Category: politics

The Debate About “Birthright”

Recently, President Trump said that he is planning to sign an executive order to ban people from attaining citizenship from birthright, saying, “We’re the only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States.” His statement was made in reference to the fact that those who are born in the United States whose parents are non-citizens, or illegal immigrants, are legally considered citizens from birth.

This almost definitely comes from the caravans that are currently traveling to the United States’ southern border. The caravans have brought up a huge debate about immigration, primarily illegal immigration. The past year, as a whole, has been a huge debate about America’s immigration policy, and whether we should change or keep it the way it is.

Trump’s call for an executive order has stirred up the conversation even more than the caravan has, in the span of just a few days. Some say that his call is unconstitutional, while others champion his decision. Whether he will implement the policy to prevent people from being granted citizenship by birthright is still unknown, as he hasn’t made any formal actions yet, but time will tell.

If he does end up implementing it, there are still a lot of unknowns. How will babies become citizens in the future? Does this count towards legal citizens too? These are questions that have yet to be answered, leaving the President’s calls–for now–to be nothing more than senseless rambling. Another hard question that has yet to be answered is the constitutionality of his executive order. Can a President single-handedly amend the constitution? Most, as of now, are saying a flat no.

Most likely, if President Trump goes ahead with the order, it will be challenged by many federal courts. Only then will we know if it is truly constitutional or not.

But, for now, we have to wait, and see if the President makes a move.

 

By: Jaron Bullington

The Government Shutdown–Impending doom, or nothing to worry about?

On the day that this article was written–January 11th, 2019–the US government had been inoperative due to a shutdown for 21 days. All across the country, there have been innumerable cases of government workers doing their jobs unpaid, being penalized for something that they had no part in. President Trump gave the inciting action for the shutdown, after conflict regarding the building of the border wall with Mexico. Democrats have been almost uniformly opposed to the building of the wall, citing reasons why it wouldn’t work, along with funding issues. Republicans, on the other hand, have been divided by both Trump and his border wall, and the party is facing a major split in ideals.

 

More than politics, however, the government shutdown has majorly affected government workers. With no pay, there is no doubt that all types of government workers are struggling to survive. This is the real problem, even more important than divisive politics, because it affects the standard citizens rather than the elected officials. There is no doubt that many people in our families, as well as some of our friends, work for places like the TSA, National Parks, or for the general bureaucracy; this can ruin the lives of these people, as many people, almost 78% of full-time workers, work paycheck to paycheck. Something needs to be done, because these are real people with real lives, with families to feed and house. As the shutdown continues to persist day after day, tensions are rising in working class Americans–forcing them to ask themselves questions such as “Can we pay for this month’s rent?” or “Can we pay for food for the month?”

 

These are questions that cannot be answered until something is done about the border wall.

 

Until then, we can only sit like ducks waiting for the gun to fire.

 

By: Jaron Bullington

The Kavanaugh Circus

Written by Jaron Bullington, October 4th, 2018

This article is not meant to say that Doctor Ford or Kavanagh are guilty, or completely innocent, but instead bring light to the issue at hand- the ignorance of the due process of law.

For many weeks, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has been in the light of the mass media. Headlines upon headlines storm every person’s social media and newsfeeds, and it is one of the most heated subjects of this year. Why, though, you may ask, has Kavanaugh been at the center of this media attack? He was accused of rape and sexual assault, by Doctor Christine Blasey Ford.

Kavanaugh has been labeled many things these past few weeks- rapist, misogynist, etc.- but why is he labeled this way? Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, right? The fact of the matter is that there has been absolutely no corroborating evidence to confirm Ford’s original claim, something crucial to determining if Kavanaugh is guilty of said crime. The basic feature of U.S. law is the idea of due process, or the idea of an accused person being innocent until proven guilty in the court of law. It seems that this case, the case of Kavanaugh v. Ford, has had many people abandon this idea. Sparks have been flying in the #MeToo movement, and throughout the left, some outright saying or implying that Kavanaugh is indeed guilty. It is true, and undeniable that Doctor Ford’s statement in the Senate judiciary committee was heart wrenching, it felt meaningful. But, as is law, guiltiness is not determined by how someone acts or feels, instead, it is determined by cold, hard evidence. Doctor Ford does not have it.

