Poli sci profs discuss American election

Jamie Gillies spoke at a panel on the American presidential election on Thursday (Cara Smith/AQ)

The biggest issue in today’s American election is the lack of an overarching issue for voters to decide on. This was the message delivered by Jamie Gillies in his 15 minute presentation last Thursday.

Shaun Narine and Joseph Mascuilli also gave presentations in the three-person panel discussion about the American election, hosted by the Political Science Department.

The Holy Cross conference room was filled with 51 people, mostly students occupying seats from the third row back.

“This campaign is virtually devoid of any substantive discussion about the future of the United States. To me these presidential debates were some of the worst ever. They were simply not about anything,” Gillies said.

In previous years, there has been an issue for people to talk about. In 2004 it was the war on terror, and in 2008 it was the great recession. Gillies says when you have elections without an issue for people to rally around, challengers do well.

“Those who are left on the fence, if they vote at all they’ll likely break to the challenger,” Gillies said.

Mascuilli spoke about the importance of having a vision for America like Obama did in 2008.

“Obama had a grand vision of inclusiveness, of getting over the race question in the states, and it really attracted people,” Mascuilli said.

Romney’s vision he explained, is more of a business vision for the future of America.

“A lot of voters are willing to vote for him even if he’s lying. His rhetoric has been solid. In the debates he succeeded in showing himself in a presidential alternative,” Mascuilli said.

Many people following the election have agreed Obama did not do well in the three presidential debates.

“I would conclude overall that what the election really should be about is how do you compromise polarized positions to deal with the economy and deal with foreign policy issues,” Mascuilli said.

Foreign policy issues made up the bulk of Narine’s talk. He emphasized the importance of domestic policy in maintaining the ability to enforce foreign policies.

“The ability to be a powerful entity is contingent on the strength of the state,” he said.

“It’s not hard to see that things are very wrong at home,” Narine said, citing the increased racism in the United States since Obama’s rise to the presidency.

“America may accelerate her own decline.”

Among several entertaining possibilities put forward by the panel, the most unlikely was a Romney/Biden administration.

If the candidates tie in the electoral college, the president is determined by the House of Representatives and the vice-president is decided by the Senate. The House is controlled by the Republicans and the Senate by the Democrats.

A more likely possibility is Obama wins a second term but is unable to accomplish anything because of the hostility in republican House.

Dozens of election predicting tools have appeared on the Internet over the last few weeks, among them ‘512 paths to the White House’ on the New York Times website, and 270towin.com. Both tools allow users to predict the winner of the race by selecting which party wins which state.

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