The election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris was a step in the right direction, but we need to keep fighting for a better future.
By Melanie Moyer
The nation took its first deep breath in four years on November 7th. After the election of Donald Trump in 2016, Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), members of the LGBTQ+ community, followers of Islam, women, other marginalized groups, and allies lived in fear of Trump and his administration stripping them of rights that had been fought hard for in years prior. Some of these fears came true: the Trump administration implemented a Muslim travel ban, children were separated from their parents and held in cages at the border, someone who had been accused of sexual misconduct was appointed to the most powerful court in the country, an executive order was signed that denied student’s right to use the bathroom of their choice. Police officers who have killed Black Americans still systematically go without punishment, yet the Trump administration has placed itself in opposition to the Black Lives Matter movement. It goes without saying that this presidency has reinforced notions of white male supremacy, and it can be taken one step further in saying that the white and wealthy elite have been the only people who have not been targeted by the administration.
This administration not being reelected was thus a cause for celebration for anyone who cares about the rights of marginalized groups. Further, by electing a president that has plans to combat the spread of COVID-19 in the US, there will be an indisputable improvement in the country’s caseload. Joe Biden’s campaign has made it apparent that the economy will no longer be valued over the lives of Americans. Perhaps all of America will be relieved to have an administration that will take the proper steps towards reopening. The Climate Crisis will also be given the appropriate attention needed before we start to see the early repercussions of our inattentiveness. Just months after the Trump administration left the Paris Agreement Global Climate Pact, Biden’s campaign has announced that it will rejoin. Thus, anyone who does not want to live to see an uninhabitable planet should be relieved.
The historical significance of Kamala Harris’ election should also be recognized as a cause for great celebration. Harris is the first woman, the first person of color, the first biracial person, the first biracial woman of color to be elected as the Vice President. In short, she is the first person who is not a white male to be the Vice President-Elect. Considering our country’s history of racism and sexism, this is a huge accomplishment in the country’s progress towards equity, for she represents our country’s growth in recovering from its detestable past of oppression.
Beyond this, her election is specifically significant for young, BIPOC girls. Harris’ position shows these young girls that despite the cultural pressures telling them they cannot be whatever they want in society, BIPOC young women have the capability to hold a position traditionally held by white men. As a powerful woman who is used to being ‘the first’ woman and BIPOC in the positions she holds, she is a role model that has not been available to young women before. However, Harris reminds us that while she “may be the first, [she] won’t be the last.” We still have a long road ahead of us toward reaching utter equity.
Despite all the successes and firsts of this historical election, there are several items that need to be addressed. First of all, we need to talk about the number of white people who voted for Donald Trump. According to The New York Times, 58% of white people voted for Trump. More specifically, 61% of white men and 55% of white women voted for Trump. Every other category leaned substantially towards Biden, with 90% of Black women voting for Biden. With these numbers in mind, we must address allyship and the role of white people right now.
Speaking as a white woman, it is neither our role to decide whether or not BIPOC experience systematic racism nor how it should be combatted. Our job right now is to listen to BIPOC and elevate their voices, to educate ourselves about systematic racism and how we can be better allies, to have those difficult conversations with other white people about these issues, and to put our votes and decisions where our words are. An overwhelming amount of white people showed up when there was social capital in posting a ‘black square’ in ‘solidarity’ with the Black Lives Matter movement. That same amount was not reached in the polls. This is not our victory to celebrate, instead, we are in a position to be thankful for those, specifically Black women, who changed the course of this election.
Furthermore, we need to recognize that while this election has put us back on track to attaining the social equity initiatives we have been working towards, problems that existed before and those created by the Trump administration remain. The people need to push the Biden-Harris administration to target institutionalized racism, beginning with police brutality against Black men but ending only when true equity is realized (which, spoiler alert, will take a lot of time and work). That being said, we need to bring the same energy that was brought to the election to our demands for reform. The election is not the solution and Joe Biden is not our savior.
Speaking of Biden, though a united party was needed to ensure that Donald Trump was not reelected, Biden should not be an idealized figure. He is not our sweet uncle as some have been saying, and he was not a lot of people’s first choice. He has an unsettling past of treating his female employees inappropriately and participated in the excessive bombing of countries in the Middle East during the Obama administration. Through the maneuvering of the DNC, Biden was the candidate voters with liberal leanings were told they needed to settle for. We cannot forget that the voting process should give people the chance to choose their preferred candidate, not give us a choice between the lesser of two evils. Furthermore, even though this election made history in electing the first woman of color to be the Vice President, Biden is still a straight white man. Thus, his election was significant because he beat Trump, but his past should not be forgotten.
In this way, we can recognize that this election was significant in pushing for the rights of marginalized Americans. We should not discount the extreme accomplishments of this election, including a record amount of voter turnout, due in part to the work of Stacey Abrams in Georgia. However, we need to move forward with a sense of doing better for our country, for our work is far from over.
Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris to become the first woman, and person of color to be Vice President of the United States. Her election is a beautiful breakthrough for all Americans to show how far we have come as a nation, and how far we still need to go for inclusion.
By Victoria Vidales
On Saturday November 7th Americans made history by electing Kamala Harris to be our first female, and first person of color Vice President. Chosen to lead alongside President-Elect Joe Biden, VP-Elect Harris has shattered a glass ceiling many believed would never be achieved. On the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote, VP-Elect Harris’ election is a living example of perseverance, dedication, and faith, showing what the American people can achieve together.
The daughter of immigrants, VP-Elect Harris was raised in California by her mother Shyamala, alongside her younger sister Maya. A Bay Area native, VP-Elect Harris received her law degree from UC Hastings, and spent years working in the legal field in public service. Following her career as the Attorney General for California, she furthered her career as a politician, recently serving as a Senator for our great state. After Harris’ own run for the 2020 Democratic party presidential nomination, Biden vowed to choose a female candidate to be his running mate, selecting her.
