Quote Block Templates33

JOHNS | Blame Big Government and Democrats’ Radicalism for High Political Stakes

Editor’s Note: This piece is part of a new dueling columns feature. In our very first feature, Michael Johns ’20 and Giancarlo Valdetaro ’21 debate, “How have the stakes of American politics risen so high?” Read the counterpart column here. In his State of the Union address last week, President Trump extended an invitation to members of Congress to set aside their differences and begin to work collaboratively — not on their respective Republican or Democratic agendas, but on “the agenda of the American people.”

“Many of us,” he argued, “campaigned on the same core promises: to defend American jobs and demand fair trade for American workers; to rebuild and revitalize our Nation’s infrastructure; to reduce the price of healthcare and prescription drugs; to create an immigration system that is safe, lawful, modern and secure; and to pursue a foreign policy that puts America’s interests first.”

It is an important message, and yet one that sadly is poised to be ignored. Congress, for at least a decade now, has been entrenched in bitter, dysfunctional partisanship where success or failure is measured solely by political victory. In pursuit of this end, the well-being of the nation has too often become little more than a tertiary concern.

Johns

JOHNS | Lessons from Yad Vashem

Up the slope of Mount Herzl, in western Jerusalem, lies a 44-acre complex that is one of the world’s most moving testaments to the real life costs and consequences of totalitarianism. Yad Vashem, which I visited earlier this month as part of a small Cornell student delegation, is often described oversimplistically as Israel’s “Holocaust memorial.” Yad Vashem memorializes the millions of innocent lives lost to the Holocaust, but also those — Jews and non-Jews — who bravely resisted it. One does not leave Yad Vashem without a deep recognition of what happens when the power of the absolute state is wedded to an ideology that denies the God-given, individual rights of man. This past Sunday, the world appropriately commemorated International Holocaust Remembrance Day, one of the most solemn international memorial days marking the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest concentration and death camp operated by the Nazis during the Holocaust. Each International Holocaust Remembrance Day, we hear the phrase “Never Again.” Yet, sadly and frighteningly, we appear to be in the process of forgetting anyway.

Picture1

JOHNS | Stand United for Academic Freedom

In 1940, the American Association of University Professors released a declaration on higher education in the United States that has since served as the foundational definition and defense of academic freedom. The declaration, titled “Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure,” correctly acknowledged the rights of faculty to pursue lines of intellectual inquiry without interference, groupthink or other pressures. Nearly eight decades later, universities in the U.S. and throughout the world must confront the unpleasant and yet undeniable fact that this vision is at risk, both on campuses and in foreign academic partnerships. This semester, Cornell University had an unprecedented opportunity to face these risks, at least as they apply to its foreign engagements. The Cornell Political Union, a nonpartisan student-run debating society which I am a member of, hosted two speakers on the increasingly totalitarian pressures being asserted by the Chinese Communist Party at American universities.

Picture1

JOHNS | Don’t Abandon Cornellianism

Above the roaring waterfalls and placid slopes of Ithaca, Cornell University stands as a testament to American intellectual prowess, an Ivy League institution with over a century and a half of storied history and contributions to this country and the world at large. It represents the eternal mission of human learning, and the value of America at her best: it has produced great scientists, writers, and statesmen, contributed to advancements across every field of study, and endured as a pinnacle of international academia. But this university was not made great by its professors, or its patents, or its published works; Cornell’s success blossomed from its College of Arts and Sciences, appropriately the first school founded at Cornell. The rest of the campus was built — both literally and culturally — outward from that educational and moral center. This is the bedrock of a Cornell education, as significant and as firm as the concrete poured under our libraries and our dormitories.

