Category: Politics

Meet Peter. Peter, a student in the School of General Studies is a Political Science Major and a veteran. He has recently been featured in various publications including the  New York Times and MSNBC for his current CrowdPac fundraiser to pressure Republican Presidential Nominee, Donald Trump, to release his taxes. We sat down with Peter to learn more about his fundraiser and ways in which students can get involved.

From your veteran’s perspective of the candidates, what are your views of the current presidential candidates?

There is a bit of a double standard in this current election cycle. Hillary has been held to a higher and separate standard than Donald Trump has which I think is problematic to our democracy. There’s a certain responsibility that the President as the Commander in Chief needs to have. As a veteran who has been to Afghanistan, this issue matters to me.

I am registered as an Independent voter.  I am not affiliated with either party, but trying to make up my mind as an Independent; however, Trump’s rhetoric has made it hard to be unbiased. As far as qualifications, we have a candidate who is a former Senator, former Secretary of State, and who is about as experienced as a candidate that we’ve ever seen and then we have someone else who is a celebrity.

I’m more about transparency. Ronald Reagan, who is a Republican, has a great quote: “Trust, but verify.” When it comes to a lot of Trump’s claims, I like it but I want to verify it. I’d really like to trust you Donald Trump, but I also want to verify it, so let’s release your tax returns.

Donald has done a great job about raising veteran’s issues by speaking incorrectly about them. In contrast, I don’t think that that’s the focus of my campaign; my goal is not to raise awareness, but to donate money to veterans charities. I want to use the political process to benefit veterans and reverse the system on itself.

What motivated you to start your fundraiser to pressure Trump into releasing his taxes?

This year at the Intrepid Museum, Trump and Clinton were questioned on veterans and their roles as a Commander in Chief. It was not a debate, but it was half an hour each to answer questions about military and foreign policy. I attended and I also got 15 other Columbia veterans to attend as well and we were pretty frustrated at the event because of the questions. Hillary got questioned for 10 minutes straight about her emails but when it came to Trump, nothing about his tax returns or his conflicts of interests with our national security came up, which to me is the biggest questions to ask a potential Commander in Chief.

Out of frustration from that event, I was inspired to start this campaign. The way it works is that you pledge money, but you will only get charged if the conditions of the fundraiser are met. The website [CrowdPac] was originally created for people running for office. Donors would only get charged once a candidate officially announced that he or she was running for office. I decided there was a unique way in which we could use this to make Donald Trump release his tax returns.

Trump claims to support veterans and even used them as an excuse to skip the last Republican Primary debate in January. He instead decided to do a fundraiser for veterans, because he claimed that veterans are so important that we need to raise money for them. Well if that’s true, I’ve raised 6 million dollars, which is more money than he had raised and it’s almost easier for him to donate this money; he just needs to release his taxes.

It’s important that he release his tax returns, especially if Trump has business interests or outstanding debts to a foreign country. Let’s say it’s Russia. Let’s say Trump owes Russian companies millions of dollars; if we as a country get into conflict or declare war with Russia, he would be absolved of his debts. There’s no reason for him to pay money to a country we’re at war with. This happens with every war and that to me is dangerous. That’s a direct conflict of interest with the country and our foreign policy and his business interests. His failure to release his tax returns is telling about him as a person and his potential Presidency.

People use veterans for props. I decided that being a Political Science student studying the campaign finance system, this would be a clever way to divert some of the money going to corporation’s profits to charities instead.

How did you react when Reid Hoffman (the Chairman of LinkedIn) pledged to quintuple all donations? 

Reid Hoffman pledged to quintuple the money we raised up to a million dollars, so a total of 5 million dollars. We were able to meet the goal and the money has been added. The fundraiser is now at over 6.2 million dollars.

After the Commander in Chief forum, I had an appearance on the Rachel Maddow Show. I made an appearance and I guess he saw me on Twitter announcing my CrowdPac campaign and decided to support it; ever since them we have gotten a lot of publicity.

This campaign has done a great job speaking on veterans issues by being incorrect about them. My goal is to send money to groups that can help. There are a lot of things our government does well, but non-profits can help them. I want to use the political system to help veterans.

Do you think Trump will release his taxes? Why do you think he has yet to release them?

I genuinely hope he does. I don’t understand how the campaign would let Mike Pence release his for 10 years yet Trump would not. I’m probably the last optimistic person on this planet that thinks he might release his tax returns. Considering that the reports out of the New York Times are not endearing, you would think he would release his tax returns to change the narrative. The fact that he hasn’t suggests he has something to hide and that’s deeply concerning.

