Tag Archives: donald trump

College Presidents Spread False Anti-Trump Narrative to Student Body

Earlier this week, presidents of the five Claremont Colleges joined over thirty peer institutions of higher education in denouncing President Trump’s recent executive order, which halts refugee immigration from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen for 90 days. Trump stated of the executive order, “America is a proud nation of immigrants and we will continue to show compassion to those fleeing oppression, but we will do so while protecting our own citizens and border … The seven countries named in the Executive Order are the same countries previously identified by the Obama administration as sources of terror.” However, the presidents’ emails to their respective student bodies described Trump’s policy as a ban on Muslim immigration.

Pomona College President David Oxtoby, for example, described Trump’s orders as “deeply troubling” examples of “xenophobia” and “religious discrimination.” President Oxtoby stated that “these actions tear at the fabric of who we are and what we aspire to be.” Pitzer College President Melvin Oliver went so far as to say that “President Trump has altered the American experience, and with it the vision of hope and unity previously shared by most of us.”

President Oliver’s statement continues, “three executive orders … have upended our policies of openness and welcoming,” claiming that the orders have “the practical effect of creating a religious ban against people of Muslim faith.” Though Trump’s orders would likely affect only around 200 million of over 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide, President Oliver told the Independent that he believes “America is more beautiful because of its inclusiveness, not despite it.” Oliver stated that “xenophobia – whether targeted at one … or 1.5 billion – goes against America’s founding values,” but did not specify why he thinks Trump’s orders amount to a Muslim ban or what about them is xenophobic.

While noting that Pitzer College, Claremont McKenna College, and Pomona College currently enroll zero students from the seven countries named in the executive order, each of the school presidents made lengthy efforts to reiterate the availability of emotional assistance for students who “feel vulnerable.” President Lara Tiedens of Scripps College ended her own note by stating “We are fortunate to have such a strong network of active, informed, and compassionate individuals who are invested in preserving Scripps as a haven for inclusive excellence,” referencing a December statement naming Scripps “a sanctuary center of higher education” which would follow in the footsteps of Pomona College and Pitzer College to refuse compliance with federal law regarding immigration status.

______________

Image: Flickr

After Trump’s Election, Pomona Orchestra Can Opt Out of Playing ‘Don Juan’

On Thursday, the Pomona College Orchestra informed its musicians that they could opt out of performing the song Don Juan in their upcoming concert because the piece—which centers around the libertine Don Juan character—could be insensitive to students who were upset by the election of Donald Trump.

“When I programmed Don Juan, the presidential nominees of the two major parties were known, and the smart money was on a Clinton victory…You have worked immensely hard on this piece, and it is a great musical accomplishment…I would prefer not to cancel our performances of it,” the conductor of the Pomona College Orchestra stated in an e-mail to the orchestra. “But I understand that some of you may have serious reservations, especially in the wake of Tuesday’s results, about appearing to embrace a narrative that presents women as objects to be pursued by wealthy males who can get away with it. And I need you to know that I respect those reservations…I extend to each of you the invitation to opt out of our performances of Don Juan.”

“The character of Don Juan was introduced in 1630 Spanish stage work. It was intended as a satirical morality play, the lesson being that, no matter how hedonistically one might live one’s life, sins must be atoned for at the end,” the email continues. “Don Juan is what we would charitably refer to as a ‘womanizer,’ and that with clearer vision we would identify as a sexual predator,” the e-mail states, adding that “the question of how to engage art that has a troubling backstory is always complicated.”

The e-mail added that the orchestra “will try to find guests to fill in any holes that get created…Assuming we still have enough of an orchestra to present the piece, the show will go on.”

Ultimately, no member of the orchestra chose to drop out of the performance, according to an e-mail update.  “I enjoy the music of Don Juan purely for its musical value rather than its programmatic inspiration,” stated a member of the orchestra in a message to the Independent.

The concert set featuring Don Juan will take place on Friday, November 18th and Sunday, November 20th at Pomona College’s Bridges Hall of Music. The Pomona College Orchestra consists of students and faculty of the Claremont Colleges as well as members of the community.

