Midterms, Obama’s record debated

Marita Vlachou
From left to right: Michael Waldman, Alex Wagner, Robert George and David Corn discuss the lack of enthusiasm for the upcoming elections.

Members of the political journalism community expressed disappointment in the expected low turnout to the midterm elections during a panel on Oct. 14. The panel, which was hosted by the Brennan Center for Justice of the NYU School of Law, was held at the Global Center for Academic and Spiritual Life.

Panelists included Alex Wagner, host of MSNBC’s “Now with Alex Wagner”; Robert George, an editorial writer for the New York Post; and David Corn, District of Columbia bureau chief for Mother Jones.

Michael Waldman, the president of the Brennan Center, made the opening remarks and led the discussion.

“I can remember few elections where there was at some level less passion and less intense anticipation that I think of for this one,” Waldman said.

Corn said it is not uncommon for fewer people to participate in midterm elections than in presidential elections.

“To me it seems to be about apathy in that midterm elections are notorious for low voter turnout,” Corn said. “The numbers this year are even lower than usual.”

Wagner said the public has become more concerned with issues not directly related to policy.

“We have become so preoccupied with this sort of political gas that we are not paying attention to the policy substance, which is a huge problem in American politics, and which I think explains the depressed turnout,” Wagner said.

CAS sophomore Camila Alvarez, who attended the event, said political participation is one of the biggest issues in America right now.

“People don’t really care about politics and what is going to happen in the future of our country,” Alvarez said.

The panelists also discussed President Barack Obama’s record. George emphasized the fact that Obama is not credited for the improved situation of the U.S. economy.

“Unemployment has dropped below 6 percent,” George said. “It’s been a lengthy period of private sector job creation, but the fact is the president doesn’t seem to be getting the usual credit for this.”

Corn said Obama has not been able to clearly identify a set of goals for the public in his political narrative.

“When you are a president, you are a storyteller-in-chief,” Corn said. “One place I think he hasn’t had success — and we saw this in 2010 — is tying a continuous story about the politics of this nation.”

Alvarez found George’s opinions and comments very interesting, because he presented an opposing view to the other panelists.

“I feel like at NYU we hear a lot of liberal views even from our professors, and it is hard to get a good professional opinion that is conservative,” Alvarez said.

A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, Oct. 15, print edition. Email Marita Vlachou at [email protected] 

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