SMCM Left: An Inclusive Revolution

The topic of the evening was violence at the SMCM Left meeting, but for such a combative topic, it was a rather tranquil scene on Wednesday night in the PG common room.  As it approached 8:15, members of the club trickled in while the Magic Club quietly shuffled their cards off to the side.  Ivy Radcliffe, club president of SMCM Left, and Andy Turszick were the first members to arrive and promptly began rearranging the common room furniture into a large circle suitable for group discussion—a circle so wide and inclusive that it was sometimes hard to make out what people said on the other side.SM

“Sorry the Revolution is late,” apologized Exec Board member Katherine Kempton as they breezed in on time.

The Revolution having arrived, Radcliffe began the meeting by establishing upfront that despite its name, the club is inclusive of all people of all political views.  Introductions were briefly made before the group quickly picked up a discussion of the nuances distinguishing individual violence from structural violence.

“Violence doesn’t have to be deliberate,” asserted Kempton.  “There are people who participate in a violent system but aren’t necessarily violent themselves.”

“So like bumping heads with someone?” Ivy posited.

Kempton smiled. “Well—maybe not that specific example.”

Radcliffe then voiced her belief that anything forced or compulsory counts as “violent,” taxation being her chief example: “If taxes are compulsory, then that is inherently violent.”  She then asked Exec Board member Danny Coco for his thoughts.

“I’m just listening for now,” Coco replied. “I’ve never thought about it this way—taxation as violence.”

Kempton bridged the discussion to examine the question of what kinds of consequences count as violent. Radcliffe stood by her position that violence is anything forced.

“So—anything that violates human rights,” Turszick summarized.

Radcliffe went on to address the systemic nature of morality: “What is determined to be right or wrong is determined by society and its circumstances.”

Club member Louis Randall agreed, elaborating on this point: “There is not one thing across every single culture that is considered ‘bad.’” Coco supported this observation, noting that honor killings in the Middle East are violent acts, but the people within that cultural context do not view them as such.

As group discussion plunged deeper and deeper into the dark realities of the American political system, what was rather striking about the group was the their ability to address such heavy issues head-on while maintaining a light environment.

“Do you know who’s really bringing us down?” Radcliffe said sarcastically. “All these lazy, entitled poor people.” A PG resident who was passing by stopped to shake a snack out of the vending machine before continuing on his way.

***

SMCM Left is a new club on campus and strictly non-partisan. “We’re willing to hold Q&A panels for senators or other officials, but we’re not getting behind anyone’s campaign,” explained Radcliffe outside of the meeting. “Similarly, we’re more than willing to discuss electoral proceedings, but our focus is going to be on the specific interests of the student body.”

The intent of SMCM Left is to create a safe space such that those of varying political—or lack of political—backgrounds can come learn about leftist ideology regarding issues such as racism, sexism, LGBTQIA-phobia, and exploitation in the US and abroad. “I think SMCM left is important for the community as a whole because it offers more diverse viewpoints on politics,” remarked Coco. “I think there were a lot of students who have come and gone who were interested in leftist politics but didn’t have an environment where they could safely voice their opinions and points of view.”

One of the club’s biggest challenges has been defining their image. Coco envisions the club as having a greater community presence and sense of service, taking on a role akin to groups like FUSE, MAPPS, STARS, and Habitat for Humanity: “I think that it’s great Ivy and the rest of us created this club early in our time here, so that we can make sure that it gets a good foothold alongside the other clubs that have been here for longer.”

***

“Any closing remarks?” Radcliffe asked, the meeting coming to a close.

“Tax is theft,” Turszick shot back.

Radcliffe laughed. “Don’t step on snakes.”

 

 

 

 

 

Talking Heads: Climate Change

“Talking Heads” is an ongoing dialogue among campus political groups that serves as an open forum for discussing major national issues. All political groups are welcome to participate in a respectful manner that is representative of their party’s platform. If you represent a political group that would like to participate in “Talking Heads,” please contact Halcyon Ruskin at hfruskin@smcm.edu. Each edition of The Point News will feature a new topic of discussion. This edition’s topic is climate change. Responses were provided by Simon Kolbeck of the College Democrats (D) and Grayson McNew of the College Republicans (R).

TPN: What is your party’s assessment of the efforts the United States’ government has taken to address climate change?

