Editor’s Note: For our cover story, we asked Keri Walsh, Ph.D., director of the Chappaqua Summer Writing Program for Girls, to ask her participants in a summer workshop inside the Greeley House to ponder the Election, and specifically for their thoughts on the impact of the possibility of their neighbor Hillary Clinton becoming a first Woman President. Most of the girls and their families preferred a first name only attached to their submissions. Special thanks to contributing editor Beth Besen in Chappaqua for editing assistance, too. Here’s what the girls wrote and shared!
All of Us Should Vote
According to The American Presidency Project, only 54.87% of eligible voters placed a vote in the 2012 presidential campaign. Many Americans today are not voting, but here’s why each of us should.
The United States is a democracy, which means that each and every citizen who is age 18 or older has the right to vote for the candidate they want as their President. However, if enough of us aren’t voting, then can this truly be called a democracy?
As an American citizen, it is your duty to vote for the leader you want to represent your views and goals. By not voting, you are throwing away your right as a citizen. Because many are under the impression that “their vote doesn’t matter so what’s the point,” plenty of Americans tend to lay back and let others do the voting.
However, if every person who believed that their vote didn’t matter stood up and decided to vote after all, we’d have close to 100% participation in the upcoming election, which is much more than having “no impact” as many tend to believe.
Voting is especially vital to us here in Chappaqua because one of the presidential candidates happens to live in our town.
Yes, Hillary Clinton is our neighbor, and, as Chappaqua is primarily a Democratic town, it is important for us to vote for her, the Democratic candidate, in this election. Many people in Chappaqua support Hillary’s ideals, and what better way to show our support for our neighbor than to place a vote in the elections? It is really unwise to rely on everyone else to vote for Hillary because, as much as it may seem so, she will not simply become president “no matter what.”
If each individual person does not get out and vote, no one will make any progress, and this country would certainly no longer be called a “democracy.” Addressing the situation of getting more people to vote can be simple: Explain to others that their vote matters and that casting their vote helps benefit Hillary greatly. She, in turn, helps us by supporting our views and making them a reality. Help support our next door neighbor by voting in the next election.
Alina is a junior at Horace Greeley High School whose political knowledge extends to conversations (which sometimes turn to heated debates) with her friends. She moved to Chappaqua fairly recently, but has already seen Hillary.
Clinton vs. Trump
By Amber Mildenhall
Hillary Clinton vs Donald Trump, it’s a race to the White House. Both are leading the course by becoming their parties’ representatives. In addition to the obvious difference, namely the political parties they support (Hillary Clinton being Democratic and Donald Trump Republican), the two candidates have opposite opinions on so many matters.
I moved to the United States at the age of eight. I didn’t even think about politics until I was in second grade, the same year Barack Obama became President.
My elementary school simulated the election of 2008; each student was given a chance to enter a booth where we could either circle a picture of Barack Obama or his republican opponent John McCain, and therefore “vote” for each candidate.
Unaware that an election was even going on, I chose Barack Obama (whom I didn’t even realize was Barack Obama) based on whatever preference I had as an eight-year old (although I still do support my decision now, eight years later). I went home that day and asked my parents what this alien booth-circling activity even meant. They gave me facts and pointers comparing Obama and McCain, which all seemed quite complicated to my eight-year-old self. So, without further ado, here are the facts of this year’s candidates for all those as confused as I was eight years ago.
Gun control has been a major debate between many politicians. The Second Amendment to the Constitution allowing the right to bear arms is viewed by many as no longer relevant. The United Kingdom has already instituted many laws to prohibit firearms. Hours of paperwork, applying for a license, and proving that you are not a threat to society has limited the violence that results from firearms. The United Kingdom’s firearm-related death rate per 100,000 per year in 2011 was 0.23, and the United States’ rate in 2014 was 10.54. Hillary Clinton wishes to abolish the Second Amendment and have gun control more similar to the UK’s.
Hillary Clinton said, “More than 33,000 Americans are killed by guns each year. It’s time to act. As President, I’ll take on the gun lobby and fight for commonsense reforms to keep guns away from terrorists, domestic abusers, and other violent criminals—including comprehensive background checks and closing loopholes that allow guns to fall into the wrong hands.” Donald Trump has an opposite opinion, and wishes to keep the right to bear arms. Donald Trump wrote, “Democrats want to confiscate all guns, which is a dumb idea because only the law-abiding citizens would turn in their guns and the bad guys would be the only ones left armed.” Donald Trump believes that it is every US Citizen’s right to bear arms, whereas Hillary Clinton views the existence of the second amendment as dangerous.
