Category Archives: Politics

Candidate Partly Defends Trump ‘Kung Flu’ Remark

trump

President Trump’s repeated references to the coronavirus as the “kung flu” have drawn broad political backlash as a racist slur against Asian Americans. (Photo Credit: Sgt. Dana M. Clarke)

By Andrea Plascencia and Lia Opperman

Flower Mound, Tex. and Galloway, N.J.

Alan Swain, a Republican running to represent North Carolina’s 2nd Congressional District, tore into controversial issues including police brutality and immigration at a press conference with The Princeton Summer Journal.

Swain shared his views: shaming the abuse of power by many officers, such as the ones
who killed George Floyd, and calling for a “complete revamping” of police unions.

Although police unions are typically opposed to reform, he believes that it is necessary in
order to weed out the “bad apples” in the force.

“There needs to be a better process and a reset of what we’re allowing police unions to do,” Swain said.

However, Swain said he was opposed to completely dismantling current forces. “How do you restart a police force? We need the police force, and I, Alan Swain, fully support backing the blue,” Swain said. He advocated for a different tactic to combat police brutality, stating that police unions “should receive additional support and new funding that can be put towards training programs to make them better.”

Swain, who expressed concern about illegal immigration, spoke in opposition to sanctuary cities, chain migration, visa overstays and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

“We’re long overdue for immigration reform,” Swain said. “That’s probably the biggest thing … You have to register in this country is all I’m saying.”

Although his philosophy of “trying to help” immigrants lead better lives in America was
a recurring theme, Swain’s position was unclear. At one point, he referenced a plan to dissolve DACA, but soon after voiced his desire to “bring them in [and] put them in the process” of legalization, possibly through the allocation of green cards.

Swain also expressed support for immigration reform. “We shouldn’t have [them] living in the shadows in sanctuary cities,” he said.

Swain added, though, that he was opposed to sanctuary cities and undocumented immigrants who don’t “follow federal law.”

Though Swain has never run for office before, he cited his 26 years of experience in the U.S. Army, including his service in leadership roles on the Army Staff and Joint Chiefs of Staff.

He also talked about his work in the White House under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush as executive officer to the White House Director of National Drug Control Policy.

Swain also expressed the urgency of the return of students to school this fall under the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, indicating his dislike for digital learning.

“We’re not getting enough guidance,” Swain said. “Each state gets to decide how they want to [go back]. … Two months ago, [everyone said] ‘Oh, well, we’ll worry about that in the fall.’ [But] we have children starting [school] at the beginning of August here in the state of North Carolina.”

“They’re right around the corner,” Swain said. “We’ve got to do something.”

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

By Naziea Fruits, Sarah Furtado, and Kuftu Said

Cleveland, Ohio, Vero Beach, Fla. and Aurora, Colo.

swain

Army veteran Alan Swain is running to represent North Carolina’s 2nd District in Congress.

Republican congressional candidate Alan Swain—a Japanese American and president of the North Carolina Asian American Coalition—partially defended President Donald Trump’s description of COVID-19 as the “kung flu” and the “Chinese virus” at a press con-
ference with The Princeton Summer Journal.

“We don’t like the fact that he would probably use those kinds of words, but he was just talking about where the origin was,” Swain said. “I’ve actually called it the China flu, too, or the Wuhan flu.”

Trump’s characterization of the virus, the spread of which he blamed on the Chinese government, has been widely condemned as law enforcement and human rights officials report a surge in reports of harassment towards Asian Americans.

“A lot of people went crazy about it,” said Swain, an Army veteran who is running to rep-
resent North Carolina’s 2nd District. “There have been concerns that there could be repercussions against the Asian American community.

Being of Asian descent, I have not seen any around me.”

Swain’s campaign aligns with Trump in other areas, which may make his election an uphill battle in the majority-Democrat district.

In the wide-ranging press conference, Swain also discussed police funding and border control. His stances reflected his self-proclaimed “law and order” ideology. “I, Alan Swain, fully support backing the blue,” he said.

