By: Thomas Calbos- Inside Politics Participant
Sitting Vice President Joe Biden has been flirting with the possibility of a Presidential run for some time now. Biden’s long tenure as Delaware senator, in addition to his experience in the Vice President role, have made him one of the most qualified candidates in the race thus far. While his candidacy was speculated from the beginnings of the election cycle, it has only been recently that enthusiasm of a Biden presidency has publically emerged.
Current frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s dipping favorability seems to have contributed to the increased desire for Biden to enter the race. She has been criticized as being vulnerable to repeating the mistakes she made during her 2008 campaign. While she would make history as the first female President, she has had trouble navigating the public’s perception of her as a remnant of the past Clinton dynasty. Although name recognition is helpful in the voting booth, it did not help her in 2008, nor does not help her avoid current email scandal. Eighteen months ago, people were willing to concede the election to Clinton. But the several missteps in her campaign have left much of the public wondering if she will even win the Democratic nomination. If Biden were to enter the race, he might be able to emerge as the 2016 Democratic nominee.
Biden’s current poll success could come from being outside of the campaign spotlight. Unlike Clinton, who has been campaigning for months now, Biden has stayed away from the public scrutiny that comes with running a presidential campaign, despite being in a high-profile position as the Vice President. Clinton meanwhile has received significant media attention and does not have a good relationship with the press. Additionally, she has not done sit-down interviews like other candidates during her campaign, causing her to seem out-of-touch. Historically, the American people select a president who is relatable and can empathize with the ‘common man’. This was on display in the 2000 election between Al Gore and George W. Bush. Gore was ‘too intellectual’ for the common American and came off as robotic. Bush on the other hand was confident and loose, setting him apart from his opponent and ultimately helping him win the 2000 election.
Biden seems to hold that same likeability factor that Bush had and is thought of as a relatable and human candidate. Clinton, on the other hand, is more of a Gore, with a stiff persona that comes off as elitist, which will pose a threat to her success as a candidate. With Biden in the race, the Democratic primary will most likely come down to Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Biden. As of September 24th, Real Clear Politics has Clinton leading the polls with 40.8 percent. Sanders is in second with 27.6 percent and the undeclared Biden, in third with 20 percent.
According to Time‘s Denver Nicks, if Biden did decide to declare his candidacy for President, he would immediately be the most popular candidate. 40 percent of people see him in a favorable light while only 28 percent of Americans have a negative view of the current vice president. That +12 differential would be the greatest of all candidates from either party. Of the other potentially dangerous Democratic candidates, Sanders has a +10 rating while Clinton has a -8 rating. Republican candidate Donald Trump, on the other hand, has a -33 favorability differential.
Even though Biden is in third now according to the polls, he has the firepower and popularity to win the Democratic nomination and eventually the presidency. However, the president is not the only person the country is voting for. The Vice Presidential spot can be (and has been) used to win over the electorate. For example, perhaps the most influential vice presidential nomination of all time was John F. Kennedy’s selection of Lyndon B. Johnson. Johnson’s biggest contribution to Kennedy’s campaign was than he helped him win the South. Johnson was from Texas while Kennedy was from Massachusetts. Similarly, in order to win the presidency, Biden will need to choose a strong vice presidential to connect with the more liberal part of the party and balance out the ticket. Elizabeth Warren seems like the perfect choice, if she would agree and give up her spot in the Senate. She is likeable and battle-tested, while also appealing to the more liberal base of the party than Biden does, especially with stances on social issues such as gay marriage and abortion. As of now, with a relatively weak smattering of candidates, a ticket of Biden and Warren would complement each other and be difficult to beat.
By: Cole Garr’18
As one flies out of Harrisburg International Airport on a sunny afternoon, they are bound to notice two things; the flowing Susquehanna River and several large cooling towers located on a sandbank. Those towers are Three Mile Island, the site of the world’s biggest nuclear energy scare until the disaster at Chernobyl in 1986. After these events, the construction of nuclear power plants would decrease for the next two decades and United States nuclear regulations would move to the forefront of policy debate. Despite the disaster, nuclear energy is still a large part of the American energy sector, and one that the Environmental Leadership fellows explored this past week.
Several decades ago, a unit housing containment apparatus and connecting water towers suffered a partial meltdown that, luckily, was stabilized by engineers before the damage became widespread. One film, “Meltdown at Three Mile Island”, is quick to point out the inefficiencies of the plant at the time and the need for qualified workers to follow a clear regiment of conduct to prevent such emergencies. Stirring the curiosity of researchers and students alike, Three Mile Island is a great location to cultivate debate over nuclear regulations and the strength of the industry.
