History Lost in History

What if…Hillary Clinton had won the 2016 election?

I’ll never forget the celebration that overtook New York City on Nov. 7, 2020, when Joe Biden officially defeated incumbent Donald Trump for the presidency of the United States. My whole neighborhood exploded in parties and celebrations that swarmed so many streets of the city — and so many cities across the nation. There was a palpable sense of relief, all the sweeter when contrasted to the day Donald Trump won the election over Hillary Clinton in 2016. That day, it rained, and I trudged around McCarren Park in Brooklyn with a good friend as we wondered what the future would hold.

I’d like to take us back to 2016, but to a different version of it: one in which Trump lost and Clinton won. What would the world look like today if that had happened? 

Other than Clinton making history as America’s first female president, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Right now, I wonder how different might the US’s response to Covid-19 have looked under Clinton and a Democratic administration? The world may truly never know what she would have done and if lives may have been saved had a different person held the Oval Office, but what is true is that in 2018 the team responsible for pandemic preparedness was partly disbanded.

It’s quite possible had that not happened, America’s response to the pandemic would have been different: perhaps the debate surrounding masking, lockdowns, and vaccine promotion campaigns would have been handled with less controversy. Under Clinton, we probably wouldn’t have had a president who refused to wear a mask, adding fuel to the fire of anti-maskers. 

Other than Clinton making history as America’s first female president, what is the first thing that comes to mind?

But even further back, if Trump had not been elected, I would not have joined the 2017 Women’s March in New York, because it likely wouldn’t have been as necessary as it was at the time (not surprisingly under Trump, the #MeToo Movement was in full swing).

Politically, Clinton is the very opposite of Trump. To mention a few of her stances, she is pro-abortion, pro-marriage equality, and pro-DACA. Life might have looked so different under her administration that just reading this Ballotpedia entry about her campaign kind of made me weepy. 

Other potential differences involve the Supreme Court. At least two current justices, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, were appointed by Trump. If Clinton had won she would have been the person appointing both those justices, leading to a strong liberal majority instead of the current conservative, mostly-anti abortion Supreme Court.

If you’ve been following US politics lately, you’ll know that the Supreme Court was involved in a Texas case penalizing abortion providers after six weeks by…refusing to get involved and blocking the law. Now, they may be reviewing cases directly concerning Roe V. Wade, meaning abortion rights are currently on the line. When abortion rights are called into question, women’s rights themselves are at risk. Given Clinton’s stance on abortion, if she had been elected president we likely wouldn’t be having these conversations at all.

Of course, Clinton is not just a politician, but a human, and she would have made mistakes had she become the 45th president in 2017. Even Biden, whom we cheered and celebrated, has made critical errors: notably, the handling of the chaotic removal of US troops from Afghanistan, a lack of follow-through on campaign promises such as student loan forgiveness, and his failure in reducing the border crisis. 

No one can achieve all the promises they make as a candidate. And no one is perfect, meaning some of the promises will have flawed foundations. 

But here’s the thing: I believe in my heart of hearts that Hillary Clinton would have been a less destructive president than Donald Trump was. If for no other reason than the Supreme Court, which has outsized power in US politics, looking differently under her administration, we would have been better off had Democrats been victorious in 2016. 

We can’t change the past now. It’s written. All we can do is change the present to affect the future. And I hope the next time we face a chaotic election 2016’s, that we make the right choices. 

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World News The Internet Politics

How meme culture has redefined our understanding of politics

In the age of social media, it’s almost impossible to not see a meme. Viral memes such as ‘Roll Safe’ or the ‘Kombucha Girl’ are always somewhere on the timeline. Due to our regular encounters with memes, it would be undeniable to negate the impact that memes have had on consumers, whether it’s just for laughs or spreading bite sized chunks of information. However, the surge in political memes has brought into question the effectiveness of these memes and the validity of the information spread through these memes.

For instance, take the memes about ‘World War III’, due to the tensions between Iran and the US back at the beginning of the year. I personally wouldn’t be laughing about how wars and one of the most powerful and funded militaries on the Earth would destabilize – nothing new to them, they’ve done this many times – a country who has suffered at the hands of their military. But hey, that’s just me. Cultural awareness is pivotal, especially in an increasingly global village. Though it can be argued that humor is a coping mechanism, I still think it is important to remain culturally aware on how an event on one side of the world can negatively impact others. 

This has been a tough year for politics – from the US Presidential Elections, the Conservative Party’s failings with Brexit, the UK’s abysmal Track and Trace system, #ENDSARS, and quite frankly, everything. Each of these incidents have been turned into memes in one way or another. During the US elections, I know I was not the only one who cried tears of laughter at the memes of Trump losing his job. 

But, what’s interesting is how meme culture has redefined our understanding of politics. It wouldn’t be shocking to say that perhaps due to more young activists, the way some Gen Z understand politics is through memes. Some politicians even attempt to relay this back to them, but they are not always successful. For example, Hilary Clinton’s tweet about student loans conveyed how clearly she was out of touch with the youth and could be deemed as insensitive, when she asked, “How does your student loan make you feel? Tell us in 3 emojis or less.” It was an extremely poorly worded tweet, knowing that hundreds of thousands of American students are in college debt. 

Despite living in evolving times, sometimes politicians need to understand that not every young person is the same. Whilst memes do have an influence, whether temporary or not, these attempts simply reduces all young people to a category, failing to take into consideration the different ways youth engage with politics. For instance, in the run up to the 2017 General Election in the UK, there were multiple political campaigns from the Labour party on Snapchat. Leaders like Boris Johnson attempted to engage the youth on Snapchat, only to end up as a temporal meme somewhere on the Internet. 

