WWE Wrestle Mania… in Politics?

by Joey Derrico

The special election in Montana to replace the congressional seat of newly appointed Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke turned out to be much closer than expected. Montana was a state President Trump won by 20 percentage points and, furthermore, no Democrat had held the at-large congressional seat in two decades. The Republican candidate was Greg Gianforte, a billionaire who made his earnings by selling his company RightNow Technologies to Oracle in 2012 for $1.8 billion. The Democratic candidate was Rob Quist, a small business owner and folk singer with significant name recognition in Montana.

On the eve of election night, a reporter for the Guardian was pressing Gianforte for a comment on the newly released CBO (Congressional Budget Office) score for the Republican-led American Healthcare Act. Gianforte, in his own campaign office at the time, quickly became agitated with the Guardian reporter, saying, “I’m sick and tired of you guys [reporters]!” When the Guardian reporter, Ben Jacobs,  persisted with his question, Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck and slammed him to the ground, breaking Jacob’s glasses through the force of impact. Jacobs notified police of the incident and turned over his audio tapes to support his account. Local authorities charged Gianforte with a misdemeanor assault, who has until June 7 to appear in court.

Nevertheless, Gianforte won the special election with fifty percent of the vote compared to Quist’s forty-three percent. Many experts believe this outcome is due to Montana’s high rate of early and absentee voting. In fact, pollsters had estimated that seven out of ten likely voters had voted before election day. During his victory speech, Gianforte directly apologized to Jacobs, saying, “I should not have responded the way I did, for that I’m sorry. I should not have treated that reporter that way, and for that, I’m sorry, Mr. Ben Jacobs.”

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley Announces Bid for Governor

by Joey Derrico

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley announced on Monday, May 8, that she will run for the Democratic party nomination for governor in 2018.

Whaley, a forty-one-year-old Democrat from Indiana, has been connected to Ohio politics since she was an undergraduate. While at the University of Dayton for undergraduate studies, Whaley headed the UD College Democrats and eventually climbed the ladder to become state chair of the College Democrats of Ohio. Whaley then received a Master’s degree from Wright State University; she later went on to work as an assistant to the Montgomery County Auditor. Subsequently, during the 2004 election cycle, Whaley became the Montgomery County press secretary for John Kerry’s presidential campaign. At age 29, Whaley made history when she became the youngest female to ever be elected to the Dayton City Commission. She served two terms on the city commission before being elected mayor in 2013. Whaley also made history when it was announced she will run unopposed during November’s election, a feat never accomplished before.

As mayor of Dayton, Whaley has spearheaded multiple initiatives. Dayton has become more bike-friendly and the number of local manufacturers has increased. Downtown Dayton has seen a rise in residential and commercial development, drawing in revenue for the city. Whaley also swiftly declared a state of emergency in response to Ohio’s opiate crisis.

The field of contenders for governor in 2018 grows even larger with Whaley’s announcement. On the Republican side, Ohio Secretary of State John Husted, Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, and US Rep. Jim Renacci have all announced bids for the governor’s office. On the Democratic side, Whaley joins former US Rep. Betty Sutton, former State Rep. Connie Pillich, and State Senator Joe Schiavoni. Many experts believe Ohio is trending toward a Republican candidate. Current Governor John Kasich won his reelection bid in 2014 by thirty points and President Trump won Ohio by an eight-point margin.

The primaries for the governor’s race, where each major party pick their nominee, will take place on May 8, 2018 while the general election to decide the next Ohio governor will take place on November 6, 2018.

Special Elections Garner Significant Attention

by Joey Derrico

New-found jobs in the Trump administration have led to vacant seats in the House of Representatives and other legislative bodies, and Republicans and Democrats alike want to capitalize on the opportunity, creating special elections in Kansas and Georgia. 

One special election in Kansas replaces the newly appointed CIA Director and former Congressman Mike Pompeo. Pompeo was a Republican who served the fourth congressional district of Kansas. During the general election in November, Trump won the district by 27 points, a huge margin in polling terms. The race between Republican nominee Ron Estes and Democratic nominee James Thompson was expected to be a Republican blowout, but the contest turned out to be much closer than expected. Political experts contribute this competitiveness to the early struggles of the Trump administration. Estes won the special election by a mere 7 percentage points. The Republican party also had to send surrogate Ted Cruz to the district on behalf of Estes. President Trump and Vice President Pence recorded robo-calls as well.

Another special election obtaining significant attention is taking place in Georgia’s 6th congressional district, a predominantly Republican district. Thirty-year-old John Ossoff, a Democrat, is taking on a fleet of Republican candidates in the first round of voting. A winner can only be declared if a candidate receives more than fifty percent of the vote. If nobody passes this threshold, a runoff election will be held between the top two-vote getters. Ossoff fell just short of the threshold, receiving 48.1% of the vote, the highest of any candidate. Republican Karen Handel finished second with 19.78% of the vote. Ossoff has raised more than 8.3 million dollars so far, partially with the assistance of celebrity surrogates such as Samuel L. Jackson. The runoff election between Ossoff and Handel will take place in June.

Vacant Supreme Court Seat Filled

by Joey Derrico

After more than a year of intense deliberation from both sides of the political aisle, a candidate has been nominated and confirmed to fulfill the vacant 9th seat on the Supreme Court. Forty-nine-year-old Neil Gorsuch will take the place of deceased Justice Antonin Scalia, who passed away last February from a heart attack at the age of 79.

