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Is the U.S. Becoming Authoritarian?
Jeff Seward

Regimes like Putin’s Russia, Erdogan’s Turkey, and Maduro’s Venezuela don’t seem to be straightforward dictatorships, but they are not functioning democracies either. Political scientists refer to these regimes as “competitive authoritarianism.” They involve a facade of democratic practices, but the political playing field is severely tilted in favor of the ruling party. Is the United States under Donald Trump turning into a “competitive authoritarian” regime? Jeff Seward is a professor in the Department of Politics and Government at Pacific University and has been a frequent guest speaker at HGP. He has taught comparative politics, political philosophy, and courses on Latin America. Prior to his academic career, he was a reporter and documentary film producer. In 2018, Routledge Press published his book about politics in Brazil.

Existentialism as Humanism
Kellye McBride

Existentialism is a philosophy emphasizing the existence of individual persons as free and responsible agents. This presentation provides an overview of existentialism in the early 20th century, as well as its origins in phenomenology and in the works of Heidegger and Nietzsche. Ms. McBride received a Master’s degree from Kingston University London and Université Paris VIII. Her interests include psychology and philosophy, horror studies, queer theory, and film studies. She has presented at national and international conferences on various philosophical topics.

American Politics Through the Mirror of the 1890s
Al Christians

Al Christians presents a list of American social and political problems left unanswered in the 1890’s. These problems resemble issues now troubling us. Al invites a discussion to draw from the audience sound humanist principles to guide us past the stumbling blocks. Al has a B.S. degree in economics from Cal Tech. He worked thirty years as an actuary and fifteen years as a software developer. He is a long-time history fan. Since retiring, he reports that he has more fun as a Humanist than is logically possible.

Religious Displays on Public Land
Steven Wilker

Do religious displays on public land still violate the establishment clause? In American Legion vs. American Humanist Association, the Supreme Court rejected a challenge to the maintenance on public land of a large cross first erected as a World War I memorial. Steven Wilker discusses the decision and what it means going forward. Mr. Wilker handles complex commercial litigation in trial and appellate courts and in arbitration. He is also actively engaged in legal and community pro bono work, including working as a cooperating attorney for the ACLU of Oregon. He graduated from UCLA School of Law in 1990.