By Chloe Yang
Much like a young couple in love, Biden’s approval ratings and the surge of the Delta variant seem impossible to separate, as the bond between the two statistics only strengthens with time. As the United States enters its fourth wave of COVID, Biden’s approval ratings sunk to a new low of 42 percent earlier this week as the Delta variant’s prevalence in the nation only continues to grow. In fact, currently, 99% of all COVID-19 cases in the US are delta variant cases.
The link between these two statistics are no mere coincidence. Rather, Biden’s mishandling of the COVID-19 crisis is a direct cause of his low approval ratings. At the beginning of his presidency, Biden’s steady handling of the pandemic helped boost his standing. During the first half of the year, there seemed to be hope that the pandemic would begin to recede. However, just months into the summertime, the Delta variant began rapidly spreading throughout the nation. The variant first emerged in India in December of 2020 and infamously wreaked havoc in the country, leading to a massive second wave and over 430,000 official deaths (most experts believe this is a severe undercount and even put the number as high as 3 to 5 million). But soon after, the variant spread to Great Britain and eventually the United States.
Specifically, the Delta variant is much more dangerous than its previous counterparts because it is nearly twice as contagious as other variants and has been proven to be more likely to put the infected in the hospital. Those who are unvaccinated are at the highest risk, with the highest concentration of the variant in the US being in areas with lower rates of vaccination. Yet despite Biden’s once-successful handling of the pandemic, in September—as the Delta variant surged through the nation— for the first time, more voters disapproved of Biden’s handling of the crisis than those who approved of it.
With the Biden administration once promising efficiency in their COVID-19 response, voters are growing disenchanted with the skyrocketing infections. In July, the Delta variant quickly grew to become the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the US. Due to a lack of action at both the national and state level, the variant was much more destructive than the Biden administration had expected, with President Biden branding it as a “largely preventable tragedy”. Over the summer, for instance, many southern states were facing ICU bed shortages, with five states having less than 10 percent of their ICU bed capacity remaining.
Biden’s response to the Delta variant was also complicated by political motivations as well. With much of the American economy having been shut down since March 2020, Biden was hopeful about gradually releasing restrictions to allow the economy to begin it’s recovery. However, the conflicting advice from advisory agencies has confused both the president and American citizens. The CDC, for example, has changed their stance on wearing a mask numerous times within just the past year. This led to White House officials and CDC advisors often touting conflicting ideas, muddying the rules that citizens were meant to follow.
Additionally, booster shots are another point of contention between the White House and it’s federal agencies. Biden, a strong proponent of allowing all adults to receive a booster shot, did not share the same beliefs as his advisors. After the president steamrolled ahead in creating a booster program (without reviewing with the FDA), Marion Gruber and Phil Krause, two vaccine regulators at the FDA, submitted resignations in September largely due to their frustration with the Biden administration's negligence.
However, this has not quelled the Biden administration's hopes of expanding vaccine booster availability. Recently, the CDC even approved booster shots for adolescents from 16 to 18 years old, with the CDC strongly encouraging booster shots for all amid fears of the spreading of the new Omicron variant.
If Biden does not act quickly to keep the Delta variant in check, it stands to threaten his ambitious economic agenda. In the beginning of September, Biden unveiled a plan to combat the surge of the delta variant. Among the provisions of his plan were mandates for vaccinations for federal workers, contractors, health care workers, and more. His plan also contains recommendations on how to keep schools open.
But although Biden has been relatively wary about any binding, overarching mandates for all Americans, it seems to be the most foolproof solution to beat the surge. It is well within Biden’s presidential power to do so: vaccine requirements for children in school began in the 1850s. With 45% of all unvaccinated Americans saying they definitely will not get the jab, a mandate may be the only way for America to conceivably achieve herd immunity. With the CDC showing that the unvaccinated are nearly 11 times as likely as vaccinated people to contract Covid-19, a vaccine mandate may be the best way forward. By implementing a mandate on vaccination, people still will have the ability to refuse a vaccine, but their involvement in public and social life will be severely limited, incentivizing them to get the vaccine.
Currently, the Biden administration has begun exploring this path. Earlier this fall, President Biden issued an executive order that would mandate companies with over 100 workers to require vaccination among their employees. This plan is estimated to affect nearly 100 million Americans and around 66% of the workforce. However, this mandate has stalled in federal court and has faced significant amounts of pushback and controversy. Namely, the attorney generals from numerous states have banded together to challenge the legality of the executive order. On the other hand, scientists as a whole generally welcome a stronger vaccine push from the Biden administration as the virus becomes endemic in the nation. As Natalie Dean, a biostatistician at Emory University in Atlanta puts it: “It’s part of the shift from short-term reactions to long-term solutions.”
It may be a while before the threat of the Delta variant begins to subside and with the Omicron variant already on the rise, COVID-19 will certainly linger for much longer. Thus, the Biden administration must actively work to combat the variant for the sake of the nation’s overall economic and social recovery. It’s time for the US and Delta’s breakup.
By Mimi Petric
Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.
Yet America’s history classes have seen to it that students should forget the country’s messy past before they even get a chance to truly learn about it. With the rise in AAPI hate, a polarized state due to the Black Lives Matter Protests, and the rise in LGBTQ+ hate crimes, it’s become undeniable that America’s history has heavily contributed to its current problems - and all the while, history curriculums have continued to paint the country in a positive light. And we’ve done more than jus repeat history - real history is glossed over and romanticized to the point where groups are marginalized, events are oversimplified, and people are dehumanized, meaning that it’s time for history classes to be taught in a different approach.
Although inconspicuous, classroom resources are a major root to this problem. In 2015, the McGraw-Hill textbook company found itself at the forefront of rather embarrassing press after releasing a page from one of its world-geography textbooks, which featured a map with a patch of purple grids extending throughout the country’s Southeast corridor. It’s one-sentence caption read: “The Atlantic Slave Trade between the 1500s and 1800s brought millions of workers from Africa to the southern United States to work on agricultural plantations.” The mistake of referring to African slaves as “workers” was quickly lambasted throughout social media. And although this blunder seems trivial, it’s the small nuance between words that leads to erasure - starting with events, such as, in this case, the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, being painted in a more positive light.
And this issue goes beyond just events from centuries past - it permeates into our modern culture and representation. Take the recent violence against Asian-American and Pacific Islanders, for example. The spa shootings in the Atlanta area represent one of many events in a year in which anti-Asian violence has increased across the United States. But as various educators and historians tell TIME, anti-Asian racism is directly linked to history, and how members of the AAPI community are portrayed in historical lessons - often, as security threats and dangerous foreigners. And after former President Trump’s racist statements, Asian hate has further spiraled and developed an increasingly dire call to action. Jean Wu, Tufts University Asian American Studies lecturer, puts it best: “K-12 American history texts reinforce the narrative that Asian immigrants and refugees are fortunate to have been ‘helped’ and ‘saved’ by the U.S. The story does not begin with U.S. imperialist wars that were waged to take Asian wealth and resources and the resulting violence, rupture and displacement in relation to Asian lives.” By glossing over, or just entirely incorrectly depicting the reality of AAPI history, misinformation grows rampant, and daily language, even that of a president, becomes injected with bias.
