Shining a Light on Politics in the Dark

“Politics in the Dark” was an hour long discussion before Tuesday’s DNC Debate where students could submit their anonymous questions about 2020 candidates to a student panel. House of Reps began the night by administering The Washington Post’s “I Side With” quiz to open discussion of participant’s candidate preferences. 

The “I Side With” quiz and general introductions took roughly 40 minutes, leaving eighteen minutes and forty seven seconds for the discussion. Ironically the panelists voiced their displeasure with the quiz’s accuracy despite allocating significant time to it. 

The panelists chosen for the night’s event were president of the Wheaton democrats Casey Smith , executive board of Wheaton democrats Harley Swainston, vice president of the Wheaton democrats Matt LeBlanc and self described conservative Shamar Mahon. Vice president of the Wheaton conservatives Mary-Anna Sansone was also present. 

Students wrote down their questions about the 2020 election and submitted them to the panelists to be answered. Below are a few of the questions from the discussion. 

Q: What are Trump’s accomplishments in office? 

A: Trump has done a lot for the economy. He really has promoted a lot of job growth in the United States surprisingly if you agree with that job growth or not, there has been a large job growth when it comes to fossil fuels. While it is not great for the environment, it is great to have jobs.

Q: Regarding job growth, is it good enough to have job growth by itself or do you care about wages too because they have remained stagnant.

A: Yes wages have remained stagnant and they did under Obama as well. It depends on where you live and how you view economics. I know for me, I am from St. Louis and a twelve dollar minimum wage is not effective in Missouri, the cost of living is exponentially less than it is in Massachusetts so when it comes to raising the minimum wage up that much it is not alway a priority. I would really look at the trade schools and the trade market because it is supposed to grow a crazy percentage and you are going to be making more.” 

Q: Why does my vote matter if the popular vote does not count?

A: I think what we are finding with the electoral college is that we have a huge grouping of voters in specific states whose votes tend to get wasted. That has been a reason for why people have not voted in the past but I still think that getting the vote out, getting involved and making sure that you are present in the political process is a great way to have your voice heard. One of the reasons why young people have not been reflected in policies is simply because we have not made our voice heard enough. The tide is definitely turning and we are seeing a lot more youth involvement and I think that is important to making sure that we are a top choice on the ballot.

While the panelists were eager to answer participants’ questions, their answers can be found to be lacking in a few key areas. The discussion did not provide accurate answers to questions about the economy, and the electoral college. 

When asked about the wage growth under the Trump administration, the reply failed to address wage growth under Trump and pivoted to attacking Obama instead. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, wage growth has remained constant since the Reagan administration. Another question inquiring if one’s vote matters given the electoral college was answered with an extenuated version of “vote anyways, youth involvement is changing the game and the electoral college is archaic.” An electoral delegate’s role is to take the popular vote into consideration when deciding which candidate to back. 

The “Politics in the Dark” discussion was aimed at uninformed voters. One might be concerned about the lack of accurate information presented to uninformed voters making a critical choice. The Massachusetts primary takes place on Tuesday March 3rd. The Center for Social Justice and Community Impact at Wheaton College continues to provide resources to help students vote, including shuttles to voting locations and postage for absentee ballots.