D: While there have been attempts at slowing down the pressing problem of climate change and the severe weather that accompanies it, we believe that not enough is currently being done. Our government could in fact do a lot more to slow down climate change by drafting programs designed to encourage the use of renewable energy technology.  Before we can engage in discussion and implement programs, such as solar panel subsidies for businesses and families, we will need to loosen the stranglehold that coal and gas companies have on politicians.  

R: It is no secret that some of our elected Republican officials’ views on climate change are both shortsighted and sometimes plainly ignorant of the facts. But as we are sure you are already aware, especially in our current election, our elected officials do not always represent every Republican. At its core, our party believes that economic prosperity should not be bogged down by fines and regulations. This is so that industry can expand and develop without a high cost to enter the market. This means more business’ and hence more competition which drives prices down. We also believe that we need to create and maintain a safe and healthy world for our children and the future generations yet to come…we need to invest more in energy alternatives—like nuclear and hydrogen—than we currently do.

TPN: To what extent should the United States be involved in international climate initiatives?

D: The United States, being the superpower that it is, should be on the forefront of involvement in international climate initiatives.  The Obama Administration has frequently attempted to take bold climate action both nationally and internationally, but these efforts have been consistently struck down.  The United States will not be able to leverage international support for climate change unless it is able to act as an exemplary, clean-energy actor domestically, which hinges on the willingness to accept the fact that climate change is a real problem and that clean coal and fracking are not a long-term, feasible solution.

R: The world is connected. What we do in the United States directly impacts our shared atmosphere, a resource more precious than anything on Earth. But there is little we can do other than suggest that other countries move toward alternative energy resources, because they must act in their own economic interests as well as develop their own standard of living. We also recognize and understand that we cannot force people to change how they choose to live their lives. This will forever impede a movement toward clean energy, but it should not discourage us from seeking alternative energy resources.

TPN: What are the economic incentives and/or consequences of pursuing climate-friendly energy alternatives?

D: Pursuing climate-friendly energy alternatives unfortunately comes with an initial economic hurdle that must be overcome. Coal and gas are currently cheaper alternatives, and therefore, businesses and consumers are often more inclined to utilize these resources. Coal and gas are also massive industries that employ thousands of workers. However, the reality is that these industries are not going to be around forever as coal and gas will run out eventually. We must therefore reduce the cost of initial clean energy investment that is very often too expensive for businesses and households. Once this initial investment hurdle is overcome, the economic benefits will stack up, as solar panels and wind turbines basically produce energy at close to no cost.  Consumers and businesses would then have more money to spend on other products and services.

R: If the government wishes to provide economic incentives to move toward climate-friendly energy alternatives, you will hear no argument from most Republicans, so long as a tax increase is not used to pay for it. We must give tax breaks to businesses in the form of tax refunds and lower taxes, with the hope that it will incentivize and promote energy research and development, but first, we must balance our national budget and get out from beneath the crushing debt that we are under. The United States cannot feasibly provide these incentives for any long-term solutions, because we have no money to invest without creating more debt for future generations. If we can solve the budgetary crisis we are in, then we can effectively promote and incentivize green energy alternatives, but until then, we are forced to hope that the free market economy will do this for us.

TPN: How (if at all) should the United States address the issue of climate change in the future?

D: The United States should focus on building up renewable energy domestically by helping businesses invest in green energy technologies.  When we as a country become climate friendlier domestically, we will be in a much better position to leverage other countries to follow our lead in addressing this global problem.  

R:  If the United States wants to address climate change, we need to not only raise a generation that is knowledgeable of its dangers, but also one that has the technology and budget to pursue it. Both hydrogen and nuclear energy are America’s future. These could power our cars and our homes with little social change and nothing more than water vapor as an emission. Nuclear energy may seem like a scary thought, but in reality we have only had three major incidents in the past 60 years involving nuclear reactors. In comparison, the damage those three incidents caused was far less than the damage coal, natural gas, and oil has caused within the last decade alone. The United States government has already made steps to encourage domestic nuclear energy development, and we hope we can continue to do so. But before we can handle these major problems facing our environment, we must first address our looming debt so we can effectively provide these incentives to promote clean energy alternatives.

***

Stay tuned for the next installment of “Talking Heads” when the topic will be the federal budget.

Recovered from the Deep: WWI U-boat Destroyed by “Sea Monster” Found Off Coast of Scotland

A German submarine that disappeared during World War I has recently been found off the coast of Scotland. The wreck, which is over 100-years-old, appears to have minimal damage. The discovery may be the wreckage of UB-85, which has been surrounded with nautical folklore for decades.

