Katherine McPartlan ’18 – Inside Politics Participant
The 2016 election has been anything but typical. We have witnessed a successful entrepreneur take the polls by storm, an inexperienced state senator trailing behind, and the most qualified candidate be put to silence. For many young voters, this is the first election that they have paid attention to, and they have nothing to compare the madness of this election too. Typically, after a Democratic officer has been the President for two terms, it is likely that a Republican nominee will take over the seat. However, the 2016 election may harvest different results.
Donald Trump, in particular, has proven to be the most popular candidate among the primaries and caucuses. For a candidate who can change his stance on abortion five times within one week, he has defied the norm of who will be successful in politics. Not to mention the fact that he is not actually a politician. Trump’s success in business has allowed voters who are struggling financially to support his message and believe that they can be helped by any laws that he would propose in the future.
The media may be to blame for Trump’s success thus far. Though we all know that Trump wants to “build a wall,” and “make the Mexicans pay for it,” we have no idea how he will execute this plan, or why certain people are supporting it. Most people agree that Trump is a fear monger and that he is relatable because he has proposed a source of safety regarding immigration and the refugee crisis that is currently occurring in Syria and throughout parts of Europe. Despite his irrationality, Trump’s campaign has resonated with the American population because he has been outspoken regarding the issues that people are worried about. His slogan, “Make America Great Again” has proven to be the most powerful phrase in this election and has swayed voters to be on his side.
The fact that many voters have pledged their support to Trump, rather than his more worthy opponents, reveals to us that the Republican Party is in jeopardy. What is going to happen if he secures the Republican nomination? Even more terrifying, what happens if he is elected President of the United States? Only time will tell. Regardless, it is evident that the Republican Party is going to have to make some serious changes in future election years. Perhaps they will need to place regulations on who can run based on the candidates’ qualifications.
With Donald Trump in the lead, Ted Cruz behind him, and John Kasich way behind, this election has revealed to us that the Republican Party, in particular, has many flaws within the system. Trump’s continuous victories thus far over Cruz and Kasich have had no intervention from the Republican Party. There has been speculation that this election may be heading towards a brokered convention, where the party may choose to nominate someone other than Trump to be the Republican candidate. To this, Trump has threatened that there will be “riots in the streets.” Overall, we wonder if Trump’s presence within the Republican Party could be the supreme destroyer of the party. I suppose that we will find out in the next coming months, and look forward to seeing if the party can put itself back together or will crumble under the weight that is Donald Trump.
Alaina Keller ‘19 – Inside Politics Participant
On March 2, 2016, protestors rallied outside the Supreme Court Building to express their views on the Texas law regarding abortion clinics that was being presented before the justices. The demonstration proved somewhat sudden in the eyes of the general public, for as political arguments in the past few months have become increasingly centered upon the 2016 presidential election, it seemed as if the fervor surrounding the issue of abortion waned in favor of discussions on Trump’s latest declaration. It was only on July 14, 2015, however, that the abortion issue hit a recent climax when the Center for Medical Progress released its first of three critical videos that condemned Planned Parenthood for the possibly illegal sale of fetal tissue. After a period of investigation, the grand jury on the case instead indicted the creators of the videos, David R. Daleiden and Sandra S. Merritt, and found that the many investigations into the videos revealed no concrete illegalities committed by Planned Parenthood. Yet, the House of Representatives and the states themselves have continued to take action, focusing on legislation that attempts to limit abortion services as well as defund the organization.
Today, this issue proves to be relevant as the Supreme Court debates the Texas government’s 2013 law necessitating abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital in addition to requiring that abortion clinics meet the standards of “ambulatory surgical centers.” According to the New York Times article on the issue, more than half of the abortion clinics in the state have already closed down, prompting the justices to raise two related questions: whether Texas has legitimate reasoning behind the law and whether it violates the 1992 Planned Parenthood vs. Casey case that forbids states from placing “undue burdens on the constitutional right to an abortion before the fetus was viable.” These burdens would include “unnecessary” health regulations that might inhibit the woman’s opportunity to receive an abortion. Since the Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt case was argued before the Supreme Court on March 2, four justices have deemed the Texas law unconstitutional while three more conservative justices took the opposing view; ultimately, Justice Anthony Kennedy will act as the deciding factor with his vote, perhaps creating a tie due to the recent loss of Justice Antonin Scalia. The decision will most likely be released in June of this year.
