Tag: 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

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

To view the opposing article, click here.

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>.

Death Penalty Divided: Against

The death penalty has always been a contentious topic in America. The matter pertains to the ending of a life in order to punish the taking of a life. This debate has reached a particularly pressing crossroad. According to a 2016 Pew Research survey, support for the death penalty has fallen out of majority favor. Despite there still being more support than opposition, this new revelation impugns the fate of capital punishment in America. It brings into question the extent of the role the penalty should have, if any. The proper role of the penalty, however, is clear: zero role.  

In order to understand the current opposition to the penalty, former opposition must be studied first. The support for the death penalty—49 percent—is at the lowest in forty years, meaning that forty years ago support for the penalty lapsed. Both the practice and popularity of the penalty subsided in the years leading up to 1972, the year the Supreme Court decided the landmark case Furman v. Georgia. The case was dealing with a black man, Furman, who believed that his sentencing was racially biased. The Court agreed and struck all capital statutes across all nations, but did not outlaw the penalty itself. States revised their statutes and they were validated in the case Gregg v. Georgia in 1976. Because of the ostensibly infallible aura now encompassing the penalty after the racial bias issue was “solved,” the states were swift in use and the public passionate in support. Support dramatically rose in the 80’s and 90’s, peaking in the 1995, and the penalty cemented itself in the political realm. It was vigorously supported by both sides of the aisle, uniting George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton in the otherwise divisive 1992 election. However, the more recent elections have seen less adamance for the penalty. While 20 years ago it was that politicians either supported the penalty and were tough on crime or did not and were practically criminals themselves, tentativeness and outright rejection regarding the penalty is more acceptable today. The penalty is no longer a litmus test; it is no longer the manifestation of America’s resilience to crime. So, what has caused this sudden falling out between the public and the penalty? Well, it stems from the realization that the position held by advocates of the penalty has grown entirely indefensible.

A primary argument by penalty proponents is that the penalty effectively deters crime and incapacitates criminals. This, however, is not the case. Studies compiled and analyzed by Michael Radelet and Marian Borg, two sociological professors, show that at a certain point criminals do not feel more threatened by greater severity of a punishment. In essence, life imprisonment without parole—the alternative to the penalty—is just as deterring as a death sentence. Furthermore, the Death Penalty Information Center offers the opinions of criminologists, 88 percent of whom concur that the penalty does not affect homicide rates. In fact, the DPIC found that in the past thirty years, non-penalty states have had lower murder rates than death penalty states. As for incapacitation, while death does ultimately incapacitate a person’s ability to commit crimes, life imprisonment provides substantial incapacitation given that there is no legal means of reentering society. The illegal means, breaking out, is incredibly rare. To accommodate such a concern, these inmates would be placed under high supervision at maximum-security prisons.

Gregg v. Georgia was the supposed confirmation of the rectification of arbitrary sentencing in capital cases. But when America’s entire criminal justice system is being rebuked for injustice along racial lines, the argument cannot be made that its highest punishment is exempt. For executions of those convicted of interracial murders since 1976, 20 had black victims. For white victims, the number is 282. This whopping discrepancy illustrates the irrefutable presence of racial bias in capital sentencing. If our nation cannot ensure with invariable accuracy that bias and discrimination do not exist in its courts, those courts should not have the power to end the life of an American.

These findings, these refutations to conventional arguments put forth by death penalty supporters, shed light and provide clarity for the dramatic decline in popular and political support and clamor. But to supplement these findings, to undeniably demonstrate the necessity of ending the penalty, capital punishment’s complete lack of economic sensibility must be looked at. The long trial process—added to the extensive appeals process—and cost of lethal injection have made the capital punishment unjustifiably costly across the country (millions are being spent per execution). The money used to execute could be put back into the community or put toward more effective law enforcement. In addition, the long process of sentencing and appeals found uniquely in capital punishment counters the conviction that the penalty provides closure to victim’s families. Continual exposure to a person guilty of committing an atrocity on a loved one does not so much provide closure as it does reopened wounds. Furthermore, lethal injection and the electric chair are imperfect methods of administering painless death. When veins are missed, the arm’s muscles are literally corroded. When the volts miscalculated, a man burned to death. These incidents surely contradict the Eighth Amendment of no cruel and unusual punishment.

Based on the absolute impractical, unrighteous, unconstitutional, unjust, and biased nature of the death penalty, the only reasonable role it should play in America is none. More and more Americans are beginning to see it. All civilized nations have seen it. The final entity deserving of capital punishment is the death penalty itself.

By Ryan Hill

To view the opposing article, click here.