The legend surrounding the notorious UB-85 claims that the U-boat was attacked on April 30, 1918 by a sea beast while its batteries were being charged. Captain Gunther Krech, the commander of the U-boat, claimed that a “strange beast rose from the sea with large eyes, set in a horny sort of skull.” The creature was also described by Scottish Energy News as having “teeth that could be seen glistening in the moonlight.”

The legend holds that the crew fired at the monster and forced it to fall back into the sea. Krech reported that the U-boat was unable to submerge due to the damage caused by the attack; consequently, because of this damage, the crew was easily found on the water’s surface.

Gary Campbell, the keeper of the Official Sightings Register of the Loch Ness Monster, fully believes that the U-boat could have been attacked by a sea monster. Campbell says: “It is entirely feasible that some large sea creature disabled the submarine […] The area of sea where the attack took place has a history of sea monster sightings.”

However, official reports by the British military testify that the U-boat was sunk by a patrol boat, HMS Coreopsis. The reports state that the German crew peacefully surrendered, which came as a shock to the British crew on the patrol boat.

U-boats played a major role in WWI. This particular type of submarine was deployed to “disrupt trade by targeting the vessels bringing imports into Britain,” Laura Clouting told CNN. Clouting is a historian at Imperial War Museums. The submarine attacks were effective in the way that they were able to ensure that goods were imported to Britain from around the world. She claims this strategy was controversial, which caused Britain’s allies during the war to be angry and unsure of the tactics. America, in particular, felt as though the U-boats targeted boats with passengers rather than a military ship. Vessels became protected by Britain’s Royal Navy, which created challenging obstacles for U-boats in determining which boats carried goods and which carried weapons of war. This caused a decrease in German attacks against the allies’ ships that held goods.

Western Link, a project aiming to use renewable power from Scotland for homes and businesses in both England and Wales, found the U-boat wreckage. The Western Link project is owned by Scottish Power and National Grid. The marine engineers of the Western Link project discovered the wreckage while working on the billion-dollar project.

Historian and nautical archaeologist Innes McCartney has been working with Western Link to identify the recently found wreckage. He claims that: “In the waters of the Irish Sea there are at least 12 British and German submarines known to have sunk and potentially others whose actual sinking area remains a mystery. The features of this particular wreck, which is largely intact, confirm it as a UBIII-Class submarine, of which we know of two which were lost in the area – the UB-85 and its sister boat UB-82.” That considered, there may be a chance that the recovered U-boat is not actually the infamous UB-85. According to McCartney, the wreck is either the UB-85 or UB-82, but since the numbers painted on the sides of the boats are gone, it is almost impossible to find distinctions between the two.

Scottish Energy News released details about the wreckage: “The submarine wreck is approximately 120m north-west of the centre of the planned cable route, off the Stranraer coast.  The survey shows the vessel is largely intact and is approximately 45m long, with debris spilling out of the stern.” So far, no evidence found has led the team to be able to decipher which U-boat has been reclaimed.

Although many U-boats were sunk off UK coasts, the UB-85 disappearance has always been a mystery due to the circumstances in which the crew was apprehended. Whether the submarine was destroyed by a sea monster or suffered technical errors, the ongoing investigation of the recent discovery could provide insights into this particular class of U-boats.

Saudi Arabian Prince Executed for Murder

A member of the royal family in Saudi Arabia was found guilty of murder and executed for his crime on October 18. It is rare for a royal family member to be executed in Saudi Arabia; the last time this occurred was in 1975, when Prince Faisal bin Musaid was beheaded.

According to the Saudi Press Agency, Prince Turki bin Saud al-Kabir was convicted of shooting a Saudi national during a group quarrel. The Supreme Court of Saudi Arabia approved the verdict for his execution, and the decision has been “widely praised in the kingdom for establishing that the rule of law applies to everyone including royals,” says Bruce Riedel, senior fellow at the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings Intuition.

Not much is known about the personal life of the prince. It is typical that conservative Islamic countries do not release details about royal family members. However, the New York Times claims that he was a prominent member of “one of the most important branches of the royal family.” Even so, he was not in the line of descendants, and his relations to his family did not have an impact on the court while a decision was being made.

Prince Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud, a member of the royal family, told the New York Times that “the king has always said that there is no difference in the law between princes and others, and I think that [the court’s decision] is clear manifestation of the reality of that fact.”

