China Radio International asked me to analyze the November 6 U.S. midterm elections. Instead of staying up all night watching the results in Washington, as I used to do during my 35 years of covering politics, I spent a day of my midterm (exam) week at Tsinghua University monitoring the returns, taking advantage of the 13-hour time difference to avoid sleep deprivation.
Here is a lightly edited transcript of my CRI Q&A:
Q: What’s your reaction to the election result?
A: It was exactly the result I expected. Donald Trump’s decision to divide the country along class and racial lines helped Republicans make gains in the Senate but it doomed them in the House. And I think Trump made a rational political decision: sacrifice the House to keep the Senate, where his nominees for executive office and the courts must be confirmed. This split verdict of the voters strengthens Trump as far as nominations are concerned, but it will make it hard for him to pass any legislation unless it is truly bipartisan. It also will subject him to aggressive oversight by the new Democratic committee chairmen in the newly Democratic House.
Q: To what extent do you think this is going to reshape the political landscape of America?
A: It confirms that 2016 was not a fluke and that Trump has realigned American politics. On the one hand, some suburban voters are switching to the Democratic Party, and women and younger voters are becoming more and more Democratic. But Trump has consolidated the realignment of white working-class voters and has managed to maintain the support of many educated white men in the suburbs. I think it means at least two more years of deeply divided politics and a focus by both parties on a few states that will determine the 2020 election: Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Arizona and probably Florida.
Q: Donald Trump said two days before the elections that he planned to focus on the Senate. He declared the election results a “tremendous success” for Republicans. In what ways could this be a victory for Donald Trump?
A: Well, it’s a victory because he kept control of the Senate, and even strengthened the Republican majority. He is directly responsible for that with his highly charged rhetoric and his aggressive campaigning. Five new senators owe Trump their jobs. It means that Trump will have virtual carte blanche on nominations for administration positions and federal judgeships for the next two years.
Q: Do you think Donald Trump should be given the credit for Republicans keeping the Senate red?
A: Yes, he deserves credit. And so does Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Trump figured out a way to motivate his base. Democrats were enthusiastic about going to the polls to vote against Republicans. They figured out a way, with the Supreme Court nomination fight over Brett Kavanaugh, to charge up Republican base voters. Trump understands the Trump voters better than the American media does.
Q: With divided leadership in Congress and a president who has taken an expansive view of executive power, is Washington going to see even deeper political polarization and legislative gridlock?
A: Because the Democrats control the House, there will either be bipartisanship or gridlock. Judging by Trump’s track record, I would bet on gridlock. Unless Trump completely changes his persona and suddenly becomes a statesman, Washington will devolve into gridlock and recriminations. The House will investigate Trump. The Senate will support Trump. The most likely compromises will come when Congress debates spending bills, because they have to figure out a way to agree to pay for government operations.
Q: The 2018 midterms are viewed by many as a national referendum on President Trump. Why is that? Is that what usually happens in the U.S.?
A: Midterms are rarely a referendum on the president. The 2010 midterms were a referendum on Obamacare and government spending to counteract the Great Recession. The 2006 midterms were not a referendum on George W. Bush but a rejection of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is a saying in Washington that in Congress, all politics is local. In Donald Trump’s Washington, all politics is all Trump, all the time.
It was a referendum on Trump because he made it a referendum on himself. He could have made it a referendum on a strong economy, but he decided that dividing voters over issues such as immigration and judges would help Republicans keep the Senate. He was right about that, although Democratic Senate candidates got millions more votes than Republican candidates, and House Democratic candidates received a bigger majority of the two-party vote than either party has received since 2008. So the public spoke: Trump and Republicans are unpopular, but the American system, which gives each state two senators, benefits the smaller, more conservative states where Trump is popular.
Q: A survey released on the eve of the election shows that a quarter of Americans have lost friends over political disagreements and are less likely to attend social functions because of politics. What does it tell about the political environment in today’s American society?
A: It is toxic. I stayed off Twitter for much of the past week because there were too many angry people spending their time insulting each other. Social discourse in America is making people angry, depressed and divided. I hope that changes, but I’m not sure where the change will start.
