waning, she quoted a source from the Bulwark that says about 30% of Republicans wanted Trump to run again. She then transitioned to the fact that Democrats and Republicans must create a safe space and find common ground.

Shapiro had a different take, though he agrees that the future of democracy is in danger since the rise of Trump. He blamed the U.S. Senate for repeatedly and deliberately excusing Trump and pushing through justices for decisions.

Dr. Hessami asked if social media is to blame for the polarization in American politics. Carpenter replied that it is tough to confront a polarizing president, comparing Nixon and Trump. Moreover, she commented that the best way to stop the influence of Trump is through the ballot box.

Shapiro disagreed, commenting that the large part of the Republican Party that wants to hold the country hostage was a small fraction before Trump—furthermore, there is a need for more confidence in governing. In 2013, Congress got a low score during the second term of the Obama Administration. Shapiro answered that social media politics were shrill and divisive.

Regarding the State of the Union, which had taken place the night before, Carpenter praised President Biden for his speech, saying that “this was Biden’s most vital moment.” Shapiro agreed and commented that Biden was true to himself, showing an example of the two years of the Biden administration. In summary, “Biden is a good-faith player,” he said.

Lastly, Dr. Hessami questioned why the Republican leadership is not on board in condemning Trump for the January 6th attack. Carpenter referred to Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the leading Republican, and Representative Adam Kinzinger, who spoke against Trump. Shapiro joins by naming some of President Biden’s accomplishments during his two years in office.

The panelists concluded the meeting saying that the American government today stays ever-changing, and we must strive to fight any and all forms of fascism within our political culture to have a bright future for the generations to come.