History in the Making: A Breakdown of U.S. Politics Before Primaries


By Caitlin Richards

The 2020 election isn’t until November but a lot is happening in the world of politics. From impeachment hearings and trials to Democratic debates, history is being made in America that will more than likely interfere with the presidential election.

It’s hard to get away from hearing the talk around politics, and it’s important as college students to be aware of what is going on within our American government.

“Politics is really important whether or not you’re interested in it,” said Alisha Dharn, William Peace University freshmen and vice president and treasurer of the political science club. “Keeping up to date with what’s going on, and who we elect into office, affects us whether we think of it or not… whether it’s going to be college debt, voting or the vaping age… it’s just important to stay aware of what’s going on.”

Before getting into what is going on within the Democratic debates, the biggest topic in the news recently has been the impeachment.

Impeachment efforts against President Donald Trump began to surface since the whistleblower brought to attention Trump’s possible abuse of power last August. There were allegations that Trump unlawfully solicited the Ukrainian authorities in order to influence the 2020 election.

The inquiry stage of Trump’s impeachment lasted from September to November 2019.

Accusations came out that Trump withheld military aid and an invitation to the White House to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. This was to influence Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden for the purpose of affecting the 2020 presidential election.

Trump insists that there was no quid pro quo, which means “this for that.” Democrats accuse him of saying if Ukraine would help Trump out for his re-election, then they would get their needed military aid in order to fight Russia.

Witnesses testified to the House Intelligence Committee in November, and in December, the impeachment process was in full swing.

“I think that when the whole [impeachment] happened, it blew up on all social media and stuff. I kind of saw the ignorance of I guess American youth today because so many people don’t understand what’s going on. It was kind of disappointing seeing how our education system is kind of failing us,” said Dharn.

Trump is the third U.S. president to be impeached by the Senate. Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were the only other presidents to get impeached. The Watergate case is what people usually think of when hearing about impeachments, but Richard Nixon resigned before getting impeached.

History is being made in America again as the trials continue for Trump’s impeachment.

The House of Representatives passed two articles of impeachment – charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress – against Trump on Dec. 18.

There were 230 congressional votes to move forward with the impeachment process based on abuse of power and 197 votes against it, leading to Trump’s impeachment process continuing on for the Senate to decide whether he will be fully impeached or not. There were also 229 votes in favor of impeachment based on obstruction of justice and 198 votes against it.

On Jan. 16, the Senate began their trial. The Democrats made their closing arguments in the impeachment hearing. The impeachment process resumed on Jan. 25 with the Republicans and Trump’s legal team making their opening statements and remarks.

They started by trying to make the Democrats doubt that Trump had dealings with making Ukraine investigate Joe Biden, and claimed that Trump is being treated unfairly.

The trial resumed on Jan. 27 with the Republicans continuing their arguments.

According to Politico, “Republicans are already looking past impeachment, sensing a looming Democratic plot to gradually release more Ukraine bombshells as Donald Trump fights for re-election.”  

Now onto the Democratic debates.  

The first Democratic debate began on June 26, last year. Night one consisted more of what Trump isn’t doing right according to the democratic presidential candidates. They talked more about what they could do that Trump isn’t doing.

“So many [politicians] don’t even have a message and you don’t know what they stand for and you’re not going to win a campaign from that. That’s just going to ignite your opponent’s campaign even more,” said Dharn.
But now that the November election is approaching, the candidates are going head-to-head and are letting what they stand for be more noticeable within the debates. Each candidate is expressing more of their own views on policies such as immigration, health care, climate issues, and gun rights.

Some of the Democratic candidates running for the 2020 presidency are familiar.

Bernie Sanders, U.S. Senator of Vermont, ran for president in 2016. He got the attention of the millennials as his views on the legalization of marijuana and climate change are more liberal.

The former Vice President, Joe Biden, is also campaigning to become president and is currently in the lead over his fellow Democratic opponents.

Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Senator of Massachusetts, holds some of the same views as Biden and Sanders. As a senator, her populist economic message has animated the Democratic base. Her momentum didn’t stop on night one and it has continued throughout the campaign trail so far.

Pete Buttigieg, Mayor of South Bend, Indiana has won over some of the liberal millennials as he is openly gay, a millennial himself and a veteran of the war in Afghanistan.

As a college student, it can be hard to keep up with who is running for president and what they believe. 
“The age of social media has made it easier than ever for political officials to sway public opinion on hot button political topics,” said Johnson. “It is important to be educated on these topics in order to make smart decisions on voting today.” 

Here’s a quick breakdown on the views of the top 2020 presidential Democratic candidates: 

Bernie Sanders 

  • Wants to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour 
  • Thinks college should be free 
  • Wants to cancel all student debt  
  • Supports a voluntary buyback program on assault weapons 
  • In favor of universal background checks 
  • In support of DACA Citizenship for Dreamers
  • Supports closing down existing nuclear power reactors

Joe Biden 

  • Wants to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour 
  • Thinks two years of college should be free 
  • Wants student debt to be expanded or fix existing debt relief programs 
  • Supports a voluntary buyback program on assault weapons 
  • In favor of universal background checks 
  • In support of DACA Citizenship for Dreamers 
  • Support developing new nuclear technologies as part of an effort to fight climate change 

Elizabeth Warren 

  • Wants to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour 
  • Thinks college should be free 
  • Wants to cancel some student debt
  • Wants to ban fracking everywhere for oil and gas drilling 
  • Wants to impose government regulations reducing carbon emissions 
  • Supports a voluntary buyback program on assault weapons 
  • Is in favor of universal background checks
  • In support of DACA Citizenship for Dreamers

Pete Buttigieg 

  • Wants to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour 
  • Thinks students shouldn’t have to take on debt 
  • Wants to cancel some student debt 
  • Supports nuclear power 
  • Wants to end new oil and gas leases on federal land and end offshore drilling 
  • Supports a voluntary buyback program on assault weapons 
  • Is in favor of universal background checks
  • In support of DACA Citizenship for Dreamers 

Buttigieg didn’t have many standout moments during the last Democratic debate which took place in Iowa, leaving him with low poll numbers. Sanders and Biden went back and forth on their foreign policy views while Warren chimed in about a comment Sanders made previously about a woman not being able to win elections.
Sanders denies he told Warren that a woman couldn’t beat Trump and Warren commented that she was the only person on that stage who defeated an incumbent Republican in 30 years. Sanders commented right back that he defeated an incumbent Republican in 1990 – right on the verge of 30 years to Warren’s point – leaving the audience chuckling.

According to RealClearPolitics, looking at the polls for the Iowa Democratic Presidential Caucus, Sanders is leading with 23.3 votes, Biden follows just behind with 22.3, Buttigieg sits at 19.3, and Warren has 14.3. 
It is evident that the 2020 presidential campaign trail is still in the process of persuasion after the Iowa debate results.

“Even though life is busy, like obviously I didn’t have time to watch every democratic debate or impeachment trial. Just doing little things, like on Snapchat a thing I follow is called Good Luck America and they come up with an episode every weekday about what’s going on in politics, and I really enjoy watching that just because it’s like two minutes,” said Dharn.

There’s no doubt that history is being made in America. Whether it’s the Democratic debate or impeachment process, it’s important to stay up to date with what is currently happening to know the future of this country. 
“A quick Google search goes a long way. Be sure to check multiple sources to prevent bias,” said Johnson. “Government institutions like the FBI have great statistics and information that is easily accessible if you want to find it.”

Caitlin Richards

American flag displayed at the Capitol for various patriotic observances

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