HYVC Discusses Policy Part One


For the third article in our series, we wanted to give our readers a better sense of our committee’s political philosophy and personal beliefs. In this article, we asked 6 of our members to answer questions regarding the BLM movement and the United States’ COVID response. This is the first part of a 2-part series; check out the opinions of our other members here.  

Following a summer defined by Black Lives Matter protests, various riots, and calls for defunding the police, what are your general opinions about this fight, and do you think the country is doing enough to address this? 

Neha Dhanwada: You can never truly understand what it is like to be Black in America if you are not Black. While I agree with the sentiment of the movement and the peaceful protests, I abhor the arson and looting; it just takes away from the message. I also believe that there needs to be a main figurehead to lead this movement as the message is getting sullied by competing voices. I don’t think the country has done enough in terms of addressing these concerns, it has remained silent and unwavering, and the response to the protests has been absolutely deplorable.

Evie Greenberg: In a country founded on white supremacy, it is a delusion to think that systematic racism has simply disappeared in the fifty-six years between the Civil Rights Act and today. Black Americans have been slaughtered by police and white supremacists for years, but it is only in 2020 that it has truly come to the center of our national discourse. In a country where white supremacy is ingrained into the founding of our police system, we should re-evaluate that system. 

“Defunding the police” means re-allocating services that the police are burdened with to professionals more adept to handle the situations. Take, for example, a situation with a mentally-ill individual. Rather than sending officers unequipped to deal with such circumstances, we should send trained psychiatrists who are properly trained. 

That as a concept does not seem radical, but the term “defunding the police” is perhaps misleading. A more accurate phrase may be: “reallocating the services that the police provide to those more prepared to deal with them, so that some of the weight is lifted off of the police who simply can’t handle all of that,” but that doesn’t exactly work as well on one’s Instagram story. 

Kaelyn Klatte: The protests, riots, and brutality we have seen over the summer are strongly influenced by increased tension in our country as we approach the election. Strangely enough, what would appear to be basic human rights issues have turned political, partially thanks to sensationalism and cherry-picking by the media. A country founded upon freedom and equity is far too deeply rooted in hatred and oppression for us to fix the growing disparities between our two political parties.

I believe that every system is corrupt in its own way (media is biased, the government is not always transparent, etc.) and the criminal justice system is no different. Thus, we need reform for our justice system—and yes, I said reform. We still need protection and security in our local communities, but that protection must be fair and equitable. 

Gabriel Klaumenzer: The country is unfortunately not doing much to support the BLM movement. The government has only addressed the problem by adding fuel to the fire by suppressing riots with tear gas and riot provoking. What happened over the summer has divided America entirely on the issue of corrupt police forces. I believe we need to defund the police, not by necessarily replacing all of our officers or getting rid of police altogether, but rather through a reformation. 

Ben Kozloff: The events of this summer and of many decades before make it obvious—there are lots of racists in America. However, I believe the problem is a societal problem and not an issue of policy. Police departments should see an increase in funding to better equip officers to deal with the wide array of calls they receive. The rioting and encampments seen across the country are illegal; however, the right to peaceful protest should not be infringed on. 

Ben Samahon: There are a lot of great conversations about race taking place because of the protests and other various forms of activism we saw this summer. However, in spite of all these conversations and massive public outcry, shockingly little real policy has been passed to address any of these systemic issues. Many will point their fingers quickly at Trump– and yes, Trump is a problem– but the reality is that the country is not, and has not, been doing enough at all levels of government. These are Democratic cities where some of the worst instances of police brutality took place, where still little has been done. Pathetic.

Since the beginning of the year, COVID-19 has arguably been the most consuming issue worldwide. Do you think the Trump administration and the House of Representatives have been doing enough to keep the public safe, create a vaccine, and help with unemployment/the distribution of stimulus checks? 

ND: They have been too hands-off and too ill-informed. The White House has constantly differed from certified medical professionals and disobeyed proper guidelines, as well as advocating for some very ineffective safety methods—all while having the best medical help in the world. I don’t believe they are helping with unemployment or even distributing stimulus checks; there are still millions out of a job and hurting for money without a check in the mail. While I tend to hold the belief that too much governmental assistance leads to dependence, and thus, unproductivity, U.S. citizens deserve to get some aid during this pandemic.

GK: Seeing that the U.S. has a weekly average of 27,000 cases, while the European Union only has 4,000 cases a week, it is clear that the U.S. is failing in coronavirus protection. Instead of having the entire country closed down (as in you can’t go outside your house) for four to six weeks, we decided to allow people to do whatever they want as long as they maintain socially distancing. Then, we rushed through a yellow and green phase to force people into a semi-normal life. 

President Trump himself got COVID. If our leaders aren’t socially distancing, how can we expect the general public to do the same? However, I do applaud that the U.S. seems to be in the lead of a vaccine. At least, the government isn’t rushing through a vaccine, which would be extremely dangerous. Still, they claim that it will be created before the year ends, though the general public may not get that vaccine until 2021.

KK: I’m extremely disappointed in how the Trump administration has been handling the pandemic. First and foremost, as the leader of the United States, Trump should be taking the pandemic more seriously by wearing a mask, preaching the importance of CDC guidelines, and adhering to Dr. Fauci’s recommendations. Instead, he has allowed his supporters to think it’s okay to disregard their safety and the safety of others.

He is also trying to push a vaccine before the election, which is a shockingly short time to develop a viral vaccine—the FDA would not have had enough chance to test the vaccine and make sure that it is safe for human use. That being said, I think that the federal government has done a good job of providing stimulus checks right when quarantine first started and the economy began failing.

BK: The Trump administration has made many missteps in its response to COVID-19. The president often disagrees with public health officials, which creates a public distrust for science. The current administration has taken steps to fund vaccine research and distribute a vaccine when ready. Congress should continue negotiations on stimulus. The virus should not control our everyday lives but should inform personal decisions on how we choose to interact. 

BS: Not nearly enough has been done. The Trump administration has repeatedly refused to acknowledge the seriousness of the virus and the science surrounding it. It took the president months to do the basic gesture of wearing a mask in public, which he still mocks despite contracting the virus himself. On the other side of the aisle, the House of Representatives has whittled relief to struggling families to a mere fraction of what they deserve, in the name of “compromise.” The numbers speak for themselves. Our leaders have failed to address the pandemic with any kind of poise and, as a result, the American people are suffering.