Cardinal Conversations hosted Christina Sommers and Andrew Sullivan in their most recent event, “Sexuality and Politics,” in the Hauck Auditorium yesterday evening. Moderated by Deborah Rhode, the event probed the success of Trump’s presidential campaign, criticisms of contemporary feminism and flaws in the #MeToo movement against sexual assault.
Kathryn Stoner, deputy director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, introduced Sommers, a scholar at the conservative think tank the American Enterprise Institute, and Sullivan, a conservative political commentator at publications ranging from The Daily Beast to The Atlantic, explaining the Cardinal Conversations mission to provoke thoughtful discussion across the political spectrum.
Rhode opened the debate by asking Sullivan to expound on his views on the Donald Trump’s presidency and the United States’ current political climate.
“I’m generally not at all optimistic about this,” Sullivan said. “What you have is someone who has been brilliantly able to capture a moment of discontent in the country and the world… who has nonetheless cemented a cult-like following within what used to be the Republican party. We are watching the norms of the democratic society be eroded.”
Rhode probed the panelists to explore the reasons why President Trump has garnered support among certain demographics, such as white women and the religious right.
Sommers agreed that Trump has gained support among religious groups such as evangelical Christians in spite of actions that are often seem incompatible with their teachings, citing an article she read investigating evangelical leaders supporting Trump, in which a minister described Trump’s transgressions as “the way of President Trump seeking God.”
According to Sullivan, Trump has tapped into legitimate concerns for many American citizens that have been dismissed in elite circles. Sullivan argued that technology-induced job displacement and massive demographic changes caused by rising levels of immigration are common concerns that have gone unaddressed by both political parties. Sullivan said that Trump has capitalized on these issues despite being unable to directly address them.
Sommers added that Trump garnered strong support among white female voters because they shared similar views on abortion, immigration and economic policies. She added that Hillary Clinton’s campaign incorrectly assumed she would automatically capture a majority of the women’s vote, and that the Democratic party may have also alienated some of their voter base by focusing on identity politics.
“If the demographic party gets too carried identity politics, then they will alienate people. Voters will probably just stay away,” she said.
The discussion shifted to gender issues when Rhode asked the speakers about their views on feminism and the #MeToo moment….