Tag Archives: hillary clinton

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.

The Clinton Emails You Haven’t Heard About

Hillary Clinton’s emails have been a thorough topic of debate, but the information that has been made readily public is only a small part of the scandal. Many people simply assume that the only topics of interest in her emails are Benghazi and corporate interests, but the emails contain far more secrets that were hidden until Julian Assange released troves of previously submerged documents with massive implications.

First off, Morocco contributed 12 million dollars to the Clinton Foundation and her campaign. Huma Abedin in 2014 disclosed, “The King has personally committed approx $12 million both for the endowment and to support the meeting. It will break a lot of china to back out now when we had so many opportunities to do it in the past few months.” This quotation taken directly from the emails draws a clear connection between the two, but Politico later reported that while $1 million can be directly traced, the Clinton Foundation has refused to release reports on the other $11 million given for largely unknown reasons. While it is true that she was not Secretary of State at the time, and that there is no direct wording within the documents that would imply she received these donations for political favors, it does raise the question as to why Morocco would generously give such a substantial sum out of the kindness of their hearts.

Initially, governmental funding of the Clintons may not sound like much, but the problem lies in emails that were sent at the beginning of 2014, where she maps out certain ISIS endowments. Specifically, the email reads, “The Governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region.” Two days ago, Reuters confirmed that Clinton’s charity had received $1 million dollars from the government of Qatar while she was Secretary of State in exchange for a meeting with former president Bill Clinton and John Podesta. In essence, the same government that is currently funding ISIS and has been accused of countless human rights abuses has significant ties to the Clintons, starting when she was still in a major seat of power. Saudi Arabia specifically has donated between $10-25 million dollars under the proxy foundation “Friends of Saudi Arabia” since 1997. The only problem with honing these numbers down to a more specific amount is that finding the information from either the Clinton Foundation or private reports are difficult at best. The end result to take away from this is that Qatar and Saudi Arabia, two governments that directly support ISIS financially and logistically, have supplied millions to the Clintons and their foundation both during president Bill Clinton’s administration and during Hilary’s time as secretary of state. ISIS and the Clinton Foundation are being bankrolled by the same governments.

During Hillary Clinton’s time as secretary of state, not only were questionable donations made, but she approved surprising arms sales between the Unites States and Saudi Arabia. Julian Assange stated, “Under Hillary Clinton, and Clinton emails reveal a significant discussion about it, the largest ever arms deal in the world was made with Saudi Arabia. More than $80 billion dollars.” Along with the $80 billion deal with Saudi Arabia, the total dollar amount of US arms sales internationally doubled during her time as secretary of state.

Besides the financial support of these Middle Eastern governments, some speculation on the word “logistics” used in Clinton’s emails could imply that guns sold to Saudi Arabia by the United States could have been in turn given to ISIS by Saudi Arabia. While there is admittedly no proof of this, it is curious how a state with as small of a military as Saudi Arabia could make use of $80 billion dollars of US arms on their own. While Hillary Clinton may have only been a part of all these backroom dealings that the American public has been largely kept in the dark on, it must be noted that she has played an instrumental role in the massive sales of munitions between the United States and certain Middle Eastern governments.

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Image: Flickr

A World That Never Changes

Because world-changing ideas have to be brand new, they often come from people you wouldn’t peg as ‘world-changers.’ These new ideas aren’t going to be what most people think, so the person who comes up with them has to be a little outside the realm of most people – they have to be a little abnormal, just like their idea. If it was normal, then it wouldn’t alter the world. And if the person was completely normal, they would not have cause to question what’s commonly accepted.

Even if someone has an earth-shattering idea, the strength of majority opinion makes implementing it difficult; not only did Galileo have to conceive a new way of understanding the universe, but he also had to find a way to surmount the Italian Inquisition.

What’s worse is when the world-changer is written off even before they have a chance to speak simply because society considers them useless. Even after escaping slavery and developing himself into a literary genius, Frederick Douglass still needed to defeat the common assumption that the color of his skin made him inherently valueless.

The measures society accepts to rid itself of “undesirables” are truly disturbing.