Donald Trump’s and Hillary Clinton’s postions on immigrants, like gun control, are also opposite. Donald Trump wants to build a wall on the Mexican border and have Mexico pay for it. Hillary Clinton stands for the less extreme measure of a fence along the Mexican border. “They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists,” Trump said of undocumented Mexican immigrants while announcing his candidacy last June. Donald Trump wishes to allow legal immigration, triple the number of ICE officers (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers), and end birthright citizenship.
Hillary Clinton supports a path to legalization for illegal immigrants whereas Donald Trump believes they should be deported effective immediately. Clinton also wishes to toughen penalties for hiring illegal immigrants, and supports Obama’s executive decision which would have allowed for illegal immigrants who are parents to legal citizens to remain in the USA for a certain amount of time.
Terrorist threats are a major factor in the immigration issue the USA is currently facing, but Clinton continues to believe that, “First, we rely on partners in Muslim countries to fight terrorists. The immigration ban would make it harder.”
Hillary Clinton’s and Donald Trump’s views on gun control and immigration are opposite. Healthcare is yet another subject in which Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton must agree to disagree. Donald Trump wishes to get rid of Obamacare, the unofficial name for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2010, whereas as Clinton wishes to expand it. When one of these two candidates becomes President, completely different policies will be instituted.
Amber is a legal alien, a citizen of the United Kingdom, and a sophomore at Horace Greeley High School who is currently obsessed with Pokemon Go.
The Impact on the Earth
I’ve never been one for politics. I don’t like the divisions it instills, the animosity it provokes, or the assertive natures of the politically-savvy. However, I find myself wanting to care more and more about politicians’ stances as the years pass by, if only for my deep concern for the deteriorating state of the environment.
Humankind has been steadily destroying the earth for hundreds of years, and I’ve been realizing just how influential politicians are in determining the future of the natural world (which seems to be growing less and less natural by the day) that surrounds us. For example, the economy can only thrive and the government can only operate so much in a languishing environment such as the one we inhabit today.
According to nasa.gov, arctic sea ice now has a 13.4% rate of depreciation, due to the ever-rising global temperatures (an average of 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit higher than in 1880). A major cause of climate change is deforestation, which has a rate that is equal to losing 20 football fields every minute.
The United States’ rate of deforestation is one that, if continued, will ensure that only a quarter of the forests standing today will be there in 70 years. So, someone arguing that climate change is a myth is quite possibly the most severe form of ignorance one could claim.
Donald Trump has seemed to make it his goal to hasten the downfall of the natural world. Trump has been quoted saying climate change (commonly referred to as “global warming”) is “nonsense” and an “expensive hoax”, and said that the EPA’s attempt to preserve the earth “is a disgrace”. His total disregard for the environment and his pledge to defund the EPA’s role in government is blasphemous, and unacceptable. Therefore, if a reader is even in the slightest bit leaning towards Trump, remember the environment, and think of the Earth that your children will be struggling to survive in and will be scrambling to save as it approaches the brink.
Our neighbor, Hillary Clinton, has vowed to keep the environment as one of her primary concerns: “As President, I’ll say no to drilling in the Arctic. I’ll stop the tax giveaways to big oil and gas companies. And I’ll make significant investments in clean energy. Our children’s health and future depend on it.” Could she have said it better? Hillary, unlike Mr. Trump, is the only hope for the preservation of the environment, and for us.
If my age didn’t inhibit me from voting in the 2016 election, I would vote Hillary if only for my concern about the environment. After acquainting myself more with the political scene for the past year, I’ve learned that Hillary has much more to offer than her pledges for the natural world. But we all know about healthcare, and immigration, and abortion rights. We, as citizens not of the United States but of the world, need to start educating ourselves about the current state of the natural world- need to step up, face the problems, and conquer them- and I believe that voting Hillary is one of the first steps in that equation.
Reilly is a junior at John Jay High School, who hates discussing politics and loves the environment and crossword puzzles.
Working Towards Ending Prejudice in Politics
When I was less than a year old, my mom thrust me into Hillary Clinton’s arms so that if she ever became president, I would have been held by the first woman president of the United States. Compared to other countries, we are far behind in getting women into top political positions.
Consider Angela Merkel, who was ranked number one by Forbes as the most powerful woman in politics and has been elected to a third term as Germany’s chancellor. Germany has taken a strong stance on refugees, and she has been considered a pragmatic leader. Many consider Merkel’s success a huge step for women everywhere, as she has prevailed throughout the doubt many women leaders receive.
However, Merkel has been hesitant to promote women’s rights. She even denied being a feminist, saying, “A feminist, no. Perhaps an interesting case of a woman in power, but no feminist. Real feminists would be offended if I described myself as one.” It is sad that often women in politics have to play down their feminism in order to be taken seriously. Now, in Angela Merkel’s third term, she is starting to come around and support women’s rights, and is going to focus on improving gender equality in the workplace.
