At the end of this semester, I will graduate –– four years of hard work and good times and everything else we love to call college. For many or most of us, these were our most formative years to date. And this was our president.
My parents experienced college under the leadership of George H. W. Bush. Others had Bill Clinton or Barack Obama. It is of course worth noting that the Republican Party has been run for decades by grifters hellbent on squeezing America’s poor to enrich the already-wealthy, to the detriment of the economy as a whole.
The combined forces of Trump administration rhetoric, an addiction to media and the increased fervor in the fight against police violence has resulted in a society defined by identities and labels. Although we blame Trump for increasing division in America, his exit on Jan. 20 will not staunch the tribalism that’s developed in America. Our label-obsessed culture will continue to stoke the fires of division. This brand of identity politics is a scourge on America.
Raise your hand if you’ve lost a friend or two (or 30!) during this election season. I definitely have. As we finally reach the end of a 2+ year run for the presidency, I can finally reflect on what this election cycle has meant to me. I can list thirty million things, but one of the most significant is that I have lost a few friends.
Up until the 2020 election run, I really believed that I could be friends with anyone regardless of their political ideology. I had done it my entire life.
“My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.” — The dying wish of Ruth Bader Ginsburg ’54
In confirming Justice Amy Coney Barrett, Senate Republicans have essentially said, “Whatever.”
Watching the confirmation on Oct. 26, as Democrats had all but given up on fighting the inevitable, I could feel a sense of helplessness creeping. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, aware that there was nothing left to do, said that Republicans would regret their actions “for a lot longer than they think.” He called the confirmation one of the Senate’s “darkest days.” All this bleak rhetoric left me feeling the same way I felt the night Ginsburg died: deeply saddened, yet powerless to change the outcome.
No matter how blatant the hypocrisy was, Republicans insisted that they could find a justification for their actions. Senator Ted Cruz recited esoteric court confirmations from the 1800’s, shamelessly plugging his new book. Senator Lindsey Graham, declaring he wouldn’t seek a confirmation in an election year, and urging the nation to “hold the tape,” seemed unwilling to be held to his own standard.
“Donald Trump’s presidency has unleashed a form of nuclear energy of fundraising down the ballot,” Israel said. “The best fundraising tool for Democrats down the ballot in the 2020 election cycle has been anti-Trump sentiment.”
As the U.S. faces a third wave of coronavirus cases and some cities and states prepare for another round of shutdowns, thousands of households are continuing to face economic hardship and food insecurity. Earlier this year, the Trump administration finalized a proposed rule change that would have blocked nearly 700,000 people from getting essential food assistance, one of three of the administration’s efforts to overhaul the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
The new rule would have affected the eligibility criteria for able-bodied adults with no dependents, limiting states’ ability to waive existing work mandates and requiring individuals to be employed to receive benefits. It was struck down last week by a federal judge after Pennsylvania and California residents sued Trump’s Agricultural Department. Critics say that this proposal is yet another attempt by the Trump administration to continue its deregulatory war on existing safety net programs, even as businesses struggle and the number of newly unemployed households remains high as a result of the pandemic. “The Final Rule at issue in this litigation radically and abruptly alters decades of regulatory practice, leaving States scrambling and exponentially increasing food insecurity for tens of thousands of Americans,” explained D.C Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell, in a 67-page opinion.
With outstanding early and absentee ballots yet to be counted, it seems like the presidential election will take a long time — maybe days — before conclusive results are announced. Both candidates gave speeches of confidence late in the night, but victory couldn’t be formally declared. The night was tense and many fear for their futures, the futures of their loved ones and the future of the nation. Knowing this, we must not let the battle for progressive change end, regardless of the election’s outcome. Racial injustice, climate change and COVID-19 have not gone away; they never will without pressure from the people.
Around 2 a.m. on Monday, my roommate and I were going through a slideshow of quotes from Joe Biden and then Donald Trump, in desperate need of entertainment. Our aimless procrastination had us following her mouse to online galleries that burned into our eyes with the unsavory clumsiness of the two men who were competing for the prestigious misnomer of leader of the free world. It was supposed to be funny, and for a bit, it was. Until their words stopped painting an image of their indiscretion, instead telling ugly truths of their aptitude to cause suffering. My laughter was interrupted by a lump in my throat.
Why do agricultural issues matter to young cosmopolites attending an Ivy League institution and who quite possibly are from a family in the top one percent? Besides being consistently ranked as one of the top agricultural schools in the country and the world, Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences conducts an enormous amount of research and outreach to help end food insecurity, combat climate change and, most recently, protect food production workers against COVID-19; just check out the litany of innovations here. Cornell is in a unique position to conduct its research; unlike many of its peers, it’s role as a land-grant institution informs its involvement in communities surrounding it. 43 percent of the counties in the Southern Tier are classified as rural. If you include upstate micropolities, such as Corning and Cortland, as semi-rural, that figure jumps to 57 percent.