Social Media Responsible for Younger Generations' Lack of Political Engagement
Saint Mary's alumna Anna Thielen completes research about political engagement in regards to Millennial and Generation Z adults, discovering the importance of social media.
By Anna Thielen
Saint Mary's College of California Alumna '19
A growing fundamental issue with social media is that its rise in popularity is resulting in unintended political consequences, particularly relating to its emerging role in political socialization.
Political socialization is the process by which people obtain information that shapes their political perspectives. It’s not a surprise that a survey completed by 577 randomly selected people across four generations show that the majority of Generation Z and Millennials prefer receiving news via social media in comparison to their older counterparts. Understanding political socialization is especially relevant in a democracy because a legitimate democracy relies on the transparency, abundant availability, and accuracy of information. While there is no right or wrong way to be politically socialized, political socialization in a democracy should work to engage the populous. And yet younger generations lack interest.
So what if politicians just did a better job at posting on social media?
When younger generations were asked if they felt more connected to politicians who used social media versus traditional news outlets, 34% of Generation Z and 22.29% of Millennials neither agreed nor disagreed. This strong preference towards being politically socialized on social media yet indifferent towards politicians using social media platforms, exposes a dichotomy. A popular platform that is overflowing with information and opinions threatens the democratic process.
This exposes a fundamental issue with social media as the rising, preferred method of socialization. Part of the issue is that social media is not designed for institutionalized political news, it is designed for personal accounts of political news. The sheer volume of exposure on social media buries political reporting in favor of alternative entertainment. Soundbites give the illusion of satisfaction and expertise without having to dig deeper, on top of formulaically filtered content.
The failings of social media to fill this socialization function is already telling. While 76.53% of Generation Z agree that politics impacts their daily life, a majority 46.47% report they do not know how to effectively engage with politics. Although it may seem that sharing politically related commentary on social media would be an easier way to engage, case study interviews report otherwise. The two most common concerns relating to political news on social media are that people are there to argue not discuss, and it is hard to tell what is real news and what is not. Both of these concerns were accompanied by feelings of isolation and cynicism. 49.3% of those surveyed from Generation Z distrust the government and 55.72% of Generation Z do not feel hopeful for the future of this country.
There must be responsibility from both the social media companies and from the people. We cannot expect social media companies to take full ethical charge of politically socializing the public by being a pro-democracy clearinghouse of quality information. They were never designed for that purpose and we cannot de-commoditize the industry. What we can ask of them is to be much more vigilant about filtering objectively false political content to increase public trust in political information, and ask that platforms encourage a culture of debate rather than hostility to re-engage people in political discussions. This does not mean micromanage every conversation, but encourage an alternative culture. Discourse and debate is healthy. Argumentative hostility is not.
As for the people, fight to stay engaged. While polls are showing low moral and wavering trust in the current political system, younger generations should seize the opportunity to begin constructing the kind of world in which they want to live. It is easy to turn a blind eye to what we view as a hopelessly toxic and divided condition, but we the people are all part of this country and engagement is paramount, especially when times get hard and it would be undeniably easier to bury our heads in the sand.
Anna Thielen graduated from Saint Mary’s College of California in 2019 with a degree in political science. As a political science major, the often cited lack of political participation among younger generations became a focal point as the 2020 presidential election drew closer. While the 2020 presidential election did see a major turn out of young voters, one instance cannot cloud significant patterns in political participation. This research is a product of independent curiosity and an avidity to increase political participation, knowledge, and interest among younger generations as the framework for how their political future is built around them.
This article was submitted to The Collegian by an alumna of Saint Mary’s College of California, and therefore, the content does not necessarily represent the views of the student staff of The Collegian nor the Saint Mary’s College of California community. To view our full legal statement regarding publications, please refer to the “About” page on this website.
Saint Mary's PRIDE Club continues to connect with students, and provide safe spaces amid social distance semester.
By Riley Mulcahy
Finding community in college can be challenging enough. Add in a global pandemic; it can be difficult for students to find their niche. Luckily, the Saint Mary’s community has the People Rallying for Identity Development Equality, known widely as the PRIDE Club.
The club was formerly known as the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA), which according to Publicity and Graphic Design executive member Shanali de Silva, the name change to GSA was to “provide a space for heterosexual students to connect with LGBTQ+ students, both learning about the culture and the people specifically in the hopes of proving that gay people are no different than anyone else. The club changed its name in order to provide a safe way for students who were still in the closet to enter the club, given that at this point in time being gay was still highly stigmatized.”