“Everybody wants to defund the police,” he continued. “But Alan Swain’s position is that
I don’t think we need to defund the police; I believe we need to fund it.” Swain said that training police to de-escalate tense and potentially dangerous situations would be more effective than sending social workers to them, as some reformers have suggested.

Swain’s politics on immigration were less reflective of the national party. Swain said he was in favor of helping people in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, perhaps by giving them green cards. Otherwise, he generally supported stricter immigration controls, including building a border wall and cracking down on immigrants who have overstayed visas.

“That’s why President Trump says they come over the border and they think they’re coming to a picnic,” Swain said. “If you go to Iran and you overstay a visa, you know
what they do to you—they kill you.”

Griffin Says Schools Should Reopen

By Anne Tchuindje, Myanna Nash, and Daniel Sanchez

Washington, D.C., Chicago, Ill. and Boca Raton, Fl.

At a recent press conference with The Princeton Summer Journal, Republican congressional candidate Sheila Griffin spoke to reporters from The Princeton Summer
Journalism Program.

Born and raised in Pinellas County, in Florida’s 13th Congressional District, Griffin became a Republican at age 18. In 2012, Griffin became involved with the Florida Bar’s Executive Committee for Labor and Employment. She found her life’s calling in politics. If she wins the Republican primary, she will face incumbent Charlie Crist, former governor of Florida.

Griffin spoke about some of the most controversial issues of the day: race, the coronavirus, and returning to in-person instruction in public schools.

Challenging students’ questions about systemic racism in America, Griffin—who is Black—instead advocated for a “color-blind” approach to race.

“There’s only one race and that is the human race,” she said, when asked about ways to reduce systemic racism against people of color.

The candidate also dismissed racism’s role in the increased prevalence of COVID-19 among African Americans in the district where she is running. Though Pinellas County
is overwhelmingly white, Black residents account for approximately 17 percent of the reported COVID-19 cases in the county.

Griffin attributed this to the recent increase in testing in Black communities. “When COVID first hit Pinellas County, it was in all-white neighborhoods. Right now, most of the testing is done in African American neighborhoods,” she said.

Passionate about education, Griffin spent considerable time talking about coronavirus-related school closures. “Elementary schools should never have closed in the first place,”
said Griffin, adding that “there simply isn’t enough science that proves that younger children could be affected by the virus.”

Although health officials are still researching how children are impacted, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said that children can indeed become infected
and spread the virus.

With summer slowly coming to an end, school officials are now struggling to find a safe way to reopen schools and hold classes in person. Griffin said not reopening schools will do more harm than good, but that parents should be able to make their own decisions.

“It should be up to the parents, not local officials, to decide whether their child goes back to school or not,” she said. “Parents know their child best.”

Griffin Says Pandemic Response Overblown

By Aigner Settles and Brianne LaBare

Pennsauken, N.J. and Orlando, FL.

As new COVID-19 cases in Florida topped 10,000 per day, 13th District congressional candidate Sheila Griffin argued in a press conference with The Princeton Summer
Journal that her state’s response to the pandemic has been overblown.

Despite the increase in coronavirus cases in her state, Griffin—one of five candidates competing for a spot on the ballot against incumbent Democrat Charlie Crist—told reporters she believes that schools should be reopened immediately.

“When you start saying that somehow or another there’s no transmission or
likelihood [of catching the virus] for those who are under the age of 12, then I
don’t understand why we even closed the schools,” Griffin said.

Griffin argued that school closures will affect underprivileged youth who don’t have access to the technology needed for remote learning. “The big impediment will not
be for those children who already have what they need,” she said. “The impediment will be for all the children who will be left behind because they do not [have the resources necessary to succeed].”

Current plans in Griffin’s district provide varying options for families. “Most of our communities here have three choices. Their children can work totally online. Their children can come to school for two days and still work online. Or they can come full-time. Those are parental decisions that are being [put] up by the school board,” she said.

