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A Trump Administration and LGBT+ Rights

December 22, 2016

Jay Hauser ’19 – Inside Politics Participant

Following Mr. Donald J. Trump’s upset victory in the electoral college, much of the political dialogue has revolved around the incoming administration’s expected courses of action and impact on minority rights. With LGBT+ rights, much of the legal framework for equality is still being created. A Trump administration will be a major hindrance to the creation of legal protections and social progress. Through his cabinet appointments, executive orders, role in the passing of legislation, and court appointments, President-elect Trump will most likely restrict LGBT+ rights.

Cabinet Appointments

Two cabinet departments come to mind as most involved with LGBT+ rights. The Justice Department is in charge of representing the federal government in a court of law. The Attorney General has a lot of say on whether or not an administration will take up the charge of defending the federal law in question. This gives the Justice Department a great deal of power in shaping the state of LGBT+ rights, as many civil rights issues are determined through the judicial system. Under Eric Holder (President Obama’s first Attorney General), the Justice Department decided to not defend the Defense of Marriage Act in the Supreme Court. President-elect Trump’s nominee, Senator Jeff Sessions, throughout his time in Congress, has consistently opposed LGBT+ rights measures. The Obama administration’s Department of Education, has been an advocate for the protection of LGBT+ students in school and on campuses through anti-bullying initiatives and the expansion of Title IX to apply to transgender students, allowing everyone to use the bathroom they feel most comfortable using. Betsy DeVos, President-elect Trump’s nominee to head up this department, has long donated to anti-LGBT+ organizations.

Executive Orders

The Obama administration has issued two significant executive orders on LGBT+ rights. The first extends protections from employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity to all federal contractors. This covers about 20% of the population. The second, issued through the Department of Education, stops public schools from preventing transgender students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity. This order was blocked by a lower court. Any chance of it being upheld relies on its continued defense by the White House. Considering Vice President-elect Pence’s stances on LGBT+ rights, specifically with regards to the bathroom rule, both of these executive will surely be rescinded.


President-elect Trump has promised to sign the First Amendment Defense Act, which allows for discrimination across the entire United States of America. Pro-LGBT+ legislation, like the Equality Act, has no chance of getting signed into law, even with major changes in the make-up of the House and Senate. Finally, President-elect Trump has come out in favor of state laws that prevent transgender individuals from using the restroom that matches their gender identity.

Court Appointments

President-elect Trump has expressed opposition to marriage equality. President-elect Trump will appoint at least one Supreme Court Justice. No matter how many justices he appoints who oppose marriage equality, the ruling will most likely be upheld. If he appoints only one, the court will be ideologically set up in a similar way to Obergefell v. Hodges. If he appoints more than one, a recent decision like marriage equality will still be upheld as a part of stare decisis, a legal principle states that courts are to follow precedent whenever possible.


The views and opinions expressed are the students and the organizations whom they represent and do not necessarily represent the views of The Eisenhower Institute or Gettysburg College.

Unifying a divided United States

December 7, 2016

Question of the Week:

What can the President-elect, a Republican-controlled Congress, and the Democratic minority do to unify out increasingly divided United States?

Piper O’Keefe ’17 – Gettysburg College Democrats

As this election has clearly shown through the very different campaign messages of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, as well as the opposing reactions of unbounded joy and absolute horror to the election results, the United States in this moment is nowhere near as “united” as our nation’s name implies. Regardless of political views, it is in the best interest of everyone in our nation to not further this division. Unifying our country should start with the federal government. With this election, Republicans have kept their majority in Congress, and Donald Trump is the President-elect; however, Republicans are nowhere near to having received a “mandate” from Americans in this election cycle. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote for president by over two million votes and counting, and Democrats gained 6 seats in the House and 2 seats in the Senate. This composition of the federal government calls for bi-partisanship instead of continuing trends at polarization with both parties. This does not mean that either side should completely abandon their ideals but rather that both sides need to actually negotiate with each other and produce bills together that will work for the betterment of our nation as a whole instead of simply catering to their bases.