Today, Three Mile Island presents a very different picture from the scenes of chaos in 1979. It is a large energy supplier to the eastern Mid-Atlantic region, providing energy to 800,000 homes and generates 852 net megawatts, according to parent company Exelon Corporation. The plant itself is subject to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which was established in 1974.
Environmental Leadership had been challenged by expert-in-residence ,Howard Ernst, to explore alternative methods of energy in a world searching for sustainability. At Three Mile Island, they explored one of the most controversial: nuclear energy. While the use of nuclear energy is widely-recognized as omitting fewer carbon dioxide emissions than non-renewables, the dangers to the populace and surrounding environment can be catastrophic, as they nearly were at Three Mile Island.
When the Environmental Leadership team arrived at the site of the infamous 1979 accident, they were quick to highlight much of the dual nature of nuclear power. Speaking with the Communications Director of the plant, the participants asked provoking questions regarding the economic benefits of nuclear energy, when compared with non-renewables, as well as the dangers of the nuclear industry. This opportunity to speak with experts at the facility allowed the students to begin conceptualizing and developing ideas regarding the business of nuclear energy.
Perhaps one of the most unique experiences of Three Mile Island was being able to see the control room and learning about the intense process which employees must pass in order to work at the plant. Every month, the operators are retested on properly running the plant and must be able to pass the test before they can go back to the control room. The regulations put on the nuclear industry are designed to test the safety and sustainability of the plants. One way that this is done is by making parent companies create an environmental clean-up fund for the eventual shutdown of the plant. This is to ensure that there is responsibility for the maintenance of the site even after it is no longer profitable. Given the rigidity of the regulations, Cole Garr ‘18 asked the Communications Director his thoughts on the likelihood of new plants being started and becoming operational within the United States. He responded that, given the regulations, it would be difficult to imagine companies investing in new sites, but not impossible, considering how lucrative the business can be.
As the nuclear industry slumps against the current shale boom, it will be interesting for the Environmental Leadership group to further examine the role of nuclear energy in a market dominated by non-renewables. Is there strength in the energy business for nuclear? Can nuclear energy be a safe and accepted energy source? Are non-renewables preventing the expansion of future plants? These are questions that the team will no doubt ponder and analyze throughout the upcoming year. Regardless, their time at Three Mile Island gave them insight into the role that courageous men and women play in managing the safety and preservation of nuclear power plants nationwide.
By: Taylor Beck; EI CCT Journalist
In honor of President Eisenhower’s 125th birthday this week, here is a timeline of his Presidency, highlighting ten of his most notable accomplishments.
Circa 1960: Dwight D Eisenhower (1890 – 1969), the 34th President of the United States. (Photo: Academic Search Premier by Library Of Congress/Getty Images)
1953 – Led the negotiations to reach an armistice deal between North Korea and South Korea to end the war.
In order to keep a campaign promise, Eisenhower traveled to Korea on December 2, 1952. After visiting troops and being briefed on the matter, Ike made it a mission to reach an armistice through diplomatic negotiations and military muscle flexing.
1954 – Coined of the Domino Theory.
On April 7, 1954, President Eisenhower gave one of his most famous press conferences, which detailed the significance of Vietnam to the United States. Towards the end of the speech he expressed concern that if Vietnam fell to Communism, then other countries in the area would, one by one, also fall victim, jeopardizing the security of the United States. This idea became known as the Domino Theory and was the prevailing thought behind much of Cold War foreign policy.
1954 – Criticized Senator Joseph McCarthy.
During the 1950s, Senator Joseph McCarthy went on a witch hunt for communists, known as the “Red Scare”. During this time, thousands of Americans were accused of having Communist allegiances. Although Eisenhower did not publicly denounce the Senator, in private he was very vocal to his advisors about the threat McCarthy posed to America’s progress.
1956 – Established the Interstate Highway System.
On June 29, 1956 President Eisenhower signed into law the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956. Ike had effectively ordered 41,000 miles of interstate and defense highways to be constructed, which has become the interstate system we know today.
1956 – Forced invading troops out of Egypt.
During the Suez Canal crisis, President Eisenhower sternly warned the British, French, and Israelis to stop their military campaigns into Egypt. When the three countries did not heed President Eisenhower, he threatened each country with severe economic sanctions which caused them to quickly remove their troops. This decisive action saved a much larger military conflict
1957 – Sent troops to aid the Little Rock Nine.