PRIDE club was founded in 1980’s by Paul Giurlanda, a former brother and gay man. Giurlanda had heard that students wanted a meeting place for LGBTQ+ students. The club’s original name was GALA which stands for the Gay and Lesbian Association. Although the group was founded in the 1980s, it was not until 1994 when Professor Tom Poundstone convinced Saint Mary’s to make it a full club. Before its recognition as a club, meetings took place in Giurlanda’s living room.
The club has had some struggles with adjusting to Zoom; however, PRIDE has continued to come up with fun and engaging activities throughout the semester. One of the aspects that the club misses, according to de Silva, is the ability to have meaningful conversations after the actual meeting has ended, and the snacks have depleted. To remedy that however, executives have created a Discord chat so PRIDE members can connect after meetings. The Discord server has helped with keeping up the connection between members and helps PRIDE fulfill their mission as a welcoming community for all. Reactions to the Zoom activities have been very positive, and students are thankful for the virtual communal space.
PRIDE club strives to make sure that the whole Saint Mary’s community feels safe at their meetings. According to de Silva, the club aims “to provide a safe space for LGBTQ+ people to find a community; it also serves as a place for both LGBTQ+ students and allies to learn more about LGBTQ+ history, culture, and issues.” The club meetings vary from educational and informational sessions to more fun gatherings like movie nights to help students relax during a stressful semester.
Although students are wrapping up the fall semester, the PRIDE club has many events planned to engage students before winter break. Opportunities include a Club Penguin meet-up on Tuesday November 17th at 7:00 PM, as well as a fundraiser for Transgender Day of Remembrance Friday, November 20th. Details for both events can be found on their Instagram page.
Get involved with PRIDE!
-Club Penguin Social Meeting 11/17 7 pm
-TDOR fundraiser and Vigil 11/20 7 pm (fundraiser details on Instagram)
-Both can be found on our SPOT and social media!
First year AS Class Senator Lenin O'Mahony spotlights Associated Students' new resolutions for the college, including the possibility of a Saint Mary's convenience store on campus.
By Lenin O'Mahony
Over the past years Saint Mary’s College of California has grown and flourished as we continue to provide the highest quality education to our students on our beautiful campus in Moraga, California. As we grow, the faculty, students, and administration continue to cooperate and discuss how we can improve the campus and facilities for our students.
An essential part of those discussions is the Associated Students of Saint Mary’s, which is made up of the student representatives for each class. These students are elected by their peers, and take on many responsibilities so that the student body of Saint Mary’s is properly represented and heard by the administration. AS Senators have many jobs to fill once they are elected, including having office hours for their peers, helping plan class events, and attending meetings for different committees.
As well as having those assignments, AS senators also have the ability to write up and pass resolutions. Currently there is one resolution being worked on by myself, and Senator Grace Farris. This resolution will propose that Saint Mary's administrators provide for the school a new on campus convenience store.
Currently the Saint Mary's bookstore provides some of the services students would usually have from a convenience store, including food products, snacks, drinks, and other supplies. However, these goods are located in a small area to the side of the bookstore, which also sells school merch, clothing, flags, books, and more. Saint Mary’s is a high quality institution, with the ability and resources to provide a fully stocked convenience store, beyond what is currently available at the bookstore. Because of this, Senator Farris and I are hoping this resolution and student petition will help encourage the school administration to consider implementing a new convenience store.
AS students hope that this new convenience store will bring many new advantages onto the Saint Mary’s campus. For example, by having a separate store for food items, we can hopefully have access to cheaper items, as well as more variation and options. This is really important for on campus students because many of us do not have access to cars, and if we need a certain item or good we may have no choice other than to purchase from the bookstores high prices. A new convenience store will hopefully provide those cheaper prices which will help budgeting students easily purchase items they need. As well as those likely cheaper items, the greater variation in item choices will also be greatly appreciated by students. The new store will potentially provide more on campus student jobs, which are very necessary for students who are budgeting and working. The tuition at Saint Mary’s continues to increase as the years go on, making it more and more difficult for many students to afford attending this school. By providing more ways for students to work, Saint Mary’s is providing students with a way to help themselves through college.
