A presidential candidate accused of sexually assaulting more than a dozen women over the years. Campaign promises to build a wall separating the United States from Mexico. Debates based almost exclusively on various nasty forms of character assassination.What is happening south of the border?A panel of Brock University experts plans to tackle a wide range of topics at their Nov. 1 discussion “Making Sense of the U.S. Presidential Election.”They’ll be looking at such issues as what’s new and different about this U.S. presidential campaign, how sexism and racism plays out, and ‘The Day After’ the Nov. 8 election result.What has a lot of Canadians scratching their heads are vitriolic statements made by Republican candidate Donald Trump particularly against women, immigrants, Syrian refugees and Muslims.“There’s a very polarized electorate,” says Stefan Dolgert, professor in Brock’s Department of Political Science.Earlier this year, Dolgert published a study, “The Praise of Ressentiment: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Donald Trump,” in which he examines how and why past successful political campaigns have used a lot of “cultivated ressentiment” to connect with potential voters.‘Ressentiment’ is a philosophical concept defined as being as “deep-seated resentment, frustration and hostility accompanied by a sense of being powerless to express these feelings directly.”Dolgert explains that there’s a debate among scholars as to what motivates Trump backers to support, or at least tolerate, his sexist or racist statements.“There’s this big argument going on about, is this just racism driving this, or is it kind-of an economic populist story? So, is it the economy or is it racism, which of these?”In his paper, Dolgert said many white, working-class males in ‘blue collar America’ were hit hard by the 2008 recession and, even today, may have precarious employment.“They looked for narratives where they could point the finger at a group of people and say, they are the ones to blame,” says Dolgert.Regarding the sexual harassment and sexual assault allegations against Trump, time may have something to do with why Trump is able to continue his campaign and not be compelled to resign, says Tami Friedman, Associate Professor in the Department of History.She notes that the tape of Trump boasting about kissing and groping women without their consent dated to 2005.“Most of the allegations seem to be from the 1990s and in one case, the 1980s,” she notes. “These kinds of unwanted sexual advances were the daily experiences of many women in the work world in the 1980s, even the 1990s. But now it’s 2016. If these incidents had happened last year, maybe there would be more of an outcry from Trump’s allies.”Or maybe not. Trump supporters tend to “be very deeply committed to sexual inequality,” says Friedman. She says many Republican officials “concern with Trump now is that he doesn’t speak in a civil way, that he doesn’t know how to keep these stories to himself, but they don’t consider his contempt for women to have somehow violated a key political position.”What is very concerning, says Friedman, is how presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is portrayed and viewed by many, stemming back to her role under a Bill Clinton presidency.“I don’t know if people remember how Hillary Clinton was attacked as First Lady for having a career,” says Friedman. “It’s not as overt now, but it’s part of her political history and how people think about her as a political actor. And because of her association with Bill Clinton, she’s now being met with the same intense hatred that Republicans directed against him.”In fact, there’s been very little discussion about what a Clinton presidency would look like, says Paul Hamilton, Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science.“The assumption seems to be that a Clinton administration will be a third Obama term, but there are reasons to believe that there will be some important differences, especially in the area of foreign policy,” he says.And Hamilton has an interesting answer to those asking a key question: How does Trump get away with his craziness when, in the past, candidates have had to resign after far fewer scandals?“If you’re my age or older, you would have seen Trump at his worst in all kinds of venues, from Howard Stern to the Apprentice (show on TV featuring Trump),” says Hamilton.“Trump is held to a different standard. I think people already see him as a rogue, as a kind-of freewheeling capitalist, he’s a known commodity. Whereas if Ted Cruz had been talking to Billy Bush about women as Trump did, I think it would have been a different response because Cruz has presented himself as a different kind of person whereas Trump has never pretended not to be crude or narcissistic or selfish.”Hamilton, Friedman and Dolgert will be speaking at the upcoming “Making Sense of the U.S. Presidential Election” panel on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 7-9 p.m. at the St. Catharines Public Library in the Mills Room. You can reserve your ticket to this free public event online or at the St. Catharines Library located on Church Street.There will be an on-campus event for all Brock University students, faculty and staff on Thursday, Nov. 3 from 2 – 4 p.m. in Sankey Chamber.