________________

Image: Flickr

After the Election: Trump, Clinton, and the Death of Dialogue

No matter which candidate wins tonight’s presidential election, the American people have already lost. This isn’t because both Secretary Clinton and Mr. Trump are poor choices; as I have written before, I think Secretary Clinton would make an excellent president. Rather, the American people are losing because we’ve lost the ability to communicate with each other

It is easier than ever today to entomb oneself in an echo chamber. Schools today are more homogeneous than ever, social media allows for the selective consumption of news, and political gerrymandering has created an environment in which likeminded individuals are lumped together in the same congressional district. In our society, there are now far fewer places in which dialogue between differently minded groups can occur and our dysfunctional schools, bottom-line-focused media, and politically drawn legislative districts exacerbate this trend. Trump supporters and Clinton supporters no longer have access to fora in which they can communicate with each other; instead Trump supporters instinctively distrust all things Clinton and Clinton supporters condescend to all things Trump, including his supporters. Have you recently had a respectful conversation with someone who supports a candidate other than your own? American politics has always been rancorous, but this death of dialogue has created a new level of polarization.

Polarization has also gridlocked our legislature—the most recently completed 113th Congress was the second-least productive in history, second only to the 112th Congress. And as our legislative branch has been crippled, the presidency has been endowed with unprecedented levels of power. The president can now effectively unilaterally declare war thanks to the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), can effectively enact treaties with a simple majority vote in the Senate rather than having to cobble together a supermajority thanks to the rise and acceptance of so-called congressional-executive agreements, and can wantonly choose which laws to enforce due to lax applications of the Constitution’s Take Care Clause.

This inflation of presidential powers has only served to further exacerbate the polarization in the country. Suddenly, a President Trump could by himself decide to send troops into Syria thanks to the AUMF or withdraw from NAFTA without congressional approval since it’s a congressional-executive agreement and not a treaty. A President Clinton could decide to cease all deportation immediately now that the Constitution’s Take Care Clause is no longer enforced. With so much power endowed to one individual, voters can no longer risk listening to and electing someone who doesn’t share their party line.

So how can this polarization be overcome? The only way forward is to repair basic American institutions so that they promote dialogue between those of differing views. First, colleges should try to enroll politically diverse student bodies and actively promote civic discussion among them, not focus all of their attention onto the proliferation of safe spaces. As a liberal college student myself, I was drawn to write for this publication because of the diversity of political and social views that are professed in its articles and the dialogue it fosters on campus, despite the fact that said dialogue can get rather heated at times. The drawing of electoral districts should be delegated to independent committees. Social media should change their algorithms so that users aren’t just fed articles with which they already agree. And people should reflect on the tone of this election and think about how they could have made it just a little less nasty through proactive engagement. Once this occurs, polarization will return to previous levels, the legislature will once again become vibrant and again become a check on the executive office, which will in turn serve to further decrease polarization as presidential elections become less important and thus less nasty. We didn’t accomplish this in time for this election cycle, but hopefully the sheer vitriol of this race will serve as a wakeup call before the next one.

Why I Can’t Vote for Hillary Clinton

 

On July 5th, F.B.I. Director James Comey announced that the bureau would not recommend criminal charges against Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for mishandling classified information during her time as President Obama’s secretary of state. However, he also castigated Mrs. Clinton for her “extremely careless” treatment of our nation’s secrets and, at a later congressional hearing, said that her early statements on the matter were “not true.”

But last week, in an interview on Fox News Sunday, Mrs. Clinton recalled Mr. Comey’s words rather differently. “Director Comey said that my answers were truthful,” she said, “and [that] what I’ve said is consistent with what I’ve told the American people.”

This statement is plainly false. So false, in fact, that it earned “Four Pinocchios”—a rating reserved for “whoppers”—from fact checkers at The Washington Post. But no matter: Mrs. Clinton and her various campaign surrogates continue to peddle this fiction at every turn in the apparent hope that doing so will make her misconduct disappear. In the meantime, the incredulity of those paying even the slightest attention has grown to astonishing proportions. As one television host put it, “it’s like they don’t think we have video tape.”

Mrs. Clinton’s willingness to lie with impunity—even as she faces one of the weakest general election candidates ever fielded by either party—is disturbing. Her first instinct at the onset of this email debacle should have been to take responsibility for her actions, laying out the full truth for the American people. Not only would this course of action have been the right and honest one to take, it would have been politically prudent. Mrs. Clinton could have defused this controversy at the outset and moved on, simply by being forthright.

But instead, she has deceived the American people over and over again, hiding behind complex, legalistic non-explanations of her private email server designed to thoroughly confuse those trying to make sense of her unacceptable conduct. What makes it so hard for Mrs. Clinton to tell the truth, even when the political cost of doing so would be negligible?

There are only two possible answers. Either Hillary Clinton is unable to bring herself to acknowledge publicly that she willfully mishandled classified information, or she knows that there is much more to the email story—the revelation of which would compromise her candidacy. In either case, Mrs. Clinton cannot earn my vote.

