Student Election Discussion Group

As our mission statement says, “The Salem Center for Policy is dedicated to helping students and business leaders better understand the costs, benefits and consequences of policy decisions.” The weeks before a presidential election are when many Americans think most about policy, and discussions of the upcoming election often throw off more heat than light, so our mission requires us to try to help make sense of the choice facing America. Towards that end, we’ve put together a group of students and faculty to articulate and evaluate the beliefs and values behind our votes.

Our first discussion took place last Friday (9/25/2020) and can be viewed here or on YouTube. In this session, we shared the context and values each of us brings to thinking about the current election and only began to touch on the specific topics at issue in the choice between Trump and Biden. We found a lot of consensus in what we value about America—including: individualism, opportunity, free speech, innovation, and rule of law. But we disagreed about whether  these values would fare better under a Biden presidency or a second term of Trump. In future sessions, we’ll explore this question by focusing on topics such as the economy, foreign policy, health care, education, and on threats (from one or both candidates) to free speech, due process, and the rule of law.

Our next discussion will be this Friday (10/2/2020) at 4:30 PM CT. We’ll be discussing (among other topics) issues raised by Tuesday night’s debate. We hope you’ll watch. And, if you’re a member of the University of Texas community and are interested in joining the group, we’d love to have you; please get in touch with me at