It is problematic to say the least that our government officials are so focused on being reelected that they forget to effectively govern while they are elected. State and local governments must also follow this idea and create bills by stepping across the aisle instead of running towards the left and right walls. Government officials on every level additionally need to work to ensure that the rights of everyone in our country are protected. Continuing or even increasing unequal treatment towards marginalized groups will only serve to create more divisions. This unification, however, does not need to start and stop with the government. No matter which box we checked at the polls on November 8th, we need to remember that we are all Americans first and Democrats/Republicans/etc second. Our nation truly is strongest when we all work together to ensure that the rights of everyone in our nation are protected by law and respected by society; and when we all work to ensure that everyone in our nation gets the opportunities they deserve. Making the United States “united” begins with effective, efficient, non-partisan governance and truly becomes implemented through active, engaged, caring individuals.

Alex Engelsman ’18 – Gettysburg College Independents

The United States has been divided because of one major failing in the American psyche. We have started to demonize the other side. We see those that disagree with us as either having nefarious purposes or being unintelligent. We have decided that those that vote for the other are either being misled, or are unintelligent. This divide has come from a refusal to see the other side for what they really are; patriots. Americans that want America to be the best it can be, and giving Americans the ability to live their best life. This coming administration, the Congressional majority, and the Congressional minority can unify our great nation by ending this demonization and hatred. This will be difficult; negative campaigns are far more effective at winning elections than positive campaigns. But both sides of the aisle right now should work to shoring up their own image, and stop poking holes in the other party’s. Make sure every American knows what they stand for, and how their party can benefit the American people. The best way to end this yourself is to set the dichotomy differently. Don’t frame the other party as the opposition, but as the other wing of your own party. The American party. They want the same things as you do, they just have slightly different ideas on how to get there. They want to end poverty. They want to keep Americans safe. They want to keep Americans free. They want to make America the best country it can be.

Corinne Day ’17 – Gettysburg College Republicans 

In order to unify the divided country, President-elect Trump, the Republican-majority in Congress, and the Democratic minority ought to lead by example in getting the country passed the disheartening rhetoric, behavior, and standards held by both candidates in the race for the White House. President-elect Donald Trump has already taken steps that seek to unify the broken climate and perspective of the country. First, Trump’s decision not to appoint a special prosecutor to pursue an investigation into Clinton’s private email server during her time as Secretary of State demonstrates his desire to move the country passed the tone of the election and instead look towards the future and the transition. Similarly, while Trump campaigned passionately about the full repeal of Obamacare, since winning the election he has referred to specific aspects of the ACA that will be maintained such as the rule that children will remain on their parent’s healthcare plan until age twenty-six which demonstrates a willingness to compromise. The President-elect and all members of Congress can unite the country by seeking reform of the electoral college system as well.

It is equally critical that the Democrats and Republicans in Congress support Trump’s cabinet appointments to demonstrate bipartisanship and the willingness to work together for the nation. With President-elect Trump being such a non-traditional candidate for the party, some issues he campaigned on align with Democratic goals. Trump has said he wants increased spending on roads, bridges and railways, punish American companies that move jobs overseas, end lucrative tax breaks for hedge fund and private equity giants, and establish mandatory paid maternity leave. With the Republican majority in Congress being less than overwhelming, Trump and Congressmen of both parties must work together to be effective.

Liam Kerr ’19 – Young Americans for Liberty

At Young Americans for Liberty, we do not necessarily believe in bipartisanship in Congress or the government. As Gettysburg Alum and longtime Congressman Ron Paul once said, “It’s the bipartisanship of the welfare system, the warfare system…it all goes through with support from both parties.” This being said, it is vital to recognize the importance of Americans from all walks of life to come together and accept our duly elected President-elect. In terms of the newly elected government, however, it seems unlikely that they will be attempting to unite Americans anytime soon. When Democrats took control of both the Legislative and Executive branches in 2008, there was absolutely no attempt to unite the country and reach across the aisle in a bipartisan fashion. Instead, they passed a plethora of partisan legislation before the 2010 midterms which alienated Republicans and further divided the nation. Why would Republicans do anything different now that they have won control of the government? In fact, it was the Democratic majority in the Senate in 2013 that made a simple 51 seat majority needed to end a filibuster. Now that the Democrats are in the Senate minority, their voice will be marginalized because of their own thoughtless actions. From the perspective of YAL, a Republican government provides only a small hope of reducing taxes and reducing spending just as a Democratic government provided us a hope for the end to foreign intervention and respecting our civil liberties. Under President Obama, none of this was achieved. Similarly, we do not expect any of our other goals to be achieved under President Trump. This nation has been divided by our leaders for years, it would be unrealistic to expect our newly elected government to transcend politics and do anything different than what has been done in the past.