As this case reaches a conclusion near the end of state primaries for the 2016 election, this issue of abortion has the potential to continue playing a significant role in this election cycle. Although the wide candidate pool has shrunk considerably, the stances on abortion of the remaining candidates still vary greatly. On the Democratic side of the race, Hillary Clinton provides a clearly pro-choice view in her claims to oppose Republican attempts to defund Planned Parenthood and in her support of the Affordable Care Act, a measure that provides preventive options and prohibits insurance discrimination against women. She emphasizes the “ability and right of every woman in this country to make her own health decisions.” Contrastingly, Bernie Sanders offers an even more progressive approach in his plan to expand Planned Parenthood as it offers “vital healthcare service for millions of women.” He also emphasizes the right for women to control their own bodies, and he claims that he will only nominate Supreme Court justices who fully accept and understand Roe v. Wade as law. This latter promise, along with the assertion that he will not allow employers to deny contraceptives or any sort of procedure even on “moral” grounds, directly addresses the presence of abortion and contraception cases that have recently come before the Supreme Court, such as Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc..
On the Republican side of the race, John Kasich has a distinctively pro-life view on the abortion issue, declaring his defense of the “sanctity of human life” in his past actions against abortion funding on the federal level and his success in prohibiting late term abortions and elective abortion in hospitals in his own state. As governor of Ohio, he also actively worked to defund Planned Parenthood and reroute the taxpayer money towards other family planning organizations, a process which would be echoed in his anti-abortion policies should he become president. Ted Cruz, on his platform, boldly claims that his presidency would immediately begin with an investigation of Planned Parenthood by his Attorney General, a promise which adequately reflects his deeply religious opposition towards the abortion issue. In his defense of the “God-given right” to life, he combated taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood as well voted towards laws that restrict certain abortions; as with Kasich, Cruz plans on maintain this trend from the White House.
Though running as a Republican, Donald Trump diverges from the traditional party platform and refuses to focus on the abortion issue. A historical list of his views from 1999 show that he has changed from being pro-choice to pro-life over the years, with a recent interview having him state that he would defund Planned Parenthood as long as they continue to provide abortions. He does acknowledge the other services that the organization has for women, unlike the other candidates, yet his lack of political background does little to confirm his exact stance on the issue.
Regardless of who wins the 2016 presidential election, the issue of women’s rights will remain a debated issue in politics, with cases like Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt continuing to be brought before the courts as both federal and state governments struggle with the question of contraception and abortion. Should a woman have complete control over her own body, or does the fetus within her have the inalienable right to life?
Olivia Lanctot ’19 – Inside Politics Participant
Thousands of students are entering into the criminal justice system each year on charges such as disorderly conduct, assault, and resisting arrest. Many of these offenses consist of small misdemeanors such as kicking a trashcan, being out past curfew, and the use of foul language. A majority of the students affected by these school discipline policies are disproportionately minority students and students with disabilities. This creates what is commonly referred to as the “school to prison pipeline.”
Students, who are repeatedly referred to school police or placed into the criminal justice system, often become disengaged from school. When students are placed into correctional facilities or suspended from school, students are more likely to participate in more destructive behavior, ultimately increasing the likelihood that those students will end up in jail. And once in the system, there is data that states they will remain in the system. How can these students be expected to achieve academic success when they are unable to attend school or are consistently disengaged from class due to poor disciplinary policies?
In the past few decades, state and local correctional spending nearly doubled compared to elementary and secondary education spending. Fortunately, many states have responded to this problem by taking measures to decrease the amount of students being caught up in this downward spiral. For example, the United States Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, has urged states to shift this local and state spending on correctional spending on nonaggressive offenders to teachers, particularly at high-poverty schools. In Virginia, where the average referral of students to law enforcement is three times higher compared to the national average, measures have been taken to retrain educators and school police statewide. This retraining will help better equip educators to handle disruptive students and therefore is aimed to stop racial profiling. Additionally, the state is looking to place specific limitations on police intervention in order to decrease the amount of out-of-school suspensions.
Ultimately, the United States has one of the highest incarceration rates and something needs to be done about it. To change this, action on a local level must be taken. Offering school-based alternatives (such as extracurricular activities) can help keep students out of trouble and therefore decrease their chances of one day ending up in jail. All in all, a major reform of the juvenile justice system must be addressed in order to avoid this “school to prison” trend.