VP-Elect Harris is, arguably, one of the most qualified Vice Presidents ever elected. Her long career in public service shows her interests in, and dedication to the American people. She, along with Biden, vow to be the leaders of all Americans.
VP-Elect Harris is an example to all women, specifically, women of color, that regardless of your sex, or race, you are capable of reaching one of the highest offices in the U.S. Until the election of Barack Obama in 2008 there had not been one person of color in the White House. His election broke one of many barriers, showing people of color, particularly, African Americans, that their race is not and should not be a limitation.
With her election, VP-Elect Harris has broken more barriers than any of her predecessors. Not only is she the first African American woman to be in the White House, she is also the first Indian American to be as well. Her election also provides Americans with their first second gentleman, with her husband Doug Emhoff joining her in Washington.
With politics aside, this is a moment that I believe should be celebrated for its historical, and social significance. As a country that is beautifully diverse, celebrating inclusivity should be a moment of triumph for all Americans.
I hope that one day a woman will shatter the highest glass ceiling, and become the President of the United States. The time that will take is unknown, but whomever she may be, she will have a long line of women before her, who paved the way for her journey to the top. Perhaps, we are even looking upon her, as she enters into the White House in January.
By Emmanuel Simon
The current state of the Catholic Church sometimes feels like there are two churches under one Pope; one that claims to be open to the changing times, the other holding steadfast to the older traditions of the Church. Strictly speaking, those in both groups are Baptised, they are Catholic. Catholics can disagree with each other on interpretations and applications of doctrine and Scripture, but only to a certain extent.
There are some teachings that all Catholics must believe under pain of excommunication. For example, Catholics cannot disagree on the fact that Jesus is God, that Mary was immaculate her whole life and a virgin until death, etc. These teachings are dogma and therefore cannot develop. Thus, those that publicly disagree with any of these or other dogmas would be excommunicated. No Catholic can disagree with any dogma, otherwise they would be cut off from the Church.
Catholics cannot disagree on moral teachings that are intrinsically evil. For example, abortion is always wrong in the eyes of the Church, because an innocent human being is always murdered in each case. Or to use another example, homosexual acts are always intrinsically disordered. This doesn’t mean that Catholics are to hate those who have same-sex attractions. Those with same-sex attraction are called, like every single other person, to a life of chastity. Those Catholics that disagree with these teachings knowingly and willfully are guilty of mortal sin, meaning that they cut themselves off from the supernatural virtue of Charity, and in some cases, are also excommunicated. Thus, Catholics must also be of one mind in regards to moral teachings that are intrinsically evil or disordered.
On the other hand, Catholics can legitimately disagree about how to understand some theological matters. There are multiple religious orders within the Catholic Church, such as the Jesuits, Dominicans, Franciscans, Benedictans, Augustinians, etc. Some of those in these orders disagreed with one another in regard to teachings that haven’t been defined by the Church. For example, in the 16th and 17th century, some Dominicans and Jesuits were debating about how Catholics are to understand the Doctrine of Predestination. Though these camps vigorously disagreed with each other, at the end of the day, they were all Catholic.
Catholics may also disagree on the application of moral teachings that are not intrinsically evil. For example, two Catholics may legitimately disagree about whether a murderer deserves the death penalty. Their disagreement would not be about whether the death penalty is evil in it self, but rather, whether the application of the death penalty would be appropriate given the particular circumstance. In short, non-intrinsic acts are neither good or bad in themselves. Rather, non-intrinsic acts are good or bad depending on when the act is done, who is doing the act, why the act is being done, etc.
Finally, Catholics may also disagree on how to interpret Scripture, at least to a certain extent. Many in the Early Church did not fully agree on how to interpret certain scriptural passages. However, none of their interpretations were contrary to the doctrines of the True Faith. Therefore, Catholics may disagree with each other on how to interpret certain passages as long as their interpretation is not contrary to the Magisterium of the Church. (The Magisterium is that which interprets the word of God authentically. The Magisterium is made up of the Pope and Bishops who are in communion with him.)
Thus, Catholics are free to disagree on how to apply and interpret Church teachings to a certain extent. The Church is like the guardrails on a road. Just as guardrails are meant to protect a car from falling off an edge of a cliff, so too is the Church meant to protect a Catholic from falling into Heresy. One may be anywhere in between the ‘guardrails,’ and still remain Catholic.
The Constitution was created to provide rights to all Americans, originalism is the path to follow.
By Katelyn McCarthy
Much of the political infighting our nation grapples with today stems from warring ideas about what America is. Since what America is is determined by her Constitution, matters of jurisprudence are central to defining her.
Such jurisprudence is generally divided into two camps: an originalist understanding and an activist understanding. An originalist believes that the Constitution means what it said when it was written. An activist believes that the Constitution can be reinterpreted by the courts to correspond to America as she exists today.
The activist interpretation can come off initially as the more human understanding, as it seems to take into consideration our current concerns. The originalist understanding, on the other hand, can seem unnecessarily pedantic, unforgiving, and worshipful of an old document.
In actuality, however, the activist understanding is the dangerous interpretation. If the Constitution means what any one judge decides, then one’s rights are open to interpretation. This understanding provides less security for the safeguarding of the rights of the citizen against the government.
If, on the other hand, the Constitution means what it says (as it does under the originalist understanding), then one’s rights are clearly delineated and less able to be tinkered with.
