Westminster’s Political Scientists Hold Panel on Trump Presidency

Moderator Ayush Manandhar, ’17, and political science professor Dr. Tobias Gibson listen to Dr. John Langton speak at “The Executive Order” panel. PHOTO BY ZACH STAFFORD.


Three professors of Political Science, Dr. Tobias Gibson, Dr. John Langton and Dr. Kali Wright-Smith, held a panel discussion last week to analyze and answer questions about recent decisions made by U.S. President Donald Trump. The event was moderated by Ayush Manandhar, ’17, and sponsored by the Westminster Global Development and Progress Club and Westminster Journal for Global Progress.

The panelists focused heavily on Trump’s Jan. 27 “travel ban” executive order, which sought to temporarily bar nationals of seven countries in Southeast Asia and Northwest Africa from entering the United States. Unlike the townhall-style meeting Westminster President Dr. Benjamin Akande held last month, the panel centered on the order’s political and legal aspects, rather than its implications for students and the college. For example, Gibson discussed Trump’s implementation of the order, saying that the President had not followed normal procedures in issuing executive orders.

Langton said that the order, which was in a legal battle in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit at the time of the panel, could be overturned on the basis that it is a ban on a place of residence, which is prohibited under the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952. Indeed, judges from the appeals court ruled 3-0 against the order in a 29-page opinion on Feb. 10.


Dr. Kali Wright-Smith speaks at the Executive Order Panel last week.  PHOTO BY ZACH STAFFORD.

Gibson, when asked how this was different from former President Barak Obama’s travel restrictions on Iraq refugees in 2011, said that it varied in “scope and intent.”

“There was a refugee vetting slowdown in Iraq in 2011, but it did not, in any way, shut down all travel from Iraq,” he said.

The panelists also discussed how the global community has viewed the United States the during the past few years.

Wright-Smith said that the United States’ image has been “declining” during that time, especially in terms of “soft power.” She said that the 2009 recession and the latest presidential election have been partially responsible for the decline.

The remainder of the planned questions were about climate change and Trump’s executive order to revive the building of the Dakota XL Pipeline to bring back some jobs.  Langton pointed out that the company that built the pipeline is from Canada and it may not bring any jobs into the United States.

The session ended with a few questions from the audience on how  Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon,  received access to top level security clearance, how Trump’s use of executive orders compares to that of other presidents and how U. S.-Mexico have been playing out since Trump’s election.



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