Posts tagged with "president"

Illustration of Melania Trump and Jill Biden by Kaelen Felix for 360 Magazine

Dear Melania Trump, Our 2nd Immigrant First Lady

By Javier Pedroza

Dear Melania: Why didn’t you invite the new FLOTUS, Dr. Jill Biden, for a private tour of the White House living quarter?

“Under all circumstances, we must never desert ourselves”. – Louisa Catherine Adams, the first FLOTUS born outside of the United States of America (1825 to 1829). Historically, First Ladies are mostly respected and admired. The coveted position has been uncontroversial until 2021. 

Melania Trump, formerly known as Melanija Knavs, was born on April 26, 1970 in Slovenia. At age 16, she began what would soon become a successful modeling career, appearing in many high profile ad campaigns and working with some of the best photographers in the fashion industry. In 1996, Mrs. Trump moved to New York and 10 years later she proudly became a United States Citizen. Former First Lady Melania Trump is the wife of the 45th President, Donald J. Trump and the mother to their son, Barron Trump. She is the second First Lady born outside of the United States, and she is the only First Lady to become a naturalized United States citizen. 

Mrs. Trump is the first modern former First Lady to break one of the transfer-of-power rituals; welcoming the incoming president and family into the White House. This American tradition commenced in the 1920s and was respected all the way to 2017, when outgoing FLOTUS Mrs. Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama hosted Mrs. Melania Trump for tea while discussing the private residence. 

“Mrs. Trump should have invited Dr. Biden in for the traditional coffee. Typically, the first lady would come prepared with questions, she’ll meet and talk to the chef, the full time residence staff and have an opportunity for them to break the ice. It’s a courtesy, but logistically it’s incredibly helpful. That didn’t happen,”Capricia Marshall told The New York Times. Capricia Marshall was the former White House social secretary in the Clinton administration. 

In 2016 when former President Barack Obama welcomed Donald and Melania Trump to the White House, Former First Lady Michelle Obama held her head up high despite Donald’s reckless lies about her husband. Michelle Obama went on instagram and described how she felt during that time, sharing that while she was “hurt and disappointed,” she accepted that “the American people had spoken.” She went on to write, “My husband and I instructed our staff to do what George and Laura Bush had done for us: run a respectful, seamless transition of power — one of the hallmarks of American democracy.” 

On January 19th, 2021 CNN reported, “Melania Trump left the White House with the worst popularity rating for any first lady at the end of her term in polling history. The latest CNN/SSRS poll had Trump’s favorable rating at 42% to a 47% unfavorable rating. The 47% is the highest unfavorable rating we ever recorded for Trump. It’s also amazingly high from a historical perspective.” 

On January 20th, another protocol was broken when neither the former President nor any member of his family attended the inauguration. The Trumps also bypassed the laying of a wreath atop the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Ceremony, where the Biden’s were joined by former Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and their spouses. 

As trending headlines like “Trumps’ snub of Bidens historic in its magnitude” by CNN circulated in the media early this week, we watched Melania Trump address the nation for the last time as First Lady of the United States. This was her first on camera appearance since the January 6th insurrection on the Capitol and she had not been seen in public since New Year’s Eve. During her farewell speech she spent much of her time expressing the importance of kindness. “In all circumstances, I ask every American to be an ambassador of Be Best. To focus on what unites us, to raise above what divides us. To always choose love over hatred, peace over violence and others before yourself.” 

Was this Melania’s opportunity to demonstrate to the world that she is her own person? A proud immigrant from Slovenia who later became an American citizen who respects all aspects of what it means to be an American or perhaps Melanija Knavs has always been a Trump. 

“Develop enough courage so that you can stand up for yourself and then stand up for somebody else.” – Maya Angelou

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris Illustration by Kaelen Felix

The Presidential Inauguration

Today, Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States which commences his four-year presidency and Kamala Harris as Vice President. 

Earlier it was revealed that former president Donald Trump would not attend the ceremony. Trump announced this on his Twitter account before the account was suspended. On January 8 he tweeted, “To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.”

Trump is the sixth outgoing president that did not attend the presidential inauguration. The last time this occurred was in 1921 when Woodrow Wilson did not attend the inauguration of Warren G. Harding because of poor health. 

“It’s usually a sign that American society is in the midst of major political feud,” the presidential historian Douglas Brinkley said in the New York Times. “The fact that the incoming and outgoing presidents can’t shake hands and co-participate in an inauguration means that something’s off-kilter in the democracy.”

President Biden took an upbeat approach while speaking to the public in front of the Lincoln Memorial at the “Celebrating America” concert. After  addressing many difficulties the nation has encountered recently, he asked if American’s were up for a challenge. 

“Will we meet the moment like our forebearers have?” he asked. “I believe we must and I believe we will. You, the American people are the reason why I have never been more optimistic about America than I am this very day.”

“There isn’t anything we can’t do, if we do it together,” he added. 

“So thank you for this honor, I will give my all to you,” Biden concluded. 

The “Celebrating America” concert was star-packed and many celebrities came together to celebrate the inauguration of President Biden and Vice President Harris. Performers such as Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, Demi Lovato, John Legend and Katy Perry all had smashing performances. The celebration was hosted by Tom Hanks, who many sources noted as looking “freezing” because he didn’t have time to take a break in the heated trailers set up for performers. 