Ultimately, the philosophy supporting the activist understanding of the Constitution is based on the idea that society inevitably advances and improves with the passage of time. We moderns tend to think that humanity’s trajectory is linear, with an upward slope. If this is the case, then what problem could there be with the Constitution’s meaning evolving as we do? After all, we can only be better tomorrow than we were today, right?
But is it true that humanity necessarily progresses? This notion may be ingrained into our pattern of thinking, but, seeing as the twentieth century was the bloodiest century yet known to man, I don’t think it holds much water. We ought not place our hopes in an inevitable progress.
This is not to say that the Constitution is not a living and breathing document. Its heart pulses within Article V, which details the process by which it may be amended. The Founding Fathers devised a system by which it may be purged of its flaws and applied to the present day; that system is not judicial activism but “activism” on the part of either the federal or state legislatures. An unelected judge who is not accountable to the people is the last person a free nation should entrust with pumping the ink through her constitution’s cursive veins.
As the process of amending the Constitution requires high levels of support either from Congress or state legislatures, it is not easily accomplished. Perhaps this is why judicial activism is practiced, since it provides a route around the Constitution’s normal and difficult amendment process. Perhaps it is also employed because it can be used to promote policies which would not likely pass through any given legislature or be voted for by the people.
The question of jurisprudence ultimately comes down to the place in which the citizen desires power to be vested. Shall it be vested in a document designed to protect his rights and that can be amended as necessary, or shall it be vested in the hands of a few who, over time, can squeeze out of it just about whatever they might want? Shall the judiciary serve as a super-legislature, or not? Shall it judge, or shall it rule? Shall Lady Justice leave her blindfold on, or shall she remove it? Originalism will give you the former; activism will give you the latter.
With far-right, pro-Trump militia groups and caravans terrorizing the country this election year, we need to talk about violence associated with the presidential election.
By Melanie Moyer
Venessa Ramirez, a junior at SMC, says she’s afraid to leave her dorm room after the results of the election results are announced. She says “with the election, the feelings and emotions around this are just an amplification of what every single minority, BIPOC, and member of the LGBTQIA+ community have been feeling over the last four years. That feeling is constant fear. It is the fear that the President is going to encourage someone to look at them and want to harm them, and with the messages he’s sent out to his supporters, that fear feels all too real right now. On election day in 2016, I volunteered at the polls in my hometown. This year I stocked up and stayed inside.”
Objectively speaking, Ramirez has every reason to feel as if she could be put in an unsafe situation as a result of the election. Headline after headline has described the different ways groups have become violent in the name of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Further, most of these violent groups identify with racist, anti-LGBTQ+, xenophobic, or misogynist sentiments. This shouldn’t come as a surprise after Trump told the Proud Boys, a far-right and neo-fascist male-only organization, to be on standby after the election.
Days before the election, caravans of Trump supporters wreaked havoc across the nation. In New York, a pro-Trump group blocked traffic on the Governor Mario M. Cuomo bridge two days before the election. Participants waved flags bearing Trump’s name and screamed hateful chants in an attempt to make their presence known. Something similar occurred near Lakewood, New Jersey when another pro-Trump caravan blocked five miles of traffic on the northbound Garden State Parkway. Many smaller caravans have also been reported around the country. This dangerous behavior on busy roads and bridges seems to have few purposes except for the intimidation of those who oppose Trump’s presidential campaign, for, unlike protests that occurred earlier this year that advocated for the lives of Black folks, these protestors simply want a president reelected.
Violence was also targeted at the Biden campaign, with a caravan of pro-Trump supporters surrounding a Biden-Harris campaign bus in Texas. During this confrontation, one pickup truck collided with an SUV driving behind the Biden-Harris bus. Biden’s campaign team confirmed that neither Biden nor Harris were in the targeted vehicle, but the campaign canceled further events in the state in response to the violent encounter.
Though the events of 2020 have desensitized many to the different historical markers of the year, it should outrage anyone who respects democracy to see a presidential election be wrought with violence in this way. It would be unthinkable that one of the two presidential candidates would be indifferent to these events, especially when comparing this election year to that of Obama and Romney in 2012. However, Donald Trump has gone so far as to defend participants of this road-based violence, calling them “patriots.”
Violent, right-wing sentiments have also gone beyond responding directly to the election. In October of this year, it was revealed that thirteen people associated with the Wolverine Watchmen—a far-right militia group in Michigan—plotted to kidnap and possibly assassinate Governor Gretchen Whitmer in an attempt to overthrow the Michigan government. A week after this plot was revealed by the FBI, Trump traveled to the state and encouraged a crowd to chant “Lock Her Up” in reference to Whitmer. A week before the election, former presidential advisor Steve Bannon continued the pattern of violence against those who oppose Trump by suggesting the director of the FBI and Dr. Anthony should be beheaded and put onto pikes in front of the White House.
Thus, it should come as no surprise that Trump supporters feel validated and prepared to participate in violent acts in the name of his presidential campaign. When violence against those who oppose Trump is encouraged in the way it is, we cannot pretend that those who become targets based on their race, sexuality, gender, and political leanings are not living in constant fear.
As far as we have seen with events occurring on election day, it is apparent that violent Trump supporters have been present at polling locations. Many videos have surfaced with people donning pro-Trump banners and attire attempting to block polling locations with their cars. There have been many reports of violent altercations happening between those who identify with the two opposing presidential parties. Further, it has been reported that many altercations have occurred in response to pro-Trump poll watchers not wearing a mask, an act that leaves voters susceptible to contracting COVID-19. Say what you will about someone’s right to choose what they do with their bodies, but intentional negligence in making a polling location a safe place to vote is antidemocratic. To name this poll-related violence and negligence as anything other than attempted voter-suppression would be a fallacy, for the presence of unsafe behavior deters voters from going to the polls to cast their ballots.