Donald Trump is odious. His irresponsible rhetoric, unconstitutional policy proposals, and his inability to handle criticism like an adult are all part of the reason why I will not cast my ballot for him this November. But just as Mr. Trump cannot help himself when he lashes out at the parents of a slain Muslim Army captain, Mrs. Clinton cannot suppress her compulsion to lie, even when doing so can only tarnish further her extensive career in public service.

That Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump are each unfit for the presidency is the main reason why both candidates have appealed to fear rather than pressing a positive case for their own selection. But I reject this notion that I must choose a liar over a blowhard, or vice versa, because one might be “worse” than the other. My vote is an affirmative endorsement of the person for whom it is cast; it must be earned.

It is for this reason that when I submit my ballot this November, I will vote for neither major party candidate. Instead, I will vote for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. Though I do not agree with Mr. Johnson on many central issues, both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump fail to meet even the minimum standards of honesty and decency which we have come to demand from our public servants.

I’m sick and tired of the lies, gamesmanship, and crudity in politics. I can’t vote for a vulgarian, but neither can I cast my ballot for the dishonesty and dysfunction which Hillary Clinton represents.

Ted Cruz is Not An ‘American Hero’

In his speech to the Republican National Convention, Texas Senator Ted Cruz delivered a much-needed refresher course on his party’s values: liberty, freedom of speech and religion, and the right of citizens to keep more of what they earn. And yet, after he outlined the reasons why a Republican needs to win, Cruz declined to support his party’s nominee, declaring that Republicans should “vote their consciences” in November rather than throw their support to Donald J. Trump. His statement was met with the deafening boos of an arena full of grassroots conservatives. Cruz’s words were not meant to encourage the GOP to support Trump in November; they were a betrayal, a clear nod to the failed #NeverTrump movement.

Sticking to your principles is admirable. Not endorsing someone who violates them also deserves praise. But refusing to endorse the nominee in a prime time speech at the convention looked petty. If Cruz did not wish to compromise his principles, he should have stayed home—like several of his fellow ex-candidates—and accepted the consequences of remaining on the sidelines.

The problem is, Cruz’s reasons for not endorsing Donald Trump were unrelated to principle. In an address the next morning to the dismayed Texas delegation, Cruz defended his non-endorsement by saying that he is “not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my father.” This argument—legitimate though it may be—cheapened Cruz’s statement of principle the previous night.

Ted Cruz’s convention speech was drafted out of personal pique, not out of fidelity to principle. Failing to endorse the nominee because of a personal insult completely undermines Cruz’s claim that his dedication to conservative principles—principles which Trump will better serve as commander-in-chief than will Clinton—is what is stopping him from endorsing Trump’s candidacy.

Trump should have apologized for the ridiculous things he said about Cruz and his family during the primaries. But Cruz should have moved past the personal insults for the sake of party unity. Cruz’s critique of Hillary Clinton —and his affirmation of conservative principles—was compelling enough to justify an endorsement of just about any Republican, even Donald Trump.

Furthermore, Cruz’s action worked to undermine any long term benefit Cruz might have gotten by putting principle above party. Betting that Trump will either lose or be a failed one-term president, Cruz was trying to set himself up for a 2020 run, just as Ronald Reagan did following his loss of the nomination to President Gerald Ford at the brokered convention of 1976.

The key difference between these two situations is that Cruz did not lose at the convention, and the image of party unity is important—it’s the main reason the leadership tries to avoid brokered conventions in general. So Cruz, not possessing the same precedent (or charm) as Ronald Reagan, outed himself as a political opportunist. As Charles Krauthammer put it, “What Cruz delivered was the longest suicide note in American political history.”

Already, there are rumors of primary challenges ahead for Cruz. On Tuesday, Joaquin Castro, one of the liberal Castro brothers, announced that he would be looking to run for Cruz’s seat. Donors angry about Cruz’s self-serving stand at the convention may not be willing to step in to help him dispatch these threats.

The delegates, the Trump campaign, and the RNC were livid with Cruz’s performance, but the #NeverTrumpers were thrilled. The D.C. insiders and intellectuals who find Trump unacceptable hailed Cruz as an “American Hero.” Leaders of the movement tweeted their approval and offered to back him in a third party run.

Those leaders had their chance to support him, of course, when he was in second place against Trump, and their support could have led to a different outcome. But he was ‘too religious’ or otherwise unattractive for them when it mattered. People who had never even considered voting for Cruz in the primary suddenly applauded his “principled” stand against Trump and the GOP establishment.

Cruz came off as a sore loser, not a statesman. By allowing his animosity toward Trump to guide his convention address, the Texas senator sold his party short—and his career even shorter.

_______________

Image: Flickr