Guarini Institute Hosts Roundtable on American Republican Party

With the American Republican Party yet to settle on a candidate to face President Barack Obama in the November 2012 Presidential Election, last night’s Guarini Institute for Public Affairs event welcomed many prominent members of the JCU community for a roundtable discussion on what lies ahead for the GOP.

In front of an engaged audience mostly made up by, but not restricted to, American students, it was the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Dr. Joseph Hagan, who gave the opening remarks, setting the tone for the evening by noting how, despite the difficulties the party is facing, there is strong dissatisfaction with President Obama, meaning the race is still wide open.

Professor Lawrence Gray looked at the leading candidate, Mitt Romney, explaining the reasons why, despite his lead in the polls, he is viewed with skepticism by large sectors of his party. He also looked at the Rick Santorum phenomenon, comparing his meteoric rise to a “Hollywood story,” something which was also picked up on by Professor Pietro Paganini, who argued that Santorum’s success is really a product of the media, who needed to find a candidate to rival Romney to make the narrative more interesting.

Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Pamela Harris commented on how the GOP has become very fragmented in recent times, a collection of individuals packed by powerful donors, but increasingly detached from the people; this was a view shared by Professor Paganini, who suggested the party should go back to its grassroots, as Obama did in 2008, something that only Ron Paul seems to be doing among the current candidates.

What followed the speakers’ stimulating speeches was an extended Q&A session, during which the event truly came to life, as moderator Christopher Emsden, the speakers, and the audience interacted, raising several more fascinating topics, not only about the Republican Party, but also about the Democrats and American political life in general.