And the effects of this teaching method are omnipresent. Reducing students’ exposure to an adequate and accurate social studies and historical curriculum leads to, as experts put it, a “civic achievement gap” of sorts. Closely related to the general achievement gap between affluent, mostly white students and low-income minority students, the civic achievement gap has made it increasingly difficult for those who grow up in low-income households to participate in civic affairs. According to Professor Meira Levinson of Harvard University, people living in families with incomes under $15,000 voted at just over half the rate of those living in families with incomes over $75,000. However, experts do collapse on the idea that a stronger curriculum in social and historical studies may help close this gap between families. As found by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, students who receive effective education in social studies are more likely to vote, four times more likely to volunteer and work on community issues, and are generally more confident in their ability to communicate ideas with their elected representatives.
It’s clear that the positives of adequate historical education clearly outweigh the negative: but how should educators begin approaching this issue? Although originally employed as an instructional tool, textbooks have now become the backbone of history and social studies classes throughout America. The use of primary and secondary sources and narratives, as opposed to rote memorization through singular mass-produced textbooks, is found to be a significantly more effective mechanism towards teaching students on analyzing and recognizing the ways in which inherent biases shape conventional instructional materials. Chicago-based writer Michael Conway argues in an essay in the Atlantic that history classes should focus on teaching children “historiography”—the methodologies employed by historians and the exploration of history itself. This method allows students to take on the role of an “apprentice historian,” not that of a student learning solely through overused worksheets and standardized texts.
We belong to history, it does not belong to us. That’s why it’s imperative that history be taught accurately, so that our youth has the capacity to create change based on valid knowledge. The only way to ignite change is to teach the truth in an unfiltered way, which we have the power to do by treating history as a language: one that should be spoken accurately, equitably, and objectively.
By Priya Mullassaril
Kim Kardashian buys her next mansion as a homeless man is forced to go another day without food. Is it fair? No. But unfortunately, it is the way our world works. It’s a well-known fact that the rich-poor wealth gap remains a dark cloud looming over the world- but the release of the Pandora Papers has truly spotlighted this phenomenon. These documents revealed the dark underbelly of the rich- and how they were able to scam the system in order to get away with mass tax evasion.
While many have heard of the leakage of the Panama Papers, these are different from the Pandora Papers because of their size and content. Compared to their sister papers, the Pandora Papers contain far more records and differ in the individuals they implicate. Regardless, they both show how the rich have spun a web of lies around the government in a cleverly tied knot.
A group of dedicated journalists called the ICIJ worked tirelessly to comb through financial documents they procured from offshore providers created by the rich. After about a year of looking for discrepancies in a massive 2.94 terabytes of data, they found what they were looking for. Using advanced technology and graph databases, it was revealed that the elite 1% move their taxable assets, like cars, houses, and private planes to fake companies on paper. These “companies” then set up shop in islands without corporate tax, therefore allowing the elite to hold—and potentially resell—their assets without paying taxes.
Like in the Meryl Streep movie “The Laundromat”, many lower and middle-class citizens are disenfranchised by the actions of the wealthy. In the film, Meryl’s character, Ellen, investigates a shady insurance company situated in Panama that refuses to pay her late husband’s life insurance. She realizes the company was a scam, and in actuality was a group of men in suits profiting off of the naivety of the elderly. The movie provides social commentary about how the American tax system fails those on the lower levels of the social hierarchy, and how the rich are easily able to poke holes in this poorly constructed system.
Their antics only widen the already vast wealth disparity between them and the poor. After the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses and workers were left reeling, leading to total American employment plummeting by 8.8 million. Wallets stayed closed, frowns stayed put… but the rich continued to increase in wealth. For example, while his Jordanian people were struggling to put food on the table amidst the pandemic, the Papers implicated King Abdulla for funneling millions of dollars into offshore luxury homes. The rich will only continue to benefit at the expense of those less fortunate, demonstrating the skewed nature of global commerce.
It is an undeniable fact that the United States will always face a division between rich people and poor people. Unless America undergoes a communist revolution sometime soon, this will stay true for the foreseeable future. However, it is simply unreasonable for the top 1% to own 20% of America’s wealth. If this trend continues, a few billionaires in this country will hold the majority of the wealth, while the rest of the population struggles to make ends meet. Unless we are actively trying to recreate the Hunger Games, steps need to be taken by the government to place limits on the rich. Who knows how much power they will have in the future if they are left unchecked? Will these silver spoons bulldoze over our democracy until only rubble remains? Moving forward, the only way to justly decrease the enormous wealth gap requires leaders and people to use the Pandora Papers as a wake-up call to curtail the power of the elite.
By Mariam Khan
Something that George Orwell didn’t quite anticipate in his fictitious novel, 1984, was the progression of a dystopian surveillance state—amidst a global pandemic. The essence of his book focuses on the watchful eye of the government as it evolved into an authoritarian regime ripe with privacy concerns and human rights violations. Today, as the world faces one of the largest public health crises of the century, countries veer closer to becoming ominous super-surveillance states. Experts warn that the sharp rise in disease surveillance starts a dangerous precedent for the future, making the discussion of privacy concerns more applicable than ever.
In March 2020, as China continued waging its long battle against the coronavirus, they inputted an effective, but controversial contact tracing app required for citizens in more than 200 cities. Coined as the Alipay Health Code, the system granted users codes that spontaneously changed color depending on location and virus exposure. Though the concept sounds phenomenal in keeping the virus at bay, it presents a cause for concern, as the app automatically sent personal data to law enforcement—and this begs the question: what are the implications of police having easy access to citizens’ location data and private information? The mass collection of data by the police may carry unforeseen consequences, especially given that officials can choose bits and pieces of information from one’s data storage site, and use it at random times to incriminate dissenters.
As researcher Maya Wang told The Times, China has a history of using specific events as means of justification for the introduction of surveillance tools, yet usage persists well afterward. Citing the 2008 Olympics, she says that new monitoring tools are consistently introduced for a purpose, but they never leave. “The coronavirus outbreak is proving to be one of those landmarks in the history of the spread of mass surveillance in China,” she said. Wang says that the newly introduced data-sharing and location-grabbing technology that was originally created by the government for the purpose of tracking the coronavirus will be here to stay. In fact, the algorithmic techniques that were used to predict the likelihood of infection are similar to the ones currently being used on the Uyghurs, China’s Muslim ethnic minority. Technology provides scores for individuals that tell officials of their political pliancy and aid in their decision of who should be rounded up into an internment camp.