There was of course concerns because of the violence that recently occurred at the Capitol earlier in January, explained Adrienne Elrod, the director of talent for the Biden transition team. “What happened on January 6th I wouldn’t say derailed us, but it certainly caused us to take a step back,” she said.

This inauguration is monumental as the first female Vice President is sworn in inspiring girls throughout America. Many people showed heartwarming tweets of their daughters watching Harris as she was sworn in as president. It was also reported that Harris will not immediately be moving in to the Vice President’s residence at the Naval Observatory. 

In Harris’s first statement to the public in her role as Vice President, she encouraged the people of the United States to unite in this time of crisis. 

“In many ways this moment embodies our character as a nation. It demonstrates who we are, even in dark times. We, not only dream, we do. We not only see what has been, we see what can be. We shoot for the moon, and then we plant our flag on it. We are bold, fearless and ambitious. We are undaunted, in our belief that we shall overcome, that we will rise up. This is American aspiration,” Harris said.

Dr. Jill Biden tweeted a video of her and President Biden arriving at the North Portico of the White House as her first official tweet as First Lady. “Thank you for your faith in something that is bigger than all of us: that we will build a better world because we’re going to do it together,” the tweet read.

One unexpected part of the inauguration that has taken social media by storm is an image of Bernie Sanders sitting in a chair with mittens on. A huge number of memes have been created of Sanders in various locations and according to the Los Angles Times Sanders has also been laughing at the memes. 

A school teacher from Vermont was responsible for crafting the famous mittens and has since been flooded with requests from people that want to buy them. However, she has announced she is no longer selling them.

“Thanks for all the interest in Bernie’s mittens!” Jen Ellis wrote on Twitter. “I’m so flattered that Bernie wore them to the inauguration. Sadly, I have no more mittens for sale. There are a lot of great crafters on ETSY who make them.”

Sanders said he had no idea that the image of him would cause such an uproar on social media. “I was just sitting there trying to keep warm, trying to pay attention to what was going on,” he said during an interview on “Late Night with Seth Meyers” Thursday. Even celebrities like Reba and Sarah Jessica Parker joined in on the fun making memes of the image. 

Biden began his duties as early as Wednesday when he finalized over a dozen executive moves in the Oval Office. “There’s no time to start like today,” Biden told reporters as he began signing a stack of orders and memoranda. “I’m going to start by keeping the promises I made to the American people.”

Biden also made it clear during a swearing-in ceremony that his employees are expected to respect each other.”If you’re ever working with me and I hear you treating another colleague with disrespect, talking down to someone, I will fire you on the spot,” said Biden. 

The Biden administration has also put a plan in place to focus on specific issues that need attention. Starting on January 20, the Biden Administration began with Inauguration and four Crises to focus on.

They decided to pick a theme for the following ten days so they would be able to focus on specific issues each day. Some of these themes include Covid, Economic Relief, Climate, Health Care and Immigration. In February there is a plan to focus on restoring America’s place in the world. Throughout these days there will be a variety of executive orders depending on the theme.

Donald Trump illustration by Kaelen Felix for 360 MAGAZINE

Donald Trump Impeached Again

By Dana Feeney

The House of Representatives has voted to impeach President Donald Trump for the second time in his four-year term as president, which started in January of 2017. He is the third president to be impeached and the first president ever to be impeached more than once. This second impeachment comes shortly after the riots in the capital last week on January 6th, 2021. Trump is being impeached on the charge of “incitement of insurrection’’ because of the statements he made on January 6. He told his supporters to “fight like hell” because the Democrats were stealing the election. You can watch the speech hereDuring the riots, Trump supporters carrying a variety of racist and white supremacist paraphernalia swarmed the Capitol and forced their way into the building to stop the count of electoral votes. The riot caused the deaths of at least five individuals, including a Capitol police officer. 

Because of the insurrection, Democrats pushed for Vice President Mike Pence to enact the 25th amendment, which he could use to declare Trump unfit to serve as president and remove him from office. Republicans blocked this move. U.S. Congressmen David N. Cicilline (RI-01), Ted Lieu (CA-33), and Jamie Raskin (MD-08) introduced the article of impeachment to the House of Representatives on the morning of January 11, 2021. The article of impeachment is co-sponsored by 211 members of Congress according to Cicilline’s press release. You can read the full article of impeachment here. On January 13, 2021, the House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump with a 232 to 197 majority. 10 Republicans voted to impeach, more members of the president’s party than in any prior impeachment.

Impeachment does not mean removal from office; impeachment is adjacent to an indictment. The difference in American law is that indictment applies to criminal charges, while impeachment is the accusation of misconduct in a political setting. Any civil officer in the United States can be impeached. In the case of the President or Vice President, the first step is the introduction of the article(s) of impeachment in the House of Representatives. After the article(s) of impeachment are introduced to the House, the House then votes on each article of impeachment, and if any pass by a simple majority, more than 50%, the articles will be tried in front of the Senate. During the Senate trial, the chief justice of the Supreme Court presides over the Senate trial, the Senate body functions as the jury, a committee of House representatives, called “managers,” act as the prosecution, and the president and his or her lawyers act as the defense. All articles of impeachment are argued on the Senate floor, then are voted on by the Senate body to either convict or acquit; to convict, there must be a two-thirds majority. Only two presidents, Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson, were impeached and reached the Senate trial, both were acquitted. Despite an extensive impeachment investigation, Richard Nixon was never impeached because he resigned.  

