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.”

The American Healthcare Bill Struggles in the Senate

By: Meghan Malas

The clash over philosophy, ideology, and the identity of America has been ever present in the debate over health care policy. Since the new healthcare bill passed the House of Representatives May 4, questions of morality and consequence have set forth among the public. Politifact reports the new bill proposes rolling back the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, major cuts to Planned Parenthood (which under current law, can’t use money for abortions except those in cases of rape, incest, or risk of mother’s life), loss of specific protection for veterans, less of protection of those with pre-existing conditions, and more power given to insurance companies over their insurance policy owners. Many Republicans have longed to rid the U.S. since it was in planning stage, but after more than seven years the bill has provided coverage for millions.

According to The New York Times, it is predicted that if the new bill passes, 23 million more people will be left uninsured in a decade. This is considered the wrong direction by many representatives, including Republicans. While Democrats will vote unanimously against the bill, Republicans have fallen onto both sides of the debate. Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is unsure whether the Senate can obtain the newly required 50 votes to pass the bill if Republicans are not united behind it. Recently, public outrage has diminished support for the bill further.

So, it is not looking optimistic for the leaders behind the new plan. But this is not to say that it will not pass, or a staggered version of it will not. Some Republicans may not like the current implications of the “Trumpcare” plan, but they are eager to get rid of the Affordable Care Act. It will be fascinating to see how members of Congress will vote given the bill’s unpopularity, and even more interesting to see how their votes might play a role in the results of the Congressional elections next year.

Solar Flares and Our Accidental Barrier

by Jack Long

It seems like something out of a science-fiction book—an invisible shield surrounding Earth—but in 2014 NASA’s Van Allen Probes discovered an impenetrable barrier in space.

This barrier, caused by the interaction between very low frequency (VLF) waves and charged particles surrounding the Earth, can block solar flares from entering our Earth’s atmosphere. In an age of modern technology running well, everything, solar radiation can easily disrupt power systems causing mass destruction and riots when the power grids go down.

VLF radio waves are used to communicate to submarines deep in the oceans but also cast out far into the atmosphere.

NASA states they plan to strengthen this barrier by blasting VLF radio waves into the Van Allen radiation belt that is held in place by the Earth’s magnetic field. To read more about the Van Allen Probes and their discovery, visit NASA.org

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.

France Under New Rule

by Jaimie Franz

France has recently elected a new president, Emmanuel Macron. Macron won the election by a landslide of 66% of the votes, compared to his running mate, Marine Le Pen, with only 34%. The young 39 year old president, the youngest leader in France since Napoleon, has promised to unify the country of France and revise the economy, two promises throughout his campaign, stating, “I am terrible optimistic… because I know when I see you, when I see our movement, I know we will succeed…We will succeed in unifying the French and reconciling France.”

This ambitious President also has quite a bit of publicity to his name with the 24 yr age gap between him and his wife. They met when she directed his high school play, he was 16 and she was 40, married with kids. He went away for university but returned to marry her when he was 30. Throughout his campaign for Presidency, they have been very public about their relationship, despite their unconventional love story. He told Vanity Fair “She will be there, with a role and a place.”

Macron is setting the example that France will stand out and will be different then any other country. America’s President Donald Trump has publicly tweeted that he looks forward to working with Macron, the only real question is, is how the two men will work together with their conflicting views and ages.

What to Know About the French Election

By: Meghan Malas

The country of France experienced one of two rounds of voting involved in its electoral process on April 23. The race prior to then was between five individuals representing separate parties, “the far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen, scandal-hit conservative François Fillon, centrist newcomer Emmanuel Macron and far-left wildcard Jean-Luc Mélenchon” (CNN) were all competitive in the Round One, while Benoit Hamon of the currently established Socialist Party has struggled to gain popularity. This election’s results determined the two parties that will be competing for the presidency, concluding that far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen and moderate liberal Emmanuel Macron will be the two opposing forces driving the final vote on May 7.

Nearly all polling sources had Macron crushing Le Pen in the vote on Sunday, May 7. But despite Macron’s growing appeal in economically dynamic areas and large cities, like Paris and Bordeaux and his large possibility of pulling in left-leaning voters from Hamon and Mélenchon as well as those leaning to the right that voted Fillon in the first round, both candidates represented an unprecedented wave of populism in France. Similar to the emergence of anti-establishment politics in the United States and Great Britain over the past few years, the people of France have now struck down the possibility of any previously-popular party from holding office.

Yascha Mounk, a lecturer at Harvard who follows European politics closely recently told NPR that this popularity of populists is due to a steady, growing distaste for establishment politics over time. “[The people of France have] been slowly rebelling against the French political mainstream for a long time. When Jacques Chirac left office, he was the least popular French president in history. Five years later when his successor, Nicolas Sarkozy, left office, he was the least popular president in French history. And now Francois Hollande has beaten all other records again.” Mounk also believes that the recurrence of anti-globalism, as presented on the platform of Le Pen as well in Britain’s Brexit and the United States’ election of Donald Trump, can all be connected, “To understand this particular moment, to understand why we have this sort of populist moment that’s in danger of turning into a populist age, you have to look beyond one country… you see slowly countries coming to grapple with the idea of what it means to live alongside people of different religions, different ethnicities, different cultural customs. And that’s a really difficult and tough process that a lot of countries are rebelling against.”

Along with the politics of this election, the predictability of next French president was unprecedented. Though there was always a possibility for an upset (of the nine elections since the first direct presidential election in the Fifth Republic in 1965, three have seen the winner of the first round lose out in the second), recent polling by Elabe claimed that Macron would take 65% of the vote in a second-round against Le Pen. This is a another example of a new wave of politics that transcends nations, but rather acts on a worldwide scale. Many fear Le Pen’s anti-immigrant, anti-global platform is thinly-veiled racism and prejudice, while others see the conservative candidate as the only hope for security in an age of increased terrorist threats.

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.