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Tension Rises between Trump and U.S. Businesses

February 20, 2017

Edward Bagliani “18 – Inside Politics Participant

In this past week, six major retail corporations have dropped Ivanka Trump’s merchandise brand. With Nordstrom being the first to drop the brand, retail stores owned by Nieman Marcus, Belk, TJX, Sears Holdings, and Burlington have also dropped products from Ivanka’s company. White House Press Secretary Correspondent Sean Spicer said it was a direct attack on President Trump’s policies and Ivanka’s name, however, all companies have denounced these rumors by explaining the poor sale performance of Ivanka’s company merchandise. One of these companies, HSN Inc. also dropped Trump Home products but continues to sell President Trump’s merchandise as it is positively effecting their current seasonal sales. Senior White House Advisor Kellyanne Conway promoted Ivanka’s brand name in an interview with Fox News by stating, “I’m going to give a free commercial here: Go buy it today, everybody.” Conway’s remarks have received criticism for violating federal ethics rule which prohibits executive branch employees from using their job to endorse products or private benefits for friends, however, in this case there is a conflict of interest since she was endorsing her boss’s daughter’s private business. Conway has received counseling on the matter by President Trump but further action has not been taken.

Trump’s first 100 days in office have been some of the most exciting, yet anxious, times during presidential inaugurations. Looking back, one of Trump’s arguments during the election was how his new economic policy would create more jobs in America, which would eventually benefit the U.S. and therefore he global economy. As he has persuaded companies such as Ford, GM, and IBM to relocate jobs to American soil, the President’s radical actions and behavior within the public eye has caused controversy and extreme opposition towards President Trump. Major retail stores dropping Ivanka’s brand name for their stores during Trump’s first 100 days in office can reasonably be viewed as backlash towards the President but these stores are looking at the 26 percent decline of online sales for Ivanka’s brand products so far in the first quarter of 2017. There was also a previous decline in the last quarter of 2016 in platforms such as Amazon, which is the primary source of Ivanka’s brand product sales. It is important for President Trump to realize that the companies dropping Ivanka’s merchandise are not targeting the President and that the sales decline is in response to the extreme opposition portrayed by a significant portion of the U.S. consumer demand. Therefore, it is completely rational for any company to drop a product with a gradually declining consumer demand, which President Trump might understand as he himself has managed a successful company.

This stream of companies dropping products involved with the brand name “Trump” may start to become a trend throughout the year and beyond. As much as President Trump is doing to alter and strengthen our domestic economic policy, he is going to have to realize that there are many consumers who do not support him and will lose interest if the Trump name is associated with certain products. President Trump can potentially persuade these companies in reordering Ivanka’s products but only if he implements domestic policies that are more sociably acceptable.

Betsy DeVos’s Next Steps as Secretary of Education

February 15, 2017

Question of the week:

Betsy DeVos’s recent confirmation as Education Secretary has brought education policy to the forefront of American politics. What do you think Secretary DeVos’s top priorities should be in office to improve the American education system?



Caleb J. Parker ’18 – Gettysburg College Republicans

The Tenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States declares that powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or the people. The Department of Education, since its incorporation as a cabinet level executive in 1979, has absorbed enormous powers not vested to itself by the Founding Fathers. Education was never intended to be controlled by a federal agency, for this is the role of the states. Mrs. DeVos brings a new vision to the Department of Education. President Trump is not a traditional candidate, and she is not a traditional nominee. President Trump was elected to bring meaningful reform to an overreaching executive bureaucracy. The United States spends more than any other nation in the world on education, however ranks 34 in proficiency. This makes it evident that there needs to be meaningful reform to the agency. Betsy DeVos has spent her life in the service of her community and state. A native of West Michigan, her family invested in education throughout the region. Mrs. DeVos’ critics condemn her involvement in charter schools. Many believe that investment in alternative schools leads to the destruction of public schools. Not once in her career has the DeVos family attacked public schools or the institution as a whole. Her mission has and always will be to better the educational needs of children across this country. Setting standards and allowing the states to determine regulation is the key to making education a success for this century. Just as the old saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child.” It is time to let communities and states do what they do best: raise their children for their environment in a competitive atmosphere that leads to the standards that America so desperately needs to once again be the intellectual capital of the world.



Luke C. Frigon ’18 – Gettysburg College Democrats

Betsy DeVos is unequivocally the least qualified member of Donald Trump’s new cabinet. She is perhaps the least qualified Secretary of Education that America has ever had. Both her stunning ignorance of simple facts and the huge amounts of money she donated to the Trump campaign point to the fact that she should not be in the position that she’s been given. As the head of the US Department of Education, the secretary advises the president and carries out legislation over education policy at the K-12 level and beyond. But Betsy DeVos has no experience attending or working in public schools or even in sending her children to one. She doesn’t seem to understand some basic educational concepts and she’s completely unqualified to handle a trillion-dollar loan portfolio or oversee a grant program that gives out more than thirty billion dollars in aid each year. As an active proponent of school voucher programs, DeVos has ignored the fact that those programs don’t really work well. Her priorities should be thus: pack her desk and resign. She is completely unfit to be in the position and a tenth-grader from Gettysburg High School would be better-suited for the job.