The views and opinions expressed are the students and the organizations whom they represent and do not necessarily represent the views of The Eisenhower Institute or Gettysburg College.


A Questionable, but Vital Collaboration: Intelligence and the President-elect

December 3, 2016

Kathryn Cushman ’20 – Inside Politics Participant

Over the last several days, news outlets have been discussing the relationship between the President-elect, Donald Trump, and the intelligence community. Intelligence sprang into action during the hours that followed the Presidential election. High-ranking officials and military commanders did not waste any moment in discussing the whereabouts and timing of their first briefing sessions with the future president. In fact, the President-elect was included in a meeting with intelligence analysts hours after he landed the presidency. With the purpose of informing the future President of the current projects, information, and objectives of intelligence, briefing sessions are a time for President-elect Trump to understand the complex operations of the intelligence agencies. Vibes of tension and hesitancy might, however, dominate the meetings.

Throughout his campaign, the President-elect has conveyed dissatisfaction and concern over the the actions of the intelligence community. He specifically speaks about a lack of effectively targeting and weakening terrorist organizations such as ISIS and Boko Haram. Additionally, he has expressed distinct views on interrogation methods and relationships with other nations in the international system. Thus, one understandably can ponder if the individuals that possess some of the most vital and invaluable information that preserves national security will cooperate with the future President. In The Washington Post, A senior national security official honestly voices his thoughts on the President-elect and intelligence community relations by stating that “it’s the fear of the unknown.” Patience and excellent listening skills may serve as the key ingredients to a collaborative and professional relationship between the future President and intelligence. These individuals, one hopes, comprehend the dire need of establishing cordial and strong relations. In the midst of political divisions, international tension, and domestic uncertainty, our nation may not be able to afford a strained relationship between these powerful quarters of Washington.


The views and opinions expressed are the students and the organizations whom they represent and do not necessarily represent the views of The Eisenhower Institute or Gettysburg College.

So, What Happened?

December 1, 2016

Trenton Fye ’19 – Inside Politics Participant

As Donald Trump stood at the podium in his New York City Headquarters the morning after the election to deliver his victory speech, he became a symbol of rebellion against the political establishment in America. For some, this was a breath of fresh air and a time to get America back on track without Washington elites getting in the way. To others, seeing a man delivering the victory speech, whose crass, rude, anti-government sentiments carried him through the primaries and the debates, was a nightmare. However, most people can agree on one thing: Trump’s victory was a shocking surprise. He defied all polls that had Clinton winning the race by a wide margin. From the mind of a political scientist, Trump simply did not have the resources or support to win the race, yet somehow, it was Trump giving the victory speech and Hillary Clinton calling to concede. How did this happen?

From early in the presidential campaign, polls had Trump down by a substantial margin against Clinton. Even as the difference in Trump and Clinton’s polling numbers decreased in the final days leading up to the election, most polling outlets and political theorists, such as Nate Silver from still had Clinton winning the race by a wide margin. How were they all wrong?

Trump and his campaign had emphasized the idea that there was a “silent majority” of people who supported Trump, but did not want to share their support publicly. In an interview in August on a British TV station, Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s Campaign Manager, stated that the polls were wrong “because it’s become socially desirable, if you’re a college educated person in the United States of America, to say that you’re against Donald Trump.” For this reason people would not tell pollsters that they supported him. This theory was widely contested, but it seems that Conway and Trump’s team were completely correct. The polls were all off and it was due to a “silent majority” of Americans that pollsters and political theorists did not know existed.

