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A Shocking Victory for Donald Trump

November 26, 2016

Kelsea Brewer ’17 – Inside Politics Participant

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

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

 

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

Winning the White House Through a Tie

November 24, 2016

Patrick Custer ’19 – Inside Politics Participant

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

Battleground States:

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

The House Decides:

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

 

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

The Irony Behind the 2016 Presidential Election Results

November 21, 2016

Jordan Stefanacci ’18 – Inside Politics Participant

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

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

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

 

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

To the Steps: Gettysburg Students Will Not Stand For Hate

November 20, 2016

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.

What is the federal government’s role in The Dakota Pipeline project?

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.

Out of State College Students and the Election At Gettysburg College

November 6, 2016

Christina Noto ’19 – Inside Politics Participant

There has been a lot of conversation about voter registration recently due to the fact that Pennsylvania is a swing state. College students have been encouraged to change their voter registration to a state that could determine the results of the election. If you live in New York, California, or Massachusetts, why vote in a state which will definitely go blue when you could change your registration to vote in a purple state? Why vote in Alabama, South Carolina, or Kentucky, all red states, when you could vote in Pennsylvania? College students in Pennsylvania could greatly impact the outcome of this and future elections.

Is this a fair system? Some people have the opportunity to choose what state they vote in, while others only have the choice of one state. College students that live out of state can choose to vote in their home state or the state in which they go to college. PA.gov sponsors Votespa.com and its purpose is to encourage and explain how to register to vote. There is a section that is solely dedicated to college students. The first paragraph of that page reads, “if you’re a student in Pennsylvania who has moved to a new county or a new state to attend college, you can still vote. As a college student, you have two choices on where you register to vote. You have the right to register and vote where you live now, whether that is an on-campus or off-campus address. Or, you may choose to register or remain registered and vote at your prior home address.” There are 14 public colleges and 154 private colleges in Pennsylvania. According to Pennsylvania State System for Higher Education in the Fall of 2015 there were 13,423 out of state students going to public colleges within Pennsylvania. Each of these students had the option to change their registration.

The main reason college students would be changing their registration would be to impact the national election. This clearly makes sense, but what are the reason students would decide to keep their voter registrations in their home state? First, their state is a swing state: If there are students from another swing state, they could change their registration to Pennsylvania, but either way, their vote could potentially determine the outcome of a swing state. Secondly, the state may have close local or state elections. To take control of the House of Representatives, either party needs to win 218 seats. Of the 435 house elections only 47 of them are considered competitive and of those 47 only 17 do not seem to be leaning a certain way.

One of those 17 seats is in my home district, NY-19, so I decided not to change my registration. Chris Gibson, the Republican from the 19th District, is retiring after six years serving in the House of Representatives. Since he is retiring, a seat has opened in my district. Although this district usually leans Republican, in 2012 and 2008 it was split. It went blue for the Presidential election, but red in the Congressional election. Since this will be a close race, I find it important to keep my registration in New York and vote in my home district. Other students may have kept their registration in their home state for similar reasons. While college students have the potential to have a great impact on this election, 1.7 million people ages 18-24 are not registered. In the 2008 election only 20% of the eligible voters 18-29 voted. Young people have the potential to impact the election outcome, especially out of state college students who have the opportunity to choose where they vote.

Voters want their voices to be heard, by allowing college students to choose where they register, does this allow for all voices to be heard equally? Many people are disheartened by the current system. Some people feel that their vote does not matter. Although they might feel that way, it is important that people take the advantage of this opportunity to vote.

 

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.

Voter registration and Election Day

November 2, 2016

Question of the Week:

Donald Trump’s recent allegations that the election is rigged has brought up the issue of voter identification laws and their efficacy. What role do you think the state and federal governments should play in voter registration? What kind of voter identification laws are most appropriate in early voting and on Election Day?

David Fulkerson ’17 – Gettysburg Anti-Capitalist Collective

Trump is right! This election is rigged, as are all our elections. That is of course our only agreement with the Donald. When he mentions election fraud, it is always dead people voting, “inclusive ID” laws, and private ownership of voting booths. These examples, however, are just symptoms of the real problem. Individuals are not frauding the election. The election is frauds us.

What do we mean by this? Glad you asked! For starters, corporate lobbying enables concentrations of power to buy control of this country’s political apparatus. This includes the media. Public debates are limited to a narrow spectrum of opinions. Dissent, when mentioned at all, is buried beneath a landslide of meaningless news or presented in an intentionally obfuscating context.

