The Panther community discusses the nation’s pressing issues

The years following the 2016 presidential election have revealed underlying divisions in some parts of the country and brought prosperity in others. The beginning of the decade started with increased tensions, most notably, in the Capitol Building. 

With a noticeable strain between Trump and Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, Trump tweeted that “Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart…”

Life in Atlanta, a powerhouse of the South, has inspired political engagement among Georgia State students. Atlanta is famously known as the political black sheep of the South, sticking out as a blue dot in a primarily red state.

According to the Pew Research Center, 45% of adults in the metro Atlanta area identify as Democrat and 38% as Republican. 

Members of College Republicans at Georgia State University are active on campus, and the executive board supports Trump and his administration. 

Sophomore Peter Minetos served as the organization’s state chairman in 2019. Minetos is a life-long member of the Republican Party, which he calls the “party of opportunity.”

“When you get involved with the Republican Party, you’re able to be successful, you’re able to get a job, engage with the workplace and be a contributing member of society,” Minetos said.

Minetos is an avid Trump supporter, adding that he’s “one of the most conservative presidents we’ve had.”

Minetos cites Trump’s economic policies, including tax cuts and low unemployment rates, as some of his greatest accomplishments.

Back in 2017, Trump signed a $1.5 trillion GOP tax cut into law. Due to this policy, corporate tax rates went from 35% to 21%, according to CNBC. The cuts raised the economy by 2.8% in 2018 but ultimately resulted in the largest loss of tax revenue amongst developed nations. 

Dr. Dennise Turner is a Georgia State professor and co-advisor of the Dunwoody History and Politics club. Turner believes that while the economy is doing well in some aspects, the benefits are primarily for the wealthy. 

“Those that are doing well are still the very top percentage of Americans in this economy,” Turner said. “[The country has] a large segment of Americans whose wages or pay are not increasing, who do not feel secure in their jobs and those who feel that the economy is not responding to their daily needs. The wealthy are getting wealthier, and the poor are getting poorer.”

The unemployment rate hovers around 3.6%, which is a record low of the past 50 years, according to The Washington Post. Additionally, the average American’s pay is growing more than 3% a year, a rate not seen since the Great Recession throughout the late 2000s and early 2010s. 

Last July, Trump tweeted, “Under the Trump Administration, African American unemployment is the lowest (best) in the history of the United States. No President has come close to doing this before!” 

A point of contention, though, is who deserves the praise. According to The Washington Post, the unemployment rate has decreased, but this trend began in 2011 and has not accelerated during Trump’s presidency. 

Minetos believes that Trump deserves recognition for this economic win.

“So many people have been able to get jobs, are able to put more money in their pockets, and have a more successful lifestyle,” Minetos said. “That’s been positive to see.”

Gabby Koval is the new chairwoman of College Republicans at Georgia State University. Like Minetos, Koval has been Republican her whole life, and added that “since college, especially this year, I’ll continue to be conservative, and I’ve made my own decision on that.”

Koval largely appreciates the administration’s pro-life stance. She notes Trump’s conservative view on abortion, throughout his presidency he’s authorized the shut-down of over 900 clinics during his three years of presidency. 

Koval said that she supports the defunding of Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides reproductive healthcare, adding that “[Trump] has down an incredible job protecting the sanctity of life.” 

Last August, Planned Parenthood tweeted, “Today, the Trump admin is forcing us out of the Title X program — our nation’s program focused on family planning, of which we serve 40% of patients. This is a *direct attack* on Planned Parenthood and on our health and rights, and we will not stand for it. #StandWithPP #ProtectX.” 

According to CNBC, the Trump administration implemented a “gag rule,” which prohibits the use of Title X money “to perform, promote, refer for or support abortion as a method of family planning.”

These days, though, the headlines and front pages are dominated by the impeachment hearings and increased tensions with Iran, two of the most pressing issues for the U.S.. 

Last month, Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. This marks the third impeachment of a president in U.S. history. Despite the impeachment, Trump will not be removed from office without the support of the Republican-dominated Senate. 

Turner believes this impeachment process stands out from the others, with an almost certain outcome from the Senate.

“The current White House has defamed, ridiculed and practically ignored long-time government and policy experts in federal agencies,” Turner said. “The current White House has criticized journalists, news publications and agencies and foreign government leaders for questioning the policies and actions of this administration. There has always been a certain level of critique between the press and the White House but nothing like it is currently.”

On the other hand, Minetos believes the process to be “the most partisan impeachment in U.S. history.” He sees these claims as a ploy to keep Trump from re-election in 2020. 

“In our view, we don’t really see the President do anything wrong,” Minetos said. “His job is to seek and expose corruption, no matter where it is, no matter who it is. The impeachment farce is just another continuation of the coordinated takedown of the President.”

Amidst the impeachment trials, tensions between the U.S. and Iran continue to escalate. Early January, Trump ordered the killing of Gen. Qasem Soleimani, a top Iranian general. An ABC News/Ipsos poll revealed 56% of Americans disapprove of how Donald Trump is handling the situation with Iran, and 52% believe the U.S. airstrike that killed Soliemani made the United States less safe. 

Koval firmly supports Trump’s decision and attention to the nation’s safety, adding that “[we should] just say thank you for having a president like this.”

“President Trump is protecting our country, that’s one of the promises he made, and that’s why we’re voting for him in 2020,” Koval said. “I wouldn’t want to live in a country where our President doesn’t care about our safety, doesn’t care about our borders, doesn’t care about attacks. I think it’s crazy that there’s any sort of debate about the President taking down a terrorist.”

Turner, with her background in history, assesses that Trump has certain strengths as a leader. She said that he is adept “rallying the troops,” by continuously reinforcing his policies and positions. 

On the other hand, Turner believes that Trump does a poor job of increasing his supporter base.

Most presidents have been able to increase support once they’re in office, but he has not been able to do that,” Turner said. “He has not been able to increase his support amongst women, amongst minorities… Since he’s been in office, he’s not done a good job of really presenting policies that would garner the support of those groups.”

Koval and Minetos appreciate the President’s transparency and Twitter account. Koval feels that his tweets, and the personality within them, is “something that was much needed in the U.S., and I think will carry through for his 2020 election.”

Minetos agrees, adding that his account and online broadcasts will be a Trump “legacy of a different way to communicate.”

“It’s so important that he’s able to tweet his message and what he thinks on his mind, rather than going through the traditional norms of American media,” Minetos said. “The mainstream media has been totally corrupted and has been exposed with their left-wing bias… The President’s Twitter is a big reason the supporters are always able to be on the same page as the President.” 

On both sides of the political spectrum, excitement and anticipation are gathering for the upcoming election. 

According to the Atlanta Business Chronicle, in 2016, Georgia had a 76.53% voter turnout, which is substantially higher than the national average of 55%.

Turner said she’s seen a record turnout at the Dunwoody History and Politics Club and added that “our students are really engaged in this political process… [they] are really actively anticipating this election cycle.” 

Ultimately, Turner urges all students to inform themselves and vote in the 2020 election.

“We need our students, we need our young people, we need everyone,” Turner said. “It doesn’t matter who you vote for. You just need to go out and vote.”

The Signal was unable to reach the officers of Young Democrats of Georgia State University.