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License to thrive: Arizona bill would allow reciprocity for regulated professions

April 9, 2019

HB 2569 will recognize out-of-state occupational licenses, opening up ability to work in Arizona for many

Editor's note: This story is being highlighted in ASU Now's year in review. Read more top stories from 2019.

The Arizona Legislature recently passed HB 2569, a bill that would loosen occupational licensing laws in the state by recognizing out-of-state licenses as valid. Gov. Doug Ducey has been a vocal supporter of universal licensing recognition, suggesting that a person’s skills don’t diminish when they cross state lines, and the change will allow those who have moved from other states to “work faster and without all the red tape.”

To better understand the role of occupational licensing and what this change would mean for Arizona’s businesses and residents, ASU Now spoke with Stephen Slivinski, senior research fellow at the Center for the Study of Economic Liberty at Arizona State University.

Question: What is occupational licensing? What kinds of jobs in Arizona require a license?

Stephen Slivinski

Answer: Occupational licensing laws — which are state-specific laws that vary by state — require workers in certain occupations to first obtain a license from a government licensing board before they can hold a job in that field. Not all occupations in Arizona require a license, but many do.

The requirements to obtain a license vary by occupation and state, and generally consist of meeting a minimum number of training hours and paying a fee. Some licenses may require a specific degree, like a high school diploma or a college degree, or an apprentice period with an existing license holder. All states license doctors and lawyers, for instance, but not all states require a license for occupations like interior designer or animal breeder (and yes, some states do).

Currently, Arizona ranks as having one of the top five most burdensome licensing requirements in the nation overall, both in the number of occupations that are licensed and the number of training hours required. These burdens hit low-income workers the hardest: Over 65% of low-income occupations in Arizona require a license, and those jobs have some of the heaviest financial and training-based requirements when compared to other states.

Q: What would this bill do?

A: This bill would allow anyone with an existing license from another state — in good standing — to have instant reciprocity with Arizona. In other words, they would receive a “seal of approval” from the state of Arizona once they establish residency in the state, without having to take an Arizona licensing exam or logging the prescribed hours of training.

The bill does allow the state to decline this right of reciprocity for a disqualifying criminal history. Certain occupations would not be granted instant reciprocity, including those that require a security clearance.

Q: Will granting reciprocity weaken the ability of the state to protect consumers?

A: These laws are often justified on the basis that the state has a compelling interest in protecting consumers and citizens from “bad actors” or safeguarding public health. However, there is a consensus among economists and scholars that these requirements often do not line up with the actual risk to public health and safety. Barbers in Arizona, for instance, are required to log over 1,000 hours of training before they receive a license, while emergency medical technicians have to log 110 hours.

Academic studies have also found no significant difference in public health and safety outcomes in states that have higher licensing burdens when compared to those that are closer to the national average.

Q: What are the advantages to reciprocity?

A: The main advantage of license reciprocity is increased competition in licensed service sectors and, therefore, more choices and lower prices for consumers. It also makes Arizona instantly more attractive to workers and entrepreneurs already looking to relocate to Arizona to take advantage of our other competitive advantages, like climate and cost of living.

Studies indicate that interstate mobility — the likelihood that someone will relocate to another state to find work — is greatly reduced when licensing processes are perceived to be burdensome. Moreover, current Arizona residents who have avoided working in a particular field because their license is from another state can now work in a field that previously seemed off-limits. This sort of reform will have benefits to workers and employers as well as consumers.

Q: Do you expect this bill will encourage other states to grant licensing reciprocity? Will this become a trend?

A: I think this change will make Arizona instantly more attractive for workers and employers looking to relocate out of their current state. If this proves to be a compelling reason for people to relocate, it is very likely that other states will follow suit to try to gain a competitive edge. The Arizona reform is the first-of-its-kind in the nation so we will need to wait and see how this all plays out.

Views expressed in this interview belong solely to the professor, and not necessarily to the university.

Katherine Reedy

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Rebuilding civic education key to keeping democracy running, professor says

America needs civic education as 'owner's manual' for democracy, expert says.
April 4, 2019

Skills to analyze and repair government have nearly been lost, Harvard political theorist says at talk capping yearlong ASU series

America has lost the “owner’s manual” to democracy and must focus on restoring civics education to the next generation to reclaim it, according to a Harvard University professor and theorist.

Polarization has not only afflicted the current state of governance, it’s also the reason that civic education has faded away in schools, said Danielle Allen, the James Bryant Conant University Professor and director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard.

