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American Political Culture and the Trump Presidency  

Donald Trump was the first person in American History to rise to highest office with neither political nor military experience. What he did bring to the office was a career as a business man and a well-known reality TV host and personality. His merging of political/marketing skills led him to express long standing cultural values such as the nation’s history of nativism, isolationism as well a long standing suspicion of national government power. His belated conversion to the Republican Party added the values of privatized health insurance, elimination of abortion rights and suspicion of government interference in private enterprise through bureaucracies such as the EPA. It is unclear whether a coherent ideology has emerged from his political experience, a market oriented pragmatism or a narcissistic pursuit of approval from a devoted and reliable base. In any case, the subject of the course will be the intersection of politics and culture. Week 1: The Logic of the Electoral College; Do approval ratings and national polls matter? Did Trump win or did Clinton Lose? Week 2: The Republican Primaries and the victory of the most seasoned entertainer. Week 3: The Republican Ownership of the Federal Government: real or imagined power? The sorry state of the Democratic Party. Week 4: Trump’s Foreign Policy: Does the Russia issue matter to the public? Domestic Policy: Is confusion and failure the fault of Paul Ryan? Is the Senate behaving exactly as the Founders envisioned? Week 5: Political Culture, Pop-Culture, Explosion of unregulated social media. Does Trump’s Twitter addiction reveal an unstable impulsiveness or spontaneous authenticity? Week 6: What has happened in the last five weeks? What is to come? Professor Heather is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at SFSU and former Chair of the Department. He has taught in the UK and the University of Amsterdam. Professor Heather received his Ph.D. from Syracuse University and has taught at San Francisco State for over forty years. He has been a Professor in the OLLI programs in San Francisco and at Santa Clara University.