Northwestern’s Campus Ministry is hosting Jeff VanDerWerff’s NED Talk, “Engaging Democracy: The Trouble with Trump,” on Wednesday, Nov. 8 –– exactly one year to the day since the election of President Donald Trump.
In tackling “The Trouble with Trump,” VanDerWerff hopes to delve deeper into engaging democracy.
“Engaging democracy has been a common denominator for me for several years,” VanDerWerff said. “That is the lens with which I look on a lot of things. I like the term ‘engaging democracy’ because it has a dual meaning. It’s participation; as Christians we should participate. But just as importantly, how do we participate?”
During his talk, VanDerWerff plans to discuss whether President Trump himself is the problem seen today in public life or if he is a symptom of a much deeper problem in our political system. VanDerWerff will also explore the concept of ‘Trumpism’ and how it became such a prevalent part of public life.
“Democracy [is] the public life, the public square, something that seems attractive,” VanDerWerff said. “Are we making it better by our participation? Or is it becoming a place where nobody wants to go because everyone’s acting like jerks and it’s really broken and dysfunctional?”
VanDerWerff will also look at the response of Christians: are they participating in democracy and making it a better place for everyone or are they ignoring the problems that arise?
Senior Catelin Haight emphasized the importance of engaging in political discourse.
“Politics involves the people that set up the structures for the everyday life of citizens and we need to realize how important that it,” Haight said.
Despite where students land on the political spectrum, everyone is invited to come and listen to a respectful lecture on engaging democracy under the current administration. Professor of U.S. Government and Public Life Jeff VanDerWerff is very passionate about political theology and rhetoric on the subject.
In 2015 VanDerWerff presented his paper “A Political Theology for Engaging Democracy: Letting Public Life Preach and Presidential Politics” at the Iowa Conference on Presidential Politics.
This September VanDerWerff participated in a dialogue series called “Respectful Conversations” aimed at reforming political discourse. To date, he has prepared more than 70 reports on Iowa political policy for the Consulate General of Japan in Chicago.
VanDerWerff’s talk will take place from 10:05 – 10:30 a.m. Wednesday Nov. 8, in the Vogel Community Room.