She spoke at the final event of the yearlong series “Polarization and Civil Disagreement: Confronting America's Civic Crisis,” held by the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership.

“We don’t have civics because we fight over history,” Allen said, adding that when education leaders from different states tried to establish the K-12 Common Core standards for testing in 2010, they skipped social studies because of conflicts over how to teach history. Some thought there should be a focus on the successes of democracy, and others thought that slavery and the genocide of Native Americans should have more emphasis.

“They couldn’t come to an agreement on how we should narrate the basic tale of American history,” she said. “So now there are no accountability mechanisms for social studies, and that’s why it’s not emphasized.”

Young people need to know the basic skills of how to keep democracy flourishing, such as voting, but they also must learn subjects such as economics, psychology and social sciences to critically judge whether government is working and how to come up with solutions if it’s not, she said.

It’s hard work, said Allen, who also is the principal investigator for the Democratic Knowledge Project, a lab at Harvard that seeks to identify and teach the skills that citizens need.

“We do this work of listening and coordinating and synthesizing a shared vision every time we serve on a committee,” she said. “Democracies have more committees than any other political form because it’s how you do the work to articulate people’s vision of happiness.

“I think we can reclaim that owner’s manual.”

Allen said that civics education can be summed up in the second paragraph"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness." of the Declaration of Independence, which — within the paragraph — moves from a vision of the individual to a sense of community.

“To move from ‘I’ to ‘we,’ you need the nitty-gritty skills of getting a group of people around a table to talk about a hard problem,” she said.

That knowledge has almost been lost.

“We did build up such a deep expertise as a society in it, that we actually forgot to name it as a thing that needs to be cultivated from one generation to the next,” she said. “We took it for granted that democratic institutions run on their own.

“But that’s not the case. A healthy democracy depends on a virtuous circle: political institutions that are effective and functioning well and a political culture that supports them with the knowledge and skills that understand how to operate them.”

Allen said that in her own work, she takes an approach that appreciates the founders but is not deifying, and is honest about their errors but not cynical.

“Those are my guardrails about how to think about a fair history for this country,” she said.

“Our shared history is not one thing. It’s many things, good and bad, all the way through, and we need to be honest about all aspects of it and not need to turn it to one thing or another.”

Educational policy in the last quarter-century has been driven by an economic conception of what America needs as a country, she said.

“And we have a lot of truth of what we need, with regard to the dissemination of STEM skills, for example, and the notion of the kind of education that secures a competitive economy,” Allen said.

“We want to have a competitive economy, but we also want to maintain a system of self-government and that requires direct educational attention itself.”

Allen said there are many examples in government that show how norms have eroded, with politicians from both parties.

“(Senate Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell made the comment that ‘Winners make policy and losers go home.’ You can’t sustain a democracy on that principle because democracy depends on the losers wanting to stay attached.”

She said the correct view is that winners lead the process and incorporate the losers.

“You’re seeking leadership, not total obliteration of your adversary.”

Top photo: Harvard University Professor Danielle Allen talks about the second sentence of the Declaration of Independence, "We hold these truths to be self-evident ..." both individually and communally, to define "Democratic Knowledge: A Roadmap for Rebuilding Civic Education" at ASU's Memorial Union on Thursday. Her talk, before more than 160 people, was the final lecture in the "Polarization and Civil Disagreement: Confronting America's Civic Crisis" series, put on by the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

ASU In the News

License required to repair doors? Regs spark heated debate in Arizona

Arizona wants to make it easier for workers who need an occupational license for their jobs.

A bill making its way through the state legislature would allow out-of-staters moving to Arizona to do their job with the occupational license they received from another state. Right now, Arizona has some of the most stringent laws that require workers to go through the state’s rigorous licensing standards before being allowed to work.

“This is actually a first of its kind bill and I think it's one that's going to set the trend for a lot of other states,” Steve Slivinski, Arizona State University Center of for the Study of Economic Liberty senior research fellow, said. “It's going to make Arizona a lot more competitive for people moving to the state…a lot of the licensing burdens we see nowadays are really excessive. It’s overregulation.”

The occupational licensing bill is now up for a final vote in the Senate.

Article Source: Fox News

Project Coordinator, Center for the Study of Economic Liberty

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Students discover how solar power empowers

February 17, 2019

ASU trio study socioeconomic and health effects of introducing solar technology to rural communities in Belize

Tucked away somewhere, in the annals of many a university’s research archives, are the theses of the students of yesteryear. Grand ideas, curious inquiries and profound realizations — true products of blood, sweat and tears — collecting dust.

