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SU community reacts to the looming Trump - Biden rematch


Beatrix Peck, the Vice President of the Political Science club, stands to the left of the President Elijah Estevez during the club's Monday night meeting. Image courtesy of Colin McEvers.

The rhythms of an approaching election rematch between Donald Trump and Joe Biden have Salisbury University students voicing an array of feelings. The results of Super Tuesday on March 5 further solidified the dominance each of the front-running candidates has over their respective parties, essentially ensuring the rematch. 


Wondering what will ensue in the next four years, the heart of the university pulsates with the diverse beats of student voices, faculty perspectives and ever-fearful political discourse.


Beatrix Peck, the co-founder and vice president of the SU Political Science Club, believes the upcoming election is more substantial than the 2020 matchup. Primarily due to the depletion of U.S. money, two major ongoing global conflicts and China’s heavier international presence. 


Peck founded the POSC club alongside Elijah Estevez as a sort of “teacher project” after one of her Political Science classes had only four students. The club’s goal is to connect students and create a space where members can openly converse without banking on political disagreements. 


Peck’s upbringing in Iowa shaped her early political views. However, one day in high school she watched a middle-aged man deliver a speech telling women that their lives were meant to be subservient to men, causing a shift in her attitude. 


“Why am I listening to this,” she asked herself. “I should be a free thinker.” 


Peck admits that people are fatigued of Biden, while Trump faces legal issues on the other side – he was ordered to pay upward of $500 million for fraud – with future court cases looming. 


Discontent over the two front-running candidates has fostered interest in the bids of other presidential candidates, such as the Independent Robert F. Kennedy Jr, Marianne Williamson, Cornel West and Republican Nikki Haley, who recently suspended her campaign.


Although she was impressed with Nikki Haley’s performance in the first republican debate, Peck found it unlikely that Haley’s campaign would be able to surmount the obstacles needed to defeat Trump. 


“Sexism is probably going to prevent her from getting elected ever anyway,” Peck said, before Haley dropped out on Super Tuesday. “She’s not as strong and powerful as someone like Hillary Clinton.”


On the other hand, Peck believes the chances of an independent candidate being elected in America’s two-party system are slim. 


“If you’re putting your eggs into an independent, you’re losing any chance of your vote meaning anything in the end,” she said. 


Top issues in the country include the economy, healthcare, drug and gun violence, the border and the environment, according to the Pew Research Center. Though Peck doesn’t view the border crisis as a major national issue, she does hope that problems like gun violence, sacrifice zones and redlining can be addressed. However, there exists pessimism over whether any candidate has the ability to make a positive difference. 


"The border crisis is overinflated,” she said. “People often forget most illegal immigrants pay taxes to begin with.”


“You can’t tell people the truth when they’ve got cotton in their ears about that sort of situation.”


The Maryland primary is May 14 and the general election is November 5; it remains to be seen how many people will vote this year. The 2020 election drew historic voter turnout – 155 million people, or 66.8% of citizens 18 years or older – despite COVID-19 concerns, according to U.S. Census data. 


Taehyun Nam, who has a doctorate in Political Science, has been a professor at Salisbury University for over 16 years. Image courtesy of Colin McEvers.

Taehyun Nam, who has a doctorate in Political Science, is unsure of his mood heading into a Trump vs. Biden election rematch.

 

“I don’t know how I feel,” Nam said. “I was really nervous four years ago but I’m not so much now.”


“If you ask me why, I don’t have an answer.”


Polling shows that 59% of Americans do not want a Trump-Biden rematch, according to NewsNation. Nam explained the impact these numbers may have on voter turnout in the 2024 presidential election.


“It could have a dampening effect for sure,” Nam said. “There’s a lot of talk indicating that the young voters who were really enthusiastic about Biden’s presidency have been disappointed, understandably so.”


Nonetheless, Nam gives the edge to President Biden over former President Trump when looking at both of their terms. 


“If I had to give a grade, I’d give a much better grade to Joe Biden,” he said.  “At least because he had maintained an orderly world, not that I’m 100% happy with that world.”


“After four years of another Trump presidency, Russia will be in much better shape than it is now.” 


In the midst of clashing perspectives over the presidential performances of each candidate, Nam encourages students to set aside their ideological stances and engage in dialogue. 


“People are so entrenched in their own comfort zone and they don’t want to talk about anything that might reveal their political orientation to people on the other side,” he said. “It’s a really serious problem; democracy is all about talking to each other without such fear.”


“Professors are cautious, public speaker events are canceled, people lose jobs for some tweets they made... politics now are really unhealthy.”


Joshua Bolton, who has a doctorate in Political Communications, works with the Institute for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement (PACE) at SU. PACE is a nonpartisan resource that offers connections, plans events and showcases candidates on the Maryland ballot. 


“We want to give people all the information,” Bolton said. “We’ll put out side by side comparisons of the candidates and their issue sheets and voter initiatives.”


Research shows that one of the biggest signs of whether or not a person will vote is if they have voted in the past. An objective of PACE is to get students to vote once, increasing the likelihood of becoming a regular voter. 


Maddie Wade, an SU freshman, registers to vote in preparation for the upcoming presidential election. Image courtesy of Colin McEvers.

PACE partners with TurboVote to ease the voter registration process. Once signed up, students can get reminders about mail-in ballots, early voting, day-of voting and more, according to Bolton.  


SUVotes is the official voter registration initiative on campus, managed by PACE. During election seasons, tables are set up across campus to aid students in the sign-up process and give them the information they need to submit their ballot.  


“I want to challenge students,” Bolton said. “Salisbury University as a whole is one of the best schools in Maryland at registration.”


“For actually showing up to vote, we’re one of the worst.”


There’s many ways to get involved and discuss freely during this election season, whether it’s with the Political Science club, PACE or simply having conversations with peers. 


 


By KYLE MANGUM

Staff Writer

Featured image courtesy of Colin McEvers

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