Danish public opinion, for instance, considers Down syndrome a sign of worthlessness and 60% of Danes look forward to eliminating  Down syndrome in 2030 through subsidized abortions. Twelve years ago, the Danish government introduced free prenatal screenings. A year after the policy was enacted, the number of Danish babies born with Down syndrome halved. The Copenhagen Post now reports that “[i]f current health policies and trends continue, Denmark could be a country without a single citizen with Down syndrome in the not too distant future.”

As the Copenhagen Post observes, this is not an uncommon opinion in the US or the UK where 92% of all fetuses diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted. In fact, there are whole groups dedicated to eliminating this and similar disorders in vivo. For example, the California Prenatal Screening Program’s primary goal is “to reduce the occurrence of birth defects and disability by offering prenatal screening and follow-up services to pregnant women in California.”

A similar practice is running rampant in India, where female babies are considered less valuable than males. Even after gender testing was outlawed, up to 4 million girls were aborted between 1991 and 2001, and a further 6 million by 2011, vastly outpacing the abortion of male fetuses. The ban is poorly enforced, and legal abortions make it possible for families to have sex-selective abortions. As in the case of Denmark, India is hardly alone in their behavior. According to Scientific American, sex-selective abortions were being considered as early as 1950.  Other societies which value women lower than men suffer from abortion-fed gender imbalances. In China, it has led to a spike in sex trafficking, notably of young girls.

All these nations fall into a larger pattern. There has never been a society in history without prejudices. So when it is legal to choose who deserves to live, society seems to inevitably target the marginalized and unwanted. This is why abortion has long been tied to eugenics in one form or another. Planned Parenthood was founded by a leading advocate of eugenics, Margaret Sanger, who believed it would be an integral part of the eradication of the “unfit,” and observed that, “Eugenics without Birth Control seems to us a house builded upon the sands. It is at the mercy of the rising stream of the unfit.”

And she was right that eugenics relies on birth control. Frederick Douglass faced terrible odds at birth, but he had a slim chance to prove mass opinion wrong. Through his perseverance, he was ultimately able to argue against the society that had devalued him and lived as irrefutable proof that they were wrong about his unworthiness. Aborted children have no such opportunity. If nearly every disabled child is aborted, they have no chance to prove their equal value and the incorrect assumption that they don’t deserve to exist endures.

Regardless of whether one thinks a fetus is human, the fact that abortion supports the elimination of the oppressed and helpless before they can even draw breath is sickening. Enacting such eugenics will prove detrimental to society—such a society won’t have many world changers. It will not include men like John Nash or Albert Einstein. No, their respective mental disorders would have cut their lives terribly short.

As genetic testing becomes more precise, where might this end? It is not difficult to imagine fetuses with ADD, dyslexia, anxiety, or bipolar disorder being systematically aborted. Even queer children could fall to the march of progress; scientists have long suggested that homosexuality can be linked to certain genetic markers. If these genetic markers can be identified before birth, might families choose to abort their queer or trans pregnancies before the child is born?

Surely, the resulting society would be a cold and callous one: one in which a person’s right to life depends on their social utility. Once put into place, it will likely stay that way.

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Image Source: Flickr

Trust Me, It’s Only Pneumonia

After insisting for weeks that concerns about the health of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton are the work of alt-right conspirators and endemic sexism within the Republican Party, the Clinton campaign found itself in the merciless grip of reality after an unsettling “medical episode” at a 9/11 commemoration forced the campaign to disclose that Mrs. Clinton was diagnosed with pneumonia on Friday.

On Sunday morning, Hillary Clinton attended an event in New York City marking the fifteenth anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, accompanying a raft of other dignitaries which included her Republican opponent, Donald Trump. According to The New York Times, she remained there for a little over an hour before she “suddenly…left her position” and departed the event in a black SUV. After over an hour of silence from the Clinton campaign, which did not permit any members of the press to follow the candidate as she departed, campaign spokesperson Nick Merrill indicated that Mrs. Clinton merely felt “overheated” and needed to take some time to recover at her daughter’s Manhattan apartment.

But as the media firestorm surrounding the strange incident reached a fever pitch, gaining traction well beyond the confines of the conservative blogosphere, the Clinton campaign released a statement from the candidate’s personal physician revealing that Mrs. Clinton had been diagnosed with pneumonia, a relatively common but occasionally deadly respiratory condition, on Friday.