The emergence of memes in political discourse, pioneered by social media, is due to humor. This enables society to consider how humor can be used in political contexts through shared meanings. It would be a lie to say that political memes don’t evoke the necessary discussions about issues such as taxes or healthcare. For example, if someone makes a meme about how incompetent Buhari or Trump is, it could act as an indirect conversation to engage with others on political topics through social media.

Acting as a cultural phenomenon, memes also enable us to recall political incidents and history. For example, there was a meme of ‘Tank Man’, who stood in front of tanks, protesting after the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. Due to Chinese censorship, the images of the tanks were replaced with rubber ducks. It highlights how we can still remember political events and can even safeguard those who may be censored from sharing certain pieces of information. Whilst they are powerful forms of social data, it’s important to consider what memes mean for public memory. How do we ensure that we remember genuine events rather than edited variations based on memes. Despite this, memes aren’t just used for negative purposes such as targeting politicians (though these are hilarious), but they simplify things and remain accessible for a lot of people.


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USA Editor's Picks 2020 Elections Politics The World

The Democratic Party owes its Presidential election victory to BIPOC organizers

This is it, folks. After a nerve-wracking and close race, Joe Biden has won the presidency, with Kamala Harris as the Vice President-elect. Biden also received the most votes ever cast for a U.S. presidential candidate, in a race that saw a historically high voter turnout. As we look back upon a polarizing election season and the bitter years that preceded it, it is important to acknowledge the hard work of grassroots organizers, youth leaders, and volunteers who ultimately flipped the vote in critical swing states. In particular, Black, Indigenous, and other people of colour (BIPOC) played a key role in mobilizing communities and countering disinformation and voter suppression to make every vote count.

Grassroots BIPOC Organizers made a huge difference 

Key electoral gains in states like Arizona – which hasn’t voted for a Democrat since 1996 – Michigan, and Pennsylvania can be largely attributed to meticulous grassroots organizing at the county-level, challenging the Trump administration’s repeated attempts to delegitimize votes, declare premature victory, and cast doubt even as ballots were being counted.

Black, Indigenous, and other people of colour (BIPOC) played a key role in mobilizing communities and countering disinformation and voter suppression to make every vote count.

Across southern states, organizers and community leaders worked hard for years to build power in marginalized communities. Biden’s win in Georgia is significant – the state hasn’t supported a Democrat since 1992 – many credited his lead to Democratic Party’s Stacey Abrams and her lifelong work to address voter suppression. In 2018, Abrams became the first Black woman chosen as a major political party’s nominee for a state gubernatorial election in the country. Abrams lost the election to Republican opponent but her campaign then founded Fair Fight Action to empower marginalized voters in the state. Abrams worked alongside a host of other groups like the New Georgia Project who registered thousands of BIPOC voters and empowered them to exercise their political rights in and beyond the electoral cycle. 

Stereotypes about Republican-leaning southern states undermine how Black organizers – especially women – have fought for and engaged historically overlooked communities. The political and cultural shifts due to the hard work of these organizers may or may not translate into statewide electoral wins for the Democrats, but a blue wave in the elections cannot be the only indicators of progressivism in a state – community-level changes are just as important as national elections.

Reflecting on the importance of community organizing in southern states, Yasmine, 23, a volunteer with the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) said,  “Historically, the South is ignored and written off because of stereotypes. But it’s important to realize that the racist white people don’t define what the South is. It’s the BIPOC communities that have created environments for themselves where they care for one another, dismantle barriers to civic engagement, and advocate for everyone’s liberation.”

It’s the BIPOC communities that have created environments for themselves where they care for one another, dismantle barriers to civic engagement, and advocate for everyone’s liberation.

Progressive BIPOC-led organizing invested long-term in community coalitions and young voters, foregrounding critical issues like criminal justice reforms, mass incarceration, ICE detentions, climate change, and COVID-19 relief. Dream Defenders, a BIPOC youth-led power-building organization that was formed in response to the murder of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, are one of the many groups in Florida that worked to increase voter turnout, championing causes like defunding the police and minimum wage reform. In counties across Arizona, BIPOC groups helped Biden gain a lead in the state, despite being historically marginalized by the Democratic Party and the GOP. This was made possible by the advocacy of member-led grassroots organizations like Living United for Change in Arizona which have consistently mobilized working-class families and fought for social, economic, and racial justice. Mi Familia Vota engaged Latinx and immigrant communities in different states and advocated for stronger infrastructures for civic participation. 

In Arizona, Indigenous women community leaders fought to challenge years of voter suppression. Leaders like Gabriella Cázares-Kelly, a member of the Tohono O’odham Nation, ran to be the county recorder and co-founded Indivisible Tohono, a grassroots organizing group which made the voting process more accessible. 

lhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, who were re-elected to Congress in Minnesota and Michigan respectively, tirelessly rallied voters at the local level and ensuring Biden’s victory in their states. Community activist and nurse Cori Bush – who became the first Black woman elected to Congress from Missouri – was endorsed by the Sunrise Movement progressive political action committee Justice Democrats who previously endorsed Congress members Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and others. Run for Something, a political organization recruiting young progressives running for down-ballot offices, endorsed young progressive candidates like Mauree Turner who became the first Black Muslim nonbinary state legislator from Oklahoma. 

The summer’s Black Lives Matter protests should be credited for sparking conversations about structural injustices, and the importance of showing up to vote.

