Professors Harris and Driessen Comment on Capitol Hill Breach for Italian Media
JCU Professors Pamela Harris and Michael Driessen were interviewed by the Italian press on the recent breach of the US Capitol. An angry mob of violent protesters broke into one of the most iconic American buildings on January 6, after President Donald Trump urged his supporters to block the ceremonial counting of the electoral votes that confirmed President-elect Joe Biden’s win.
Professor Pamela Harris, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, teaches American government, international law, constitutional law, and political theory at JCU. She was interviewed by Italian news agency Adnkronos on January 7 about this unprecedented moment in American history. According to Dean Harris, the Capitol breach was “on the level of 9/11, the image of the desecration of our democracy.” She also expressed the conviction that President Trump incited this violence and therefore believes that there is a strong incentive for Vice President Mike Pence to take the initiative to invoke, for the first time in American history, the 25th amendment, which regulates the transfer of power to the Vice President in the event that the President is declared incapacitated. “It would be in Pence’s best interest now more than ever to position himself as a Republican with a future if he wants to have it and Republicans need to distance themselves from Trump, who is in decline,” Prof. Harris explains. She believes that it is risky to leave Trump in power, even for just two weeks, since he remains the commander in chief and could until the end invoke the Insurrection Act and declare martial law.
Dean Harris was also asked to analyze the events of January 6 on the popular radio talk show Radio anch’io. “To find a precedent for what happened at the Capitol, you would have to go back to the period leading up to the American Civil War, when the Southern states contested the supremacy of the federal government. We can say that the attack had a long gestation, longer than the Trump presidency. For decades, the Republican Party has been opposing the authority of the federal government. The recent attack by Trump, though not unexpected, has profaned the image of the cathedral of American democracy,” she said.
Professor Michael Driessen, Chair of the Department of Political Science and International Affairs, was part of a panel of distinguished guests on Radio anch’io on January 7. He was asked to comment on why there is so much anger among Trump supporters. “Let’s remember that 75 million Americans voted for President Trump, therefore, they have not rejected the politics of the past four years,” said Prof. Driessen, who teaches courses on religion and politics, Middle East politics, and war, peace and conflict resolution. “There is cultural rage here which comes from many places but is clearly directed toward the Democratic Party and their vision of the world. I think that the violence that occurred was very serious on a symbolic level, but it was also carnivalesque. And Republican leaders may find that convenient, I hope, to finally make a clean break with Trump, something that they have not been able to do so far,” concluded Prof. Driessen.