An on campus full convenience store is a plausible progression to our campuses developments and improvements. Many universities and colleges have such stores for students to use, and by bringing one to Saint Marys we will keep our schools standard of high quality campus facilities and academics. This resolution is one of many that AS Senators are constantly working on, all of which focus on helping improve the life and experiences of students, current and future.
By Madrey Hilton
As the first semester comes to an end, many students are considering their options for Jan-Term and Spring semester. For students already living on campus, the 2021 school year won’t be too different or much of an adjustment. The same is not necessarily true for Saint Mary’s students who stayed home this semester, but are hopeful to come on campus in a few months. What makes this new semester more appealing for on campus housing? Well, for starters most students are tired of the long days spent at home ever since quarantine started in March. A lot of students are expecting the campus housing department to have enough housing available and hopefully a few modified rules from fall semester.
In late October, Campus Housing sent out an email with a lot of important information. One of the major changes is the option to live on a room with one other roommates, unlike during the fall semester when only single occupancy rooms were available: “As the County and Saint Mary’s continues to monitor the phased re-opening of services and programs, we do expect for students in suite-style and townhouse-style living arrangements to have the opportunity to have roommates in bedrooms. Most of the spaces that are available in townhouses will be double occupancy.”
This makes room for a lot more students on Saint Mary’s campus, and will hopefully help the students moving in spring semester be less anxious about moving out of their homes and into the dorms. While Saint Mary’s will continue to take precautions to keep the students safe, it looks like the residential experience is still a great option for current off-campus students.
RJ Dore, a freshman at SMC, currently lives off-campus, but hopes to change that next semester, “There were a couple reasons I didn’t move in during fall semester. All of my classes were online and I wouldn’t have been able to have a roommate, but this upcoming semester most of the classes I plan on taking are in person. I also really just want to meet my classmates and it will be easier to do that if I’m on campus.”
The social aspect is a huge driving factor in students’ decisions to live in the dorms. It’s also a lot more practical to attend classes in person, instead of online. However, some students have opted to continue online learning at home the following semester.
A lot of first time students have decided to wait until next year to move on campus. Freshman Kayla Piegaro made the choice to stay home for just another semester. “I was originally planning to live on campus, but after thinking about it a lot, I’ve decided to stay home,” she says, “I’m staying home in order to save money and continue working. I’m also not taking any classes that are required to be in-person, so it just makes sense to stay at home this semester.”
Whether students decide to stay at home or move on campus, it is important that they take the necessary precautions to stay safe. Saint Mary’s has done a great job of keeping COVID-19 at bay, and this will hopefully continue on into the next semester, even with more students in the dorms. With a lot of options ahead of them, Saint Mary’s students will have the opportunity to positively impact their community, whether they choose to do this at home or on campus.
The Calm before the political storm
Saint Mary's students react to the election of President-Elect Joe Biden, and President Trump's continuous claims of false victory.
By Isabelle Cannon
The 2020 presidential election has officially come to an end with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris elected, after Americans spent days anxiously watching the media awaiting the outcome. Everyone was holding their breaths for so long and now that we officially have a president elect, the next steps may seem uncertain. Will people become angry and riot? Will everything go back to normal, pre-covid? Will the media quiet down and the election just become something of the past?
Depending on the party, individuals have very different feelings about the outcome of the election. How have Saint Mary’s students been affected and what were their responses to the anticipated election day? Senior Chantylle Pradera responded to the election being over and said, “I feel like I’ve been holding my breath for so long that I can finally let it out.” As many also felt due to the long awaited announcement. Much of the anxiousness came from the numbers being so close between the candidates.
Student Ashley Timmers expressed, “The current President Donald Trump started spewing false information about the election since the results were delayed, which I think caused a lot of the trouble within the election.” Some of this false information included President Trump tweeting “I WON THIS ELECTION, BY A LOT!”
Though the next steps in the white house won’t officially take place until January it is important to remember that our country still needs to keep fighting for issues. As Spencer Bruno expanded and stated, “It is important to continue fighting for the issues that have been brought to light again in the past year, but I wonder if people will develop a mindset that the battle is already won.” No matter who our president is there are still major systemic issues that need to be dealt with. Similarly, Timmers stated, “I hope that the American people can come together to be more loving and work for a better future for everyone, not just ourselves.”
Though everything won’t go back to normal, it seems as though the media has calmed down and now we wait until January. As Pradera expressed, “I don’t think that things will necessarily go back to normal because Biden has to get this country back on its feet.” No matter who you voted for, the election is over. It is important for our country to stay united and not become divided by hate and party.