Other countries have prominent women leaders, including Taiwan, Myanmar, Nepal, and Croatia. And Sri Lanka turned heads when they elected Sirimavo Bandaranaike in 1960. Since then, there have been over 70 female prime ministers and presidents. However, for a world where women make up roughly half of the population, the representation is strongly lacking. But, there is hope for the future…
More recently, a woman, Theresa May, came into power in the U.K., as David Cameron stepped down. The more women politicians there are, the more accepted women will be in other positions of power. In Forbes’ List of Powerful Women, four out of the top five women from 2016 were American, showing that, in America, women are able to rise to power. Yet, the United States is one of the few progressive countries that has not had a woman leader. While the epitome of gender equality would be choosing a candidate based solely on qualifications instead of gender, the lack of a female President in the United States is telling of the prejudice women in politics (and other high-power positions) face. Let’s end the streak of over 200 years of men in power in the United States, and give young girls a role model to show them that they can dream big; living-in-the-White-House-one-day big.
Katie is a seventeen year old high school student who attends Horace Greeley. She was born and raised in Westchester County, and has seen Hillary in town on multiple occasions.
Why Her Gender Matters (And Why It Doesn’t)
We are fortunate to live in a time when young girls are taught to be more than wives. Slowly, because it is a big undertaking to completely overturn the idea that women are inherently less valuable than their male counterparts, women are being appreciated for more than their relation to men. The change is gradually being made, pioneered by strong confident women all across the globe.
As a teenage girl myself, having strong female role models has completely changed my point of view. My views on what women can and can’t do differ from those of my grandparents, and that is a shift that isn’t unique to my family. Women everywhere are finally gaining representation in government, and women are even the leaders of nations such as Chile, South Korea and Germany. And while the cores of their policies often aren’t inherently different from those of the men in their respective political parties, having a woman leader can have a longstanding impact on the youth growing up under her rule.
Young girls are likely to emulate the behavior of the older women in their lives. They are a reflection of the people who raised them, and having role models such as Hillary Clinton can help raise a generation of girls who want to take action and make a difference in the world.
To a traditionally underrepresented group of people, having a woman president would be an act of validation and a crucial step in the long, meticulous process towards achieving gender equality. Clinton, in particular, supports the right to choose to have an abortion, something her rival Trump does not respect. Many working women see Clinton as the representation they’ve been denied for so long.
But objectively, electing a government official simply because of their gender is never a smart choice regardless of which way that sways you. Clinton and Obama, while both minorities in their own way, do not differ in opinions simply because of gender. Clinton is no more or less qualified than any man with a similar education and the same job experience. Countries with female presidents have not seen more success than those with male presidents. Some people may be put off by Clinton’s email scandal and see it as another example of the stereotype that women are fickle or coy and unable to handle difficult situations and assess the best solution. But as any member of a minority can attest, there is never an umbrella stereotype that fits all people, and it is unfair to pass judgments or make blanket statements.
To many, a woman president represents another step towards equality. But it is important to look at the candidates as people and not as a representation of an ideology; Clinton doesn’t represent feminism, but, as a stand-alone candidate, she can make a positive impact in the lives of many.
Anabelle is a sophomore at Horace Greeley High School. Most of her political knowledge comes from conversations with her dad in the car, but all her knowledge about being a young woman comes from real life experience.
Will She Have Support?
By Lucy Kaminsky
Chappaqua residents see her shopping on King Street, taking a walk with her husband by the First Congregational Church, and eating at Le Jardin Du Roi. She’s marched in the Memorial Day parade for years, and she’s a neighbor to dozens of Chappaqua families. On top of all that, she is the Democratic Nominee for president of the United States. Hillary Clinton has been a resident of Chappaqua for almost two decades, and, this month, Chappaqua can choose to support her in her biggest political endeavor yet.
She has an unwavering group of supporters, lovingly named “Chappaqua Friends of Hillary,” and an even larger group of supporters with Hillary for America shirts, bumper stickers, lawn signs and of course, votes in the New York primary.
Despite her pronounced following, she also faces a small but vocal opposition.That her popularity is questionable is especially when driving by a, for lack of a better word, monstrous, Trump sign on the way into downtown Chappaqua.
Kathy Thorsberg, a local mother, discussed that she sees a group of Republican women who, no matter the candidate, won’t go blue on election day, and she “thought more women would be on the [Hillary] bandwagon.”
When asked about the Trump sign, Thorsberg stated that she “wishes it were gone” and she “can’t believe” the local support for Trump.Thorsberg is a longtime Clinton supporter who once had the former secretary of state hold her then-infant, now nearly seventeen-year-old daughter, Katie, at her church.