Griffin also emphasized the importance of parents having the final say regarding their child’s education, despite the increasing number of cases and guidance from public health experts to keep schools closed. “I never transfer responsibility that belongs to parents to anyone in government unless the parents are abusive,” she said.

Palzewicz Rejects ‘Defunding’ Police

By Paola Ruiz and Kwanza Prince

East Boston, Mass. and New York, N.Y.

At a recent press conference, Wisconsin Democratic congressional candidate Tom Palzewicz said he does not believe in “defunding the police,” but instead supports what he called “investment and reinvestment” to other social services.

“I think a lot of the dollars need to be moved from our policing system and reinvested into our mental health and a whole bunch of other areas,” he said.

Palzewicz, who is running to replace the retiring Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin’s 5th District, said police are too often called to treat issues they are not trained to address. “The way I describe this is: Our police force shouldn’t have to be
the one that gets called for everything that happens in our society,” he said.

One in four deaths that result from police encounters are individuals with mental health conditions, according to a report from the Treatment Advocacy Center. If funds were in-
vested in programs well-versed in these issues, he said, that would provide callers with an alternative to the police, and the fatality rate would decrease.

Palzewicz, a Navy veteran, ran against and lost to longtime Rep. Sensenbrenner in 2018 with only 38 percent of the vote. With Sensenbrenner retiring, Palzewicz has a clearer path to office, though the district is reliably red.

In an effort not to alienate more conservative members of his district, Palzewicz objects to the terminology “defunding the police,” saying, “it doesn’t necessarily solve the problem.” Yet his strategy of “reinvestment” sounds similar to most calls for defunding, in that he would move money spent on police activities to other government services while stripping police departments of their military-grade weapons.

“I think mental health is a huge issue in this country that has absolutely no dollars dedicated to it,” Palzewicz said.

“In Wisconsin, we spend more money on prisons than on education, and that tells you about where our priorities are, and our priorities need to change on that,” he added.

Biden’s Advantage: He’s Not Trump

bidenFormer Vice President Joe Biden has failed to draw sustained excitement among younger voters. (Photo credit: Adam Fagen)

By Perla Duran and Crystyna Barnes

Newark, N.J. and Elm City, N.C.

Joe Biden may have a young person problem.

In recent interviews, four teenagers from the Princeton Summer Journalism Program said they don’t approve of the presumptive Democratic nominee’s policies, especially his resistance to universal health care. They were disturbed by allegations that he inappropriately touched women or made them feel uncomfortable. They felt that he wasn’t reliable or modern enough, but said they would vote for him despite these
reservations.

Anne Tchuindje lives in Washington, D.C., and Alyssa Ultreras in Oakland, California. Both are 17. In deciding whom to support, they said, a candidate’s authenticity is the most important factor. Alexa Figueroa, 17, of Brentwood, Maryland, and Stephanie Garcia, 16, of New York City, agreed, adding that they’re not confident that Biden will uphold the policies he claims to support.

For example, Biden said he wants to pay educators more and modernize schools. About this, Ultreras wondered: “Is everything you’re emphasizing really going to happen?”

They also feared Biden was cynically trying to reach a specific demographic: people of color. Tchuindje mentioned a recent interview on the popular radio show “The Breakfast
Club,” in which Biden said, “if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or
Trump, then you ain’t Black.”

To Ultreras, this attitude is exactly what Biden needs to work on. In a society where people of color face a lot of backlash, she said, “he knows that voters are in a tough position, especially Democrats, where [he’s] your only option. Therefore, like, you’re going to have to pick [him] because you don’t want Trump.”

Biden is making Black people feel either obligated to vote for him, Ultreras explained, or guilty if they don’t.

When asked what other candidates they liked, three students named Sen. Bernie Sanders, the democratic socialist U.S. senator from Vermont, who dropped out of the race in April. They said he was a candidate they could rely on to uphold the promises he had
made, as illustrated by his past activism: marching for civil rights in the 1960s and getting arrested for protesting discrimination against Black people in the Chicago school system. The teens also mentioned Sanders’ unwavering support for a government-run “Medicare for all” system.

