The Road to November 2024

Many of the current Stuyvesant seniors and some juniors will be eligible to vote in the 60th presidential election on November 5, 2024. In the midst of college applications and the hectic life of a Stuyvesant student, it can be difficult to keep up with the tumultuous American political landscape. To address this, The Spectator is starting a new election literacy project. As this historic election unfolds, the Opinions Department will publish polls, facts about the candidates, key swing state updates, and other content throughout the election season.

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As the presumptive Republican party nominee for the 2024 election, former President Donald Trump has been constantly in the spotlight for the past several months. Whether it was his missed attendance at the Republican Party presidential debates, his attention-grabbing comments concerning his political opponents, or his numerous ongoing trials, it’s clear that Trump has and will continue to make a name for himself in the political world. 

Currently, Trump is involved in four trials—two for state charges and two for federal charges. The most notable case as of May 2024 has been the “hush money” case, which involves a federal charge. In a New York City courtroom, Trump and his attorneys have been arguing against the allegations that he engaged in a “hush money” payment—money paid to prevent individuals from speaking publicly about a certain incident—to boost his chances of being elected in the 2016 presidential election. These payments are thought to have gone toward former Playboy models Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal to hide his affairs with them. He has also been accused of 34 felony counts of “falsifying business records to hide the reimbursement of a hush money payment.” Trump has pleaded not guilty to all mentioned charges.

As of April 19, 2024, 12 jurors—who are all Manhattan residentshave been picked for this case. The identities of these jurors remain anonymous to protect their well-being and prevent them from being influenced regarding the case. Additionally, picking the jurors itself was a lengthy process since both the prosecution and the defense filtered through dozens of candidates before deciding on those who they thought had the least biased opinions towards the individuals involved in the case. This case is expected to last at least eight weeks and could result in a huge blow to Trump’s reputation if it doesn’t turn out in his favor. Although he would still be permitted to run in the presidential race if found guilty, his current supporters may change their minds if their chosen presidential candidate is a convicted felon. According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted on April 29, 2024, incumbent—meaning that he currently holds the position—President Biden holds 40% of voters’ prospective votes while Trump holds 39%. Since the polling numbers are already a close race, any court decision could be the tipping factor, hence its importance for voters following along with these trials as they progress.

Biden and the University Protests Rippling Across the U.S.:

In the past couple of weeks, protests and tent encampments have spread to colleges and universities nationwide, calling on administrations to divest their endowments from Israel and companies supporting the war in Gaza. This wave of protest was sparked on April 18th at Columbia University when student activists began an encampment and were quickly cleared out of the area by the police. Since then, escalating protests at Columbia University and solidarity encampments all over the nation—particularly at UCLA—have drawn national attention. Over 2,000 arrests have been made on campuses from in Texas to Georgia to Connecticut, and many more students have faced disciplinary action. While parts of the protests have been led by Jewish activists themselves, many non-protesting students and faculty have voiced concerns about the mounting antisemitism taking place at the protests.

In an official statement at the White House on May 1st, Biden responded to the protests stating, “dissent is essential for democracy, but dissent must never lead to disorder.” A week earlier on Passover, the White House warned of the “alarming surge” of antisemitism across campuses and the nation. Biden is under pressure from prominent Republicans—including House Speaker Mike Johnson and Trump—to take a stronger stance against the protests. Before Biden’s statement, Trump commented during a Fox News interview that “the radical extremists and far-left agitators are terrorizing college campuses… And Biden’s nowhere to be found. He hasn’t said anything.” In his statement, Biden stated that the students’ actions would not change his support for Israel and emphasized that “order must prevail.” Biden’s Gaza policy has been under intense scrutiny—particularly by young progressives—and it may present as weakness for him in terms of achieving young voter turnout in November.