There are many that say to “Believe the Victim”, or in this case, “Believe Doctor Ford”. This is a dangerous thing, and many do not realize why. If we inherently say that the accuser is a victim, before even determining if the accused is guilty, there is a problem. This ignores basic law, again, due process. The court should decide whether the accused is guilty, and then we can start to talk about the accused. What this creates is a sort of “guilty until proven innocent” culture, where the “victim” has bias toward them, not due to substantial evidence, but because they said that they were victimized.

This also hurts those that are victims of actual rape, and sexual assault. It demeans their claim, because of others who were trusted or “believed” but were proven wrong in the court of law. It is a “the boy who cried wolf” sort of situation; if so many people say that they were victimized by a person, but proven wrong in the court, other people who may have actually been victimized might not be trusted.

Overall, the Kavanaugh hearing has been an absolute circus; a parade. A total ignorance of the law. Our elected officials act like children in a daycare- arguing, screaming, and running away. If there’s one thing to take out of this (other than to trust in the due process of law), it is the fact that we, as the next generation, need to get out and vote.

Iran Protests

Social unrest in Iran has led to the largest public movement since 2009. Protests began the night of January 4th, and have amassed in response to the rule of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The Iranian economy is sputtering, its government is filled to the brim with corruption, and supplies such as food and gasoline are running low. Many Iranian citizens expected life to get better after 2015, when Iran made a deal with the P5+1 (the US, the UK, Russia, China, and France- the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council). The deal involved the shutdown of Iran’s nuclear program and was supposed to lift severe sanctions on the country. However, many promised changes never came to fruition, and new sanctions have since been made.

Trump Iran

 

Despite the lack of economic development that was expected to come out of the deal, it is not the only cause for the protests. Iran has faced intense economic and political strife for years; citizens view the government as highly corrupt, and clamor for the end of inequality and the beginning of social justice for minorities such as women. Many of the protesters are young Iranians focused less on politics and more on social changes, such as unemployment and inequality.

According to CNN News, the protests in Iran have resulted in 21 deaths and 450 arrests– and the people have been in the streets for barely a week. The last major protest in Iran, the Green Movement in 2009, lasted for months. Remnants of the Green Movement still linger for many Iranians who hope for social, political, and economic change. Yet over 3,000 protesters have been detained, the Iranian government is filtering social media to prevent Iranians from gathering information on other parts of the world, and the situation is looking bleak despite support from many countries, like the US. The struggle for social justice in Iran will continue to be fought by these brave protesters.

By Rachel Smith

Sources:

http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/30/world/iran-protests-issues/index.html
https://www.forbes.com/sites/heshmatalavi/2018/01/11/iran-protests-what-we-are-learning/#51e946846f09

