Sputnik discussed the impact that the midterm outcome could have on the Trump administration's agenda with David Schultz, political science professor at Hamline University.
Sputnik: When talking about President Trump's statement on birthright citizenship, you have said that the Constitution could be amended, could you elaborate on that?
David Schultz: First off, the 14th Amendment of the Constitution says that people who are born in the United States are US citizens and the only way you can change the Constitution is by what? Changing the Constitution. And I say that because when Donald Trump said he can issue executive order to change or get rid of birthright citizenship, that's not accurate. The 14th Amendment was put in place back in the 19the century in order to make sure that individuals who were actually born in the United States were considered to be US citizens and there are many Supreme Court cases and (lower) court cases that reaffirmed that. The point that I'm getting at here is that Trump was basically wrong in his statement. You really would have to change the Constitution to remove birthright citizenship, and you can't do that by what he calls an executive order and you couldn't do that by just an ordinary law; it would require a Constitutional amendment to do that.
Sputnik: You also called the midterms a referendum on President Trump, so what did this 'referendum' show really?
David Schultz: It was a referendum on Trump, even though, for example, the Democrats said they were talking about healthcare, or they were talking about jobs or the economy, but all of those other issues were really just surrogates or really place-holders for what? Did you like Donald Trump or did you not like Donald Trump. And at the end of the day, one can say that Democrats did really well in the House of Representatives, there is no question about that. They took back the House of Representatives, and where they did it is they took back the House of Representatives with female voters located in suburban areas across the United States. So this was an election driven very much by women, educated women in the United States in richer suburbs. That was pretty much the a repudiation of Donald Trump, because the women came out to vote because they didn't like the sexism of Donald Trump. They didn't like the hostile atmosphere that he had been creating.
So the Democrats won in the House. Now yes, the Republicans held onto the US Senate. No one ever expected that the Democrats to win that. In the election the number of Democrats who were up for election in the Senate was very, very high; the number of Republicans very, very low. So the Democrats did okay but certainly didn't take back the Senate. The way I describe it, to use that language of American politics, if blue refers to the Democrats and red refers to the Republicans, the blue wave hit the red wall, and the Democrats did about as well as they could be expected but certainly didn't take complete control of Congress.
Sputnik: You said that US has moved from a political scenario characterized by political polarization and anger to that of hate and now to violence. Why do you think the US is so tense and polarized now?
David Schultz: For so many years I've had people when I'm giving talks, say to me, "Isn't this the most polarized the United States has ever been?" And I said no, the Civil War was worse back in the 1860s but also in the 1960s in the United States it was very polarized, the US president was killed, his brother was killed, the civil rights leader was killed, and I kept saying that the United States was polarized but not as bad as that, but in the last couple of weeks of the election in the United States, both with the attack on the synagogue in Pittsburgh and with the pipe bombs being mailed to Democrats we went from a situation which was highly polarized, where the two parties didn't like one another to where it was anger degenerated into hate and then that hate obviously resulted in the violence that we saw.
The reason why I think the United States is so polarized and why the hate is out there, there's a couple of reasons, one of them is that there is a growing gap between the rich and poor in the United States and a lot of people who voted for Donald Trump haven't done well for quite a few years.
Sputnik: What steps should be taken by the Trump administration to change the current situation?
David Schultz: It would probably be helpful if the Trump administration changed its tone. What I mean by the tone — it's language. Donald Trump likes to view the world in terms of us versus them, he uses often times very racially or sexually inflammatory language, he likes to see the world in terms of good versus evil, the elections earlier this month in the United States put the Democrats in control of the House of Representatives and that's going to put some checks upon the President of the United States, so I think a combination, if he would do it, of changing his language and trying to find compromise and the elections producing some Democratic Party control would be sort of a couple of things in the short-term that need to be done. The 2020 elections, if Donald Trump runs, will of course be a referendum yet again on Donald Trump and that could be another way of solving some of the problems, that if Donald Trump were to run and lose that would also probably alter the tone of the United States.
Sputnik: So do you predict the friendship between US and Russia?
David Schultz: I do in the longer-term. I do longer-term because I don't see with my students, the people that I teach that they're growing up thinking that Russia is the enemy. I have to hope that the longer-term means that the two countries will become more friendly to one another.
Sputnik: Will we see some changes to Trump's political strategy, foreign-policy now that Democrats hold the House?
David Schultz: Generally Presidents of the United States have far more authority in foreign policy than they do in domestic policy. I don't see much of a shift in Trump's foreign policy as a result of the 2018 elections, but the Democrats can have some influence. The Democrats will now be in the position of being able to have influence over the US budget, including the military budget, and in terms of the budget for our diplomatic corps, so they'll be able to exercise some influence there, they'll be able to have some oversight influence on Donald Trump but essentially I don't see too much changing in foreign policy.
The views and opinions expressed by the speaker do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.