Longtime history teacher and former CIA analyst Peter Goodnow presented a fascinating look into the 2018 midterm elections for Episcopal’s first Lyceum event of the school year, held in the Seidule History Center on the evening of November 4.
The event, “2018: Traditional Midterm Election or Continuation of 2016?” was open to all interested members of the school community, and pulled in some 50 students and faculty members.
Goodnow’s talk explored research and historical data, including on such issues as how low voter turnout in midterm elections increases the power of activist voters, and how Republican candidates are focusing less on the economy and tax cuts, issues that have historically worked very well for them, and more on anti-immigration, nativist themes.
“Every sitting president is the primary focus of a midterm election,” Goodnow noted, “and I discussed how Trump's popularity ratings (overall and broken down by party) have made him focus less on reaching out to swing voters and more on energizing hard core base voters, even at the risk of alienating moderates.”
Goodnow didn’t offer specific predictions, but he presented general "best case scenarios" for both parties. For Democrats, alienated-by-Trump suburban Republicans, especially women, would turn away from their party and vote Democratic. For Republicans, traditional Republicans would stick with their party despite personal misgivings about Trump, and lower-efficacy Democrats would stay at home while a fired-up base would vote to maintain control of Congress for Trump.
The Social Studies Department hosts the annual Lyceum series to serve as a forum for the entire community to learn from scholars and outside experts on the issues of the day and to ask questions in order to help individuals form and articulate their own opinions, according to department chair Heidi Huntley.
“Our goal with the Lyceum program is to provide our community a time and place to learn more about the historical context of topics in the news and a structured forum for discussion to better our understanding,” Huntley noted.
A lyceum is a concept dating back to the classical era, and has been employed all over the world in various forms. The best example dates back to the 19th Century where many famous thinkers like Henry David Thoreau, Susan B. Anthony, and Mark Twain spoke on what was at that time called the lyceum circuit, which would have taken them to both northern and southern states.