Not so at ASU.

The honors thesis being developed by a group of interdisciplinary Barrett, The Honors College students, detailing the socioeconomic effects of the introduction of solar technology to rural communities in Belize, is already having real-world impact.

Later this month, Ivan Bascon, Olivia Gonzalez and Grant Laufer will present their initial findings at the Human Development Conference in Indiana, and they’ve also invited a representative from the organization that supplied the solar technology to sit in when they defend their thesis this spring.

It’s the difference between research for the sake of knowledge and research for the public good.

“Now there's a possibility of them actually implementing positive changes based on the research that we did as opposed to just letting it sit in the Barrett repository forever,” said Gonzalez, a global health senior.

Video by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

The idea for their thesis came about after participating in The Global Intensive Experience, a unique study abroad program sponsored by the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership designed to expose students to liberal democracy in different contexts around the world.

Currently, GIE offers programs in north India, Israel and the West Bank, with another in development in South Africa.

Bascon, a molecular biosciences and biotechnology senior; Laufer, an economics and business senior; and Gonzalez participated in the spring 2018 program in India, where they witnessed the work being done at Barefoot College, a volunteer organization founded in 1986 that trains poor, rural women — called Solar Mamas — from all over the world to become entrepreneurs and produce solar-energy technology to take back to their communities.

What they saw blew them away.

“It almost just seemed too amazing to be true,” Laufer said. “Just all these foreign people coming together, different languages, different backgrounds, and they're all learning to be solar engineers. You can't walk away from that without wanting to know more.”

As individuals who share an interest in international development, they were also impressed with the nonprofit’s focus on sustainable empowerment.

So the trio hatched a plan to travel to one of the rural communities in Belize where Solar Mamas had brought solar technology and see for themselves how it affected the community.

For 17 days over winter break, they observed and interviewed the residents of Santa Elena, where solar technology had recently been introduced, and Jalacte, another rural village that did not have electricity.

Despite a couple of hiccups at the beginning of the trip (trouble finding their contact upon arrival and a brief bout of illness), the students found they were able to ease into a good workflow, thanks in large part to the warmth and hospitality of the communities.

For the most part, they spent nights at a hostel in Punta Gorda, a fishing town on the Caribbean coast of southern Belize, and took a bus each day to the rural villages. But one night, the councilman of Santa Elena — whose wife is a Solar Mama — invited them to stay overnight at his home.

“We got to — in a brief little way — live a little Mayan life,” Bascon said. That night, they ate a traditional meal and slept in a hammock.

“Everyone was so accommodating and excited to talk to us,” Laufer added.

Susan Carrese, the group’s thesis director and GIE facilitator, said the program is not only a great way for students to learn what “leadership” and “service” mean in another culture, but a great way to stimulate future research.

“As part of our first GIE cohort in March 2018, Olivia, Grant and Ivan were forced to assess their own skill sets, seek help from others, reflect on failures and dig deep into who they are and who they want to be on the GIE,” she said. “When they came back to Barrett Honors College, they were primed for an ambitious project.” 

Since returning from Belize, the group has been analyzing mountains of notes and hours of interviews. It’ll be some time before they have anything conclusive to report, but they have been able to make some preliminary assessments of the data and have found both health and economic benefits to having solar energy.

Health-wise, solar technology eliminates the need for kerosene lamps and the harmful fumes that accompany them. Economically, the more efficient lighting allows women to stay up later making crafts and jewelry, a major source of income for the village.

While the group is eager to see the immediate impact of their research on the communities involved, they’re also cognizant of the lasting effects it will have on each of them personally.

“Having a nonprofit come in and just making the change themselves is the easy way, but the harder way is empowering others so they have the tools and the resources to make the changes they want to. That nuance is so important,” Bascon said. “As a future doctor, there's nothing more fulfilling than empowering others so they can live their full lives.”

The ASU Study Abroad Office offers 250-plus programs in more than 65 different countries. Learn more at the Study Abroad website.

