Butler’s political organizations discuss the 2020 presidential election

Butler College Democrats and Republicans share their views on the upcoming election. Photo courtesy of Smithsonian Magazine. 

JA’SIA WARD | STAFF REPORTER | jrward1@butler.edu

With the election quickly approaching, Butler College Democrats and Butler College Republicans both have strong opinions on which candidates are best fit to lead the United States. With issues including COVID-19, racial injustices and unemployment all discussed in the first presidential debate on Sept. 29, there are many differing viewpoints held by students of all political affiliations on Butler’s campus.

Two of Butler’s political organizations, Butler College Democrats and Butler College Republicans, possess different hopes and fears for the 2020 presidential election. Cole McNamara, a senior political science and sociology double major and the president of College Dems, is nervous because of the gravity of this particular election. 

“There is a lot at stake and we have a lot of work to do in this next month,” McNamara said. 

Liam Putz, a junior economics and political science double major and the president of BUCR, thinks this election is very important because whoever is elected will determine the country’s direction. 

“I think it is a very important election just for the country in general. We have two very different candidates with different beliefs and different points of view in a lot of areas,” Putz said.

Important qualifications for a leader

Regardless of one’s political affiliation, there are important values and qualifications each party believes are necessary to be a good leader. College Dems said they value honesty and problem-solving in a good leader.

“Right now, we need a leader who is able to unite us and build a coalition to address the systemic problems and move us forward,” McNamara said.  

BUCR said the best leaders prioritize the values laid out in the Constitution.

“I [would describe a good leader as] someone who wants a stronger economy, small government and to lead the nation positively as well as support the Constitutional which America is built on,” Putz said.

The Supreme Court

The BUCR and College Dems organizations feel very differently about the recent addition to the Supreme Court. On Sept. 26, President Donald Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett to replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who passed from complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer. With Barrett and Ginsburg’s vastly different views and the approaching election, many people are upset with Trump’s sudden Supreme Court appointment. Others believe Trump has the right to appoint a new judge because he is the current president.

McNamara discusses how Trump appointing Barrett this late in the election is different than similar cases in previous years.

“The most depressing matter of this whole Supreme Court nomination is the fact that the Republican party is not following their own precedent that they set back in 2016 when Justice Scalia passed away and President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland,” McNamara said. “That happened in February of the election year. The difference is that this time people are already submitting ballots through the mail. People are voting.”

In contrast, Putz believes Trump has the right, as president, to appoint a new judge.

“I think it’s his duty as president right now,” Putz said. “He is president for four years, not three years. As for Amy Barrett, I think she’s a great nominee and can’t wait to see it get passed.”

COVID-19

Many Butler students believe discussing how each candidate plans to handle the COVID-19 pandemic is essential in determining who is best fit to lead America. Because of the virus, hundreds of thousands of Americans have lost their jobs, homes and lives. COVID-19 has caused financial issues, mental health strains and extra anxiety with how campus is functioning differently this year for Butler students in particular.

Although the quality of the current administration’s response to COVID-19 differs from party to party, something both College Dems and BUCR agree on is how issues like wearing a mask have become partisan when they shouldn’t be.

“Why isn’t there a national mask mandate yet?… I mean it’s just common-sense solutions that shouldn’t be partisan, but they are,” McNamara said. 

McNamara said he cannot stand the way Trump has dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic and feels Biden could do a better job with improving the country.

“The lack of national strategy is just astounding to me,” McNamara said. “I should really only say that Donald Trump has had since March to get his act together. It is now October and over 200,000 people are dead. It’s just disgraceful. I know Joe Biden already has a plan to implement that national mask mandate. Biden is actually believing the scientists and putting them at the forefront of discussion. This is one of those times when we need good governmental action to step in and help people.”

Putz has different thoughts; he said he believes anyone in office would have a difficult time figuring out the best methods to stop the spread of the virus. 

“It’s hard to say if it was done perfectly, I don’t think anyone could have handled it perfectly,” Putz said. “I think some things were done right, such as the travel bans to China. That saved thousands of lives. Now I think it comes down to ‘what do we want in the future,’ and now it’s sadly turning into a partisan issue, which it seems like everything is these days. I think we need to keep listening to those who know more than everyone, like the scientists, researchers, FDA and CDC.” 