One Year After: The Remains of the Rio Olympics

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A little over a year ago, the approaching Summer Olympic Games hosted by Rio de Janeiro grasped the globe’s attention for more than just the spectacles of gold medals and famed athletes. The 2016 Rio Olympics always seemed plagued by controversy, and many doubted that the city was going to be able to construct the necessary venues in time and under budget while still balancing all the other issues that either came with the Games or already afflicted the country. For example, many observers were shocked by the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) decision to accept the city’s bid for the Games because of the trash-filled waste that was Guanabara Bay. Brazil was also suffering from a shrinking economy—the recession was the worst that the country experienced in over 80 years, raising concerns about the nation’s ability to host the Games—and a mounting health crisis—the Zika virus spurred international worry over an outbreak among the athletes. The state, too, was under deep scrutiny as it felt the tremors of record-breaking crime in nearly all categories ranging from robbery to homicides, prompting further skepticism about both the municipal and provincial Rio de Janeiro’s capabilities to welcome the competition. Despite all the many factors that seemed to doom the first Olympic Games held in the South American continent, however, the two-week festival was remarkably without disaster. But through a retrospective lens, how successful or rewarding was the Rio Olympics for the city, country, and its people? Unfortunately, not much.
Exceeding the established budget and estimated cost of the Games, Rio’s Olympic experience carried a hefty price tag of $13 billion USD. While this number, especially when compared to the dumbfoundingly extravagant expenditures that accompanied the 2008 Beijing and 2014 Sochi Games—a whopping $40 billion USD and $50+ billion USD, respectively—actually appears somewhat frugal, one must remember the circumstances under which such money was spent. As aforementioned, the nation was in a state of financial crisis unknown to them since the 1930s. Doling out any number of billions, even for the global competition, would prove damaging to Brazil’s state of affairs. Furthermore, the seeming nonchalance with which such money was given to a fleeting, arguably superficial event raised alarm bells for many. Numerous critics have pointed out that pensions, teachers, hospital workers, and even the police forces that would be securing the host city during the event have gone months at a time without any payment, yet there seemed to be ample funds present to exceed the budget for the already wallet-cringing expenses. This dissonance was further recorded in the disparity between the funding for the Olympics and the funding for the endemic Zika virus; only $780 million USD were allocated for research and prevention of Brazil’s worst health crisis since the influenza pandemic of 1918 struck the nation, meaning that nearly seventeen times more was spent on the Olympics. These facts are troubling for obvious reasons, and in a sense, it shows that the Olympics bring out the worst in humanity even as unites it in global competition. But perhaps such shortcomings of the host country and city were forgivable if the promises they made during their bid for the 2016 Games—to introduce wider public transport opportunities, to revamp the infrastructure for the famous low-income favelas of Rio de Janeiro, to remain environmentally cautious and emphasize sustainability in constructing Olympic facilities—were kept. Well, it has been a year since the flame left the village. What has come of these promises?
Disappointment. While billions were spent on the expansion of subways, many areas have not felt the tangible results of these promises. Certain attempts for renovation of impoverished districts were made but will not diminish the dominance of favelas in the poor city. As for the promised sustainability of Olympic facilities, dilapidation and abandonment have already rendered many such venues useless after only a year has elapsed since their use. The Deodoro Olympic Park, one of the two clusters of venues for the 2016 Rio Games, sits shuttered and closed. The Aquatics Center that housed Michael Phelps’ triumphant leave is drained and abandoned. The Barra Olympic Park was offered to private investors in a bidding, but with no takers the expected $14 million USD needed to maintain the park defaulted back onto the government. The Rio Olympic Velodrome, located in that park, recently was damaged by a fire initiated from the landing of an illegally released Brazilian lantern. The Maracana soccer stadium—where the opening and closing ceremonies took place—has largely been run-down, vandalized, and left abandoned; the venue no longer has power because of the exorbitant electrical bill: $950,000 USD. The $20 million USD golf course struggles to find players in the soccer-oriented country. The 31 towers in the Olympic village that housed the athletes—meant to be converted into luxury condos—sit mostly vacant. The Future Arena, which was used for handball and Olympic volleyball, was a temporary venue meant to be converted into four schools after the 2016 games; as of last month, Rio’s mayor has cancelled these plans. Apparently, the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee attempted to pay off its $40 million USD debt to its creditors through air conditioners. They then asked the IOC for help in their debt and were promptly ignored. A 16-month study commissioned by the Associated Press found readings of infectious illness-causing viruses at 90 percent of the test sites for waterways; Guanabara Bay was no doubt home to many of those viruses as well as pollutants and trash. In the city’s 2009 bid for the Olympics, they promised to reduce and treat the sewage streaming into Guanabara Bay by 80 percent; just before the games, the number was only 51 percent. Following the games, all efforts furthering the minor progress has ceased. The most aching part of all of it, though, is that from 2009 to the summer before the Olympics began, 4,120 families were evicted and removed from their homes due to reasons related to the Olympic projects. Thousands of families removed so that billion-dollar venues and stadiums can have a two-week shelf life, rotting away for all the time after their purpose expires as though they are beacons of senseless grandeur and perverse profligacy.
This now-clear outcome of Rio’s tenure as host of the Olympic Games was never by any stretch unimaginable. It is now just one exhibit in a trend that every host of the Games has adhered to and endured. In fact, the trend was established by the inaugural 1896 Olympic Games in Athens; the predicted cost by founder Baron de Coubertin was a modest quarter of a million drachmas, but the actual cost was about 3,700,000 drachmas (an equivalent to around $12 million USD). Furthermore, a 2012 study by Oxford University found that from 1968, every one of the Games studied has experienced budget overruns. Note that not all of the Games were able to be studied because of the lack of reliable public data on the subjects of budget-at-bid and official final costs. It should also be stressed that the final costs used in the study came directly from the estimates the Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games for each city were willing to admit; limiting their study to the official rather than total costs, the Oxford researchers presented these staggering budget overruns as the best-case scenario. The average cost overrun for the Games studied was 179 percent, significantly higher than cost overruns in other types of megaprojects such as transportation systems (average of 33 percent overrun) and major IT projects (average of 27 percent overrun). One could extrapolate this data and infer that, while there is no data to confirm, every Olympic Games in its 120-year history so far has exceeded the proposed budget. What’s more, only two Olympic Games—the 1984 Los Angeles Games and the 1992 Barcelona Games—have garnered profits from their endeavor. It is evident that Rio will not be joining those two cities as the exceptions to the crippling financial debt that comes in wake of hosting the Games.
The overruns also do not include the regaling that host cities perform for the International Olympic Committee while making their bids. These “gifts” and “celebrations” that act as licit bribes can add millions onto the prospective host’s expenditures and means that cities who are not selected have paid millions to lose. It recently came out that former Rio governor Sergio Cabral paid $2 million USD to an IOC member in order to secure his lobbying for the city in the selection process. It would be an understatement to say that such illicit briberies are rare. One would have to question why Rio’s governor would be adamant enough about securing the 2016 Games that he would commit a crime, and the reason is because of the extensive corruption that plagues Brazil’s governmental hierarchies. Corruption—characterized by large contractors bribing politicians at various levels for lucrative contracts—has been entrenched within Brazil for years and has been gradually revealed in recent times, so it is no wonder that the Olympics were looked at by corrupt officials as an opportunity for gain. Massive construction entities like Odebrecht, OAS, and Andrade Gutierrez received most of the contracts for the Olympic projects, a move which no doubt lead to much reward for the conglomerates that dominated Brazil’s construction industry for decades. Perhaps sparked by the recent sentencing for Rio’s corrupt former governor Cabral—14 years in prison—federal prosecutors are looking into the very apparent funding irregularities in projects for the 2016 Olympics. Just earlier this month, Carlos Nuzman, the president of the Brazilian Olympic Committee, was subject to a house search. The result of which was public acknowledgement by the federal prosecutors that the Rio Olympics were a breeding ground for corruption. For the people of Rio, the Games were disastrous and imprudent, but for the contractors and officials, they were lucrative and beneficial. Perhaps that was the intent of the initial bid…
Knowing all that is knowable about the 2016 Rio Games, what is to be learned? What is the message to take away from all this? It could be that the Games have never been justifiable from a financial point of view unless most of the venues that are to be used are already present (the way in which the only two successful host cities garnered their profits), something not possible in most cities. Or, it could possibly be that citizens of prospective host cities should be cognizant of the monetary burdens that they would place on themselves, for more might follow in the footsteps of the Bostonians who protested indebting their city in order to accommodate the necessary spending for the Olympics and achieved success (Boston withdrew their bid for 2024 Olympic Games, which will be held in Paris). Perhaps it is that the faults apparent in the Rio Olympics should serve as a warning to cities and countries who would spend, rather than on the welfare of their people, billions on venues to entertain the world for less than a month only for them to become the skeletal remains of white elephants. Perhaps it is that the Olympics should only be held in the same cities every few years, or maybe a plethora of cities at the same juncture, in order to mitigate and avoid such financial recklessness. Perhaps it is all of them; perhaps it is none of them. But what is certain, out of all of this, is that there needs to be a reevaluation of what it is the Olympics does and should stand for. Whether or not change will come, however, is dependent not on these Games past. No, it is dependent on where the Olympic flame has yet to come.