Another reason Trump’s victory was so unexpected was his lack of ground game throughout his campaign. In an exit poll, voters were twice as likely to be contacted by the Clinton campaign than they were to be contacted by the Trump campaign. Hillary Clinton had a large force working for her campaign to knock on doors and call voters to gain support. Trump, on the other hand, did not have this force. Having a ground game as a presidential candidate has always been an essential part of winning the election, yet Trump did not seem to need it. Trump had something that knocking on doors could not quite match. He had the ability to put enthusiasm and energy into his rallies and bring that sense of enthusiasm to his social media. Trump amassed massive crowds at his rallies or at least made them seem massive. Trump stated to a smaller crowd in Toledo in October, “no matter where we go, we have these massive crowds.” He may have exaggerated the crowd sizes at times, but very often, the crowds were as he would say “huge”. As an entertainer, Trump knows how to keep the crowds excited too. He would use specific phrases such as “build the wall” and encourage chants of “lock her up” from his audiences to keep their energy up during his rallies. He would also constantly keep a fire burning in his supporters by tweeting about Clinton’s emails and other flaws in her career prior to running for president. Trump’s rough mannerisms and ability to energize crowds was more than enough to get people to the polls to vote for him and in the end was one of the deciding factors in his historic victory.

Now, with the election over, the American people must understand that not accepting the results or violently rioting about the results is not the correct path to becoming a more united nation. To the same extent, those who are happy about Trump’s victory should not attack those who are saddened by the results, as that will also further divide us. Whether you agree with Trump or not, it is important that we all respect the democratic process and that we support President-elect Trump in his transition and throughout his term as the 45th president of this nation. His success as president is our success as a country. I think that is something that everyone should fight for.


The views and opinions expressed are the students and the organizations whom they represent and do not necessarily represent the views of The Eisenhower Institute or Gettysburg College.

A Shocking Victory for Donald Trump

November 26, 2016

Kelsea Brewer ’17 – Inside Politics Participant

The day after the election I awoke to the news that Donald Trump had become the 45th President of the United States of America. As I scrolled through my Facebook news feed the general reaction seemed to be one of pure shock and fear. How could a man with zero political experience now be the most powerful man in the nation? Effectively capitalizing on those frustrated with the current political system, as well as voters wary of Clinton, Trump had managed to claim a victory despite his tumultuous campaign. In a surprising upset, Trump claimed Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and finally Wisconsin. Trump’s campaign promised radical change for those who felt their voices were being ignored by an untrustworthy establishment. However, his presidency could create serious changes in the geopolitical climate. Wall Street is already feeling these implications. The Washington Post noted that, “all three major stock index futures sank more than 3 percent. Japan’s Nikkei index plunged 5.4 percent; Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell by more than 2 percent. The Mexican peso — which had fallen when the Republican nominee rose in the polls during his campaign — nose-dived to an eight-year low.” Trump’s election also poses serious questions about US relations with foreign countries, the immigration crisis, and trade deals such as NAFTA. While some are optimistic about his promise to “make America great again” others are concerned about his constantly shifting policy plans. Even more are fearful that their rights as minorities, women, and LGBTQA identifying individuals will be threatened.

After news of his victory, Trump remarked, “Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division. It is time for us to come together as one united people.” The President-elect also spoke kindly of Clinton, whom he previously said should be imprisoned. He noted, “Hillary has worked very long and very hard over a long period of time and we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country.” While late polls showed Clinton with a small lead, she was ultimately unable to overcome the appeal of Trump’s populist rhetoric. Additionally, in smaller states where Democrats have won by a smaller margin, Trump had more support and thus obtained more electoral votes. While Clinton was no doubt a flawed candidate, she was most definitely qualified for the job and intent on making progress. Her loss was especially devastating for those hoping to witness the nation’s first female president. This election has brought our country’s racism, anxiety, and anger surrounding political, social, and economic issues to the forefront. When Trump takes office on January 20th, he will be faced with a sharply divided nation, one that is both joyous and fearful of what is to come.


The views and opinions expressed are the students and the organizations whom they represent and do not necessarily represent the views of The Eisenhower Institute or Gettysburg College.

Winning the White House Through a Tie

November 24, 2016

Patrick Custer ’19 – Inside Politics Participant

Many interesting theories arose in the weeks before election day of how Donald Trump would be able to win the White House. In the weeks before the election it seemed highly probable that Hillary Clinton would be our country’s next President. However, there was still a fair possibility that Donald Trump, as he had done time and time again during the election cycle, could defy the odds and claim the White House. As we saw on election night, in order for Mr. Trump to win outright he needed to receive 270 electoral votes, just over half of the total 538 votes in the electoral college. However, the tie theory states that if there is a tie in the electoral college with each candidate receiving 269 electoral votes or a third party candidate were to win a state which would have prevented either Clinton or Trump from reaching 270, the decision would be made not by means of another election, but through a vote in the House of Representatives.

