Editorial: A democracy under threat

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Our democracy doesn’t look the same as it used to.

Press credentials have been revoked, issues of voter registration have robbed citizens of their basic rights and residual vote recounts from the 2018 midterms have turned into bloodbaths.

The common theme in all of this is a divided country, which has trickled down partisan issues into cracks that are usually occupied by basic democratic ideals, never intended to stir up an agenda but designed to serve the people of our country. 

One example of this was seen when Jim Acosta, who was interrupted at a White House press conference for asking hard-hitting questions, had his press credentials taken away before a federal judge ordered the White House to return it.

As if attempting to suppress the press wasn’t bad enough, things escalated when White House press secretary Sarah Sanders shared an edited video on Twitter that made Acosta seem violent and intrusive when asked to give up the microphone.

It was quite the definition of ‘fake news,’ and it stems from a relationship between Acosta’s network, CNN, and President Donald Trump. The president has demonstrated that he sees CNN as more of a liberal instrument than an organization focused on objective reporting.

No matter what opinion you hold of CNN’s liberal biases, or those of Fox News, which is often classified as a biased pro-conservative news source, we must agree that these dynamics are dangerous.

Earlier this year, another incident of suppression occurred when Trump blocked users on Twitter for attacking him and Russia for election fixation. Again, a federal judge ruled that he couldn’t block people on a public forum.

Both of these are prime examples of a chilling effect, where First Amendment rights are impeded by a political agenda, with the hopes of turning people away from asking the administration tough questions.

The undermining of democratic principles was also put on display during the midterm elections, after recounts in Florida and Georgia were deemed necessary.

Tainted vote tallies in Florida highlighted the imperfections of our electoral system. In the Georgia governor race, Stacey Abrams accused Brian Kemp, the former Secretary of State for Georgia, of voter suppression. An Associated Press investigation revealed Kemp’s office had 53,000 voter applicants still pending as of Oct. 10 — 70 percent of whom were African-American.

According to Adams, “Democracy failed in Georgia.”

We have seen this undermining too many times for a country that prides itself on being more democratic than any other.

It’s clear that Americans remained on edge after Russia was accused of meddling in the 2016 elections. And there seemed to be some anxiety leading up to the 2018 midterm elections that our democracy might possibly be undermined again.

For students, the undermining of democratic principles might have an unexpected chilling effect.

In the weeks leading up to the midterm elections, students were approached by people on campus encouraging them to register to vote. There was an excitement and passion to recruit students to register.

After some students learned their votes wouldn’t count because of an issue with registration, something that seemed innocent quickly turned to frustration with the system.

Even these cases of voter registration have become a partisan issue, with NextGen America, the culprit of many Lehigh registration errors, claiming to be nonpartisan while supporting progressives on their website.

These incidents seem to be very black and white, and draw upon deep partisan divides. Democrats blame Republicans, and vice versa. Dynamics and interactions that are supposed to be nonpartisan end up becoming partisan issues. Harmless and multi-sided debates become one-sided, red vs. blue politics.

Issues that haven’t been partisan before have become such.

For example, people will associate tightening gun legislature with Democrats, and Second Amendment freedom with Republicans. People will associate climate change with Democrats, and attacks on climate change theory with Republicans.

The democratic process should be put before any partisan issues, and democratic principles should never be undermined for a partisan agenda.

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4 Comments

  1. Anonymous as I don't need to be harassed by the intolerant left. on

    It’s a little disheartening to read that you have accepted the lie that the video of Jim Acosta pushing the arm of the White House intern was “doctored.” Please refer to this video for clarification: https://moonbattery.com/paul-joseph-watson-responds-to-doctored-video-allegations/

    Democracy is certainly not dead and President Trump has not taken control of the media. Acosta was behaving unprofessionally, and had his press pass revoked. I’m guessing that if it had been a conservative reporter who had pushed away a female intern during the press briefing, there would be an outcry from the left to ban and probably arrest the offending reporter, accompanied by repeated showings of the video showing the female intern’s arm being pushed away, and protests bringing attention to “the war on women.” Enough already. Whether you lean left or right, please have your facts straight before repeating the lies the left leaning media is feeding you.

    And, incidentally, when Acosta was interviewed by his own network, and denying that he ever touched the intern, CNN did not even play the video to defend Acosta. Why? Because the video clearly shows Acosta did indeed put his hands on the female intern to keep her from taking the mic away from him.

  2. Amy Charles '89 on

    Just keep on guarding those polls and voting. (Now you know, by the way, why the Northern students in the 60s went down to the southern states, and why things got physical, and sometimes lethal.) Stand ready if you can to go help counteract voter suppression tactics, whether in your own state or elsewhere.

    If you guys keep on voting the way you just did, in similar numbers, the whole bad dream is over in six to eight years, because most of the division you’re talking about is generational. At that point your demographics overwhelm the current leadership. Then of course you’ll have the problem of governing with little experience in anything, let alone governance, but I trust you’ll figure it out. I don’t think there have been people under 40 this interested in democracy, in this country, in about 45 years, and it’s a massive reversal of the “just be good consumers and workers” mentality that has dominated in recent decades. And by “under 40” I mean this is stretching back into the elementary schools. It’s phenomenal. We’re going to have a new generation of constitutional scholars and lawyers and activists out of this, and a real reinterpretation of what’s been taken as given for the last few decades.

    In a way, I guess we’re all lucky that the Boomers refused to let us Xers up the ladder, and decided instead that they were having a great time and that their turn wasn’t over. If they had let us up, there’d be a far more conservative, white, male, non-immigrant leadership layer ready to take on power, a lot of Kavanaughs. But they didn’t let us up, so GenX is missing. Instead it’s going to be your older cousins and you. I cannot say I’m sorry about that at all. Study up on government, economics, and political philosophy, and go work some terrible ill-paid jobs (hey! You could be a chambermaid for Bruce!), and see how the other half lives before you get into office, though, willya? And go intern for Susan or your home rep.

  3. You do realize CNN has almost 50 hard passes? Acosta got the boot for being rude and trying to debate people instead of asking objective questions.

    I don’t ever remember the Brown and White being upset when the Obama Administration used the power of the state to go after conservative reporters which is way worse than anything Trump has done.

  4. EdRMurrow Spawn on

    “Jim Acosta, who was interrupted at a White House press conference for asking hard-hitting questions”

    interesting revisionist history and sad, very sad if this is what you believe happened

    How about “Jim Acosta assaulted a White House intern at a press conference…”

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