Q: Why are we seeing more far-right activists using violence to express their political views, from the pipe bombs sent to prominent Democratic figures to the shooting at a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh that killed 11 people?
A: Far-right activists feel empowered and emboldened by Trump’s rhetoric and his successes. Trump is not responsible for crazed people who commit violent acts, but he does bear some responsibility for the lack of civility in public discourse and a failure to repudiate racial and religious hatred.
Q: Will the election result in any way influence the Trump administration’s trade policies?
A: I am an eternal optimist, and I think there’s a chance that Trump will try to cool down the rhetoric and try to find a negotiated settlement to the trade dispute with China. Election Day polling of voters found that only 25 percent of them believe that Trump’s trade policies are good for the American economy.
But it is also possible that, having declared victory, he will feel emboldened to continue to challenge traditional allies such as the EU and NATO, and get tough with China and even Russia, as we saw recently when he pulled out of the nuclear arms treaty.
Here is the complete text of my commencement address to the Global Business Journalism graduation ceremony at Tsinghua University on July 5, 2018.
大家好。Добрый день. Welcome.
I am honored, on behalf of the International Center for Journalists and the international faculty of the Global Business Journalism Program, to congratulate all of you on your successful completion of your studies.
This special group includes some of the best young journalists in China, along with a diverse mixture of nations: Japan, Russia, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Korea, Pakistan, Burundi, Azerbaijan, New Zealand, and the United States. Some of you already have made a mark on the world of business journalism during your Tsinghua years. I have great confidence that even more of you will have an impact in the years to come.
Since 2007, the Global Business Journalism program has improved the quality of journalism – and public understanding of business and economic issues – in China and around the world. You have benefited from cross-cultural learning, practical journalism training, and a varied curriculum featuring both Chinese and international professors at one of the world’s great universities.
In the GBJ program, about three-fourths of our students are women, and with rare exceptions, women are the top performers in our program. Yet many of these high achievers may face obstacles in the job market. Women suffer discrimination, overt and hidden, in hiring, promotion and pay. In many countries, it is acceptable to deny jobs or promotions to women because the employer fears they will become wives and mothers, and will not be as committed to their day jobs as men.
Subtle forms of discrimination continue to subvert women’s empowerment even in so-called progressive countries. A recent study of Twitter use by American political reporters found that of the 25 reporters who received the most social media replies from male political reporters in the United States, zero were women. And whose posts did male reporters share? Only three of the 25 most frequently shared reporters were women. It’s no surprise that the vast majority of “experts” quoted by male reporters tend to be male. It’s time for change.
Joyce Barnathan, president of the International Center for Journalists, was one of 10 prominent media leaders who last month proposed 14 steps to combat industry sexism. “It’s time to stop talking about the need for equality and start actively reforming the industry,” Joyce and the other leaders wrote.
We must overcome these insidious forms of male discrimination. In the words of the American civil rights anthem of the 1960s, “we shall overcome, some day.”
But a feminist author, Betty Millard, was unimpressed by the title, “Man Against Myth,” and produced her own tract in response: “Woman Against Myth.” She decried the cultural and religious customs cited to subjugate women around the world.
As Millard noted, Confucius wrote many centuries ago: “It is a law of nature that women should be kept under the control of men and not allowed any will of their own.” Confucius, without doubt, was a great man. But he was not always right.
Sadly, Millard’s analysis is still relevant today. A GBJ student, in his thesis this year, argued that Islamic feminists believe that “women’s struggle for equality with men is doomed to fail, as women are placed in ‘unnatural settings’ where they are denigrated and burdened with paid work on top of domestic labor.”
I believe in academic freedom, but I do not agree with the sentiments expressed in this quotation.
