US Politics and Why it Matters for Canada
In the past five years, many of the fundamental pinions of public life in the US—the peaceful transition of power, the part former presidents play in politics, the role of the federal bureaucracy, the respect for election results, the once-iron rule that parties holding the White House suffer devastating losses in midterm elections—have been overturned. At the same time, a mature democracy that is the most powerful economic and military power faces challenges not only from a resurgent Russia and an ascendant China but also from severe strains at home. This workshop series on United States politics and policy will provide an introduction to contemporary American civic life at a time of transformational change not only in the country’s domestic profile but also in its role in North America and beyond.
These sessions will be led by David Shribman, who has taught the US Policy Landscape course at Max Bell since the inception of the School, holds a Pulitzer Prize, is the executive editor emeritus of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Scholar in Residence at Carnegie Mellon University, is a nationally-syndicated columnist in the US and writes a column for the Globe and Mail, and was Washington bureau chief of The Boston Globe and chief political writer of The Wall Street Journal.
- September 14: The Constitutional framework. Origins of the American system, the theory behind the Constitution; checks and balances; separation of powers; and how these elements affect contemporary American politics and policy.
- Optional Participant preparation (20 minutes) : Read the Constitution and Federalist Paper #10, both available online.
- September 21: The American presidency. Evolution of the office from Washington to Biden, the role of character in the presidency, how the presidency shapes the country and is reflected in the country.
- Optional Participant preparation (20 minutes): Read selected brief presidential profiles in Character Above All.
- September 28: Who makes policy in the United States? The answer is complicated: Along with the president, policy is made by Congress, the Washington bureaucracy and the Supreme Court—and why all three have a role. How this differs from Canada, and why that is important.
- October 5: Strains on the system, and why that matters to Canada. The shifting profiles of the parties. The populist rebellion, Trump and the January 6 insurgency. The racial reckoning. The implications for Canada.