SpaceX Launches Astronauts into Space
Spacecraft “Resilience” returns Americans to Space hoping to provide new experiments, and a sense of hope to the U.S.
By Annika Henthorn
Originally intended for take-off Saturday night, the SpaceX launch due to rough weather conditions has been pushed back to Sunday night, the 15th, at 7:27 ET. The launch took place at the Florida Kennedy Space Center, according to CNN.
This mission follows a monumental launch that occurred in May. According to CNN, this launch was the first time astronauts went into orbit in a private spacecraft as well as it being the first time in a decade that astronauts have gone into space. CNN also revealed that although it was a historic moment, the trip was considered a "demonstration" mission and was flown by two veteran NASA astronauts and former military test pilots.” The four astronauts boarding the spacecraft have agreed to remain for six months on the space station that the capsule will be residing on. The residents will conduct research as well as maintain the space station’s integrity through regular repairs.
CNN describes The Dragon capsule as being 13 feet in diameter. Most of its commands are automatic, so the crew’s job primarily consists of ensuring that its controls are running smoothly. Once the Dragon is launched into the atmosphere, the capsule will separate and release its own thrusters to propel it towards the 20-year-old space station. CNN has also revealed that the astronauts have named the spacecraft the “Resilience” because of the turmoil this year has brought. The astronauts, specifically Hopkins, hopes that “it brings a smile to your face and we hope that it provides something positive to your life.”
Because of the Space Shuttle program retiring in 2011, the United States has not sent astronauts to or from the ISS, International Space Station, in a decade. The test mission in May was flown by Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken, beginning a two-month test program on the ISS. The objective was primarily to gather data about the Dragon’s performance. With plenty of updates since this test mission, the Dragon spacecraft will be used to send astronauts to and from the ISS, allowing more staff to upkeep the ISS than ever before. This will propel the amount of scientific information collected because of the increase in available researchers.
CNN has also revealed that while the U.S has not sent astronauts up to the space station in a decade, Russia has. This is to help maintain the structure of the ISS, despite the US’s absence. The astronauts, currently on their way up, will spend, according to The New York Times, 27.5 hours in orbit before arriving at the ISS, which currently has three residents already there, Kate Rubins of NASA and two Russians, Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov. The New York Times has said that the jobs include experimentation and talking with students on the ground. They have even revealed that tests are being conducted about whether radishes or any produce at all can be grown in space.
This monumental moment can be enjoyed by all who choose to participate in its historic launch. Despite the troubles of 2020, this launch, in the eyes of the astronauts, is a glimmer of hope in these unprecedented times.
Presidential Election Still Shrouded in Uncertainty as Trump Presents Evidence of Voter Fraud
By James Molnar
Voters across the country remain puzzled as two starkly opposing accounts of reality are strongly put forward to them. On the one hand, the legacy media has asserted categorically that no significant election fraud has occurred and gone so far as to suggest that claims to the contrary are anti-democratic. This view has also been promoted by social media companies such as Twitter, which have developed a habit of “fact-checking” the president’s tweets regarding the election. Meanwhile, the president and much of the conservative media have held that there was substantial voter fraud and irregularities which systematically swayed the election in favor of Mr. Biden. President Trump has therefore called for a recount in several key states including Georgia and Wisconsin.
So what on earth is going on? The fact of the matter is that we simply do not yet know the extent of voter fraud in this election. Neither we, nor the press, have received anything like the entirety of the facts on this matter. Therefore much of the aforementioned claims, though they have a veneer of certainty, are premature and likely politically motivated. The ultimate decision, and the only one which is actually binding, will be made by the courts after they have thoroughly and objectively weighed the evidence presented. Nonetheless, some evidence has recently come to light.
On November 10th, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel revealed to the press that 500 sworn affidavits have been collected, which allege some 11,000 incidents of voter fraud. An affidavit is a statement which is made under penalty of perjury. This means that if it turns out to be a lie, the claimant can face severe penalties. In Michigan for instance, where many of these affidavits are from, lying in an affidavit constitutes a felony and can result in up to 15 years in prison.
In the affidavits which we have seen so far, various illicit counting practices have been documented. One individual in Michigan alleged that she saw another poll worker repeatedly insert the same ballots, which had tape where their ballot number should have been, into the counting machine. Another reported that they witnessed poll workers “duplicating ballots to incorrect precincts in order to run two ballots through for the same person.”