The decision to reveal the ostensible reality of Mrs. Clinton’s condition comes at a high price. Not only will this admission tether concerns about the Democratic nominee’s health to the political mainstream, it will complicate Mrs. Clinton’s efforts to earn the trust of an electorate which has increasingly come to see her as deceitful and corrupt. A new ABC News/Washington Post poll released early Sunday morning shows that only a third of Americans view Mrs. Clinton as “honest and trustworthy,” and this incident will only shrink this minority further. Indeed, Sunday’s events have highlighted once more the compulsion of Mrs. Clinton and her campaign to lie to the American people about matters of profound importance, especially when the truth could incur a political cost.

Most crucially, the episode throws into sharp relief the true magnitude of the dishonesty of Mrs. Clinton’s campaign. As Mrs. Clinton gleefully took to the stage and the late night circuit to mock concerns about her health as “conspiracy theories” and the “paranoid fever dream” of her Republican opponent, she sought a secret rendezvous with her doctor in order to diagnose a condition serious enough to require “two Secret Service agents” to hold her up—her feet “dragging” on the ground, according to The New York Times—and “hoist” her into her getaway car.

After spending weeks condemning the “deranged conspiracy theories” of “the Republican nominee for president,” putting surrogate after surrogate on national television to assure the public that Mrs. Clinton is perfectly healthy and to declare that any suggestion to the contrary is sexist, the Clinton campaign had invested far too much into its web of deceits to stop. It took a shocking public demonstration of Mrs. Clinton’s frail condition—not the medical diagnosis which came two days earlier—for her campaign to admit the truth.

This is unacceptable conduct for a person seeking elected office, but for Hillary Clinton, it is just the cost of doing business. Sunday’s incident reinforces an unfortunate reality about Mrs. Clinton: that only under the force of law or the weight of unbearable political pressure will the woman seeking to become our nation’s next president dare to tell the truth.

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Image: Flickr

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.

How Bernie Sanders Saved Super PACs

From the very beginning of his presidential campaign, Bernie Sanders has assailed the undue political influence of millionaires and billionaires, who he says have rigged the system in their favor through profligate contributions to super PACs and political campaigns. Yet the remarkable success of his unconventional candidacy has proven quite the opposite: that a democratic, grassroots political campaign can thrive without the helping hand of big money donors.

When Bernie Sanders announced his candidacy in April of last year, he was not considered a serious player in the national political scene. His polling average had not yet ventured beyond single digits, and nearly half of Democrats did not know enough about him to respond to poll questions mentioning his name. But his anti-establishment message resonated with voters almost immediately. In the 24 hours following his entry into the presidential race, he raised $1.5 million, outpacing better-known politicians like Republicans Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz and earning nearly every dime from small-dollar donations.

It was not long before Mr. Sanders became a real competitor, nearly winning the Iowa caucuses and dealing a crushing 22-point defeat to Hillary Clinton, the chosen candidate of the political establishment, in New Hampshire’s primary election. He out-raised and out-spent Mrs. Clinton throughout the first four months of 2016, the critical stretch during which nearly three-quarters of all Democratic pledged delegates were allocated. To date, Mr. Sanders has raised over $200 million in campaign contributions, with about three-fifths of that number coming from donations of $200 or less.

By every traditional metric, despite shunning the support of progressive super PACs, Bernie Sanders’s political campaign was an unmitigated financial success. His most ardent supporters, however, miss the irony of this accomplishment. If the campaign finance system were rigged—if it were in fact designed to suppress the voice of the people and to channel the influence of millionaires and billionaires—Mr. Sanders would have failed.

But he did not. Rising from virtual political anonymity, Bernie Sanders fiercely challenged the Democratic frontrunner and singlehandedly pushed his message about income inequality and political corruption to the forefront of the national consciousness. And it is not as if Mr. Sanders had no opportunity to win his party’s nomination. As the Washington Post reported last week, close advisers to the Sanders campaign—as well as the Vermont senator himself—have chalked up his loss not to a rigged campaign finance system or the corrupt political elite but to “missed opportunities, a failure to connect with key constituencies and stubborn strategy decisions.”

Bernie Sanders is evidence enough that our campaign finance system is functioning just as it should. It rewards candidates like Mr. Sanders, who bring a message and personality that resonates with voters across the country, and punishes those who cannot build enough support to survive. Strict limits on contributions made directly to political campaigns ensure that floundering candidates are unable to lean on wealthy benefactors to keep them afloat, and the law already carries serious penalties for coordination between political campaigns and super PACs, which may raise unlimited sums of money in support of a candidate only if they maintain complete independence.

