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We the People

By Shelby Benz, Editor

On Saturday, January 19th, the Ceres Community Center was flooded in a sea of political heterogeneity, as people voiced their opinions to the newly elected Congressman of the 10th Congressional District, Josh Harder. In a series of questions and answers, the audience gleaned some of the priorities of the representative and of his work in Washington.

From the questions posed by the audience, many of the eminent issues of concern include: the government shutdown, healthcare, prison reform, water protection, as well as the infamous wall.

“The people are being held hostage,” said Harder, addressing the government shutdown that had lasted 35 days. Although the shutdown subsequently terminated upon a deal of three week negotiation, the nature of the ‘national emergency’ declared by the president is still raised to question.

One audience member pushed back on the wall as the best solution to solving the ‘border crisis.’ When stating that he had been ‘on the other side of the aisle’ as a supporter of Jeff Denham, the crowd roared in angst. Harder held up his hands and asked for the audience’s silence and respect. According to Harder, a wall would render ineffective and fiscally irresponsible as most illegal immigrants pass through major ports of entry rather than in obscure locations along the border.

His general promise to the people of the valley, while listening to opposing arguments, is to work for compromise: enforcing border security but not in the form of a wall, working across party lines to end the government shutdown.

In account of his first week as representative in Washington D.C., Harder recalled coming out of a hotel with members of Congress being sorted into separate buses based on party affiliation. This divide is deeply rooted in our nation, among the laypeople and even among the leaders of our government.

Social morale seems to have blended with fiscal responsibility in terms of partisanship. Not every issue should be social. Just recently, the national debt reached the all-time high level of $     .

In our nation, the top 1% owns more than the bottom 90% in America, more of the country’s wealth than in anytime in the past 50 years, according to Chris Ingraham of the Washington Post. In Modesto City Schools, 88% of the students come from socioeconomically disadvantaged households, 37% of our students are English Learners, and still there is a lack of empathy for those in this country that need more assistance. Still, “The 2017 [Trump Tax] law does modestly cut taxes for the lower and middle classes, but its main beneficiaries were the rich and corporations. And the law actually created more loopholes and tax breaks, experts say, favoring those who can afford pricey accounting help,” says The Center for Public Integrity. The discrepancy between the haves and the have-nots in our own community is as real and tangible as the lines of the railroad tracks.

It is imperative that the people continue to raise the collective voice of the valley, that they demand to be heard. Harder is the messenger of the people’s demands. Working across the divisive party lines is the only way that people can oil the governmental cog that works only for some. Collaboration is the conduit to the institutionalized ills of today.



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Shelby Benz, Editor

Shelby Benz is a senior at Modesto High School who is currently enrolled in the International Baccalaureate Programme. She is a very involved student who...

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We the People