It’s not just China that has inputted algorithmic contact tracing technology; in Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu issued an emergency order and bypassed the standard process of approval to allow the government to use technology to monitor citizen’s cell phones and track those suspected to have the coronavirus. In addressing privacy concerns that arose from the addition of the tracking app, Israel swiftly responded by inputting an oversight committee to balance the necessary public safety with data privacy. Still, the fact that the Prime Minister gracefully advanced surveillance on the Israeli people in a matter of a few days shows how easy it is to use the pandemic as a scapegoat for tightened control.
Reports as of March 2020 show that the 65 contact tracing apps that were in use did not specify how long user data could be stored. Additionally, 49 percent of these apps lacked privacy policies, and others had privacy policies that were completely misleading. For instance, one Canadian contact tracing app claimed that it did not utilize GPS or location tracking, yet when scrutinized further, it subconsciously initiated location permissions for users. What’s more troubling is that half of the apps explicitly state that they will share data with law enforcement agencies, again displaying how companies and governments alike are trying to take advantage of this public health vulnerability.
These apps have brought about much public response from dissidents (at least those who can dissent), as well as those genuinely concerned about the future of democracy when it comes to surveillance states. Ever since Edward Snowden’s incident and before, the issue of surveillance has moved more and more into the global spotlight, but author and activist Arundhati Roy put it best when she told The Guardian that “Pre-corona, if we were sleepwalking into the surveillance state, now we are panic-running into a super-surveillance state.”
Despite the privacy violations, it must be remarked that, around the world, different governments’ use of surveillance technology aimed at containing the virus has been immensely successful. South Korea, which was faced with widespread outbreaks very early on in the pandemic, has observed that information collection has worked to contain the spread of the deadly virus. Contact tracers can see the full train of a person’s movement through the collection of several forms of sensitive data, and this is useful in administering state-mandated quarantines.
Aside from its obvious societal health benefits, the deployment of surveillance technology poses dangerous consequences for the future of democracy. Researchers claim that citizens’ privacy is essential for the prevention of democratic backsliding, because it ensures that states have limitations. When governments know everything about their citizens, this allows them to extend state control beyond moral premises. According to Justice Felix Frankfurter in Wolf v. Colorado, the “security of one’s privacy against intrusion by the police – which is at the core of the Fourth Amendment – is basic to a free society.” Essentially, not only does privacy makes sure that democracy remains authentic, but it also allows for the progression of society, where individuals can think and advocate for themselves. With one-third of the population already living in declining democracies as of 2018, it is necessary to consider the long-term implications of the coronavirus pandemic on politics.
While the world edges closer to the circumstances depicted in 1984, there’s still a long way to go. Constituents and their governments must strive to establish proper surveillance boundaries. Ensuring that both security and privacy can coexist is vital, because as Edward Snowden said, “Privacy is what allows us to determine who we are, and who we want to be.”
By Sarah Ouyang
There are two meanings to the phrase, “We want the same thing.” The first, that we should work together since we aim to achieve the same goal. The second, that you want what I want. The problem is, only one of us can have it. But which one?
In a field where scarcity is the underlying issue of all discussion, the latter meaning of the phrase is much more prevalent than the diplomatic, politics-heavy former. Economics deals with many factors that come in pairs: production and consumption, private and public, regulation and laissez-faire. One of the dilemmas is that of efficient allocation versus profit maximization. Essentially, the distribution of goods and services among the demand population — or of limited resources among suppliers — poses a question to firms (specifically, various levels of monopolies) who favor producing at a different output level than would be optimal.
To be allocatively efficient, a market should ensure that production reaches the output point where the last unit offers the consumer a marginal benefit that equals its marginal cost. In conceptual terms, this means that everyone who values each unit of output as much as it costs to produce that unit should receive their goods and services.
When prices are ubiquitous, which is nearer to reality the more competitive an industry is, this point is easy to pinpoint on the graph yet leaves many unhappy because it becomes extremely difficult to provide goods and services to those consumers who value the products less than the equilibrium price. Considering a monopolistically competitive industry, however, the scenario becomes easier to manipulate and hypothesize with one understandably controversial tool: price discrimination.
To determine the effectiveness of price discrimination, it is necessary to differentiate between three genres of the practice. Third-degree price discrimination is the most intuitive of the three, the type that everyone would imagine when picturing price discrimination. In simple words, different groups of people are charged different prices. The most common example is the movie theater, where tickets for seniors and children are frequently far lower than those for teenagers and adults.
When you cash in a coupon at the local Starbucks that activates a discount as soon as you reach a minimum purchase total, you are experiencing second-degree price discrimination. This type centers around the quantity of goods or services that the customer purchases, which would determine (often rather indirectly) the prices they pay.
First-degree price discrimination is the boldest, a clear discrepancy between prices charged to each individual customer. Such distinguishment often removes the greatest amount of consumer surplus and is usually possible when the firm has access to enormous amounts of consumer data. Airlines, for example, practice what has become known as inter-temporal pricing, a feat made possible by their salience in regards to clientele information. They can easily determine the urgency of ticket buyers based on the proximity of their purchase date to the flight date. (In other words, the later you buy the ticket, the more desperate you seem, and thus more willing — in the airline’s eyes — to pay higher prices.)
Price discrimination is risky. We have given firms the power to charge different consumers different prices, and exploitation is almost inevitable in a system where consumer surplus has been eradicated — hence the apprehensive reference to first-degree price discrimination. However, according to economist Michael Spence in The American Economic Review, firms’ profits should naturally become synonymous with marginal contribution to overall social welfare. In these cases, where private and public benefits coincide, socially optimal production is far more obtainable because selfish incentives lead to publicly beneficial outcomes.
Various factors weigh in on the success of this practice. Problems arise when data on consumer characteristics become unevenly distributed among producers, reducing their ability to make sound economic decisions. Oligopolies are inefficient for this reason; game theory and collusion are damaging for more reasons than one. Barriers to entry and exit of the market are also less sturdy than economic models would theoretically suggest. Regulation from a politically divided government could affect the impacts as well.
In theory, economic models are intrinsically inaccurate and difficult to apply to the real economy. If we are content to ponder the surface before diving in, however, price discrimination has great potential in an economy as profit-driven and (currently) allocatively inefficient as the one in this country. All we need to do is look past the apparent immorality of charging different prices and realize that a universal price tag could very well be just as economically unfair as demanding $450 for a plane ticket that was sold for $300 a week ago.