Racial tensions

Throughout the summer, the Black Lives Matter movement grew exponentially in cities across the nation, including Indianapolis. Mass protests — sparked by the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and numerous others who have lost their lives to police brutality — have brought equity and justice initiatives to the forefront of the political stage. Trump, Biden and the nation’s voters have vastly differing opinions when it comes to both protesters and police.

Camille Ringenberg, a junior music education major and the secretary of College Dems, believes protesters should be able to express themselves as they feel fit without police interference. 

“In a perfect world, all protests would be peaceful, but with all the anger and everything behind it, that’s not the reality and that’s okay,” Ringenberg said. “People need to be able to feel every emotion that they feel about this because this is a major issue that has been going on for so long. It’s not right. People should feel how they need to feel. If people protest violently, then they protest violently, because that is how they feel that they need to.” 

McNamara adds that an essential step is recognizing there is a problem. 

“The treatment of protesters is disgraceful. [Joe Biden] has recognized that there’s a problem and outlined a plan to take a first step, which is something the current president ignores and refuses to believe is existing,” McNamara said.

Putz, meanwhile, believes that police departments must be given more funding and training in order for these instances to stop occurring. 

“All cops aren’t bad… We want freedom for everyone. I think this race issue has turned into a partisan issue and it’s sad to see, because there should be no divide that everyone is created equally. It’s important to give [the police] the funding and training they need so things like this don’t happen anymore,” Putz said.

Looking forward to the future of the United States

With every election comes hope for progress and change. At Butler, the hope is strong. Ringenberg said she would like to see an emphasis on dealing with climate change and a shift to more sustainable resources.

“We need to invest in leaning towards a more sustainable future for our country,” Ringenberg said. “Leaning towards how we can help our environment and how we can stop relying so heavily on oil and gas. If we do that it would create so many jobs and benefit so many people in the work-force. I fully believe climate change should be at the forefront of issues. I think that Biden is prioritizing that, and our generation is really pushing that to be a major issue.”

According to Brookings, a think tank based in Washington, D.C., systemic racism is the successor of slavery. McNamara believes we need to address the disparities in our systems in order to build a coalition where all people can come together.

“We must begin dismantling these systems of oppression because, at the end of the day, we can’t get anywhere if we don’t really dive deep and analyze these things and start to put real change in place,” McNamara said.

Putz believes America is more divided now than it has ever been and hopes for a more unified future.

“I would love to see America more unified. Everything has become political and partisan. There are issues that should not be political or partisan. I would love to see more unity, more open-mindedness, more acceptance of political views. That is one thing I think both parties need to be better at. We still are the American people. We are citizens of one country, what I hope to see from whoever is elected president is more unity, acceptance and understanding,” Putz said.

Get out and vote

Butler students like Ringenberg, McNamara and Putz agreed on how imperative it is to vote. Not every country has a say in their government leaders, and therefore many students believe it is important to take advantage of the opportunity. 

Ringenberg addressed the low voter turnout among younger generations and encouraged students to visit IWillVote.com.

“We need to get our voices heard, because if the statistics show that our generation voted so much more than last time, then the candidates in the future will work for what we want and that’s what we need,” Ringenberg said. “We could be the generation to make universal healthcare happen. We could be the generation to transfer to green energy. We could do so many amazing things, and if we vote, these candidates will start listening to what we want.”

McNamara urged Butler students to recognize their privilege and keep their community in mind while casting their vote.  

“There is so much at stake [in regards to] other people’s rights that we have to come together and recognize these issues and systemic inequities,” McNamara said “You vote for your community, not yourself. That’s what has to be at the forefront of everyone’s mind.”

There are some students who believe their vote doesn’t matter or affect the outcome of the election. If enough people have this outlook, thousands of votes will be left on the table. Putz said he believes all votes do count and urges all Butler students to vote. 

“It is our right as well as our privilege as American citizens [to vote],” Putz said. 

Both College Dems and BUCR are here to help Butler students be as informed as they can. BUCR has voter registration forms at every meeting and College Dems have voter information tables set up around campus. Students are able to meet with members of the College Dems executive team and learn more about how to register to vote as well as a variety of other issues. A full schedule of the College Dems voter information tables can be found on their Instagram, Twitter and Facebook pages.  

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