"Are we better off now than four years ago?"
For former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and former California Senator Barbara Boxer, the answer was mixed during last Wednesday’s biannual Janus forum.
The forum, sponsored by Miami University’s political science department, the Office of Diversity Affairs and The Thomas W. Smith Project on Liberty, Democracy and Citizenship, was created to build a bridge between students with opposing ideologies and “spark a rigorous discussion of public affairs.”
Last Wednesday, Walker told the crowd in Wilks Theater that he thought the American people are better off than they were four years ago, citing a drop in unemployment, the creation of six million jobs and increased tax reliefs for the middle class.
“Actions speak louder than words,” Walker said at the end of his opening statement.
Boxer was vehemently opposed.
President Barack Obama created more jobs than President Donald Trump, she said during the Oct. 16 forum, and Trump is a “volatile” president.
“You wake up in the morning, and you don’t know what he’s going to be doing,” Boxer said. “I just see this administration as an aberration, as one that hasn’t fulfilled promises and is taking us in the wrong direction.”
Following the opening statements, the speakers were given the chance to answer questions about the presidency that had been prepared by the Janus committee.
The first question had to do with the impeachment inquiry and possible trial. Boxer spoke first, supporting the inquiry and the possible removal of Trump from office, but emphasizing her regret over the situation.
“I didn’t want to see it go down this road,” Boxer said.
Walker agreed with Boxer on her take on impeachment, saying, “The one thing Senator Boxer and I agree on is that [impeachment] is a difficult, awful situation no matter who the person is.”
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He went on to say that he believes the inquiry is unreasonable, that those calling for it don’t have “the rest of the story,” and that this is being done as a strategic move by the Democratic Party to protect the new democratic members of the House of Representatives.
Boxer responded, restating that she believes the entire administration is corrupt, mentioning the money that other members of the Trump family are making due to their patriarch’s position in office.
“This president needs to be looked at,” she concluded.
But Walker said that the Democrats were “putting the cart ahead of the horse” because the inquiry was called before any transcripts of Trump’s phone conversations had been seen, which made up the bulk of the evidence supporting the impeachment inquiry.
The committee then switched gears and moved on to the recent removal of American troops from Turkey and the threat of terrorism.
Both speakers agreed that the sudden removal was upsetting and possibly dangerous, and neither supported Trump’s actions in the Middle East. Walker was upset that the decision was made without consulting any other sources and called Trump’s decision “reckless.”
When it came to climate change both public figures appeared to be on the same page.Neither denied its existence, and both agreed that something needed to be done.
Boxer and Walker both said that money played an important role in action against climate change.
Boxer proposed the idea of “climate bonds,” which are similar to war bonds. The idea being that Americans would be able to purchase a bond to be repaid by the government in the future, but the initial money paid by citizens for the bonds would go toward fighting climate change.
Walker said that financial stability and tax changes could help protect the environment, and claimed we could “make green, save green.” He agreed with proposed tariffs for foreign goods, saying that the money could be funneled into environmental efforts.
Eventually, questions came from the audience via Twitter and covered more hot-button issues.
When asked about gun control, both Walker and Boxer told stories about gun violence that had affected them directly. They agreed that strict and immediate action should be taken to enforce gun regulations and decrease gun violence.
The moderately ideologically opposed duo also shared similar initial thoughts about the Trump administration’s immigration policy. They both disagreed with family separation at the border and both felt that the country is in desperate need of comprehensive immigration reform.
During their closing statements, each politician was asked how the Trump presidency would be remembered in history.
History will remember the fast economic growth and low unemployment, Walker argued, and he believes the presidency has had an overall positive outcome for Americans.
“[I] hope it goes down as an aberration,” Boxer countered.
She believes it will be immortalized as a strange and uncertain time for the country.