By Zayna Kutty
Forever 21, H&M, Shein, Zara, Mango, ASOS, Fashion Nova, NastyGal; these are all brands where people shop on a daily basis, the go-to stores for trendy outfits. In recent years, these brands have gained increasing popularity from consumers seeking cheap and chic clothing. Though these may seem like the best brands due to their low prices and amazing looks, they have detrimental impacts both socially and environmentally.
Fast fashion is exactly as it sounds: making fashion, fast. Quickly producing clothes causes products to become cheaper and trend cycles to speed up, therefore, shopping becomes a daily event for many people. The term “trend cycles” refers to the lifespan of a trend. Basically, this means that trending items go through cycles where they are trending, and since more clothes are being produced, clothes are “trendy” for a shorter amount of time. However, quickly producing clothes results in many negative environmental impacts.
Fashion is the second most polluting industry on Earth, second only to oil. Fast fashion generally uses cheap but toxic dyes, making fashion the second largest polluter of water, this time behind agriculture. Additionally, because clothes are produced so quickly, consumers are able to buy more clothes, along with getting rid of more clothes. This causes waste buildup. In North America, around 9.5 million tons of clothing end up in landfills each year, most of which could be reused.
To quickly produce clothes, brands use cheap materials to make trendy clothing at a rapid pace. Dana Thomas, a fashion and culture journalist, says in her article in the New York Times that over 60% of fabric fibers are derived from fossil fuels and are synthetic. Therefore, if clothing does end up in landfills, it is literally impossible to decay. Additionally, fibers of clothing can be carried by wind or other sources, eventually landing in the ocean. These fibers are made of synthetic materials, namely plastic. When plastic particles get into the ocean, marine life unknowingly consumes them. This also affects humans because the particles are so tiny that they cannot be filtered or drained. Therefore, fast fashion leads to water contamination which is harmful to both marine life and humans.
Fast fashion not only negatively affects our environment, but our society as well. Historically, child labor and worker’s rights have been a major issue. Though many believe these issues have been solved after the industrial revolution, they still exist, in part thanks to fast fashion. Machinery and equipment are used to produce clothes quickly, but these machines have to be run by people. Dana Thomas reports that there are immigrants working in Los Angeles, Bangladesh, China, Vietnam, and so many other countries that face working conditions that are inhumane. She says that fashion has always been an industry dependent on the use of the voiceless and powerless, and that the industry ensures that they are kept that way.
However, there is good news. There are many different, easy ways to shop sustainably. Currently, thrift shopping is trending, and a great way to save the environment. With thrifting, clothes can be reused and given to someone else for a second life, eliminating the option of it ending up in landfills. Additionally, there are many clothing reselling apps, such as Poshmark and Depop. These apps are very popular, with many people being able to make money off of reselling clothes so that they don’t end up in landfills. And finally, many sustainable shoe brands are popping up all over the globe, such as Allbirds and Rothy’s. This is extremely beneficial, as the standard sneaker emits 12.5 kilograms of CO2 per sneaker. Allbirds, for example, only emits around 7.6 kilograms of CO2 per sneaker, which yields a 32% decrease in total emissions.
There are many ways that you personally can help fast fashion come to a close. First and foremost, shop less. There is no need to buy excessive things when we are lucky to have so much already. Not supporting and purchasing from Zara, H&M, and Mango could save you a great deal of money and closet space all while lessening the harm done to the environment. It is unrealistic to say that you should not buy any clothing items. Of course, clothes are a necessity. However when you do buy clothes, you can purchase from sustainable brands, such as Allbirds, Patagonia, Amour Vert, Mara Hoffman, and Athleta. These brands are not 100% sustainable, but they are significantly better for the environment. Additionally, before getting rid of clothes, you can come up with better solutions. For example, if there is a rip in an item, you can try sewing it or paying someone to do so. You can upcycle the article by giving it to a sibling, or using it for a craft project. There are so many viable and creative alternatives to getting rid of clothes. When you do find the need to get rid of a clothing item, try to reuse it first. Give it to a family member, donate it to a charity organization, or drop it off at your local thrift store so that someone else can get some good use out of it. Additionally, apps like Poshmark and Depop allow you to make a little bit of cash by selling clothes. Throwing out clothes should be the last option, and would generally be unnecessary if the alternatives are taken into consideration.
With the looming environmental threats, fast fashion has faced growing backlash as shoppers begin to realize the significant impact it has on emissions and trash output. Ultimately, change must occur to the massive industry as climate change becomes a more important issue than ever. Though we are not able to control how large companies that take part in the fast fashion industry function, we can make small changes in our lifestyle that make a difference.
By Sarah Ouyang
Chivalry is dead, the old lady in the subway laments when a stout man steals the last seat in the car. Chivalry is dead, the gentleman complains when a woman rushes by, ignoring him as he holds the café door open for her. And as you turn on the news, preparing yourself for another round of grim Election 2020 headlines, you silently agree: Chivalry is dead.
For the weeks following this year’s presidential elections, incumbent President Donald Trump has remained steadfast in his conviction not to concede to President-elect Joe Biden. If the pattern continues, he will not be allowing Biden his inauguration, much less congratulating him for it. This has greater consequences than inconvenience and confusion for the White House staff as they prepare for the transition. A century-old tradition will be placed in peril.
In 1896, two days after election results were unveiled, Democratic candidate William Jennings Bryan sent a telegram to Republican victor William McKinley, expressing his congratulations. Thus began the gallant, unspoken convention that has culminated in what is now known as the presidential concession speech. Even before Bryan’s public declaration, the defeated candidate sent private letters to the newly elected president, offering well wishes and congratulations. Just four years ago, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton delivered her concession speech the day after losing the 2016 presidential election to Trump, exhibiting expected disappointment but courteous congratulations as well.
The tradition has not been broken in over a century, but Donald Trump is nothing if not unpredictable.
Trump has, instead, decided to throw himself into an onslaught of issues arising from the pandemic, the suffering economy, and the national state of social unrest. He surprised members of both parties on Tuesday, December 22nd, when he delivered a brutal criticism of the newly Senate-approved second stimulus package, which promises direct payments of $600. In his message, Trump called the package a “disgrace” and demanded that each direct payment be raised to $2000. Surprising, of course, but not entirely unwelcome for Democrats, who eagerly and unanimously accepted the proposed amendments.
Republicans in the Senate, however, were not pleased with this turn of events. This disagreement has two serious implications for the government: a shutdown may occur if Trump does not sign the bill, and the Senate race in Georgia could be majorly disrupted by the stimulus package battle.
What does this mean for Joe Biden? He may very well be handed a government, or even a nation, in chaos and conflict. Even as some rummage for hope in Trump’s new seemingly Democrat-favored policies, it appears his decision could have drastic consequences for what should have been a peaceful transfer of executive power. This conflict will exacerbate the problem that began with the question of a concession speech from Trump — or rather, a lack thereof.