How do you recommend students get involved? 

The biggest thing is if you don’t have money to donate, share the campaign with people who do. Share it on your social media and help get the word out. We’ve reached $6.2 million and I’d love to reach $10 million by October 19th. With every dollar raised, there’s that much more pressure on Trump to release his tax returns. And now instead of rewarding Trump for doing something he already should have, there is a benefit for veterans. And it also means that there’s now an explicit cost to not releasing them. Now if he doesn’t release them, it will have cost veterans 6 million dollars. Clearly those tax returns are worth something.

Anything else?

Get out and vote. This is why we have fall break. Get out to vote.

I don’t speak for all veterans nor anyone else in the military, but I think that ’s it. Every president since Nixon has released his tax returns. Why shouldn’t Trump? We can’t let him get by this double standard.

To support Peter’s CrowdPac fundraiser, click here.

Know of a Columbia affiliate working to make an impact in the world? Recommend them for an interview with The Lion by emailing submissions@columbialion.com

This past summer, being the existential early 20 year old I am, I decided that I should start a blog. Being that I was going abroad for the fall semester, I naturally came to the conclusion that “I should definitely write about the totally “eye awakening” experience of life in a foreign country”. Shortly after my epiphany, I popped my own bubble, remembering that I was in fact going to Denmark… a country arguably whiter than me. Plus, everyone and their mom blogs about their study abroad experiences, and I wanted to be different. So I sat and pondered for a bit, contemplating my interests. After first reaching the conclusion that I needed more hobbies, I realized that the two things I am most passionate about are “Sex and the City” and strategic stability. Two peas in a pod… right?!

As I began thinking about the two subjects, I began drawing more connections between the two. I explicitly remember sitting in Professor Zachary Shirkey’s “Topics in International Security” class, where he would give “real world” examples of complex theoretical models, such as crafting strategy to try and get to Brooklyn when the L train was down. The more classes I sat through, the more I often thought, “holy shit, avoiding war is almost as hard as finding a steady relationship in New York”. I continued my studies, interning with an Arms Control affiliated office, and continued to draw these parallels between international relations and life in the Big Apple with thoughts such as “Russia acts up more than the MTA”, and “I should have made stronger alliances my first year”.

So, ladies and gentlemen, it is with great pleasure that I introduce you to my series: “Sex and the City…. and Deterrence”. It is my aim with this column to make strategic stability and international relations sexy again—a Cosmo of Jervis and (Samantha) Jones, if you will. Hell, maybe I’ll even inspire other aspiring Louboutin-clad warmongers out there. Through multiple extended metaphors, drastic simplification of IR theory, a strict avoidance of dry texts, and a hint of humor, I hope to take you on a journey through the streets of New York and the complexities of foreign policy.

Alright, enough clichés. For my more doubtful readers, who are wondering just how exactly I plan to go about this, think of my series as a type of intelligence analysis.

In the Intelligence Community today, one of the most common approaches to understanding data is through a Synthesis Analysis Model. Essentially, it models relationships between two elements to better help the consumer of the data understand it. It requires that the analyst is first creative, simplifying the data and creating a model, and then analytical; pulling his or her own model apart to see if more elements can be made more precise.

That is exactly what I tend to do! I am going to create elaborate models through Carrie Bradshaw like rhetorical questions, using data such as Professor Jack Snyder’s Why Emerging Democracies Go to War, in order to better digest the material.

I cannot wait to begin this journey, and hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

For an example of a common Synthesis Analysis Model, please visit the following link:

https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2010/apr/29/mcchrystal-afghanistan-powerpoint-slide

“Sex and the City… and Deterrence” runs alternate Fridays. To contact the writer or submit a piece of your own, email submissions@columbialion.com

Earlier this evening, the Columbia Elections Board announced the winners of the Fall 2016 elections. We are excited to share the results below. Congratulations to the newly elected representatives.

CCSC 2020 President & Vice President

Siddharth Singh and James Ritchie

CCSC 2020 Class Representatives

Grant Pace

Danielle Resheff

Astrid Walker-Stewart

CCSC 2017 Representative

Tracy Ting Cao

CCSC Sandwich Ambassador

Joseph Villafane

ESC 2020 Class President

Ria Garg

ESC 2020 Class Vice President

Marisa Ngbemeneh

ESC 2020 Class Representatives

Joanna Paik

Abhishek Chakraborty

ESC 3-2 Representative

Priscilla Wang

ESC Disability and Accessibility Issues Representative

Adriana Echeverria

ESC International Students Representative

Pranav Arora

ESC University Senator

Izzet Kebudi

This Monday was highlighted by the first presidential debate. But sadly there is no television in the lounge of my residence hall, so I watched it on Facebook using my cellphone. I walked into an elevator, listening how Donald Trump say about his tax return, while another student bumped into the elevator with his cellphone displaying the same live video as mine. We caught each other’s eyes, and we smiled. And it was that moment I felt a strong connection with my peers, that we are the same species, that we care about the same issue.