Polling location at Alice Cook House on November 6th, 2018. (Boris Tsang / Sun Assistant Photography Editor)

JOHNS | In House Victory, Democrats Now Owe Us Policy Details and Consensus-Building

As Democrats celebrate taking control of the U.S. House of Representatives for the first time in a decade, they soon will confront a lesser understood political reality: Campaigning is much easier than governing. Having wrongly convinced some Americans that implementing a single payer healthcare system that has worked nowhere in the world and rolling back tax cuts that have sparked an economic renaissance will benefit them, they are now on the hook to work within a divided federal government to forge consensus and deliver results — or face almost certain political decimation by President Trump in 2020. There was no “blue wave” last evening. There was, instead, a message to the Trump administration that there remain many Americans still hurting in this nation even though every economic metric is pointing upward, including gross domestic product, employment, job creation and finally positive news in the third quarter this year that wages are inching upwards. The damage done to America’s poor and middle class by Obama administration policies cannot be underestimated.

Picture1

JOHNS | Promises Kept

This Tuesday, voters across the country will cast ballots for candidates running for a broad number of federal, state and local offices in the United States government, including 435 U.S. House and 35 U.S. Senate seats. This is an important opportunity for Americans to take stock and to evaluate, based on the merits, where the country stands since the last election. At a university like Cornell, most already have their minds made up. The faculty have contributed overwhelmingly to liberal Democrats, and 2018 has proven no different.  The student body, if Sun polls and surveys are any indication, largely subscribe to the same ideology.

Picture1

JOHNS | The Ideology of Empty Signs

As President Trump announced the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh as Associate Justice to the U.S. Supreme Court this past July 9, protesters gathered at the Supreme Court with placards communicating their opposition to the nominee. But because the announcement had not yet been made, these placards included all but the name of the actual nominee, which was left blank. Markers in hand, the protesters waited. Then, slightly after 9:00 p.m., as Trump uttered the name “Brett Kavanaugh,” they promptly filled it in and began their demonstration. It raises an interesting question: what would they have done if the President had nominated Merrick Garland?

Picture1

JOHNS | Laughter and Silence at the United Nations

The United Nations opened the 73rd session of its General Assembly last week, an annual event at its New York City headquarters featuring a series of speeches from leaders and dignitaries from around the world. President Trump, on September 25, gave one of the proceedings’ most substantive addresses in which he properly criticized the UN’s many shortcomings, offered a corrective direction for the organization, and articulated a new American foreign policy agenda that for the first time boldly breaks with the globalist vision that has guided (and sometimes ill-served) the U.S. since World War II. The question is: Did the world hear Trump’s important message? Based at least on the media coverage, which focused myopically on the unwarranted and cynical General Assembly laughter that followed Trump’s claim that his administration has “accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country,” it appears they likely did not. Of course, after scoffing at Trump, the same General Assembly attendees scurried to have their picture taken with our 45th president, perhaps symbolizing that beneath their public contempt lies a deep respect for American leadership.

Picture1

JOHNS | China’s Effort to Influence American Academia Warrants Scrutiny

The time has come to begin speaking frankly about China’s ongoing, wide-reaching and systematic human rights brutality, which now ranks among the world’s most troubling. For many years, in part because China was (wrongly) perceived to be navigating a complex liberalization process that assumed (again wrongly) that these conditions would ultimately improve and in part because China has spent vast millions of dollars buying influence and manipulating its global image to its strategic advantage, the nation has largely escaped the human rights scrutiny and consequences that its repressive policies properly warrant. The list of human rights violations by the Chinese government is long and exhaustive. China’s suppression of Tibetans, its destruction of Christian churches, its jailing of political dissidents and its unrelenting control over Hong Kong have received some level of attention. The same cannot be said of one of China’s most egregious violations: its brutally repressive treatment of the nation’s largely Islamic Uyghur population.

Picture1

JOHNS | New York Democrats’ Twelve-Year Road to Nowhere

Correction appended. 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo faced his Democratic primary challenger Cynthia Nixon in their only scheduled debate last week. It was an unimpressive and shallow display. For an hour, the two Democrats shouted over each other and spouted political clichés, allegations and factual inaccuracies as they each postured to embrace a policy agenda further to the left of the other. The debate’s obvious takeaway is this question: Why would we seek to entrust this state to either of these candidates for the next four years? It is not a rhetorical question.