Sources Below:

Pew Research Center. (2016, September 26). Support for Death Penalty Continues to Fall. Retrieved from pewresearch.org: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/09/29/support-for-death-penalty-lowest-in-more-than-four-decades/ft_16-09-28_deathpenalty/

 

Death Penalty Information Center. (2016, November 9). Facts about the Death Penalty. Retrieved fromdeathpenaltyinfo.org: http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/documents/FactSheet.pdf

Legal Information Institute. (n.d.). Death Penalty. Retrieved from law.cornell.edu:https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/death_penalty

Radelet, M. L., & Borg, M. J. (2000). The Changing Nature of Death Penalty Debates. Annual Reviews of Sociology, 26, 43-61. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/223436

Dieter, R. C. (1994, Fall). Millions Misspent: What Politicians Don’t Say About the High Costs of the Death Penalty. Retrieved from deathpenaltyinfo.org: http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/millions-misspent

Virginia’s lethal injection costs set to skyrocket to $16.5k. (2016, September 30). Retrieved from seattletimes.com: http://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/virginias-lethal-injection-costs-set-to-skyrocket-to-16-5k/

Shafdar, K. (2012). Legally Killing People Has Gotten A Lot More Expensive. Retrieved from huffingtonpost.com: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/30/lethal-injection_n_1391408.html

How the Trump Stole Election Day

Whether it is the rejoicing Trump supporters, the lamenting Clinton supporters, or the flabbergasted rest of the world, absolutely no one perceived this outcome to the 2016 presidential election cycle. In one of the greatest—if not, the greatest—political upsets of modern times. A businessman entertainer, turned political rookie, precluded the ostensibly inevitable tenure of Hillary Clinton as Commander-in-Chief  after conducting the most disastrous campaign in American political history (that is, a fatally disastrous campaign for anybody besides Donald Trump). President-elect Donald Trump defied all expectations, all predictions, when he conquered the Electoral College. Numerous sources, including In-Flight News’ own article regarding the matter, placed a Clinton victory at a high certainty. The challenges that Trump faced seemed too insurmountable, and Clinton’s lead seemed too unreachable for him to overcome. Nonetheless, he did. And, as far as she is concerned anyway, Donald Trump stole the election right out from under Clinton. So, how did he do it?

In order to understand Trump’s victory at the Electoral College (Clinton has won the popular vote by about 2 million votes), one must analyze the demographics of the election. Surprises and clarity are found there. First and foremost, this election seemed to be dictated by ethnic race far more heavily than previous elections. In reality, however, the racial margins were quite similar to those of previous 21st century presidential races. According to Pew Research Center, Trump continued the Republican trend of achieving the white vote—he had a 21 percentage point lead over Clinton. Likewise, Clinton retained the minority votes with an 80 point margin among African Americans, and a 36 point margin among Hispanic voters. Clinton, despite the impressive margins, clearly lost votes among these ethnic groups.

Though it is not particularly shocking, the gender gap in voter choice this election surely provided Donald Trump with additional votes that Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee, could not secure. By a margin of 12 points, women supported Clinton over Trump; by a margin of 12 points, men supported Trump over Hillary. And, as per usual, young voters failed to make a significant mark on this year’s election due to their perpetuation of low turnout. They, just as in 2012 (but by a smaller amount; six percentage points more young voters aided President Obama), supported the Democratic Party by a double-digit margin, 18 percent.

The single most striking alteration to demographic trends during election cycles this year is education level. In 2012, Obama was victorious among both voters with a college degree (two point margin) and voters without a college degree (four point margin). This year, however, college educated voters favored Clinton with a 9 percent margin while voters without a college degree favored Trump by an 8 percent margin. So, despite both candidates achieving a greater margin than the party’s previous nominees did, Trump benefited. Clinton gained about seven more points than Obama did in the college educated cohort, but Trump gained 12 more points than Romney did in the non- college education cohort. Furthermore, this disparity grows when only white voters are taken into account. Trump won among white college educated voters by a margin of four points (a ten point decrease from Romney’s margin of victory).

More important, though, is his victory in the category of non-collegiate graduates of the white race. His margin of victory over Clinton was a whopping 39 percent, a 14 percent increase from Romney’s margin four years ago. It is this demographic that opened the door of the White House to Donald Trump. Blue-collar workers, a group of voters that were treated with negligence by Clinton and catered to by Trump, dominate this category. These workers just so happen to live in the former industrial sector of America, now known as the Rust Belt, and this sector just so happens to include the Midwest. It was the key region of the Midwest, particularly the states surrounding the Great Lakes that leaned Democratic in previous elections (Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio), that ultimately consolidated the Trump victory.  The enormous victory that Trump had among white blue-collar workers—who typically conglomerate in Midwestern states—and non-college educated voters (who tend to be blue-collar workers) gave him the edge in the three Rust Belt states, thus securing the election in favor of Donald Trump.

In a way, it is the greatest riches-to-more-riches story in history. And he lived it on the backs of the people he would be employing if he never ran for president—given that he wouldn’t have hired undocumented workers like he had done in the past, of course.

By Ryan Hill