A recent NBC news poll found that 76% of Americans believe there is a threat to democracy and majority rule. Staff illustration: Tatum Herrin (Tatum Herrin)
A recent NBC news poll found that 76% of Americans believe there is a threat to democracy and majority rule. Staff illustration: Tatum Herrin

Tatum Herrin

Discussion: What is America’s Political Outlook?

February 9, 2023

With the start of a divided Congress, Editor in Chief Alex Levitt and Opinions Editor Penelope Stinson look back on the long lasting political impacts of the past year in our discussion-style column.

What are some of the most important consequences that you see as a result of political decisions in 2022?

Alex: 

I believe the most lasting effect of 2022 politics will be the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization Supreme Court decision. In this case, the Supreme Court ended the precedent set in Roe v. Wade that abortion is a constitutional right. Therefore, the legality of abortion has been turned over to state governments, and many states have set restrictions or near-total bans on the procedure, as demonstrated by these graphics from The New York Times.

Since Supreme Court decisions trump all other lower court rulings, this decision will be the law of the land for the foreseeable future. Yes, Democrats have floated the idea of passing a bill to protect abortion rights nationwide, but Republican Lindsey Graham aims to pass a bill of the opposite nature. Regardless, neither has a reasonable chance of passing while the filibuster is still in place. So, until the Supreme Court gets a liberal majority that’s willing to overturn the precedent set in Dobbs, abortion access will not be guaranteed across all of America.

 

Penelope:

I completely agree with Alex that the Dobbs v. Jackson decision will have an impact for generations to come. But I’ll also add that the impact of the January 6th committee cannot be understated.

The January 6th committee held its first public hearing on June 9. Since then, it’s been revelation after revelation regarding what actually occurred that day. From Trump knowing his supporters were armed and still encouraging them to go to the Capitol to Trump being told repeatedly that he lost the election to Trump and his advisers pressuring officials to keep him in power. Furthermore, prominent Republicans, Trump aides and officials testified in front of the committee, revealing the cracks behind the Trump administration. Former Trump aide Cassidy Hutchinson told us that Trump tried to physically wrestle a Secret Service agent, and Former Attorney General William Barr told us that he believed Trump had become detached from reality. That’s not even including former Republican representative Liz Cheney who, essentially, killed her political career by agreeing to serve on the committee.

The January 6th committee revealed crucial information regarding the riots and forced Republicans to pick sides: either they agreed that the riots were bad and Trump was at least partially responsible, or they denied everything. Finally, the January 6th committee decided to subpoena the former president, referring them to the Department of Justice, meaning that the issue remains unresolved.

At this point, which party do you think is riding a stronger wave?

Penelope:

Frankly, for this question, I want to say neither party is riding a stronger wave, as I feel like people are disillusioned with the political process entirely. According to Gallup polling, more people consider themselves independents than Democrats or Republicans, with the number of independents being at an all-time high since 2020. Furthermore, a recent NBC news poll found that 76% of Americans believe there is a threat to democracy and majority rule. 

However, with that being said, if there is a party riding a stronger wave at this point, it has to be the Democrats. The Democrats were able to hold off a “red wave” in the 2022 midterm elections and present a more unified front since. The Republicans needed to hold 15 rounds of votes to elect Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House and have sharper divisions between different sections of their party. The “Jan. 6 was a good thing,” don’t-say-gay, Putin-loving contingency of their party, although smaller, is currently staking their claim in the ground. The moderate, economy-focused Republicans are struggling with how to control them. Overall, they are just a bit of a mess. 

 

Alex:

I’ll go a little further and say that the Democrats have far more momentum at this time. The supposed “red wave” never came to fruition, and even though the Republican party took control of the house, they had significant trouble deciding on a speaker. About 20 right-wing Republicans initially refused to support Calif. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, leading to 15 votes before McCarthy was elected as speaker.

Personally, I think that dissent within parties can lead to a stronger democracy, but the current situation undoubtedly paints Republicans in a negative light. Having a handful of representatives control the direction of Congress — and potentially negotiate policy deals in their favor — shows that the Republican party is not in a position of strength going into the 118th Congress. Democrats, on the other hand, kept control of the Senate, and have avoided any large political blunders since the midterm elections.

Predict who will win the 2024 presidential election

Alex: 

Joe Biden. Don’t worry, I’m not blind to the fact that Biden’s approval rating is far under 50% or that he’ll be 81 years old when he’s up for reelection, and a lot of Democrats don’t even believe that he’s the best person for the job. However, to me, it’s what will likely happen in the Republican primary that I believe will win the election for Biden. On that side, the two top challengers will likely be former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Neither of those men will go down without a fierce and bitter fight, one which Penelope and I both believe will go DeSantis’ way.

But when Trump eventually loses the nomination, I see him refusing to endorse DeSantis and taking his most loyal supporters away from the Republican nominee. A slightly similar situation played out in 2016, when staunch supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders refused to support Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the general election versus Trump. In that case, Sanders conceded and endorsed Clinton, but their contentious primary debates and campaign were enough to divide the Democratic caucus, which was one of the factors that led to Clinton’s defeat.

If such a primary does ensue on the Republican side in 2024, I see Biden pulling off a successful reelection campaign. That is unless he decides to retire — which would be a reasonable decision for an 81-year-old to make.

 

Penelope: 

Ron DeSantis. Alright, I know that I just said the Democrats were riding a strong wave right now, but I don’t think that wave will last until 2024. Yes, the Republican party has cracks, and Alex is correct in pointing out that we could have another Bernie/Hillary situation, but, in the end, what matters is that DeSantis is a stronger candidate than Biden. Period. 

There is a blue wave right now because the Republicans are failing to get their act together. The two divisions of the party, the Trump division and the not-Trump division, can’t seem to create a unified party. More importantly, as seen in the midterms, there’s a large faction of moderate Republicans that are disillusioned with the Trump Republicans. The only Trump-endorsed senate candidate that won was JD Vance; all others lost to Democrats. 

I believe Ron DeSantis is a man who can bring the two factions together. He’s young (at least by political standards), has a strong base in Florida, focuses heavily on economic issues (or at least, pretends to) and has just enough of the anti-Democrat, anti-drag queen library events attitude about him that he can attract both the moderates and the ultra-right-wingers. 

It’s unfair to compare Clinton to Trump and Bernie to DeSantis when, I believe, by the time 2024 rolls around Trump will be an afterthought. His reelection announcement got barely any press and polling indicates he is trailing behind DeSantis by double digits in at least five states.

Although, with that being said, it’s only just the beginning of 2023. A lot can change in 21 months, I would not count anything or anyone out just yet.

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About the Writers
Photo of Alex Levitt
Alex Levitt, Editor in Chief
 

Number of years in The Coat of Arms: 4


Favorite aspect of journalism: working with my classmates to share hidden stories with the community!


Interests outside of school: watching football and hockey


Class of 2023

Photo of Penelope Stinson
Penelope Stinson, Opinions Editor
 

Number of years in The Coat of Arms: 4


Favorite aspect of journalism: writing and editing opinion pieces; it allows me to learn new perspectives and hear interesting takes.


Interests outside of school: Mock Trial, student government, reading.


Class of 2023

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