Coffee, Tea and Politics, an event held once a quarter on Bellevue College campus, capped off the 2012 school year with a special guest speaker this last Wednesday, May 23. Dr. David Domke, professor and Chair of the Communication Department at the University of Washington, gave a lecture on American exceptionalism and the upcoming 2012 election. Students and faculty attended the lecture with questions and comments about the 2012 election.
Dr. Trevor Tate, professor of international studies, opened the event with an introduction to the concept of American exceptionalism and how it relates to this year’s presidential election. Professor Tim Jones, also an international studies professor at BC, then introduced the audience to guest speaker, Dr. David Domke.
Dr. Domke specializes in political leadership, news coverage and social change; he is also the author of numerous publications. His most recent book, “The God Strategy,” is now in its second production. He also won the WA State Professor of the Year award for 2006 not long before being named University of Washington Graduating Class Favorite Professor in 2008.
Beginning his lecture more generally, Domke acknowledged that there are many ways one can study politics.
He then delved into feelings surrounding the 2012 election, observing the way in which Obama is both loved by some and despised by others. “This election is about the soul of America,” Domke said in the words of Mitt Romney, leading the audience into the different ways each presidential candidate treats the idea of American exceptionalism. He defined the term saying, “American exceptionalism is the profound, deep belief that we’re the best, the smartest, the hardest working, the strongest… Everybody thinks they are special, you go to any country and they think they’re the best. It’s psychological.”
Domke had chosen two simple words summing up this year’s presidential campaign: “Restore” versus “transform”. In terms of American exceptionalism, he said Barack wanted to challenge and extend the idea, to transform America. On the other hand, Mitt Romney wants to restore America, saying that Obama’s actions have been too radical.
He went on to elaborate on two other words he used to describe two main trends in US politics today: “Race” and “sexuality”. He explained how Obama had been successful in embodying the current trends and using these trends to launch his career into the 2008 elections.
Domke also pointed out that while campaigns are usually driven by values rather than policy, one does not necessarily win an election by being the favorite. Domke said that Mitt Romney didn’t win the 2012 Republican presidential candidate election because everyone loved him, but because his campaign had the most financial support.
Students asked questions towards the end of the lecture, including their concerns on value-based issues in the political sphere as well as the possible suppression of different races depending on the outcome of the 2012 election. Domke ended on an impartial note saying: “Whoever is chosen for office, my personal hope is that the chosen candidate will be a true statesman.”