Abigail Major ‘19 – Inside Politics Participant
On March 29 the New York Times as well as the Washington Post announced to the nation that presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, was charged with battery. The incident originally took place on March 8, 2016 in Jupiter, Florida. Reporter Michelle Fields was in pursuit of asking Trump a question when Lewandowski grabbed Fields roughly by the arm to move her away. Lewandowski denied that the interaction ever occurred and called Fields ‘delusional’. However, the combinations of Fields pressing charges three days later, posting a picture on Twitter showing bruises on her arm supposedly due to the incident, and the releasement of camera footage that proved that Lewandowski actually did interact with Fields caused attention to be directed towards Lewandowski.
While Lewandowski turned himself in to the Jupiter Police Department and has been assigned a court date of May 4 at the North County Courthouse in Palm Beach Gardens in Florida, he remains adamant that he is not guilty.
Yet where does Trump come into all of this? Will the incident between Lewandowski and Fields present a hiccup in the Trump’s presidential campaign?
So far it seems that Trump has been able to contain the potential wildfire and has done his best at damage control. He remains loyal to Lewandowski, which can witnessed by his tweet on the morning of March 29: “Wow, Corey Lewandowski, my campaign manager and a very decent man, was just charged with assaulting a reporter. Look at tapes-nothing there!”
Trump takes it a massive step further by later posting a picture of him and Fields at the news conference in Jupiter, Florida with the caption: “Victory press conference was over. Why is she allowed to grab me and shout questions? Can I press charges?”
Trump’s sarcastic and mocking attitude towards this potentially fragile situation not only shows his relationship with the media, but his relationship with women as well. While some of the public shows support towards Fields, it nevertheless seems that Trump is unfazed and his poll numbers are unaffected.
However, even with Trump being rather dismissive about the issue, the other presidential candidates are directing their attention towards the Lewandowski and Fields situation.
According to NBC News, Cruz expressed his opinion on the matter to reporters in Wisconsin, “It’s a very sad development and this is the consequence of the culture of the Trump campaign. The abusive culture when you have a campaign that is built on personal insults, on attacks and now physical violence, that has no place in a political campaign, it has no place in our democracy.”
Kaisch also added his own voice to the matter: “We probably would suspend somebody. You know, it would depend what it is and what the evidence was. But when we see things that we think are inappropriate, we take action and that’s what I would do…I think that every candidate has to be responsible for what happens in their campaign and as I’ve said repeatedly–what Donald Trump has been doing over these last months is inciting violent behavior, aggressive behavior that I think is very dangerous and has resulted in attacks on people at his events and including this charge that was now brought against his campaign manager,”
Clinton diplomatically decided not to comment on the debacle but added, “I think that you know ultimately the responsibility is Mr. Trump’s.”
It seems that Trump has managed to shake off insults thrown his way in the past, but will Trump be able to do so now? Or will this be the tipping point? Only time can truly tell.
Weiting Li ’16 – Women in Leadership
Though the women’s rights movement is rising, the word “feminism” has remained controversial and often been avoided. People usually will feel uncomfortable when called feminists, because it relates to the image of alienation, separation, or even men-hatred. Emma Watson reports that she was encouraged not to use the word “feminism” in her HeforShe speech. But, what does feminism really mean? By definition, feminism is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. To achieve that participation and effort from both sides is encouraged. In other words, rather than divide women and men, feminism is suppose to unit both sexes to fight for gender equality. Men’s participation in women’s rights movements is just as important as women’s.
After many decades of struggle and fights, it is exciting to see that the feminist movement has gained huge successes. The development of feminism has gone through three major stages. The first-wave of feminism started in the late 19th century. First-wave feminists have won basic legislative rights for women, such as gaining women’s suffrage. The second-wave of feminism focused on issues regarding education, the workplace, and family. Carrying on the mission of the second-wave feminist movements, the third-wave feminists represents more women of different races, religions, nationalities and cultural backgrounds. Nowadays, we can see examples of successful and professional women in various fields ranging from Sheryl Sandberg to Sonia Sotomayor.
