Trump should have never left the Paris Climate Agreement

By Seby Shuken ’18

With climate change having increasingly become a major issue in both the United States and global politics, it seems obvious that the president of the supposed “free world” would support a policy that would further our reputation and role as the leader of this great nation.

Apparently, Donald Trump did not realize what job he signed up for, or maybe what country he lives in. The implications of his recent withdrawal of the Paris Agreement are far too important and ominous for the future of the world and our country.

This decision will have a far reaching impact in our country, economy, and environment to say the least, including severe damage to the long term allies that America has, the futuristic outlook and innovations we provide, and, of course, the superpower leadership reputation that the U.S. has.

With 71 percent of Americans saying they would like the U.S to stay in the Paris deal and 57 percent of Republicans saying the same, it is apparent that Trump’s decision was not based on what the majority of Americans believe, but instead on what a core group of his supporters believe. Within this core group of supports lies coal miners who are counting on him to bring back their jobs.

While he may believe that withdrawing from this deal will help the coal industry and help the economy as a whole, a study done by the Chicago council on Global Affairs proves him to be wrong. The study shows that solar power employed 43 percent of the Electric Power Generation sector’s workforce in 2016, while fossil fuels combined accounted for just 22 percent.

It is evident that the United States should have remained in the Paris Agreement partly due to the U.S being the biggest carbon polluter in the history of the world. It seems only fair that the United States stays in the agreement to make up for the country’s carbon footprint that it has left behind on Earth. With the large role we play in changing the climate, we should be the ones to clean up the mess we’ve left behind.

The amount of diplomatic progress that has had to occur in order for developing countries such as China and India to be part of this accord makes this deal ever more important to international politics. These developing countries tend to be some of the biggest barricades to getting a majority of the countries on board. The decision to leave the Paris agreement will send the clock backwards on all the strides the U.N has made to get all countries on board. The United States as a role model for the world will influence many countries, especially developing ones, to leave the agreement, thereby completely destroying any chance of preventing the 2 degree increase in global temperature – something seen as a stepping stone towards even more irreparable damage.

With Trump leaving the Paris Climate Agreement, he is ultimately allowing the United States to create whatever energy policy he would like. The implications of leaving this agreement are far worse than the few short term “positives” that will come from the withdrawal. Trump must reconsider his decision to withdrawal and listen to the American people for guidance on the issue.

Assault Charges on Election Eve

By Chris Andrews ’18

Is there a line that voters will not allow our government leaders to cross? Montana’s recently elected congressman, Republican Greg Gianforte, faces charges for allegedly assaulting a reporter, Ben Jacobs, the night before the Montana special election following the open seat of Rep. Ryan Zinke. Gianforte is reported to have body-slammed Jacobs to the ground after the reporter pressed him with questions regarding the American Health Care Act. According to Fox News, one witness claims that Gianforte “grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground … then began punching the reporter.”

While the Republican’s campaign initially claimed that Jacobs was the one who acted in an aggressive manner, Gianforte subsequently said that he was sorry for the mistake he had made in treating the reporter that way. While the response may be considered a poor attempt at an apology, his supporters applauded his remarks. Does this behavior inspire or worry voters? If I were a voting resident of Montana, I would steer clear of a candidate that seems to quickly escalate to violence when a reporter’s questions get tough.

It is interesting that such action so close to the election seems to have no negative impact on Gianforte’s campaign. While more than half of the votes had been cast prior to the event through absentee ballots, it didn’t tip the scales to another candidate. Despite some rescinded endorsements following the incident, Gianforte won the election and will soon be be sworn in as congressman regardless of his charges. There is no requirement in the Constitution that states that members of Congress must have a clear criminal record. In fact, according to the Washington Post, more than two dozen Congressmen have been indicted since 1980.
However, is it possible for these actions to have long term repercussions? While Gianforte’s supporters do not seem to be too upset about the altercation, we will need to wait to see if his actions will hold him back from going further in his political career. I suspect it may keep him from his goal of being elected Governor, though only time will tell. There seems to be a shift in the type of person that Americans want to represent our country, but I’m not sure if those who are making these choices really understand the implications.