According to the Interior Ministry, “the death penalty showed that it cared about ‘security, justice and safety for all.’” Saudi Arabia follows a strict and conservative view of Wahhabi Islam, which holds that criminal acts must be tried in compliance with the Sharia law.

The execution was enforced by King Salman, an unusual occurrence in his position. People have been active on social media to support the decision, despite the fact that he was a member of the royal family. A hashtag has also been trending on Twitter, stating: “Salman the divisive order, the punishing of a prince,” translated from Arabic to English.

King Salman ascended to power in January 2015 after his half-brother passed away. He was 79 when he rose to power, and was “viewed as a pragmatic and cautious reformer, much like his predecessor,” according to CNN’s Becky Anderson. As an experienced leader, Salman was familiar with the laws and policies in the Arab world, but he was also the family sheriff, often making sure offenses were dealt with minimal publicity.

According to CNN World News, King Salman is now being praised for “enforcing the law equally,” despite the growing number of executions in the country. Amnesty International reports that at least 158 individuals have been executed last year, which is a record high since 1995. At least 94 people have been executed in the past five months.

Hurricane Matthew Strikes Haiti

In early October 2016, category five Hurricane Matthew struck the Caribbean and the southernmost tip of the United States. Since then, the death toll in Haiti has reached at least 842 while the United States has a death toll of 45.

According to the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), over 2.1 million Haitians were affected by Hurricane Matthew.  Additionally, the U.S. Energy Information administration reported that over 2.5 million people were without power in the five southern states most impacted by the storm—North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia and Florida.  State rivers in both North Carolina and South Carolina found themselves overwhelmed with flooding such as in the Waccamaw River near Conway, South Carolina and the Cape Fear River in North Carolina.

The American Red Cross has been working to aid the people impacted by Hurricane Matthew.

As stated on the Red Cross official website, “The Red Cross has mobilized more than 3,000 disaster workers, 170 response vehicles—more than half of our total vehicle fleet—and more than 100 trailers filled with water, ready-to-eat meals, cots, blankets, kitchen items, cleaning supplies and comfort kits, insect repellant, gloves, masks, shovels, rakes, coolers and more.”

However, the worst of Hurricane Matthew’s damage was done to Haiti, where the hurricane was at its worst, initially starting as a category five. According to the Ministry of the Interior of Haiti an estimated “750,000 persons [in Haiti] are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, including more than 175,000 who are living in 224 temporary shelters.”

Prior to Hurricane Matthew, Haiti was already having problems relating to the country’s healthcare, water and sanitation systems. They especially had issues with diarrheal diseases such as cholera, but Hurricane Matthew made things worse by destroying cholera treatment centers and water distribution systems. As stated by the PAHO/WHO, “Seventy-five percent of the cholera treatment facilities in Sud and GrandAnse departments have been destroyed, while water distribution systems in the main cities of Jeremie and Les Cayes have almost entirely collapsed.”

On October 14, 2016 PAHO/WHO called for donors to donate over $9,050,000 to humanitarian efforts.

Here is how the American Red Cross suggests people can help:

MAKE A DONATION The Red Cross depends on donations to provide immediate relief. Help people affected by Hurricane Matthew by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word MATTHEW to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from this disaster.

GIVE BLOOD, PLATELETS In parts of the country unaffected by the storm, the Red Cross needs eligible individuals to please give blood or platelets now to help ensure we have a readily available blood supply for patients in need. Even before the threat of Hurricane Matthew, there was an urgent need for donors of all blood types, especially type O. Appointments can be made by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Howard County Sheriff James Fitzgerald Resigns

The Maryland delegation rejoices: Howard County Sheriff James Fitzgerald (D-MD) has resigned. WBAL reported on October 12  that Fitzgerald was relinquishing his position after the “I-Team obtained an internal report that detailed a hostile work environment, retaliatory firings and more.” The internal report was from the Howard County Office of Human Rights (OHR), which accuses the Sheriff of discriminating against Lieutenant Charles Gable among others. Sheriff Fitzgerald discovered that Lieutenant Gable did not support his campaign for re-election and then utilized his authority to exercise hostility against Gable. This hostility ranged from “less favorable work schedules” to “verbal berating and profanity-laced remarks.” As a result, the Sheriff was threatened with impeachment and was pressured to resign. Maryland elected officials such as Governor Hogan (R-MD) and Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman (R-MD) were vocal advocates of Fitzgerald’s removal. Their efforts were successful. October 15 was the Sheriff’s final day in office.