By: Ryan Hill

Photo: The Irish Times 

 

Charlottesville

A few weeks ago, events in Charlottesville, VA have captured the attention of people throughout the United States. As of August 14th, three people had died and at least 34 were injured as a result of the violence between protesters and counter-protesters.

Conflict began on the night of August 11th, 2017, as protesters gathered in Emancipation Park in objection to the removal of a statue of Robert E Lee. Video was later released of the protesters performing the Nazi salute and chanting Nazi slogans as well as anti-semitic messages. A fight broke out near the end of the night and turned into what seemed to be mobbing.

On the following Saturday morning, protesters and counter-protesters met at Emancipation Park prior to when the protest was scheduled to take place. The air of hostility was immediately evident. Offensive chants were shouted by the protesters, many of which were racist and homophobic. Both sides were prepared for physical confrontation, and fights quickly broke out. Footage of the fights were released showing homemade riot shields, as well as bricks and glass bottles being thrown and swung. A state of emergency was declared within the city. Soon afterwards, a man identified as James Fields drove a car through a crowd of counter-protesters, sending off at least nineteen and killing one, a woman named Heather Heyer. He sped away but was later arrested and charged for second-degree murder, malicious wounding, and failure to stop at an accident resulting in death. Two police officers, Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Trooper pilot Berke Bates also died in a helicopter crash during their attempt to aid public safety.