Top photo: (From left) Grant Laufer, Olivia Gonzalez and Glenn "Ivan" Bascon (photographed Feb. 1 on the Tempe campus) traveled to Belize to conduct research on the effects of solar power panel use in rural communities. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

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Finding common ground

January 31, 2019

Nadine Strossen, Judge Michael Mukasey debate abortion, discuss how to speak civilly across the political divide at ASU event

On Thursday, President Donald Trump tweeted that Democrats are becoming the “party of late-term abortion.” The contentious issue took up much of an hourlong debate that evening between Judge Michael Mukasey and Nadine Strossen at Old Main on Arizona State University’s Tempe campus.

Their debate was part one of a three-part event that also included a discussion on the necessity of civil discourse and a question-and-answer session with the audience. “How to Have a Civil Conversation Across the Political Divide” was the seventh event in the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership’s yearlong lecture series, “Polarization and Civil Disagreement: Confronting America's Civic Crisis.”

The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law are co-sponsors of the series.

Strossen, a chaired professor at New York Law School and the first woman to serve as president of the American Civil Liberties Union, describes herself as a “liberal-tarian” and added that politically, she falls on the liberal end of the spectrum and has even been called a “bleeding-heart liberal” on issues like abortion and the death penalty.

She kicked off the debate by reminding the audience that both Sandra Day O’Connor and Barry Goldwater, both revered Arizona Republicans, were supporters of reproductive freedom during the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case, which concluded that a woman has the constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy up until the point that a fetus has become viable, or potentially able to live outside the mother's womb.

Mukasey, who served as the 81st attorney general of the United States and as a district judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, took issue with the term “viability.” He noted that the state of New York just legalized abortion for the entire period of gestation, up to and including nine months, which he called “barbaric.”

“That road leads to places like Philadelphia, where there is a doctor who is snipping infants’ spinal columns,” Mukasey said, referring to Kermit Gosnell, who was who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter of one woman during an abortion procedure and of murdering three infants who were born alive during attempted abortion procedures.

Furthermore, Mukasey argued that abortion should not be a constitutional issue.

“The country was well on its way toward resolving issues related to abortion before Roe v. Wade,” he said. “Instead, that conversation was cut off and we have a really bitter atmosphere as a result.”

In Mukasey’s opinion, the issue should be resolved by culture, not the courts.

Widely recognized as an expert on constitutional law and civil liberties, Strossen pointed out that abortion is one of those rights that is not explicitly outlined in the Constitution but that is protected by substantive due process.

“Substantive due process is the vegetarian hamburger of constitutional law,” Mukasey replied. “If somebody hands you a vegetarian hamburger, you’re not entirely sure what you’re going to get but one thing you’re damn sure not going to get is a hamburger.”

Despite their disagreements, the two found common ground in that they both consider abortion to be an important issue of morality and ethics that should not be used for political gain.

The other major subject of debate Thursday evening was the implications of free speech and religious liberty laws forbidding discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Moderator James Weinstein, professor in the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, referred to the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which dealt with whether owners of public accommodations can refuse certain services based on the First Amendment claims of free speech and free exercise of religion, and therefore be granted an exemption from laws ensuring non-discrimination in public accommodation.

The case arose when Colorado baker Jack Phillips refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple on the basis of his religious beliefs. Mukasey called it a “classic free-speech case.”

“However, that is not what this case is about,” Strossen countered. “The baker Jack Phillips was completely free to say whatever he wanted, express religious beliefs in any way he wanted. What he is not free to do is hang out his shingle, open a commercial business that is open to the general public but say he’s not going to provide services to particular people because of who they are.”

She noted that the same argument was made by opponents of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, claiming that interracial dating went against their religious beliefs.

“You can voice your views, but you cannot implement them through discriminatory conduct,” Strossen said.

Both Mukasey and Strossen were in agreement in response to an audience question about how to restore moderation in political parties that seem to have gone to extremes.

More progress could be made, Mukasey said, if people were willing to align themselves with people they agree with about most things instead of insisting they agree on everything.

“Those who tend to be the most active are the ones who have the strongest views,” Strossen added. “But just as you have the responsibility to vote, you have the responsibility to be active.”

Top photo: Nadine Strossen and Michael Mukasey (right), along with moderator Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law Professor James Weinstein, hold a conversation Thursday that intended to model a civil, mutually respectful and vigorous exchange of ideas on issues that challenge American society, such as abortion. Strossen is a professor at New York Law School and former president of the American Civil Liberties Union. Mukasey served at the 81st attorney general of the United States, appointed by President George W. Bush. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Emma Greguska

Editor , ASU News

(480) 965-9657

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Unite the country? Reach out to the peripheries of society

Social scientist Arthur Brooks: We must conquer our fears and connect to others.
January 24, 2019

Leading conservative thinker to audience at ASU lecture: Use weakness as strength

Your strengths are your weaknesses. Take more risks. And reach out to the margins of society.

