More than 100 members of the College of Staten Island (CSI) and local communities attended The Friends of CSI 40th Anniversary Literary Brunch featuring CSI Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Gary Reichard, who offered his observations on politics in a presentation titled “Paralysis and Polarization.”
The signature event is the organization’s annual fundraiser, and drew members of the Friends from the past 40 years, including past Presidents Norma D’Arrigo and Christine Cea, and current acting President Carol Berardi.
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Dr. Reichard utilized his recently published book, Deadlock and Disillusionment: American Politics since 1968, as a springboard for the discussion. The book is part of Wiley Blackwell’s American History Series, in which Reichard has already published a volume on the Truman and Eisenhower presidencies.
Beginning with a brief outline of the afternoon agenda, Dr. Reichard noted that he would not be commenting on the specifics of current campaigns, but rather discussing political history in general to lay the groundwork for panelists to discuss more current events.
“Our downhill slide to where we find ourselves in 2016 has been marked by accumulating dysfunctions over the whole period, the whole course of the administrations of the past five presidents,” he stated, as he introduced the what he believes are the five most important mileposts: Nixon: The Southern Strategy in Watergate; Reagan: Culture Wars and Iran Contra; Clinton: Government Shutdowns and Perpetual Scandals; Bush: Election by Supreme Court and WMDs; and Obama: The Party of “No” and the Revival of Race Issues.
“The current campaign between our two unprecedentedly unpopular major party candidates has introduced new issues into the mix, but essentially we are living through the same battle between red America and blue America that these recent elections battles have reflected,” noted Dr. Reichard as he discussed the challenges in the U.S. political system today.
The presentation was followed by an audience discussion moderated by Professor Rich Flanagan, which included Tom Wrobleski from the Staten Island Advance, and Francis Barry, columnist on politics and U.S. domestic policy for Bloomberg View.
“In a lecture informed by a mastery of contemporary American politics, Dr. Reichard provided a superb account of the failure of Washington politics to deliver policies informed by a sense of compromise and the common good,” noted Flanagan. “The academics and journalists on the panel tangled over the role of social media as a driver of contemporary campaigns. The audience asked great questions. If only the current campaign season could match the quality and thoughtfulness of the luncheon brunch.”
More information on Deadlock and Disillusionment: American Politics since 1968 is available on the Wiley Website.
The Friends of CSI began in 1976 as a group of community members who support the College’s Mission and who promote and execute programs to involve the community in the educational and cultural activities of CSI. Most significantly, their efforts have assisted generations of students with scholarship support, making their dreams of a college degree accessible and affordable.