Yesterday, January 13, 2021, the House voted to impeach Trump with only six days until the inauguration of Joe Biden. It is highly unlikely that Trump will be removed from office before the end of his term as president. The Senate is not set to be in session until January 19, 2021, and neither Democrats nor Republicans benefit from rushing the trial to be any sooner as this Senate trial will be a lengthy process that requires preparation from both the prosecution and the defense. Despite Trump losing the support of some members of his party, it is unclear how likely it is that Trump will be convicted because, even Mitt Romney, who voted to impeach in the first impeachment, has implied he is unsure that this is the right way to go. Many Republicans may hesitate to vote to convict because of the 74 million people who voted for Trump; these are the people who control whether Republicans will be reelected in the future. The main person who could cause a possible shift is Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader. If McConnell chooses to vote to convict Trump, other members of the Republican party may do the same. McConnell released this statement on January 13 saying that “there is simply no chance that a fair or serious trial could conclude before President-elect Biden is sworn in next week.”

Trump has been silent since besides releasing this video condemning violence and has not acknowledged the second impeachment. He has been banned from social media, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitch, and Snapchat. Along with these bans, the tech industry has made broad statements against this recent violence. Apple and Google have removed the app Parler from their app stores. The app was used by Trump supporters and white supremacists to communicate and coordinate the attack on the Capitol. Further, Amazon Web Services, which hosted the app, has cut off its service to Parler on the premise that it violated its terms of service. One feature of the app was that users could upload a photograph of their government-issued ID or driver’s license to become a “Verified Citizen.” The app lost the support of its security services, which protected user data, leaving it vulnerable to hackers who stole the data and turned it over to the FBI to be used to identify terrorists present at the riot. Read more about it here. Additionally, there are accounts publicly identifying people in photographs from the riots on platforms including Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok. Federal officials are identifying and arresting individuals who were at the event.

 The riots have caused many security changes in Washington D.C. and state capitals across the U.S. as Joe Biden’s inauguration grows closer and threats of further violence continue to spread online. These changes include the resignation of the U.S. Capitol Police chief, Steven Sund, increased police and national guard presence in Washington D.C. and the implementation of high security barriers around the Capitol building. Many D.C. businesses inside of the security perimeter are already making changes in preparation for the inauguration. Some are boarding up their windows in preparation for possible protests while others are preparing to serve guests who come to D.C. for the inauguration. In response to various local, state, and federal officials asking people not to travel to Washington, D.C., Airbnb has canceled all reservations in the Washington, D.C. metro area during the inauguration week, according to this press release. Some hotel chains in the city have stated that they will be hosting guests; as of now, nothing has been done to prevent this.

The events in this article, including the Senate trial, the consequences of the riots, and the coming inauguration, are all ongoing.

 

Kaelen Felix illustrates Ritchie Torres for 360 Magazine

TRAILBLAZER: CONGRESSMAN RITCHIE TORRES

By Elle Grant

January 3rd marked the commencement of the 117th Congress and the swearing of its newest members. For many, it marked the beginning of a new dawn. One that will be followed by the inauguration of TIME’s People of the Year, President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. They will replace President Trump on Inauguration Day on January 20th. Yet several other remarkable individuals were elected this year and sworn in a bit earlier, solidifying the 117th Congress as the most diverse in American history. One of these representatives is a freshly elected Ritchie Torres, a 32-year-old politician serving the 15th congressional district in the Bronx, New York. Torres is the first openly gay Afro-Latino man elected to Congress, and one of two gay Black men that will serve in the 117th Congress, a distinction he shares with fellow New Yorker Mondaire Jones. 360 Magazine had the opportunity to sit down with Torres to discuss the story of his life, the issues he considers vital, as well as pick his brain for his thoughts on current events.

“I am a product of the Bronx,” Torres says of his childhood, “I spent most of my life in poverty.” Ritchie Torres was raised by a single mother, one of three children, in the Throggs Neck neighborhood of the East Bronx. He recalls the difficulty his mother had raising a family on minimum wage in the 1990s, as well as the awful conditions of the public housing he grew up in. Torres recollects these experiences with the soft yet fluid countenance that marked his speech throughout 360’s conversation with him. He floats between topics and memories with ease.

He recalls, with a rich sense of irony, the construction of Trump Golf Links as a child. “My life is something of a metaphor. I grew up right across the street of what became Trump golf course and actually something funny, is when the golf course was undergoing construction, it unleashed a skunk infestation. So, I often tell people I’ve been smelling the stench of Donald Trump long before he became President.” His own situation, compared with the government subsidized construction of the Trump Golf Links, deeply unsettled Torres’ image of society. He says collectively of his youth, “Those experiences shape not only who I am as a person, but as a public official.”