Speaking in terms of credentials, Gorsuch is an extremely qualified candidate. Gorsuch attended Columbia University for undergraduate studies and then Harvard University Law School to receive his Juris Doctor degree, graduating in 1991.  Furthermore, Gorsuch would later attain a Doctor of Philosophy in Law from Oxford University in 2004. Gorush served as a clerk for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit from 1991 to 1992. After a stint at the Department of Justice, Gorsuch was nominated by former president George W. Bush to the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit and later confirmed unanimously by the Senate. Gorsuch served on the Tenth Circuit until his subsequent nomination to the Supreme Court.

Seen as a Conservative who will carry on Scalia’s legacy, Gorsuch’s nomination came with intense criticism and outcry from Democrats. This is a result of former President Obama’s nominated candidate, Merrick Garland, not receiving a hearing in the Senate, breaking from tradition. 

The confirmation of Gorsuch, however, proved to be a strenuous task for Republicans. Sixty votes are required to confirm a nominee to the Supreme Court, a precedent that has been followed for over 200 years. Republicans hold 52 seats in the Senate, which means 8 Democrats would have to deviate from their party and vote for Gorsuch to confirm him. All Republican members and 4 Democrats voted for Gorsuch, meaning his confirmation fell short of the required 60 votes. Instead of finding a new candidate, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) imposed the “nuclear option,” which changed the rule of needing 60 votes to only needing a simple majority. With this new rule in place, the Senate confirmed Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

Avoiding News Bias

by Joey Derrico

This past election season was one that spotlighted the bias lurking in news media. Some of the bias is unintentional while the rest is rooted in the organization’s values and ideals. Sometimes bias is a necessity for news organizations to appeal to loyal viewers who share similar views. However, bias should be avoided when applicable. The fair reporting of news is required in a country that prides itself on democracy, and the notion of “alternative facts” when referencing journalistic institutions is frankly absurd. Use this article as a guide to distinguish and designate various newsgroups into one of five different categories according to bias. The five categories are strong Republican, lean Republican, neutral, lean Democrat, and strong Democrat.

Strong Right-

Breitbart and The Blaze are two newsgroups that show strong skew to the right in terms of news coverage. Referencing these news sources may bring into question the validity of the topic covered.

Lean Right-

The Hill and Fox News are another pair of newsgroups who lean Republican, but not anywhere close to the level of bias as the previously listed newsgroups. These sources are safe to cite and reference but one should remain aware an underlying amount of bias may still exist.

Neutral-

Neutral news outlets are sources that can be trusted wholeheartedly in regards to the fairness of reporting and the validity of information. These groups should be first referenced when looking to obtain the most reliable news in terms of truthfulness. Examples of neutral newsgroups include NPR, PBS, and BBC News.

Lean Left-

A leaning Democrat news outlet is a reliable news source that tends to favor Democratic ideals and express open-mindedness towards Democratic principles rather than Republican. These newsgroups can be trusted but should only be referenced after frequenting a “neutral” news outlet. Newsgroups that tend to lean Democrat are The Huffington Post and MSNBC.

Strong Left-

U.S. Uncut and Occupy Democrats are two media groups that should not be trusted as reliable news sources. These groups often only cover news in a partisan matter, even if facts point differently. Therefore, these particular news outlets should be avoided when searching for valid, reliable news coverage.

BHS Attends Model UN Conference

by Joey Derrico

Over the weekend of March 4, Bellbrook High School traveled to Miami University to participate in the 10th annual Model United Nations conference. Model United Nations, or Model UN for short, is an international organization that creates a genuine simulation of the happenings and rules of the real United Nations. Students, or delegates, are assigned to a country where they act as that country’s ambassador to the UN. Furthermore, delegates are also assigned to committees that vary from the issues of poverty to Russian revolutions. Committees may be actual UN bodies or other large, multilateral bodies. The delegates must come together to solve the problems facing the committee by writing resolutions, or else face the real-world implications that result from their decisions.

This year’s conference at Miami University broke the record in terms of attendance. Over 300 students attended representing schools from throughout southwest Ohio. The four committees at the conference were the World Trade Organization, the World Health Organization, the Bolshevik Revolution, and the United States Senate: Spanish-American War. The two-day long conference featured intense debate in all committees as well as collaboration through the writings of resolutions. Bellbrook also brought back numerous awards from the conference. Those winning certificate awards were Maddie Crane, Kasen Stephenson, Kayla Stephenson, Ethan Reigelsperger, and Adam Kent. Rachel Kahler, Abby Schultz, Joey Derrico, and Jack Long all received verbal recognition for their contributions. Bellbrook’s next conference will take place next school year during the fall at the University of Dayton.

How to be Politically Active

by Joey Derrico

After the election in November, many Americans are asking how they can become more politically active in their community. The good news is that there is an abundance of ways to become active in politics at the local, state, and even national level. Whether it be an issue in the local neighborhood or the White House, use this beginning guide for how to become involved in political activism. Below are three simple steps you can take to become a more politically active and aware citizen.

1. Pick an issue you’re passionate about and pursue it

Whether it be poverty, wealth inequality or women’s rights, select an issue of significance to you and work towards addressing that specific problem. For example, if you are passionate about climate change, you may begin to carpool with friends and plant a few extra trees in your yard.

2. Attend city council meetings

Attending city council meetings will inform you of issues that are occurring at the local level. Topics such as allocating land for a park or development, equipment transactions, and community events are all things that are commonly discussed at council meetings. Councilors will typically designate part of the meeting to receive questions from the audience, so your concerns may be heard by the local lawmakers.

3. Join a campaign and/or volunteer at your party’s county headquarters

If you align with a political candidate who represents your views, then consider becoming involved with their campaign. Going one step further, if there is an entire political party that aligns with your views, consider volunteering for their headquarters in your county. Normal activities for these two positions include canvassing for voter registration, making calls to supporters, or distributing political pamphlets to constituents.

While implementing all these tactics may not bring the immediate change you’re looking for, it will make your voice heard and that is what drives change.