The Levin Center at Wayne Law and the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights presented “New President, New Congress – What to Expect,” a panel discussion that explored what changes should students expect from economic policy, civil rights, internal relations and public policy.
Elise Bean, co-director of training and conference at the Levin Center, moderated the event. Panelists included Associate Professor Kevin Deegan-Krause, President of Franklin Public Affairs LLC George Franklin, Majority Floor Leader of the Michigan State Senate Sen. Mike Kowall, retired U.S. Sen. and Chair of the Levin Center Carl Levin and Detroit Free Press Columnist Rochelle Riley.
Deegan-Krause said from studying European politics, he thinks the American government and the electorate should ask two questions: what to expect from other countries and what can the United States expect giving the experiences from other countries.
He said in Europe about ten countries have elected an outsider as a leader. Deegan-Krause said some have led to success.
“It is interesting that in the U.S. we see the same trends as other European country,” Deegan-Krause said. “Some of the challenges will be to see how the U.S. will relate to other countries. Both countries that have been antagonistic to the United States and allies of the United States.”
Franklin said the president-elect’s tax plan would be a field day for corporate lobbyists.
“The rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer,” he said.
Franklin said a reason students see a lot of hatred society is the negativity in recent elections.
“Everyone needs to look in the mirror,” he said. “We are part of the problem by turning on the TV and responding to [the negativity].”
Kowall said students live in interesting times where there is a frustration both Democrats and Republicans feel for the president-elect.
“Republicans are in charge and have all the marbles,” Kowall said. “[Republicans] have exactly 23 months to produce.”
On the topic of division and hatred in the U.S., Kowall said inclusion starts in the home and all depends on how people are brought up.
“We are suppose to treat others the way you want to be treated; some have forgotten that,” he said. “We have to start taking a hard look at what we are doing ourselves.”
Levin said checks and balances would create a firewall against extreme laws. Because of checks and balances, he said the judicial branch can bring dramatic and courageous acts and Democrats and Republicans can filibuster if they find laws too extreme.
“It not just going to be a green light for president-elect,” he said.
Levin said hatred in America’s civil society is a real threat and will be a major challenge for the president-elect.
“Obviously they were there, but there has been a huge effort throughout generations to gradually overcome the hate and fear in society. Political incorrectness has given green light so anyone can say anything, I guess,” he said. "It will be up to our community to take on the increase number of insults. It’s real and all of us have an obligation and responsibility to take this on. It’s unacceptable, [and] it can’t just be a way of life in society."
Riley said this election cycle “lifted the veil” woke up the electors to see the disarray in both major parties, and believes the U.S. is close to having a successful third party bid.
“We need every responsible person we can get to be vigilant and pay attention. [We need] a society where all races, cultures and heritages are accepted,” she said. “We have someone running the free world leading bullies. Saying ‘stop it’ is not how to you deal with the problem.”