Notable politicians and public figures have spoken out against the violence, most notably President Trump. He has been praised for speaking out as well as criticized for failing to directly call out white supremacists, the KKK, and neo-Nazis until his staff later clarified his remarks. He later revisited his statement, condemning both sides for violence.

By: Miguel Santiago 

North Korean Missile Crisis

In the midst of Trump’s “fire and fury” tweets and ominous imagery of nukes hanging overhead, it can be easy to forget the facts. Over the past few months, North Korea has been launching missile tests, experimenting with combining a long-range missile and a nuclear warhead. On the Fourth of July, North Korea launched a missile called an intercontinental ballistic missile [ICBM]—a missile with the power to cross the Pacific Ocean and land in Alaska. Earlier this week, North Korea announced that they had successfully miniaturized a nuclear warhead, which means that they can be placed inside missiles such as an ICBM. They have officially stated that they have missiles which are capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. While most experts believe that it will still be a year or two before North Korea can produce highly accurate long-range missiles, the threat is now much closer than it had been before.

In response to this situation, Donald Trump has asked for China to “put a heavy move” on North Korea and cut off any economic ties between the countries. Additionally, the United States and South Korea both launched several precision missiles into the South Korean Sea as a show of force against North Korea. President Trump has been very clear that any threats to the United States will not be tolerated. Following reports that North Korea had the potential to put a nuclear warhead on a long-range missile capable of reaching the United States, he tweeted that any threat would be met with “fire and fury unlike any the world has seen before.” After this warning, North Korea revealed that they had plans to launch four missiles at Guam, a tiny US territory in the Pacific Ocean that is home to 7,000 US military personnel. While a diplomatic solution is still the goal, and economic sanctions and diplomacy will be attempted before moving into options regarding military force. As of Tuesday, August 15th, Kim Jong Un has announced that the proposal for launching missiles at Guam has been put on hold. It appears that both the United States and North Korea have backed off—for now. Beginning August 21, the US and South Korea have been participating in joint military drills, although they are insisted to be purely defensive. But for the time being, tensions have lowered and we wait in uneasy silence for someone to make the next move.

By: Rachel Smith

A Month in Trump’s America

Contrary to what some thought—and perhaps more hoped—the Trump administration has not imploded. The transition of power is complete, and Donald J. Trump is the President of the United States for at least four years. The month can be checked off the calendar in relief or satisfaction, but its importance in history should be reflected upon no matter the emotion one feels. Trump undeniably committed himself to swift executions of some of his staple campaign promises (the ones he did not backpedal out of as president-elect); a portion of the public unsurprisingly offered repudiation and protest in wake of these measures. From the Women’s Marches around the world that just happened to coincide with the inauguration to Shia LaBeouf’s “He Will Not Divide Us” mantra to the Berkeley fiasco to sad(!)der tweets about fake news, the first thirty days contained adequate entertainment and horror and shock and joy all at the same time.

First, Trump’s approval ratings are of particular interest. Being one of the most unpopular presidential candidates of all time does not produce healthy expectations for approval in office. In accordance with this understanding, Trump’s ratings are underwhelming. Forty percent of Americans approve of Donald Trump and his policies at this juncture, down five points from when he became Commander-in-Chief. What are the concrete reasons that these numbers are so low (historically so for both this point in the presidency and in any point of presidencies)? Mostly they come from Trump continuing to be Trump.

The most controversial aspect of the new administration thus far has been the executive order implementing a travel ban on seven Middle Eastern, predominantly Muslim nations. The order also put a halt to the acceptance of all refugees for 120 days while outlawing acceptance of Syrian refugees indefinitely. Despite being an improvement on his campaign promise of a Muslim ban, the order was impugned for its constitutionality among other flaws (an overlooked one being that other Middle Eastern countries, such as Saudi Arabia, that were not included in the ban happen to have business ties with Trump). A Seattle judge put a temporary ban on the order, and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld this ruling. Trump took to twitter to proclaim his intent of taking these court-dwelling judges to court. Trump has since conceded pursuing further litigation to challenge his ruling, but the hold on the ban came too late for hundreds of heartbroken refugees.