Black Lives Matter protests politicized the electorate

The summer’s Black Lives Matter protests should be credited for sparking conversations about structural injustices, and the importance of showing up to vote. Some studies even suggested that the protests were responsible for an increase in voter registrations. The protests also politicized many, particularly young BIPOC first-time voters, empowering them to understand the interconnected nature of oppressions that maintain the status quo in an unjust society. 

In Philadelphia during election week, protesters took to denounce Trump’s premature declaration of victory in the state. The protests converged with simultaneous BLM protests in response to the murder of a Black man, Walter Wallace Jr., by the Philadelphia police. Other protest organizers also called for the release of Philly for REAL Justice activist Anthony Smith. In this context, the demand to count all votes was framed as one of the means to the greater ends of protecting civil rights, challenging police brutality, and authoritarianism, and holding a racist criminal justice system accountable.

Volunteers and poll workers saved the day

In between social distancing laws and divisive political struggles, thousands of volunteers for the Democrats utilized digital resources and low-risk physical outreach methods to connect with voters. For Laura, an organizer working with the Chicago chapter of NAPAWF, information access for diverse communities was critical: “We put a lot of emphasis on making information accessible in multiple languages and canvassing. In Georgia specifically, we were able to get older South Asian women to help us phone-bank within their community. This was effective since most of them don’t speak English.” In many swing states, almost 200 NAPAWF volunteers for the Get Out the Vote campaign reached out to AAPI women voters in more than 15 languages, made over 40,000 calls and sent out over 12,000 texts. 

Elsewhere, during and after election day, poll workers risked their lives to count every vote. In Maricopa County, Arizona, poll workers were harassed by Pro-Trump supporters spurred by conspiracy theories of voter fraud and stolen votes, driven by merit-less claims peddled by Trump. Nonetheless, the workers persisted, and the county voted blue. 

It is undeniable that the bulk of progressive organizing was led by BIPOC leaders, but this labor, which is typically not compensated proportionally, should not be romanticized.

Organizers put in the work, what about the Democratic Party?

One of the most significant victories of this election cycle belongs to Kamala Harris, who became the first woman and Black and South Asian-American person to be elected Vice President. However, as many have noted, representation does not guarantee transformational justice. She has been critiqued at length for her controversial track record as district attorney. It is also ironic, that she was elected alongside Biden who, as a Senator, actively caused harm to poor Black communities through legislation.

All of this is to say that despite the impending end of the Trump presidency, the Democratic Party must address its own conservatism and how it continues to uphold oppressive structures through governance. If the Party wants to honor those who won them the election, it must take the voices of BIPOC communities seriously and commit to radically progressive agendas in policy-making. It is undeniable that the bulk of progressive organizing was led by BIPOC leaders, but this labor, which is typically not compensated proportionally, should not be romanticized.

Martha, 23, a volunteer with Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party and the Sunrise Movement, stressed that political leaders and white voters should dismantle white supremacy: “Young organizers turned out the huge number of young Democrat voters in this election. But we also saw that more young white voters voted for Trump than any other young demographic. White people must reflect and actively work against our own roles that uphold white supremacy… Organizing without challenging this will only reproduce the racist systems of the past.”

A Biden Presidency is just the start of a long and difficult road towards such liberation. Perhaps the movement will pause and take a break to celebrate, perhaps it will shift and manifest in new and more powerful forms. Perhaps a better future is indeed closer than it seems. In the meantime, organizers will continue to hold space for the most vulnerable, reminding us that the fight goes beyond one election cycle.

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USA LGBTQIA+ 2020 Elections Inequality

Sarah McBride has been elected as Delaware state senator in a monumental win for queer representation

Tuesday was a monumental day for queer representation in statehouses and congress. Early on in the night, Sarah McBride made history by becoming the first openly transgender state senator. The same day saw the first two openly gay, black congressmen elected to the house, Ritchie Torres and Mondaire Jones. With historical events like this, it’s crucial that we take a moment to understand the importance of these elections.

McBride has just become the highest-ranking transgender official in the United States. Previously the highest-ranking openly transgender official was Danica Roem, who became the first out state congresswoman in 2018.

So, who is Sarah McBride?

Sarah McBride speaking at an HRC event in a blue dress
Sarah McBride speaking at an HRC event via WashingtonBlade

McBride is a Delaware native who has always been interested in helping people through policies and politics. She worked for multiple election campaigns and was elected student body president of her alma mater, American University. Sarah McBride is used to making history. During her time as student body president at AU she made national news when during her last week in office, she came out as transgender. This made her the first openly transgender student body president at the university.

After college McBride proceeded to serve on the board of Equality in Delaware, where she is credited with getting a bill passed which prevented discrimination based on gender identity in employment, housing, and public accommodations. But, McBride wasn’t done achieving firsts for trans women.

In 2016 McBride became the first openly transgender woman to speak at the DNC. She endorsed Hillary Clinton’s presidential nomination and spoke about the importance of policies which support and protect trans folks.

As she was campaigning to be elected to the Delaware statehouse she partnered with the Human Rights Campaign as their National Press Secretary.

Why this matters to queer folks

Throughout her entire career, McBride has worked tirelessly to create spaces for queer individuals in the world. After it was announced that she won her congressional seat, McBride sent out a tweet specifically for young LGBTQ people.

Sarah McBride tweeting "I have tonight shows an LGBTQ kids that our democracy is big enough for them too"
Sarah McBride statement via Twitter

McBride’s win is impacting queer students at her alma mater, too. American University senior Sarah Ross (they/she) felt hopeful about what this means for queer voices. Ross said, “I think Sarah McBride‘s win will mean she is able to bring conversations to the table that have been relying on the words of queer allies and the few queer people in Congress. Hopefully, her win will enable her to strengthen the fight for legislation supporting queer people and enabling them lives free from harm and discrimination – at least at a legal level.”