That is how we can bring a deeply divided country back together again.

That was the message of Arthur Brooks — social scientist, musician, contributing opinion writer for The New York Times and the president of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank — when he spoke Thursday evening at Arizona State University.

Brooks has authored 11 books on topics including the role of government, economic opportunity, happiness and the morality of free enterprise. His latest book is the New York Times bestseller "The Conservative Heart: How to Build a Fairer, Happier, and More Prosperous America."

“You want to bring people together?” Brooks told the crowd at Old Main on the Tempe campus. “Give them more opportunity. ... The question is: How do you do it?”

Brooks — whose talk was part of the “Polarization and Civil Disagreement: Confronting America's Civic Crisis” series, sponsored by the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, together with the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law — looks at data on poverty and pathways to success.

“That’s what people want: the story of going from the bottom to the middle. ... What do these people have in common? ... If we can do that together, we can come together.”

Brooks embarked on a three-year investigation across the country. “It was the people on the margins of society who gave me the secrets to this.”

Two secrets, to be specific.

He looked at the criminal justice system. Twenty-three million ex-cons are in society.

“These are the most marginalized people in society,” he said. “That’s a disaster for our society.

“I urge you to join me in seeing them as assets, not liabilities.”

He found a prison entrepeneurship program in Houston. Twenty-five convicts are chosen a year before their release. The thinking is if they can become entrepeneurs, they can create their own jobs. Usually, about 50 percent of ex-cons wind up back in prison a year after release. Seven percent of the men who went through the program returned.

Brooks talked to men in the program. They had in mind opening a barbecue joint or a landscaping business, not launching a biotech startup. Program data showed only 16 percent actually opened their own businesses, though. The rest had gotten jobs.

“When they are trained to think like entrepeneurs, they find jobs,” Brooks said. “They didn’t have to start businesses. ... That was the secret I found.”

Brooks called it “treating people with radical equality.”

“That is the secret to the startup life,” he said.

Secret No. 1: Take more risks: “If you conquer your fear, you’re going to be happier.”

Secret No. 2: Use your weakness as a source of strength: “The source of your power is your connection to other people. People are connected by their weaknesses.”

At 30, Brooks earned his bachelor’s degree from a correspondence school, which he hid for years. When he became the head of the American Enterprise Institute, called the most academic think tank in Washington, he was terrified The New York Times or Washington Post would find out (even though his resume clearly stated he was a graduate of Thomas Edison State College in Trenton, New Jersey). AEI was being run by someone who went to a correspondence school. He had been rejected for grad school at Harvard, and here he was hiring Harvard grads.

The fact eventually came to light (through an academic he hired at AEI, not a journalist). He put some thought into his situation.

“If it hadn’t been for that ... I wouldn’t run AEI ... and I wouldn’t be here tonight.”

He wrote a column for the Times about his very cheap — and very valuable — education ($10,000, including books and a bumper sticker he was too scared to put on his car).

“You know my problem? I’m an elitist against myself, which is the worst kind of elitist,” he said. “All of my work should go to people at the margins of society. ... This is how we bring the country together. Reach out to the people on periphery.”

Top photo: Arthur Brooks speaks to a crowd of around 300 people as a part of the "Polarization and Civil Disagreement: Confronting America’s Civic Crisis" series, Thursday evening on the Tempe campus. Photo by Marcus Chormicle/ASU Now

Scott Seckel

Reporter , ASU News

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Bipartisan hosts of 'The Pollsters' podcast analyze midterm elections at ASU event

November 13, 2018

Key takeaways: Campaign messaging matters, blue and red states are an outdated concept, GOP lost key voting blocs

It’s official: Arizona is now a battleground state. This, according to Margie Omero, one half of the “The Pollsters” podcast duo rounded out by Kristen Soltis Anderson.

Omero, principal at GBA Strategies with more than 20 years of experience managing all facets of qualitative and quantitative research, and Soltis Anderson, a pollster and co-founder of the research and analytics firm Echelon Insights, visited Arizona State University’s Tempe campus Tuesday evening as guest speakers for the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership’s final 2018 “Polarization and Civil Disagreement” public talk.