James Fitzgerald’s behavior was found to be degrading to minorities and unprofessional. The OHR substantiated claims that he “made negative comments, gestures, and/or derogatory epithets against African Americans as well as other employees…” through testimonies of officers. The former Sheriff refuted these accusations, he denies engaging in any of the previously mentioned discriminatory acts, claiming he is “just ‘a loud New Yorker.’” WBAL also states that the OHR report sustains allegations of distasteful comments by Fitzgerald about women and Jews.

These comments allegedly include addressing former Howard County Executive Ken Ulman as “little Kenny Jew-Boy” and claiming that deputies on his police force of African American heritage “are not too smart, but they get the job done.”

These comments, once publicized, sparked outrage in Howard County amongst the executive branches of government, the state legislator, and the general public. According to the Baltimore Sun, “More than two dozen politicians from both parties called on Fitzgerald to resign. Howard County’s state senators and delegates had begun researching whether the General Assembly could impeach him.” National level representatives have also take note. Representatives Cummings, Ruppersberger and Sarbanes, alongside Senators Cardin and Mikulski (all D-MD) publicly called for Fitzgerald’s resignation.

Allan Kittleman spoke to the reaction after Fitzgerald resigned in a speech on Wednesday: “James Fitzgerald has agreed to resign… I think that is a good thing for the citizens of Howard County, I want to thank everyone for standing up when they learned about the sheriff’s actions and his comments. I think it was because of our total community coming together, both republican and democrats, community leaders, residents all complaining and being very concerned about this that lead to this day.”

Fitzgerald is trying to “move on” from the controversy. As of October 20, Fitzgerald has not formally apologized. According to the Baltimore Sun in a subsequent press conference he “did not directly address the accusations detailed in (the) scathing report…”

Kittleman emphasized the importance of moral law enforcement: “With what is happening around our country dealing with law enforcement, it is really important that we have someone running our sheriff’s department who is beyond reproach, someone who the people trust, and can manage an office effectively.” Around the country there is turmoil in the criminal justice system, a dilemma that is increasingly part of the national political dialogue that of St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

Many St. Mary’s students share the outrage felt as a result of this incident. When asked for their opinions on the sheriff’s resignation, these students all expressed a similar sentiment. This is not the behavior they expect out of their county.

“As someone who grew up in Howard county my whole life and had the belief that we were somehow away or separated from the racial discrimination that is present in the rest of the country, I find it shocking and disturbing that an elected official could represent our community in that way,” stated junior Michael von der Lippe.

Sophomore Fergus Hall, who grew up Howard County, was repulsed by the Sheriff’s comments: “It’s disgusting to hear about an elected official in your own community behaving in this manner. It’s just another sign of the underlying problem of racism in the U.S. that has yet to be addressed fully or taken seriously by many officials.”

Junior Robert Thompson remarked: “I feel like there is a generation of police who were trained under a somewhat racist regime, and while not all cops make the news for killing unarmed black men, this goes to show that even in a ‘diverse’ community like Howard county, you’ll always have that generation of people who don’t fully understand racism, or any of those isms.”

Sophomore Mollie Belson added: “It is truly awful and disheartening to see someone, especially the sheriff of our police department, speak this way about many people in his own and my own community. However, there is a great opportunity here. There is a chance to replace this man with someone who is willing and fully able to work together with all members of Howard County to promote unity and a feeling of true safety for everyone.”

Most of the population is aware that racism, misogyny, anti-semitism and other irrational aggressions exist, but rarely do we realize how widespread the issues are. These tendencies are unfortunately ubiquitous, this local example driving that home for many St. Mary’s students.

 

News-in-Brief: Pope Demands Immediate Cease-fire in Aleppo

At 1:55 p.m. on October 12, Pope Francis came forward with a public statement calling for an immediate cease-fire in Syria. This demand comes after rebels captured the city of Aleppo last month following the failure of a cease-fire developed by the United States and Russia. After a number of airstrikes, the Pope stated, “I’m begging with all my strength for those responsible to undertake an immediate cease-fire that is respected at least to give time to evacuate citizens.” Pope Francis showed considerable concern for the children in the city who live under the threat of violence. On October 12th, after a day of bombing in the city, 25 were found dead, five of which were children, while the Syrian Civil Defense estimates the death toll of the day to be around 41. The issues of Aleppo and the overall state of Syria remain a puzzling issue in the United Nations as the violence continues.

Declared State of Emergency in Ethiopia

On October 8, 2016 the Ethiopian Government declared a State of Emergency as a result of protest and violence demonstrated in the Oromia and Amhara regions that have occurred over the past year.

