Conversations 2020, Contextualizing the Election: Foreign Policy and Economic Issues

Campus photo (By Shawna Sherrell, Gettysburg College Flickr.)

Campus photo (By Shawna Sherrell, Gettysburg College Flickr.)

Conversations 2020:  The 2020 Election: Foreign Policy and Economic Issues

By Vanessa Igras, Staff Writer

On Tuesday, Oct. 20, viewers met for the last episode of Conversations 2020, election-watch programming hosted by the Eisenhower Institute and the political science department. This week’s conversation regarding foreign policy and economic issues in the 2020 election was led by Political Science Professor Bruce Larson and Duke University Political Science Professor Rachel Myrick who teaches foreign policy. They were joined by Economics Professor Char Weise on the state of the economy during this election cycle.

In discussing foreign policy with a concentration on national security, Myrick pointed out that “foreign policy in presidential elections tends to take a back seat to domestic policy on the campaign trail” and “once a president takes office, they have a much wider latitude in terms of what they can do and what they can accomplish in foreign policy relative to domestic policy.” 

According to Myrick, American foreign policy has been witnessing an increase in partisanship; this may bring on a new worry for the next presidential candidate. 

“This high polarization that is permeating domestic policy and encroaching on foreign policy is troubling,” according to Myrick, “in particular because of this idea of negative polarization.” 

Negative polarization, as described by Myrick, provides an incentive for the opposition party to oppose and undo what the incumbent party president has done in foreign policy. Much foreign policy, as stated by Myrick, is created in the process of undoing the last president’s work. 

With such an implication of polarization encroaching on the effectiveness of foreign policy Weise stated that such ideas have a direct correlation to where the economy stands. 

“The experience of 2019 shows that other than COVID, the economy was doing pretty well,” Weise expressed. “The economy was in a position that was really benefiting low-income households.” 

From a global standpoint, however, Weise expressed that the trade war with China has caused a lot of damage to U.S manufacturing. In particular, “the 2019 slowdown was attributed to the trade war.” 

Myrick added that from a diplomatic point of view, “navigating some of the trade issues would probably be possible particularly in the event that there’s a change in administration.” 

In retrospect, both Myrick and Weise agree that if there is a change of power, there will be great adjustment in the national approach to foreign and economic policy. 

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Author: Gettysburgian Staff

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