After the election results were announced on Saturday, thousands took to the streets to celebrate Donald Trump being removed from the presidential position. These celebrations were met with counter protests, including some with armed participants. Many different reports about these encounters becoming violent have been recorded. Further, the Proud Boys leader posted that the group was “rolling out” and that the “standby order has been rescinded.” Two armed men were arrested outside a convention center in Philadelphia after the FBI tipped off local police about a potential attack. Due to events of this nature, the FBI has warned that white supremacists and domestic terrorists harbor the country’s greatest threat of “lethal violence” in response to the election.
Those who want to defend this election based violence are most likely asking about how this violence compares to the protests and riots associated with the Black Lives Matter movement earlier this year. First of all, we need to distinguish the intentions of each social movement. BLM protests and riots are in response to the institutionalized oppression of Black people in the US, specifically that which makes routine police encounters a death sentence for Black men. Pro-Trump protests are advocating for the reelection of a president; more specifically, a president who perpetuates systems of oppression contributing to the deep facets of white supremacy, male dominance, xenophobia, homophobia, and transphobia in our country. There is no way to draw a comparison between the motivations of a movement advocating for people’s lives and the reelection of a president.
However, we should acknowledge which side is objectively more violent. Thomas Zeitzoff, a politics professor at American University, told The Atlantic that “we have two different, large protests: the protests against police racism and […] far-right militia groups. And [we] have a president who is prepping and priming his supporters to delegitimize his results. Objectively, there’s been more violence and more lethal violence committed by the far right.” With motives and actions in mind, it is apparent that arguments for a comparison between Black Lives Matter protests and Pro-Trump protests are not solid ground in an argument for the validity of far-right violence.
Thus, violent, far-right protests in the name of reelecting Donal Trump intimidate voters and make this election an unsafe time for Americans. It is time for our country to wake up to what we are letting happen during this election. Ramirez leaves us with some hope, saying “I want to see those with hate in their hearts lose their platform. I do not want to live in a country where bigotry, racism, xenophobia, and transphobia are normalized. While there is a lot of work to do to create a more accepting society, if we continue to have these difficult conversations, we will be headed in the right direction.
Please read the below articles for further information regarding the research of this article.
Gretchen Whitmer on Donald Trump’s continued violence against her and her family:
Olga Khazan on election-related violence:
White Supremacists, Domestic Terrorists Pose Biggest Threat Of ‘Lethal Violence’ This Election, DHS Assessment Finds
News networks are not the root of the division amongst the American people, rather, we need to examine the heart of America.
By Emmanuel Simon
The 2020 Presidential Election merely echoes what we knew from the last Election- the American people are divided. Are news outlets, such as FOX and CNN, to blame? Perhaps. Yet maybe the division lies in something deeper, the heart of the American People.
The function of a news outlet is to publish news stories. This means that a news outlet ought to report current events that occur in a state, country, or even the world. Furthermore, they also give commentaries on a given current event, sometimes interviewing those that are not a part of their news outlet.
Those that are skeptical of the structure of news outlets wonder two things. How do we know that the news outlets are actually reporting facts, and we are not receiving fake news? Second, why should one believe that a given commentary or interpretation if the facts are accurate?
It’s obvious that if one were only to watch a given news-network, then that person can only rely on what that news organization has to say. However, there also is a way to confirm whether such news is fake or not- go to the source. For example, suppose FOX reports that the President said we are going to war with China. To confirm whether or not this is true, one must look at what the President actually said, and not merely at what an outlet reports the President had said.
But if we are to also look at the source in order to avoid receiving fake news, why watch any given news network in the first place? Perhaps because it’s convenient. It’s easy to turn on the T.V. and have some news-network running in the background while working on something else, whereas looking at a primary source takes more time and effort. But only looking at a given news-network(s) still keeps one susceptible to fake news.
This is not to say that news-networks have absolutely no value. Assuming that a given news-network is reporting real news, one is also given interpretations and reactions from staff in the given news network. These interpretations and reactions can be helpful, since they may help shape a perspective. But this can also be done without a news network. Just go on Google, Twitter, or Youtube, and you’ll be able to see both a primary source and interpretations from others. After all, the staff on the news network are merely people just like you. A person can easily do what they do, and probably even better, assuming that one actually examines the primary source(s).
News-networks are therefore deceptive if they portray fake news, or if they give unwarranted interpretations of the facts. Such deception may be one factor that plays into a divided America, since Americans are figuring out what the facts are.
But I don’t think this is the complete story. The division in America isn’t solely due to news-networks, though it may play a role in it. The real cause of division are the hearts of the American people. The only thing that unites a group of people in contemporary politics is a shared accusation and hatred towards some other group or person. How many of you Republicans would like Trump to be President because Biden is trash? Or how many of you Democrats would like Biden to be President because Trump is incompetent? Critiquing the other side is one thing, but running a platform grounded upon a detestation of another is something else. At this rate then, America will remain divided, no matter who the new president is.
But there may be one thing that could help. If we start loving the person whom we disagree with, we will find that person to be less detestable. Though two parties may disagree with another in politics, they will find themselves in union through charity. Make 2020 better by loving one another.
By Katelyn McCarthy
Catholics seeking political office in America have historically been viewed with suspicion by their political competitors. Fears that Catholics would take orders from the Pope prevented them from making gains in the political world. Catholic Al Smith lost the 1928 presidential election to Herbert Hoover by almost 6.5 million votes in large part due to apprehension of Smith’s Catholicism. The Ku Klux Klan and the Know-Nothing Party both held anti-Catholicism as an aspect of their bigotry.