Battleground States:

In the weeks before the election many political analyst believed that Mr. Trump faced a much more difficult and daunting path to reach the magical number of 270 electoral votes than Secretary Clinton. She only needed to retain the leads she held in the weeks before the election in the battleground states to ensure her victory. In the weeks before the election Mr. Trump trailed Secretary Clinton in the battleground states of Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Colorado and New Hampshire. In the weeks before he also only lead by slim margins in Florida, Ohio, Arizona, and Nevada. In order for Mr. Trump to get to at least 269 electoral votes he needed to not only maintain his lead in those key states, but also manage to flip every state where Clinton was leading the weeks before election day. As we saw on election night he was able to do this and did not need to rely on a tie in the electoral college. A tie is a very unlikely scenario but it could of occurred during this election or in a future election.

The House Decides:

In the event of a tie in the electoral college, article 2, section 1, subsection 3 of the Constitution grants the House of Representatives the power to select the next president. They vote by means of delegation, not individual members, with each state receiving one vote. By virtue of the 12th amendment, only candidates who received electoral votes could be consider when voting to break the tie. For this election it would result in the house deciding between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. People assumed that the House would remain in the control of Republicans after the 2016 elections. So if the election would of ended in a tie our next President would have been Mr. Donald J. Trump. As we saw on election night, President elect-Trump did not need to rely on the tie theory to win the white house. Perhaps in a future election we will see the first instance of a tie theory.


The views and opinions expressed are the students and the organizations whom they represent and do not necessarily represent the views of The Eisenhower Institute or Gettysburg College.

The Irony Behind the 2016 Presidential Election Results

November 21, 2016

Jordan Stefanacci ’18 – Inside Politics Participant

The 2016 election results stunned the nation in more ways than one. However, the constituents’ reactions to Donald Trump being named the 45th President of the United States were exactly what anti-Trump supporters predicted would occur if Hillary Clinton had won the election. In the days following the election, we have seen anti-Trump protests, demonstrations, and even riots taking place on college campuses and throughout our great nation. Even more concerning however is that the anti-Trump movement has spread nationwide, with the purpose to delegitimize the election results and threaten the peaceful transfer of power. The most notable movement is the wearing of safety pins on clothing to show support for the most vulnerable groups in society who feel threatened and insecure about Donald Trump and Mike Pence being in the White House. While it is important to spread awareness for a cause, these actions of protests are only making the nation more divided and are not going to change the result of the election.

It is ironic that many people were concerned over the fact that Trump would jeopardize the legitimacy of what it means to be a respectable Presidential candidate if he contested the results of the election had he lost, but meanwhile anti-Trump people across the country are trying to persuade members of the electoral college to not vote for Trump. These online petitions have gone so far that several members of the electoral college have disclosed that they are receiving death threats over the phone and through email if they vote for Trump. Layne Bangerter, one of Idaho’s electors, said that these petitions are not going to work and that he hopes people stop sending threatening messages to members of the electoral college. Hillary Clinton gracefully accepted defeat, unfortunately many of her supports are unable to do the same and are attempting to challenge the electoral college system that has been the foundation for Presidential elections since the Constitution was signed and ratified. Never in the nation’s history has a petition campaign gone so far as to attempt to overturn the election’s results after the people have already spoken.

The chances of these protesters being successful are extremely thin and they are not helping the nation come together and get behind our next President. According to the National Archives, more than 99 percent of electors have voted as pledged throughout the nation’s history. Many states also have strict laws against electors who do not vote loyally. In North Carolina, a faithless elector’s vote is automatically cancelled and a new elector must replace their vote. While Texas Republican elector Art Sisneros has said that he does not feel comfortable voting for Trump when the electoral college meets to vote, he also said that he would never vote for Hillary Clinton. Therefore, he has announced that he is considering resigning and giving his position in the electoral college to another representative. Sisneros’s reaction to the election results are much more democratic than constituents attempting to dissuade members of the electoral college to vote against their party. While this election has been unconventional, the democracy that the Founding Father’s established deserves to be respected. The United States government system was founded on principles of checks and balances to ensure a stable system is always in place, and the nation as a whole must have more faith in its democracy.


The views and opinions expressed are the students and the organizations whom they represent and do not necessarily represent the views of The Eisenhower Institute or Gettysburg College.