A concession speech may be purely allegorical and contain no legal importance, but it has had dramatic impacts on American presidential transitions. Ron Elving, a Senior Editor and Correspondent at NPR News, explains the benefits of a concession speech: “It ends the suspense. It mellows the mood. And it means the country can begin moving on.”
The absence of a concession speech could thus be especially detrimental this year. While public focus has been widely drawn to COVID-19 or election news, there can be no surprise in referring to the other, more socially-geared issues of 2020. The frenzy of the Black Lives Matter movement seemed to die down after the summer as people shifted their attention to other current events, but their goals and fighters remain strong and unhappy with the country. During this period of political polarization and social unrest, a stubborn silence from the incumbent president will be widely heard.
In the 2020 movie The Trial of the Chicago 7, Abbie Hoffman (played by Sacha Baron Cohen) sits at the stand with a poignant smile on his lips as Richard Schultz (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) asks him: “So how do you overthrow or dismember, as you say, your government peacefully?” Without missing a beat, Hoffman replies, “In this country, we do it every four years.”
Let’s hope that is still true.
By Sarah Ouyang
Faith comes in many forms. For startup businesses planning for long-term growth and in need of sustenance, some cold, hard cash is preferred above all else.
And that’s where venture capitalists swoop in like reverse vultures who, instead of gorging on carcasses, breathe life into struggling newborns. Entrepreneurs might worship these firms for their financial benevolence, but venture capitalists are not exactly altruistic saints — thorough and adroit in calculating potential gains, they take into consideration factors such as the network and experience of the founders.
For 2010’s Berlin, this type of scrutiny became the basis of its economy, replacing the more defining business atmospheres of other European cities: chic culture in Paris, for example, or music in London. Three factors directed the V.C.-friendly spotlight shining on Berlin and pulled the city out of its financial mire in the years surrounding 2008. In fact, the global recession itself paved the way for venture capital in Berlin: the crisis left the city poor in capital and rich in opportunity. Office space was rent-free and plentiful for startups who entered the scene early in the game, since the only real competition they faced was the public sector.
Another contribution to the city’s venture capital originated from local hipsters. Influential artists, among them David Bowie and Iggy Pop, flocked to Berlin for cheap, trendy respite. This boosted its reputation in the eyes of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists alike. Finally, Germany had become a rival to America in “melting pot” status (perhaps either a cause or effect of the rise in hip culture), a development in which engineers from all over the continent were happy to partake.
Such economic and cultural shifts have designated 59% of German national V.C. investments to Berlin, rendering it a hub of possibility for tech companies. In 2019, a data report revealed startling numbers showcasing the progress that Berlin has made: startups manifesting 80,000 jobs; startups receiving 3.7 billion euros in funds; startups placing the city in 2nd place for European tech investment. The second place prize can also be attributed to the number of unicorns, or private startups valued at over 1 billion USD, created within a certain period of time.
It is essential to understand how this change has occurred in Berlin. Barely more than a decade ago, Berlin was turning itself inside out in search of industries that could set it apart from the rest of the bleak crowd, envying Paris and London for their glittering cultural je ne sais quoi. The desperate scramble for economic progress led to some “knock-offs” of American e-commerce. One such “shallow tech” company, Rocket Internet, left behind a legacy of unoriginality and misfortune that lasted until Berlin decided to concentrate its efforts on tech startups rather than “consumer clones.”
Foreign startups also peak the interest of Berlin’s venture capitalists, who see profits made from companies in faraway lands as an “external validation” of sorts. The richness of the city’s risk capital has diversified the focuses of its V.C. firms, expanding beyond simple, safe ventures to projects that might have universal benefits — a definite step forward in the morality of venture capital. For instance, June Fund partner David Rosskamp proudly describes an increase in funding towards “the agricultural world… [in response to] a large need, and an equally large economic opportunity in digitizing these flows, in providing transparent access to agricultural supplies and in empowering millions of small-scale farmers. So June has invested in agricultural trading networks from Europe to Africa.” Berlin has thus been near-flourishing in V.C. pursuits and tech advancements.
And then the coronavirus hit.
With the current pandemic exacerbating an economic crisis of our own, the United States is, as General Washington was according to Lin-Manuel Miranda, “in dire need of assistance.” More than anything else, the country needs an understanding of the situation in order to further analyze the best paths to recovery. Whether by following role models or avoiding worst-case scenarios, watching trends in other countries appears to be greatly important for a successful return to normalcy.
The problem is, experts are not quite certain whether Berlin is the former or the latter. Speaking from a rather humanitarian perspective, Germany is a clear example to follow for its relatively low percentage of COVID-19 fatalities, courtesy of Chancellor Merkel’s precise and effective handling of the virus.
On a fundamentally economic level, however, virus effects in Germany leave observers skeptical. Investment level decreases have been drastic, especially when compared with the fairly more fortunate European cities such as Dublin and Amsterdam. The vast range of different level changes is astonishing: while Zurich has seen a 98% increase in investment levels since the previous year, Madrid’s levels have dropped 69%. Berlin is on the devastating side, with a 51% drop in investment. NGP Capital partner Bo Ilsoe attributes this to Germany being “more conservative and more prudent in reigning back spending” while the pandemic unleashes its claws on German businesses. Others, however, present optimistic outlooks: Berlin is less expensive to operate in compared to other tech hubs, including San Francisco, so many V.C. firms are not too worried for the long term.
The impacts of the coronavirus on society have also reshaped the process of venture capitalism. Firms have begun encouraging clients to “focus on extending the runway both by increasing capital efficiency as well as taking on additional funding.” Different industries have been impacted differently as well. With the communications industry consolidating into an “oligopolistic market structure” featuring Zoom and Google Meet as its two lead stars, Berlin V.C. firms are wary about prospects for startups in the technology sector.
In any case, the city’s progress of the past decade cannot be ignored. There remains still a considerable amount of hope for startups in the German capital city. And where there is hope, there is venture capitalism. Or is it the other way around?
By Benny Sun
Running for re-election, incumbent Mayor James Baldassare is a Republican candidate for the Bernards Township Committee. His main stances include making Bernards Township debt-free, eliminating overdevelopment, and improving transparency. To better understand Mayor Baldassare as a candidate, here is more information about his beliefs, background, and insights.
Q: How did you get your start in politics? What is your background?
I got involved in politics because I enjoy helping people, finding solutions to problems and want to make our community a better place to live. I was elected to the Bernards Township Committee in 2017. I am Bernards Townships’ current Mayor and I am seeking another three-year term on the Township Committee. I have over thirty years of experience in the contract surety industry from both surety company and agency perspectives.