Such injustices prompted Torres to seek to become “The change that you wish the see in the world,” he says, quoting Mahatma Gandhi. He named public figures such as Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, Ted Kennedy as role models. He got his start as a housing organizer and eventually took the leap of faith to run for public office, becoming New York’s youngest elected city official at age 25. He had “No ties to the machine. No ties to the dynasties of Bronx politics, but I was young and energetic. I knocked on thousands of doors,” he claims that kind of face-to-face contact won him that election. Torres then became the first LGBTQ+ official elected from the Bronx.

“I think it has several implications,” he says when asked what this early accomplishment meant to him. “I mean, first, we are all products of our identities and our lived experiences. Right? Who we are as people shapes what we do as policy makers. It is important to have LGBTQ policy makers in the room where decisions are being made. A wise person once said, ‘If you don’t have a seat at the table, then you are probably on the menu.’” Referring to his 2020 election win, he says “My election means that LGBTQ people of color, in particular, will have a seat at one of the most powerful tables, the United States Congress.” He calls the reality of his election both empowering and normalizing. “I am a symbol of possibility.”

“I met Mondaire for the first time four years ago,” Torres says of Mondaire Jones, U.S. representative of New York’s 17th congressional district. “I remember when I met him for the first time, we had a conversation about the lack of LGBTQ representation of color in New York state politics. And I never imagined that four years later, he and I would become the first openly LGBTQ Black members of United States Congress.”

Congressmen Torres recognizes that his path, though marked with accomplishments, has not been one of only highs. Torres stands apart as a public official on the national stage who is open about the lows of his life and his struggles with mental health. When asked why he chooses to be so transparent, he says “I felt a deep sense of obligation to speak openly about my own struggles with depression in order to break the silence and shame and stigma that surrounds mental health.” He seeks to evolve, not perpetuate, the current ideas surrounding mental health. He hopes to show that “there is a way forward” out of difficult moments, which for him were struggles with substance abuse, the loss of a friend, and moments when he considered taking his own life. But seven years later, Torres was elected to city council. “I would not be alive today, much less a member of the United States Congress, were it not for mental health care which saved my life.” He aspires to send a message that “Recovery is possible. You can take an antidepressant, as I do every day, and find normalcy and stability” and achieve feats like being elected to Congress.

The 117th Congress is slated to be the most diverse in history. Torres says of this reality, “I think American is increasingly becoming a multi-racial, multi-ethnic inclusive democracy. We are witnessing the collapse of politics as an old voice network. I am part of a new generation of young leaders every bit as diverse as America itself. Congress is becoming what it always should have been, a miniaturization of America itself.”

Torres acknowledges the year 2020, monumental in many ways, as harrowing for his Bronx community. “COVID-19 has been a catastrophe for the city and the country, and the South Bronx has been the epicenter of COVID-19. The South Bronx had the highest rate of COVID-19 morbidity and mortality during the peak of the pandemic. And just as destructive as COVID-19 itself were the deeper inequalities that were brought to light.” He argued that the coronavirus exposed the deeper health inequalities, racial inequalities, and class inequalities laid bare by the pandemic.

These issues are at the forefront of Torres’ mind in thinking of his work as a legislator. When asked what he saw as the first step to rectifying the rampant racial injustice in the United States, he answered “the first thing is to bring greater accountability to policing in America,” an argument familiar to many Americans following the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd and their ensuing protests. As the Black Lives Matter movement swept the nation with greater momentum than ever before, cries for justice and defunding the police became common across the country’s cities. “Where there is no accountability, there will never be an end to police brutality” Torres says, being especially critical of qualified immunity in the United States.

Torres heads to Congress as a man with a mission regarding many issues. He himself declares “My great passion is affordable housing,” reflecting a long journey working continually in the housing sphere. He seeks to secure far greater funding for public housing in New York City and to expand the Section 8 program. The Section 8 program, also known as the Housing Choice Voucher program, created by an act in 1978, provides assistance to eligible low- and moderate-income families to rent housing in the private market. Torres says, “For me the surest way to stimulate the economy is to put money in the pockets of struggling families.” In order to do that, he believes the solution is an expanded child tax credit, which he describes as the single largest tax expenditure in America, yet he finds fault with a system that is “so regressive that it excludes a third of American families. Particularly the poorest families in America.” Torres’ passion shines through when he discusses the subject, detailing how this solution could slash childhood poverty by 40% in the span of the year. He calls its potential an absolute “game changer.”

Without question, affordable housing and tax reform are the first issues Torres hopes to address after being sworn in to the 117th Congress on January 3rd, 2020. “For me, the central mission of my life is to fight poverty in America. Racially constructed poverty in America. The South Bronx is said to be the poorest district in America and if we can make progressive policies work in the South Bronx, we can make them work anywhere.”