With the extraordinary success and influence of feminism, an increasing number of women have realized the issue of gender inequality and have joined the movement to fight for their equal rights and opportunities. Although the women’s rights movement has gained large support from women throughout the world, very few men are willing to stand up for women and identify themselves as feminists. There are a large number of men who still hold the traditional views of women and try to hold on to their male privileges. Donald Trump can be a great example. As a Republican candidate for the presidency, he has made comments publically against women, saying “looks obviously matters, like you won’t have your job if you weren’t beautiful.” Moreover, if we look at the micro level, we barely see equal participation of both genders in class, programs or other activities relating to feminism. Take an example of Women in Leadership Program we don’t have many male participants as female students. It is hard to accept, but it is the truth right now.
“We want to end gender inequality, and to do that we need everyone to be involved.” This is a quote from Emma Watson’s speech for HeforShe campaign. One of the great points she makes in her speech is that gender equality cannot be achieved until both men and women are involved. Not only men’s opinions and participation are significant to women’s rights movement, they also help themselves. Emma explains in her speech, just like women, men are also trapped in their stereotypes. The success of the women rights’ movement will also benefit men in terms of releasing them from those fixed expectations.
Men and women need to stand together to continue this movement, people should not be afraid to be called feminists, they should feel proud about it because we all are fighting for humanity and for a better society. That should be the new meaning of feminism.
Sarah Linton ’19 – Women in Leadership
When Donald Trump declared his presidential candidacy in June 2015, mainstream media and political analysts alike failed to anticipate his success. As the possibility of Trump winning the Republican primary moves from laughable to probable and Republican voters have expressed a desire for the party to unite behind him, there has been a scramble to explain the phenomenon. Regardless of whether his appeal stems from the pervasive frustration with broken political system or his moral absolutism, Trump is positioned to remain in the media spotlight for at least the rest of the year.
Americans have tuned in to the primary debates at an unprecedented rate. The first Republican debate back in August drew twenty-four million viewers, and the subsequent have averaged fifteen million. With increasing attention to the candidates’ direct portrayal of themselves, dishonesty also becomes a chief concern. An analysis of several hours of Trump’s press conferences and speeches reveals he exaggerates reality or blatantly lies just about every five minutes. Trump is far from an anomaly in this respect. Politicians have been long criticized for misconstruing the truth to show them in a more favorable light. But this election cycle has highlighted the reality that campaigns and the daily news do not offer an accurate picture of candidates, their views, and their career histories.
Candidates and cable network taglines do not need to be taken at face value. Rather, there are alternate ways to learn accurate information about the people fighting for votes:
1.) Fact check.
With the proliferation of digital media, anything a candidate says can be picked up by every major new outlet and broadcasted loudly and repeatedly, often in incomplete form or lacking context. Add in frequent candidate dishonesty, and the result is an incredibly warped image.
But digital media has also ushered in a new era of rapid fact-checking. It is not necessary to take candidates at face value, or even spend hours doing painstaking research. News headlines can be misleading, but some media outlets have also dedicated themselves to providing detailed analysis about candidate honesty.
The New York Times fact checks specific statements from debates. The Washington Post has an entire subsection of news dedicated to rhetoric analysis. And Politifact is a fact-checking website run by staff of the Tampa Bay Times, and they sort through a wider range of candidate media—debate claims, campaign speeches, and even television advertisements. Candidate statements are ranked from True (such as Ted Cruz’s claim that he has held civil conversations with protesters at his campaign events) to Pants on Fire (such as a Trump campaign ad’s use of footage showing Mexicans “swarming over our southern border;” the footage was from Morocco).
2.) Know the political leanings of sources.
Even when journalists are dedicated to reporting the truth, many news sources have an agenda. Whether the publication’s ownership dictates its political slant or reporters are given the liberty to present their agenda as much or less fact, sometimes even “reliable” media can be less than straightforward.
Because many publications are quick to defend their own reporting accuracy, it can be difficult to tell who actually supports what and how that affects news coverage. Unless a newspaper comes out in explicit support of a candidate, like the New York Times editorial board’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton, many biases remain subtle or technically a non-issue. But selective reporting, even said articles are accurate, also contributes damagingly to a confusing and inaccurate media landscape.
A good start is to know the audiences of publications. While conservatives are more likely to mostly consume media that conforms to their views, general readership still reflects the views of the media organization. A Pew Research Center poll ranked sources by ideological placement of readership, evaluating for consistency of liberal or conservative views. Broadcast stations in general have a more moderate audience. MSNBC, despite its liberal reputation, has a viewership fairly similarly to CNN and NBC.
A more time consuming route is to evaluate the stances publications take on issues on a case-by-case basis. The space that a source will dedicate to coverage of an issue, and the nature of the coverage, provides a more complete picture than generalizations about viewership.
