The first two months of President Donald J. Trump's administration have left scores of Waukesha students and residents full of questions and concerns about the future of the country.
Those questions and concerns were on conspicuous display during a standing-room-only March 21 panel discussion with political experts and observers at Carroll University about Trump's first 60 days in office.
The message from the panel to anxious citizens: Don't speculate, and focus concerns – and action – on concrete issues.
No easy answers
Professors Julia Azari of Marquette University and William Adler of Northeastern Illinois University and longtime local public radio reporter Mitch Teich joined Carroll political science professor Lilly Goren on the panel.
All four briefly introduced themselves and remarked on their respective specialties, but much of the roughly 90-minute discussion was devoted to a question-and-answer session.
Audience questions, which came from students and residents alike, tended to be open-ended and spanned a wide range of issues, from the use of so-called "alternative facts" and Trump's foreign policy goals to immigration and executive orders.
But the panelists could not offer many definitive answers.
"I don't think we have any idea what the foreign policy is going to be" until it happens, Adler said.
All the panelists also used the word "unprecedented" at least once to describe various aspects of the Trump administration and the media's interaction with it, and Azari, Adler and Goren all cautioned questioners not to speculate, or worry, too much about what might happen in the years to come.
"It's important to be bothered by the things that can actually happen (not by the things we can speculate about)," Azari said, adding that marginalized groups, such as immigrants, are in a particularly precarious position.
And she was fairly certain of one thing.
"(Political) parties are weak and partisans are strong right now," Azari continued. "Trump and Trumpism have made their mark on presidential politics, and they're going to last."
When Goren called for the final question, several hands remained raised, a sign that the questions are unlikely to come to an end.