Register Now: America’s New Normal? Populist Nationalism and Polarization in the United States

October 13, 2020
8:30-10:00am Washington (8:30-10:00pm Beijing)

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The surge of populist nationalism has become a global phenomenon, from the election of Donald Trump to Brexit to the success of the far-right parties in Europe. A nationalist contagion has taken hold, gaining electorally, reshaping mainstream politics and policies, as well as shifting the political, economic and cultural divide. The 2020 elections in the US will serve as a barometer of whether American populist nationalism is on the rise, or not.

Populist nationalism themes loom large in the 2020 election campaign, from trade policy to immigration to US-China relations. The panel will explore the attitudes that give rise to populist nationalism and how they have intensified partisan divisions that pose a threat to liberal democratic norms in the US. How are these attitudes reflected in terms of political and policy choices? How much has such attitudes contributed to the increase in hate crimes, particularly against Asian Americans? How will nationalist passions on both sides translate into specific strategic, economic, and business policies? Is the decoupling of the US-China technology relationship inevitable? What is driving each country to restrict the cross-border flow of goods, knowledge, capital, people, and ideas? Is the current expression of populist nationalism temporary, or more structural and permanent? And if populist nationalism becomes America’s new normal, will it threaten American democracy?


Thomas Carothers
Vice President, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Thomas Carothers is senior vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. In that capacity he oversees all of the research programs at Carnegie.  He also directs the Democracy, Conflict, and Governance Program and carries out research and writing on democracy-related issues. Carothers is a leading authority on international support for democracy, human rights, governance, the rule of law, and civil society. He is the author or editor of ten critically acclaimed books and many articles in prominent journals and newspapers, including most recently, Democracies Divided: The Global Challenge of Political Polarization (Brookings Press, 2019, co-edited with Andrew O’Donohue).
Link to Full Biography Here

Evan Feigenbaum
Vice President, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Evan A. Feigenbaum is vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where he oversees research in Washington, Beijing and New Delhi on a dynamic region encompassing both East Asia and South Asia. He is also the 2019-20 James R. Schlesinger Distinguished Professor at the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia. From 2001 to 2009, he served at the U.S. State Department as deputy assistant secretary of state for South Asia (2007–2009), deputy assistant secretary of state for Central Asia (2006–2007), member of the policy planning staff with principal responsibility for East Asia and the Pacific (2001–2006), and an adviser on China to Deputy Secretary of State Robert B. Zoellick, with whom he worked closely in the development of the U.S.-China senior dialogue.
Link to Full Biography Here

William Zarit
Senior Counselor, The Cohen Group

The Honorable William Zarit advises major Chinese companies on how to navigate the US investment market and helps US multinationals working in the Chinese commercial environment. He also serves as Chairman of the Board for the American Chamber of Commerce in China. Until May 2014, Mr. Zarit was Minister for Commercial Affairs at the US Embassy in Beijing, overseeing the US Department of Commerce’s trade promotion and trade policy activities in its operations in Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Shenyang. He retired with the rank of Career Minister. Prior to his posting to Beijing, Mr. Zarit was Deputy Assistant Secretary, International Operations, for the US Commercial Service, overseeing Commercial Sections in US Embassies and Consulates worldwide.
Link to Full Biography Here


Robert Kapp
President, Robert A. Kapp & Associates

Dr. Robert A. Kapp is president of Robert A. Kapp & Associates, and former President of The US-China Business Council. His firm provides consulting services to companies and nonprofit organizations seeking to develop successful activities with China or to engage with policy makers in the field of U.S.-China relations. Dr. Kapp is Special Advisor, Planning and Publication, for the US-China Education Trust. From April 1994 to November 2004, Dr. Kapp served as president of The US-China Business Council, the principal organization of American companies engaged in trade and investment with China. In addition to guiding the business services, publications, and program activities of the US-China Business Council from its offices in Washington, Beijing and Shanghai, Dr. Kapp regularly represented the American business community engaged with China, in both Washington and Beijing.
Link to Full Biography Here