Happenings On the Hill

First Takes on History

SMU faculty will likely eventually write new textbook entries about the transition from President Donald Trump to President Joe Biden.

For now, they get to speculate on the implications of the events surrounding the Capitol riot.

Matthew Wilson, associate professor of political science, predicts a significant regrouping for the Republic Party.

“Republicans who had been reluctant in the past to break publicly with Trump and his supporters (most notably Mike Pence and Mitch McConnell) spoke out quite clearly (Jan. 6) in favor of the rule of law and against continued resistance to the electoral outcome,” Wilson said. “There is a palpable sense in the party that it is time to regroup and move on without Donald Trump.”

However, that comes with challenges, he said.

“Will it be possible to incorporate some Trumpian themes without embracing the personal toxicity of Trump himself? Can the party be ‘Trumpy’ enough to keep his supporters on board, but not so ‘Trumpy’ that they alienate moderate suburban voters? That’s a fine line to walk, and it got finer yesterday,” Wilson said.

Many Trump supporters won’t feel responsible for what happened, said Stephanie Martin, assistant professor of Communication Studies in the Meadows School of the Arts.

“My research suggests that those who are not prone to going out and actively participating in rallies (or mobs) will not see themselves in what happened,” she said. “This is because most of these individuals identify with the policies they like but not necessarily the behaviors they don’t.

“They participate as voters, but they refused to take responsibility when things get out of hand, even if their votes are partially responsible for the outcomes that are taking place.”

Jared Schroeder, an expert in social media and the First Amendment, sees long-lasting implications in the response by social media giants to shutter the accounts of Trump and others accused of inciting violence.

“The social media firms’ decisions probably give us a glimpse into the future,” the associate professor of journalism said. “A post-presidency Trump will receive far less protection from bans or blocks. The question is: What will happen next? Will Trump successfully disrupt the social media system, creating a viable, major channel for himself and those who follow him, or will the lack of the presidential mantel and waning access to Twitter and other major tools lead to him fading into history?”

See the ‘Hope Chest’

Hope Chest, on display at The Pollock Gallery, and its contents weave a web of association with
the text of Driving Lessons: Thirteen Stories by Tim Coursey.

“Driving Lessons: Thirteen Stories,” a solo exhibition by Dallas artist and Meadows School of the Arts alumnus Tim Coursey, runs through March 13 at The Pollock Gallery on SMU’s east campus, Suite 101 in Expressway Tower, 6116 North Central Expressway.,

Admission during the pandemic is by appointment only. Email assistant curator Everton Melo at emelo@smu.edu.

Based on his recently released book of the same name, the exhibit features quotations and a new sculpture by Coursey. Hope Chest, a box made of poplar with bronze fittings, looks like an early 19th-century take on a Beowulf-era dowry chest.

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William Taylor

William Taylor, editor of Park Cities People and Preston Hollow People, shares a name and a birthday with his dad and a love for community journalism with his colleagues at People Newspapers. He joined the staff in 2016 after more than 25 years working for daily newspapers in such places as Alexandria, Louisiana; Baton Rouge; McKinney; San Angelo; and Sherman, though not in anywhere near that order. A city manager once told him that “city government is the best government” because of its potential to improve the lives of its residents. William still enjoys covering municipal government and many other topics. Follow him on Twitter @Seminarydropout. He apologizes in advance to the Joneses for any angry Tweets that might slip out about the Dallas Cowboys during the NFL season. You also can reach him at william.taylor@peoplenewspapers.com. For the latest news, click here to sign up for our newsletter.

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