Many queer and trans activists feel similarly, with praise erupting on Twitter and Instagram seconds after her win was announced.

Getting in the room

Representation is crucial, but specifically in politics. You need people in the room who have first-hand experiences to push policy in progressive directions. With issues such as the trans panic defense and bans for transgender folks in the military, it’s crucial to have individuals with lived experiences be given a voice in the inception of these policies.

Sarah Ross also spoke on the issue of inclusion, “Seeing queer representation is important to me because I think queer and trans people will not give up on queer issues. I think queerphobic and transphobic Congress members know this and will try to invalidate queer Congress members‘ actions, but once they are in Congress they have the ability and right to push legislation as they see fit. I would like to say I trust queer Congresspeople to fight for what is right, and I hope they prove me right.”

Straight representatives are able to sympathize with queer issues, but they do not know what it’s like to live them. LGBTQ+ senators, congressmen, neighborhood committee members, and school board members have lived the issues that impact their community. They understand how policies affect people’s lives because they’ve had to live through good and bad policies.

Without spending a day in the statehouse Sarah McBride has already made history. Her impact on the transgender community in Delaware cannot be understated, and many in the community are hoping to see her make a mark on politics.


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USA 2020 Elections The World

Here’s how Maine’s election results could be impacted by its new ranked choice voting technique

Maine is getting more political coverage than ever before. Republican incumbent Susan Collins is in a tight senate race with Democratic challenger, Sara Gideon. The state also splits its four electoral college votes based on region, and the second congressional district has become a battleground area for the presidential race.

What Ranked-Choice Voting Means in Maine

The state approved ranked-choice voting via referendum in 2016. This referendum allowed voters to rank their 1st choice candidate down to their 5th choice. Voters only need to vote for one candidate, but they will have the option to vote for more.

Maine citizens created the referendum as a means to allow voters to choose candidates that they fully agreed with, without fear that their vote would be wasted. In 2010 the Maine Gubernatorial winner only won 37.6% of the vote. The Democratic candidate and the Independent candidate had a combined total of 54.7%. These results shook the state of Maine, especially given that the winner of the election won less than 40% of votes.

Because of this, in Maine currently if no candidate receives 50% of the vote, the lowest vote receiving candidate is eliminated. Then the votes are recounted. This process continues until a candidate can be declared the winner.

How Ranked-Choice Voting Could Impact the Senate Race

Maine candidates sara gideon next to susan collins
Sara Gideon and Susan Collins via The AP

In a poll conducted by Emerson College, Gideon leads with 48% of anticipated voted, compared to Collins’ 44%. But the important votes for ranked-choice are the Independent votes. Maine is one of the only states to have an Independent Senator with a strong Independent party.

Currently, Emerson predicts that the Independent candidates will receive 10% of the vote. If these voters use ranked-choice voting it has the potential to shift the outcome of the entire election.

Independent Maine Senator Angus King caucuses with the Democratic party, and the Independent party tends to lean more progressive. If Independent voters in Maine decide use their option for ranked-choice voting it could be positive for candidates like Gideon.

The question for this race, however, is whether voters even decide to use ranked-choice voting. If voters only vote for one candidate, this could be an even closer race which leans toward Collins.

How Ranked-Choice Voting could Impact the Presidential Race

In the 2016 election the Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson, won 5.1% of the vote, and the Independent candidate, Jill Stein, won 1.9% of the vote.

If Independent and Libertarian voters decide to use ranked-choice voting this could drastically shift the outcome of the election. President Trump won the majority of counties in Maine’s second congressional district in 2016. But the addition of ranked-choice voting could change how this plays out dramatically as neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump won 50% of the state’s votes in 2016.

Maine’s new ranked-choice voting system says that if no candidate earns a majority of 50% then the lowest voted candidate will be removed until a winner can be determined. This introduction of ranked-choice voting could impact the second congressional district. It likely will not impact the first congressional district, which consistently votes democratic.

The individual races in Maine this year are likely going to come down to whether or not Maine voters decide to make use of their ability to have ranked-choice voting.


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The Environment 2020 Elections Inequality

President Trump’s four year long war on science needs to come to an end

The past four years have been irreversibly affected by efforts from the Trump administration to limit the use of science in policy making. During this administration’s tenure all of the progressive climate reforms made by its predecessors have been reversed – the United States removed itself from The Paris Agreement and the wildfires raging across the West Coast have doubled in size causing the forced evacuations of more than 90,000 residents. To make matters worse, these fires show no sign of slowing down as increased emissions from heat-trapping gases have led to warmer and drier conditions in the area. The flames which have torn across the West Coast thus far in 2020 indicate the most active fire season on record. As the climate warms, the wildfires will continue to grow larger and more frequent. Still, President Trump denies the enormity of the threat presented by climate change. Our nation cannot afford another four years of his environmental inaction.

Both presidential debates last month included questions regarding climate change, prompting the candidates to speak on their plans to rectify the situation. But here’s the thing—there is no rectifying it. Global warming has worsened with every passing year since at least 1950. The only viable option left—apart from laying in the grave which has been dug for all living beings—is to try to slow down the progress of global warming and not allow the earth to become entirely unlivable for the future generations. Perhaps this is a classic case of too little, too late.

