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I don’t believe it is a stretch to say that faith in our democratic institutions is critically low. Examples include dissatisfaction with the electoral college, with the representation of smaller states in the Senate, and with the recently concluded battle over Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court. The current Supreme Court situation is a microcosm of all of these issues. Barrett was nominated by a President who lost the popular vote, and she was confirmed following hearings overseen by a Senate that favors smaller, red-leaning states. This same GOP-led Senate broke with the “precedent” against election-year nominees invoked in the denial of Merrick Garland’s nomination under Barack Obama. Barrett was confirmed by a near-party line vote, in which only 52 of 100 Senators consented to a lifetime appointment for an unelected official.
This week, we’re doing something different. Our planned debate, on social media and misinformation, will be postponed in light of urgent developments on Northwestern’s campus regarding policing and the Black student experience. We will be holding a discussion--not a debate--on everything that’s been on students’ minds recently, and we want to hear your criticisms of and suggestions for the university. This blog post won’t be the same kind of debate primer that you’ve seen each weekend; instead, we thought it would be most helpful to piece together a timeline of the major developments in the campus-wide conversation over policing, protesting, and administrative response.
While current polling appears to suggest that Joe Biden would beat Donald Trump if the election was held today, there is widespread sentiment that these polls could be wrong. Trump has tweeted recently that, “Final RCP Polling Averages Had Hillary Clinton Winning MI, WI, and PA [...] The Polls are Fake just like much of the reported news. I won it all against Crooked Hillary!” Meanwhile, Biden’s campaign manager recently wrote a memo saying that in certain swing states, the “race is far closer than some of the punditry we’re seeing on Twitter and on TV would suggest.” So, with the election only weeks away, I thought it would be good to compare Biden’s polling lead with 2016 polling and the 2016 election results.
Coronavirus and its associated costs have been bad news for the university’s endowment. Northwestern started the year with an endowment valued around $10.8 billion, but it has decreased to about $10 billion as of the end of September, a decline of 7.4% of the total value. Consequently, the university has had to increase its endowment payout rate this year from 5.2% to 6%, which is the highest rate since at least 2004. (I did not check pre-2005 data.)
There are not very many countries that have trade deals with themselves, but due to the strength of its provincial governments, Canada is one of them. Indeed, Canada is perhaps the most decentralized nation in the West due to its strong regional identities. A poll last year found that in nine out of ten provinces, a majority of people did not prioritize their Canadian identity over their provincial one. (Though I must add that many people rated these identities equally.) Consequently, Canada is no stranger to secessionist movements. Historically, Quebec has had the strongest support for leaving, with 49.42% of Quebeckers voting to leave the country in 1995. In the 2020s, however, provinces in Western Canada, particularly Alberta, may cause the most headaches for the federal government. Last year, 56% of Albertans either strongly or somewhat agreed with the statement “Western Canada gets so few benefits from being part of Canada that they might as well go it on their own.”
This week, New York City Public Schools, the largest school district in the country, will follow through on an audacious public policy bet: nearly 500,000 students will return to in-person schooling. The city has come far from its days as the global epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in April, and local experts and politicians herald its accomplishments in reducing spread of the coronavirus and keeping the burden on emergency care workers low. The debate over the future of the public school system grew to encompass nearly all of New York’s local news bandwidth in August and early September, as Mayor Bill de Blasio repeatedly pushed back the targeted reopening date. It was really a month earlier, though, in early to mid July, that Americans had to debate amongst themselves whether or not to reopen schools in a quickly approaching fall term.
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