Partisan Identity Is The Most Important: A Speech From NPR’s Mara Liasson

Chaos, polarization and resistance were focus points of an NPR journalist’s speech Wednesday at the University of Maryland, where she discussed the status of journalism under president Donald Trump’s administration.

Mara Liasson, a national political correspondent with over 30 years of reporting experience, presented “The Political Landscape: Dealing with Hate and Bias in Washington.”

She said drama-filled, politically-based TV shows like House of Cards and The West Wing remind her of current coverage of the president.

“The Trump show is now in its second season,” Liasson said.

Standing on stage in the Gildenhorn Recital Hall at The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, Liasson added that “Trump is increasingly confident doing things his own way.”

The issuing of executive orders restricting travel and the fate of young immigrants who are a part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals administrative program are factors that create drama, suspense and uncertainty, according to Liasson.

While Liasson conceded that “all modern presidents are polarizing,” she also said that the increasing polarization within the United States is bleeding over into the Republican Party as well.

Rumors that Trump might fire special counsel Robert Mueller, Liasson said, seem like a “red line for Republicans in Congress” not to be crossed by the president.

She said that Republicans are more willing to accept things from Trump that they never did before. Republicans used to be more agreeable on subject matter like immigration, trade and deficits, said Liasson.

Furthermore, Liasson said that such changes in position make it seem like Trump has “managed to remake the party in his own image.”

According to Liasson, there used to be a lot more conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans at a hearty center, where “deals got made, compromises got done.”

Now, Americans seem to be self-segregating based on more than just race, but religious and political views, too, said Liasson.

“Partisan identity is now the most important identity,” she said.

However, such an importance placed on political perspectives has led to what Liasson referred to as a “blue wave” of Democrats who have been motivated by Trump to vote and run for office.

Bonnie Thornton Dill, a dean at the College of Arts and Humanities at this university, said that Liasson talks of resistance, being “actively engaged and pushing back.”

As a part of the Worldwise Arts and Humanities Dean’s Lecture Series, Dill said that Liasson’s speech was meant to help encourage communities on and off campus “to consider rhetoric and actions that sew bigotry” in order to overcome them.

Trump’s rhetoric has provided Democratic candidates a platform on which they can run on “antidotes to chaos and division,” said Liasson.