CNN has reported that while the Ethiopia government has claimed that 52 people were killed in a stampede at a religious festival in the Oromo, “activists in Ethiopia disputed the government’s accounts and the official death toll of 52. They say security forces fired bullets and tear gas on the crowd and that more than 500 people died.”

Due to the violence, on October 16th the Ethiopian government issued restrictions and bans on Internet usage, postings on social media, crossing the wrists above the head, diplomatic travel, fire arms and the viewing of media that the government deems to be “terrorist media”. The Ethiopian government also set a curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. in order to prevent further attacks on foreign-owned businesses.

Restricting Internet usage is a way for the government to prohibit communication that would be able to cause further civil unrest or chaos since protestors have taken advantage of the medium to arrange assemblies of protest and share videos.

With regards to the crossing of the wrists, the gesture is seen as a symbol of unity to Ethiopian protestors. The Olympian Feyisa Lilesa at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics used this symbol as he crossed the finish line of the men’s marathon.

In an article in the Washington Post, Feyisa Lilesa stated that he crossed his wrists “to raise awareness”: “hundreds of my fellow Ethiopians have been killed by security forces only because they peacefully protested against injustice. I knew there were millions of people watching the Olympics, and I wanted the world to see me.”

Subsequently, diplomatic travel was restricted as a means for the government to mandate diplomats from going outside the capital city, Addis Ababa.

Amnesty International has commented on the restrictions imposed by the government saying “heavy-handed measures by the Ethiopian government will only escalate a deepening crisis that has claimed the lives of more than 800 protesters since protests began in November 2015.”

The U.S. State Department has also responded to the situation.

In a press statement, they said: “We are troubled by the potential impact of the detention without a warrant and to further limit freedom of expression, including by blocking Internet access, prohibiting public gatherings, and imposing curfews.  This declaration, if implemented in these ways, would further enshrine the type of response that has failed to ameliorate the recent political crisis.”

The current political and tense atmosphere in Ethiopia was influenced by the injustice felt by the people of Oromos.

According to BBC news, the Oromos “have long complained that they have been excluded from the country’s political process and the economic development which has seen the capital, Addis Ababa, transformed in recent years. The protests were initially over a plan [that was dropped] to expand the boundaries of Addis Ababa into the Oromia region.”

 

Widening the Gap: The Final 2016 Presidential Debate

On Wednesday October 19, the final debate of the 2016 presidential election took place at the University of Nevada.  The St. Mary’s chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honor Society, hosted its viewing session of the debate in Cole Cinema.  Beginning an hour prior to the actual debate, the gathering brought together leaders of campus political and activist groups: C.J. Robinson of STARS– campus group for the LGBTQ+ community, Simon Kolbeck of the College Democrats, Peter Vicenzi of the College Republicans, Charles Hutchinson of the campus Libertarians, and Gillian Justice of Feminists United for Sexual Equality, or FUSE.

When asked about their opinions on the upcoming election, all shared sentiments reflected in a Gallup poll reporting double-digit unfavorable ratings for both candidates. Robinson’s verdict that “neither candidate seems like a good choice” echoes the sentiment that Americans will be casting their votes against rather than for a candidate. After the audience-led panel discussion on the role of gender in the election, the future of renewable resources, and a contingency plan for foreign policy, the time had arrived to kick off the final debate.

The night began in a fairly mild-mannered fashion, but did not last very long.  After GOP nominee Donald Trump profusely used the word “puppet,” Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton quipped, “I know you are, but what am I?” marking the start to a heated evening.  The final debate most closely resembled a real debate as both candidates presented significantly different visions for America’s future.  The salient issues of abortion, immigration, and the Supreme Court elicited strikingly disparate answers from the candidates.

The death of Justice Antonin Scalia earlier this year has opened a vacancy on the Supreme Court bench, giving the next President the responsibility of appointing a new Justice.  Unless a Justice is impeached and convicted by Congress, resigns, or retires, the appointment is for life, making any appointments to the highest court of the land one of the most influential decisions the President can make. Clinton put forth her strong belief in appointing a Justice that represents all Americans while Trump reiterated the necessity to appoint a Justice that supports the Second Amendment. Clinton argues that Second Amendment rights and logical gun-control laws are not mutually exclusive.