Davis Healy ’17 – Gettysburg College Independents

As none of the members of our club are experts on education, I talked to some actual educators about problems with our education system. The most common concern I heard was about the misrepresentation of charter schools as an effective alternative to public schools. In their current state, charter schools are publicly funded (meaning that they would raise the costs of education for the taxpayer unless public education was sacrificed) and are not held to the same curricular and educational standards as public schools in the state (meaning they are locally funded but not locally accountable). As one educator put it, “People who try to found charter schools often have the best intentions but these schools just don’t work.” Many states have top-class public schools, while charter schools categorically struggle to be academically comparable. Betsy DeVos’ number one priority, above all else, must be preserving public education instead of draining its resources for a costlier, less effective alternative. The next priority should be addressing the way public schools are funded. Right now, public secondary schools are funded in large part by local property taxes, meaning that poor communities are permanently stuck with poor schools that generate poor students who join the poor community; we have to take steps to end this cycle. It would be more beneficial to build a system that can efficiently allocate federal, state, and local money to the schools that need them most. Additionally, higher education must be made more accessible to students of all backgrounds to equip the next generation for the future demands of society and the economy and to end the waste of human capital that results from barriers to higher education.

Pre-college school curricula are also in need of an overhaul. As society has changed, so too have the tools that students need. The internet is a great resource, but it has allowed fake news and intentional misinformation to mislead people and undermine the credibility of actual, factual, reporting. Students should be prepared to deal with the new reality of how information is presented and spread. Teach students how to interpret bias in news, literature, and academia. Teach students how to logically assess claims and research them across a broad range of sources and media. Teach students how to think for themselves, to ask a question and then answer it with factual evidence, to allow reality to shape their views.

A strong democracy is built on the education of its citizens. Betsy DeVos must abandon her preference for costly and ineffective charter schools and fight for the improvement of public education. She must address the persistent issue of local school funding and the societal outcomes it generates. She must establish a curriculum that equips students for the new realities of our world. Quite simply, she must preserve and advance one of our most valuable institutions.


Chris Condon ’19 – Young Americans for Liberty

As the new Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos has a unique opportunity as someone who supports school choice to see such an agenda enacted. We believe that, when competition is introduced into the market, quality increases and prices decrease. Education, largely handled by government since the inception of a public education system, has performed in exactly the opposite way, with government spending more taxpayer dollars each year for less achievement among students. If we are to produce a system that works for all students, a school voucher program would ultimately be the solution within the current framework, as it rewards better schools (whether they be private or public) and punishes underachieving schools. In sum, more choice for students and parents yields a system that is more effective overall.

However, we would encourage that everyone calls their member of Congress and asks them to support H.R. 899, which would abolish the Federal Department of Education. Not only does the 10th amendment mandate such a course of action but we firmly believe that local legislators, teachers, and (perhaps most importantly) parents can do a better job of educating children than any federal bureaucrat. Millions of taxpayer dollars are wasted each year to fund this bloated and ineffective department and with the continuous pressure from teachers unions, we may find both of these solutions to be undesirable, however, we must look to students for the best practices in education.



Jerome Clark ’17 – Gettysburg Anti-Capitalist Collective



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 Truth about Freedom of Speech

February 8, 2017

Question of the week:

With the increasing polarization of political dialogue in the US, resentment is steadily growing between the parties. With political correctness, protests, and increasingly hyperbolic rhetoric in politics, is there an inappropriate use of one’s freedom of speech? Should the standard be different on college campuses?


Brendan Salyards ‘20– Gettysburg College Democrats

The United States is perhaps the nation with the broadest interpretation of what Freedom of Speech means. In 1977, Frank Collins, the leader of the National Socialist Party of America, made the decision to lead a march through the Chicago suburb of Skokie. Skokie was home to a large Jewish population, many of whom had experienced the horrors of the death camps first hand. The residents of the town took issue with this show of force by the Neo-Nazis, which included the display of the Swastika. Collins’ request for a permit to conduct the march was blocked and the case was eventually brought before the Supreme Court. In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that it was within the rights of the Nazis as Americans to conduct a march despite the concerns of the locals. If Neo-Nazis are permitted to protest in a town of Holocaust survivors, surely Americans are permitted to protest those whom they fear will take away their freedoms.

