Jacob Rubashkin is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences studying government and history. He is the Associate Editor of The Sun. Originally from Chevy Chase, MD, Jacob wrote an opinion column for The Sun from September of 2015 to March of 2017.
Avid readers of the Jacobin may be able to surmise from my previous columns that I am not a member of, nor a fan of, the Cornell Republicans club. Or, more accurately given recent events, I was not a member of the Cornell Republicans club during the time when such a thing existed. That being said, I was disappointed to hear on Saturday that the New York Federation of College Republicans had voted to revoke the Cornell Republicans’ charter after their endorsement of “libertarian” presidential candidate Gary Johnson (who, it is worth noting, was a Republican for most of his career, and only chose to hoist the Libertarian banner once he dropped out of the 2012 Republican presidential primary). The NYFCR argues that it is frowned upon for a College Republicans chapter to forgo endorsing the Republican nominee, and has apparently decided it is unforgivable to give that endorsement to any other candidate, such as Mr. Johnson. In any other election cycle the NYFCR would be on stronger ground.
I’ve been trying to come up with a topic for this column for the past 10 hours, and as of yet, I’ve been unsuccessful. One minute I think I’m onto something, and then the next thing I know I’ve been drawn back online and I’m watching a video of Christopher Hitchens being waterboarded by Vanity Fair in the name of journalism. No, these past 10 hours spent on the couch in my lounge have been entirely unproductive, and even a much-needed break to watch Game of Thrones failed to bear any much-needed information. This is quite unfortunate, given that my column is due in 11 hours and I have yet to begin studying for my exam this week. It is also unfortunate because this is my last column of the year, and my sentimental side is lobbying hard for a thousand words imbued with some sense of finality or conclusion.
A week ago today, New Yorkers handed Hillary Clinton her most convincing victory in a month, snapping the secretary’s seven-state losing streak and putting her back on track to clinch the nomination before the July convention in Philadelphia. It also was the latest entry in an increasingly long list of “final nails in the coffin” of the Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) campaign. Clinton’s larger-than-expected margin of victory in the Empire State — coupled with an increasingly friendly upcoming primary schedule (including quite possibly the greatest state in the Union, Maryland) — leaves the Vermont ideologue with a path to the nomination so narrow even Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) thinks he should probably call it quits. On paper, today’s primaries (Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania) should be relatively favorable for Sanders. Connecticut and Rhode Island are practically home territory for the longtime Vermont senator and have already been barraged by previous ad buys targeting Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
Though it might seem far-fetched right now, in just a few short months both the Democratic and Republican presidential primaries will be over and the general election will have begun. Barring some unforeseen calamity, the Republicans will nominate either Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) or Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) and the Democrats will nominate either Hillary Clinton or Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT). At the moment, both races are in a state of flux, and as prognostication is a field fraught with difficulty, I’m not going to make any bold predictions as to the identities of the eventual nominees. To a certain extent, it doesn’t even matter who the nominees are. No matter who emerges victorious, America will be faced with a stark choice in November, and the correct decision could not be more obvious.
Tune into any Sunday morning talk show and you will hear about the “growing possibility” of a contested Republican National Convention this coming July. You will most likely hear that “there hasn’t been a contested (or brokered) convention since 1976” when Gerald Ford defeated Ronald Reagan in Kansas City. This is not entirely accurate; while Ford entered the convention with only a plurality of pledged delegates, he quickly won the support of enough unpledged delegates to ensure a victory on the first ballot. The last time our nation saw a real “contested convention” was in 1952, when the Democratic Party nominated Adlai Stevenson, not even a candidate at the start of the convention, instead of Estes Kefauver, who had won all but three primaries that year. Simply put, not since the advent of the modern primary system in 1972 has our country seen a contested convention.
Thursday night’s GOP fiasco began with Donald Trump trumpeting the size of his trumpet and concluded with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus and the rest of the party establishment committing ritual suicide on the debate stage. It was perhaps the best encapsulation of the primary to date, and it made me want to take a shower afterwards. To quote moderator Chris Wallace, “Gentlemen, you’ve got to do better than this.”
After two hours of watching E Street Band rejects “Big Donald,” “Little Marco” and “Lyin’ Ted” battle it out in Motor City, it is safe to say that the modicum of faith I had left in the primary process (and in particular the debates) had been bludgeoned out of existence. More time was spent on Mr. Trump’s hands and Mr. Rubio’s sweat glands than on anything remotely related to policy or vision. The result was a poorly produced political-themed Kardashians spinoff that would probably get canceled after its first season on E! or Bravo.
When T.S. Eliot wrote that the world would end “not with a bang but a whimper” he may have been alluding to the unsuccessful Gunpowder Plot of 1605, but he might as well have been writing the epitaph for Jeb(!) Bush’s star-crossed presidential campaign. In what was a far cry from the “Mission Accomplished” days of his older brother, a tired and defeated Jeb appeared on TV late Saturday night and announced the end of his once promising bid for the White House. His departure leaves a field of five candidates, winnowed down from a record 17 aspirants just a few months ago. This column, however, is not about Jeb(!). We all knew why Jeb fought.
In late 2015, a group of non-governmental organizations collectively known as “The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots” held several protests outside of the United Nations complex in New York City before being granted an audience with a committee of representatives from several nations. The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots is deadly serious. Rather than focusing on more far-fetched fears à la Skynet or the replicants from Blade Runner, the Campaign aims to stop the spread of the autonomous, computerized weapons that are the bedrock of the Drone Age. I humbly propose that they also recognize the growing threat of another type of killer robot, one so advanced that it has existed under an international spotlight nearly undetected for years. I like to call this type of robot the T-2016, but the public knows him better as Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
The year is 1791. A group of Pennsylvania distillers, aggravated by the young federal government’s new taxes on whiskey, took up arms and refused to pay. Throughout towns on the frontier, the distillers and their allies violently intimidated tax collectors and other government agents in an attempt to prevent them from collecting the levy. In 1794, the arrival of a U.S. Marshal sparked the invasion of the estate of tax inspector General John Neville by over 500 armed distillers. In response, George Washington, the sitting president, raised an army of 13,000 men that he intended to lead personally against the so-called “Whiskey Rebellion.” When news of the approaching federal forces reached the distillers, they disbanded and subsequently paid their taxes.