It is important to note that even if much of this testimony is accurate, it may not be enough to account for Mr. Biden’s win. Therefore, if President Trump hopes to demonstrate that he is in fact the rightful President-elect, he will be tasked not only with providing evidence of voter fraud, but also demonstrating that once we account for its effects, he will have reached the necessary 270 electoral votes.
In addition, while some have denounced the president's allegations of voter fraud as anti-democratic, the ability to legally challenge the results of a U.S. election is actually a vital aspect of a sound democracy. It is also by no means without precedent. After the presidential election of 2000, in which George W. Bush ran against Al Gore, the election results were contested in a legal dispute which ultimately reached the Supreme Court. It took until December 12th of that year, more than a month after election day, to resolve this legal challenge.
It appears that the American people will be put through yet another exercise in tolerating uncertainty as they wait for the final verdict of the 2020 presidential election.
Two students discuss the expectations and reality of being Black and attending Saint Mary's College. Staff and administration respond with information on resources and current initiatives relevant to the experience of Black students at Saint Mary’s.
By Evan Rodrigues
Tuition pays for more than your education. College and university advertisements showcase academic and community life alike. Jaelin Randle and Damian Cortez, two Black Saint Mary’s students, speak about their expectations of the diversity and inclusion of the Saint Mary’s community before attending, as well as what being a Black student at the college has been like so far. Various members of the community that work directly with diversity and inclusion initiatives and resources on campus respond.
“It feels like [they] want my face, but not my voice. Unless, of course, we are discussing the African American experience in seminar or something, that’s when everyone wants to hear what I have to say,” says Randle, referring to groups on campus other than the Black Student Union.
After seeing the faces of and reading written content on alumni Mahershala Ali and Ryan Coogler, third year Psychology major Randle was ready for what she thought would be an environment that seeks to not just include, but elevate, Black voices. She describes her experience with the BSU, saying "[it] is pretty much the only institution on campus where I feel heard and accepted." According to Randle, what she assumed her experience as a Black student at the school would be does not match what she has experienced.
Damian Cortez, a 4th year Integral and Philosophy double major with a minor in Law & Society, shares his expectations and experience as well. Based on the advertising he saw prior to attending, he was under the impression that Saint Mary’s would be relatively similar to other private and Catholic institutions with a focus on the Liberal Arts. These advertisements "didn’t drastically shape how I felt my experience would be as a Black college student," he says, "I knew that most places I could attend wouldn’t have a strong Black student population." Cortez was well aware of the challenges that Black students and academics alike face in society and educational institutions, and he did not expect Saint Mary's to be the exception. Despite his expectations, he has persevered with his goals and dreams in mind.
On his academic journey at Saint Mary’s, Cortez has felt a lack of opportunities to naturally connect with staff and faculty of color. He reports "throughout my time here I was riddled with doubt; with so few people to turn to who were experiencing similar feelings, I chose to set my feelings aside for the sake of my education." Cortez acknowledges that there are resources on campus for Black students, but as a double major with a minor, the ideal situation would be for him to be able to connect with faculty within his area of study. For Cortez, expecting to be underrepresented and then experiencing being underrepresented were two separate challenges.
Both students concluded with words of wisdom for Black students at Saint Mary’s and beyond. "Prepare to feel burdened by the lack of urgency society takes towards our position in higher education," says Cortez, "but don’t let that discourage you from earning your degree, wherever it may be." His realistic, yet hopeful words echo his experience at the school.
The feeling of support and community that Randle experiences in the BSU is definitely something she would recommend to any Black student. "I’m honestly blessed to have been introduced to our Black Student Union," says Randle, "There are so many members that are kind, helpful, supportive, and want to see you succeed . . . you get access to all of the amazing Black staff on campus, and a connection to other organizations." She wishes that this feeling would be campus wide.
Jane Camarillo, Vice Provost for Student Life, responds to statements from the two students. VP Camarillo comments on the College Committee on Inclusive Excellence, and their Black Lives Matter subcommittee. “On a regular basis,” says VP Camarillo, “the College Committee on Inclusive Excellence (CCIE) has conducted climate surveys.” She goes on to clarify that the climate surveys serve to gauge the social climate of the Saint Mary’s community. They are intended to give individuals the chance to “identify some key areas of their experience.”