This bigotry in American politics seemed to have evaporated. John F. Kennedy was elected to the presidency in 1960, after having overcome a clandestine scheme led by his opponent, Richard Nixon, to convince Protestant Americans that Kennedy’s policies would be tainted by Romish ideas and interests. Today, 17 governors, 163 members of Congress, and two-thirds of the current Supreme Court are Catholic. The House minority leader is a Catholic. The House majority leader is a Catholic. The president-elect is a Catholic.
This shift swung into full force when JFK, addressing the Greater Houston Ministerial Association in a speech largely credited with widening public acceptance of Catholic politicians, stated, “I am not the Catholic candidate for president. I am the Democratic Party's candidate for president, who happens also to be a Catholic.”
Kennedy’s statement was to become the basis for the philosophy of Mario Cuomo, the former governor of New York. In a 1984 speech at the University of Notre Dame, Cuomo devised a template for the political character of the modern Catholic politician. If Kennedy described himself as a politician who happened to be Catholic, Cuomo described himself as a Catholic who happened to be willing to (politically, not personally) support policies contrary to the faith which he professed. This finagling philosophy has proved to be a boon for Catholic politicians in garnering support.
But to claim that anti-Catholicism has faded into the mists of history would be false. Catholic politicians who cede their Catholic beliefs to secular thought are acceptable in the American political realm. Catholic politicians who believe Church teaching privately and profess it publicly are not.
Take pro-life Democrat Dan Lipinski as an example. Lipinski, a former member of Congress, was ousted from his House seat for refusing to accept his party’s support of abortion. Another example is Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who was informed by a disapproving Senator Dianne Feinstein during the former’s hearings for an appeals court judgeship that “The dogma lives loudly within you.” For some reason, I can’t see Senator Feinstein making the same complaint about certain Catholic politicians in her party.
Why not? The answer is simple. Many prominent Catholic politicians have discovered that the way to be Catholic and to ensure their election is to tout their private devotion to their faith while publicly behaving out of accord with it.
Joe Biden will be the second Catholic president we have ever had. In my opinion, he will also be the most anti-Catholic president we have ever had.
I don’t mean that I question his personal faith. Nor do I mean that he harbors animosity towards Catholics. I do think, however, that he will enact anti-Catholic policies. He has said that he intends to sue the Little Sisters of the Poor to require them to provide birth control to their employees. He chose as his running mate a woman who imposed an unconstitutional religious litmus test on a candidate for federal judgeship, Brian Buescher, asking him whether he was aware that the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic organization of which he is a member, is opposed to abortion and supports traditional marriage, positions which are precisely those of the Church. Biden supports abortion access and has promised to overturn the Hyde Amendment, which bars federal funds from paying for abortions. Essentially, he would make it so that his fellow Catholic taxpayers pay for abortions.
The Catholic governor of California, Gavin Newsom, supported in 2019 a (now-withdrawn) bill that would have required priests to break the seal of the confessional, an act that would inflict automatic excommunication upon the priest. He signed into law SB24, which requires California public colleges to provide medication abortions. In 2019, as a response to pro-life legislation passed in Alabama and Georgia, he invited America’s women to have their abortion procedures performed in California. Clearly, even Cuomo’s line between a Catholic politician’s private disagreement with but public permission of an act has been blurred.
As a final example, Andrew Cuomo, the Catholic governor of New York and son of the aforementioned Mario Cuomo, expanded abortion access in the third trimester of a pregnancy and lit the Empire State Building pink to celebrate.
All three of these politicians possess high levels of support. They do not face anti-Catholic bias in their political careers. Catholics have learned that to win in politics all they have to do is to contradict the deeply held precepts of their faith.
Some may say that it is necessary for Catholic politicians to disregard the teachings of the Church in policy decisions, as we in America practice the separation of Church and state. I think that this statement misunderstands where Church teachings come from. A Catholic politician should not impose moral standards which are binding only upon Catholics (like to go to confession at least once a year or, if one is going to be married, to be married in the Church). This would indeed be an interference of Church and state. But there are other standards which the Church preaches but which she does not make up herself. These standards are based upon natural law, meaning that they are binding upon everyone, regardless of their religious affiliations. Such standards include actions like telling the truth in court, not murdering, and not stealing. A society which permits a plurality of practices in these areas is not a society—it is an anarchy. None of these truths need be expressed religiously. To say that they are explicitly Catholic because the Church teaches them would be like saying algebra is explicitly “Jonesian” because Mrs. Jones teaches algebra.
A Catholic politician who does not implement natural law into his policies is not practicing the separation of Church and state. Really, he is enforcing the separation of humanity from law. To disregard natural law is for him to do a disservice to his fellow men and to fall prey to the idea that algebra can only be true for Mrs. Jones’ pupils. It is for him to confuse the teaching with the teacher. Unfortunately, many of our Catholic politicians do make this conflation.
Bigotry against Catholic politicians has not disappeared. It only seems like it has, seeing as so many of our Catholic politicians have it easy in American political life, choosing to call themselves Catholics without acting like they are. Discrimination against Catholic politicians and judges, like Dan Lipinski, Amy Coney Barrett, and Brian Buescher, who behave as they believe remains in full force. But such Catholic politicians have a consolation. Cracking them open, you’d find that their inner is the same as their outer. They might have harder battles to fight, but they have one thing that the other Catholic politicians do not: conviction, integrity, courage, and obedience to Christ. So far as I’m concerned, that’s where the real gold lies.
Opinion Columnists Katelyn McCarthy and Melanie Moyer write conflicting views on whether or not to support Proposition 16.