This is not to say that voter enfranchisement is not an important issue. American Democracy will never be what it claims to be until everyone within the nation gets a voice in how we run the nation. To only focus on electoral fraud as Mr. Trump defines it, or focus solely on voter enfranchisement and turn-out numbers, as many Democrats suggest, both miss the true fraud of our political system and will never be able to address the issues that lie at the core of our society.

Andrew Dalton ’19 – Gettysburg College Democrats

Donald Trump recently fanned the flames of yet another right-wing conspiracy theory that the election is rigged against him because of widespread voter fraud. We can now add this to the laundry list of Trump’s excuses for what may well be a resounding loss on November 8th. In Trump’s mind, the world is working against him and dead people are rising out of the grave to vote for Hillary Clinton. How much of a problem has voter fraud actually been over the years? The Washington Post reported in 2014 that “out of one billion ballots cast” since 2000, there were only 31 credible instances of voter fraud. That’s right—31 out of 1,000,000,000. Although voter impersonation at the polls is practically nonexistent in our voting system, Republicans like Donald Trump are, as usual, quick to ignore the facts.

What is far more troubling than Mr. Trump’s childish banter is the enforcement of voter ID laws by state legislatures all across the country. In fact, these laws skyrocketed after the 2008 presidential election that drew a record number of African American voters to the polls. This is no coincidence. While Republican legislators claim that the laws are in place to ensure fair elections, Representative Glenn Grothman admitted earlier this year that the laws will help Republicans by making it harder for low-income voters to make their voices heard. Those who do not have a photo ID (which is necessary in eight states) must purchase one to vote. This is not democracy. These laws are a 21st century version of the poll tax and should not be tolerated by any political party.

Alex Engelsman ’18 – Gettysburg College Independents

It is important to begin with a concrete statement. Voting is a right, not a privilege. This means that any restrictions on a person’s ability to vote must be for reasons of protecting others and themselves, as is the case with all other restrictions of citizen’s rights. So, for purposes of implementing voter ID laws, a reasonable and credible suspicion must exist that there is in-person voter impersonation happening in multiple precincts on such a level that it cannot be contributed to precincts mishandling their process individually.

To this degree, we do not believe that there is enough evidence to suggest that there is a large amount of in-person voter impersonation happening in the United States to warrant the infringement of citizen’s rights. In Michael Gilbert’s article The Problem of Voter Fraud published in the Columbia Law Review, he speaks on the issue of in-person voter impersonation, and categorically denies its existence as a problem in the United State electoral system. Gilbert goes as far to say as there were so few cases of in-person voter impersonation that if every fraudulent vote were cast in the same precinct, no outcomes would change from that precinct.

Given this, we do not believe any voter identification laws are appropriate in any elections. They inhibit more eligible voters from voting than fraudulent votes from being cast. In the words of Will McAvoy, “this is a solution without a problem.”

James Goodman ’20 – Young Americans for Freedom

Voter ID laws are important to prevent voter fraud, which could seriously hinder a candidate’s bid for election. Voter fraud is easy to commit in states without ID laws. In NY, for instance, all one needs to do is know their district and say his/her name to the polling place operator and they are handed a ballot. There is no need to show any other form of ID. In fact, if you walk up to the wrong district, multiple districts meet in the same polling place, they will just direct you to the next table or give you directions to go to another polling place. This makes it all too easy for someone to vote on another’s behalf.

While it is important for laws to be put in place to prevent voter fraud, it should not be handled at the federal level. The Constitution does not give any branch of the federal government the ability to make laws concerning how voting is handled. This is an issue that should be left up to the states to decide, as per the 10th Amendment. The Constitution clearly lays out what laws the Congress can make, and laws dictating voting is not among those allowed to be made by Congress. In fact the 24th Amendment was ratified to outlaw poll taxes.

The states could pass laws that require one to show any state or federally issued license prior to voting or receiving an absentee ballot. The Federal government could encourage states to participate in this form of voter identification by withholding federal funds until the laws are passed or providing grants. This would be a simple solution to eliminate a significant threat to our Republic.

Liam Kerr ’19 – Young Americans for Liberty

Young Americans for Liberty stands firmly behind the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, with which the founders promised that “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.” It is this amendment that we use to argue against any federal involvement in the issue of voter identification laws. Article II states that there shall be a federally set, nation-wide election day, which is the furthest extent of federal involvement in elections. The states, therefore, have the right to impose voter identification laws if they so choose, with notable exceptions; these laws cannot violate the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution. Therefore, if the laws clearly target any one group of people they can be deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. The Fifteenth Amendment also specifies that is United States citizens only who are guaranteed the right to vote. We also believe that if states do impose voter ID laws, they should provide voter identification cards to any citizen of that state who has no other valid form of ID, such as senior citizens or the poor.

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.