360 Magazine also had the opportunity to discuss a variety of current issues with Congressman Torres, one of which being the then impending Senate run-offs in Georgia. Following races too close to call in November 2020, Republican incumbent David Perdue is facing a challenge from Democrat Jon Ossoff. Additionally, GOP appointee Kelly Loeffler is defending her seat against Democrat Reverend Raphael Warnock. The election is vital because it will determine which party will control the Senate. “The stakes are supremely important,” Torres says of Georgia. “As long as Mitch McConnell refuses to bring critical bills to the floor for a vote, there is a limit to what we can accomplish. For me, Mitch McConnell is the single greatest obstruction on the path to progress. Winning those two seats in Georgia are essential.”

Regarding the impending mayoral race in his home of New York City, as well as early polls that display former Presidential candidate Andrew Yang as the frontrunner, Torres is coy. “The mayor’s race is wide open. Anyone who claims to have it figured out is lying.” He goes on to affirm “It is full of more than one credible candidate.”

“To be clear, I never announced that I wasn’t going to be in the squad.” Torres says, referring to ‘The Squad’ of United States Congress, composed of Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a fellow New Yorker, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib. With new young progressive politicians like Torres joining the fray, claims of expanding membership are common. Torres, along with the aforementioned Mondaire Jones, as well as Congresswoman Cori Bush, Congresswoman Marie Newman, and Congressman Jamaal Brown are commonly referred to as impending members.

Instead, Torres clarifies, “I would never issue an announcement that I would not be a part of something. That would be an odd thing to do. Whenever I’m asked about the squad, I simply state that I’m my own person and I prefer to be judged on the basis of my own story and my own record, on my own terms.” He goes on to assert he is willing to work with “anyone and everyone in the service of delivering to the people of the South Bronx. That is my highest priority.” Torres is clear in this declaration that he is willing to work with more conservative members of his own party or the Republican party in hopes of progress.

On a future in politics, Torres affirmed his intent to serve the people in the moment and to “let the dice fall where they may” regarding the future. When asked what wisdom he would impart to a younger generation, Congressman Torres says “We are all only as strong as the support we have in our lives and be grateful for the supporters you have. The friends and family. I would not be here today if not for the friendship of people who believed in me more than I believed in myself. Know who those people are and value them and be grateful for them.”

Update as of 1/14/21, Congressman Ritchie Torres has formally endorsed former presidential candidate Andrew Yang for mayor of New York City. This comes just a day after Andrew Yang announced his campaign in a video titled ‘Why I’m Running,’ which features Torres in it.

Oprah Winfrey Virtual Town Halls

Oprah Winfrey announced plans Monday to host virtual town halls in states that look to play a large role in the upcoming election.

As part of OWN’s OWN YOUR VOTE get-out-the-vote initiative, the town halls will be a non-partisan effort to encourage, inspire and support voters across the country before Nov. 3.

The events are free and open to the public, and you can register in advance by clicking right here.

She will host an event for voters in Wisconsin Oct. 26, voters in North Carolina Oct. 27, voters in Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Pennsylvania Oct. 28 and voters in South Carolina Oct. 29. All of the town halls will begin at 8 p.m. ET.

Winfrey will speak with local voters in an effort to acquire adequate resources, information and inspiration to create a more informed voting base. Local voters, national thought leaders, voting rights experts and others who can provide insight and resources to voters will join her.

Speakers at the town halls include Brittany Packnett Cunningham, Representative Gwen Moore, Kristen Clarke, Vi Lyles, Kamilia Landrum, Andrea Hailey, Tameika Isaac Devine, Arisha Hatch, Tamika D. Mallory and Sherrilyn Ifill.

Representatives from women’s organizations will also attend, like Dr. Glenda Glover, Beverly E. Smith, Melanie Campbell, Glynda Carr, Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole, Dr. Kimberly Leonard, Rasheeda S. Liberty and Valerie Hollingsworth Baker.

For this event, OWN YOUR VOTE has partnered with the following organizations: 

Advancement Project National Office

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated

AME Church Social Action Commission

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated

Fair Fight Action

Higher Heights Leadership Fund

Joseph and Evelyn Lowery Institute for Justice and Human Rights

The Kapor Center

The King Center (Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, Inc.)

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

The Links, Incorporated

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF)

National Council of Negro Women

National Urban League

Power Rising

Power to the Polls

Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Incorporated

Sistahs in Business Expo

Vote Run Lead

Vote.org

VoteAsIf.org

When We All Vote

Woke Vote

Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated

You can also learn more about OWN YOUR VOTE by clicking right here.

Final Presidential Debate

By Hannah DiPilato 

The final presidential debate took place on Thursday. Significantly less chaotic than the first debate, both candidates were able to express their opinions on certain issues and to respond to the moderator, Kristen Welker‘s, questions, for the most part. 

The first unavoidable topic presented was the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Current President Donald Trump took over the first question claiming that a vaccine would be distributed as soon as a few weeks from now. He claimed the military is ready to distribute 100 million vaccinations. He also placed emphasis on the fact coronavirus is a worldwide problem as well as emphasizing his own recovery.  

Presidential candidate Joe Biden came in with a rebuttal focusing on families that have lost loved ones as a result of the pandemic and how Trump will not take responsibility for these deaths. He also used the statistic that a predicted 200,000 Americans would die before the end of 2020 at the current rate. Trump disagreed with this and compared coronavirus to the Swine Flu which occurred while Joe Biden was Vice President. 