The two candidates’ clashing ideologies did not end with appointing Justices.  After Fox News’ Chris Wallace wrestled a lukewarm response from Trump on abortion, saying that the Justice he plans to appoint will be pro-life and thus overturning the landmark case of Roe v. Wade, Clinton reaffirmed her support of the 1973 decision and of late-term abortions when the pregnancy poses serious risk to the life of the mother.

On the issue of immigration, Trump continued his saga with the infamous “wall” Mexico is purportedly going to fund, emphasizing the need to get “bad hombres” out of the country.  Contrarily, Clinton plans on moving the nation on a path to comprehensive immigration reform.

Despite the obvious difference in beliefs, the most striking aspect of the third debate was Trump saying that he may not accept the result of the election.  This type of outrageous statement has become common in this election. Threats on behalf of Trump to jail opposition have tarnished the 2016 election beyond simple attack ads and mudslinging, leading voters to wonder whether future elections will begin to produce unfavorable candidates or if the 2016 election is an anomaly in a political system designed to ensure only two parties thrive.

Talking Heads

“Talking Heads” is an ongoing dialogue among campus political groups that serves as an open forum for discussing major national issues. All political groups are welcome to participate in a respectful manner that is representative of their party’s platform. Each edition of The Point News will feature a new topic of discussion. This edition’s topic is immigration. Responses were provided by Brendan Benge of the College Democrats (D), Peter Vicenzi of the College Republicans (R), and Charles Hutchinson of the College Libertarians (L).

***

TPN: How does your party feel about the United States’ current policies on immigration, and what policy changes should be made (if any)?

D: Democrats and Republicans agree that our current immigration system is broken. We have 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country who break their backs every day in order to make a better life for themselves and their families, yet these individuals must hide their legal existence from the government out of fear of deportation…Accordingly, we Democrats, joined with many of our Republican allies on the issue of immigration, are fighting to bring undocumented immigrants “out of the shadows and into the sunshine,” to quote one champion of undocumented immigrants, President Ronald Reagan. Specifically, we hope to see a path to citizenship established for any current undocumented immigrant who has worked hard and played by the rules so that they might have a share in the endless promise of our country. Additionally, regarding future immigration, Democrats hope to see an increase in the number of legal immigrants we allow into our country, particularly focusing on issuing more visas to the highly-skilled engineers, software developers, IT specialists, and others from all around the world who have powered America’s technological revolution in Silicon Valley.

R: The Republican Party believes that the Chief Executive of the United States should strive to enforce the existing immigration laws and that illegal immigration poses a national security threat. The United States must eliminate all federal funding for sanctuary cities that harbor illegal immigrants and continue to deport criminal illegal immigrants. Additionally, blanket amnesty for illegal immigrants is unfair to the millions of people who wish to legally immigrate to the United States each year. Furthermore, the United States should implement a visa tracking system… The nation must focus on serious immigration reform— proposals for Mexican-funded walls are to be ignored.

L: The United States’ current immigration laws prevent true economic freedom—the freedom of labor, capital, and individuals to move freely in and out of the country….Many Libertarians, however, support open-borders only in the absence of a welfare state. The reason for this is simple: If the United States government offers free benefits to those who choose to migrate to our country, then people are not going to come to the country to work, but to reap the benefits of the welfare state…However, there are many Libertarians that support amnesty, despite the existence of the welfare state, for the 11 million undocumented immigrants that already live within the country. Additionally, most Libertarians support current vetting programs to ensure none of the undocumented migrants or refugees that choose to settle within the country present a credible threat to the natural rights of our citizens.

TPN: A commonly voiced concern, especially in times of high unemployment, is that immigrants are taking jobs that would otherwise be filled by US citizens. To what extent does your party share this concern and/or what should be done to address this fear?

D: The Democratic Party categorically rejects any scapegoating of immigrants…That being said, Democrats also recognize these anti-immigrant prejudices did not just appear in a vacuum…As a result, we as Democrats believe the best answer for how to expel the growing anti-immigrant mentality in our country is to make our government work for the people again.  Through government policies aimed at strengthening opportunities for the vast majority of Americans, such as providing debt-free higher education, expanding Obamacare, growing middle class tax breaks, overturning Citizens United, and much more, we can reaffirm our commitment to opening up prosperity for all of our people.  Accordingly, by committing to greater opportunity for all Americans, our elected leaders can eliminate the toxic idea among some that immigrants are stealing the few opportunities available in our country today.

R: This statement is true to some extent; however, the demand curve for labor is not vertical. The Republican Party believes that immigration policy should serve the best interest of American workers. Therefore, the United States should pursue policies that protect both naturally born citizens as well as legal immigrants.