Bernie Sanders has proven that the campaign finance system works. And in so doing, though his sharp criticism of independent expenditure groups was central to his candidacy, Mr. Sanders may have saved the very campaign finance institutions he so passionately condemned.

 

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Image Source: Flickr

Is Hillary Clinton the Best Choice for Republicans?

After his win in Indiana, Donald J. Trump has become the GOP’s presumptive nominee for President of the United States. Republicans should be genuinely fearful of what will happen to their party if Mr. Trump manages to win the general election. A Trump presidency would exacerbate the rift in the Republican Party between populists and the establishment, lead to Republican losses in the 2018 midterms and the 2020 presidential election, and turn a generation of young people away from conservative ideals. If you are a Republican who is thinking of holding your nose and voting for Trump, or even just staying home come election day, you should reassess your options. You should do what just a few months ago you would have considered unthinkable: casting your ballot in November for Hillary Rodham Clinton.

A lot has changed since Jeb(!) Bush was the Republican frontrunner. First, a stark divide has emerged in the Republican Party between “establishment” conservatives and those who feel that they have been left behind by their party and the modern economy. These economically marginalized voters disdain free trade because it has disadvantaged them individually, decry immigration because it has resulted in a loss of jobs in their industry, and view the ongoing liberalization of American culture as moral backsliding.

These Republicans are dangerous to the party for two reasons. First, they will contract rather than expand the Republican Party’s appeal. Their harsh, often xenophobic rhetoric on immigration and trade has increasingly alienated the growing contingent of minority voters in the country, the support of whom Republicans need to cultivate if they hope to win future elections. Surveys taken by Univision when Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich were still in the race showed Trump with the worst unfavorability rating among the Hispanic electorate than any of the other three Republicans. The same surveys showed Trump losing the Hispanic vote to Secretary Clinton by a whopping 57 percent.

It does not have to be this way; after all, Hispanics have the same distribution of ideological beliefs as the general population. Yet Hispanics who identify as conservatives generally still vote for the Democratic Party. These people should fit naturally within the Republican Party, but the divisive rancor which Trump has brought to the surface in the policy matters which matter most to them has discouraged them from embracing the conservative movement. Putting this harsh rhetoric on the back burner by defeating Mr. Trump would enable Republicans to focus on their outreach to these groups and create a powerful new force in the GOP.

Second, the views of “Trump conservatives” are anathema to young people. For better or for worse, young people are future voters, and they view PC culture much more favorably than do those who are older. There is certainly a debate to be had about whether PC culture has gone too far, but Republicans must be aware that having a presidential candidate who makes sexist remarks, advocates discriminating against a class of people based on their religion, and fails to immediately disavow David Duke and the KKK on national television will ultimately alienate young voters. And voters form lifetime party alliances based on the politics during their formative years. If Mr. Trump loses in a landslide, however, this faction of the party will sink back below the Republican Party’s surface, allow the establishment to reassert itself—much as it did when it subsumed the Tea Party in 2014 after the movement suffered losses in the 2012 legislative elections—and build a more inclusive party. But, if Trump wins, this faction will continue pushing its agenda for the foreseeable future. A President Trump would ruin the long-term viability of the Republican Party among young people, turning an entire generation of potential Republicans away from the conservative cause.

A Clinton presidency would give the Republican establishment valuable time to regroup without having to worry about damage control for an erratic President Trump. The Republican National Committee and its backers could instead burnish the national profiles of conservative establishment figures like Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio before the 2018 midterms and 2020 presidential race. In addition to being less divisive and controversial than Trump, Ryan and Rubio are also more popular with the American public. Ryan’s unfavorability rating is 39.0%. Rubio, fresh out of a tough primary season with a barrage of attack ads aimed against him, has an unfavorability rating of 46.0%. Trump’s unfavorability rating is a staggering 61.9%. It is even higher among women, Latinos, black people, and the educated. If this man loses his outsider status and becomes associated with mainstream American conservatism, the Republican Party’s image will be sullied for at least the next decade. Look no further than to what happened to the Democrats after Jimmy Carter, another anti-establishment candidate who inspired an intra-party coalition to block his nomination, was elected President: twelve years of the opposing party controlling the presidency. In contrast, if Republicans abandon Trump in the general election, they could find themselves in a similar situation to the Republican party in 1964, after conservative ideologue Barry Goldwater was defeated in a landslide, with the potential to win the presidency in the next election and the possibility of then holding the presidency for three terms (Republicans weren’t able to keep the White House for three terms because of the Nixon scandal, a one-off event that shouldn’t affect our current calculus).