VP Camarillo explains that responses are examined by the Committee in order to identify the various impacts on community life as well as “any trends that can be prioritized for an action plan.” Past surveys have only been administered to staff and faculty, and the most recent data is from 2016. Data from past surveys is available on the Institutional Research page of the Saint Mary’s website. Finally, VP Camarillo points to the college's 44 Days Honoring Black history:
“In the last three years, there has been a concerted effort to celebrate Black lives, Black history, and the contributions of the Black community by the program series, 44 Days Honoring Black History. During this series, Black students are invited not only to attend and participate in programs but also to come and meet and connect with Black faculty and staff at signature programs like the Black Student Convocation.”
More information on the Black Lives Matter Subcommittee and the 44 days Honoring Black History is available under the Inclusive Excellence page on the SMC website. This page also contains information on the specific goals and procedures of the CCIE and much more.
Following the introduction to the CCIE given by VP Camarillo, Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs, Senior Diversity Officer and CCIE Co-chair Kathy Littles gives some insight into her work with the school. After graduating from Saint Mary’s herself, she eventually returned with the goal of fostering a more inclusive and diverse environment. In the past year, she says "we brought in twelve new tenure track faculty, of the new faculty, five or 41.6% were faculty of color." She also says that "a critical part to the recruitment is also the retention of faculty of color...which calls for the creation of community, trust, support, and collaboration on many levels." In order to tackle this crucial part of the diversification of faculty, Littles has worked alongside Faculty Development to create and initiate a two year mentoring program for new faculty. She acknowledges the areas of growth for the program, but has definitely seen an impact in the way faculty of color are supported at the school.
The College Committee on Inclusive Excellence co-chair also shares about the status of upcoming climate survey work. She reports that a Climate Study Working Group is on its way to the SMC community. This working group will consist of 12 to 15 Saint Mary’s stakeholders, including students, staff and faculty. Littles shares that the group will talk about ways to improve the survey and that they will ultimately be "critical to its success." She hopes that the group will be able to officially start working next fall.
Finally, Legacy Lee, director of the Intercultural Center, shares his thoughts. He says "I think it is absolutely crucial to really listen to what our student's authentic experiences are at the college so that we can be strategic and deliberate in what is in turn created and systematized as a solution." His words definitely align with the work he does on campus.
Lee highlights the various events and resources available through the IC. He says, "Expressions of Blackness is one of six annual Cultural Nights where Black students are able to highlight their culture and shine light on their lived experiences on campus and beyond."
The work Lee does in the IC greatly exceeds what is written here. This is all definitely a step in the right direction, but there is more work to be done on the larger scale. he concludes with a call to action: "We need to listen [to Black students], believe them, and get to work on making our campus community live up to our Lasallian core principles." Obviously, the campus community largely exists outside the walls of the IC, so ideally the way students feel when they are there should match what they feel anywhere else on campus.
Keep an eye out for future climate surveys and make sure to fill them out. In order to make sure that the advertisements relating to student experience are accurate for all that attend, the Saint Mary’s community has to ensure that relevant feedback is being gathered from students. Given the past and current events relating to racial inequality, there is a definite need to be conscious of our community climate and how it matches the advertised values of the school.
As media outlets call the election for Biden, Americans hotly debate who the rightful president is.
By James Molnar
Americans woke up on Saturday to the sight of a blue-shaded Pennsylvania on the electoral maps that they've been staring at obsessively for days on end. Many whooped and cheered, exuberantly celebrating the election of a new president. Others stared in horror at their screens, mouthing wordlessly at the electoral vote count, not simply because their candidate lost the election, but because they believed in their hearts it was complete and utter fraud.
While certain Republicans, such as Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney acknowledged Biden as the winner of the election, they are exceptions to the rule. According to a November 7th survey by Citizens for a Strong Democracy, only 37% of Americans actually believe that Biden won the race, while 18% believe that Trump did. The remaining respondents said that they were still unclear as to who the winner was. Among Trump’s voters, only 10% believe that Biden won, while 37% believe that the president won. Even among Biden’s own voters, only 64% believe that their candidate won the election.
Trust in the Democratic process appears to be in tatters. A YouGov survey performed prior to the election found that if Trump loses, 59% of his supporters believe that “the most important reason will be that ‘Democrats rigged the election.’” A rare moment of political unity is observed in the fact that 58% of Biden supporters believe that if Biden loses, “the most important reason will be that ‘Republicans stole the election.” A similar phenomenon was observed in 2016, when the presidential election was shrouded in rumors about Russian collusion. Even then, however, only about 33% of Hillary Clinton voters thought that Trump had been elected illegitimately (Washington Post).