“I’m disappointed that it got to the point where we have to pick between the lesser of two evils,” Tchuindje said. But she and Ultreras said Biden’s election would halt the current administration’s harmful health care and environmental policies. In that sense, they said, not voting for Biden would be negligent—even dangerous.

Bill de Blasio Has Failed Enough New Yorkers

By Aima Ali

Brooklyn, N.Y.

In late March, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and chancellor of education Richard Carranza announced that schools would close. Now, with 232,000 reported cases and more than 23,000 deaths in the city, the mayor is planning on reopening schools in the fall. Reopening schools with the proposed hybrid learning model will only result in more unnecessary death.

Though cases are decreasing in the city, allowing some businesses to reopen, people still die from the virus every day. Before schools closed, more than 60 Department of Education employees—including 25 teachers—contracted COVID-19 and eventually died. Opening schools will inevitably lead to more cases and will raise the risk of students being exposed to the virus. School students and staff often have to commute using trains or buses. Though the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the city’s transit agency, has been cleaning trains nightly, those who use public transportation during rush hour know how crowded trains can be. Some MTA employees have even refused to come to work after their colleagues contracted and died from the virus. As a result, already unpredictable buses run on even more unreliable schedules and remain packed at all hours of the day.

The Department of Education released guidelines limiting the number of students per classroom, but keeping up with these requirements will be more difficult for schools with larger classroom sizes. Those are often schools serving low-income students. Low-income, Black, and Latino individuals are already more likely to both contract COVID-19 and die from the disease. Larger classroom sizes and fewer teachers will only increase these inequalities.

Those pushing for reopening claim that it will not affect death rates, as students are less likely to die from the virus. However, older students are still susceptible to becoming extremely sick and may suffer from other symptoms, such as loss of taste and smell. Students can be symptom-free carriers, infecting high-risk family members without even knowing. Older teachers will also go to work fearing for their safety each day. Teachers’ unions are predicting that teachers who can retire will, causing an even greater shortage of teachers and making it more difficult for class sizes to remain small.

Poor planning caused New York City to hesitate before closing schools when a COVID-19 case was first detected in Manhattan. Still, with months to plan, the best the mayor and his fellow politicians have been able to come up with is a plan that will ultimately result in the deaths of more New Yorkers. We cannot bring back those 63 DOE employees that were exposed early on, but we can make sure that no other teacher, school staff member, or student dies a preventable death.

Gen. Z Gives Biden’s Run Tepid Support

By Angie Cisneros and Daniel Sanchez

Minneapolis, Minn. and Boca Raton, Fla.

Most teenagers may not be eligible to vote, but Generation Z has increasing influence on the policies of both parties, especially those of Democrats. In interviews with four high school students who are part of the Princeton Summer Journalism Program, the clear consensus was that young people are putting their support behind Joe Biden for one major reason: He is not Donald Trump.

Sitting in her home in Boston, 17-year-old Paola Ruiz put it simply: “We have to vote for the lesser of two evils.” Ruiz called Biden “chemotherapy” for the “cancer” caused by the current administration.

Other teenagers had similar views of Biden, both as an individual and as a candidate. Sofia Barnett, a 17-year-old from Frisco, Texas, rattled off what she finds distasteful about Biden, from his 1994 crime bill to the sexual assault allegations made against him. However, when asked who she would vote for, she stood by the Democratic nominee.

Kayla Bey, a 17-year-old from Lilburn, Georgia, said Biden alienated her when he said on a radio program that if you vote for Trump, you “ain’t Black.”

“I just feel like the Black community has gone through so much; I think it was entitled
for him to say that,” Bey said, suggesting such comments may have dampened enthusiasm for Biden.

The teenagers were adamant about their desire to elect more progressive figures. “I was a big Bernie supporter,” said 17-year-old Andrea Plascencia from Flower Mound, Texas—a view echoed by her peers.

Bey mentioned Beto O’Rourke, a Democrat known for supporting the legalization of marijuana and raising the minimum wage.