Fortunately, the Tsinghua School of Journalism and Communication is leading the way in empowering women. Our executive dean, Dr. Chen Changfeng, is a brilliant scholar and inspirational leader. Our associate dean for international affairs, my friend and GBJ co-director Dr. Hang Min, has earned a global reputation for media management and cross-cultural partnerships. Doctors Fan Hong and Dai Jia are popular GBJ professors, and Li Laoshi, Rose Li, is our indispensable international administrator. And more than half of the keynote speakers at our annual Tsinghua Business Journalism Forums have been women.
You see, women can achieve, if given the opportunity and freed of institutional and societal constraints. I hope that all of you in the graduating class of 2018 take inspiration from the accomplishments of your professors and your peers. It is sometimes harder for women to succeed in journalism. That’s the reality. Men still run most news organizations, and men make most of the hiring decisions. But through persistence and sheer excellence, women are gaining ground. I hope to live long enough to see some of you lead the journalistic, economic and even political worlds of the 21st century.
I close by quoting my favorite philosopher, my grandfather, Barrows Dunham. During a lecture in Massachusetts, he expressed optimism about the battle for social progress. “Even now,” he said, “we ourselves are determining the future, not by knowing what it will be, but by conceiving of what it can be.”
I look forward to you determining the future and changing our world. I will cherish your future achievements, unfettered by ancient superstitions and prejudices. Please stay in touch.
谢谢, 大家。Большое спасибо. Thank you.
Come join us! Global Business Journalism students offer tips on navigating the Tsinghua application processPosted: January 10, 2018
Come join us!
Global Business Journalism Program student journalist Botlhe Dikobe of Botswana produced this engaging video to celebrate the completion of her first semester in the Global Business Journalism Program. It has tips from current students on how to apply for our English-language master’s program at Tsinghua University, and what’s in store for you if you’re accepted.
Remember, our program is a partnership between the International Center for Journalists, the pre-eminent journalism training organization in the world, Bloomberg News, the most respected source of business news and data, and Tsinghua University, China’s top university.
Please share this with your family and friends as we build our community and seek more great applicants for the 2018-19 academic year. The deadline for early admission applications is January 15. The final deadline is March 1. An earlier application improves your chances of receiving a scholarship.
For more information on the program: https://rickdunhamblog.com/2017/11/20/apply-now-for-the-global-business-journalism-program-tsinghua-university/
Video: Why the GBJ program is a great choice for a master’s program: https://rickdunhamblog.com/2017/01/18/video-why-the-global-business-journalism-program-at-tsinghua-is-a-great-choice-for-graduate-school/comment-page-1/#comment-2301
Apply here: http://gradadmission.tsinghua.edu.cn
The Global Business Journalism master’s program at Tsinghua University is made up of a diverse group of students from around the world. Students from more than 60 nations have learned from GBJ’s experienced international journalists and eminent Chinese scholars over the past decade.
GBJ student Narantungalag Enkhtur, a former Bloomberg TV Mongolia reporter, produced a video that allows you to meet current students from Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia and America and hear them explain what that they are learning in this world-class program at China’s top university.
GBJ was created in 2007 by Tsinghua and the International Center for Journalists, a Washington-based nonprofit organization that is committed to journalism excellence and training around the world. Bloomberg News is the program’s chief sponsor.
The first round of applications for September 2018 admission is open until January 15, 2018. The second round of applications runs from January 16, 2018 to March 1, 2018. An earlier application improves your chances of receiving a scholarship.
For more information on the program: https://rickdunhamblog.com/2017/11/20/apply-now-for-the-global-business-journalism-program-tsinghua-university/
Apply here: http://gradadmission.tsinghua.edu.cn
I teach my multimedia students in the Global Business Journalism Program the importance of using graphics to tell stories. Timelines are one of the most effective narrative storytelling tools. This is one of the best timelines I’ve ever seen. It’s a history of Earth’s average temperature since the last Ice Age glaciation. Scroll to the end for a surprise. (Well, it’ll be a surprise to some of you.)
Thanks to xkcd for creating this ingenious timeline. It is reproduced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.
The Global Business Journalism Program at Tsinghua University, a partnership with the International Center for Journalists and Bloomberg News, is the most prestigious English language journalism program on the Chinese mainland.
