Political Research Associates (PRA) joins more than a dozen local social justice organizations in criticizing the Institute of Politics at Harvard University’s Kennedy School for providing a platform to members of president-elect Donald Trump’s inner circle and other anti-democratic strategists. Although the Institute of Politics has a decades-long tradition of hosting presidential campaigns post-election, this is no time to stand on tradition. Harvard, along with all of civil society, should condemn in the strongest terms the broad assault on human, civil, and constitutional rights conducted throughout the Trump campaign—an assault that now adds to its arsenal the full power of all three branches of the federal government. These extraordinary circumstances demand we stand for democracy rather than tradition.
The scheduled two-day forum, “War Stories: Inside Campaign 2016,” features key players from the 2016 Presidential Election, including Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway. Stephen Bannon, Trump’s pick for White House Chief Strategist and the former executive chairman of Breitbart News (a website that promotes white nationalists and antisemites), was among the original confirmed speakers, but has since canceled his participation. Other scheduled speakers include the chief strategist and presidential campaign manager for Senator Ted Cruz, whose campaign foregrounded the dominionist (theocratic) agenda of the contemporary religious right, now carried into the executive branch by vice president-elect Mike Pence.
Political Research Associates is a Somerville-based progressive think tank devoted to exposing movements, institutions, and ideologies that undermine human rights. Since 1981, PRA has tracked, analyzed, and exposed the economic, political, and social processes that have coalesced into the dramatic recent (and ongoing) realignment of our country’s governing coalition. Reflecting on Trump’s victory, PRA Executive Director Tarso Luís Ramos warns, “Trump’s public statements and appointments since the election show a high degree of continuity between the priorities and comportment of candidate Trump and president-elect Trump. The inclusion of leading apologists and strategists for white nationalism in the president-elect’s inner circle is just one of many clear indications that our human, civil, and constitutional rights—and indeed our very democracy—are in serious jeopardy.”
Chip Berlet, senior analyst emeritus at PRA, is an expert on the “Alt-Right,” and is available for interviews. He is the co-author of Right-Wing Populism in America, and has written scores of scholarly and popular articles on human rights, fascism, and right-wing movements. His article, “‘Trumping’ Democracy: Right-Wing Populism, Fascism, and the Case for Action” is featured in the Winter 2016 edition of The Public Eye, PRA’s quarterly journal, and online.
Frederick Clarkson, senior research fellow at PRA, is also available for interviews. He has written about the Religious Right for more than three decades, with work appearing in such publications as Mother Jones, Church & State, Ms. Magazine, The Christian Science Monitor, Salon, and Religion Dispatches. Clarkson co-founded the group blog, Talk to Action, and has authored, co-authored, or edited several books including Dispatches from the Religious Left: The Future of Faith and Politics in America and Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy. His recent essay, “Dominionism Rising: A Theocratic Movement Hiding in Plain Sight,” offers a critical examination of the policy agendas of Cruz and Pence.