I am a United States Marine Corps veteran and graduated first in my class from Parris Island. I attended Northeastern University studying economics and participated in the 2015 Somerset Leadership Program. I am also a licensed New Jersey Property and Casualty Agent- Broker. Both my wife Tracy, who serves as a Bernards Township Police Officer, and I are lifelong residents of Bernards Township, and Ridge High School graduates. We have six children all of whom have attended or currently attend township schools and one grandchild.
Q: What are the main local-level issues facing young people that you plan on fixing?
Managing overdevelopment is a challenge being faced all across New Jersey and Bernards Township is not immune from that challenge. We enjoy great schools, outstanding parks, wonderful open space and many other enviable public facilities which enhance the high quality of life that Bernards Township is well-known for. Overdevelopment has the potential to seriously affect our quality of life and have serious adverse financial impacts in addition to adverse impacts on our schools, traffic, and emergency services.
As noted in the October 29th 2019 Affordable Housing Taskforce report, the majority of Bernards Townships’ current residential development is being driven by court-mandated affordable housing obligations. Under the Affordable Housing Law and associated mandated obligations, municipal zoning laws are preempted and municipalities are forced to comply. In our view the courts should not be deciding how local zoning works.
We can only make progress on the challenges of overdevelopment and finding solutions for meeting future affordable housing mandates if we work together in a collaborative manner. I am fortunate that my running mate, Kate Grochala, is an attorney knowledgeable about the Affordable Housing Legislation. We urge all voters to review the Affordable Housing Taskforce report which is available on our Bernards Township website. The Taskforce report includes information on how to contact the appropriate New Jersey State Officials and elected representatives. This is especially important during this critical election year.
Q: A major part of your campaign has been remaining financially responsible. What is an example of wasteful town spending that would go away under your candidacy?
Kate and I are fiscal conservatives and we will work hard to control taxes and keep Bernards Township 100% debt free. Avoiding debt is one of the ways Bernards Township controls taxes. We enjoy outstanding parks, open space and other public facilities. These are some of the things that affect the high quality of life that Bernards is well known for and which we will continue to support. Working with Bernards Township staff, we will continue to make prudent improvements and investments in our infrastructure and protect our open spaces. We do not believe that BT engages in “wasteful” spending. We believe it would be “wasteful” to enter into debt.
When municipalities borrow, they are robbing the future for the present. Every taxpayer dollar spent on interest is a dollar squandered, a dollar that could be spent on something else, a dollar that you could be spending on your family and your future. Through good Republican leadership, Bernards Township has avoided debt. Looking ahead to the future, “paying as you go”, carrying no debt, keeping adequate reserves on hand, maintaining accurate and current tax base valuations, exploring shared services with other municipalities, sound long term planning, and vision are the keys to good governance including managing the effects of unforeseen events such as the COVID-19. This is the approach BT has taken through solid Republican leadership and should continue to follow.
Q: Voter engagement has been a crucial part of your election. How will you continue to get residents in Bernards Township involved in committee affairs?
One of the many great things about Bernards is the high level of engagement by many of our citizens. Their service is a testament to their commitment to the community and its improvement. For example, volunteers have undertaken many laudable and successful initiatives to help our community, including our senior citizens and businesses, cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. There are numerous ways for residents to initiate, sponsor, or otherwise support a variety of community service-related activities. We will continue to encourage all residents to become engaged and we will support opportunities for engagement. Similarly, we will continue to recognize those who have dedicated their time and resources as volunteers to make our town the great place that it is. Our campaign website recognizes that voter engagement is a crucial part of what makes Bernards Township such a desirable place in which to live.
It is interesting to note that community engagement and transparency go hand in hand. We believe that openness, accountability and honesty coupled with community engagement define transparency in government. Therefore, we will encourage our residents to follow the issues, attend public meetings, and become engaged. We will listen to our residents and their concerns with an open mind, encourage honest and candid discussion and respond to questions, to the best of our ability. In particular, we will ensure that proposed municipal budgets are published well in advance with ample opportunity for review and discussion by the public prior to any approval.
Q: As the only incumbent in this election, what is your most proud accomplishment over your career as the mayor of Bernards Township? What is your biggest regret?
During the pandemic, I worked hard to keep everyone apprised of the situation and evolving events surrounding COVID-19. My letters to the Township residents have been well received and intended to both provide residents with information but also to be a reassuring voice in an uncertain time. I am also very proud of the work that our health department has done in providing vital information to the public regularly. In addition, because the Township’s finances are in such a strong position, we have been able to weather this storm without having to curtail essential municipal services. I have done my very best in everything I undertake on behalf of Bernards Township and have no regrets.
Q: How will you balance the safety of Bernards Township residents during the COVID-19 pandemic while also ensuring that our economy keeps chugging along?
The health, safety and welfare of all residents is of course our primary concern as elected representatives. The Township has strictly complied with all of the Governor’s mandates concerning COVID-19 and has encouraged all residents to likewise comply. However, during the pandemic, the Township took judicious actions to ease certain restrictions on business while still maintaining high standards for the health, safety and welfare of the public. We continue to actively look for ways to help our businesses and residents during these challenging times.
Q: What are some ways we can get Ridge High School students to get more involved in local politics?
The best way to be productively involved is to be informed. I would encourage everyone including high school students to follow the issues, understand what the municipal governments role is and be aware of what is happening in the community. One of the best ways to do this is to attend the Bernards Township Municipal meetings where the Township’s business is discussed and various issues addressed twice monthly, usually on the second and fourth Tuesday. It is best to attend in person but all meetings are also televised and recorded for future viewing. In addition, there is a great deal of information on the Bernards Township website including opportunities for volunteering.
By Benny Sun
In the 2020 election for the Bernards Township Committee, there are two Democratic candidates: Jon Sandler and Dr. Sophia Chadda. Jon is a lifelong resident of New Jersey and attorney in the Commercial Litigation practice group of Riker Danzig Scherer Hyland Perretti, LLP in Morristown since 2007, has lived in Bernards Township since 2015. Dr. Sophia Chadda has lived in Bernards Township for over 20 years and, with her husband, Dr. Konstantine Trichas, raised her three children here. She has been practicing as a board-certified periodontist for 20 years and established her thriving dental practice on Stonehouse Road in Basking Ridge in 2004. Here is the audio transcription of the interview that transpired.
Q: What is your background and what moment made you realize that you wanted to run for local office?