While that controversy has received a successful conclusion (those against the executive order have defeated it, those for it await a revised version), the true impact of Trump’s White House on the country is not yet set in stone. Numerous secretary picks alarmed citizens and politicians of any affiliation (namely Betsy DeVos—the now Secretary of Education who had one of the worst confirmation hearings in history, has not more than a couple of hours of presence within any public school, has defended the need for guns in schools as a contingency against “grizzlies,” and has admitted to partaking in the corrupt process of machine politics willingly and happily—and Scott Pruitt—the now head of the Environmental Protection Agency who has sued the EPA over a dozen of times, openly committed to being an advocate against the EPA, and denied the overwhelming consensus among scientists that climate change is real and heavily affected by humans). The “Drain the Swamp” president has ironically constructed the wealthiest cabinet ever. He has also punished Kellyanne Conway, his former campaign manager who does…something in the White House other than illegally provide free promotion for Ivanka Trump’s fashion line following Nordstrom’s removal of the brand from their stores, with essentially a talking to.

Another concern of many is the odious expenditures required for Melania Trump to maintain her residence in her golden penthouse; the number is projected to be about $182 million if she and Barron Trump remain there for the entire year. She is also shaping up to be a far more reserved First Lady than those before her, not yet endeavoring to achieve anything (perhaps she should take more beats from Michelle Obama in a fashion similar to her rather inspired speech during the Republican National Convention). Furthermore, multiple, yet anonymous, sources from within the White House depict an administration in shambles—confusion and contradiction reign supreme while Mike Pence is alleged to be the glue keeping it all together. A more recent development that contributes to the mounting concerns of the Trump administration’s condition is National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s resignation; he had been in contact with his Russian counterpart prior to inauguration, violating laws and raising eyebrows. He lied about the event and was forced to resign, but the situation brings to the forefront the suspicion of an administration overly tied to Russia. Trump is claimed to have extensive dealings with Russia (that would be revealed through his tax records), and the Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, was a chairman of Exxon while the corporation collaborated with a Russian oil company. Vladimir Putin ultimately awarded Tillerson the Order of Friendship, Russia’s highest award for foreign citizens.

Then there is that beautiful press conference on February 16. It was Donald J. Trump alone in a verbal wrestling match with the media for over an hour. It was in this atmosphere that Trump continued to exaggerate claims about his electoral college win (it was one of the more smaller margins) and inauguration attendance (far less than Obama’s, no matter how many times Kellyanne Conway thinks of falsehoods as “alternative facts”). He continued to admonish the media as fake news (employing probably the greatest quote of the century: “the news is fake because so much of the news is fake news,”) while positing that “Russia is a ruse.” He both commended and condemned Mike Flynn’s actions, expressed his desire for friendly reporters, brushed off a Jewish reporter’s concern over anti-Semitism, and presumed that a black reporter would be able to plan a meeting involving African-American congressional representatives because all black people must know each other.

Despite all the negative of Trump’s first month in office—which, while not falsely reported on, is overwhelmingly the focus of news media—there are some points of positivity and comfort. He carried out his campaign promise of withdrawing from the Trans Pacific Partnership. He has chosen a relatively sane Supreme Court nominee. He signed an executive order freezing the hiring of government employees in certain areas in order to reduce taxpayer expenses (although this is criticized for actually lowering the efficiency of federal agencies, thus requiring greater expenses to hire contractors). He has demonstrated an effort to combat terrorism (the first operation he approved, however, was unacceptably risky and resulted in the death of a Seal and an eight-year-old American girl among a dozen alleged terrorists). But perhaps the most incredible testament to the anomaly that was the Trump candidacy and will be the Trump presidency is his commitment to his people. I mean not the American people in this context if only for the rejection of Trump by a majority of those people, but the diehard Trump supporters who truly believe in his message of making America great again. On January 18, Donald Trump held a political rally. Some jokingly say it was the first campaign stop of the 2020 election cycle, but Trump said neutrally, “life is a campaign.” He surrounded himself for a time with not insults from Democrats and fellow Republicans, animosity by the opposition, obligations of the oval office, or the dishonest media but the praise and applause of adoring citizens emboldened and encouraged by what Trump stands for to them. It would not be surprising to see more retreats by the President into these crowds who will hear his words and take them with rejuvenated hope and patriotism, gifting courage and boldness right back to him. Surely this empowered Trump will be willing to take on greater, riskier, and more controversial tasks. So, the first month may be over, but a long four years still wait. Here’s to knowing it will be tiringly eventful.

