Senators, journalists discuss future under Trump presidency

Three senators discussed the future under President-elect Trump at an event Tuesday evening. Elizabeth Rickert | Hatchet Photographer
Three senators discussed the future under President-elect Trump at an event Tuesday evening. Elizabeth Rickert | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by reporter Elizabeth Georgakopolous.

To address some of those questions left after the unexpected victory of President-elect Donald Trump, the School of Media and Public Affairs hosted a conversation with Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., and Dana Bash, alumna and CNN chief political correspondent, Tuesday evening on the aftermath of the election and the uncertainties of a Trump administration.

The panelists discussed many key issues on Trump, including how the senate could act as a check on the incoming president and what this election result could mean for the future of America.

Here are some highlights:

1. On the road ahead

All three senators agreed that Trump’s election will lead to a different type of presidency that features a note of uncertainty.

“There is an unpredictable nature of this presidency. That is the part that is shaking everyone up and people are expecting things to be different,” Lankford, the only Republican on the panel, said. “I expect he will follow through on some of the campaign promises, but not all.”

Coons said that throughout a Trump administration, the senate is going to be more important than it was ever before to act as a check against Trump and any proposals he makes that go against what the majority of Americans really want.

Klobuchar said that even though the Republicans have the majority in Congress, the Democrats will still have power. Most legislation needs 60 votes to pass and because 48 seats in the senate belong to Democrats, their influence rests in the remaining votes needed for that majority, she said.

2. Fears among the American people

There is a great deal of fear among Americans, especially those who have been affected by Trump’s rhetoric and proposals for the nation, the panelists said.

Klobuchar said many of those fears stem from a breakdown between politics and policy. She said that the way Trump treats people, his use of social media, and his policies will have the greatest impact on the country.

Bash said the biggest issue is that the campaign has evolved into a presidency, and Trump cannot continue to act as he did on the campaign trail. She said he needs to learn how to act more presidentially, which means not tweeting everything he thinks and not making unsupported claims.

“Campaigning is one thing, but governing is another,” Bash said.

Klobuchar agreed with Bash and said that U.S. laws and traditions will prevent Trump from following through on most of what he calls for on social media, like stripping citizenship from those who burn the American flag.

“The law is greater any tweets,” he said. “The law is greater than anyone’s rhetoric.”

Lankford said the president is the leader of a co-equal part among three branches and does not have as much power as the role is perceived to have. He said this means people do not need to be as worried as they currently are for any long-lasting policy changes because there are other branches of government to ensure all policies are constitutional and not reckless.

3. Advice for the future

All three senators said they will stay involved in politics and encourage people to not let the events of this past election deter them from participating in politics.

“We need you to be watchdogs. We need you to urge us to action and we need people to volunteer and be a part of the system,” Klobuchar said.

Lankford said that it is important to be interested in policy, just as much as politics.

“Politics is the job interview and policy is the job. Be more interested in the job than the job interview,” he said. “We are America and we will work this out.”

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