Berkeley’s free speech problem: How honest discussions are being impeded on college campuses

By Fritz Schemel ’17

In the 1960’s, Berkeley, California, served as the epicenter of the Free Speech movement. Young activists marched and protested to have a voice in debates on the Vietnam War, race relations and everything in between.

However, in today’s America, Berkeley has become the epicenter of the movement against free speech. It’s all happening at the University of California-Berkeley, an elite public institution that’s mission is to “contribute even more than California’s gold to the glory and happiness of advancing generations.”

This week, the school uninvited controversial and provocative political commentator Ann Coulter from a scheduled event on campus, citing security concerns due to potential protests. Uninviting a speaker, just because the views of the speaker might be in contrast to a vast majority of the student body, certainly doesn’t contribute to advance the progress of any future generations.

In fact, it threatens to send our country into a dangerous period without free speech.

The solution to the security threat is not to uninvite Coulter. Instead, the University should ensure that its student body is respectful of differing opinions (as it was unable to be when Milo Yiannopoulos spoke on campus earlier this year). If students can’t even peacefully protest an opinion they disagree with, how much of an education in how to live in the world are they getting?

But Berkeley isn’t some isolated case. Conservative speakers, such as Ben Shapiro, were shut down on college campuses throughout 2016. Worse, some on the left even applauded the University for combating free combat.

After Coulter was uninvited, former Vermont governor and Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean tweeted “Hate speech is not protected by the First Amendment.”

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There’s just one problem. It totally is.

After widespread criticism, Dean tweeted about the Chaplinsky vs. New Hampshire Supreme Court decision, saying that not all speech is protected. However, Dean’s statement that hate speech is not protected has nothing to do with this decision, as the Chaplinsky case only talked about “fighting words,” which have some limits.

Now, I’m no fan of Coulter’s, and I’m certainly against and ready to call out hate speech, but it’s a critical part of our democracy to allow free speech, even when it is wrong. When the government, or a publicly-funded University, begins to decide that certain speech is right and other speech wrong, a very fine line emerges.

Coulter’s views don’t directly incite violence or create any danger, and the University’s decision to uninvite her (she has now been re-invited for a different date after widespread criticism) shows the problem of college campuses today.

Colleges bend to their students every want and need, and fail to educate them on how to life in the world post-graduation. Colleges that limit free speech, such as Berkeley, do a disservice to their students at best, and harm our nation’s fundamental democratic system of free speech at worst.

The war against free speech on college campuses needs to stop.

Actions speak louder than words: Trump’s address to Congress can’t be counted on

By Fritz Schemel ’17

After the President’s address to Congress last week, pundits declared that Trump “became President in that moment” and had given the best speech of his political career.

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These pundits are right. Trump’s speech was by far his most presidential, policy-oriented speech yet. He hit on many aspects of the House GOP’s “A Better Way” agenda, and won the night with a heart-wrenching tribute to a slain Navy SEAL and his widow.

However, before granting too much praise, Trump’s actions need to be examined.

It took the President just under a week to get off-message yet again, this time falsely accusing former President Obama of wiretapping him. This off-message agenda accomplishes nothing for conservatives that want to see real action. For the last few days, instead of focusing on the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, which was released Monday night, Trump has put the media in a frenzy over the wiretapping accusations.

Trump’s tone can improve, and he can become more presidential. But first, he must stay consistent with his messaging. Not just for an hour long speech, but for his entire four year presidency. Without consistent messaging, Trump’s agenda has no chance.

And while his speech was presidential and hit on many agenda items Republicans are focused on, there’s no indication that any of his policies are actually going to be conservative. In the same speech that he talked about repealing and replacing Obamacare, Trump spoke about a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan. Speaker Paul Ryan, who campaigned with Mitt Romney in 2012 on reforming budget problems, gave Trump’s trillion dollar plan a standing ovation.

Therein lies the problem. His agenda itself needs to be seriously considered by Republicans. Sure, Trump won as a Republican, but in a mix between Ivanka-influenced liberalism and Bannon-influenced nationalism, there’s not much room left for conservatism.

If Republicans and the conservative movement want any chance in the post-Trump days, they ought to consider Trump’s policies, not just the presidential rhetoric he displayed for an hour in front of Congress, before getting side-tracked yet again on his Twitter account.