Since taking office President Trump has invalidated the well-known fact that carbon dioxide emissions are caused by human activities, labeling it “alarmist.” Instead, he has held onto the American coal industry as well as domestic oil production for dear life, therefore accelerating fossil fuel development. On the debate stage a few Thursday’s ago, the president proudly stuck up his faux green thumb and proclaimed that his fervent solution to save the environment is to plant more trees.

On the other hand, Joe Biden’s plan is only a little less ashy. His campaign promises a strict reduction of net carbon emissions through the creation of new energy-efficient homes and electric vehicle charging stations—but there is a big discrepancy. The former vice president cites support of the promotion of clean energy while simultaneously assuring voters that the jobs associated with natural gas production will remain secure. So, he must be lying to someone. A real transition from fossil fuels toward renewable energy will inevitably result in the elimination of the oil and coal industries. At the rate in which the world is warming, this elimination might need to come sooner than we’d expect, leaving millions of working class Americans out of work. But, at least it’s a step away from immediate and total destruction of the earth.

The hottest year ever recorded was in 2016, with 2019 coming in a close second place by less than one-tenth of a degree Fahrenheit. Right now, there is an increased urgency to implement real change because doom is impending. Whoever winds up in the Oval Office next must plan for the economic pitfalls that will come along with such a change—but nonetheless ensure that the change happens, and fast. That is why it is imperative that all U.S. citizens who are eligible to vote do so today. In more ways than one, we hold the fate of the world in the palms of our hands. 


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USA Editor's Picks 2020 Elections Politics The World

Why college students are voting for Biden/Harris this year

Back in 2016, I remember helplessly watching the Presidential Debates wondering “How did we get here?”. The Election of 2016 seemed like America’s rock bottom until the Election of 2020 came to fruition. The Election of 2016 seemed so divisive that over 100 million eligible voters did not vote in 2016. However, the upcoming 2020 Election has made young people realize how much power we truly have in our democracy despite our dissatisfaction with both Biden and Trump. We have realized that voting as a political statement is more powerful than not voting out of apathy towards both candidates in 2016.

This election is expected to shatter voting records by millions of votes, making it a historical election. This year, young voters make up about 37% of eligible voters. College voters have tremendous power in swinging this election in favor of Biden/Harris as they tend to vote blue more often than not, and to examine this trend, I asked college students why they are voting for Biden/Harris this year and what this election means to them. 

Like most voters, young people – especially first-time voters – are disturbed by the compulsion to choose for the “better of two evils.” Luis Hinojosa, a first-time voter and Dartmouth student said, “I find it difficult to have to vote for either of two candidates that I find to be less moral than I consider myself to be. However, after seeing how Trump handled the presidency, it is clear to me that he doesn’t care about every American. Therefore, I would rather see someone else take the helm; it doesn’t hurt to give someone else a chance.”

For women and members of the LGBTQ+ community,  another four years of the Trump administration is “literally terrifying” because it poses threat to their very existence. The Trump administration has repeatedly worked to limit access to contraceptive and abortion services for women and has passed a barrage of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. Alicia Renda, a woman and member of the LGBTQ+ community at Hofstra University, is voting for Biden/Harris because “Trump’s America is personally terrifying” and because she is “worried about the people of color whose lives will be affected [by Trump’s America], especially immigrants and other people who can’t vote”. She spoke to me about how she doesn’t “fully support Biden and would love to have a candidate that is younger and more in touch with the populace”, but is settling for Biden because he is “the best we have right now”.

For the past four years, the Trump administration has come under fire multiple times for consistently bailing out the Top 1% of America, increasing the wealth gap. Unemployment rates have skyrocketed and tax cuts have been consistently awarded to owners of massive corporations, rather than ordinary citizens. To Ari Garnick, a first-time voter from Dartmouth College, this voting for Biden/Harris was a no-brainer because “pretty good beats abysmal every time”. He believes that the Biden/Harris platform will elevate America by “improving the standard of living for many of its least advantaged citizens (and non-citizens)”, allowing for greater distribution of resources. 

Similar to Ari, Umama Suriya, a South-Asian first-time voter at the University of North Texas, believes that voting for Biden/Harris is a no-brainer because it is “our only logical option of trying to have a better America”. Umama also expressed concern with Trump’s actions as he has “not done a lot for America” and may have even made America worse. She believes that the Biden/Harris ticket is the only way to rectify Trump’s mistakes. 

Throughout all of my interviews with college students, there appeared to be a consistent theme of “settling for Biden“. This became increasingly apparent to me during my interview with Ian Farm from Dartmouth College. First-time voters such as Ian are aware that “Joe Biden won’t save us”. It is up to us to “save ourselves and each other”. Ian expressed a sense of pessimism with the Biden/Harris administration’s policies but ultimately decided to vote for Biden/Harris because they will “cause fewer preventable deaths than Trump by COVID-19, and will at least pretend to make an effort to help the community”. 

Like Ian, Emma Meehan, a first-time voter from The University of Texas at Austin, disagrees with many of Joe Biden’s policies. However, she disagrees with President Donald Trump on many more key policy issues than she does Joe Biden, especially his denial of climate change. She expressed to me that “Biden’s climate change and tax policies are enticing to progressives and would help in addressing major issues the country faces”. As a woman and ally to the LGBTQ+ community, Emma believes that Biden is “far more equipped than Trump in dealing with issues that affect minorities, the LGBTQI+ community, and women”. 

In addition to their incompetency in dealing with women’s rights and LGBTQ+ rights, the Trump administration continues to be ignorant in the midst of conversations about racial equality. First-time voter Eve Carrott (Dartmouth College) expressed her support for Biden/Harris after watching President Trump “use his power to imbibe his ignorant racial prejudices into the law”, especially after his response to the Black Lives Matter Protests. 