But after their preferred candidates dropped out of the primary, students have tried to find the same ideals in the presumptive nominee. Bey suggested that Biden would be more palatable if he more strongly advocated for expansion in health care. Ruiz, meanwhile, called on Biden to offer free college for all and debt relief, while Plascencia said she hoped he “can advocate for equality” through policies that benefit people from low-income backgrounds.

All of the students interviewed viewed Biden as an “intermediate” president, one who would work to bring the country back to a normality present before the Trump era.

Jariel Christopher, an 18-year-old from Port Allen, Louisiana, summed it up by saying the strongest argument she saw for Biden is that she foresees more chaos in the country if Trump is reelected.

De Blasio Run Lacks Support in N.Y. Survey

20190801_034949152_iOS

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio takes questions at the second Democratic debate on July 31. Photo Credit: Brian Rokus

By the Staff of the Princeton Summer Journal and written by Jhoana Flores, Jarlem Lopez Morel, and JC Villon. 

New Yorkers don’t want their mayor running for president in 2020. In a survey of 154 New Yorkers, nearly three out of four voters said they are not happy Bill de Blasio is participating in the presidential election.

The survey results contradict de Blasio’s claims that his time running the biggest city in America means he should be elevated to the White House. De Blasio, who announced his campaign in May, is one of two dozen Democrats in the race. He has been polling at one percent or lower nationwide. Many New Yorkers told The Princeton Summer Journal they disapprove of not just his presidential campaign, but also his work as mayor of New York City.

“He isn’t worried about New York because he’s too concerned about his campaign for president,” said Kristie Summers, 20, from the Bronx. “If he can’t be a mayor, how can he be president?” She was one of many New Yorkers who said de Blasio has neglected his mayoral responsibilities to the city and as a result cannot rise to the challenges of the 2020 presidential race.

New Yorkers of both political parties disapprove of de Blasio. When asked if they approve of the job he is doing as mayor, slightly over half of both Democrats and Republicans responded “no,” as did nearly two-thirds of people who identified as a different political party. Three-quarters of both Democrats and Republicans also said they are not happy de Blasio is running for President.

When it came to the prospect of voting for de Blasio for President, New Yorkers were inclined to vote “no.” More than 80 percent of both Democrats and Republicans surveyed said they would not vote for him.

Not all New Yorkers are turning their backs on the mayor, however. “He is do-
ing his job correctly, eliminated crime from the city, got day care and made a
universal pre-K system,” said Steve Pastor, 68, a Queens resident.

Some New Yorkers cited not only de Blasio’s policy achievements, but also the community he is building within New York City. “I feel like he’s making the city better for both genders,” said Sandra Acuna, 30, of Manhattan. However, others have a dark outlook on de Blasio. Jason Woody, 35, from Brooklyn, criticized de Blasio’s pedestrian safety record. “He ran on a platform highlighting Vision Zero, but … I’ve had two friends killed on bikes by drivers, no one has been arrested,” Woody said.

Shawn Haz, a 28-year-old from Brooklyn, said he is frustrated with city zoning issues. “He rezoned everything…I’ve been rezoned, kicked out, and everything,” he said. “Gentrification is messing it all up. It doesn’t really help anything but the rich and white.” Phupinder Singh, 29, from Queens said, “He is not eligible to run for president, no qualification, no experience and not intelligent. He is a comedian.”

While New Yorkers largely do not approve of de Blasio running, many of them were willing to offer advice. “If you want to connect with people, you have to be authentic,” said Matthew Louis, a 29-year-old from Manhattan.

As the mayor tries to win votes across the country to earn the Democratic nomination for president, he is struggling at home.

Despite his efforts to use his title as a mayor of a huge and diverse city to boost his campaign, he appears to lack support from the residents of that city. Many New Yorkers, like Jason Kayne, a 24-year-old from Queens, have a sarcastic message for his campaign:

“Good luck.”

_--approve-bill-as-mayor

Do you approve of the job de Blasio is doing as mayor?

