The past two weeks have been eventful and in some ways, even tragic for America. Not only was there an instance of political terrorism in Virginia, but college student Otto Warmbier returned to American soil from North Korea just to pass away days later. On a more positive note, President Trump continued initiatives such as Workforce Week, which followed Infrastructure Week, and Congress passed an act that aims to benefit veterans. On Thursday, Senate Republicans also unveiled a new healthcare plan to reporters.
Fresh U reached out to six students regarding these events and new policy agendas:
Nicolle Hughes, Villanova University, Accounting
“The core values of our beloved country encompass the liberty and protection of all people, all of which are central to the Trump Administration. On May 11, 2017, the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 was introduced to Congress, sponsored by Republican Senator Marco Rubio. In the past, the Department of Veterans Affairs has been critiqued for its lack of organization, which I believe was inextricably tied to veterans’ undelivered benefits. From working at a Congressman’s office, I experienced firsthand the disarray of the VA, hearing many complaints from disgruntled veterans about the difficulty in obtaining benefits. Despite the past corruption of the organization, this new bill seeks to establish a central organizational structure, complemented by the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection, which will improve efficiency through increased oversight*. After passing through Congress last week, President Trump is expected to sign it into law later this week. As former President Ronald Reagan said, “We are forever indebted to those who have given their lives so that we might be free,” a statement that perfectly embodies this act.”
Note: There is criticism of the act because it may affect some civil servants’ jobs due to the increased oversight of the department’s activities.
Bailey La Sage*, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Political Science & Spanish
"As the daughter of a man who built his career through an apprenticeship program, I am appreciative of the work that President Trump and his administration has done to put a spotlight on the career paths that exist outside of the 4-year college option. Through Workforce Week, more of the public is aware of the apprenticeship programs across the country that offer the skills training and knowledge for students to have successful careers following their completion. Although I chose the 4 -ear college option, it is not for everyone. This nation is facing a skills gap because of the push for every graduating senior to attend either a 2 year or 4-year college. Student success, as well as the creation of the future workforce that can fill the needs of society, comes not from trying to make them fit a mold, but from allowing them to grow in the environment that is best suited for their needs. This would create the workforce that has the necessary skills to fill jobs, further reducing the unemployment rate in the nation. These jobs are those that families can be supported on, that people can launch careers from. Additionally, it will reduce the burden of student loans, since those who are in apprenticeship programs earn money and learn at the same time. I am looking forward to how these initiatives will play out in the futures and I applaud President Trump for bringing the national spotlight to this area."
*La Sage’s views are her own and do not represent those of her employer.
Aaron Carpenter, Ohio State University, Mechanical Engineering
“…The special election held in Georgia's 6th district yesterday was the most expensive Congressional election in the history of the United States, costing over $55 million in total expenditures. Despite the polls that showed Jon Ossoff with a 7-point lead, Karen Handel won the race by almost 4 points. That's an 11-point difference and proves that polls cannot and should not be trusted... The #FakePolls fail to accurately capture public opinion. The silent majority won big last night in Georgia and South Carolina, once again. The most embarrassing part, however, is that Jon Ossoff doesn't even live in the district* he intended to represent. Isn't his job as a Congressman to represent his district? He couldn't legally even vote for himself on Election Day… Let's not forget that the Democrat's funded $30+ million on a Congressional race that hasn't been won by Democrats since 1979. And let's also not forget that the vast majority of Jon Ossoff's election donations came from California and New York. And how could we possibly forget to mention that Karen Handel is the first Republican woman to represent the state of Georgia in Congress? June 20 was a win for women, Karen Handel, Republicans, Donald Trump, Georgia, the silent majority, and most importantly - America. Georgia decided that it won't let Hollywood and Wall Street buy a Congressional seat…”
Note: It is legal for someone to run for a congressional seat even if he or she does not live in that district, but in Ossoff’s case, as is cited in this CNN article, it may have hurt him.
William Reid Hanson, Missouri State University, Political Science
"This is not a partisan issue, and this is not political. An American Citizen, despite the claims of theft, was poorly treated, held captive, and brutally injured in North Korea. Otto went to North Korea to originally sight-see and ended up dying in the United States 17 months later at the age of 22; not much older than you and I. These horrific events bring not only emotional feelings to those following the story, but also we must question this event. It reminds us of our poor international relationship with North Korea, a country previously removed from the "terror state" list in 2008. We need aggressive action towards North Korea to not only help our southern ally, but to let them know that they've ruffled the feathers of an eagle."
Emily Hall, Harvard University, Government
“Many of the events of this past week have been disheartening, but I am encouraged that perhaps some of the problems that went unresolved in the last administration can be addressed by the current unified Republican government, further strengthened by the election of a new conservative congresswoman, Karen Handel, in GA-6. Otto Warmbier's release and subsequent death after detainment in North Korea is deeply troubling, and I hope that this tragedy will raise the profile of others like him who are kept captive in foreign countries without recourse for their release. Recovering American citizens should always be of highest priority. Violence, including politically-motivated violence like that committed against Steve Scalise and those at the Republican Congressional baseball team practice, should also be unequivocally condemned. I was pleased that President Trump addressed the nation promptly regarding this tragic event and recognized the heroism of the Capitol Police officers who protected the others present, even when injured themselves. I am also incredibly disappointed with the way many others have reacted. The rise of the #HuntRepublicans hashtag, prompted by liberal strategist James Devine, is unacceptable. While undoubtedly this does not represent the viewpoint of most Democrats, leaders in American politics should never condone violence based on political ideology, and I hope that politicians in both parties will rebuke this behavior.”
Lauren Brady, Villanova University, Political Science
“I support the Trump Administration’s dedication to ensuring the wellbeing of our veterans. All veterans, no matter the age, should be entitled to the care, services, and benefits that they deserve. Unfortunately, many Americans are not showing respect to active and former members of our armed forces simply because President Trump is adamantly allocating funding to their division. People must look beyond their political differences and stand up and salute those who fight for our freedom.”
The events of this week were no doubt more dramatic than most, but unfortunately, partisan politics can emerge even out of tragedy. There’s nothing wrong with bipartisan conversation in order to come to a semblance of an agreement.
Author’s Note: Fresh U reached out to several students regarding the Senate’s newly unveiled healthcare bill, but the students declined an interview and thought it was too soon to comment without sufficient information.
Lead Image Credit: CBS News, CBS This Morning