While the Black Lives Matter Protests have been advertised as a form of “leftist” anarchy by many conservatives, some voters believe that another four years of the Trump administration would actually be anarchical for our country. Parker Himley, a queer and neurodivergent woman from Georgetown University, expressed her disapproval for the Trump Administration during our interview. “Fuck Trump. We’re not going survive another four years”, she said. To young-voters like Parker, voting for Biden/Harris is a last-ditch attempt to save democracy and the freedom that American prides itself on while remaining cognizant of necessary reform.

Finally, the Biden/Harris ticket appears to be the better platform across almost all social issues. Aliza Schuler, a first-time voter at American University, believes that “misogynism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, or racism of ANY KIND is unacceptable, especially in the White House”. She is voting for Biden/Harris during this election because “our universe simply cannot handle another four years of Donald Trump geologically, fiscally, socially, or emotionally. We need out”. In addition, a victory for the Biden/Harris ticket would mean that Senator Harris would be “the first woman and woman-of-color to hold a vice-presidential position, which would be a stepping stone to having a female president someday”. Aliza is optimistic that the Biden/Harris ticket will get us “one step closer” to having a female president in office, while a Trump/Pence victory would be a major setback for having women in leadership positions.

Across all of these responses, there appears to be a clear trend of “picking the lesser of two evils”. A Biden/Harris ticket was no one’s first choice, but it was a far better choice than the Trump/Pence ticket in terms of racial equality, LGBTQ+ rights, climate change, and unifying our country as a whole. Across Gen Z and millennial social media platforms, this trend has been nicknamed “Settle for Biden”, indicating that we’re just trying to make the best of an unfavorable situation. As young people continue to battle for our futures, the solution remains clear: voting!

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USA Editor's Picks 2020 Elections The World Inequality

In yet another attempt to undercut democracy, Trump suggests the US delay its election

Americans should be upset, but not surprised.

Recently President Trump tweeted his desire to postpone the 2020 United States Presidential election. That’s right – postpone entirely. According to his tweet, a universal mail-in election would lead to the most “INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT election in history” (his words, not mine), with high rates of voter fraud. Apparently, according to Trump, the best option would be to postpone the election, therefore also securing his place in office for an extended term. 

Just for some perspective, in Oregon over the past two decades, there have only been about a dozen of cases of voter fraud out of over 100 million mail in ballots. Some states have encountered delays in counting ballots, yes, but fraud has rarely, if ever been an issue. It is possible that there will be trouble processing requests for mail-in ballots, as well as the ballots themselves. Still, like all forms of voting, voter fraud is incredibly rare. It’s essentially a non-issue. Besides, Trump said in his Tweet that absentee voting was “good,” therefore, not fraudulent. Absentee ballots are essentially the same thing as mail-in ballots, the only difference is who can register for an absentee ballot. Where does he draw the line? 

Trump has also suggested that non-American citizens might also meddle in the election if we use mail-in ballots. It’s a rather bold statement from someone whose own election has been haunted by claims of foreign interference. Earlier this year, a bipartisan Senate intelligence committee concluded that there was deep and significant Russian interference in the 2016 election, for the purpose of installing Donald Trump as President. Trump denied the allegations of course. Still, Democrats and Republicans alike, as well as national security efforts, are fairly certain that Russia did interfere. So, Trump cannot complain about foreign interference when it is the very force that launched him into office. 

Let’s also consider the extreme circumstances around why an in-person election isn’t possible. The COVID-19 pandemic, which is currently ravaging the United States, has not come even close to ending and voting in person would be unsafe for many people across the country. Obviously, the extent of the pandemic here is partially the fault of the Trump administration, and the mentality it encourages, which has put remarkably few guidelines in place for a satisfactory pandemic response and has managed to defund a number of necessary medical programs.

It’s also important to note that while Trump has suggested postponing the election, he has been fighting to reopen schools and the economy. His erratic behavior makes it all the more clear that he doesn’t want to postpone the election out of safety. If this was the case, he’d want to postpone the school year or the economic reopening plan. So what’s his real motivation? 

This is a power grab. Plain and simple.

Trump is setting up this narrative so that he can lean on it in case he doesn’t win the election. If Biden wins, Trump can claim that it’s fraudulent or invalid and push to continue his tenure in office. This is especially clear when you consider that Trump has consistently claimed that his 2016 opponent, Hillary Clinton, only won the popular vote with the help of 3 to 5 million illegal voters. Sure, it sounds far fetched to us, but his supporters eat it up and follow his every word without any consideration, citing ‘patriotism’. 

How can we respond to other countries having unfair elections with violence, and yet ignore attempts to do the same thing in our own country?

On another token, it’s also downright hypocritical to postpone the election. The Trump White House has recently criticized the year-long postponement of an election in Hong Kong. Not to mention that the United States has historically launched coups and regime change wars overseas against nations for having undemocratic elections. How can we respond to other countries having unfair elections with violence and ignore attempts to do the same thing in our own country?

We call ourselves the defender of democracy and use it as a guise to invade countries in Latin American and West Asia. In the same breath, we’ve also proven ourselves unable to protect our own people from a global pandemic. We even use violence against peaceful protestors calling for equal civil rights. And yet, we pride ourselves on maintaining an exemplary form of democracy. What, then, are we driven by? A desire for democracy, or a desire to protect our country’s monetary, capitalist interests? We are so swept up in the notion that we are the greatest country in the world that we never seek to examine how to make it better. 

