Written by Emily Fox

Two former members of Congress, Republican George Holding and Democrat Loretta Sanchez, discussed the recent 2020 US Elections with an online audience, as part of De Montfort University’s (DMU) annual Congress to Campus event. The question on the table was ‘What happens next?’

The 90-minute Congress to Campus event, held on Wednesday, saw De Montfort University’s (DMU) Associate Professor of American Politics, Dr Clodagh Harrington discuss and debate the outcome and consequences of the 2020 US election, where President Trump lost to Former Vice President Joe Biden.

Dr Harrington said: “The 2020 election is a hugely exciting and consequential moment in US politics. The Biden/Harris victory and move towards a new political direction will have meaningful consequences for America and the wider world.”

Mr Holding joined Congress in 2013 and remains in office until 2021. He serves on the Committee on Ways and Means, the Budget Committee and the Ethics Committee. His focus is on issues related to taxation, trade, fiscal responsibility and foreign affairs and has a particular interest in transatlantic relations.

Ms Sanchez beat one-time Republican presidential hopeful Bob Dornan in 1997 to enter Congress, leaving in 2017 to run for the US Senate seat won by Kamala Harris. Her service on Armed Services & Homeland Security Committees was complemented by interests in education, crime, economic development, and protections for senior citizens.

Congress to Campus Virtual Event

Loretta Sanchez, the former Democrat representative from California, gave her verdict on the current political atmosphere within the United States.

She noted: “It’s become much much more difficult to agree, to pass bills and to show the unity that a lot of American people want to see.”

“[Democracy] it is getting pulled apart at the current time and the current election reflected that.”

The panel discussed a whole range of issues posed by the audience, including the climate crisis, the global pandemic and the transition of power between President Donald Trump and President-Elect, Joe Biden.

On the latter issue, George Holding, said: “I have absolutely no doubt that we’ll have a smooth transition of power.” He emphasises that the President is not sworn in until January 20th, which is around seventy days away. 

“I think the pressure on our democracy comes from the fact that the American people are divided and they see very little common ground.”

“The nature of our democracy created by our founding fathers is that you have to have compromise. You have checks and balances.”

Both members believed that a divided government was better at creating change than a solely Democrat or Republican government. They also seemed optimistic about the future of the United States as a whole.

International Relations and Politics graduate, Zeena Mistry, was one of the attendees. She said: “As for the event, I found it very interesting because we’re in very bizarre political times at the moment and after the election, it was nice to get a breakdown on what happens next, because so much had happened!”

“My main outcome of the event was very optimistic because despite deep divides at the moment, it appears members of Congress know they have to work together to heal the country.”

Congress to Campus is an annual event where two former members of Congress, one Republican and one Democrat, visit universities and colleges to give students an insight into contemporary American politics. This year, it was held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic, in the comfort of our own homes.

Missed Congress to Campus? You can watch back this year’s event on YouTube here.