Senator Corker, Miller Center Scholars Discuss Mid-Term Elections & Political Trends at Miller & Martin Mornings

November 09, 2018

On the first Friday following the mid-term elections, the Miller & Martin Mornings series hosted a bipartisan discussion, entitled “Who Came Up Trumps?,” which offered analysis of both the short- and long-term impacts of the just-completed 2018 election cycle. During the event held at Chattanooga’s Westin Hotel, Tennessee U.S. Senator Bob Corker and two scholars from the University of Virginia’s Miller Center discussed a broad range of political topics, featuring extended question-and-answer sessions with the audience.

Sen. Corker, the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee who will be retiring from the Senate in January, opened the event and set the stage for the Miller Center portion of the program. Mary Kate Cary, senior fellow at the Miller Center, and Nicole Hemmer, an assistant professor at the Miller Center, conducted an examination of the 2018 election results, public policy issues of continued interest and the upcoming 2020 Presidential election cycle.

Both Cary and Hemmer are highly respected in the fields of public policy and politics. Cary served as a speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush, authoring more than 100 of the 41st president’s speeches. She is a frequent guest on National Public Radio, CNN and Fox News Channel. Hemmer is the author of the best-selling book, Messengers of the Right. She is also the co-editor of the “Made By History” blog in the Washington Post.

During the 50-minute panel presentation, which included a number of questions from attendees, Cary and Hemmer looked at the recent election results, potential emerging political trends and what may happen moving forward. The highlights from the panel included the following topics:

  • Democratic control of the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • Republican control of the U.S. Senate with new additions, like Tennessee Senator-Elect Marsha Blackburn, who are strong supporters of President Trump.
  • The prospects for bipartisan cooperation between the House and Senate to address issues like criminal justice reform and healthcare reform.
  • President Trump’s impact on early voting in the states where he held rallies and campaigned. The panelists noted that those states as a collective had seen an increase in early voting by over 200 percent, and the initial breakout from that early voting saw 53 percent voting for Republican candidates and 39 percent for Democrats.
  • An examination of state elections and down-ballot races.
  • The continued emergence of women in politics.
  • An early look at the 2020 Democratic Presidential field and the potential for a new generation of candidates to capture the attention from some of the traditional names.
  • The impact of President Trump on new coalitions.
  • The potential of the continuation of trends that could lead to changes in the “red” and “blue” landscape of the Presidential electoral map.
  • The Electoral College and the possibility that the country will see more elections in which the Electoral College victory and the Presidency will be won by one candidate, while the popular vote goes to another candidate.

The Miller & Martin Mornings series has become a tradition in Chattanooga, and the Miller Center has become a fixture for when the focus of these events is placed on politics. The Miller Center, which fosters civil and intellectual dialogue among diverse scholars, politicians, journalists, and citizens, was founded in 1975 through the philanthropy of Burkett Miller. Mr. Miller is a 1914 graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law and former Miller & Martin partner.

“Through our connection with the Miller Center, we are able to offer our clients and friends a perspective that differentiates us from the other firms in this market,” said Jim Haley, Chairman of Miller & Martin. “Today’s event served as a high-brow discussion of the mid-term elections. It’s always great to have this event kicked off by Senator Corker, and through our Miller Center panelists, the audience was able to hear an academic analysis of what has taken place.”

Representatives from the Chattanooga Times Free Press attended the event and the newspaper provided coverage in its Saturday edition. For the story in the Times Free Press, please click here.



Q&A With Miller Center Senior Fellow Mary Kate Cary

Editor’s Note: Following the “Who Came Up Trumps?” seminar, Miller & Martin asked freelance writer Greg Thompson to speak with Mary Kate Cary, senior fellow at the Miller Center, for a brief Q&A session. Nicole Hemmer, an assistant professor at the Miller Center, and Mary Kate Cary had served as the panelists leading the discussion during the November post-election edition of the Miller & Martin Mornings series.

Q: Is the volume from the “theater of politics,” along with our focus on the latest headlines, obscuring the legislative accomplishments and other points of significance that have taken place over the past couple of years?

MKC: Yes, I think so. Part of it is just the nature of President Trump’s personality. But, let’s take him out of it for a second. What’s changed in the last 20 years is 24/7 cable news, social media and anonymous posting on social media. You also now have algorithms that drive you to see only the news that you agree with. All of this is increasing these bubbles. In fact, none of my friends go on Facebook anymore because it’s gotten too political. It just seems to be politicizing everything in our country. Look at football, other sports and the Oscars, for instance. You watch an awards show and you get to see someone give a political speech.

There is no escape, and I believe that’s what is adding to some people who are wanting to get more into politics and become more activist. Then you have this huge exhausted majority in the middle, which is where I consider myself. The extremes are getting more and more vocal, and they are getting bigger and bigger megaphones. They know how to take advantage of these platforms. You also have this huge bell curve in the middle of the exhausted majority who are becoming less and less politically engaged. And that’s not good for our democracy.

Q: So, given what you just shared, how do we get back to some semblance of what would be considered normal?

MKC: That’s the $64,000 question. But one way would be through more civic education, so young people would understand some of the things that have kept us on the rails in the past – looking at why some of our Constitutional Amendments are so important. Another would be the feeling of ways to effect change that are not political. Those are getting more and more popular. For example, we’re seeing an increase in the number of people who volunteer in order to make a difference in someone’s life. That, to me, goes back to de Tocqueville and what makes America unique. You see a commitment to organizations like the Boys & Girls Clubs, the United Way, the Red Cross and groups like those. I think that people are going to look less and less to politics to solve their problems, and, hopefully, less and less to the Supreme Court to solve their problems to see what they can do in their own lives.

Q: Is the “volume” in the nation’s politics here to stay and what has happened to the art of compromise?

MKC: I’m an optimist. I would like to think that things will calm down and this is a bit of a function of our President’s personality. It really depends on who follows him. As for compromise, I think the pendulum has got to swing back. There’s going to be an increase in the political price for people who get elected to political office and don’t accomplish anything. Secondly, this President is a very transactional guy, and he wants to score wins. It’s a case of “be careful of what you wish for,” because the Democrats may have to agree to stuff that didn’t think was possible. Think back years ago to Bill Clinton (with a Republican Congress) and Welfare reform. The other party (opposite the President) can be in a position of “Well, now what do we do?”

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