Columbia has had a reputation for being politically active, and I know it especially true when I saw the crowd in Lerner’s piano lounge watching the presidential debate. We have different political groups. We have student government. We have campaigns and initiatives calling for political actions. All these things remind me that I am in a political atmosphere, and political discussion is a thing embedded in the practice of our community.

Aristotle says, remarkably, that “men are born political.” This statement is especially true in this time, where social media and internet expose us to a life with ever-growing political focus. The question for us, however, is not whether a political life matters, but rather in what way should political discussion integrated in our daily life. Should it be in a serious manner, as if we are talking politics in an academic setting and must pay attention to the details of the subject we are discussing, or should it be in an easygoing way where we treat political discussion as a daily routine that every person would take part in? Should we be scientific in our political life? Or should it just be about personal reaction?

I am not trying to answer these questions, as I believe different people could have different philosophy towards their lives, and what role does politics play in it. The more important thing is the fact that we are looking at the way we talk about politics in an introspective lens. Because of that, we know what position we are, and why we are at this position. It is this self-examining process that makes us better understand politics, and ultimately ourselves.

Coming from an applied math major, I always find that the most important thing in my study of math is not the solution to a problem, but rather the way that leads to the solution, and I think there is a similar thing in our political discussion. It is always easy to have an opinion, but it is hard, yet more importantly, to understand the reason behind the opinion. That is what this column is trying to achieve: it attempts to examine behind the kaleidoscope of opinions and ideas in politics, international relation, and economy, and provide insight into our understanding of our world and society.

Perspectives of a Math Major runs alternating Wednesdays. To submit a response, email submissions@columbialion.com

As part of our elections coverage, The Lion is sharing responses from candidates about the following questions:

  1. What motivated you to run for this position?
  2. If elected, what would your goals be?
  3. What is something you want to fix at Columbia? How would you plan to address it?
  4. Any additional comments you would like to share with voters?

Below, you can find the candidate(s)’s unfiltered responses to help in deciding who you choose to vote for.

What motivated you to run for this position? 

Two main reasons: First, I have genuine need to help people, especially if there is some connection among us. That is obviously the case with SEAS 2020 students. Although we’ve only been together for a month, this is our family for the next four years of our lives. I want to be there for each and every one of them whenever they need help with an issue, have an idea, or simply want a friend to talk to—and make their freshman year the best experience. Second, I was president of my school’s student council, a very interesting experience where I design a whole new structure for the council that ended up being a success throughout the year. I knew from the start I wanted to be part of the council here at Columbia.

If elected, what would your goals be?

We want our class to shine. For that, we want to organize activities as the TedX SEAS 2020 talk and the information sessions of our major, current world engineering issues and facilities with Columbia in order to start building our path toward our future. We want to hear our class’ voices. The idea is to establish an active and personalized interaction with each student, listening to their ideas and concerns. Also, we dream about a much intimate relationship within the engineering class. Coming from a school where our class was as big as 31 people, I’m used to know everyone around me. Our SEAS class is about 10 times that number, but it is still my goal to make that family bond among us: get more involved with people within their field of study and with similar interests outside engineering.

What is something you want to fix at Columbia? How would you plan to address it?

Going back to the part of communication, I feel there is an incredible gap in the matter that might make the Columbia experience a little less enjoyable. In the debate today a party member said it was only “ideal” to establish a one-to-one relationship among engineers. I want to change that perspective and turn it into a reality. To address it, we are going to encourage all engineers to attend to our activities, we will be sending personal emails and having one-to-one conversations all year round, the SEAS lounge is also part of the plan. If the idea is getting to know each other, then that is the way!

Any additional comments you would like to share with voters?

I would like to say that, beyond our platform, is extremely important who you’re voting for. Plans can be repeated and shared from platform to platform, but the essence, identity and experience of a person cannot be mirrored on someone else. With that in mind, I would like to introduce myself a little more: I’m a very energetic, caring and joyful person with a constant positive attitude over whatever problem, regardless of the gravity. When I promise something, I will give every single part of me to fulfill it, with absolute dedication and, above all, love. I’m running for president because I can promise you help, a person you can reach to, a friend. So trust me, vote for E&B and you won’t regret it.