So yes, we should acknowledge our fear and anger in this scary time. But we shouldn’t be surprised. This administration has consistently violated basic human rights which are guaranteed to all citizens. Not only have war crimes been committed against peaceful protestors without remorse, but immigrant families have been cruelly detained for years, and currently people are “disappearing” (being abducted) from the streets of Portland and New York City in unmarked vans. The fact that Trump has authoritarian, maybe even bordering on fascist, tendencies should surprise no one. 

Therefore, the move to postpone the election shouldn’t surprise us either. In fact,  the United States has a shaky, even dangerous, history with voting rights to begin with. We can’t forget that women and Black communities were systematically disenfranchised for centuries. For a chunk of time, only wealthy, landowning, white men had the right.

Voting has always been deeply connected to power in America. 

Here’s a helpful timeline. White women gained the right to vote nationwide in 1920. Black men technically gained the right to vote in 1870, but most black people were unable to vote for decades afterwards. Rigged literacy tests, poll taxes, and Grandfather clauses prevented the majority of Black American from voting. Most Black Americans were only able to vote after the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965. Native Americans could not vote at all until 1924, and only in 1947 did all Native Americans gain this valuable right. Asian Americans couldn’t vote until 1943. 

Voter suppression still exists to this day, in the form of gerrymandering, difficulty to access polling stations, and the mass exclusion of felons and the incarcerated. Such severe marginalization disproportionately affects people of color and low income people. The idea that the United States government would make it even more difficult for people to vote in 2020 is surely disappointing, but it would not be the first time.  

Still, we need to acknowledge the magnitude of Trump’s statements. Even if the United States has a history of this kind of suppression, his Tweet remains troubling. It is also worth mentioing that Trump can’t postpone the election, not without Congress’ approval, but his blatant disregard for our Checks and Balances is stunning. Although he can’t outright change the election, the fact that he even wants to is a red flag.

What Trump is doing is insidiously delegitimizing the entire institution of democracy, and suggesting that limitations on presidential power are not necessary. If he allows his narrative of fraudulent elections to continue, he could try to stay in office indefinitely. It’s not a stretch to call his attempts fascist, because even Republicans are doing so. This isn’t just a partisan political debate; Trump is showing disregard for the entire system of democracy. The election is only 3 months away, and yet Trump is trying to turn it on its head.

We also need to acknowledge that if he succeeds, there will be disastrous consequences. Let’s not forget what this election result means for our country. It’s a matter of life or death for immigrant families in detention centers. It will determine whether or not we can protect our environment for the future. The lives of Black Americans are at stake, the land of Native Americans is at stake, the wellbeing of protestors is at stake, and the dignity and safety of Muslim and Jewish Americans is at stake. There have always been terrible presidents in American history, but Trump is a blatant racist, an alleged sexual assaulter, a wannabe fascist, and an incompetent bully. This is not just another election year. This election means everything, and Trump knows it.

Do you want to take action? Here are some organizations to donate to:

The ACLU is one of the foremost organizations making legal challenges to voter suppression laws.

The Brennan Center is also a great organization fighting for voting reform, specifically focusing on new, progressive voting legislation.

Let America Vote is a Democratic-leaning PAC currently fighting against Trump’s attempts to postpone the election.

If you’re interested in learning about more groups opposing this measure, here is a letter from 50 political action groups and nonprofits opposing Trump’s comments.

2020 Elections Coronavirus Policy Inequality

Voting has become a privilege in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic

Despite major cities across the United States reopening, COVID-19 remains a huge health and safety risk. Not only is the pandemic expected to continue into the fall, but the virus is expected to return around the end of the year. In addition, 2020 is no ordinary year for American politics either. It’s a long-awaited election year.

With the general public growing more politically engaged, especially as outrage over tragic incidents of police brutality grows, people are recognizing the importance of voting to prevent dangerous individuals such as Trump from taking office.

As people risk their health for the sake of conducting their democratic rights, we need to reconsider our electoral process.

While several primaries had been delayed due to the risk of COVID-19 and the need to socially distance, other states, namely Wisconsin, decided to leave their primaries as they were.

During the primaries, which took place at the height of the pandemic, voting lines wrapped around several blocks, leaving voters in massive lines for hours. Immuno compromised and vulnerable individuals were suddenly forced to choose between voting and a potential health threat.

As people risk their health for the sake of conducting their democratic rights, we need to reconsider our electoral process.

Currently, the state of mail-in voting is not ideal, due to one main issue. Mail-in votes are rejected at much higher rates than in-person votes. This issue also happens to disproportionately affect first-time voters, voters of color, and voters of lower socio-economic backgrounds.

In California alone, one hundred thousand ballots were rejected for arriving late.

Trump and several other politicians have claimed that mail-in voting leads to more voter fraud, despite there being no proof for these claims. Of course, it’s always possible that first-time voters who aren’t educated about the process aren’t filling out the ballots properly. But this doesn’t explain why minorities (particularly Black people) are more likely to have their votes discounted.

At this point in time, access to mail-in ballots is a crucial element of our electoral process.

When we live in a country where so many people, from immigrants to convicted felons, are disenfranchised, we can’t allow voting rights to be taken away from so many others as well. Yet despite the problems with mail-in voting, the most disturbing issue is how voting has now become a partisan debate. When Wisconsin’s Democratic governor tried to postpone the state’s primary elections, it was the Republicans who pushed back and prevented the delay.

Now, we see the same partisan issues continuing. The general pattern appears to be Democratic politicians advocating for more access to mail-in voting while Republicans say no.