After the ruling in Brown v. Board of Education desegregated America’s schools, President Eisenhower enforced the ruling by sending in the 101st Airborne Division to aide a group of nine African American students to enter Little Rock Central High School.
1957 – Signed the Civil Rights Act of 1957.
President Eisenhower enacted the first civil rights legislation since the Reconstruction Era by signing the Civil Rights Act of 1957. The goal of the Act was to guarantee every individual’s right to vote by utilizing Federal oversight programs.
1958 – Created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
On July 29, 1958 President Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958. By creating this agency, Eisenhower catapulted America into the Space Race with the USSR
Oversaw three fiscal years of budget surpluses (1956, 1957, and 1960).
During these three years, President Eisenhower was able to balance the budget and even create surpluses.
1961 – Warned against the Military Industrial Complex in his farewell address.
On January 17, 1961 President Eisenhower gave his farewell address in which he warned about the United States falling victim to the Military Industrial Complex. He is remembered for this warning, stating that the United States should not allow the arms industry to dictate foreign policy.
Chandler Robertson, EI Campus Communications Team
Strategy and Leadership in Transformational Times (SALTT) is a year long Eisenhower Institute program for Gettysburg juniors and seniors that provides a number of unique opportunities to participants. Below are just six of the many reasons to apply for the SALTT program.
- The opportunity to learn from Susan Eisenhower
Who could have more to share about President Eisenhower and the way he lead the troops during World War II and the country through his presidency than his own granddaughter?
“Susan takes a unique approach to the program,” says senior Eric Miller, now an Undergraduate Fellow with the Eisenhower Institute. “She wants this program to be about the students in the program, and she wants everyone to have the opportunity to learn and to reflect.”
2. Exclusive access you can’t get anywhere else
“We had the chance to go behind the rope at the Eisenhower farmhouse,” said junior Amelia Smith, who participated in the program last year. “Hearing Susan Eisenhower’s memories of that place firsthand was unbelievable.”
3. Visit Omaha Beach in Normandy
This is the most unique opportunity SALTT has to offer. The program includes a trip to Normandy and a chance to walk on Omaha Beach. “You can’t get the same sense of awe that from watching a movie or reading about the invasion that you get from walking the beach,” Smith says.
“Standing at the American cemetery above Omaha beach you get a sense of American exceptionalism that is hard to describe,” says Miller. “You get a gained appreciation for what happened there.”
The trip included a wreath laying ceremony for President Eisenhower, and a meeting with the curator of the American cemetery.
4. Learn Leadership From the Best
“Susan is extraordinary,” says Sarah Roessler a senior Undergraduate Fellow with the Eisenhower Institute. “She is so poised and thoughtful, she embodies strategy and leadership, the two qualities we’re focused on. She’s the perfect person for this program.”
Leadership connections through this program are not limited to Susan Eisenhower, however. SALTT participants also had the chance to meet with decorated U.S. Army generals to discuss D-Day strategy, as well as a number of other high-ranking U.S. Military officials.
5. Learn a valuable life skill
“The leaders behind this mission made an incredibly tough decision, despite knowing that the casualties were going to be great,” says Miller. SALTT gives you a unique insight into making decisions in the face of direct consequences, which help to enhance your leadership skills no matter how you choose to apply them.
6. The program keeps growing and getting better
One of the goals of EI is to constantly grow its programming to offer the best experience possible for all participants. The Eisenhower Institute is currently working on establishing a sister school in Normandy, which would create a new partnership for that portion of the program. The program is also growing on our own campus, as faculty and staff get more involved. Provost Zappe even attended the trip to Normandy last year.
The deadline for SALTT applications is September 14th. Applications are available at http://www.eisenhowerinstitute.org/programs/strategy–leadership-in-transformational-times.dot Don’t miss out on a remarkable opportunity. Apply today!
By: Maja Thomas ’17, Campus Communications Team
- Having a guide to Middle Eastern politics
Inside the Middle East’s expert-in-residence, Avi Melamed, has spent nearly thirty years living in Arab cities and communities throughout the region. Thus, students are able to have an insider experience through direct access to sources and networks throughout the Arab world.
