“The debate might be over, but the conversation doesn’t have to stop,” Rabbi Dave Siegel, executive director of Hofstra Hillel said, while addressing an audience of students, faculty and outside guests in the Guthart Cultural Center Theater on Tuesday, Sept. 27.
The panel discussion, titled “America’s Role in the Global Arena: A Foreign Policy Analysis of the First U.S. Presidential Debate of 2016,” was co-sponsored by Hofstra Hillel, the American Jewish Council (AJC) and Hofstra University’s European studies program. It was moderated by Jason Isaacson, AJC’s director of Government and International Affairs.
Carolyn Dudek, Hofstra’s director of European studies, Carol Giacomo of the New York Times editorial board and Helga Flores, a national committee member of the Latino Victory Project composed the panel, each of whom brought varied insight and a unique perspective to the table.
Isaacson guided the discussion with a variety of questions inspired by the responses of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in the previous night’s debate. The panelists had much to contribute to each topic discussed.
One topic discussed was the coherency of the candidates’ foreign policy visions for the United States. “On the side of Clinton, there was more coherence to her argument,” Dudek said. “We kind of know, as Secretary of State, what her policies have looked like, and I don’t think they would be that much different than what the Obama administration has already put forth.”
Following this, Flores responded by saying, “One thing that Trump has is a coherent vision in itself about the world … there is a very complex world out there, but for him it reduces to winners and losers. One cannot be blind to the appeal he has. He suggests dramatic, easy solutions to a complex world.”
The discussion continued in a similarly balanced format, with each panelist speaking on what they considered the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate’s intentions and proposals. The panelists also projected what the future may hold given the election of either candidate.
The opinions of the panelists clearly stimulated the minds of those in the audience, which was seen not only by the impressive round of questions put forth by the audience when Isaacson opened it up the floor, but also by students’ reactions to the panel and current politics as a whole.
Nicole Flukes, a junior psychology major, actively encouraged staying informed about foreign policy and global issues in general. “We are the future of this country’s government,” Flukes said. “I mean, if we don’t stay up to date on the foreign policy of this country now, how are we going to be able to change it or continue it in the future?”
Giacomo agreed with this idea. “The world is a chaotic place; it really needs smart, involved, people at every level, whether it’s development, or running the world bank, or running an army in Pakistan or being president of the United States,” she said. “And if you don’t know the issues, if you don’t know what’s going on in the world, you’re going to be left behind. And not just left behind in a cultural sense, but in an economic sense as well. And if … the United States is at war defending our freedom, it’s your generation that has to go and pick up the rifle.”