Posted on: February 25, 2024 Posted by: Amalia Thompson Comments: 0

By Amalia Thompson, Staff Writer

As the primaries approach for the American people, and the campaign commercials start to air, we may be faced with the unnerving choice that none of us wants to make again: Trump or Biden. Either way voters are confronted with a devastating fate to democracy with either path, so therein lies the question of “Where do we go from here?” Professors Kevin Navratil and Merrie Fefles-Dunkle in the political science department at Moraine Valley illustrated how dire the consequences are for this election, and the implications that may follow if Trump’s onslaught on democracy rears its ugly head once again.

On February 20, political science students and interested members of the college alike gathered to be informed about the upcoming election and what had happened to get us here. Starting off with the situation the country is currently in, Navratil emphasized how peculiar this election truly is, due to the top candidates for both parties having a rematch, and also due to the fact that they are both the oldest candidates we’ve had running, a record they thenselves set four years ago! One other factor that makes Trump’s current situation so unusual is how much his reputation has been tarnished by his own actions, that for him to be taken into account for this next election with the current legal record he holds is astonishing. Professor Navratil went into the current legal troubles that Trump faces in which he explained, “We’ve never had a candidate before who’s facing four indictments, 91 felony charges. So, he’s essentially a candidate and a defendant simultaneously. That’s pretty unique.” With Trump’s devastating portrayal of his character, and the legal battles that he has and will be faced with during the election, it is truly baffling how it got to the point where he is up for bat once again as the leader of the country.

Another factor that makes Trump’s presidency such a curveball in the history of the US, is the utter control he’s had over the media, and the people in his favor, the biggest example being the actions of what happened on January 6th. The absolute disrespect of democracy and encouragement of violence that Trump displayed prior to the insurrection, and even after it, is something that is barely seen so publicly by such a powerful figure in the government. So, for Trump to go as far as getting on such a mainstream platform like the formally known Twitter and implying an organization of the surge on the capitol in a message stating in short, “Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election. Big protest in D.C on January 6th. Be there, will be wild.” This statement and many other manic displays of him regurgitating the idea that the election had been “stolen,” are just minor roles that Trump has played in the abuse of leadership and status he has been bestowed, that lead to backfire intensely for the American people.

In the catastrophic event that Trump takes home a presidency for a second term, what follows from this will have huge lasting implications for democracy as a whole. This is not something that has been speculated off of what is thought to happen; however, it is something that has been displayed by Trump himself. He has expressed at a recent town hall for Fox News, his willingness to be as he calls it a, “Dictator on day one” raises some major red flags for his campaign. In this dictatorship, which would presumably end after day one, holds some shocking policies which he plans to enact on his first day back, some of which entails the following events that Fefles-Dunkle explained in this lecture. She broke down the constraints that would be taken off of Trump in a second term, quoting an article from The Atlantic that states he would, “1) Stop all federal and state cases against Trump, 2)Pardon and protect those who tried to overturn the 2020 election, 3) send the DOJ into action against Trump critics, 4) end the independence of the civil service, 5) fire federal officials who refuse to carry out Trump’s commands, 6) order the military to crush any protests arising from polices in American cities.” These may come as a result of Trump’s first priorities if he does return for a second term, and even though these are not confirmed to happen, it is still astounding that this could be his plan. All of these and more leads to voters questioning if there will be a stop to the unbridled expression of power that Trump would like to enact upon the nation in the executive seat, and if so, when will we see the end to lackadaisical treatment of his threats?

Throughout this lecture, Navratil explained to the audience what a major impact January 6th had on democracy, and what the consequences could be if the man who seemed to “egg on” the people who started it, was put in a position of power to be able to pardon those who were involved. Putting the coup into perspective, panel members mentioned how President Trump’s consistency in the rejection of what the elections have to say about him, and other Republican nominees being somewhat falsified is not a new concept for him. Navratil elaborated, “This is not a one-off thing; this is a pattern of him not respecting election results.” Continuing off his disrespect for the 2016 popular vote, and the 2020 election votes, it surely gives leeway to him taking this stance again, in the event that someone else other than him wins in this year’s election.

american flags and pins on white background
Photo by cottonbro studio on Pexels.com

All in all, this year’s defining election should not put young voters into a state of emergency and grief because of who is running, but it should be a wakeup call instead. New voters and old alike should be encouraged to engage in what their own impact can be for the democratic state of the nation, and why their voices matter. In fact, according to the Statista research department, this year’s election voters in the age bracket of 18-35 have had a 35% increase in motivation to vote, since the last election. This goes to show that wherever there is an opportunity to make your voice heard, you should never whisper.

Additional information from The Democracy Commitment can also be viewed on the Library’s YouTube Channel. Prior to the discussion on Trump’s candidacy, Navratil and Fefles-Dunkle led a discussion on the divisions in the Democratic Party in The Factions Within: Schisms in the Democratic Party in order to give equal time to the factors that will impact the 2024 Presidential election.

Voting Information and registration:
The democracy commitment and Student Life are co-hosting voter registration drives on campus on Feb. 28 and Feb. 29. For more information on how to register to vote, either on campus, online, or by mail, please see below.
On campus voter registration
2/28: U-building 12:00-1:30
2/29: Library (outside library in L-hallway) 12:30-2:00
Voter Registration information:
To find out if you are registered to vote, use this link
To register online, use this link (need to request at least 16 days prior to election).
To request to vote by mail, use this link (need to request at least 27 days prior to election).
To find out where you vote in person in Illinois, use the link: Find my polling place 
Voter Registration and identification information
Illinois voter registration information, election day hours, early voting and absentee voting: register online until 16  days before election, by mail 27 days before election, in person at election office or same day registration, must have resided in precinct for at least 30 days in which you intend to vote.
When Voters Do (And Don’t) Need Identification (ID) This site will let you know in what circumstances you would need to present ID and what forms of identification are accepted.
Learn about who you can vote for
Who’s on my ballot? Ballotpedia.org has a tab that allows you to type in your address to find out all of your candidates for various offices in the upcoming Illinois Primary election.