Indeed, if a Democrat prevails in this presidential election, the Republicans face better odds of winning the White House in 2020 and beyond. Usually, when a president from one party is in power, the opposing party temporarily becomes more popular (The Republicans took advantage of this in the 2010 midterms following President Obama’s election, where Republicans took control of the House and greatly diminished the Democrats’ Senate majority). Because of this upswing in the opposition party’s popularity, the presidency alternates between Republicans and Democrats fairly regularly. The United States has not elected one party to the presidency four times in a row since the time of FDR and Truman. The Democrats’ stranglehold on power in that era was so controversial that a Republican-controlled Congress enacted a constitutional amendment limiting presidents to two terms in office. A one-term Democratic president could boost the Republican Party’s favorability ratings.

A polarizing President Trump, however, would only help the Democrats. As sitting president, Mr. Trump would either secure the 2020 Republican nomination or engage in a bruising primary fight with the eventual nominee (given Trump’s combative personality, he is unlikely to go quietly). Either scenario would severely weaken the GOP candidate and would allow the Democrat—likely to be a gifted young politician like Senator Corey Booker or Senator Martin Heinrich—to win the election in 2020 and enter the 2024 election as an incumbent. To add insult to injury, a Trump administration would not even manage to pass genuinely conservative legislation. From healthcare to Planned Parenthood funding to transgender bathroom access, Mr. Trump has taken liberal stances on a host of policy issues. On the flip-side, a Clinton administration would actually result in more conservative-friendly policies than a Trump administration would, as Secretary Clinton is a foreign-policy hawk, supports free trade, and is unwaveringly pro-Israel.
Hillary Clinton is the rational choice for conservative voters this election cycle. Electing a widely loathed demagogue with regressive social policies would irreparably divide the Republican Party. It would also alienate young voters, whose views will be transformed for decades to come by the outcome of this presidential election contest. Among Americans of ages 18-29, Mr. Trump has a net favorability rating—favorables minus unfavorables—of -57. Among Republicans in this age group, this figure is -20, and a quarter of these young Republicans have indicated that they will not vote for Mr. Trump in November if he wins the party’s nomination.

The future of the Republican Party depends on a Clinton victory in 2016. Whatever you think of her policies, President Clinton is unlikely to destroy American conservatism; Donald Trump invariably will.

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Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Minimum Wage Promises, Maximum Wage Problems

“There was this young boy about eleven years old… and he said, ‘You know, my mom makes the minimum wage and even though it went up, her hours were cut. So we’re not making any more money. Can you help her?’” – Hillary Rodham Clinton

It is a sad reality that young children who grow up in poverty have to worry about whether their parents can make ends meet on a regular basis. Instead of focusing on developing friendships, exploring their surroundings, and experiencing extracurricular activities, kids who grow up in poverty are deprived from fully enjoying these activities, and instead, cope with negative household experiences.

Ever since middle school, I was aware of my family’s poor income and lived with that reality throughout high school and college. Poverty has significant negative effects on child development since high levels of adversity heavily stress the brain as it tries to develop. Some kids, like myself, succeed in life despite this adversity, but others remain in poverty for most of their lives.

I call my parents at least once a week to check on things at home. They are low-skilled, low-wage workers. So far their work remains steady, but I worry about the impending increases to California’s state minimum wage that will put their jobs, hours, and government benefits at risk. Work-study students, including myself, will likely see minimum wage boosts from $9 to $10 per hour on January 1, 2016. Those whose parents are from California and are similar to mine risk losing their jobs, in exchange for some students getting paid to sit at the Rains Center or the library and do homework on the clock. Minimum wage increases are not fair for my parents or for the millions of poor citizens trying their best to escape the perpetual cycle of poverty.

