I Enjoyed Taking Part in GoLocalProv's Event on "Where is America Going" and the RI Governor's Race.
Donald Trump’s movement “transcended politics and became a cultural phenomenon…how is it someone with questionable character with ‘Access Hollywood’ said all these things and was never bogged down with the truth…and yet everyone was for him,” said Jim Murphy, Political Director to Donald Trump in 2016.
Murphy joined former President of the Boston Globe Mike Sheehan, GoLocalProv News Editor Kate Nagle, and former Providence Journal Editorial Page Editor and now GoLocal Columnist Robert Whitcomb in a discussion of the state of America — “Where is America Going?”
Sheehan said America has entered into a new era of dissatisfaction, but historically said America’s political mood is like a pendulum — a "whipsaw" -- swinging from the likes of Barack Obama to Donald Trump. Whitcomb, meanwhile predicted the next U.S. President is likely to be far more "stable."
The broadcast event was held at the Pavilion at Grace Church in downtown Providence was broadcast on Thursday night across nine social media platforms. The evening's event was moderated by GoLocal CEO and Co-Founder Josh Fenton.
Whitcomb said it is Trump’s ability to look and show leadership that Americans like. “I think he [Trump] is a crook, I know he is a crook, he is a hell of a salesman and we shouldn’t underestimate that and he knows what buttons to push," said Whitcomb, who had covered Trump when he served on the staff of the Wall Street Journal more than twenty-five years ago.
Sheehan who served as the head of the Globe for three years discussed American’s frustration with their future and the threats of change and technology.
The sweeping discussion touched on everything from Donald Trump’s character, to Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo’s political future, and the potential for Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s Presidential possibilities. The panel also addressed the importance and loss of “trust” in American institutions — religion, government, and the media.
Sheehan and Murphy raised the importance of the impact of the splintering of media — it is no longer about television and newspapers — it is now dozens of ways consumer and voters communicate and collect social media.
“I think social media provides consumer and voters access to information that they deem more reliable,” said Murphy, citing that people would rather look at Yelp reviews rather than a food critic's write-up.
“You cannot buy your way through [messaging] with a big fat media buy anymore,” said Sheehan, who for ten years headed Hill Holliday, one of America’s largest advertising agencies.
The decline of newspapers and the changes of media will create a huge vacuum in local communities said Nagle, who prior to joining GoLocal had worked on Capitol Hill and in public relations. She warned that there is an ever-present need for more coverage of local communities.
The one hour and twenty-minute discussion included questions from the audience — questions were offered by marijuana activist Anne Armstrong and gubernatorial candidate Joe Trillo — both raising questions about the bias and impact of the media.
Ed Zesk, former head of the Rhode Hospital Association, said that the roots of dissatisfaction that gave rise to Trump are still there -- including the role of money in politics -- and challenged the Democratic Party to come up with a viable candidate sooner rather than later to take on Trump.
The panel agreed that the energy and momentum are now with the Democrats and to look for a rebalancing of Congress at the mid-terms.
“If I were a betting man, I would bet that the Democrats would take the House,” said Murphy. Whitcomb pointed out that Trump’s polling numbers were continuing to improve in recent weeks and that ultimately voters will vote their pocketbooks.