Chadda: I was never involved in local politics until last year. I told myself that there are the same old people all the time. And we need different voices. We need different and diverse people. We need leadership that is transparent, inclusive, and innovative. I kept watching our property taxes increase and our home values continue to decrease. I also said to myself that we have seen the same Republican party running the show for the longest time, except two Democrats in the last forty or fifty years. We don’t know what kind of problem we’re gonna have in the future, but what we do know are what values our leaders are gonna have, so that’s important to me. I want to ensure that Bernards Township remains a place that people want to live, work, shop, and do business. We need people that have a fresh perspective, a different perspective. I have a science background, so I thought that it would be helpful as well to bring some evidence-based knowledge to the township community.
Sandler: I am a Jersey guy, born and raised. I grew up in Bergen County. My wife and I moved to Bernards Township five years ago. I am a practicing attorney and part of my practice involves representing municipalities in outside litigation as special counsel. So I’m uniquely qualified in that I’ve got an understanding of how to assist municipalities with hedging risk and advising with local and state ordinances and regulation, as it relates to all sorts including affordable housing. I’ve negotiated with developers in litigations with municipalities. So I see both sides of it, and that perspective brings something unique to the Township Committee. I’ve been a guiding voice to help reverse difficult legal landscapes. This is also the first time I’ve ever run for a local office. I have been a district representative to the Somerset County Democratic Committee for a few years. I’ve realized that I love Bernards Township. Bernards Township has suffered lapses of leadership over the past five years, and it’s been disappointing. And these last new leadership have led to senseless and expensive litigation which has not only cost us in the pocketbook but also soiled our good name. We've been splashed across the news, local and even federally as a result of poor, decision making and poor leadership that has been displayed by a township committee. What happens with that the same core group of people who have been in charge of the town for many, many years. There's a certain complacency that comes with that. There's a certain paternalistic attitude that “We know best. Residents don't worry about what we're doing. We'll take care of it”. It just got to a point where I couldn't watch it anymore without at least throwing my hat in the ring to say no. We need to start looking at things differently. We need new people involved, people they're gonna look to experts to make sure that when we proceed going forward, we're doing so in the best interest of the town, not just maintaining the status quo.
Q: What do you think is the main local level issue facing young people and Bernards Township that you plan on fixing specifically?
Chadda: We've got to address our mental health crisis and the increasing anxiety and depression. Especially the unprecedented amount of stress that high school students are facing. And I talked about this last year when I ran. This year, we've been talking about COVID and businesses because that's been taken over the whole discourse, for the most part. But last year, when COVID-19 wasn't around, we could talk about that being a huge issue. And I remember, last year, the Journal of the American Medical Association published this study indicating that suicide levels are at their highest level in 20 years in youth. And they attributed that to two things, social media and the opioid epidemic. Wellness needs to be a priority in our community. And that wellness issue, that mental health issues encompasses a lot of things because a lot of things that in general I don’t think John and I are facing. We didn't have social media growing up, so our every move wasn't documented or every failure. We didn’t have to worry about likes and how we looked at all times. So there are a lot more challenges that the teens are facing.
Sandler: No, I couldn't agree more. The stress levels that young people face today are so much greater than anything that I saw as a kid. The pressure to get good grades, the competitive nature of the admissions process. The requirement that you have to be good at everything but specialize in one thing has created a huge amount of anxiety amongst our young people. College counselors say that the kids around that time have more anxiety than they’ve ever seen before, to the point where they worry about their health and safety. I'm 40 years old and I didn't go to high school that long ago, but the pressure just wasn't there. Social media is adding so much to that level of anxiety. People put on social media only the best of what's going on in their life, and they paint a rosy picture of everything going on. And so it automatically makes everyone who sees these posts feel as though they're not enough and they're not good enough. That clear anxiety contributes to drug addiction. That contributes to issues that need to be addressed. The Bernards Township has the municipal alliance, whose mission is to talk about drug addiction. But as council committee members we can work with the Board of Ed to ensure that there are places where our kids can go and talk to those that can be compassionate. That can help them to reverse these difficult waters so that their mental health is a priority.
Q: I know during the last discussion that there was mention about having a youth advisory board. So I was wondering if you could elaborate more on that issue or how exactly that would work.
Chadda: There have been some complaints or concerns about the lack of activities for teens in town. That was why I recommended having a teen advisory task force. I know the library has some activities. Parks and Recs have activities, but let's say you're not into sports. You like chess or you like drama. There should be stuff for everybody. Some people are oriented towards athletics, and there are teams. There could be more recreational activities. It doesn't have to be so competitive. So it should be some sort of task force that incorporates different ideas and suggestions. There aren't a lot of places for teams to congregate in town. If we have a place like more coffee shops, dessert places that would help. As far as teen involvement goes, it's so important for teens to get involved in this election cycle. This is the second most important election of our lifetime. The most important time was the election of 1860 where we were gonna go to civil war, determining the future of America. So this election is so important because you have two competing visions for the future of this country. It's important for everyone if they can vote to be involved in the political process. So I would just say to all teens out there if you're 18 please exercise your right to vote. It's just of paramount importance.
Sandler: Also, there was a discussion at the committee level about whether or not to create the Human Rights Advisory Committee. And the purpose of that committee was to study biases in town and to work towards creating a welcoming, open environment for all of our residents, regardless of sexual orientation or identity or race or gender or religion, or able-bodied. There was some pushback at the township committee level initially, but the voices of the people that came out in the community were young people. I was so overwhelmed to see the support and to see young people coming to the township committee members, making public comments on the record, participating in local government. It's through the voice of the young folks that came out and made their feelings known that ultimately the town committee was swayed. And now there is a diversity and inclusion committee that was voted on just the other day. I think that shows the importance of community engagement and particularly the engagement of young people. Because I'll tell you that if there wasn't much significant backlash towards the township committee and in favor of creating this diversity and inclusion, there's no way it would have gone through. I saw young teenagers come out and participate in local government and tell everyone what they believed in and it worked, so that was nice to see.
Q: That leads to my next question about the diversity inclusion committee. I was wondering if you had any examples or stories about the hostility towards inclusion in Bernards Township.
Sandler: I don't personally thankfully. I didn't grow up here. I moved here five years ago, and we have never felt anything other than welcome by everyone. One of the things that occurred at the township many meetings were stories of young folks that did experience unfortunate situations here, including someone, dressed up in a way that is derogatory towards Mexicans during Mexican Day. There were articles in the newspaper a couple of years ago about Swastikas that were found around town. There were some flyers for white supremacist organizations posted around towns. These things have happened in Bernards Township.
Chadda: I have never really experienced anything like personally. Last night, in the last township committee meeting, some community members put forward the notion that there's no institutional racism which I was surprised and shocked to hear because I just think that’s very tone-deaf. This Human Advisory Board is so necessary because there are so many people in our community that feel they are different. And as Bernards Township is becoming increasingly diverse, our approach to governance has to evolve, and our township committee members should work together to ensure that everybody feels welcome and heard. So this committee is going to be 11 people. They're going to report to the township committee twice a year. It's going to include the police, clergy, school administrator, and person trained in diversity and inclusion. So, I look forward to that committee, and I think it's long overdue.
