Published November 3, 2020
As America begins processing the results of its national and local elections, other issues vie for attention in the media, in the classroom, and around kitchen tables. Is there an end in sight to the pandemic? What about voting controversies and electoral college disputes? Look to Rutgers experts for insight wherever they appear in the news, offering helpful perspective on politics, public health, and other areas of concern.
Where do the majority of young voters stand regarding the Trump vs. Biden contest? Are they divided or united? Rutgers political science professor Elizabeth Matto adds her insight to a Los Angeles Times story on Gen Z voters and their influence in yesterday’s elections. Matto, director of the Eagleton Institute of Politics’ Center for Youth Political Participation, highlights the diversity of Gen Z political participants and touches on their relatively high level of education.
Los Angeles Times | Gen Zers unite on social issues but split over Trump vs. Biden
Five U.S. presidents—including Donald Trump—lost the popular vote but still captured the office by winning the electoral vote. Edward Monaghan and Jessica Friesen, third-year Rutgers Law School students, say the Electoral College allows a minority of American voters to control the politics of the country. “There is an electoral college reform that could reduce voter inequality while maintaining bipartisan support,” they write in an op-ed for The Star-Ledger. “States could award their electoral votes proportionally based on the popular vote. This would help ensure every vote is equally represented, regardless of the state’s history of being reliably red or blue.”
Pandemic fatigue may tempt many of us to let down our guard this fall, especially at Thanksgiving, when we want to celebrate with our loved ones. But Michelle Dalla Piazza, an infectious disease specialist at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, says that would be a mistake. “There is a real danger in complacency, and we are seeing the effects of that play out in real time,” she tells The Washington Post. “Across the country, we have begun to see another increase in infections and deaths after a period of time with low transmission.”
With the legalization of marijuana a front-and-center issue in New Jersey, everyone should understand the dangers of marijuana use by those under 25, write Theodore A. Petti, a professor of psychiatry, and J. Calvin Chatlos, an associate professor of psychiatry, both at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. “Marijuana is not a harmless weed, particularly for individuals up to age 25 years, when marijuana ceases to be harmful to developing brain circuitry and up to when the pleasure center of the brain controls thinking and behavior more than the common sense/good judgment center,” they write in an op-ed for NJ.com.
A Star-Ledger story examines the influence of female voters in the U.S. and quotes Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics, on the relationship between women’s mobilization and the emergence of Donald Trump as a politician. “I don’t want to give the impression that women were apolitical until [Trump] came along,” says Walsh. “But I do think the  election of Donald Trump…motivated women to be more engaged and have more of a voice.” Walsh adds that although there were “six women running for president on the Democratic side [in 2020]…they were running for something—it wasn’t just an anti-Trump movement.”
An op-ed in The Hill by Stuart Shapiro, associate dean of faculty in the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, calls for leaders who listen to scientists and promote policies based on sound research. “Expertise is real. An epidemiologist like Dr. Fauci knows more about infectious diseases than a radiologist like Scott Atlas,” says Bloustein, referring to two of President Trump’s top coronavirus authorities. “Policy on COVID-19 should be made with input from infectious disease specialists who understand the disease and economists who understand the impacts of shutdowns on employment. Those experts may recommend different approaches, or they may actually agree… Either way, by ‘listening’ to both, the president will make a better decision.”