Welker then led the conversation to lockdowns as a result of Covid-19. Biden began by saying he plans to shut down Covid, not the country. He wants to get places with high reproduction rates under control. 

Trump’s main point was that schools should reopen because children aren’t the main concern in relation to the pandemic. He talked about his son’s rapid recovery and his belief schools should open. 

“I don’t look at this as blue states and red states, we’re the United States,” said Biden. However, he quickly followed this statement by saying upticks have been seen mostly in red states. Trump responded that America should not shut down, but instead just protect the elderly and those at high risk. 

After a significant amount of time discussing coronavirus, the topic switched to national security. Biden questioned why Russia, China and Iran are interfering with the election and Trump has not taken any measures to handle this. Trump refuted this saying nobody is tougher on Russia than himself and pointed fingers at Biden saying Russia is paying Biden a lot of money. 

Biden then explained how he has never taken money from another country but points a finger at Trump who has overseas accounts, pressuring Trump to reveal his tax records. Trump then explained he prepays his taxes and that he would love to release the taxes as soon as he can. He stressed that the IRS “treats him very badly.” 

The next main topic of the debate was American families, beginning with a focus on healthcare. Trump wants to create a healthcare plan that is better than Obamacare while always protecting those with preexisting conditions. He accused Biden of wanting to eliminate private healthcare. 

Biden responded that he supports private insurance and no one would lose their private insurance under his plan. He said he wants to continue Obamacare as Bidencare He explained he wants everyone to have a public healthcare option and he plans to lower drug prices and insurance premiums. Trump also compared Biden to the United States Senator Bernie Sanders, but Biden said he disagreed with Sanders’ plans. 

Welker asked both candidates if this was the right time to raise the minimum wage considering the Covid-19 pandemic. Trump explained he would consider raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, but that minimum wage heavily depends on the state. On the other hand, Biden believes everyone deserves a minimum wage of at least $15 an hour in order to live without multiple jobs. 

Many people have previously had issues with how Trump has handled immigration laws in the past. His views have not seemed to change since he said illegal immigrant children are brought by “coyotes and bad people” to America as a ploy to get into the country. 

Biden’s response was that the children were not brought by “bad people” but parents that deserve equality. If he were to be elected, he plans to make more undocumented people citizens and able to stay in the United States. Trump then responded that if you take in a rapist or murder ICE then has to come to find them and only those with the “lowest IQ” will come back to get caught. 

The Black Lives Matter movement has brought systemic racism into the media, so Welker ensured both candidates addressed these issues. Biden gave a very sympathetic response where he spoke about wanting to learn more about systemic racism and that he understands the hardships families of color go through. He touched on white privilege and institutionalized racism as well and believes there should be less imprisonment for drug problems. 

Trump claimed that “no one has done what I’ve done” regarding racism. He claimed he has great relationships and that that he “is the least racist person in the room.” This was ironic considering the Kristen Welker is a person of color. He also claimed he has done the most for racism since Abraham Lincoln. 

Nearing the end of the debate, the topic of conversation was climate change. Trump explained he created a lot of “programs” to battle climate change but was being incredibly vague. He explained America has a very good carbon emission and he defended his decision to back out of the Paris Accord. 

“We don’t have much time, we’re going to pass the point of no return, return the next eight to 10 years,” said Biden on the topic. Biden wants more industries to transition to clean energy and he has a plan to have 100% clean energy by 2050. 

At the end of the debate, each candidate was asked to speak directly to those that did not vote for them if they were elected. Trump explained he wanted to make the country successful, how it was before the pandemic. He expressed that he has been able to have the best unemployment rate for minorities and how he wants to cut taxes, unlike Biden. 

Biden clarified that he represents everyone, whether someone voted for him or not. He said he would emphasize hope over fear and science over fiction. He wants to help the economy, end systemic racism and promote clean energy. He concluded by saying what is on the ballot is the character of the United States.

The aftermath of the debate on social media was less prominent compared to the first debate, but there were still a few highlights. Rapper 50 Cent said he will be voting for Trump because of Biden’s tax plan.

“Yeah, I don’t want to be 20 Cent. 62 percent is a very, very, bad idea. I don’t like it,” said the rapper on Tuesday. 

Presidential candidate illustration

Presidental Campaign Money

By Hannah DiPilato

Both President Donald Trump and presidential candidate Joe Biden have splurged a fair amount on their 2020 presidential campaigns. Biden’s campaign along with his allies have spent an estimated $600 million while Trump’s campaign and his supporters have spent a little over $400 million. 

Over $1 Billion has been spent between the campaigns on TV advertisements in only 13 states alone according to an NPR analysis from the tracking firm Advertising Analytics. This money is being used to target six states: Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Arizona. TV ads may be playing a larger role in the presidential campaign this year because of the pandemic keeping so many Americans at home watching TV. 

Tracked by Ad Age Datacenter, for the presidential, congressional and gubernatorial races, campaign spending has now surged past $3 billion. This hefty amount includes TV, radio and digital ad spending. The digital ad spending includes Facebook and Google properties only for presidential candidates. 