By: Ryan Hill

Dismantle the Electoral College

Although the election of Donald Trump is not the sole reason to doubt the abilities of the antiquated electoral system of the United States, it has greatly re-energized intense scrutiny of the College. Rightly, regardless of their motivations, many have concluded that the epitome of democracy and freedom should not abide by a system capable of muffling the will of the majority of its people. In remembrance of the radical ideals conceived and adopted by the fathers of our nation, to preserve and augment the core virtues that distinguish and empower, the nation should endeavor to see this Electoral College laid to rest.

The Electoral College was created by the Founding Fathers and codified in the Constitution, yet this fact alone does not inhibit fault in the system. The same quill that gave ink to the College determined anyone of dark complexion forty percent lesser. Furthermore, alterations to the Constitution were pioneered by the Founders themselves with the Bill of Rights. Archaically, amend means to “put right.” The Thirteenth put right slavery. The Nineteenth put right suffrage. The Twenty-eighth can put right elections.

The Founders implemented the College in order to prevent the concentrated peoples in cities from overpowering rural Americans. There were clear divides of interests between the urban American and the rural American, the Northern American and the Southern American. In an effort to balance these interests, the College was devised. As America aged, this decision seemed eerily astute. The Southern and Northern sections of “these” United States of America, catered to by sectional parties, harbored two disparate cultures and societies. The emerging urban culture of the industrialized city in the North conflicted with the westward extension of slave-based agriculture. To compensate, neither could overshadow the other in the College (although a clear horizontal divide was imminent each election). Not until Lincoln’s election in 1860, name absent from all Southern ballots, did the flaws of the College become apparent.

Today, there is no profound gash afflicting the United States of America. Farms and factories can be found in all states—service occupations, the principal job in the U.S., dominate the humblest towns and the greatest cities. No issue like slavery pervades; no polarizing force persists. If this noble facet of the College, the checking of politically parted regions, has become obsolete, should the system itself not become obsolete as well? In pursuit of inalienable freedom and in recognition of a more homogeneous America, should our presidential election not become one person, one vote?  

A far more compelling piece of evidence to support the dismantling of the Electoral College is the intrinsic unfairness of proportioning populations to votes. Essentially, some voters in America have a more weighted vote, meaning that they influence the election more. For an individual in a sprawling city in a large state, the sheer scale of the population reduces the impact of their vote. An individual in a rural hamlet in a state with low population density holds a greater vote share than the city dweller, thus affecting the election more so. The College’s compensation is to minimize the small state’s whole impact in the election while maximizing larger states’ impact. In other words, it aims to fix an unjust disparity with another unjust disparity. Every individual in a state should have a distinct say. No disparity would exist between voters, causing no disparity between states.

Further accentuating the mounting reasons to rectify the undemocratic method of electing America has endured is the understanding that voters in swing states have infinitely more power than those in cemented states. In essential swing states like Florida and Ohio, an individual voter is not silenced by a preset inclination in the state electorate. Indeed, the swing state voters are catered to by candidates and contribute more to the election simply because their state is volatile. In concrete states like California and Texas, dissenting votes are worthless. The intense political leaning of the majority of voters creates a futile atmosphere around voting against the current. What’s more, candidates are not imbued with determination to campaign in these states. The amalgamation of individual votes into the electoral system disproportionately affects the weight of a singular vote—in extreme cases, it silences them permanently.

Finally, some will argue that the Electoral College adequately and effectively maintains its original purpose today in protecting localized interests. They say that the College preserves one’s ability to vote for what is compatible with their walk of life rather than another across the Plains. Besides the aforementioned counters to this argument, one crucial clarification must be made. The Senate was instituted to pursue the interests of the state. The House of Representatives was conceived to pursue the interests of the districts within the state. They appease localized demands and wishes. The president upholds and extends and manifests and preserves and consolidates and augments national interests and demands and wishes and virtues. The president should not be elected by an anachronistic system that compensated for a long forgotten fault in America. The People—unweighted, unsilenced—should enjoy the liberty of selecting their leader in a true, just, and democratic fashion. One American, one vote.

By: Ryan Hill

Death Penalty Divided: For

The death penalty is reserved for capital punishments. These crimes include: murder, treason, and more. The “Worst of the worst.” However, despite the wide belief of it being too inhumane or costly to even be considered, there is a large portion of the public that supports it. While there are many reasons to disapprove of this punishment, there are too many positive effects to justify disbanding it completely. Instead, play it scenario by scenario. The things that should be taken into consideration while arguing for the death penalty are simple and few: closure for the victim’s family, and disapproval for the crime, and (surprisingly) a humane sentence.

