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Political Rhetoric, Anxiety and the Future of Democracy

It seems like all the American people have been doing lately is arguing or standing mute, as we have watched a presidential election like no other in our remembered history.

UNLV political scientist Tiffiany Howard told KNPR's State of Nevada that she believes the fear people are feeling is connected to a feeling of being marginalized.

“I think that we’re afraid that because the issues have been so polarizing in this particular election there doesn’t seem to be a common ground," she said, "There is a sense that whoever wins you have a large disaffected group of people who will feel that their voice won’t be heard.” 

Howard also pointed out that an election feels more contentious because that is the nature of a campaign, but when it comes time to governor there has to be unity to create laws and policies.

She also echoed what many people have said about the angry voters in America. Howard believes that anger is tied to jobs and the changing face of the American economy.

“People feel very upset about the loss of jobs about the loss of certain types of jobs and the reality is a lot of those jobs aren’t coming back,” she said.

She said there is a pull between the future path of the economy, which will require highly skilled workers, and what we had 20 or 30 years ago.

When it comes to Election Day, Howard said people vote with their emotions and people who are energized by their candidate vote. She said Trump's supporters are more energized than Hillary Clinton's supporters, but his base makes up only about 30 percent of the electorate, according to Howard.


Tiffiany Howard, political scientist, UNLV 

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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Carrie Kaufman no longer works for KNPR News. She left in April 2018)