This is “the most expensive election in history,” according to CNBC. The expected total spending for the 2020 election is predicted to be a whopping $10.8 billion according to the Center for Responsive Politics. This prediction takes into account both presidential and congressional races. CRP has recorded the election has already cost $7.2 billion, so the $10 billion milestone isn’t far out of reach. 

“The 2018 election smashed fundraising records for midterms, and 2020 is going to absolutely crush anything we’ve ever seen — or imagined — before,” Sheila Krumholz, executive director of CRP, said in a statement. “This is already the most expensive presidential election in history and there are still months of election spending to account for. The unanswered question is whether this will be the new normal for future elections.” 

So far Biden has topped the charts for his advertising spendings. Between September 28 and October 11, Biden estimated spendings have been $55,928,770 and his ads have aired about 80,452 times. Trump trails Biden with estimated total spending of $31,796,960 and 32,011 airings in the same time period. 

The Biden campaign has been able to air ads in 17 states, even though there are many fewer states considered a close race. The campaign cost continues to grow over the expected TV budget of $280 million. “If we didn’t have the resources we had now, we’d be having to make [some] hard choices right now,” said one Biden campaign official.

Bill Stepien, Trump’s campaign manager, said the campaign has “more than sufficient air coverage.” He also stated that the campaign has spent more than the Biden campaign in different areas such as Facebook ads. 

The Biden is not shying away from spending and they plan to keep spending as much cash as possible until the campaign concludes. However, in the event the result of the race is contested, the Biden campaign is reserving money for legal fights.

Presidents Illustration for 360 Magazine by Maria Soloman

Biden vs. Trump: First Debate

The first presidential debate took place on September 29 and it made waves on social media. The dispute was borderline chaotic with candidates shouting over each other and quite frankly immaturity from each party. 

Moderator Chris Wallace tried to keep things civil, but with minimal success. From coronavirus to white supremacy, topics were covered that everyone should know each candidate’s stance on. Although summarizing the entire debate would be nearly impossible, some of the most notable moments are recapped below. 

One of the most memorable parts of the night was when Trump refused to condemn white supremacy. Wallace asked Trump if he was specifically ready to call out this group of terrorists and Trump said he was prepared to do so but immediately blamed recent violence on “the left-wing.” Wallace and Biden continued to encourage Trump to criticize “right supremacists and right-wing militia” to which Trump responded, “proud boys, stand back and stand by.” This comment only fueled the Proud Boys organization and group lead Joe Biggs commented on the social media platform Parler that the comment “makes me so happy.” 

Biden did not shy away from calling out Trump’s racism. “This is a President who has used everything as a dog whistle to try to generate racist hatred, racist division,” said Biden. However, supporters of Trump have been brushing the Proud Boys comment off as a misinterpretation. The president’s son, Donald Trump Jr. vindicated his father’s comment. “I don’t know if that was a misspeak, but he was talking about having them stand down,” Trump Jr. explained to CBS News’ Gayle King. 

An unavoidable debate topic is the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the steps Trump has taken to combat the disease. When asked about a reopening plan Biden commented that he “would know what the plan is,” for a safe reopening when the time is right. He was interrupted by Trump who said “he [Biden] wants to shut down this country and I want to keep it open.” Trump continued to bash democratic governors for shutting down states and claimed this was only for political reasons. 

Although Trump has been seen in public various times not wearing a mask, despite the advice of health professionals, during the debate he said “I’m okay with masks. I’m not fighting masks.” Trump also mentioned how Dr. Anthony Fauci agreed Trump saved thousands of lives. Trump continued to attack Biden for all of the losses the country endured during the Swine Flu.

Through the debate, Biden remained composed during Trump’s offense comments and interruptions. Instead of losing it, he made small remarks that established his thoughts on Trump as a candidate. Biden also exchanged a fair share of side glares and head shakes to many of Trump’s points. “You’re the worst president America has ever had. Come on,” said Biden later in the debate. 

One quote by Biden, “Will you shut up man?” was a popular line from the debate that has been reposted on social media. This saying has already been plastered across a t-shirt that advocates for Biden. One post by @thefeministvibe on Instagram received over twelve thousand likes for posting this quote and their opinion on it. 

Another debate topic voters have been eager to hear the two candidates debate is the plan to replace late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Badar Ginsburg. Trump has recently nominated Amy Coney Barrett to take the place of Ginsburg. Nevertheless, there has been controversy surrounding Trump’s selection of a supreme court justice due to the rules implemented when Obama was still in office. 

Biden tried to lead the discussion about the supreme court into a conversation about health care. He mentioned that a Supreme Court with a 6-3 conservative majority would overturn many decisions that have already been made. This includes the Affordable Care Act and Roe V. Wade that made abortion legal nationally. 

The next presidential debate will be at 9 p.m. on Thursday, October 15. There is suspicion that the moderator will be able to cut the microphones of the candidates if they don’t obey the rules. Hopefully, the next debate will be less of a shouting match and a little more contained.

Presidents Illustration for 360 Magazine by Maria Soloman

Biden’s Fight to Lead

By Hannah DiPilato

Joe Biden is leading in the polls against Donald Trump for the upcoming presidential election. 