While it is true that everyone processes grief with varying degrees of difference, it reassures many to know the perpetrator will be unable to repeat the crime. Kermit Alexander, a victim of multiple family member massacre, testified for this. Not only did Tiqueon Cox (the murderer) massacre his mother, sister, and two nephews, but he also attempted to escape prison as violently as possible. Escaping with as much bloodshed as possible. This easily shows how immoral and unstoppable killers can truly be. Of course, others may find that letting a man-slaughterer live is worth the risk of innocent family members. The simple thought that they might prevent the same pain weighing down another person brings the victim’s family much relief. That agony should never be felt.

Additionally, while some families may believe such a punishment brings them down lower, they are ultimately the ones most affected. The death penalty also gives more impact to the crime itself. As stated previously, a form of capital crime is rape with bodily harm. While vague, this should be punished more severely. In today’s society, many women and men are being raped daily. Many victims sustain physical damage as well as emotional. Many rapists, despite the horrendous crime, often go under-punished, if disciplined at all. By enforcing the death penalty for this crime, rape would plummet. This kind of punishment deters even the thought of such a repulsive act.

Treason is another capital crime that results in the Death Penalty, albeit a more deadly one.When someone sells or gives secret information to others it can have severe consequences. Enemy countries (such as North Korea) and terrorist organizations (for example, Isis) would do about anything to get their hands on this information, putting American citizens into harm’s way. Getting rid of the death sentence would create less of a threat for those who may wish harm against America.

Many reasons against the punishment are often from those that are uninformed or contain information from studies that are out of date. These oppositions range greatly, from morality to racial bias. Though most (if not all) of these claims can easily be counteracted.

In the case of racism, the case simply needs to be more understood. There are more cases in which the murderer of a white victim is more likely to be put on Death warrant. However, more white males are also the ones more likely to be put to death. If one does enough research they’ll find that murders will target another person of the same race over one with a different race. Of course such a statement is generalized and not applicable to every situation. Because people tend to kill their own race, both killers of white males (typically white male offenders) are the ones more often penalized.

Humanity and morality is also a widely protested subject as well. Some say “They don’t have morals, why should we?” Others protest “Killing killers won’t bring back victims”. Though, once put into life in prison without parole, what happens behind the bars? According to Kenneth E. Hartman, a prisoner serving life in prison without parole, it was “the quieter, less troublesome death penalty,” She explains that many people go crazy, as most prisons carry the sentence out in maximum security cells. According to her experiences, they don’t get programs the other criminals get. There was no point in wasting extra money on, as written, a “dead men walking.”  So, is it any more humane to subject a prisoner to a meaningless, hopeless life? Kenneth even says himself, “I have often wondered if that 15 or 20 minutes of terror found to be cruel and unusual wouldn’t be a better option.” He himself is now fighting to rid the punishment he was sentenced with altogether. If one was worried about being humane, this is not an alternative to the death sentence.

Overall, there is no reason why the death penalty should be overlooked and overruled completely. Instead, modify it. Change it. Alter it. Use the penalty to properly and effectively punish (as it was intended). Use it to discipline the ‘worst of the worst.’ Those that kill and betray, those that seem to have no morals or care for the life of others. There is no reason for America to destroy something that can be used to benefit the country. The death penalty does not just kill killers; it kills the risk of another victim being harmed by the same hands. It makes America just a little safer. In the end, that is what this country needs. For this generation, and the next.

By: Mylena Ferman

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Sources below:

“Capital Offense | Nolo’s Free Dictionary of Law Terms and Legal Definitions.” Nolo.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Jan. 2017. <http://www.nolo.com/dictionary/capital-offense-term.html>.  

“Crimes Punishable By Death.” Crime Museum. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Jan. 2017. <http://www.crimemuseum.org/crime-library/crimes-punishable-by-death/>.

“Is Life in Prison without Parole a Better Option Than the Death Penalty? – Death Penalty – ProCon.org.” ProConorg Headlines. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Jan. 2017. <http://deathpenalty.procon.org/view.answers.php?questionID=001017>.

“Top 10 Pros and Cons – Death Penalty – ProCon.org.” ProConorg Headlines. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Jan. 2017. <http://deathpenalty.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=002000>.

Urbina, Ian. “New Execution Method Is Used in Ohio.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 08 Dec. 2009. Web. 22 Jan. 2017. <http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/09/us/09ohio.html>.