3.) Research candidates beyond current media coverage.
Politicians understandably find their views changing as their political careers move forward. However, there is a distinct difference between reevaluating an opinion in the light of new considerations, and shying away from old decisions to appeal to a broader base. Hillary Clinton is often criticized for flip-flipping, and Donald Trump regularly moves from one extreme opinion to the opposite.
In order to understand how a candidate would behave in the presidency, it is important to take into account not only his or her presently conveyed intentions, but also the decisions of the past. One easy comparison is to look at a candidate’s liberalism or conservatism relative to the rest of the party. The political and economic analysis site FiveThirtyEight ranked possible 2016 Republican candidates by past voting decisions in a chart, and analyses of Democratic candidates are also available, though they are not as concise. Data like this provides a roadmap of where politicians are likely to fall on certain issues.
There are also resources that detail candidate voting histories and stances on different issues. The non-partisan research organizations Vote Smart and OnTheIssues straight forwardly aggregate information about candidates’ positions and voting records. The Council on Foreign Relations has an entire section of their website dedicated to breaking down where each presidential hopeful falls on foreign policy. Many lobbying groups with specific policy area concerns will also compile information on different candidate stances.
Ultimately, there is no shortage of valuable and truthful resources to facilitate understanding about the contenders in the 2016 election. They are simply often buried under sensationalist headlines and flagrant dishonesty from approval seeking candidates.
Bradley Klustner ’18 – Inside Politics participant
Even the most casual American political enthusiast would be able to tell you that the 2016 Presidential Election has been one of the most interesting, enigmatic, and polarizing in our nation’s history. The Republican Primary, at one point containing as many as 17 candidates, has been whittled down to three. While most of the media spotlight is focused on frontrunner Donald Trump and his perpetual feuds with Ted Cruz, John Kasich has insisted on staying in the race, cementing himself in the role of the “grown-up” in the Republican Primary, refusing to participate in the common barking matches that break out during the televised debates, and carrying himself with a calm, experienced, and qualified demeanor.
At this point in the primary, many anti-Trump analysts from the Republican establishment are criticizing Kasich for not dropping out, claiming that his staying in the race is only stealing votes away from Ted Cruz who, mathematically, is the only candidate besides Trump who could win the 1,237 delegates needed to gain the GOP nomination outright. However, another strategy could prove more favorable for the GOP in order to win the general election versus Hillary Clinton, one that justifies Kasich’s insistence to keep his campaign going. According to a March 24th article in Politico, when Kasich is matched up against Clinton in a hypothetical general election, 45% of registered voters nationwide said they would pledge a vote towards Kasich, compared to 39% for Hillary. The Politico article continued to state that when Cruz and Trump went head to head with Clinton in the same scenario, they lost the general election by 5-10 percentage points, respectively.
What might explain these polling results? For one, Kasich is a candidate who has a proven track record in the state of Ohio, especially economically where he helped grow private sector jobs by 9.3%. He consistently emphasizes a bipartisan approach to policymaking, offering a more moderate alternative to the often-polarizing conservative policies promoted by Cruz and Trump. Kasich’s centrist approach is appealing to the voters who are left skeptical of Hillary Clinton but are turned off by the hijinks of the Trump campaign.
At this point, it is not mathematically possible for Kasich to secure enough delegates to win the GOP nomination outright. However, if Kasich and Cruz “steal” enough delegates from Trump by either winning or performing well in the remaining state primaries, a brokered Republican convention could be forced. If this scenario occurs and the GOP decides on Kasich as their candidate, then the numbers stated above clearly show that Kasich has a strong chance of winning the general election.
Being myself a right-leaning moderate, this might sound to the average reader like simply overly optimistic hope for a miracle, and it is true that a lot of things need to happen in order for a brokered convention to take place. However, if Kasich can build up momentum after his victory in Ohio, and Cruz continues to dominate states here and there as he did in the Utah caucus on March 22nd, the possibility still remains that Trump will not garner the minimum number of delegates to snag the nomination.
Critics on the far-right will criticize Kasich, claiming he is a RINO (Republican in name only), too bipartisan, irrelevant, and just another face from the Republican establishment in an election that has been rooted in anti-establishment attitudes on both sides from day one. However, the numbers tell us a lot, and if the GOP wants to defeat Hillary Clinton, Kasich may very likely be their best choice.