Panel Examines Role of Rising Polarization in Trump Victory

A look at how political polarization hardened during the Obama administration and helped enable Donald Trump’s victory showed how Democratic and Republican establishments underestimated the strength of the anger and frustration building in the country. One result: The election of populist leaders is now “a striking pattern in Western democracies,” says Sanford professor Bruce Jentleson.

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Trump Signs Away TPP, But Will Better Deals Result?

President Donald Trump is expected to focus more on trade deals with individual countries now that he has ended U.S. participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. Could the bilateral deals be better for the US than the 12-nation TPP? Law professor Rachel Brewster says an advantage of big trade agreements like TPP is they can put pressure on companies because they do not want to be left out of the partnership.

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What Trump’s Cabinet Says About Race and Class in America

If a black American gets additional education, the extra degrees could improve his position relative to other blacks, but he cannot expect to close the wealth gap or unemployment gap with most white Americans, says William “Sandy” Darity, a professor of public policy, African and African American studies and economics. “If you think about cabinet positions as another facet of attaining a job, then we are seeing the same kind of discriminatory mechanisms operating there as well,” Darity said. “For black appointees to get into the mix, they have to have the highest level of credentials, and that is not the case for white appointees.”

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Trump Signs Sweeping Order That Could Gut Obamacare

President Donald Trump signed a sweeping executive order that encourages federal agencies to dismantle large parts of Obamacare, possibly including the hugely unpopular mandate requiring most Americans to purchase insurance. Such steps would make the market “sicker and on average more expensive,” says David Anderson, a health policy analyst who’s studied the law’s insurance regulations. “It may lead to carriers reconsidering their participation for the 2018 plan year.”

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Guns in Schools Supporters Gain Traction

Donald Trump takes office today with House Republicans having already filed two proposals for gutting the 1990 Gun Free School Zones Act, which bars guns in and around schools while allowing states and localities to make exceptions for some firearms owners.  “It certainly does seem like momentum is building,” says law professor Joseph Blocher, who writes on Second Amendment jurisprudence.

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Trump Takes Office Under Appearances Of Unpredictability

Political scientist Peter Feaver, a former national security aide in the Clinton and Bush White Houses,  says the jury is still out on Trump’s approach to the world. Maybe, says Feaver, Trump just wants a reset with Russia, not a wholesale realignment, much like other presidents — a difference in degree not in kind.”It’s impossible to say with certainty because he hasn’t made a single presidential decision yet,” Feaver says.

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Video: Making Sense of Trump’s Views on Putin

Donald Trump’s continued soft stance toward Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, has prompted many questions about how the new administration will relate to its fellow world power. Trump has also questioned NATO’s importance to the United States. In this video, political science professor Peter Feaver reflects on Trump’s views on these and other foreign policy issues.

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Video: Is NATO Pulling Its Fair Share?

Duke political science professor Edmund Malesky discusses whether NATO is pulling its fair share of the defense burden. Malesky shares additional thoughts on the issue in a Washington Post opinion piece. To read it, click here.

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Commutation of Manning’s Sentence a Setback for Transgender Troops

“The message to the troops may well be that transgender soldiers get special, indulgent treatment they did not earn simply because of sympathetic politicos and misguided civilian thinking,” writes law professor Charles Dunlap, a retired Air Force major general. “That is not a formula for transgender soldiers to get authentic respect, real trust and true equal treatment from their comrades-in-arms.”

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Future Uncertain for Clean Power Plan

Legal challenges and the recent U.S. presidential election have left the future uncertain for the Clean Power Plan, which regulates greenhouse gases from existing power plants under the Clean Air Act. A new working paper from the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and UNC’s Center for Climate, Energy, Environment and Economics examines possible responses.

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Two Little Words for Trump Appointees: If Confirmed …

This is a period of high risk for the nominees, writes Douglas Brook, a visiting professor at the Sanford School of Public Policy, who worked on the outgoing transition teams for both Bush presidencies. “The Senate takes its constitutional prerogative seriously. A misstep can sink a nomination. Think only of failed past nominations of John Tower for secretary of defense by George H.W. Bush or of Zoe Baird and Kimba Wood for attorney general by Bill Clinton,” he writes.

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Federal Environmental Policy Not Easily Changed

An analysis co-authored by Megan Mullin, associate professor of environmental politics, examines President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to be the next administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. “(Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt) is more deeply skeptical of the agency’s mission than any EPA administrator in a generation,” they write.

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