At this point in time, access to mail-in ballots is a crucial element of our electoral process. But that means that our officials need to be taking measures to prevent further disenfranchisement.

Rather than actively pushing for disenfranchisement like many politicians are so unabashedly doing, we need to be educating the voting public on how they can access mail-in ballots. We need to be making sure that millions of votes aren’t being excluded.

America has always prided itself on being the world’s most powerful democracy, but as soon as the fundamental right to vote is ripped away from millions, this country has no right to call itself a democracy. When we have politicians openly taking away the right to vote from millions of Americans, we find ourselves slipping deeper into authoritarianism.

There are two ways to view the pandemic’s effect on voting. We can see it as an obstacle to the democratic process. An issue preventing millions of people from safely voting and having their voices heard in this election. Or we can see it as an opportunity. A crucial chance for our country to emphasize its focus on the right to vote. Rather than dismissing the possibility of avoiding disenfranchisement, shouldn’t we be taking this opportunity as a chance to educate people about mail-in votes and the procedures they need to follow? Shouldn’t we be taking every precaution to ensure that each vote counts, as it should?

As the fundamental right to vote is ripped away from millions, this country has no right to call itself a democracy

Fortunately, efforts are being taken to work towards accessible voting. Given that COVID-19 shows no sign of slowing down, especially in huge electoral states such as Texas and Florida, we can expect our voting procedures to look drastically different this November.

In Texas, Democrats have filed a bid to allow all Texas voters to vote by mail in November. According to current Texas law, voters are permitted a mail-in ballot only if they are older than 65, cite a disability or illness, won’t be in the country during the election, or are in jail.

In South Carolina, voting rights advocates are attempting to expand mail-in voting, including efforts to remove a requirement that all mail-in ballots be notarized by a witness. Experts have claimed that this requirement does little but burden voters with unnecessary tasks. A similar requirement was struck down in Oklahoma but reinstated just days later under the guise of preventing fraudulent voting.

These are just a few examples of efforts, typically Democratic, to make mail-in voting more accessible in time for the general election. Many suits of similar goals are still in courts, and we can expect them to change our electoral procedures greatly. Even with harsh Republican pushback.

Voting is not meant to be a privilege, but a right. During this upcoming presidential election, it would serve our government well to keep that in mind.

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USA The World

2020 Democrats are boycotting this year’s AIPAC conference, but it’s just an act

Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Pete Buttigieg, Jay Inslee, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Julian Castro have decided not to attend the 2019 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference after the progressive advocacy group,, partnered with the activism startup, Mpower Change,  urged candidates to boycott the event. John Delaney, another 2020 runner, is also not attending but only due to scheduling conflicts.

AIPAC is a pro-Israel lobbying group and one of the most important players in promoting US-Israel relations. The organization provides bipartisan support for political campaigns and candidates and has received support from both parties as seen in its conferences (like in 2016 when both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump attended the event). Top Democrats like Nancy Pelosi will be in attendance, along with Republican politicians and Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

News of Democrats pulling out of this conference comes not too long after freshman lawmaker, Ilhan Omar, came under intense fire from both parties for her comments regarding AIPAC’s influence on American politics and her support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. Top Democrats and Republicans called out Omar’s strings of tweets as being “anti-Semitic” in nature, perpetuating a narrative that inaccurately conflates the Israel-Palestine conflict as one of religious discourse rather than settler-colonialism and human rights violations against an indigenous people.

Warren, Sanders, and Harris have offered their support for Omar during the ordeal, defending her right to start conversations about the extent of the power pro-Israel lobbying groups like AIPAC have in influencing the US’s political and economic support to Israel.

O’Rourke has also recently come out to criticize Netanyahu on “openly siding with racists.”

But before we praise the prospective 2020 Democrats on their seemingly progressive stances, let’s take a moment to consider that the move to avoid AIPAC is a one devoid of any actual solidarity with Palestine.

Remember that Kamala Harris has spoken at AIPAC’s conferences in the recent past. Or that O’Rourke has offered criticisms of Netanyahu, but continues to describe himself as a “proud advocate of Israel.” And, when Omar commented that Israel’s failure to recognize other religions didn’t uphold the statutes of a democracy, Pete Buttigieg called it inaccurate despite he himself stating that Israel couldn’t be a democracy and also a solely Jewish state not too long ago.

Just a few days ago, House Democrats began to push legislation to condemn the global BDS movement, a campaign that looks to use various forms of boycott (mainly economic means) against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law.

Let’s break down exactly why this proposed legislation makes no sense.

To start off, there’s a significant violation of our First Amendment’s right to organize. Generally, BDS seeks to achieve the following goals: Hold Israel accountable for their illegally occupied territories and settlements, ensure equality for Arab-Palestinian citizens, return displaced Palestinian refugees to their homes, denounce state-sanctioned violence against Palestinians.

With all that in mind, it becomes clear that moves like refusing to attend an AIPAC conference are fraught with hypocrisy and performative solidarity.

Many of the Democrats boycotting the conference have expressed varying shades of criticism for the current administration in Israel, but continue to support it as an integral foreign ally. All of this takes place while they vehemently denounce movements like BDS, which are fighting for the rights of the Palestinian people.

This “boycott” will definitely continue to widen the growing rift between Democrats and Republicans when it comes to an overt, unwavering right-wing support of AIPAC.

As long as Democrats continue validating Israel’s statehood and crippling the movements fighting for the civil rights of Palestinians, they’ll remain a massive roadblock in the path to Palestinian liberation.