York College Political Science major offers predictions for 2021 political landscape
As the dust settles on a raucous Presidential election, a keen observer of the political landscape and York College of Pennsylvania senior sees the outlines of how the next administration could shape the lives of Americans, national and foreign policy, and the future of voting.
Matthew St. Jeanos ’21, a Political Science major, says civility looms on a distant horizon, repairs are coming for crumbling roads and bridges, and electoral changes are critical to avoiding a repeat of the volatile 2020 balloting.
While President Donald Trump has filed lawsuits alleging voting irregularities, former Vice President Joe Biden has claimed victory. The record number of votes for Biden did not surprise St. Jeanos.
“They teach in Political Science what to look for in an election,” says the native of Massapequa, New York. “Usually, it’s the incumbent’s popularity and the state of the economy, both of which were not very high.” The national mood was a tip-off as well, he says. “Whether it is fair or not to blame that on Trump is a personal opinion, but I think people wanted a little normalcy.”
Democrats maintained control of the House of Representatives. Whether Republicans continue to control the Senate will depend on two Georgia runoff elections in January. St. Jeanos offers predictions for a Biden presidency under both scenarios:
When it comes to healthcare, should Democrats control the Senate, their focus would be on expanding on the Affordable Care Act and expanding programs like Medicare as a public option, St. Jeanos says. Under a GOP Senate, he says, “I don’t see anything substantial getting done.”
Raising the minimum wage, St. Jeanos says, can be expected under a Democratic Senate. “I can see the potential for it being passed,” he says. However, he wouldn’t be shocked if it passed through a Republican Senate, as well. “The GOP might concede on this and get something in return,” he predicts.
As for repairing roads and bridges, “infrastructure spending is foreseeable whoever holds a majority in the Senate,” he says.
Biden, like Trump, can achieve some goals with executive orders. On relations with China, St. Jeanos sees a softening. “Trump ran in his first election on holding China accountable for what he called unfair trade practices, and in many ways he did. I see Biden reversing many of Trump’s tariffs and easing tensions with China.”
Biden is expected to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, but St. Jeanos isn’t sure he will return to the Iran nuclear deal, which Trump pulled the U.S. out of in 2018 and is aimed at preventing Tehran from developing nuclear weapons. “He might get pushback from the Democratic side. Maybe a renegotiation.”
On battling coronavirus, St. Jeanos envisions an easier road for Biden. “I think what Biden has going for him is that the vaccine is in production. Trump got the worst of the coronavirus blow,” he says. “We know what it entails now.”
A gentler America?
In time, St. Jeanos says, the nation’s hyper-partisanship should ebb. “Protests against Trump began before his inauguration. I do not see the Right acting the same way, no matter how much they don’t like Biden.”
Voting, he contends, needs to return to more traditional methods. “I see a lot of problems with mail-in voting, inconsistencies throughout the election process, which is why Trump has a case for contesting some of the counts. I don’t see mail-in ballots being a legitimate widely used form of voting.”
Planning his future
After graduation in spring 2021, St. Jeanos plans to enter law school, following in the footsteps of his father, whom he credits for his interest in politics. His goal: “Find a good job at a big firm in New York City.”
St. Jeanos loves politics, but this bruising campaign, in which he cast his first presidential ballot, has dampened his enthusiasm for making it his career path. “As of now, I’d say no, because things are so polarized,” he says. “But who knows? I’m a very politically minded person.”