Pro Proposition: Proposition 16 is a Step in the Right Direction
Proposition 209 hides under the disguise of an anti-discrimination practice. It’s time to unveil the reality of a ‘colorblind’ application and hiring process
By Melanie Moyer
Addressing inequality in a country that has an undeniable record of systematic oppression should be a process that is constantly revaluated as we develop new ways of achieving diversity, equity, and inclusion. With this in mind, it shouldn’t be hard to understand that a proposition passed in 1996 no longer fits into modern discussions about racial and gender oppression. The inclusion of Proposition 16 asks voters to decide whether the ban of Affirmative Action from Proposition 209 in 1996 should be reversed. If passed, Proposition 16 would permit schools and public institutions to take race, ethnicity, color, national origin, and gender into consideration when reviewing applications. Perhaps in 1996 a ‘colorblind’ approach to assessing a candidate seemed appropriate. However, the conversation surrounding equitable hiring and college admittance has changed and it is time for our regulations in California to change with it.
One of the primary reasons many oppose Proposition 16 is due to the belief that the individual’s identity will be overshadowed by their identification with a certain group in applications. This argument would make sense if identification with a racial group or gender did not carry institutionalized meaning in our society. However, the reality is that economic, social, and cultural barriers still exist for marginalized groups in our country.
Recent developments in the Black Lives Matter movement have pointed out that Black folks in the United States have been systematically kept from the same economic resources and educational opportunities as white people have. Beyond this, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, and People of Color, as well as women both within and outside of these groups, have been systematically kept from the same opportunities as their white male counterparts.
This is not to say that the script should be flipped and that white men should be kept away from opportunities in the same way marginalized groups have been. Instead, it points out that ‘colorblindness’ and other forms of erasing the lived experiences of marginalized groups harm the way they are received in society by pretending the barriers they face do not impact their standing in relation to those who do not have the same barriers.
Take, for example, the difference in education that a child who lives in a wealthy, white neighborhood receives than a child who lives in a poor neighborhood made up mostly of People of Color. As schools are funded primarily through property taxes respective to their county, it is obvious that students in poorer neighborhoods will have fewer opportunities than their wealthier counterparts. In the context of higher education, severely underfunded public schools are filled with students of color, showing the institutionalized barrier that exists for these students. Colleges need to understand this significant factor about their student’s lives in the application process.
In this way, Proposition 209 prevents decisionmakers from getting a full picture of an applicant and their qualifications due to the negation of the barriers they have had to overcome. Utter equity is needed to negate the importance of an individual’s marginalized identity in a hiring or recruiting process. California simply does not have that.
Proposition 209 is hypocritical in the way it cherrypicks what can and cannot be considered in an application process. Varsha Sarveshwar, president of the University of California Student Association, states that “colleges can consider whether you’re from the suburbs, a city or a rural area. They can consider what high school you went to. They can consider your family’s economic background. They can look at virtually everything about you – but not race. It makes no sense – and is unfair – that schools can’t consider something that is so core to our lived experience.” The truth of what can be included in an application makes us question whether Proposition 209’s goal is to completely level the playing field, or if it simply would like schools and public institutions to make decisions without considering racial inequity.
Without Proposition 209, many fear the consequences of making Affirmative Action available during application processes. An argument has been made that quotas and caps will be instated in schools and public institutions. However, according to the League of Women Voters, quotas will remain illegal if Proposition 16 passes. They report that “California has some of the strongest anti-discrimination laws in the nation, none of which will be altered by Prop 16.” Racial caps will also remain illegal if Proposition 16 is passed. Thus, any argument that racial discrimination would rule the application process in California leaves out that Proposition 16 does not permit any form of discrimination.
In this way, the consequences of Proposition 209 outweigh that of Proposition 16. As a result of Proposition 209, the League of Women’s Voters reports that “there has been a 12 percent drop in enrollment of students from underrepresented groups across the University of California system. In turn, this caused further declines in college graduation rates, graduate school admission and completion rates, and average wages for underrepresented Californians.” In terms of jobs in public institutions, “public sector jobs have become less attainable for certain groups since the passage of Prop 209. In particular, men and women of color remain underrepresented, especially when it comes to getting top management positions.”
Proposition 16 thus repeals something that has proven to be harmful to the lives of marginalized groups. Though it hides under the guise of an anti-discrimination procedure, Proposition 209 has proven to be the exact opposite. As our country grows and begins to heal its past of racial and gender discrimination, we must give ourselves the room to engage with modern discussions of equitable application and hiring practices.
Con Proposition: Proposition 16 Places Characteristics Above Character
Proposition 16 regressive by valuing the group over the individual, it tells people that they can prosper because of what they are, not who they are. By diminishing the value of hard work and increasing the value of physical characteristics outside of one’s control, it dehumanizes every individual of every race and sex.
By Katelyn McCarthy
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” stated Martin Luther King, Jr. in his “I Have a Dream” speech. I would like to analyze Dr. King’s statement here in light of Proposition 16.
In 1996, Californians voted to pass Proposition 209, which barred the California government from using race, sex, or ethnicity in school admissions, public hiring, and public contracting. Prop. 16 would reverse Prop. 209.
While the goals of Proposition 16 are admirable—namely, to grant opportunities to women and to people of color and to, ultimately, eliminate racial and gender disparities—the manner through which it hopes to achieve these goals contradicts them. It would reintroduce judgement on the basis of skin color and sex into the granting of opportunities, judgements which Prop. 209 rightly did away with. It would have us pay more attention to skin and sex rather than less, attentions which usually call prejudice.
One may argue that colorblindness and non-discrimination on the basis of sex are not yet realities, so affirmative action is necessary. I agree with this viewpoint in that racial equality and equality on the basis of sex ought to be goals in which we as a society are working towards. What I ask, then, is how affirmative action engenders a blindness towards color and sex, seeing as it is designed to recognize color and sex. Prop. 16 would perpetuate a society not blind to color or to sex by bringing attention to them, stating that they are factors which ought to be used preferentially.
