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

December 3, 2016
by

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
by

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 fivethirtyeight.com 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
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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
by

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
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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.

To the Steps: Gettysburg Students Will Not Stand For Hate

November 20, 2016
by

Jeffrey Lauck ’18

In the five days following this year’s presidential election, the Southern Poverty Law Center received over 400 reports of hateful intimidation and harassment. Unknown sums have not been brought to light. While pundits speculate as to what has caused the recent outbursts, many Americans now live in fear and are concerned if or when they will become the next target. Unfortunately, the Gettysburg College campus has not been spared of this plight.

Recently, many Gettysburg students have felt under siege as hateful comments regarding gender, race, and sexuality have found themselves into the classroom and around campus. In response, dozens of students camped out on the stairs of Pennsylvania Hall for twenty-four straight hours to show that they will no longer tolerate hateful rhetoric on their campus. The Gettysburgian offers full coverage of the events of the sit-in as well as reactions from activists and college administration.

I am proud of my fellow students for standing up (or sitting in) for injustice in their everyday lives. I have also been delightfully surprised by the outpouring of support from campus faculty, administration, and other students. Many joined them in their show of solidarity on the steps. Professors and administrators donated pizza, drinks, and snacks to the activists. The Gettysburg Recreational Adventure Board provided sleeping bags and mattress pads for the students who braved the sub-freezing temperatures during the night. Some professors even held class “on the steps.” Despite the melancholic subject of their discontent, students remained hopeful and reinvigorated by the support that they offered each other. At several points sing-a-longs backed by ukuleles, banjos, and guitars broke out among the crowd.

This demonstration will undoubtedly be celebrated and critiqued by many on campus and beyond. It is important that we remind ourselves what this demonstration was and was not. Let’s begin with what it was not. This sit-in was not a cackle of Democrats complaining that Donald Trump won the election. It was not a bunch of whiny college students calling for an end to free speech on campus. It was not a band of anarchists trying to shut down the operations of the college. It was not a crew of cynics who prophesized the end of American liberty. These are not the people who sat on those steps.

Rather, the sit-in was a celebration of students’ First Amendment rights to assemble and speak out. While one of the main concerns of the activists was the use of hate speech on campus, the overall sentiment was that the best way to stand up to others speaking out with intolerance was to respond by speaking out in a show of support for the victims and provide a clear statement that hatred is not a normal or acceptable part of campus life.

In short, the sit-in sent a message that many in the campus community will not stand for hate. But this small act of solidarity would be remiss if it did not end with a call to action for the future. Sit-in organizer Joseph Recupero ended the demonstration in kind: “Sitting here is extremely powerful. Hearing the support of faculty is powerful. But nothing will be more powerful than standing up when you hear or see things. Stand up and do what you can.”

 

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.

EI Discussions

November 10, 2016

Question of the Week:

The Dakota Pipeline has been garnering national attention for the economic and environmental effects of the pipeline itself, as well as the reaction of the Sioux tribe and the police’s response to protesters. What role should the federal government be playing in this controversial project?

Luke Frigon ’18 – Gettysburg College Democrats

The Dakota Access Pipeline is a clear infringement on the rights of Native Americans. It is not only a complete disregard of the land rights of Native people, but come with a risk of a potential rupture and spill which could contaminate the environment and the drinking water of the Sioux Nation’s people. The original route of the pipeline laid out by Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) ran through Bismarck (North Dakota’s state capital), but the people of Bismarck objected since a rupture in the pipeline could easily contaminate the Missouri River and make Bismarck’s drinking water unsafe to consume. ETP and the Army Corps of Engineers then planned on running the pipeline dangerously close to the drinking water of the Sioux people, but are ignoring their pleas for a halt on construction despite the very same objections being made. The United Nations is now investigating the area after claims of human rights violations surfaced. Peaceful protestors are being pepper-sprayed, tear gassed, and attacked by dogs. Just last week journalist Erin Schrode was shot by police. So what can the Federal Government do? Just this past Tuesday, President Obama told an interviewer that the Army Corps of Engineers was looking for a more suitable route for the pipeline that would divert it away from native lands and water supply. He called into question the viability of such a pipeline in an era of falling oil prices. The Federal Government needs to cut US dependency on crude oil. We need to heavily invest in cleaner energy like wind and solar power. If we had done so years ago, the DAPL controversy wouldn’t exist today.

Alex Engelsman ’18 and Danielle Jones ’18 – Gettysburg College Independents

There are certainly valid points on both sides of the issue. Here however, we will take the stance that the federal government does have the right to become involved. The states are responsible for crafting business deals and this specific instance involves local Native American tribes. Tribes are normally recognized and overseen by the federal Department of the Interior and it is this relationship that I believe gives the federal government the right to put a hand in this issue.

The question then becomes what should the federal government do? What can it do? First, it can and should investigate the local authorities to make sure no suspension of rights has occurred. The United Nations has now sent observers to the location, and if the UN is watching, the United States should be too.

Second, the federal government should be making sure no federal laws were broken in the creation and moving of the planned pipeline. In short, the federal government’s role in this should be like its role in everything else: to ensure that a fair and equal society exists, where all Americans follow the law.

Chris Condon ’19 – Young Americans for Liberty 

Supporting the free exchange of goods between people, we, as the Young Americans for Liberty, believe that the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline should be permitted by the Federal Government. That being said, the Federal Government does have the legal right to regulate and/or restrict the construction of said pipeline under Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, the Commerce Clause. This enumerated power reads: “[Congress shall have the power] to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.”

Regardless, we believe in the power of the free market over that of the federal government. Although we do concede that some environmental checks must be put in place by the government, the construction of this pipeline will no doubt create jobs and decrease our dependence of foreign energy sources. Since the pipeline will be built on private land, has been reviewed by the Army Corps of Engineers, and has not been struck down by any court, the economic benefit of the pipeline should not be infringed upon by interference on the part of Congress or the Executive branch.

In sum, although this is an emotional issue on both sides and the Federal government has the legal justification to intervene, we do not believe it would be wise on their part to restrict this development.

 

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.