- Avi Melamed
Avi Melamed is a former Israeli Senior Official on Arab Affairs and former Senior Intelligence Official, as well as a speaker, analyst, writer and entrepreneur. His expertise includes the Arab awakening, Arab perspectives on Israel, emerging challenges and opportunities in the Middle East, evolving forces in the region. He is also the founder and creator of Feenjan—Israel speaks Arabic, a non-profit initiative that presents contemporary Israeli society and culture to the Arab world in Arabic, and serves as an online platform for Israelis and Arabs to discover and discuss issues of common interest. Avi is a bridge builder and dedicates himself to enhancing the Arabic, English, and Hebrew speaking audience’s comprehensive understanding of the Middle East and of each other.
“Avi is both a great educator and mentor, as well as a super interesting guy. We were able to see the Middle East and its issues through many different perspectives. We also studied many different regions and conflicts, including Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Iran, Palestine, and North Africa. More importantly we learned how all these conflicts and regions are connected.” –Jeff Lauck ‘18
- Looking at the issues from a neutral perspective
Students meet with experts on both sides of each conflict and are exposed to a range of perspectives, allowing themselves to formulate their own opinions. Avi Melamed, Inside the Middle East’s expert-in-residence, strives to present information from a non-partisan point of view and evaluate potential biases.
“Avi makes a point to present every issue from a neutral perspective and really makes the students reach their own conclusions through research and analysis”-Cole Garr ‘18
- Drafting intelligence reports
Students have the opportunity to become intelligence officials and produce reports that evaluate sources, analyze news stories, and give predictions about further actions in the area.
- It’s open to all class years.
Inside the Middle East is applicable to the coursework and career ambitions of students regardless of class year. All interested students, regardless of major, are encouraged to apply!
- Visiting the Middle East
At the end of the year, students embark on an experiential learning trip to Israel and Palestinian territories as a culmination of their study of intelligence perspectives on the Middle East. Past participants spent time in Jerusalem, a contested city that both Israel and Palestine claim as their capital, Ramallah, located in the Palestinian West Bank and the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the Golan Heights at the Syrian border.
- (Potentially) ending up on Israeli news!
So what are you waiting for?
By: Taylor Beck ’17, Campus Communications Team Journalist
Jackie Beckwith has been involved with the Eisenhower Institute from the very beginning of her Gettysburg career. After speaking with Beckwith, she even noted that the Eisenhower Institute was one of her top reasons for attending Gettysburg College. Now in her senior year, Jackie has had the fortune to participate in three prestigious EI programs. As a first-year she completed the Inside Politics Program and as a sophomore she partook in Inside the Middle East. Currently, Beckwith is a member of the newly founded Fielding Fellows Program
During her first foray with EI, Jackie’s willingness to network earned her a connection with Bill Gray, whom she met while on Inside Politics’ Washington D.C. trip. At the time, Gray worked for C-SPAN. When it came time to search for a summer internship, Beckwith looked to her new connections.
“I turned to both [Gray] and Jeffrey Blavatt for help and through the two of them, I was able to secure an interview and receive an internship offer,” said Beckwith.
Left: Beckwith (far left) visiting the EI Table during the First-Year Activities fair. Right: Beckwith works a different Activities Fair as a member of the EI Team. EI will be in attendance at the Activities Fair on Friday (September 4th)
By capitalizing on the relationships she had made through the Eisenhower Institute, Jackie was able to set herself up for success down the line. She believes that EI has ultimately given her the “ skills and knowledge” to transition into life after Gettysburg College with the utmost of ease.
After experiencing the success she has had with EI, Beckwith believes that it is essential for first-years to get involved as soon as possible. Most importantly she wants students to know, “it is not an institute solely for political science or public policy majors,” but rather all students can thrive with the help of EI.
By Spencer Bradley
“We’re not gonna take it,” the popular words of Twisted Sister capture the feelings of the Greek people after Sunday’s popular referendum to decide debt payment policy. Had the Greek people voted to continue dealing with the IMF and the Eurozone, the technocrats in Germany and France would have worked towards removing the Syriza government, and implementing harsher austerity packages. The middle class and bourgeoisie, fearing collapse or systemic alterations, advocated for surrender to the IMF and the European Union. Yet, in a show of popular democracy, 61% of Greeks said “Oxi”; they said “No”. Rather than capitulating, or imposing further austerity measures that have already proven to be ineffective, the Greek people are willing to deal with rationing, destabilization of global financial markets, and a barter economy which will more than likely lead to the return of the Drachma. The Greek infrastructure will require drastic reorganization and life will be more difficult. Though this is a win for democracy, the Greek decision may prove influential to other countries “weighing their options” against the Euro.