This would create a system that would see people first and foremost in the collective. Prop. 16’s philosophy asserts that one is a member of a group first and foremost and an individual second. People, under this worldview, are more like objects than like living beings. One receives opportunities, the philosophy states, not because of the work one has done but because of the physical qualifications one possesses.
Some may argue that affirmative action is necessary because one’s race and sex impact one’s ability to receive opportunities to begin with. While equality of opportunity should most definitely be striven for, I think the first question we should ask should not be, “Will affirmative action increase the hiring and admission into colleges of women and people of color?” but, “Why is it that women and people of color do not receive fair opportunities in the first place?” Affirmative action doesn’t answer these questions. It serves as a Band-Aid, not a solution.
Prop. 16 would benefit (or harm) one based on these categories, which are entirely outside of one’s control. One can make the case here that those who have not historically been discriminated against are currently benefited because of qualifications outside of their control. I agree wholeheartedly that this is not something which should occur, but I question how Prop.16 will put a stop to it. Prop. 16, it should be noted, makes no provision as to which sex or races are to be treated preferentially, so to say that it will help minorities is to understand its intention but not its potential consequences.
How would Prop. 16 impact the person who, through no fault of his own, cannot check off the boxes? What can a person who fits no desired categories do? A free nation is one in which everyone is able to benefit from what he or she works for, not what he or she is born into.
One might say that to take the argument in this direction is misleading, as it fails to recognize the trials some communities deal with that others do not—in other words, that people in some communities are born into situations into which others are not. I agree, again, that all are deserving of equal opportunity. This objection, however, reverts once again to holding the collective above the individual. A female child of a racial minority who has two financially stable parents is better off than a white boy whose father is a drug addict. A collective mindset, however, does not recognize this.
It is logically erroneous to place the collective over the individual, as it is impossible for a collective, which is a group of individuals, to be important if the single individual is not important. There is one way, however, in which this philosophy behind Prop. 16 can work: if the human person is viewed as a means as opposed to an end. The individual is an end. The collective is a means. An individual viewed in the collective is indeed being viewed more as a thing than as a person.
A good point to keep in mind is that all people, regardless of the groups to which they may belong, are individuals. Thus, to value the individual is to value all, equally including women and people of color. To value the group, on the other hand, is to only value some.
This proposition need not be an issue of color and sex. It ought instead to be an issue of recognizing hard work versus recognizing bodily characteristics. All are capable of hard work. Individuals who face discrimination certainly ought to be helped. But lumping them into collective categories and reinvigorating consciousness into the prejudices which one forced them into those categories is not a path to better society. Rather than making these characteristics irrelevant to the way we see one another, Prop. 16 would make us see them all the more.
To create a truly fair system, I suggest the following solution. In college admissions, applications should cease to ask for the applicant’s ethnicity and sex and administrators should refrain from viewing an applicant’s name until after deciding whether or not to admit the applicant. This same evaluation process should be followed in public hiring and public contracting decisions. Racism and sexism would be immediately removed from these processes, as there would be no information contained in them off of which racism and sexism could feed.
If a process like this were followed, one would be better able to judge whence current disparities stem. Should the number of women and people of color being admitted into college or holding public jobs and contracts increase, we would know that the reason they had been less represented previously would have been due to discrimination. Should the number remain the same or decrease, we would know that the reason would be because they had not been receiving the same opportunities for merit as others had. This issue could then be addressed more precisely, and hopefully at an earlier stage. To begin addressing it once an individual becomes college-aged or enters the job market seems to me to be a little late.
So, while I cannot say what Dr. King would think about Prop. 16, I can say this: Prop. 16 judges based on the color of skin and on sex. It does not judge based on the content of character. What do we as Californians want to see first: one’s skin and sex, or one’s self?
Culture Columnist Benjamin Noel and Opinion Columnist Emmanuel Simon each explain the difference between a Liberal and a Conservative.
Liberal Position: The Left Way of Thinking
What Liberals hope Conservatives understand about their views on their shared society.
By Benjamin Noel
The core values of Liberalism can be simplified to being open minded in observing culture and in understanding others, and respecting the sanctity of the individual.When these morals are applied to politics, we get a look at the traditional Liberal values, and see how they educate opinion on current matters. The key factors in Liberal governing and lawmaking include minding the social ramifications that come with each law, and ensuring basic human rights for all. This is the lens by which liberals view issues, which differs greatly from the conservative’s principle based laws.
One common ground held with Conservatives is the idea of unalienable rights. The rights to life liberty and pursuit of happiness are the core of any society. Another way of looking at the matter is as follows: Do not assume the American Dream is the same for each person.
A theory both Liberals and Conservatives hold true involves creating a society in which everyone has an equal shot at making it to the top. This value stems from mans right to pursuit of happiness. We live in a country so diverse in thought, that simplifying policy and issues to that of the past, simply does not allow for a meaningful discussion on the country’s future.
On a side note the Democratic party of today greatly diverges from traditional Liberal beliefs. Their concept of forced diversity and the theory of equal outcome are harmful to the nation, and secondarily to the name of Liberalism itself. Liberalism is not about ensuring equality of outcome, but it is about allowing everyone equal opportunity, and providing them reasonable means to do so. A brief glimpse of Liberal views on current topics:
A basic form of healthcare should be provided and accessible to all. The private pharmaceutical field is ever growing, but as all private entities, it is driven by profit. The government is responsible for ensuring “life” thus must ensure the citizenries access to ample medical care by subsidizing vaccine research, and a state sponsored basic health program.