Despite the negative effects of minimum wage hikes, many new minimum wage laws were enacted across the country. In Los Angeles (city and county), New York City, Seattle, and the University of California system, employers must pay workers $15 an hour within a couple of years. These raises are mostly seen as a success for working-class Americans holding multiple jobs for a living. Each law is different and affects different demographic make-ups. New York’s increase, for example, only affects fast-food workers, and Los Angeles County’s increase only affects unincorporated areas.

Lack of support in Congress has led minimum wage advocates to support state and local initiatives for minimum wage increases, but many of these changes were accomplished using questionable methods. New York arbitrarily raised fast-food worker wages using an advisory board, while LA City Council held debates for only a few days before pulling the trigger. Input from the business community and other opponents to minimum wage increases was widely ignored. Whether or not one supports minimum wage increases, or minimum wage laws in general, the methods used by cities and support groups to achieve these increases are creative at best and manipulative at worst. Preventing further increases to minimum wage rates is the best way to mitigate its several negative effects.

Most arguments on both sides of the minimum wage debate focus on jobs and potential increases in family income. For instance, the Congressional Budget Office’s report on raising  the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour included an estimated average loss of 500,000 jobs (0.3% of the workforce) and a bigger share of increased income being distributed to families already earning more than the federal poverty level. Advocates’ cries for a $15 minimum wage will more than double the current federal rate of $7.25, meaning the effects of this raise will be drastically worse than those in the report.

Minimum wage hikes increase unemployment because they make labor more expensive relative to other inputs like machines and technology. Expensive inputs reduce profits for firms, which leads to lower productivity, higher unemployment rates, and higher prices. Jobs at these income levels are not meant to be retained for long periods of time, but really should function as the first step toward transitioning to work that requires leadership experience, specialized skills, or higher levels of education. The faster people transition into better work, the tighter the low-wage market becomes. As a result, companies are pushed toward natural wage increases like those that McDonald’s and Wal-Mart enacted earlier this year.

The most destructive and ironic impact of minimum wage legislation is that its negative effects disproportionately affect the people minimum wage advocates claim to help. For example, higher minimum wages do not alleviate poverty for single mothers. It actually reduces employment and hours worked for low-skilled and low-income single mothers. In fact, evidence shows that it fails for almost all groups who work at or near the minimum wage, especially the working poor, minorities, and blacks. Higher prices that result from artificially higher wages function like a value-added tax (very similar to sales tax) that is regressive, meaning a higher burden of the tax is paid by poor people. In the long-run, the costs of a higher minimum wage are evenly spread on all demographics, hurting the poor and minority communities instead of helping them out.

In Seattle, workers are asking for fewer hours in response to higher minimum wages so they can retain their welfare benefits and other forms of government aid. I remember my parents talking about losing our Medi-Cal (California’s Medicaid) coverage if my mom accepted a minimum wage job while my dad claimed unemployment insurance after the recession. Excessive savings in bank accounts would have also disqualified us from Medi-Cal and prevented us from building wealth. Minimum wage increases would exacerbate the flaws in low-income insurance and welfare programs for millions of Americans, which are already serious problems. These negative effects, along with the ones listed above, would run rampant if the federal, state, or local minimum wage was raised to $15 per hour.

Minimum wage work and welfare benefits have their importance, but they are not meant to adequately support a family. During my junior year of high school, both of my parents were either out of work or moving between temporary jobs. My younger brother, older sister, and I lived in a single room; my parents in another; and the master bedroom and garage were rented out to cousins and other family members. We also depended on food stamps in addition to unemployment insurance, Medi-Cal, and other forms of aid during this time. Knowing that you are dependent on someone else to provide you basic necessities is the worst feeling in the world, but it was better than moving back to my parents’ hometown in Mexico. Low-wage work will not get families out of poverty, but it will provide hope and the first building blocks to earning a better standard of living.

Human creativity and ingenuity is the true way out of poverty, and my family has embraced that ever since. Over time, my dad has earned wage increases and better healthcare in response to building his skill set at work. He has also turned his love for music into extra income for my family by playing in a local band. We no longer need to rent out extra rooms, so now my sister has her own room and we enjoy extra space in the garage. My siblings and I have the opportunity to attend college at very low prices because of our low income. Using these opportunities to our advantage will help us build wealth after graduation and help our parents retire comfortably. This is how the American Dream is earned. It will never be obtained from artificial and undeserved government minimum wage increases.

 

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Graphic by Nina Kamath.