Although Hillary Clinton was also in the lead for most of her 2016 campaign and even won the popular vote, she lost due to the electoral college. As of now, Biden is not only leading the popular vote, but there is also evidence that he is ahead when it comes to the electoral vote.

Swing states are critical in deciding the fate of the election. According to a recent poll tracker, Ohio and Iowa, both swing states, are leaning more towards Trump. However, swing states such as Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, Arizona and Wisconsin are showing Biden in the lead. 

Wisconsin, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Nevada will be vital for Trump in the upcoming election. Currently, however, the polls are showing that Biden is ahead. Nevada has swung more democratic in recent years, as their demographic of voters has changed from Caucasian voters that leaned right to a larger proportion of working-class minorities. Wisconsin has historically voted democratic from 1988 to 2012, and Trump only had the lead by a small percentage in 2016. Minnesota also generally votes democrat, but Trump believes he could be successful by campaigning to voters in rural areas. What will be necessary for Biden to see victory are securing the few states that Hillary Clinton wasn’t able to obtain – currently he leads in those crucial states. 

Even with his current lead, the fight is not over for Biden. In a Mammoth University poll, Biden was leading in Pennsylvania by thirteen percent in July, but this number had already shrunk to four percent by late August. Earlier in the year, with more media coverage on the Black Lives Matter movement, many democratic activists made sure to stress the importance of voting among younger generations which was helping Biden with votes. Now that the media coverage of the movement has become less prominent, this could explain the change in percentages from July to August. 

Although certain surveys are showing Biden in the lead, the race is still close. According to U.S. News, this is usually how the election plays out. Guy Cecil, chair of the Democratic SuperPAC Priorities USA said to reporters during a conference call that the United States is “still dealing fundamentally and structurally, with a very close election.” The electoral college votes could swing either way, meaning nothing is ever certain in an election. 

The most important thing to recognize is that these polls can never be fully accurate and can lean one way or another based on who is participating. Depending on the demographics of the people surveyed, along with who chooses to respond at all, these polls are only an estimate. 

After the recent and unfortunate death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, many younger generations have been pushing strongly that everyone needs to vote. The death of Ginsburg could allow Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to select another supreme court justice making the supreme court lean more towards the right. However, in Obama’s last year of office McConnell led a blockade against Obama’s ability to nominate another justice with so little time left as president. Biden commented on this issue and said, “Let me be clear: The voters should pick a President, and that President should select a successor to Justice Ginsburg.” The death of Ginsburg so close to November could end up swinging the votes significantly in the upcoming election. However, just like the polls, it all depends on who chooses to participate. 

Kamala Harris illustration done by Mina Tocalini of 360 MAGAZINE.

Win With Black Women

Back in 2016, while campaigning for the office of President of the United States, Donald Trump asked black voters, “What do you have to lose?”

He asked in reference to generations of oppression, violence and inequality, saying, “You’re living in poverty. Your schools are no good. You have no jobs. 58% of your youth is unemployed.”

The obvious implication is that things couldn’t possibly get worse for black voters, and Trump thought he had a chance to be the solution to the problem.

Well, in Sept. 2020, it seems that President Trump has his answer, and it comes in the form of a letter penned by Win With Black Women and co-signed by over 1,000 black female leaders.

The letter opens with a direct response to the question posed by Trump.

“Our answer, evidenced by increasingly poor economic outcomes, high racial tensions and hate incidents, the coronavirus, and an overall lack of dignity and respect in the White House, is a lot. And for Black women in particular, it’s too much,” the letter said.

It went on to discuss “sycophantic rhetoric” at the RNC that would lead watchers to believe that black life in America is in a healthier place now than it was prior to Trump’s election. Furthermore, the letter said that rhetoric insisted that anyone challenging that notion was brainwashed.

To refute the points set forth at the RNC, the letter cited the State of Black America, saying black households bring in 41% less than white households, and 60% of the black population lives below the poverty line. The letter also said that black unemployment is double the percentage of white unemployment.

The letter covered the cause of the recent protests throughout the country, saying, “Our lives are in constant threat under your Administration. If you are Black in America, you are three times more likely to be shot by the police,” going on to name Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Jacob Blake as evidence that justice has gone unserved.

It also mentioned that black people are dying disproportionally from COVID-19 while black women, specifically, “lag behind in life expectancy, and maternal and infant mortality.”

Win With Black Women finished by saying that they will fight against attacks on Kamala Harris and proposed a call to action.

“We call on voters, no matter their background, to join us in setting the record straight and to reject your distracting antics, lies and attacks. We call on you and the GOP to focus on the crises afflicting the American people and not to insult every American with petty diversions, outright lies, and by sweeping problems under the rug.  We call on voters to stand in solidarity with Black women and reject your derogatory sexist, racist rhetoric aimed at undermining our credibility, our character, and our achievements,” the letter said.

Before closing the letter, Win With Black Women said they “vow to continue to uplift the issues most important to our families and our communities, keep our eyes and ears open, and to work to restore what is true, just, and decent to this election and to this monumental time in history.”

Win With Black Women has published the letter on Change.org, asking signees of the petition to stand with them in unity. To sign the letter and to see a complete list of co-signing leaders, you can click right here.