Edinburgh University’s newly formed student discussion forum, the Macmillan, this week met for the first time via Zoom for a ‘dry run’ debate entitled ‘Reflections on the Trump presidency’. Moderated by co-founders Shannon Yuen and Maraleis Sinton, the two-hour long session saw a wide ranging and impassioned discussion. Topics of debate, to mention but a few, ranged from the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections and Mr. Trump’s motivations in seeking office, to the causes of the rise in the increasingly divided political sphere in America and the relative merits of different economic systems.
Discussion around the consequences of Mr. Trump’s brand of politics both in the United States, and more broadly, as well as the participating Macmillans’ views on the United States Electoral College system and constitution and more specifically their relevance and interpretation in the modern world also provided interesting insight into the wide-ranging opinions that Mr. Trump’s presidency, and the U.S. political system in general can often provoke.
The forum members overwhelmingly rebutted Mr. Trump and his premiership. His controversial opinions, overarching rejection of science and truth, as well as his propensity to incite hatred and unprecedented rejection of precedence were all raised by members seeking to justify condemnation both of Mr. Trump personally, and of his premiership.
Whether he is, however, the cause of the tensions, hatred, and prolific racism which currently plague America, or merely a symptom of a pre-existing, systemic problem also provided much debate. The forum moved on to discuss the issue of how the president has for so long been able dodge the high standards of political responsibility to which politicians are usually held and the role that this has played in creating such tensions, leading into a more wide reaching discussion of the role that the media plays in U. S. politics. The issue of the media’s unique position in politics that is seen in the U.S. led the forum to question the continuing relevance of a political system that many see as undemocratic, and to a focus on the U.S. constitution, with some members expressing support for the systems currently in place, whilst accepting that of course they must be applied with sympathy to changing times, whilst others questioned whether a system designed in the 1700‘s can still be successfully applied in a modern world so different to the one in which it was created.
Later discussion led the forum to consider economic issues. Having considered Mr. Trump’s economic stance and the socioeconomic effects of his policies, the discussion moved toward a wider discussion of economic policies. On this issue opinion was undoubtedly more divided, with some members supporting the established liberal, capitalist system whilst others believed that such practises were incompatible with the needs of the majority and of the working classes in America and across the world, suggesting that other models can provide greater prosperity.
The committee is extremely grateful to all who attended and provided such interesting, considered, and thought-provoking contributions to the discussion. We hope that those who attended enjoyed the opportunity to discuss such an important and divisive issue amongst fellow intellectually curious peers, in a civil and welcoming atmosphere! We welcome you to join us at our next discussion on Monday 23rd November, details of which will be published soon on our Instagram and Facebook pages, as well as the discussion on COVID and national security which we will be co-hosting with MWTO on Friday 20th November.