L: The Libertarian party understands that there is no credible evidence that supports the notion that immigrants steal American jobs. Libertarians realize that by bringing in skills, capital and labor that did not exist before, migrants actually make life more prosperous for all Americans. Indeed, study after study has come to the same conclusion: Migrants increase the job prospects of Americans workers. A study of census data by the Urban Policy Institute, for example, suggests that undocumented immigrants actually increase wages and the job opportunities for documented/native workers. Therefore, Libertarians are unconcerned about the apparently “detrimental” effects of immigration on the economy. The truth is, most of these fears are nothing but pure fiction.

TPN: What is your party’s take on the security implications of immigration-tolerant policies?

D: Immigration does not endanger the security of American communities. For example, over the last few decades, our country has seen a flood of new immigration, yet crime rates have plummeted to record lows. In fact, a lengthy study by the Center for Immigration Studies, a group which staunchly opposes new immigration to the U.S, concluded, “There’s no evidence that immigrants are either more or less likely to commit crimes than anyone else in the population”.  On the other hand, what does endanger the security of our communities is keeping undocumented immigrants already living here in fear of deportation if they report a crime to the police. Frequently, undocumented immigrants are terrified of working with the police in case their legal status is exposed, causing them to be forcibly removed from their families and homes. …Take the example of Dayton in 2013, when an undocumented immigrant was savagely beaten within an inch of their life, but still implored the people who found them to not call the police. Therefore, to create a more secure society, so that victims such as this Dayton man never feel threatened by talking with the police again, Democrats, along with many Republicans, are fighting to ensure we afford full legal protections to every undocumented immigrant living in America.

R: The Republican Party believes that there are significant security risks associated with policies that tolerate illegal immigration. Outside terrorist groups seek to exploit our broken immigration system in order to enter the United States illegally. So long as illegal immigration continues, American citizens are at risk.

L: Libertarians do not believe that bringing refugees and immigrants into the country compromises national security, and there are many statistics that back this assertion. The Cato Institute, a prominent Libertarian think tank, for example, has calculated that the chances of being killed by a refugee terrorist are only 1 in 3.6 billion….Moreover, regarding undocumented migrants, the Center for Migration Studies, a think tank that promotes stronger border polices, concedes that there is “no evidence” that migrants commit, on average, more crimes than United States citizens. Since migrants and refugees pose no existing threat to the countries existence, the government should secure the rights of these people and allow them to live within the United States.

TPN: What rights and protections should be afforded to undocumented immigrants? To their children born in the United States?

D: We need to provide the undocumented immigrants already living in this country with a path to full citizenship…As the gigantic Baby Boomer continues to age, the government programs we have to support our elderly people, Social Security and Medicare, are quickly becoming unaffordable. Consequently, by spending more money on Social Security and Medicare, all other programs, such as student loans for higher education, infrastructure spending, defense spending, and more, will eventually lose funding or be cut altogether. However, immigrants represent a young and growing population base for our country that can partially offset any future problems we will have with an aging population. Accordingly, we must give undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship and their children full rights to citizenship so that we can ensure the financial security of our country into the future.

R: Several United States Supreme Court rulings have upheld that the 14th Amendment—specifically the “Equal Protection Clause”—applies to undocumented immigrants. The children of undocumented immigrants are United States citizens, also a provision of the 14th Amendment. It is the duty of the federal government to abide by the laws of the United States. For this reason, the Republican Party finds it disturbing that President Obama has failed to faithfully execute his duties as Chief Executive. For the past eight years, President Obama has neglected to properly enforce existing statutes regarding immigration law. At the same time, President Obama has repeatedly issued executive orders granting amnesty to illegal immigrants, regardless of their past. Executive orders such as these are not only unconstitutional, but an insult to all who wish to legally immigrate to the United States.

L: Libertarians believe that people are born with certain unalienable, fundamental rights, and that all governments should protect these rights – whether these people are undocumented immigrants or not. However, Libertarians are divided on whether government benefits should be afforded to undocumented immigrants. Many Libertarians tend to advocate for complete amnesty of undocumented migrants, while others support amnesty only if those migrants are exempt from receiving government benefits. Children born in the United States by undocumented immigrants, however, should be considered full citizens, and should be afforded all the benefits and protections afforded to every citizen of the country.

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Stay tuned for the next installment of “Talking Heads” when the topic will be climate change.