American New Birth: An Online Conference by the Guarini Institute

The JCU Guarini Institute for Public Affairs hosted an online conference about the U.S. electoral season with the well-known Italian journalist Giovanna Pancheri, who recently published the book American New Birth: Donald Trump’s Nation and Joe Biden’s Challenge, (SEM, 2021) on January 27, 2021.

Joe Biden

Joe Biden

The dialogue between Pancheri and moderator Amy K. Rosenthal, journalist and JCU alumna, revolved around the interpretation of the contentious period from the United States elections on November 3, 2020, to the Inauguration of Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris on January 20, 2021. They also spoke about the assault on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Pancheri’s book could be regarded as a personal judgement of the Trump administration and the numerous broken promises that characterized it, which resulted in Trump’s defeat and Biden’s victory. The author attributes Trump’s 2016 victory to his acknowledging voters’ frustration at getting anywhere close to obtaining the valued “American dream.” But throughout 2020, Trump demonstrated a very limited understanding of his voters, especially with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic. She also suggests that COVID-19 was one of the most influential factors leading to Trump’s demise, due to his inability to empathize with his voters and take the appropriate measures to ensure the safety and well-being of his electors.

Rosenthal agreed with the idea that America has changed dramatically in recent years and that more and more Americans perceive the American dream as unattainable. This last point was of pivotal importance to the discussion, as Rosenthal herself admitted to having experienced what she called a “culture shock” when she returned to her country of birth after a 20-year absence abroad. According to Pancheri, the idea of the American dream needs to remain alive. Both Rosenthal and Pancheri agreed that should this dream shatter, America would be in jeopardy.

Another talking point brought up by Rosenthal regarded the Black Lives Matter protests that swept across the U.S. following the killing of George Floyd by police officers on May 25, 2020. Pancheri highlighted the importance of such a movement in its ability to give voice to the opinion of black citizens. She holds that Black Lives Matter can be viewed as a catalyst for change, as reflected in the composition of the Biden-Harris cabinet.

Following Pancheri and Rosenthal’s initial discussion, the audience, which included students from other universities, had the opportunity to ask questions and share their thoughts about the Trump administration and the transition of power to the Biden administration, especially following the breach of the U.S. Capitol.

As part of the closing remarks, Trump’s future role – if any – within the Republican Party was discussed. Pancheri outlined the possible obstacles Trump or his family members may face should they seek public office in the future.  She also expressed her optimism at what she sees as the dawn of a new political era in the United States.

(Ingeborg Gruenwald and Rachele Furgione)