The Conservative view on abortion is that it is utterly immoral, for they are effectively killing a unique human being. A morally sound point. However, looking at the issue as a legal one, through the eyes of a Liberal, we must take into account the social repercussions of instituting a law banning abortions. There is no substantive proof that instituting a law denying legal abortions will reduce the number of abortions at all, but rather will cause increased fatalities in cases of failed procedures. So the solution to the high abortion rate is not making it illegal, but rather increasing sex education, and not encouraging one parent households via increased welfare benefits.
The concept of the Second Amendment is a perfect example of why innovation should have a direct impact on legislation. At the time of writing, the word “arms” referred to muskets, guns with no rifling which took upwards of 30 seconds to pack and load. These guns were extremely inaccurate even at close range, with not enough power to pierce a pocket Bible. We now have guns capable of firing a deadly accurate round with every trigger squeeze. The level of destruction and death a musket could wield is incomparable to the accurate rifles of today, thus we need to adjust for that in legislation.
More importantly, modern psychology was born in the late 1800s, after our country was founded, and that amendment passed. We now know there are people who psychologically cannot understand the consequences or permanence of their actions, people who disregard human or animal life, and those who truly seek to cause mayhem and death. We must account for this in the process of buying a firearm. Thus a background check and wait period is not only a deterrent from people buying guns as an instant emotional reaction, but it also ensures those with deep rooted mental problems do not have access to the means to dole out their misguided will.
In an ever changing world, with advancements in technologies and changing status quo the law of the land must change with the times.While there are core values necessary for a country to run justly, both left and right need to come together and decide which are those deep rooted human rights, and which are relatively modern inventions that should be subject to change and revision.
With growth, a country must change, in structure and legislation to reasonably protect and represent the rights of their people.That being said, both sides of the political spectrum are necessary to fuel a country like ours. A strict Conservative understanding of unalienable rights, along with the Liberal belief that the rest must be adapted to the times, will make for a well rounded country.
Conservative Position: The Right Way of Thinking
What Conservatives hope Liberals understand about their views on their shared society.
By Emmanuel Simon
The Conservative position that I will defend is the most adequate and consistent perspective, especially in regards to social issues. Such a view finds itself built upon the foundation for which all claims of human dignity are rightly instituted.
But first, let me clarify my position, for not all Right-Wingers are the same. Many Republicans are considered to be Right-Winged. Broadly speaking, I do not hold to contemporary Republican thought, for they have abandoned the foundation by which their doctrine once stood, and therefore, have given in to certain hurtful Left-Wing ideologies.
Many say that the Nazis are Right-Winged. Supposing this to be the case, my position is also not theirs. Racism, meaning that one race is superior to another, is a disgusting ideology for obvious reasons, and thus something I condemn.
My position is this: all human beings are made in the image and likeness of God, and therefore are to be treated in a humane manner. For this reason, the aim of a body politic is to protect the innocent, as well as to promote the common good amongst those in society. It is in this light, then, that social issues are to be examined. Through these matters, the other policies (such as fiscal and foreign policy issues, etc.), may be adequately addressed.
Now my position may at first sight seem to discredit the fact that atheists can be Conservatives too. Obviously, there are those that do not believe in God but also call themselves Conservatives, for they too hold that all human beings have dignity. However, I would argue that they do not know why human beings have dignity. But just because they do not know why we have human dignity does not mean that they deny that we have dignity. In other words, they know that we have dignity without knowing why. Thus, they too can be Conservatives.
Applying the principle that all human beings are made in the image and likeness of God and therefore have dignity, many Conservatives uphold that all have a right to life. Thus, we care for all human life, from the womb to the tomb. Hence, we find issues such as abortion and euthanasia to be contrary to the common good, and therefore want it outlawed; for an innocent human being is always murdered in such acts.
In the case that one’s life were to be in proximate danger by someone, that person would have the right to defend his or her life. This is one of the many reasons why Conservatives uphold the Second Amendment. Even Black Lives Matter activists are fundraising in order to get its members trained in using a gun, taking advantage of their rights. Does the Left want to limit such rights?
Furthermore, Conservatives for the most part agree with the Left that all people should have access to healthcare. The difference between the Left and Right in this manner is the method by which they go about with such an issue. Though I personally am not sure of how we should go about this issue, I certainly would be against implementing a universal healthcare policy by which all people are to be equally under, which is run by the government. Given that it takes forever for people to get through the DMV, a government-run agency, I wonder how long it would take for people to get the medical attention they need? A universal healthcare plan seems to be impractical and even detrimental.
Like the Left, Conservatives are also pro-inclusivity; only we don’t think it necessary to be inclusive to error. This is because Conservatives, (generally speaking), believe that objective truth(s) exist, and that not everything is merely subjective. If there were only subjective truths, i.e., my truth, your truth, etc, then dialogue about issues becomes impossible. People wouldn’t be able to see other people’s perspectives, since they are trapped in their own biases and prejudices. To be for inclusivity is to be for dialogue, and dialoguing is only possible if objective truth exists as the object of discussion. For this reason, Conservatives have a hard time dialoguing with many of those on the Left who disregard objective truth.
In summary, the Conservative position that I am defending merely upholds that we are made in the image and likeness of God, and it is God’s decrees that we are to follow. Such a view should not be controversial, yet here we are. Conservatives have a basis by which they judge things to be true or false, and good or evil. For this reason, we can say and truly believe that all human beings matter. We oppose the throw-away culture, a culture which sees human beings as something disposable, like a pair of worn-down shoes. If you care about the dignity of human beings, then you will find your home within the Conservative movement.
Victoria Vidales '21,