What Thorsberg feels most Chappaqua residents who are voting for Trump criticize Clinton for her is her infamous email scandal, though she thinks it was “not that issue” that swayed them to vote Republican. Thorsberg estimates that around 60 percent of Chappaqua will vote for Clinton, and further says she doesn’t feel that is unique to Chappaqua, but that surrounding towns like Armonk and Briarcliff will have a similar turnout.
Rob Shepardson, local father and businessman, who was also named by Barack Obama to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition, spoke about how he feels Clinton is perceived in Chappaqua. Shepardson explained that he thinks “that people really, really like Hillary, and really, really like Bill.” He also thinks that people in Chappaqua see Hillary as their neighbor, and even with the Trump Golf Course a few miles away, feel little allegiance to Trump.
An enthusiastic supporter of Hillary, Shepardson says there’s an “enormous pride”, towards Hillary in Chappaqua residents and particularly women residents. He estimates that eighty-five percent of Chappaqua will vote for her.
Shepardson and Thorsberg are not alone- Hillary may have a few loud opposers, but she seems to have the majority of her neighbors’ votes.
Lucy is a senior at Briarcliff High School, where she is co-editor of the Briarcliff Bulletin. She is passionate about various issues, including environmentalism, feminism, and political awareness in teens.
Shouldn’t Local Businesses Contribute Too?
With Hillary Clinton in the upcoming presidential election, Chappaqua has gained a lot of attention. Local residents are excited to have a political icon in their town, and many have been eager to share their support for Hillary.
On the other hand, local businesses were less than willing to speak about this subject. I called a few stores to find out their opinion of Hillary Clinton as well as the influence she has on the daily activities of the village. After I stated my agenda, many employees refused to say anything else besides telling me I needed to speak to the owner or manager of the store. As luck would have had it, the person in charge was unavailable for the next few days at each of these stores.
As a 15-year-old new to journalism, receiving this type of reaction was disheartening. But the common reaction from each business sparked a question: Why were workers so hesitant to share their opinion on Hillary Clinton? When they picked up the phone, they were cheerful and welcoming. As soon as I stated my business, their demeanor completely changed and they became extremely guarded.
This type of response, of course, isn’t unusual. It’s basic etiquette: When making small talk, you shouldn’t discuss income, religion, and politics. Evidently, it becomes even more complicated within a company, as the opinions of employees may not accurately represent the business. It would be more fitting for the employer, manager, or owner to define the views of the company.
But the fact that Hillary Clinton is a resident of Chappaqua should change some of these policies. The majority of Chappaqua residents support Hillary, so why can’t local businesses? Having local businesses openly support Hillary would show pride for their village as well as honor the presence of a well-known political figure. Besides running in the upcoming election, Hillary has been the First Lady, a senator, and the Secretary of State. Since her husband’s presidency ended, she has been living in Chappaqua and has been accomplishing great things. Hillary has become a source of pride for Chappaqua, so local businesses should be displaying their pride for her.
There are also selfish motives for why local Chappaqua businesses should support Hillary. Considering how many residents are Democrats, supporting Hillary would attract her followers. If a business’s support for Hillary is strong, they may be able to secure a dedicated following of regular customers for themselves. Furthermore, Hillary’s fame can be extrapolated and used to advertise to the rest of America as well. Theoretically, local restaurants could claim that Hillary ate there and complimented them. With today’s age of social media, the publicity would spread quickly and attract curious tourists or fervent Hillary supporters. And then there’s the possibility that she wins the presidency. Supporting Hillary would also mean allying with a potential record-breaker; if she’s elected, she’ll be the first woman president of America.
It’s a rare opportunity to have a resident of Chappaqua run for president, and local businesses have no reason to hide their pride for Hillary. Chappaqua’s businesses and residents can be united in their support for their neighbor.
Letitia is not an American citizen so she can’t contribute to the presidential election in any way other than by writing articles. She has never done anything journalistic or political before, but she thinks that fifteen isn’t too late to start.
The Chappaqua Summer Writing Program for Girls
Directed by Dr. Keri Walsh (M.Phil Oxford, PhD. Princeton)
Dr. Walsh has taught at Princeton University and Claremont McKenna College, and is now a professor of English Literature at Fordham University in New York. She is the editor of James Joyce’s Dubliners (Broadview Press, 2016) and The Letters of Sylvia Beach (Columbia University Press, 2010). Next year’s Chappaqua Summer Writing Program for Girls will take place at the Horace Greeley House in July. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or (914) 314-7009 for further details, and follow the program on Twitter at @chappaqua girls.