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Recap: Untangling the Train Wreck Government Faculty Discuss the Presidential Election

Locomotives Crashing into Ballot Box Image for homecoming 2020

Government faculty shared their knowledge during the department’s virtual homecoming event, Untangling the Train Wreck: Government Faculty Discuss the Presidential Election, held on October 20, 2020.  With an audience of over 300 guests comprising William & Mary graduates, students, community members, and friends, four William & Mary faculty members commented on the state of the nation as the November 3rd election drew near.

Government Department Chair, Professor Sue Peterson, opened the event by acknowledging the role alumni, community, and families play in broadening the scope and work of the department.  As Peterson introduced Professor Jaime Settle as the moderator, she highlighted Professor Settle’s book, Frenemies: How Facebook Polarizes America.

Professor Settle moderated the faculty panel moving from opening remarks to audience questions. Professor Mackenzie Israel-Trummel, who specializes in American political behavior, commented that no matter the current news, 2020 voters had made up their minds and were not changing their vote.

Professor John McGlennon, a 46-year veteran faculty member, spoke about the lack of “October surprises,” during this election cycle. Professor McGlennon then recalled the many presidential elections he has witnessed and the logistical changes to voting across the nation. With early, mail-in, and alternate voting options now prevalent, many voters can cast their ballots without intimidation or time constraints.

Pivoting the discussion to the international stage, Professor Mike Tierney, shared how each presidential hopeful would act on the world stage. As Professor Tierney put it, “Would Biden be able to put Humpty Dumpty together again” should he win the top seat?

Looking ahead, Professor McGlennon was asked about the peaceful transition of power should Biden take the seat from President Trump. Unfazed, he answered, “After the Secret Service no longer recognized him as President, all the other surroundings of presidential power would disappear on Inauguration Day. Then the new president would take office, whether he was able to occupy the White House, or not, for a day or two. “ 

The Zoom webinar format for the event allowed participation from far and wide. Participants registered from every time zone in the continental USA.  A graduate from the class of 1954 attended alongside current William & Mary students. Many viewers expressed gratitude because they connected with their Government Tribe easily via the virtual format.

Video excerpts of virtual homecoming 2020 are available for viewing on the Government Department’s news page, in the right sidebar.