Despite the wishes of Germany and the IMF, the Greek people have decided to stop forming policy around austerity. Austerity is the economic concept that “tightens the spending” of the government to pay off debt when it is high. Unfortunately, the economic principle fails by its own composition. While austerity is good for the individual, the actual costs of austerity are found in the way it inhibits growth. Shrinking of the economy causes growth to slow. When growth slows, countries are unable to repay their debts. As Paul Krugman notes, the shrunken economy can never repay its debt under such economic policies, perpetuating the cycle of debt and suffering. It should also be taken into account that the Greek people are footing the bill for irresponsible lenders to the Greek government. “The private lenders on one end of the public debt transaction were fully bailed out back in 2012 while the public Greek borrower remained on the hook — but now to public rather than private bodies. More than 90 percent of the bailout funds Greece has received from the troika have gone to repay lenders rather than restart the Greek economy”. The praxis of austerity has failed to reboot the Greek economy and other European powers who sit riddled with debt. The IMF, European Central Bank, and the European Commission cannot expect the Greek economy to restart, despite the bailout efforts, when a majority of their funds have been used to fulfill the obligations of creditors. We have seen time and time again that austerity only leads to more problems. For example, the Great Depression was improving until Roosevelt cut government spending by 17%, leading to a recession and further prolonging the Great Depression. As such, the Greek decision is not flying in the face of conventional wisdom, but serves as a national dictate against outside influence and self-constituted autonomy. This reveals a kernel of truth in the EU, not all states are equal, and German hegemony dictates terms to other nations.
The popular decision goes against the desires of Frankfurt, Berlin, Paris, and Wall Street. The “No” referendum carries with it the potential for a “Grexit” from the Eurozone. This would require an extreme amount of work to, “implement a new payments system, to reprogram a modern financial infrastructure, to reestablish financial links with Europe and the rest of the world, and regain access to international markets. In the meantime, food, fuel, and medicine would need to be rationed.” Though this image brings to mind old Soviet breadlines, the interesting point is that the people have spoken. The preferred option to austerity is suffering from the belly. The IMF has stated that the Greek economy would have to reach a level of growth of 4% per year while putting 15% of its GDP towards debt repayment, an unattainable goal when austerity is already shrinking the economy. The Greek people have chosen a different path outside of global financial norms. Whether or not one agrees with the decision and its subsequent implications, one must respect the democratic character of the decision. The people, not technocrats, business, or political elites either from the inside or outside, decided by a majority to cease playing by the Troikia’s demands. This precedent could lead to additional exits from the EU, as Ireland and Spain, both owing large amounts of debt, are sympathetic to the Greek plight. A Greek exit could inspire the now far-left Spanish government to seek exit as well.
Finally, the question comes to whether or not a Greek default would affect the United States. Global markets have dropped slightly, but investors in the U.S. and Asia are confident that the Central Bank will step in. This reveals an interesting power the debtor nations hold. They possess the power to fight back because the costs of letting them go are too great. President Obama has made it clear he has no interest in joining Germany and France in squeezing the Greeks, stating that we “cannot keep on squeezing countries that are in the midst of depression.” The Treasury Department has refrained from further comment and instead passed the buck to the ECB. “The [European Central Bank’s] vast array of tools, the euro area firewall, the European stability mechanism, the single supervisory mechanism, which is of particular help to the banking sector – these are all tools that could be deployed if it’s warranted by conditions in Greece,” a senior Treasury official said this week.” The U.S. will likely watch this play out in Europe, as it is a European economic issue. Tuesday saw a sympathetic Obama administration, but hardliners such as Lithuania and France will not endorse a deal that does not either punish Greece or weaken German hegemony. An acceptable deal would be one that implements a policy standard which other Eurozone members may engage in to forgive their debts.
What does this mean to the U.S.? To employ realistic observation, the U.S. would benefit from a weaker Euro which would strengthen the dollar. In regards to the 2016 election, Bernie Sanders has expressed solidarity with the Greeks, citing the IMF as a contributor to the debt crisis. These feelings echo those of Americans in 2008, when the bail out saved Wall-Street and GM. Greece is an experiment in the way finance and democracy clash; what has happened here, one ought to be reminded, is very similar to our own revolution over our “financial freedom”. If taxation without representation is an American value, then we cannot show judgment on the Greeks when they are being forced to pay debts to the formerly corrupt governments and financial markets that made the loans in the first place. Greece is not entirely blameless, but the response to the crisis is purely reactive, not indicative of an abandonment of responsibility.