Two former congressmen discussed President Trump and contemporary US politics with students at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) as part of the annual Congress to Campus event.
The event was part of a series across the country where two former members of Congress, one Republican and one Democrat, visit universities and colleges to give students an insight into contemporary American politics.
Nick Rahall (left) and Luke Messer (right) with student Tatenda Davis
Politics students and sixth-formers from the Leicestershire area visited DMU for a full day of activities and talks with the former congressmen and experts in US politics. The question on the table: ‘What now for Donald Trump’s America?’.
Luke Messer, the former Republican representative from Indiana, gave his verdict on the future of the American political scene.
“I think there’s a lot about President Trump that may not be permanent, but I think what is permanent is this populist sense of putting the people back in charge,” he said.
“We won’t go back to a time where a bunch of elites get to sit around in rooms and make decisions for the rest of the American people.”
Students discussed a whole range of topical issues, including the upcoming mid-term elections, the climate crisis, gun control and the potential impeachment of President Trump.
On the latter issue, West Virginian Democrat Nick Rahall said: “Trump is milking this impeachment enquiry to detract from his duties as President. It’s the congressional responsibility to exercise oversight over the President of the USA, and they need to stay focused on the issues at hand.”
Nick also praised the engagement of the students at the event: “It was fantastic to see so many engaged students and to hear such well-informed questions being asked, it made for a very good give and take,” he said.
Luke added: “It’s wonderful, frankly I’m surprised you folks know as much about American politics as you do.”
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International Relations and Politics student Tatenda Davis was one of the attendees. She said: “It was great to get a personal insight from the congressmen and to see different viewpoints from the political parties.”
“It’s important for students to go along to events like this,” she added. “It gives us first hand insight into politics, builds on our knowledge and makes us more informed. I think it’s vital for the future that as students we know what’s going on so we can influence politics today.”
The former congressmen agreed on the importance of young people being engaged in politics.
“It affects the future of their lives and the future of our communities. To just ignore politics and take no interest whatsoever is not the role of a responsible citizen,” Nick said.
“You have to get involved in order to have a say in your future.”
Luke added: “If you want to make a difference then get involved and make it happen. Someday it might be you up there working in parliament to make great changes.”
During the annual Congress to Campus event, the congressmen also took part in an open Q&A event with students, staff and members of the public.
DMU is the only UK university to hold both Congress to Campus and European Parliament to Campus events, which see prominent political figures visit the university to enhance the student learning experience.
Posted on Tuesday 19th November 2019