_--Are-you-happy-bill-diblasio-is-running.png

Are you happy de Blasio is running for president?

_--do-you-approve-of-bill-job.png

Would you vote for de Blasio for president?

Screen Shot 2019-08-16 at 9.42.09 AM

GOP’s Pappas warns that judges see themselves as ‘gods’

By Fatima Rivera Gomez

McFarland, CA

When Anthony Pappas, the Republican candidate for Congress in New York’s 14th congressional district, appeared at a press conference at Fordham University on Wednesday, journalists initially spoke over him because they did not realize he was the candidate they were waiting for.

Pappas is running against Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is expected to win the election this November in the heavily Democratic district, which covers parts of the Bronx and Queens. Wearing an untucked, button-front short-sleeve shirt and tattered khaki pants, Pappas—an economics professor at St. John’s University—began the press conference by asking the reporters how they would have felt if they had been sterilized. He then wrote a few words on the whiteboard including: “tubal ligation,” “fallopian tubes,” and “testicles.”

In the midst of some confusion in the room, Pappas explained Stump v. Sparkman, a 1978 case in which a woman sued the judge who ordered her to undergo a non-consensual tubal ligation when she was 15 years old. On the verge of tears, he pulled a towel from his bag in reference to a book about the case, The Blanket She Carried. The towel symbolized the baby the woman could not have, he said.

The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which set an important precedent by ruling that judges are immune from being sued. In a packet handed out during the press conference, Pappas wrote “OVERTURN STUMP V. SPARKMAN, the worst decision in the 20th century by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Pappas’ congressional platform centers on criminal and justice reform and an end to judges being immune from prosecution. “Judges are above the law. They can make decisions that are retaliatory, against the law, against the facts, deliberately false and they cannot be sued,” Pappas said.

He also believes that he is a victim of the court system himself, after a divorce in which his wife accused him of domestic abuse—an accusation he denies. A court decision Pappas distributed showed he had spent more than $592,000 on his divorce.

At one point, Pappas described himself as a Theodore Roosevelt figure for Republicans. When asked about his opponent, Pappas said that Ocasio-Cortez is an energetic and sincere person, adding that he expects that she will win the election.

Coleman challenger says he is ‘open to anything’

By Tammie Clark

Detroit, MI

New Jersey Republican congressional candidate Daryl Kipnis is “open to anything” to help people who are in need. In his race in the 12th Congressional District, a Democratic stronghold, he’s emphasizing his moderate platform in an effort to appeal to both liberal and conservative voters.

Kipnis said in a news conference at Princeton University earlier this month that the district’s current representative, Democrat Bonnie Watson Coleman, blindly votes against any policies proposed by Republicans without considering what would be best for New Jersey residents. When asked about his qualifications that would set him apart from Coleman, he only continued to discredit Coleman’s credentials.

Kipnis also discussed the high cost of living in New Jersey and proposed creating a “rainy day” account that could help residents undergoing various financial hardships, like losing your job, or car trouble. “My focus is what’s going on in your life and how I can help you,” he said.

While he was not immediately open to raising the minimum wage, he did not seem entirely opposed to the idea.

“If the minimum wage is just too low,” he said, “then a conversation can be held to see where it could go.” He repeated that he was “open to anything” because he could see how an underprivileged family might suffer from applying to his “rainy day” account if their income and saved funds were too low.

Unlike a typical Republican, Kipnis tread lightly on the issue of immigration to appeal to Democrats. He said he was open to immigration, and doesn’t believe in mass deportation.

“The ceremony of becoming a citizen is amazing,” he said.

Kipnis said that the cost of obtaining documents for the legalization process should be reduced because it could cost more than $700 for the application fee and background check to cover the application for naturalization. However, Kipnis was not open to accepting all immigrants, going as far as categorizing some immigrants as “good” or “bad.” 

“It’s not my place to tell people what to do,” said Kipnis with regard to abortion. Kipnis added that he would not let his personal views or religion get in the way of deciding how to handle the issue.