Why do so few Americans trust the results of the election? No doubt, a major reason for this has been the recent statements from President Trump, who later on Saturday declared unequivocally “I won the election,” citing alleged mail ballot fraud. He has committed to challenging the vote counts in court.
There has been some evidence of voter fraud, including a whistleblower from Nevada’s testimony of illegal counting practices at the polling place he or she worked. It is important to note, however, that these allegations have not yet been investigated, and so it would be premature to make any definitive statement about the presence of nefarious counting practices. Furthermore, even if some accounts of voter fraud are accurate, it would need to be prevalent enough to sway tens of thousands of votes in Trump’s favor. This has of course not yet been substantiated and will be decided based on the evidence that it is presented in the courts.
As we enter the uncharted territory of an election where both candidates have declared victory, Americans brace themselves for a time of heightened uncertainty. There will likely be legal battles over the election which could stretch on for weeks or even months. In the event that these proceedings are not over by inauguration day, it is not clear what will happen. Trump could well stay in the White House until these legal proceedings are resolved. If Biden is declared the winner in the courts, he will technically have the legal right to physically remove Trump from office. Which “president” the government security officers will obey, however, is not self-evident. In addition, much of the public may well disagree on who their rightful president is. The battle for the presidency will likely not reach such an overt showdown as described above, but there can be no doubt that contentious times lie ahead.
By Riley Mulcahy
Tuesday’s election is still not over, however in many of the key House of Representatives and Senate races, they have been decided. Democrats had hoped for a “Blue Wave” in the Senate, which would have flipped the Senate control to the Democrats and given them the power of both the House and the Senate. However, the Senate’s fate is all but sealed, with Republicans most likely maintaining a majority. The Democrats have lost several House seats; however, they still retain control of the House.
One of the most talked-about races included the race against incumbent Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine). She, according to The New York Times, is the only Republican on the ballot not to have endorsed President Trump. Collins’s opponent Democrat Sara Gideon had a strong backing nationally, however, that did not translate to local support. According to the Associated Press Collins won the race by an 8.9% lead.
In Arizona, incumbent Senator Martha McSally lost her seat to Democrat challenger Mark Kelly, former astronaut and husband of former Congresswoman Gabby Gifford. Congresswoman Gifford was shot during an assassination attempt and had to resign. Although Arizona traditionally votes Republican, Kelly’s projected victory is not particularly surprising. Political analysts argue that the changing demographics in Arizona and President Trump’s attacks on late Senator John McCain are some of the main reasons why McSally was struggling to win the traditionally red state. President Trump mocked the late senator many times, with the President criticising McCain’s military service, claiming he likes “people who weren’t captured.”
Georgia’s Senate race, just as the presidential race in the state has been developing over the couple days of the election. Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler faced off against fellow Republican Doug Collins and Democrat nominee Raphael Warnock. Collins took third in overall all votes and because both Loeffler and Warnock were unable to achieve fifty percent of the vote, a runoff is scheduled in January.
Also in Georgia, the second Senate race is headed to a runoff race as well. Incumbent Republican Senator David Perdue is facing off with challenger Jon Ossoff. The race was called with Perdue leading the race; however, he only had 49.7 percent of the vote, which is below the 50 percent threshold. The races, which will take place on January 5th 2021, will determine which party will take control of the Senate.
This election has been nerve-wracking for most Americans, regardless of their party line. President Trump has continued to repeat falsehoods about the legitimacy of the election, calling for recounts in numerous states, and has filed lawsuits to contest the election results. Trump supporters have come to election sites to “observe” the vote, while Biden supporters have been protesting and arguing that every vote should count. President Trump has falsely declared victory and accused that the election is “stolen.” Not knowing the results of the presidential race the night of the election is not that unusual, especially with an election carrying so much weight.
Saturday’s news of Biden’s victory has not stopped President Trump’s accusations that the election was “stolen” from him. President-Elect and Vice President-Elect have already started working on their COVID response, announcing Monday a twelve-member task force that will be critical for the upcoming Biden administration to battle the virus. Depending on the results of the Georgia Senate races, President-Elect Biden may have an uphill battle passing any laws, as Republican Senators have vowed to fight the Biden administration on crucial issues.
Ryan Ford '23,