On October 6th, 2022, Dr. Justin Gest, an associate professor of policy and government at George Mason University’s Schar School was invited to share his insightful thoughts on a timely subject entitled <The U.S. Midterm Election and the Future of Democracy>. CSPS-K and the Center for International Strategy of the National Assembly Futures Institute co-hosted this Global Round Table at the National Assembly to bring scholars and experts to discuss the upcoming U.S. midterm election and the prospects of U.S. democracy.
Dr. Justin Gest’s presentation begins by addressing the impact of demographic change on U.S. politics as well as on the 2022 midterm election. The great demographic change experienced by the U.S. continues unabated over the course of its national history and it is important for the U.S. to address the issue right. Establishing an effective policy to address the great demographic change will bring stability to the U.S. government which is essential to the world in the sense that U.S.’s robust democracy and stable domestic policy will allow other countries to make functional and stable policies accordingly.
Dr. Justin Gest stressed that the executive power of the U.S. president has grown over the past half-century as well as the current President Joe Biden. However, he also stated that the gravity of the midterm election cannot be ignored by the Democrats but should be focusing on it prudently since President Joe Biden’s power is at stake due to the fact of Democrats’ slim majorities inside of both Senate and House which mean both aspects are vulnerable to lose which will translate into the power change to Republicans. He furthers that the midterm election is ultimately about motivations and how to mobilize the different parties to vote. For instance, as the issues of inflation and gas prices subside and the issues related to abortion rise, people’s motivation for such issues will be favorable for the Democrats. If, however, the U.S. enters recession and the job report is bleaker than expected, people’s motivation for such issues will be favorable for the Republicans; he quotes that “Americans do not do what they think, Americans change what they are thinking.” Dr. Gest stresses the importance of the prudent political approach to address the complexity of demographic issues by referring to his book <Majority Minority> as well as leveraging people’s motivations based on different issues. He stated that leaders from both parties must not reject but rather acknowledge the minority, discrimination, and prejudice and utilize them to gain electoral advantages to make good policies that will lead to a stronger democracy.
After Dr. Gest’s presentation, the global round table led to discussions by distinguished panels; Jungkun Seo, an associate professor at Kyung Hee University, Shang E. Ha, an associate professor at Sogang University, and Hyun-Seok Park, Head of the Governance Group of the National Assembly Futures Institute. Professor Jungkun Seo opened the foreword, saying, “If you only know one country, you cannot say you know that country.” He said that due to the nature of the midterm elections, there is a tendency to judge the ruling party, which is expected for Republicans to win. At the same time, he explained that it was a very tangled mid-term election that was different from the previous mid-term elections, referring to former President Trump’s move, the Inflation Reduction Act, and the “Red wave” in which Republicans dominate the seats. Professor Shang E. Ha carried on the discussion, adding that “I knew that Latino people would become more and more majority, but the fact that they perceive ethnic identity as ‘white’ seems to have a big impact on the political landscape of the United States.”
During the Q&A session, Dr. Gest emphasized the critical thinking of young people in a country with developed IT industries and social networks such as Korea, referring to the role of social media in his book <Majority, Minority>. The global round table did not simply contain predictions for the U.S. midterm elections. It is difficult to discuss the future of U.S. politics without “Mand Minority Milestones” that unprecedented demographic changes will bring. In this respect, the deep discussion of the social identity, demographic change, and political direction of the American people should be a very important foundation for discussing the upcoming midterm elections.