Vanderbilt University experts can discuss a number of topics that will come up during the new president’s first 100 days. We have a 24/7 broadcast studio, where our experts can do live/taped interviews for TV and radio.
Presidential Transitions, Presidential Appointees, Civil Service Reform
David Lewis: Chair, Political Science
Lewis can discuss the inherent problems of a new president appointing 3,000 positions, how the government appointee system could be fixed, the importance of the president’s first 100 days and which past presidents did a good job during the transition and which did not. Lewis is the author of two books, Presidents and the Politics of Agency Design and The Politics of Presidential Appointments: Political Control and Bureaucratic Performance. Lewis recently conducted a massive survey of federal executives (Survey on the Future of Government Service) that showed a desperate need for civil service reform. The survey was done by Vanderbilt’s Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions. Lewis has done numerous national media interviews.
Why Washington Doesn’t Work, Authoritarianism, Trust & Government
Marc Hetherington, Professor of Political Science
Hetherington can talk about why nothing seems to get done in Congress, and how the “hate factor” between political parties is one of the biggest problems facing American politics. He believes that a climate of authoritarianism, wherein people fear disorder and outsiders, can lead to paralysis in Washington. Hetherington has written extensively about the pitfalls of authoritarianism and has been quoted by many national print media and has appeared on numerous national/international networks and cable networks. His books include Why Washington Won’t Work, Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics and Why Trust Matters.
Congress, Presidents & Executive Orders, Supreme Court Nominations
Bruce Oppenheimer, Professor of Political Science, Public Policy
Oppenheimer can discuss the makeup of the new Congress, how the new president will work with Congress, the likelihood of Congress approving a Supreme Court nominee, and the growing power of the presidency relative to the shrinking influence of Congress through the use of executive orders, signing statements and selective enforcement of laws. Oppenheimer is one of the leading experts in the country on Congress. His book, Sizing up the Senate: The Unequal Consequences of Equal Representation, co-authored with Frances Lee, won the D.B. Hardeman Prize for the best book on Congress. Oppenheimer discusses how Congress is in danger of losing its relevancy in “It’s Hard to Get Mileage out of Congress,” a chapter in the book Congress and Policy Making in the 21st Century (Cambridge University Press).
Supreme Court Nominations, Supreme Court, Constitutional Law, Federal Judicial System
Suzanna Sherry, Herbert O. Loewenstein Professor of Law
Sherry can discuss Supreme Court nominations, the makeup of the Supreme Court, constitutional law and the federal judiciary system. Sherry, one of the foremost experts on constitutional law, says it is not always easy to tell how a Supreme Court justice nominee will eventually vote on the high court. It’s important to remember that “they’re not as predictable as we think they are,” she says. For example she notes, Justice Anthony Kennedy, had never voted to uphold an affirmative action program until the decision this year in Fisher v. University of Texas. Sherry, who has done many national print and broadcast interviews on Supreme Court decisions, is the author of Judgment Calls, which tackles one of the most important and controversial legal questions in contemporary America: How should judges interpret the Constitution? She writes extensively about the federal courts and is the author of more than 75 books and articles.
Presidential Elections, Negative Campaign Ads, Polls
John Geer: Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of Political Science
Geer can talk about all aspects of the presidential election, how this election compared to others, and what the next president needs to do to try to heal a divisive country. “This has been an unorthodox campaign run by a candidate (Trump) who has no ideological anchor and is based on anger and nationalism combined into a cocktail that we’ve never seen before,” Geer says. He is a widely quoted expert on negative campaign advertising and the author of In Defense of Negativity: Attacks Ads in Presidential Campaigns. Geer co-chairs Vanderbilt’s Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions and the Vanderbilt Poll, which provides a non-partisan and scientifically based reading of public opinion within the state of Tennessee and Nashville. Geer has done many national and international print, radio and television interviews.
Foreign Policy Post-Election, U.S. Presidents, Cold War
Thomas Alan Schwartz, Professor of History and Political Science
Schwartz can discuss how a new president will be challenged by Russia, Syria and Iran on the foreign policy scene, how presidents in the past handled the first 100 days, the worldwide historical perspective if the United States elects its first woman president, and how history demonstrates this year’s election was not the most divisive in our history.” Schwartz is author of Lyndon Johnson and Europe: In the Shadow of Vietnam. He is currently working on two books: a biography of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, tentatively titled Henry Kissinger and the Dilemmas of American Power, and The Long Twilight Struggle: A Concise History of the Cold War. Schwartz has done many national and international print and broadcast interviews.
Militias and White Nationalists, Possible Post-Election Violence
Amy Cooter: Senior Lecturer Sociology
Cooter can discuss why some militia and white nationalist extremists may react violently if Donald Trump loses the presidential election, particularly in light of the recent acquittal of the Bundy gang for their armed occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. A sociologist who has conducted in-person interviews within the Michigan Militia as part of her extensive fieldwork, Cooter is one of a few academics who have studied the paramilitary organizations through direct observation. The Bundy acquittal “sets both a legal and psychological precedent for these kinds of demonstrations,” Cooter says. “I would not at all be surprised to see groups like this organize, take action and maybe even erupt violently in the future.” The members of these groups feel a strong affinity for Trump and endorses many of the same grievances he raises during his rallies. Even if he unequivocally concedes the election, she says, many may view it as a confirmation that the system is rigged—and potentially even view it as a call to arms. Cooter has published articles on militias, neo-Nazi activity and extremism in Studies in Ethnicity and Nationality and Sociological Inquiry, written a guest post about her experience with militias in Michigan for the Maddow Blog and has been interviewed by national media.
Race-related Issues, Feminism, Angry Voters
Tracy Sharpley-Whiting: Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Distinguished Professor of Humanities and Director of African American and Diaspora Studies
Looking at the election through a cultural lens, Sharpley-Whiting can discuss a variety of race-related issues about Election 2016. In trying to understand voter anger, she says we need to broaden the discussion about “angry white men” into more of a “multi-cultural” and “gendered” discussion. She has written and/or edited numerous books including The Speech: Race and Barack Obama’s ‘A More Perfect Union; The Black Feminist Reader and the critically acclaimed Pimps Up, Ho’s Down: Young Black Women, Hip Hop and the New Gender Politics (New York Unversity Press). She testified before a congressional hearing on Stereotypes and Degrading Images of Women (2007) She has done numerous national print and TV interviews.