40 years later, over 500,000 Americans took to the streets of Washington D.C. to make their voices heard. This constitutionally protected right allows us, as Americans, to express our concerns, voice our opinions, and contribute to national conversations. Freedom of Speech is a fundamental right. Although it may not please those in power, the opposition party is always free to express itself. While this freedom does not entitle others to threaten their neighbors or express hate for the purpose of being hateful, it does mean that Americans can continue to express their approval or dissent for those in power. In debate, one must separate him/herself from his/her ideas and attack his/her opponent’s ideas rather than the person across the aisle. On college campuses, as much as anywhere else, we should be free to express ourselves. That being said, we must continue to maintain decency and decorum so that the debate which is conducted is productive rather than destructive. Nothing is gained by insulting the appearance of another, by shaming the disabled, or by making false and unsubstantiated claims simply to spite one’s opponent.

The freedom of speech which we all share is a great gift, paid for in the blood of many great men and women. Let us not diminish their sacrifice by using their gift for malice. Instead, let us conduct deep, perhaps even heated debates on the issues but, when the gloves come off, we must be able appreciate that our opponents breathe the same air, walk the same streets, and desire to do what they believe is best for our county and its people. Let us rise above the tendency to spurn our critics and instead live by the words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that”.


Alex Tottser ’18 – Young Americans for Liberty

Frederick Douglass once remarked, “To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker.” At Young Americans for Liberty, we believe that the freedom of speech and expression is one of the most important rights that we have as a nation. Freedom of speech can be nasty and even deplorable at times, however, it provides us with the ability to speak freely and voice our own opinions. At YAL, we hold the ideal that the best way to combat ugly rhetoric is through the expression of ideals and principles, not through restriction. The same goes for college campuses. In our view, freedom of speech is a basic right. It should have no geographical or institutional boundaries.


Caleb Parker ’18 – Gettysburg College Republicans

“You don’t lead by hitting people over the head – that’s assault, not leadership.” President Eisenhower lead the United States through one of the most tumultuous times in American history. The art of compromise, collecting bipartisanship, was his strategy and it must be ours once again. America is divided by party, ethnicity, gender, class and education. Our diversity should be embraced, however, many use it as our downfall. Open dialogue needs to continue to be the forefront to voice concern and determine a strategic answer to the issues ahead.

Freedom of speech also means the freedom to listen, and political correctness is often thrown into the mix to distract citizens from the main discussion. Americans do not need political correctness, they need mutual understanding, respect and open dialogue. Remember when your parents told you to put yourself into someone else’s shoes? This is a lesson we teach five year olds, but yet one our Congress fails to grasp.

Across this nation, we are all different from sea to shining sea, but America is united in diversity. E pluribus unum-out of one, many. Our national motto should guide us to embrace our differences so that when we are on college campuses, we should be free to voice our beliefs while respecting the voices of others. Benjamin Franklin stated famously to an opponent, “I may not agree with your viewpoint, but will defend your right to say it.” As a society, we should lift each other up to succeed. Of course there will be discourse and divide, however, there is no room for hate. How does a rural farmer from Wyoming live under the same flag as a Wall Street broker in New York? Understanding and embracing different lifestyles and viewpoints has always been the forefront of our society.

The polarizing viewpoints today are only making the wound larger. This is an issue that both parties are responsible for and no one is immune to this. The answer is to look back in history at how our ancestors overcame conflict in a unified approach and apply that to the current state of our nation. How did the Founding Fathers compromise on the Constitution? How did the chiefs of staff compromise on D-Day? Open dialogue and discussion has always been the answer, and it must continue to be so today. College campuses are an amazing opportunity to grow intellectually and emotionally by listening to different viewpoints. Here is where students find themselves and look to the person they wish to become. As a college community let us have open dialogue that is respectful and uplifts our society and let this be a guide for the rest of America and the world. Let us be the generation that ends the divide.


Alex Engelsman ’18 – Gettysburg College

Not including the legal limitations on the freedom of speech (copyright, obscenity, etc.), there is no inappropriate use of an individual’s speech. However, there is in fact a necessary distinction that needs to be made.  There is an ineffective use of your freedom of speech that often goes overlooked. People should be free to say what they believe, because that is the only way to bring out new ideas and opinions – a person’s opinion, and what they say, doesn’t need to be tried and tested to be good, or bad, or right, or wrong. However, there are ineffective ways of conveying your opinions and

Furthermore, we have to state an assumption: the purpose in voicing your opinion, in the freedom of speech, is to convince others of your opinion. If that is the intention of your speech then we have to admit there are effective and ineffective ways of accomplishing that goal. The most obvious example of the wrong way is mudslinging. By calling your opponent, or people you disagree with, names or throwing insults at them will more likely than not make them defensive and unwilling to engage with you. This is something both sides of the aisle are equally guilty of, nonetheless, it has become a serious issue as it detracts from debate. To effectively use your freedom of speech, it is imperative to discuss ideas and ultimately accomplish each person’s objectives in the most efficient manner, otherwise nothing will ever be

It is our responsibility to make sure everyone gets to speak – but it is the speaker’s responsibility to be heard.


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 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.