Over the course of a couple of hours, a room of about 200 students, faculty, staff and community members listened as Omero, a Democrat, and Soltis Anderson, a Republican, analyzed the results of the 2018 midterm election and reviewed stats, trends and key points.

“It’s really a source of joy to have this bipartisan moment,” Omero remarked at the beginning of the event. “I get a lot of questions about my friendship with Kristen. … We really do get along.”

School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership Director and Professor Paul Carrese moderated the discussion, which began with each speaker going over what she determined to be the biggest takeaways.

For Soltis Anderson, there were three:

1. “The polls are all right.”

Following the 2016 election, Soltis Anderson said she gave the polling industry a grade of C-plus because of some key marquee races that they got wrong. However, this time around, she said, “The pollsters got it pretty close to right,” upgrading her C-plus to a B-plus.

2. The idea of red states and blue states is increasingly outdated.

Though several headlines reported red states getting redder and blue states getting bluer, Soltis Anderson believes the density of the area in which you live might tell someone a lot more about how you vote than whether you’re in a “red state” or a “blue state.”

“The last couple elections, suburbs leaned slightly Republican,” she said, but this election showed that the GOP is losing them. “Even if it’s by a small margin, that will have huge electoral consequences, as we saw by the number of House seats Democrats were able to pick up. So looking at a map can be misleading,” because cities that are blue might appear smaller but are more population-dense.

3. Many hugely influential voting blocs moved away from the GOP.

“Typically in a lame election, one party is energized and the other is depressed,” Soltis Anderson said, providing the 2010 and 2014 elections in which Republicans were energized and turned out to the polls, whereas Democrats stayed home, as examples.

This year, though, the shoe was on the other metaphorical foot.

“Given the results,” she said, “President Trump should be nervous about his re-election chances.”

Specifically, Republicans failed to win over married women, and white women with college degrees — who used to split evenly — broke for the Democrats by 20 points. In addition, voters younger than 20 broke for the Democrats by a 30-point margin, the same margin that got Barack Obama elected in 2008.

“Republicans have got to catch up with the demographic of cultural changes (and convey) a message that speaks to a broader group of people,” Soltis Anderson said.

Omero's key takeaways:

1. The expectation that we would see an increase in female candidates and voters was correct.

There are now roughly 100 new members of Congress who are women, and two women ran against each other for a Senate seat in Arizona. Omero said this is something that doesn’t happen very often for a variety of reasons, but two that are notable are a majority of Americans who feel Trump doesn’t respect women and the fact that so many women voted in this election.

“Women really did set the pace, as voters and as candidates this time around, more than even before,” she said.

2. Campaigns and messages matter.

“It’s important to look at individual candidates and how their campaign was run,” Omero said.

Candidates who eschewed demonizing one party over the other and instead focused on issues like health care tended to do better.

3. Candidates struggled with how to talk about Trump.

Whether they were “Trump huggers” or “Never Trumpers,” candidates who expressed an opinion about the president one way or another tended to alienate voters.

ASU Professor Paul Carrese speaks at a lectern onstage

School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership Director Paul Carrese moderates the Tuesday evening event. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Following their debriefings of the midterm results, Carrese posed a handful of questions to the pollsters, ranging from how Republicans might interpret the outcome, to the absence of a dominant party, to how women in office might approach issues differently than their male counterparts.

“If I wanted to construct a case why this was a good night for Republicans, there are data points that would let me do it,” Soltis Anderson said. “However, that doesn’t necessarily mean this was a good night. If you lose a chamber of Congress, I think you in some ways lose the right to say you had a good night.”

Soltis Anderson also lamented the tendency of success to breed complacency.

“I think in politics, people think very short term,” she said. “I don’t think one party has figured out the magic formula and are going to be winning forever. … (At the moment), the polls are still trending … against Republicans.”

Though many are celebrating the unprecedented female presence in political offices following the election, Omero cautioned that it doesn’t necessarily mean there will be a sea change in governing.

“Women don’t have to be better or even different in order to deserve parity in public life,” she said. “Women don’t have to be more collegial or more cooperative … or any of that. It’s just great to have more diverse representation.”

The evening closed with questions from the audience. Several came from students affiliated with the Young Democrats, the College Republicans, Bridge ASU and Undergraduate Student Government.

Hanna Salem, a member of the Undergraduate Student Government on the Tempe campus, asked about the role of student organizations to promote civic engagement.