International graduates of the two-year program receive an M.A. in Global Business Journalism from the Tsinghua School of Journalism and Communication, one of the top journalism schools in Asia.
The program is a cross-cultural educational experience featuring some of the best journalism students in China, along with a selection of elite business, journalism and international relations graduates from around the world. Students from more than 60 nations have participated in the program over its first decade. We welcome your application. The first round of applications is open until January 15, 2018. The second round of applications runs from January 16, 2018 to March 1, 2018. An earlier application improves your chances of receiving a scholarship.
Please contact me at email@example.com if you have questions. Here’s the official information from GBJ.
For more information about the program, please visit the GBJ website at:
For an application, please visit the Application Website at:
3) Academic transcript.
4) Two academic recommendation letters from scholars of associate professorship or higher. They must include the referee’s phone number and email address on the letter.
5) For non-English speaking students, please provide English level certificates. e.g. TOEFL, IELTS, etc.
6) A copy of your passport page with personal information (personal and ordinary passport).
7) For detailed information about scholarships, please visit: http://is.tsinghua.edu.cn.
8) A non-refundable application fee of RMB600.
Complete Online Application on the website:http://gradadmission.tsinghua.edu.cn.Step 2: Application Fee Payment
There are two ways to pay the application fee:
1. Pay online using a credit card
After your online application form is verified and the materials are received by Tsinghua University, you will be given a choice to pay the application fee via online payment draft or via the online application system.
2. Pay in cash at the Foreign Student Affairs Office (Room 120,Zijing Building 22) on the campus of Tsinghua University.
Accidental Injury and Hospitalization Insurance: RMB 600/year.Please visit http://is.tsinghua.edu.cn for more information about scholarships.
√ Valuable learning experiences. The full-time program spans two years of intense, fast-paced, rewarding study. Those who complete it successfully emerge with valuable connections, a rich array of opportunities and the business and journalism skills to capitalize on them. It is a two-year experience that will last a lifetime.
√ Specialized courses. GBJ offers an array of specialized courses that are at the forefront of global business journalism. Students can learn about international accounting standards, multimedia journalism, data mining, complex financial derivatives, journalism ethics, advanced feature writing techniques and the management of media organizations – knowledge that is transferable to other economies and other professions. At the same time, they gain a deeper knowledge of the Chinese language and economy.
√ International faculty. All GBJ courses are taught in English by internationally renowned scholars and accomplished journalists with extensive global experience.
√ Digital facilities. The program’s facilities rival those of other leading journalism schools worldwide. The news lab has the largest number of Bloomberg terminals donated to any university in the world.
√ Program partners. Tsinghua University has teamed up with the U.S.-based International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) to build GBJ. Other partners include Bloomberg News, Bank of America and the Knight Foundation. Visiting scholars have worked at prominent global media and financial-information companies such as Bloomberg, Reuters, The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, The New York Times, The Financial Times, CNN and The Washington Post.
√ Unique resources. The GBJ program benefits from other academic resources on the Tsinghua campus, including its prestigious School of Economics and Management and the Schwarzman College, as well as many Chinese and global media and technology companies in Beijing. Internships, field trips and recruiter visits are integral parts of the program.
√ Job Opportunities and Networking. Graduates of the program are working in a number of major media organizations such as Bloomberg, Reuters, CCTV and Xinhua News Agency. Others have landed communications positions at companies such as Ogilvy China and Bank of America, as well as technology and financial companies, Chinese government ministries and international organizations.
GBJ students have opportunities to attend conferences on new media, economic development and other business topics. They benefit from meetings and discussions with guest speakers, including top editors and reporters from leading Chinese and Western news outlets and international business executives. The GBJ has developed a growing network of smart, sophisticated reporters, editors and public relations professionals who can enhance the world’s understanding of economic and corporate developments in China and globally.
Ms. Ma Chengcheng (Sarah Ma)
Room 302, Omnicom Building, School of Journalism and Communication
Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, P. R. ChinaTel: +86 10 6279 6842
Fax: +86 10 6277 1410