Tag Archives: SJP

Underdog congressional candidate demands reform of judiciary

By Emiliano Davalos

Chicago, IL

Republican Congressional candidate Anthony Pappas—who is running against Democratic rising star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York’s 14th congressional district—showed up to his very first press conference with documents of his divorce along with a towel in his bag.

To start the press conference, he quietly lectured 40 student journalists from The Princeton Summer Journal about a case in which a young person was sterilized, scribbling the words “fallopian tubes” and “testicles” on the chalkboard behind him. He then argued that judges were allowing such tragedies to happen. He held out his towel to depict how a mother might hold up a child, and explained a court case in which a woman, at the age of 15, had been unknowingly sterilized—while being falsely told that the surgery was to remove her appendix. “Judges are above the law,” he said, explaining that he was fixated on reforming the judicial system.

In a district where Democrats hold a 6-to-1 majority, Pappas is running without much support from the local or national Republican party. He devoted the majority of his press conference to discussing his 2009 divorce and arguing that the judiciary system is corrupt. At one point in the press conference, Pappas asked someone in the room to validate the legitimacy of documents from his divorce proceeding. These documents alleged that he had committed domestic violence, resulting in the need for reconstructive surgery for his wife.

Although Pappas believes that not all judges are corrupt, he sees his divorce as part of a systemic problem. “We are gods, you can’t question us,” he said, characterizing the attitude of judges. He alleged that the judge on the case had “threatened retaliation on me” and “hallucinated that I committed a major crime.”

Not all people who win elections are experienced politicians, so why, you might ask, can’t an eccentric-seeming candidate who has just held his first press conference manage to become a congressman? Then again, in a heavily Democratic district, Pappas faces long odds, and his opponent’s campaign appears confident. Ocasio-Cortez’s senior advisor, Saikat Chakrabarti—who held a press conference with The Princeton Summer Journal following Pappas’s appearance—put it this way: “I think she is going to win.”

Kipnis preaches moderation

By Ryan Morillo

Miami, FL

Daryl Kipnis, the Republican candidate for New Jersey’s 12th district congressional seat, has a surprising level of moderation for a Republican running in the age of Trump. At a recent press conference with student journalists from The Princeton Summer Journal, Kipnis called for reason and compromise on issues like immigration, abortion, and NFL players’ activism against racial injustice in America.

In a discussion about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a federal program started during the Obama administration to delay deportation of immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, Kipnis said it made no sense to remove immigrants who have been raised and educated in the United States. He said that DACA opponents are simply “pushing politics over people.” As an immigration lawyer, Kipnis stressed the importance of increasing the number of immigration judges to help facilitate due process for undocumented immigrants. If elected, Kipnis promised to make the process of citizenship more affordable and accessible. However, he also said it is important to distinguish immigrants associated with gangs and drugs from those who are seeking a better life.

With regard to abortion, Kipnis took a pro-choice stance. “As a champion of individual liberty it is not my place to tell people what to do,” he said, putting him at odds with the majority pro-life view among Republicans. While he would personally not endorse abortion, he said: “I don’t think Roe v. Wade is going to be overturned.”

Kipnis saw the recent protests against police brutality and institutional racism by NFL players like Colin Kaepernick as reflective of the misleading debate “about patriotism vs. non-patriotism.” The true debate, he said, should be about discrimination against the African-American community by police officers. To solve this issue, Kipnis proposed the creation of mediation sites between the two groups. While it might not be a complete solution to the ongoing issues, he said, it is a step in the right direction.

President draws mixed reviews

By Oswaldo Vazquez and Matea Toolie

Los Angeles, CA and Savoonga, AK

A crowded night in Princeton served as the perfect setting to gather diverse perspectives on one of the most talked-about Americans today: President Donald Trump. On August 3, reporters from The Princeton Summer Journal asked Princeton residents to name one positive and one negative thing about the president. Some were enthusiastic to give their thoughts, others were uninterested—and their opinions varied.

“Trump is ruining the country. He is an embarrassment,” said Chris Michie when asked his views about the president. Michie, a middle-aged Democrat, thinks that the president’s current policies are “destroying decades of hard work from his predecessors. … He has no respect for the people and is a liar.” When asked if he could identify a positive aspect of Trump, he answered with an emphatic, “no!”

Cornelia O’Grady, a former Republican who no longer supports any party, said she did not quite like Trump, but she appreciated his ability to unite people. She said that Trump “is bringing people together—the people who would not normally be together. He unifies the middle.” She is concerned, however, about the president’s financial conflicts and the corruption in his administration. “He is making money off this country,” she said. “There is evidence that he is selling us out to the Russians. An example of that would be the cyber attacks” on Democrats.

It wasn’t just Americans who had opinions about the president. “He is brave for being a 70-year-old man. Probably one thing I like,” said Cici Zhan, who was visiting from China.     

Perplexed, indifferent, or annoyed by the journalists’ questions—or perhaps a combination of all three—a man named Rene Saiguro said frankly: “I don’t know about the politics today. I don’t think anything of it.” As soon as the interview was done, Saiguro was on his way.

Rob and Kristen Holly, two registered Republicans, had positive things to say about Trump. Both commented on the “brave and fearless speeches” the president has given to the public since the start of his political campaign. The couple still had some concerns. “I wish he was not socially awkward. I would like to see a more eloquent president,” said Rob Holly.

The Hollys ultimately agreed that Trump still has a long way to go to become the “ideal president,” further criticizing his colleagues in the White House who don’t have the political experience to run the country properly.