While conventional wisdom says that young voters don’t participate, Soltis Anderson felt this election was an exception and that particularly on college campuses, peers have the power to influence one another.

“This is a really big school in what is now considered a battleground state,” Omero added. “You guys hold all the cards.”

The “Polarization and Civil Disagreement” series will continue in 2019, picking up Jan. 24 with a talk titled “Bringing America Together” with Arthur Brooks.

Top photo: Kristen Soltis Anderson (left) and Margie Omero, hosts of the podcast "The Pollsters," offer their bipartisan views on the 2018 midterm elections at the Memorial Union on Tuesday evening. More than 200 people listened to the discussion, part of the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership's annual lecture series on "Polarization and Civil Disagreement." Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Video by Jamie Ell/ASU Now

Emma Greguska

Editor , ASU News

(480) 965-9657

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Journalists visit ASU to discuss 'Religion in the Civic Sphere'

Experts wonder if evangelical women's support for Trump is waning.
NY Times op-ed columnist skeptical that Kavanaugh won't overturn Roe v. Wade.
October 17, 2018

Rousing discussion about evangelical votes, civil religion and more part of series looking at 'Religion, Journalism and Democracy'

Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict interim director John Carlson warned audience members at an event Tuesday evening on Arizona State University's Tempe campus that they’d better be having a late dinner.

“Many of us grew up being told not to talk about religion and politics at dinner, so I’m going to assume we’re all eating late tonight, because that’s exactly what we’re going to do now,” he said. “Tonight, we’ll be exploring the role religion plays in public life — the good, the bad and the ugly — with a focus on the civic sphere.”

Sponsored by the School for Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership as part of its “Polarization and Civil Disagreement” lecture series, “Religion in the Civic Sphere” featured New York Times op-ed columnist Ross Douthat; editor-at-large for the National Review Kathryn Jean Lopez; and Chicago-based journalist Amy Sullivan, who has covered religion and politics for TIME, Yahoo and the Washington Monthly. Carlson served as moderator, and the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict as a co-sponsor, along with the University of Mary.

The panel discussion was the second of three public talks related to a project spearheaded by the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. “Religion, Journalism and Democracy” brings together journalists and religious scholars to exchange insights and expertise in a series of workshops, public talks and private luncheons throughout the fall semester.

“What makes this panel — and the center’s yearlong project — so exciting is the opportunity to advance public understanding about the role of religion in public life," Carlson said. "Religion has always been part of democratic life. The question we need to explore are the ways in which it informs or distorts our visions of what it means to be citizens in a republic.”

The third public talk, “A Conversation on Religion, Journalism and Democracy with Daniel Burke,” takes place Monday, Oct. 29, from 7 to 8 p.m. at the Cronkite First Amendment Forum on ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus.

The conversation at Tuesday evening’s event was lively, ranging from religious female voting patterns to abortion to civil religion in the Donald Trump White House.

Much of what was discussed was framed by how it might affect the upcoming midterm elections in November. And the “perennial question,” Sullivan said, “is whether Trump is losing evangelical women or not.”

Panelists were uncertain, but Douthat said it’s likely that many evangelical women who voted for Trump did so while “holding their nose,” and that perhaps some of them regret it — something that will be revealed on Nov. 6.

Regarding concerns about freshly appointed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s stance on abortion rights, Douthat pointed out that while pledging her support for him, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins attempted to reassure the public that Kavanaugh would not overturn Roe v. Wade.

Douthat was skeptical: “Somebody is getting taken for a ride here, and we’ll find out who in the next five years.”

When conversation turned to the state of civil religion in the Trump administration, Sullivan shared an anecdote about her 4-year-old son, who made a comment about the president being mean. She felt it demonstrated how even young children are picking up on public sentiment that the current president is lacking in moral character.

Carlson explained civil religion as the guiding principles of the country that include such notions as freedom and human dignity for all.

“This president is not a real strong voice of civil religion,” Carlson argued, citing Trump’s reluctance to halt a billion-dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia despite the country’s apparent sanctioning of the alleged murder of Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

What Carlson wanted to know from the panelists was whether we, as a nation, can recover from what he called a seeming moral descent.

“I do think we can recover,” Lopez said. “But it depends on who’s willing to fight for principles and party leadership.”

The discussion concluded with questions from audience members, one of whom posited a question in the same vein, about how a nation so divided can possibly come together again in light of major differences of opinion on political, religious and general life issues.

Lopez’s response was simple but poignant: “We all have something in common.”