Q: Going on to the issue of businesses and Basking Ridge and Bernards Township. We all know that a pandemic is bad for business. What are your plans to promote local business spending while ensuring safety during the pandemic?
Sandler: I'm not sure if you follow our campaign on Facebook, but we did the 30-day shop Local Challenge with Sophia and me. For 30 days over the summer, we patronize the local business every single day. And the purpose of that was to encourage residents to get out there and support the local businesses, particularly, during COVID -19. I think our small businesses are hurting in such a significant way. It's so critical to support them anyway we can. And one way to support them is by shopping locally. But another thing that the town committee can do: ease ordinances and zoning restrictions that allow for outdoor dining and outdoor shopping. Maybe you have a street fair, maybe you close off downtown for a day and let the merchants put their goods outside to be sold. So you get these businesses an opportunity to make some money, and will also operate within the confines of what's been put in place at the state level. If and when Sophie and I get elected, the COVID pandemic is not as severe, although I certainly don't take that for granted. But if it's not, you can be certain that we're gonna work hard to make sure that you do everything we can for local businesses to safely drive shoppers and foot traffic to these businesses to spend their money.
Chadda: We proposed creating an economic development commission to stimulate our economy. And that would comprise all businesses. Everything from large Verizon to small mom and pop shops, and to come up with strategic immediate short term and long term goals to stimulate our economy and revitalize our business districts. They were already suffering before and I'm sure they're suffering even more now. As John said, we did our 30-day shop local campaign. Our goal was to encourage people rather than going to Amazon straight away or big box stores to shop locally. Because without small business, the local economy will fail, and we need our local money to work to preserve our property values to help with our tax base. It's very important for keeping our taxes at a reasonable level to support our local businesses and develop the local economy.
Q: So you mentioned about stabilizing property taxes and just making taxes generally lower. And also, another part of your campaign has been just increasing more money for maintaining infrastructure. So I was wondering, what is something that our town spends too much on where it's being wasted right now?
Chadda: Well, I'll say this on the 65% of our budget. About 90 million goes to our school. I think about two million was in the library, but the school board is the one that has control over that budget. So the town committee has no control over the school budget. That's why our taxes are so high. That is the main reason. But what we can do is like we mentioned just now, it's trying to stimulate our local economy to broaden in our tax states so that the burden doesn't fall so squarely on the homeowner's shoulder. So that is something that we can do.
Sandler: There has been money that has been spent poorly, relating to litigation, relating to certain studies. I know that they did that study in Pleasant Valley Park about looking at a little trickle of water that cost a ton of money. It just comes down looking at the budget, sharpening the pencil, and figuring out where we can spend our money most wisely. Because at the end of the day, as council committee members, you're acting as a shepherd of the town’s people's money, and you should make sure that it's not being wasted and that you're spending as wisely as you can and any savings you're able to attain to the diligence or efficiency should go back in the taxpayer's pocket, one way or another.
Chadda: The Township committee has wasted money on medical benefits for part-time elected officials and PR consultants. So those are unnecessary expenditures that can be, and there have been consulting projects that the county has spent tens of thousands of dollars that didn’t need to be that way.
Q: Nationally, we've been more polarized than now than any other year in American history. Do you think locally there are major differences in ideology between our two partisan committees and how will you ensure to create policies and ideas that everyone likes?
Chadda: Local politics is related to national politics. If you're a supporter of Donald Trump, then you follow and believe in his line of thinking. That can be problematic. We need leaders that have empathy. We need leaders that will promote American values of diversity and unity, cohesiveness. That's important. To look at who our local leaders are, we need leaders that have values. That's incredibly important. We don't know what problems our community is gonna face, but what we can know is what values elected officials have. And if you are supporting this current administration. then you are complicit with what Donald Trump is doing.
Sandler: There are certainly some ideological differences between the council committee members on the Democratic side, solely being Joan Harris and four Republican Town Committee members. But it's so important that you're able to reach across the aisle and to work with everyone because, at the end of the day, that's what every county community member should be interested in. The primary interest should be: What's in the best interest of Bernards Township? These are local issues. Now all politics are local politics. That much is true. But we can defer on national policy. We can differ on the larger national political issues. But ultimately, when it comes to local issues, there's no reason why we can't work together: Democrat, Republican, Independent. To put forth, in Bernards Township policies and ordinances and regulations that are in the best interests of folks, no matter what their political affiliation is. The Democrats have been either not represented at all on the township committee or have been vastly outnumbered. We've had to be willing to work with our Republican counterparts. Even if Sophia and I win, I think Sophia and I can commit to working with the Republican Committee members and not just forcing ideas through. That it has to be a partnership among the five members, regardless of the party affiliation.
Chadda: No matter who gets elected, we have to work together, reach across the aisle. Otherwise, we just have gridlock. Nothing gets done. And ultimately, we live in the town. We love this town, and we want what's best for the town. So absolutely we will work with our Republican colleagues for the betterment of our town.
Sandler: One of the things that's interesting that I've found about running local policies. You're running against your neighbors. You're running against your kids' friends. We don't get that on the national level. We have to go to Shoprite and we see our political opponents and we see people that are part of their campaigns. Our kids are friends with their kids and it's so important that we keep this race civil and cordial to the issues. Because these are our neighbors, and regardless of what happens in November, they're gonna continue to be our neighbors. And that's in my mind what makes local politics very unique.
Q: Just generally outside the election. What is something unique that you like about Bernards Township? And why is it that you love this town so much?
Chadda: Bernards Township is just the most picturesque town you’ll ever see. Their school districts are top-notch. We have a great quality of life here. It's a wonderful place to raise a family and to have a business.
Sandler: I echo the sentiments. Bernards Township is a beautiful town. It's also strategically located. It's so commutable, no matter where you work. And I think that's what makes it unique. we got 78. You've got 287. You've got two train stations which are direct lines to the city, and you get that accessibility with the picturesque nature of the town, the beautiful foliage. The people here are really, truly exceptional. I grew up in Bergen County, and then I lived in Jersey City during law school and so my life before here was so congested with everything close together and people on top of one. Bernards Township is such a beautiful community where there's so much green, so much space. I think it's just a wonderful place to raise a family. I love the fact that my kids in the public schools here we've had nothing but a wonderful experience. Thrilled to welcome a newborn a little over a month ago and get her involved locally as well as soon as she's old enough. So I think it's just a wonderful, wonderful town.
To listen to the interview in its entirety, here is the link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1VtLBttzjDE8HRhJnS1rz_c_ivDHU1hOy/view