Political experts talk Trump, midterm elections at CTSS event


Do Hun Yang/The Daily Northwestern

New York Times national correspondent Jonathan Martin and Run for Something co-founder Amanda Litman (Weinberg ’12) speak at a Contemporary Thought Speaker Series event. The two said they were optimistic about a blue wave in the upcoming midterm elections.

Catherine Kim, Web Editor

Political experts at a Thursday event predicted a blue wave in the upcoming November midterm elections because of an increase in Democratic voters and candidates fired up by the Trump administration.

New York Times national correspondent Jonathan Martin and Run for Something co-founder Amanda Litman (Weinberg ’12) spoke at an event hosted by Contemporary Thought Speaker Series and the department of political science. The talk, held at Annenberg Hall for a crowd of about 40 people, focused on current political trends and analyzed the role of the media in the Trump era.

Martin said he sees a “new energy” among younger Democrats, who are becoming more politically active. He said he sees potential for a major shift in the House of Representatives due to the increase in generational, gender and racial diversity among candidates.

“A lot of folks in this country who weren’t engaged in politics have taken the presidential election and used it as an inspiration to get involved in politics and run themselves,” he said.

Martin said the shift is much needed for the Democratic Party, which is suffering from the paradox between millennial voters and old party leadership.

Litman said her organization, Run for Something, is helping young, first-time progressive candidates get elected. Since President Donald Trump’s inauguration, the group has helped more than 17,000 people launch local campaigns, she said, and nearly half of them have won their races.

“(Voters) are excited that they have so much energy and passion and interest in issues, and are willing to change their career path to run for office,” she said. “Experience, while important, is not as important as passion, not as important as a commitment to solve a problem.”

However, while increasing numbers of young people and women have been running for office, more work needs to be done, Litman said. These numbers still do not represent the general population, she said.

Martin said he also predicts a shift in voter turnout. Casual Democratic voters are more likely to show up at the 2018 midterm elections –– which historically have had lower turnout rates –– to show their anger against the Trump administration, he said. Recent resistance movements, such as the Women’s March, have also united voters and encouraged them to be more politically engaged.

Despite the growing number of Democratic voters, Weinberg junior James Skala, who attended the event, said there is an issue of unity within the party.

“We’ve got to fix this thing right now between identity politics and economics issues, class issues,” he said. “That is going to be the biggest hurdle for the Democratic Party in the next couple years –– it’s a big, diverse party.”

The constant turmoil in politics has made the journalism industry more dynamic, Martin said. Now is the best time to be a political reporter because the world has never been more interested in U.S. news, he said.

However, he said being accused of producing “fake news” is a new challenge he faces as more people are disagreeing on facts.

“The way to address it is to just keep producing tough, aggressive, fair and accurate coverage of Trump and everything else that is happening in Washington,” he said. “I think that we’re doing a good job.”

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