Top photo: New York Times columnist Ross Douthat speaks during "Religion in the Civic Sphere: A Panel Discussion," on Tuesday in Old Main. From left, panelists Kathryn Jean Lopez, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute; Douthat; and Chicago-based journalist Amy Sullivan held a lively political discussion moderated by John Carlson, interim director of ASU's Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Ross Douthat was also a featured speaker at the lecture, "One Country, Three Faiths: America's Real Religious Divide," hosted by the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership on Wednesday, Oct. 17.

Video by Jamie Ell/ASU Now

ASU professor appointed as affiliate scholar for Faith and Liberty Discovery Center

October 10, 2018

Assistant Professor Karen Taliaferro, in Arizona State University's School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, has been named an affiliate scholar for the Faith and Liberty Discovery Center in Philadelphia. This center represents a $60 million investment to provide an immersive experience for visitors that explores the relationship between faith and liberty in America from its founding through today.

Taliaferro is a political theorist who researches the history of political thought, along with religion and politics, with a particular emphasis on Islamic thought. Her current book project, "The Possibility of Religious Freedom: Early Natural Law and the Abrahamic Faiths," examines the perennial conflict of divine law and human law, proposing a re-examination of ancient and medieval traditions of natural law to help mitigate the conflict. Professor Taliaferro's research focuses on intersections between religion and politics. Download Full Image

She was awarded a 2011 NSEP/Boren grant for Arabic studies and research on human rights curriculum in Morocco and has also served as a Peace Corps volunteer in rural Morocco, focusing on health education and development training. She is part of the inaugural faculty team at the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership and will teach two CEL courses in the spring of 2019: Great Ideas of Politics and Ethics in Comparative Perspective and Political Leadership and Statesmanship.

“Professor Taliaferro helps to fulfill the crucial global dimension of SCETL’s mission, exploring pressing questions of religion and politics that transcend national boundaries and particular religious traditions,” said Adam Seagrave, associate director for the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership. "These questions will continue to occupy American and global leaders for generations to come."

Patrick Murdock, the director of the Faith and Liberty Discovery Center, praised the great contributions Taliaferro has made to existing scholarship and what she will bring to the table. “Dr. Taliaferro shows how faith has governed American hearts and souls, while the state has regulated our behaviors. We look forward to having her help us showcase how, in the American experience, biblical faith has been what President George Washington once called an ‘indispensable support’ of political freedom and flourishing.”

Taliaferro says that religion played a “tremendous role” in the founding of our country and in the shaping of a unified identity of America.

“When we object to the use of religion in the public sphere today, we need to realize that this comprehensiveness of religion has historically informed so much of our American life. People aren’t divided so they are partly religious and partly civic; they are just people. They will worship and love a god, and they will serve a community, but in each activity, they are the same people.”

The Faith and Liberty Discovery Center is set to open on Philadelphia’s Independence Mall in the fall of 2020. Taliaferro joins the ranks of other highly esteemed scholars that include a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, the Librarian of Congress Emeritus, a legal historian whose scholarship has been cited by the U.S. Supreme Court and a member of the federal commission that is planning the 2026 celebration that will mark the nation’s 250th birthday.

Written by Myra Francisco

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ASU students advocate for the deaf in East Africa

September 27, 2018

Two sophomores traveled to three countries to incubate a grassroots movement for inclusive education

For seven weeks this summer, Arizona State University sophomores Courtney Langerud and Elliot Wasbotten traveled throughout East Africa, working with deaf organizations and schools to advocate for inclusive education for deaf and disabled children.

A significant portion of their advocacy work, done through the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, involved working to change the mindset of how deaf and disabled children were viewed in Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya.

"It really stemmed from a lack of education — people don't understand what a disability actually is," said Langerud. She encountered this particularly in Uganda, where a disability is often attributed to a curse or witchcraft.

Langerud and Wasbotten emphasized that it was important that they went to the communities as advocates and with an open mind.

"We wanted to learn the culture and customs so that we can see what they were doing, and then offer insight," Wasbotten said.

It wasn't just about working specifically with deaf or disabled children: 

"It was really a community effort," Wasbotten said. "We were in one classroom and I started signing just to let people know that, 'Hey, I can listen but I can also take the effort to communicate with someone who's deaf.' A big part of it was not only having that conversation, but giving that conversation the open space that it needed to reach these children and the community they live in."

Jamie Ell

Media Specialist , Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation