Drake Political Review Fall 2021 | Vol. 8 Issue 1

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FALL 2021 | VOLUME 8 | ISSUE 1






f I had to use a single word to describe 2021, it would be transitional. And as anyone’s mother (or therapist) could tell you, change is hard. At the beginning of the year, we transitioned presidential administrations (albeit, not the smoothest shift our country has had) and into a political world without Former President Trump in the White House (18). We’re still shifting into a post-pandemic world, and talks of vaccination status have sparked controversy over privacy rights (16). And for the first time in my—and many of our reader’s—lives, America is not at war in Afghanistan, a withdrawal that will certainly be remembered for years to come (22). But a long year of transitions also calls for some positive change. Queer Olympians are forging the way for LGBTQ+ youth (20), members of Congress are throwing it back to our country’s roots and wearing wigs again (14) and damn it, Britney is finally free (9). It would be amiss for me to mention all this change without a proper acknowledgement of all of the wonderful editors and contributors listed to my left. As students, we’ve had a whirlwind few years. From the switch to online learning and, at least in my experience, the even tougher switch back, it’s been quite the few years of harrowing uncertainty. But each and every contributor signed on to take time from their busy semester to attend events, interview experts, and write incredible stories. My editors took on an even greater task and agreed to listen to me lead meetings and talk about Jeb Bush’s glasses for a whole semester. Jokes aside, I’ll be the first to admit that writing, designing and editing a story—especially ones with such gravity—is a daunting task. To follow through and finish while balancing all of life’s other responsibilities is even tougher. I simply cannot thank the people who contributed their time to this edition enough for all their hard work and dedication to DPR’s mission. OK, enough from me. Turn the page and









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say they were in Dyersville when it happened. This game was originally supposed to take place in 2020, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Anticipation for the game only grew during that time. The resulting economic boost from the game was important for Dyersville. The town’s economy had been negatively impacted by the pandemic, forcing many local businesses to close. The revenue brought in by the game offered the community an opportunity. Local resident, Lyle Theisen, had aspirations for the movie site even before the MLB did. He attracted large crowds to the movie site by hosting screenings of the movie on the original Field of Dreams using an outdoor projector. “[The game] dramatically increased the economy. Just the publicity when MLB made the announcement about the game, it also boosted tourism. The average person touring the area made an effort to visit other places and spend their money all around the community,” Theisen said.


How a Major League Baseball game based off of blockbuster film impacted a small Iowa town. WORDS BY MACI KLUESNER | ART BY RACHEL HARTLEY


Furthermore, Karla Thompson, the Executive Director of the Dyersville Chamber ield of Dreams” is a 1989 film the legendary Field of Dreams. of Commerce noted how she saw positive that mesmerized the nation. It The Aug. 12, 2021 game was the first changes in the community after the game was follows an Iowa farmer, played by Major League Baseball game to ever announced. She expressed how shocking it Kevin Costner, who was haunted by ghosts be played in Iowa. This is significant was to see the amount of people that showed of former Major League Baseball legends. considering the population of Dyersville is up to town even two years before the event He is called to build a baseball field in his only about 4,000—meaning twice as many took place. This increased revenue for all corn field to allow the ghosts to play. The fans attended the Field of Dreams game avenues of business in the town—whether famous film was shot in Dyersville, Iowa than live in the entirety of the small town. it be restaurants, retail, or hotels. The event in a farmer’s cornfield, putting the small To Dyersville, the largest impact of the turned the quaint town of Dyersville into the Iowa town on the map. game arguably came from the positive effects epicenter of baseball, even if only for a day. The site has become a tourist attraction on the local economy. Major League Baseball It has been confirmed by the MLB that that allows visitors to see the house, has a substantial following, and this event they plan to host another game at the site baseball field, and cornfield featured in the garnered national attention for Dyersville in 2022 and Dyersville residents hope from both baseball fans and film enthusiasts movie. Most recently, the addition of a this event will be just as successful as the Major League Baseball regulation field and alike. The excitement for the game was so first, ensuring that the Field of Dreams seating for 8,000 people, made it possible profound that eager fans who didn’t even continues to provide fields of opportunities for the Yankees and White Sox to play on have tickets to the game came to town just to for the community it calls home.



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MAJORITY WOMEN, MAJORITY REPUBLICAN What does Iowa’s female representation in Congress mean for women in politics? WORDS BY DARBY HOLROYD | ART BY RACHEL HARTLEY


espite the rocky history of women’s representation in Iowa, it remains one of the few states with a majority of women representing it in Congress. Six years ago, Iowans elected a woman to the U.S. Senate for the first time. Three years later, the state elected two women to the U.S. House for the first time. It’s safe to say that women’s political leadership is a new phenomenon in Iowa.

Republican Joni Ernst serves as one of Iowa’s two senators. She is joined by Republicans Rep. Ashley Hinson and Rep. Marianette Miller-Meeks as well as Democrat Rep. Cindy Axne. These women sit as three of the state’s four representatives. On top of this significant representation in Congress, Iowa also has a female governor, Kim Reynolds. This female-dominated political leadership is

rare in the United States. In fact, there are only six other states with a similar majority. When specifically analyzing Congressional delegations with the same number of representatives, out of the six states that hold four seats in the House, Iowa and Nevada are the only two with a majority of female leadership. It’s evident that based on percentage alone, Iowa is a leader in how many women are in both the Senate and


Iowa (4 of 6) isn’t the only state with a majority-female representation in Congress. Here’s where we shape up. Minnesota (6 of 10) Nevada (4 of 6) New Hampshire (3 of 4)

New Mexico (3 of 5) Washington (8 of 12) Wyoming (2 of 3) DRAKE POLITICAL REVIEW



“IOWA’S FEMALE REPRESENTATION IN CONGRESS HAS SHOWN MAJOR PROGRESS IN THE STATE’S BELIEFS ABOUT WHO IS CAPABLE OF BEING A LEADER.” the House of Representatives. What is interesting about the makeup of women in Congress is their political party affiliation - three out of the four are Republicans, with Cindy Axne being the sole Democrat. In line with ideas presented in social role theory, female politicians across party lines tend to gravitate toward similar policies, such as increased funding for child care services or the general expansion of welfare-type services. They also tend to agree about what they do not support, like the legalization of marijuana or the legalization of extramarital affairs. In general, motherhood will also have a significant effect on voting behaviors, according to the social role theory. With these commonalities in mind, the analysis of these female representatives’ voting records can demonstrate policy similarities between Republicans and Democrats from Iowa. When considering who these women represent, it would make sense for them to support wind energy or agricultural efforts. For example, HR 1374 passed the House in June 2021, calling for an amendment to the Energy Policy and Conservation Act that would provide federal financial assistance to states to help implement, review, and revise their energy security plans. All three women from Iowa passed this bill. Another bill that all women in the House voted for was HR 485, a bill that would reauthorize

the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act. This piece of legislation plays into the social role theory, for a large portion of the “nay” votes were from men, and women across the aisle voted in its favor. Another significant component of these female representatives’ influence in Congress lies in their committee assignments. Although no two women serve on the same committee, both Ernst and Axne sit on agriculturecentered ones. Additionally, both Ernst and Miller-Meeks sit on similar committees concerning veterans and the armed services. Something that sets Iowa’s female majority apart from the delegations of other states is that they are also a Republican majority. It is uncommon to see Republican women in office at this level. There are many theories as to why there has been an increase in Republican women in office recently, but the rise in women’s participation in politics generally plays a part. Two organizations can be credited with playing a role in this rise of women representatives: Elevate PAC and EMILY’s List. Elevate PAC is specifically designed to help Republican women win elections. The group sponsored both Hinson and Miller-Meeks’ campaigns. On the other side of the aisle, EMILY’s List works to support Democratic women. It is the more established of the two organizations and helped Axne take office.

The way women in Iowa campaigned has also shifted in major ways recently. Female campaigns have become more informal than in the past, with candidates doing everything from wearing jeans when visiting farms to being more transparent about carrying student loan debt. This shift made these women seem more relatable to the average Iowa voter, whether they were a Republican or a Democrat. The increase in women running for president and touring the state during the caucus cycle was also key in creating room for Iowa to have a majority female Congressional delegation. Iowa’s rise in female representation in Congress has shown major progress in the state’s beliefs about who is capable of being a leader, even in comparison to the rest of the country. Social role theory demonstrates policy groupings that exist across party lines, although the women are still separated by party in the majority of the legislation they vote for. Their involvement in committees surrounding agriculture, armed services, and budgeting show that women belong in all positions of political leadership. Additionally, a shift in how women run for office has added to their momentum. All of these factors were influential in spurring a surge of Iowan women in Congress.

WHICH COMMITTEES ARE IOWA’S FEMALE REPRESENTATIVES PART OF? Sen. Ernst serves on the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Armed Services; Environment and Public Works; Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry; and Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

Rep. Miller-Meeks serves on the House Committee for Education and Labor, Homeland Security, and Veterans’ Affairs.

Rep. Hinson serves on the House Committee on Appropriations and House Committee on Budget.

Rep. Axne serves on the House Committee on Agriculture and the House Committee on Financial Services.


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BROADBAND ACCESS: UNITING IOWA’S URBAN AND RURAL COMMUNITIES Examining the state’s actions toward strengthening access to the internet for all Iowans. WORDS AND ART BY ETHAN WILLIAMS


hen life became virtual for many during the COVID-19 pandemic, access to high speed internet became a necessity. Attending a doctor’s appointment, going to school, and transferring money into your bank account had little to nothing in common before 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic caused simple daily tasks to become completely virtual for Iowans across the state. This shift to a more virtual lifestyle emphasized the lack of quality broadband in the state and exposed Iowa’s inability to keep up in the digital age.

What is Broadband, Anyway?

Broadband is the transmission of bandwidth data over a high speed internet connection, while bandwidth is the amount

of data that can be transmitted over the internet. The higher the bandwidth capability, the faster internet speeds are. Ensuring that both bandwidth and broadband stay up to date is crucial for Iowa’s economy to remain sustainable for the next generation. Currently, broadband access across the state of Iowa is primarily concentrated in developed, wealthy neighborhoods, while broadband deserts are common in both rural and low-income urban communities throughout the state. In Iowa, about one-third of all 99 counties are considered broadband deserts, meaning they do not have high speed internet. Those most affected by the minimal investment in Iowa’s broadband are in low-income urban areas and rural areas across the state. This is a problem for farmers and small businesses

owners trying to operate using the internet. Without strong broadband, Iowa farmers cannot use e-agriculture to innovate within the growing, harvesting, and distribution processes, a practice that saves time and money. Iowa’s small businesses have similar problems with inefficient connectivity to broadband. Access to quality broadband determines how local small businesses are able to communicate and sell domestically and internationally. These examples demonstrate that the issue of broadband access transcends politics. It benefits all Iowans, not just a select few. Iowa is not the only state in the U.S. to make broadband access a pressing issue. In 2021, 35 states passed broadband legislation during their legislative sessions. This DRAKE POLITICAL REVIEW



solidifies the importance of broadband access while revealing America’s general failure to provide high speed internet nationwide. The anticipated investment in broadband will determine if parts of the country are able to be a part of the digital information economy during the next decade. Iowa’s lack of quality broadband especially affects the poor and rural communities across Iowa who were most economically impacted by the pandemic. Aligning with national trends, elected officials in Iowa have recently addressed these issues and brought forward a comprehensive, revolutionary initiative to bring high-speed, affordable broadband to every Iowan.

Iowa’s Rural Focus in Broadband Legislation

In the 2021 legislative session, Iowa’s Gov. Kim Reynolds, garnered bipartisan support from state legislators to address the issue of broadband access across the state by passing the largest investment in broadband in Iowa’s history. The passage of HR 848, The Empower Rural Iowa Broadband Grant Program, is the first step to ensuring every Iowan has equal access to online health, education, and information services. Reynolds proposed a $450 million dollar investment in broadband for the state that was ultimately negotiated by legislators to a $100 million dollar investment fund intended to tackle the state’s broadband problem. “With my signature today, the state of Iowa’s broadband infrastructure is about to reverse quickly and dramatically. Better health care, better public services, and better jobs are on their way to every corner of Iowa,” Reynolds said during the bill-signing ceremony in April of 2021. The Empower Rural Iowa Broadband Grant Program was established to help subsidize the cost for companies to provide broadband access across the state. The governor’s goal for the first year was to provide the minimum internet speed (100 megabits per second (Mbps) download speed and 20 megabits per second upload speed) to the entire state. Megabits are how fast data can be transferred through the internet. Establishing high megabits directly increases the ability to share and receive services for anyone using broadband. Within the next four years, the state’s objective is to provide internet speeds of 100 megabits per second download speed and 8|

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100 megabits per second upload speed to all of Iowa. This investment of 100/100 Mbps is considered “future proofed,” meaning Iowa’s broadband would be able to keep up with future innovations in broadband technology. In an interview with Iowa Press, Brian Walker, the President of the Technology Association of Iowa, discussed the importance of the broadband investment bill.


“We’re leveling the playing field. Again, we’re trying to revitalize rural Iowa. So if you are born and raised in rural Iowa, you don’t have to leave to go to a metro to work in a technology job. You can do that there. We are giving Iowans an opportunity to be a part of the future economy where so many are left out because of their lack of connectivity,” Walker said. Walker further detailed the impact the expansion of broadband will have on the economic opportunities in rural Iowa. The investment being made in rural Iowa will help Iowa become competitive for the “remote workers” workforce market that has become relevant in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. “If the state of Iowa has broadband connectivity across the whole state, that means that rural Iowa has an opportunity to participate in the future economy and in the information economy which will spur private investment,“ Walker told Iowa Press.

private companies. Iowa’s capital city, Des Moines, has addressed broadband affordability in their communities by setting up a website where residents can apply for the Federal Communications Commission’s Emergency Broadband Benefit program. This program helps those who struggle to pay for broadband attain the funds necessary to pay for internet services. The grant program brings equity into the ongoing discussion surrounding broadband by working to supply low-income families with affordable, high speed internet. Providing quality broadband ensures everyone can video chat with family members without interruption or access online resources to do well in online schooling, regardless of where they live or their socioeconomic status. Broadband may be based in the virtual world of the internet, but it affects the real-world emotional and mental health of anyone who has access to it.

Utilizing Broadband Moving Forward

This recently heightened responsibility to provide quality, affordable broadband needs to be a partnership between every level of government as well as every community struggling with the issue. One of the safest and most promising ways to ensure broadband is accessible for all Iowans is to make it a utility, similar to other public services like water, electricity, and gas. This way, the service can be regulated properly and remain accessible and affordable. Broadband access is not just about rural or urban communities, it’s about making Iowa’s economy sustainable for the next generation. Broadband goes beyond the virtual world and makes it possible for the next generation to stay invested in the communities they grew up in. The ability to connect virtually with one’s community impacts the educational and Urban Broadband Access in Iowa financial success of that community. Although most of the attention is focused In November, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a $1 trillion bipartisan on rural communities in Iowa, urban infrastructure package, which includes $65 communities, primarily those consisting of billion allocated to helping states cover low-income populations, also face barriers to the cost of building a network of quality broadband access. Increasing access in urban communities opens possibilities of employment broadband, aiming to improve internet services for rural areas and low-income and education to hundreds of households. This investment can positively affect a family’s families throughout the country. While there’s financial and educational success. For these still a long road ahead to ensure broadband neighborhoods, the problem is not only the access for all Iowans, this increase in federal lack of broadband fiber in the ground, but funding is a strong stepping stone to achieving the lack of affordability that is provided from a fully-connected Iowa.



Conservatorships came into the public spotlight in the past two years thanks to superstar Britney Spears. But what exactly is a conservatorship - and are all of them as toxic as Britney’s? WORDS BY EMMA BRUSTKERN | ART BY RACHEL HARTLEY


n the past year, Britney Spears has become a household name again, and it’s not because of her iconic hits such as “... Baby One More Time.” Instead, her recent spike in popularity can be accredited to her efforts to end the conservatorship she’s been under since 2008. Britney’s conservatorship has not only led to greater public awareness about conservatorships, but also sparked questions from activists and fans about the ethics and conditions of conservatorships.

What Even Is A Conservatorship?

Laws regarding conservatorships vary from state to state. In California, where Britney’s case took place, a conservatorship

is an arrangement in which a person or other entity, known as the conservator, has the ability to care for another adult who cannot care for themselves. In Iowa, the picture is slightly different. Here, a conservatorship deals solely with an individual’s financial decisions, while a guardianship deals with non-financial decisions, such as medical care and place of residency. “You have to be a person who the court finds that you have impaired decisionmaking capacity and that because of your impaired decision-making capacity, you’re unable to provide for your own care, you’re at risk of illness or injury,” Scott Lyon, a staff attorney for Disability

Rights Iowa said. “With respect to conservatorship, you are unable to make decisions about your finances.”

Britney’s Battle

Following a series of highly publicized mental health struggles, Britney was put under a conservatorship controlled by her father, Jamie Spears. While the arrangement was originally temporary, the situation was eventually made permanent, with Jamie taking complete control of both her personal life and financial assets. In June of 2021, Britney asked a judge to end the conservatorship, saying her father and the co-conservator were DRAKE POLITICAL REVIEW



forcing her to continue performing, as well as stopping her from getting married and having more children. After substantial public outcry on social media from Britney herself as well as fans and activists, a judge suspended Jamie Spears from the conservatorship on Sept. 29, saying the situation under Jamie “reflects a toxic environment.” On Nov. 12, the conservatorship was eliminated entirely. Even though Britney is now celebrating her freedom, her situation isn’t entirely unique. According to data from the Justice Department in 2017, there are approximately 1.3 million active guardianship or conservatorship cases in the United States. People may be protected by conservatorships if they are considered to be someone with impaired decision-making capacity. This typically applies to three different groups: the elderly, people with disabilities, and children.

Conservatorships: Not That Innocent? Following Britney’s case, public awareness surrounding conservatorships has increased substantially. But with that kind of media coverage comes some misinformation, according to Cedar Rapids-based lawyer Rachel McCrate, who specializes in guardianship and conservatorship law. “A lot of the press . . . was kind of indicating that it’s really easy to just get control over someone,” McCrate said.

In reality, there are a multitude of safeguards in place to protect individuals who may be put under a guardianship or a conservatorship. In fact, in early 2020, the Iowa Legislature made significant changes to laws regarding conservatorships and guardianships to better support protected parties. New additions to the law in Iowa include a professional evaluation of the protected party, background checks for the proposed conservator or guardian, and updated annual reporting requirements to ensure the conservator or guardian is following their duties as prescribed. “You can have bad decisions, of course, on occasion,” McCrate said. “But I would say generally, our judges are trying to protect protected parties.” While these changes are a step in the right direction, activists from around the country have long been calling for reforms to guardianship and conservatorship laws. Throughout Britney’s case in particular, disability rights activists pointed out the ways in which conservatorships might harm individuals with disabilities. “There are a number of different ways in which you might end up being an adult who has allegedly impaired decisionmaking capacity,” Lyon said. “And those typically intersect with what we think when we think of a person with a disability. For a court to find that you have impaired decision-making capacity,

oftentimes they’re going to base that finding on a disability diagnosis.” According to Lyon, societal perceptions regarding people with disabilities have a large impact on the prevalence of conservatorships and guardianships alike. “There’s a presumption that people with disabilities can’t handle those decisions just because they are people with disabilities,” Lyon said. “And that leads to parents and others who may be well-intentioned, or may not be, but they want to protect those individuals. In doing so, they may sort of become overbearing and use things like guardianship to strip them of their rights to make their own decisions.” Furthermore, Lyon points out that disability is a wide spectrum. Lumping individuals with widely varying disabilities under the same conservatorship laws may be reductive. “When it comes to what it means to have impaired decision-making capacity, it really runs the gamut. I’ve had clients who are not verbal, who are comatose, who are so significantly affected by a brain injury that they cannot physically express their own wishes. I’ve also had clients who are perfectly capable of sitting in front of a court [and] saying what it is they want . . . they are still under the same limited restrictions that a person who cannot physically express themselves is, they’re laboring under that same limitation.” With the newly adapted Iowa law, progress is being made to better support those protected by conservatorships. However, before things can get better, Lyon asserts that there needs to be a massive overhaul in how we as a society view disability.



“If you are someone who is a parent of a young adult with a disability, or who knows someone who may be losing their decisionmaking capacity for whatever reason . . . think about other ways that you can help that person meet their needs that don’t involve going to court and taking their rights away from them,” Lyon said. “That’s a very severe infringement on a person’s rights. The right to make your own decisions is inherent in every individual’s humanity.” 10 |

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Exploring how conspiracy theory groups enable the spread of misinformation and how it plays a role in politics of past and present. WORDS BY TYLER STRACHAN | ART BY AMANDA O’BRIEN


onspiracy theories are usually defined as a belief that some covert, but influential organization is responsible for certain events. They influence many individuals and could even be considered quite common. Furthermore, conspiracy theories have always had some influence in politics. Some famous conspiracies include faking the moon landing, that Lee Harvey Oswald

didn’t act alone in assassinating former President John F. Kennedy, the belief in the Illuminati, and the birther conspiracy that President Barack Obama isn’t a U.S. citizen. More recently, there has been a rise in the beliefs surrounding QAnon, along with the widely circulated belief that the COVID-19 pandemic is a hoax. QAnon is an umbrella term for multiple conspiracy theories that all lead back to one principle

theory: The world is run by a set of elites including celebrities, top Democrats, and prominent religious figures who are all Satan-worshipping pedophiles. According to a description from The New York Times, QAnon follows the idea that Donald Trump was elected president to break up this pedophile ring and bring forth justice. QAnon began in 2017 and has evolved over the years. DRAKE POLITICAL REVIEW

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Most recently, they have claimed the 2020 presidential election was stolen, and that Donald Trump remains the true president. It is strong beliefs such as these that can generate the momentum for groups to carry out dangerous acts such as the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. How We Got Here To understand how this abundance of misinformation has gained traction in modern society, it’s important to recognize how conspiracy theories affect us psychologically and why we are drawn to them. Research shows people are especially susceptible to conspiracy theories during times of crisis. An example of this is the assassination of President Kennedy; it was such a monumentally catastrophic event that it became difficult for the American public to believe just one man was responsible. During 2020, the world faced a global pandemic that was met with a lack of

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information and an absence of a cohesive message on how to respond to the virus. What resulted was a perfect storm for ill-informed thinking. Most individuals were stuck at home with not much to do, so many turned to social media to seek entertainment and information. The main problem with relying on social media to provide information lies in how these platforms make money. Their profits come from advertisement views, incentivizing them to keep users on their platforms for as long as possible. One way social media companies keep users engaged with ads is by tailoring what users see to match their individual interests. Along with personalizing ads, these companies will also continue recommending other media based on users’ previous activity. This can create a rabbit hole effect. For example, a user could interact with a post about vaccine hesitancy which could quickly escalate to the platform showing them anti-vaccine

content. This traps people in their own information bubbles, preventing them from being exposed to different views which will only reinforce their beliefs. Identifying the Source of Misinformation Many media platforms claim this is an era of conspiracy theories. For example, data collected from News Guard did show websites that have been deemed unreliable received a jump in engagement from 8% in 2019 to 17% in 2020. Many experts, like Filippo Menczer, a professor of computer science and informatics at the University of Indiana who has researched the spread of misinformation in social networks, are reluctant to say whether there has been a rise in misinformation. “It [misinformation] has always been around. Whenever there is communication, there is miscommunication,” Menczer said. The spread of misinformation is not a new concept, but the vulnerabilities

of social networking platforms have exploited and exacerbated the problem.


Menczer commented on the influence of media in society, saying, “Social media is no different than any other medium that has also been used in the past for misinformation.” He went on to identify points of vulnerability unique to social media platforms, for example, how they amplify viral content and how the media landscape and accompanying platforms are very polarizing. One recent source of misinformation has been particularly unprecedented. From the beginning, the Trump administration was known to stretch the truth. According to The Washington Post, President Donald Trump made 16,241 false or misleading claims during his first year in office alone. Some of his boldest claims include contending that he won the popular vote in 2016 and the election in 2020, though both were proved to be false countless times. Trump continued this pattern throughout his presidency and promoted misinformation about COVID-19. He downplayed the number of cases and deaths in the U.S., disagreed with experts

about COVID-19, and promoted drugs like hydroxychloroquine as treatments for COVID-19. This only added to his record of constant hostility toward the media. Stopping the Spread of Misinformation Misinformation coming from an official source like the White House was unusual. This put journalists in a difficult position when deciding how to cover Donald Trump out of fear of being seen as biased. However, in the summer of 2021, CNN decided not to play Trump’s presidential conference live, which was unheard of at the time. This apparent confirmation of misinformation from a presidential administration only validates the beliefs of conspiracy groups including QAnon, COVIDdeniers, and anti-vaxxers. It has allowed these radical theories to enter into the mainstream. This had led to a growing level of mistrust toward the government which has manifested itself in COVID-19 downplay, vaccine hesitancy, and distrust toward election results. According to a Journal of Personality and Social Psychology study, it is difficult to change someone’s beliefs, even if they are proven to be false and accompanied with new information. Therefore, the most effective way to combat misinformation would be to inform consumers of the false information and why it is incorrect before it can ever take root. Social media executives have also tried to combat the misinformation that has

spread on their platforms. For example, Twitter removed over 70,000 Twitter accounts after the Jan. 6 insurrection and both Twitter and Facebook have suspended Donald Trump’s account. According to experts of misinformation like Menczer, there is a lot more that can be done as many platforms struggle with manipulation from bots and have trouble policing the misinformation produced. “They [social media platforms] could be more aggressive in policing their platforms from abuse,” Menczer said. There are also measures individuals themselves can take to help manage misinformation. First, when reading news articles, consider where they are from and check their sources to identify any potential biases, being sure to read full articles not just headlines. Second, it never hurts to explore multiple sources to get a better picture of a story. If users want to take an extra step to limit the spread of their own misinformation, another tactic is attempting to be on social media less. When users do choose to post, they should ensure the accuracy of what they are sharing. Finally, when others spread misinformation, it’s important to try to connect with them and hold each other accountable for what is being shared. Misinformation in daily life can be common, but if society works together, it can be combated in hopes of a more unified, informed world. DRAKE POLITICAL REVIEW

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here’s no doubt that fashion choices can be a way to express yourself. A smart sports coat, baggy sweatshirt, or pair of heels can act as a form of identity. But for politicians, a blouse or tie can showcase more than just the way they’re feeling on a particular day. If a presidential candidate’s outfit choice makes him seem modern, laid-back, and like someone you could grab a beer with, would that motivate another man to vote for him? If a senator’s dress is sleeveless or full of loud patterns, would you trust her with your state’s economy? While it seems superficial to judge someone

on their outfit choices, this is something that politicians experience every time they step into the limelight. Clothing is an extension of someone’s identity, whether they recognize it consciously or subconsciously. Take a look at three politicians who we think either hit the mark or need to be featured on an episode of “What Not to Wear.” Who do you think would simultaneously make Vogue and C-Span proud?

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema Party: Democrat Position: U.S. Senator (AZ) Verdict: Cheugy While this Arizona senator gets points from us for choosing to step out of the box, she misses the mark by not having a signature style. Yes, her fashion can be categorized as trailblazing and does make her memorable, but it could be more refined. Sen. Sinema will do anything for the shock factor (hello, pink wig and a big thumbs down to raising the minimum wage). She will go down in the books as being one of the most unapologetic, daring women in Congress, but at times, her outfits distract from all the work she’s achieved. We love to see more individualism on the Hill, but we’re not sure if a denim vest makes sense to wear when presiding in the U.S. Senate. Photo: The United States Senate - Office of Senator Kyrsten Sinema

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Former Gov. Jeb Bush

Party: Republican Position: Former Florida governor; 2016 presidential candidate Verdict: ????? We won’t go as far as to say Bush is giving us camp, but we are here for his ‘fits! During Jeb’s announcement to run as president, he opted to stay clear of a jacket and tie. (This is major!) It shows his “cool as a cucumber style” which is very different from both his father’s and brother’s tastes. To add, his glasses (Can someone get him a Warby Parker subscription?) show his modern, classic style with hints of scholarly intelligence, and they make him look younger. Jeb overall successfully conveys that his independent personality can blend with his relaxed, relatable, trendy outlook on life and politics. Photo: Gage Skidmore

Rep. Rosa DeLauro Party: Democrat Position: U.S. Representative (CT-3) Verdict: Camp During her long career, DeLauro has brought the heat to Connecticut through her ‘fits. She doesn’t let her age stop her from exploring ruffled dresses, colorful patterns, or striking haircuts. She has always been a force to be reckoned with during her almost three decade long political career. With more conservative pieces than Sinema, DeLauro allows her bright style and personality to shine through her outfits — without distracting from her policy and work. Who says someone can’t wear paisley and pass legislation? Photo: Lorie Shaull


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A guide for knowing your private medical rights in the midst of a global pandemic.


As society tries to return to normal in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, more and more companies, administrations, and organizations are mandating vaccinations against the virus. The increase in occasions where vaccine disclosure is required has caused many to use HIPAA as a defense of privacy. So, what is HIPAA? What information does it cover and by whom? Is this a reasonable, legal, defense if you are asked if you are vaccinated?

WHAT IS HIPAA? HIPAA—or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996—is legislation that was enacted to protect individual medical records that are classified as private. More specifically, the law’s Privacy Rule protects patient medical information from disclosure without the patient’s knowledge or consent.

WHO IS COVERED BY HIPAA? Dr. Andrea Hoyt, PharmD, JD, a Des Moines attorney specializing in health law explains the complication of HIPAA coverage as, “All individuals are covered by HIPAA, but where it gets stickier is who HIPAA applies to, meaning who has to follow HIPAA.” While the main goal of the act is to protect patient information,

it does so through healthcare providers more than individuals themselves. Furthermore, the entities who cannot disclose classified patient medical information, or who HIPAA applies to, only include health care providers, health plans, health care clearinghouses, and business associates.

IS IT A VIOLATION OF HIPAA TO ASK OR BE ASKED IF ONE IS VACCINATED? Dr. Hoyt noted that through professional and personal experience, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted misconceptions in the general public’s perception of what HIPAA means. She points to the coverage of HIPAA applying not to patients, but instead to health care professionals themselves,

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“This means that it is not a HIPAA violation for a store owner, employer, or friend to ask your vaccination status, because HIPAA doesn’t apply to them.” The pandemic has forced much of society to be more transparent about individual medical information for the good of public health. As Dr. Hoyt

finally emphasized, “People think that HIPAA is an absolute right to medical privacy, but it is so much more tailored than people realize.” In this era of public health crisis, people should strive to accurately understand the extent of medical privacy rights within or outside of HIPAA.

WORDS AND DESIGN BY ELLA FIELD From loved ones asking which vaccine you received to stuffing that slightly-too-big card in your wallet, living in a post-pandemic world can be confusing. It may be tough to remember which situations violate your privacy rights, so when you’re facing the question: “Were my HIPAA rights just violated?” Come back to this quiz and find out! Did your dean tell your professor that you were getting your wisdom teeth out because they were excited to see the post-surgery video? Yes


Did your coworker tell you that your boss is getting a colonoscopy? Yes


This isn’t a HIPAA Violation, but your boss might not want this floating around...

Weird... but not a HIPAA Violation.

Did your professor tell your class that you were absent because you had lice? Yes




Errr...*scratches head*... not a HIPAA Violation, but not cool, prof.




Probably a mandatory check-in, not a HIPAA Violation.

Probably a mandatory check-in, not a HIPAA Violation.

Did your doctor’s online portal system accidentally send your medical records to all their patients? Yes

Major HIPAA Violation. Call your lawyer.


No HIPAA Violation here. Proudly send that photo!

Did your doctor call your boss to let them know you have terminal cancer? Yes


Did your doctor call your boss to let them know you have terminal cancer? Yes


Not a good friend to talk behind your back and to violate your HIPAA Rights.

Embarrasing, but not a HIPAA violation.

Did your boss ask if you were vaccinated for COVID-19?


Sorry about your cancer and your doctor violating your HIPPA rights.

Did your mom tell a story at family dinner about the chickenpox you had when you were a kid? Yes

Did your friend ask for a photo of your COVID-19 vaccination card before you attend their wedding?


Did your nurse tell your doctor about the rash you need to have checked out? Yes


They’re just doing their job and not violating your HIPAA Rights.

Hmm...You may want them to...


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It has almost been a year since Donald Trump left office, and yet his influence can still be felt on the political landscape. Where does the nation stand now and where will it go from here? WORDS BY AARON KHAN-GUMM | ART BY MADISSEN KERMAN


leven months ago, Donald Trump attempted to remain in office as President of the United States despite losing his bid for re-election to Joe Biden. Trump continues to claim the election was fraudulent, refused to concede, and even urged his supporters 18 | FALL 2021

to “fight like hell” before insurrectionists stormed the Capitol. Despite all of these efforts, Trump remains out of office. Trump’s exit from the White House, along with his presidency as a whole, can be summed up in two words: controversial and unprecedented.

Trump was a non-traditional president from the very beginning. Every U.S. president has come into office with prior government or military experience; every president except Trump. Previous presidents expressed most of their thoughts through speeches, whereas Trump was an avid Twitter user, using the

disappointing him as a result.” Beyond their beliefs about Trump, members of the GOP feel dissatisfied with the current political landscape where the Democrats control the presidency and both chambers of Congress. However, they do hold a significant amount of power in state legislatures across the country and are not letting it go to waste. Republicans in states such as Iowa, Florida, and Texas are working to pass reactionary The State of the Republican Party legislation, pushing back against mask To put it simply, Trump remains extremely mandates, gun control and abortion. influential in the Republican Party. There is some internal conflict in regards The State of the Democratic Party to moving forward with Trump as members According to another study from Pew question what role he should play. According Research, 92% of the Democratic party does to a recent survey conducted by Pew not wish to see Trump hold any meaningful Research, only 44% of the party believe that place in politics or run for office again. he should run again in 2024. However, two However, that doesn’t mean members are out of every three Republicans believe Trump satisfied with their current elected officials. Not should maintain a significant role in politics. only has Democratic approval for President Biden continued to decrease in recent months, [THE NATION] COULDN’T but approval for other Democratic leaders HAVE FALLEN ANY DEEPER trended downward as well. THAN IT HAS. I MEAN, IT’S Democrats are also concerned about state of the nation, despite their party ALMOST RIGHT AT THE the maintaining power in the presidency and BOTTOM RIGHT NOW. both chambers of Congress. The majority DAVID CHAPMAN, TRUMP SUPPORTER of party members are growing pessimistic “[The nation] could not have fallen any about the economy’s health improving and are not confident that the U.S. is deeper than it has. I mean, it’s almost right at the bottom right now,” David Chapman, appropriately vetting Afghan refugees. Compounding these concerns, there is a Trump supporter who attended Trump’s growing contention among the leaders of Oct. rally in Iowa, said. “If someone can the party. Since gaining control of both screw it up this bad and this quick, someone chambers of Congress, moderates and can fix it this quick, and [Trump’s] the one.” Additionally, about two out of every three progressives struggled to find common ground, even within their own party. This Republicans say they should reject elected has had real effects on policy, from the officials who criticize Trump. Republican failed attempt to raise the federal minimum leaders seem to have noticed this, as many have been hesitant to negatively comment on wage to $15 an hour to the significant Trump, including those who have previously reduction of Biden’s infrastructure bill. However, this infighting may not be as criticized him for his harmful actions. bad as it seems. “Some [Republican elected officials] “That’s honestly a sign of a very normal privately will confess some real differences with Donald Trump and some real concerns and healthy party. Parties are supposed about the direction of their party. Publicly, to argue over stuff,” Masket said. “I’ve been kind of surprised at how well they’ve they remain very supportive of him,” Dr. Seth Masket, a professor of political science gotten along. They don’t have to agree on and the director of the Center on American everything, but the progressives within the party have been surprisingly pragmatic.” Politics at the University of Denver, said. Democratic legislators have made a “When [Trump] steps into a primary race and says ‘This person is a good Republican’ concerted effort to push for voting, policing, and immigration reforms, alongside and ‘I don’t like this person,’ it seems mandatory precautions and relief for the to have some influence on Republican COVID-19 pandemic. However,to what leaders. Republican leaders are terrified of platform to share information 26,000 times throughout his term. As the public became more polarized and the division between the political parties widened, it seemed as if the public had adapted to Trump’s behavior. Now, with Trump out of office, the nation is still being shaped by his lasting impact and the mark he left on the political landscape.

extent the Democrats will be successful in these efforts is yet to be determined.

The Future of the Nation

Given the current political climate, things may start heating up from here. The 2022 midterm elections will be decisive, and the Republicans will likely make a strong attempt to regain congressional power. The GOP has history on its side as the party of the president in power tends to lose seats during the midterm elections. If over the next year the economy does well and President Biden’s approval rating increases, the Democrats may have a shot at maintaining power. However, the chances of this outcome are slim, and if the Democratic Party loses control over one or both the chambers, President Biden will struggle to pass any substantial domestic policy. Looking forward to 2024, some Republican leaders are signaling their candidacy for the next presidential election, giving the appearance of a real competition between potential candidates such as Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo, Nikki Haley, and more. Yet, for the Republican Party to work against Trump would likely lead to electoral consequences from their passionate Trump-supporting base, meaning the primary competition could be overthrown by Trump if, or when, he officially announces an election bid. If the 2024 presidential election boils down to another Trump-Biden matchup, it will be a tossup as to who would win. If Trump were to lose, the fallout among election-deniers may be severe.


“My main worry is...Republicans, in particular Trump-loyal Republicans, have leaned toward questioning election results and trying to overturn state-level results,” Masket said. “If they lose narrowly in places like Nevada and Arizona and Wisconsin and a few others, they will try to have state legislatures say ‘No, Trump actually won,’ It could set off a massive crisis, it could set off political violence, and honestly, I do really worry about the long term in that situation.” DRAKE POLITICAL REVIEW

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After a high number of LGBTQ athletes participated in the 2021 Olympics, they have received both praise and pushback. WORDS BY CARMON BAKER | ART BY AMANDA O’BRIEN


he 2021 Summer Olympics, held in Tokyo, were not devoid of firsts. Most notably, the games were held without spectators after being delayed for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, another first also made headlines; there was a drastic increase in openly LGBTQ athletes competing. According to a story by SBNation, at least 186 openly LGBTQ athletes competed at the games last summer. That’s more than three times the number of queer athletes 20 | FALL 2021

who competed at the Rio Olympics in 2016 and also greater than the number of LGBTQ athletes who have played in all combined past Olympic games. The Tokyo Games saw the return of prominent past Olympians who had already been out while competing at previous Olympics. For example, United States soccer player Megan Rapinoe and her fiance, United States basketball player Sue Bird, both competed. Additionally, British diver Tom Daley, who is gay, also competed.

Queer olympians like Rapinoe, Bird, and Daley have been influential for young athletes as they’ve taken the world stage. “I play soccer, so one of the bigger role models or people that were representing LGBTQ was Megan Rapinoe, and she’s an advocate for LGBTQ inclusivity in sports,” Lawrence University soccer player Sydney Allen, who is a member of the LGBTQ community, said. “I mainly saw her advocating for youth, but I also saw her getting hated on a lot. I saw a lot of

politicians hating on her for her sexual identity. And it was really weird to see that because growing up, I looked up to her.” The large increase in the number of queer athletes competing in Tokyo was partly a result of more athletes coming out recently. For example, according to a story by them., Canadian soccer midfielder Quinn, who identifies as nonbinary, became the first openly trans athlete to both compete at the Olympics and win a medal. Jordan Mix, Deputy Director of Education at Iowa Safe Schools, is a close follower of women’s soccer and had the chance to hear from Quinn at the organization’s Governor’s Conference in April. “To have not only an LGBTQ athlete and not only a transgender athlete, but an athlete who says, ‘I’m competing on this women’s team because it is what is available to me, and I truly love my team, but being part of this team does not negate my experience as a non-binary individual and a person whose experience is not defined by quote unquote womanhood,’ I think that’s really cool and really powerful as well,” Mix said. He also commented on how this increase in representation at the Olympics can be attributed to a variety of factors. “I think that being able to see that representation from people just within your own social circle has really increased, which I think makes people feel empowered to continue to try to take up that space and talk about who they are and speak to the experiences that they have had in their lives in order to be their most authentic selves,” Mix said. “I think that the opportunity to do that has really increased in the last four to five years, which I think has a lot to do

with the ways in which athletes really felt empowered to be open about their sexual orientation or gender identity during the Tokyo Olympics.” Mix specifically attributes the increase in part to the rise in social media, where new platforms such as TikTok and new Instagram features have made the LGBTQ community more accessible to the general public. “I assume that a lot of people during the Olympics were making TikToks about the Olympics, and so to kind of get that representation in the hands of so many people so quickly and in such a digestible way is really cool,” Mix said. “I think [it] can really have a huge impact on the way young people see themselves.” As a college student familiar with these platforms, Allen sees the increase in representation as a positive change.

However, even amidst all the progress, queer athletes have also experienced negative effects and pushback. Many are now in danger in their home countries where there are laws against being queer. In addition, many athletes, especially those who identify as transgender like weighlifter Laurel Hubbard, have experienced backlash online. Inclusion for Laurel means exclusion for [another athlete],” the blog Fair Play for Women wrote after the Olympics. “This is what trans inclusion in women’s sport means. Females get excluded from their own category.” According to Mix, this debate has extended into other levels of sports as well, and transgender athletes are becoming a controversial topic. “And for as much information as I’ve seen from people arguing that it’s not fair and that there are advantages IT GIVES LGBTQ KIDS for particularily transgender women to MORE CONFIDENCE TO STEP compete in sport would create unsafe UP AND BE WHO THEY ARE. or unsafe environments, I have seen a lot of really incredible information from SYDNEY ALLEN, LAWRENCE UNIVERSITY SOCCER PLAYER transgender athletes, from doctors, from “I think it’s good that there’s pediatricians, and scientists who can speak representation, but as a kid I never really to all the reasons why that is completely saw any representation,” Allen said. “I not true and how there are so many didn’t know that most of the [United States other ways that we can make sure that National Women’s Soccer League Team] transgender people can compete in sport was part of the LGBTQ community, but and how that’s not going to be something I think it’s good that they’re stepping up that compromises the integrity of the now and being advocates because it gives competition in any way,” Mix said. LGBTQ kids more confidence to step up While the increased representation of and be who they are, whether it be in sports LGBTQ athletes at Tokyo’s summer games or out of sports. They’re going to advocate demonstrates significant progress, this and they’re going to make it a better and ongoing debate serves as a reminder that safer world for LGBTQ kids in sports to be there are still barriers to complete inclusivity who they are.” at all levels of competitive sports.


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The conclusion of the longest occupation in the history of the United States leads to uncertainty about the future of both US foriegn policy and the lives of many Afghans. WORDS BY JACK PARKOS | ART BY RACHEL HARTLEY


n Aug. 15, 2021, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan fell as Taliban forces entered the city of Kabul. The last remnants of the American occupation of Afghanistan evacuated as the United States officially withdrew from the region. Americans saw shocking images of people desperately trying to leave the country, including one of Afghan civilians hanging onto planes leaving Kabul. Many are wondering how this could have happened. The story goes back nearly 40 years. After the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989, there was a power

22 | FALL 2021

vacuum that caused conflict in the region. In 1996, the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, forming the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and ruling over the region as an Islamic theocracy. That all changed after the events of Sept. 11, 2001 when al-Qaeda attacked the World Trade Center. The Taliban government had been housing Osama Bin Laden and other al-Qaeda members, prompting the United States to invade Afghanistan in October of that year. This led to the longest lasting war in American history. Despite the fact that the Taliban government fell early on, the

American military continued to fight off remaining insurgents in the years that followed. The seeds for the withdrawal were planted with the reaction of many Americans who opposed the U.S. staying in Afghanistan all those years after the initial occupation. Both former President Barack Obama and former President Donald Trump ran campaigns that promised to reduce the U.S. presence in the Middle East, including Afghanistan. During his presidency, Obama maintained a complex stance on Afghanistan policy. Although the early years of the presidency saw an increase in American presence in

the region, there was a trajectory of pullout in the region following the death of Osama Bin Laden in 2011. Still, nearly 9,000 troops remained in the region after that mission was completed. Similarly, President Trump ran a campaign that claimed he intended to pull out from the region, but the rise of the Islamic State group well as an increase in Taliban insurgents, caused him to shift his strategy in the region toward one of preventing power vacuums for these groups. After much conflict, talks began and in February of 2020, the Taliban and the United States signed an agreement to move towards peace. According to the U.S. Department of State, the United States would begin to decrease its presence in the region on the condition that the Taliban would “prevent the use of the soil of Afghanistan by any group or individual against the security of the United States and its allies.” This evolved into President Joe Biden promising a complete withdrawal from the region, regardless of how peace talks with the Taliban were progressing. Biden promised to have the remaining troops out of the region on Sept. 11, 2021, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Some argued that this should be delayed until further progress could be made with the peace talks. Nevertheless, Biden went through with his plan and began the withdrawal.

and fear of those evacuating went viral. Images surfaced of people clinging to the sides of aircraft in a desperate attempt to flee the Taliban with some falling to their deaths. More images surfaced of mothers throwing their babies over barbed wire fencing outside the Kabul airport, begging the soldiers to save them. Despite the chaos, the evacuation was officially completed by Aug. 31, 2021 with the Pentagon reporting 123,000 civilians had been successfully evacuated. However, these images, combined with the thousands of Americans and Afghans left behind sparked outrage among many Americans. President Biden faced backlash from both Democrats and Republicans for his handling of the situation. This backlash was only made worse when, less than two weeks after the fall of Kabul, 13 American soldiers and 130 Afghan civilians were killed in a bombing outside the airport in Kabul.

and Donor Engagement at the Iowa International Center (IIC), has worked closely with refugees from Afghanistan. “Recent events in Afghanistan have brought awareness to the plight of refugees,” Bailey said. “Due to their beliefs that may contradict the Taliban, many have expressed concern for the safety of their families.” Their contacts have reported death threats and retaliation against those working to support democracy or the rights of women and minorities, but opinions on the withdrawal are anything but black and white amongst refugees. “Some have voiced disagreement or frustration while others are appreciative and grateful. Just like all people, they each received a different experience and heard different stories that have formed their opinion,” Bailey said. Those who made it to the United States arrived to find themselves in a new culture AMERICANS DIDN’T that speaks a new language, and refugees WANT TO SEE WHAT must find a way to make a living within days, per U.S. regulations. Despite the THEY SAW IN AUGUST. 90 help of many organizations like IIC, which ANNIE PFORZHEIMER, SENIOR ASSOCIATE AT THE CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES specializes in helping these refugees, it can be a terrifying process. “Americans didn’t want to see what they “Most refugees must drop everything saw in August,’’ said Annie Pforzheimer, a and leave their homes unexpectedly or Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic with little notice. They are only able to and International Studies who served as take what they can carry and it’s often a the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary single bag of belongings,” Bailey said. of State for Afghanistan until 2019 and Deputy Chief of Mission in Kabul from Reactions to the Withdrawal Will the Taliban Govern With a 2017 to 2018. As the U.S. presence began to decline, Theocratic Iron Fist? However, in a press conference, the Taliban seized the opportunity to While they certainly won’t be a modern President Biden stood by his decision, start taking back control of the country. democracy, there will be pressure on the calling the withdrawal an “extraordinary Despite their training from the United Taliban from the international community. States, the Afghan military could not fight success.” With this, the longest war in U.S. “It is the responsibility of the Taliban history ended. The Afghanistan War cost off the Taliban and on Aug. 15, 2021, the to do what is necessary to help their own the lives of nearly 2,500 American soldiers people,” Pforzheimer said. “If they want the Taliban captured Kabul and the Republic and 47,000 Afghan civilians. of Afghanistan fell. The Taliban began international community to be engaged then There are still many questions the transition from the Republic to The they have to actually agree to some of the concerning the future of Afghanistan, Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. rules and restrictions and ideas that we have.” especially for civilians living under Taliban During this transition, there were still If the Taliban wants to be recognized rule. Pforzheimer called the situation American citizens, as well as Afghan as a legitimate government and receive “pretty devastating” for the average allies, who were in Kabul and needed to humanitarian aid, they will have to give in Afghan citizen who is already dealing evacuate. The situation turned frantic a bit to the conditions of the international with food shortages, droughts, and other as the U.S. began to evacuate 123,000 community. However, the situation may be civilians, both American and Afghan from human rights issues. The newly proposed more complex if the Taliban becomes too Taliban constitution does not allow for Kabul. The United States sent in about engaged with the international community. Shiite Muslims to practice their faith and 6,000 troops to aid this evacuation. Pforzheimer warned of the potential backlash Across the globe, people witnessed chaos leaves many women and girls vulnerable. of some of them joining the more radical Kassi Bailey, Director of Philanthropy unfolding as images of the desperation group Islamic State - Khorasan Province. DRAKE POLITICAL REVIEW

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Photo: Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona on Unsplash

Where Does the United States go From Here? In regards to U.S. policy going forward, Pforzheimer says, “we have very little leverage left,” but should nevertheless stay very engaged with Afghanistan. For the United States, this withdrawal was a blow to its international reputation.



“This will be hanging around our necks,” Pforzheimer said. Other nations may no longer look to the United States 24 | FALL 2021

as an ally to depend on, according to Pforzheimer. With this withdrawal, powerful nations like Russia and China have gained a strong influence in the region and an unopposed one in Afghanistan. Nations like Iran and Pakistan are pleased to see the United States out of the area as well. When asked about the possibility of the U.S. returning to the region, Pforzheimer said the U.S. will, “...do what we can to prevent it—but never say never.” To Pforzheimer, the end to the war was nearly inevitable. “[The United States] put enough holes in the boat that it was going to leak at some

point,” she said. In Pforzheimer’s eyes, the war was a “hasty intervention” that was “not well planned,” from the very beginning, and it was only made worse after being pushed to the side during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Overall, Pforzheimer says the ambitious goals set by America’s military were, “more of a U.S. dream in the end than an Afghan reality.” This fall out has left those living in Afghanistan in a harsh new reality. The Taliban runs the country, and a 20-year war has ended with Afghanistan back under the control of the same group the U.S. fought to bring down.



America was once considered the world’s lone superpower. Now, China—a growing threat to America’s international power—may be taking the top spot. WORDS BY LUKE CLAUSEN | ART BY RACHEL HARTLEY


t’s been a talking point among politicians and commentators for years: The rise of China is a threat to America’s international power, and something must be done about it. Most Americans are conscious and aware of

the fact of China’s rise and what that means for them at a personal level. However, how China got to this place in world politics and to what extent America helped China’s rise is not as well known. The relationship between

China and America is not as dichotomic and adversarial as some may make it out to be. As with all relationships, whether interpersonal or international, there is a level of complexity that needs to be understood. DRAKE POLITICAL REVIEW

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The Breakdown of Power in a Global System When experts or others talk about “American hegemony,” they are talking about America having international political supremacy within the international system. Two other important concepts to keep in mind: first, the idea that world power is thought of as being concentrated in “poles”, which are held in different countries at different times. Types of polarity include unipolarity, bipolarity, multipolarity, and nonpolarity. Second, the idea of complex interdependency between countries, such as economically, socially, and politically, is crucial to understanding international relations, especially U.S.-China relations. Hegemony is the term used most of the time when an individual is talking about America’s place in the international system. When experts or others talk about “American hegemony,” they are talking

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about America having international political supremacy within the international system. The other important concept to keep in mind is the idea that world power is thought of as being concentrated in “poles”, which are held in different countries at different times. Types of polarity include unipolarity, bipolarity, multipolarity, and nonpolarity. “Unipolarity” means that there is one pole of global power within the current international system. From the collapse of the U.S.S.R. in 1991 until about the present day, we have been living in a unipolar world with America as the world’s lone global power pole. This contrasts with the bipolar Cold War era, which started as soon as World War Two ended, in 1945, and lasted until the collapse of the Soviet Union, in 1991.In this case, the two poles belonged to the Soviet Union and America. Importantly, the collapse of the Soviet Union gave a space

for China to enter global superpower status. Prior to both eras, there was a multipolar world where the major poles of power were colonizing countries and empires such as Britain, France, and Germany. Finally, there is also the possibility of a nonpolar, or “G-Zero,” world, where there is no identifiable state with a significant amount of power, one that many experts believe we are currently heading into. One of these experts is Jeff Weiss, an international relations professor at DMACC. According to DMACC Urban Campus’s student newspaper, Urban Vibe News, Weiss has taught at Grand View University, Upper Iowa University, and DMACC’s Ankeny and Urban campuses. He also served as the Peace Educator Director for the American Friends Service Committee and teaches on foreign policy and war and peace issues. “A G-Zero world is the idea that ‘when it

comes to the large political questions of the day, climate change, nuclear proliferation, etc., nobody is driving the bus,’ are the words that Ian Bremmer used in a book that he wrote about a decade ago,” Weiss said. “He’s an international financial analyst, but he essentially makes the argument that Pax Americana [another term for American hegemony] is over. At least the height of Pax Americana is certainly over, where at the end of World War Two the United States controlled 25-30% of the global economy.” A different lens, complex interdependency, in short is the idea that countries tend to be at peace when their economies and societies are dependent on each other in complex ways, like in a network. William Winecoff, professor of political science at Indiana University Bloomington, is an expert in structural power in the world economy and believes that complex interdependency is a better lens to look at Chinese-American relations through than polarity. “When you have network analysis, you have some entities that end up very clearly at the core of the network and others that are very much in the periphery. The United States is at the core global networks and Botswana isn’t, right?,” Winecoff said. “I start from the point of view that I don’t want to understand whether there’s one pole or two poles or no poles or four poles. I just want to know these patterns of interdependence and what they look like and how they change over time. Then we can look at that and say, ‘Okay, this country appears to be more structurally prominence in a network sense than this other country, at least on this dimension.’ It doesn’t mean that either one of them is a pole or not a pole, it just means that this is where they’re at in terms of their position within the international system of structural interdependence.” Some experts believe that the threat is overblown. Dr. Jeff Schroeder is an international relations professor at Des Moines Area Community College and formerly ran Fritz Companies, one of the largest customs brokerage firms in East Asia, which has since become a part of UPS. Schroeder now actively consults global logistics projects on top of his teaching. “I think we, the media, everybody, both political parties, have bought into this narrative that the Chinese are promoting that they’re this great power, and they’re

not…When you go, ‘Oh, wow, their GDP is as big as ours,’ I would actually answer, ‘So what? We’re built.’ We build new things, but not the way China’s building new things. On an annual basis, they’re building infrastructure that we already have.”


The History of the Superpowers America, in its own eyes at least, is seen as the greatest country in the world. While that may be true in an overall or relative sense, and it may have at one point been the greatest country in the world, the consensus among public opinion and experts points to a decline in American power and prestige, even if the U.S. has not lost its number one spot quite yet. How did China get to the place it is presently? What does the future look like in terms of both America and China’s place on the world stage? President Nixon normalized trade relations with China in 1972, catalyzing the intertwining of the American and Chinese economies. Though significant, it was not as important to the current state of affairs as in 2000, when President Clinton conferred permanent normalized trade relations with China. This status, and admittance into the World Trade Organization the same year, allowed China to play in the international arena, in part giving the country the economic and political power it has today. China became America’s largest foreign creditor in 2008 and two years later became the second largest economy in the world in 2010. During the Obama administration, tensions between the countries began to rise and only continued to get worse, particularly over trade. Xi Jinping became the leader of China in 2012, beginning a new era of Chinese domestic and foreign policy which includes the famous Belt and Road infrastructure initiative. President Trump’s approach to China started with diplomacy, but in the later part of the Trump administration, tensions between the two countries soared, only made

worse by the COVID-19 pandemic that originated in Wuhan, China. The Biden administration has maintained Trump’s America First stance regarding trade and designation of China abuse of the Uyghur Muslim minority in the Xinjiang province as a genocide. Recently, Biden said that America would defend Taiwan in the event of an invasion from China, reigniting old tensions from before the two countries were competitive global superpowers. What’s Next? Keeping this historical context and tension in mind, one may wonder what the future holds. The future, in large part, depends on the Americans, according to Schroeder.



“It depends on US internal politics,” Schroeder said. “We are the source of stability in the globe right now, and Russia and China have demonstrated no interest in stability.” According to Weiss, American’s attitudes could be their downfall. “There’s a great Chinese statement… ‘We don’t care if you call a cat black or white, as long as it catches the mice.’ We don’t care if you call it state capitalism, as long as it works, and that’s very Chinese,” Weiss said. “In some ways, maybe China’s able to sort of adapt more in a real diverse, globalized world of nation states. Whereas we tend to be as ignorant and arrogant as the Romans, you know, in so many respects, and it doesn’t appear that we want to learn.” Essentially, it’s up to Americans. A republic is only as strong as its representatives and democracy only as strong as the those who participate in it. “I think that we have a political culture that is unstable and that produces real risks, not just for American power internationally, but for domestic stability, political stability, and even the persistence of democracy,” Winecoff said. DRAKE POLITICAL REVIEW

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BUILDING A GREEN FUTURE? Why this moment in history demands climate optimism WORDS BY GRANT MORGAN | ART BY AMANDA O’BRIEN


hose paying attention to the news surrounding climate change recently may have noticed some concerning trends. From the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) “code red” declaration in their most recent climate report and the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) suggestion to stop oil drilling this year, to the United Nations’ new “now or never” climate change slogan, the situation

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appears to be increasingly alarming. Many, including those within politics, are starting to think humanity has truly found a problem it is unable to solve. However, this line of thinking is not only erroneous; it is also unacceptable. Climate change is an existential problem, but if handled correctly, it is also a substantial opportunity, not only for America, but for the entire world as a whole. Despite what many think and feel, climate doomerism

is not the correct response to our current problems; instead the current moment in history requires a new political movement which is predicated on optimism, hope, and unrelenting determination. Our Current State in the Climate Crisis When assessing the current situation, the outlook does appear bleak. From President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better legislation being reduced from $3.5

trillion in spending to about $1.7 trillion and the world’s continued subsidization of fossil fuels at about $5.9 trillion a year (or $11 million a minute) to many countries refraining from taking action to meet their reduction targets, many feel governments are not doing enough to ameliorate this issue. It does not take a climate scientist to realize the government has been asleep at the wheel for the past ten years on this issue. Professor James Van Nostrand from West Virginia University Law School stated that the green transition was, “not happening fast enough,” and that, “more urgency is needed,” in regard to policy responses to climate change. Nostrand, like many around the country, has been increasingly disappointed by Sen. Joe Manchin’s recent actions to reduce the salient parts of Biden’s climate agenda, parts which many experts agreed would have helped to significantly reduce the country’s carbon emissions. Furthermore, Nostrand also stated that the country, “really had a loss decade,” around the issue of climate change, and that this decade was essentially lost because of, “faulty politically leaders,” who have been telling people, “what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear.” This insight helps highlight why so many people are feeling pessimistic about climate policy. Political leaders across the country have failed to frame the green transition as something that could be positive or

economically advantageous. Instead, many treat the transition as an issue of individual responsibility. Over the last decade, this strategy has given many people the impression that in order to solve climate change they must take shorter showers, eat less meat and more insects, and retrain themselves for green jobs which are non-unionized and lower paying (in comparison to coal or natural gas jobs). Instead of having a dialogue with unions, workers, communities, and businesses around a green transition, political leaders have continuously tried to push off the inevitable. Now, as things become increasingly acute, this option is no longer viable or sustainable. However, Nostrand does not seem to think that means all doom and gloom. The Potential for Greatness Nostrand, along with most climatechange-focused academics, agrees federal action will be required to meet emission targets. Furthermore, Nostrand also agreed that a green transition by the federal government, apart from requiring steadfast leadership, is also going to require robust fiscal and monetary policy which will help to provide a decent economic environment for the transition. These kinds of actions are already happening, though not yet on a large scale. For example, recently Biden has created “listening groups” to investigate which kind of transitions would work best for local actors in West Virginia. Instead of creating top-down approaches to policy-making, these groups seem to be visiting the parts of the country most reliant on fossil fuels for economic growth and stability. If successful, these groups could help change the tide of public opinion in areas of the country apprehensive about a green transition. There has also been increased momentum around general climate change action across the country. In just five short years, climate change has experienced a massive rise in perceived importance and viewership. A growing number of

people, groups, and officials are starting to take the issue more seriously. For example, organizations like the Sunrise Movement, a student activism group, have been working to further political movements and demonstrations all across the country. These changes have been positive, but there is still much to be done.


“Much more momentum is needed,” Nostrand said. An Opportunity Out of Calamity? Despite these hang-ups, a significant amount of opportunity could rise from this crisis. In order to realize these opportunities, leaders and citizens alike must move forward with climate optimism. This will create the political movement needed to comprehensively address the current crisis, but it is no small undertaking. To start, it will require a restructuring of economic policy. Politicians must put aside their ideological differences and work across the aisle to address this pressing issue. Elected officials will need to spend as if they are saving the planet, because, in a sense, they are. Of course, it will require more than just American action to solve this problem, but America has the potential to become a global leader on this issue. The United States has the capability to construct a world where other countries look to them for guidance, assistance, and support. However, action must be taken to transform these capabilities into concrete realities. Furthermore, there is also a need for politicians who understand that the green transition must be fair and equitable. Essentially, in order to garner support for the transition, politicians need to focus on jobs. Residents in states like West Virginia, Wyoming, and Kentucky rely heavily on fossil fuels for economic stability, so politicians cannot try to implement a transition without ensuring employment security for the people of these states. In order to construct a broader coalition of support, politicians also need to use the just transition as a way to garner support from communities of color. The green DRAKE POLITICAL REVIEW

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transition can also focus on ensuring growth for all communities all across the country. This could be an opportunity to significantly expand investment into African American communities which have been often left behind during times of economic change. The same idea applies to Hispanic American communities like those in Southern Texas that are still dependent on fossil fuels. The green transition offers the opportunity to deliver growth to all people and all communities, but this can only be achieved once politicians change their ideas and visions of the future.

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Climate change, if properly handled, can serve as an excellent mechanism for delivering robust, sustainable, and equitable growth to the country and the world, but the clock is ticking. If structured correctly, the green transition could be an opportunity to help build a broad political coalition to deliver consistent and strong growth. Furthermore, the transition also opens the door for the United States to become a global leader in regards to climate change, something that would have long reaching impacts on the geopolitics of the 21st century. A lot of good

could come from the climate optimistic approach which refuses to give in to the increasing pressures of climate change. Things are likely going to get worse over the coming years in terms of extreme climate events, but this does not mean that the global community has officially gone over the precipice. However, action must be taken now. To quote the United Nations, it truly is “now or never.” Climate change is undoubtedly a problem, but if the necessary actions are taken, it could be reversed and large groups of people could benefit from that transition.



What is cryptocurrency? How does it affect us? What does its future look like? Read up on the ongoing concerns surrounding this digital currency. WORDS BY NASH LINSLEY | ART BY AMANDA O’BRIEN


urrencies have been used in society since the reign of the Roman empire and have evolved into the complex system of nationally or regionally specific currencies we know today. Evolving yet again, currencies are being taken completely online with the emergence and popularization of cryptocurrencies over the last 12 years. Bitcoin, a digital currency system, gained traction in 2009, and in its wake, other forms of cryptocurrencies are becoming viable forms of payment all across the world with countries such as El Salvador and Cuba making bitcoins legal tender. This supports a promising future for the relatively young currency with its advantages in transparency and global interconnection. However, despite cryptocurrencies being accepted around the world, environmental concerns are becoming increasingly present and obvious. From the mining of specific currencies to verifying transactions in a blockchain system, the energy consumption generated

by cryptocurrencies is accelerating the worldwide climate crisis. This new age digital mining is reminiscent of the California Gold Rush of the mid-1800s. This similarity is seen not only in the parallel between the gold rush and the seemingly instantaneous boom of cryptocurrencies in the last five years but also in the environmental impacts both “rushes” have caused. No matter how archaic the gold rush may seem nowadays, the number of similarities it has to cryptocurrencies is important to draw out. Cryptocurrency mining is a system of introducing new units into circulation via a set of complex computational math equations called blocks. When a block is solved, the machine that solved the equation is awarded a set amount of that cryptocurrency. The process for solving these equations is incredibly energy intensive. However, with cryptocurrency systems like Bitcoin, the amount of money spent on the energy consumed by mining is

outweighed by the value of the coin. Aside from the fact that mining certain cryptocurrencies can be harmful to the environment, the transactions of all cryptocurrencies also require large amounts of energy. This is due to blockchain technology, the foundation of what makes cryptocurrencies what they are. A blockchain is an electronic ledger that is shared between every device working on a network. When dealing with cryptocurrencies, it shows all the transitions of bitcoins. What makes this system so unique and useful is that blockchains are nearly impossible to alter due to how many calculations are needed to verify each transaction. According to a compilation of heavily cited and peerreviewed articles released by Digiconomist, one Bitcoin transaction uses 1773.49 kilowatts of energy. That equates to the amount of energy needed to power an average home in the United States for just over 60 days. To put those numbers DRAKE POLITICAL REVIEW

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into perspective, that is 8.7 quintillion calculations to verify one transaction. Matt Russel, the director of the Interfaith of Power & Light, an interfaith collective joint in the fight against climate change, commented on this issue. “Nobody seems to have an answer, which is a pretty good indicator that we’re probably dealing with a new technology that’s helpful and interesting but less radically transformative than those who are vested in the development of it for monetary reasons are claiming,” he said. Weighing the Benefits and Drawbacks The downsides to cryptocurrencies are plentiful, but they also come with advantages that cannot be overlooked. Blockchain networks are the driving force behind the future of cryptocurrencies. When an electronic ledger that is shared with the entirety of network users is virtually impossible to cheat or be changed, it provides transparency that cannot be found in any other system of monetary transactions. Dr. Yu Wang, an associate professor at Iowa State University, gave an example of the technology’s importance to farmers and the production of organic foods.



“The USDA or the FDA do not have the money, time or personnel to go and observe every farmer’s production to make sure they are really producing an organic product… With blockchain

technology, that can help us solve part of the validation problem. So, if you are able to actually trace every transaction that’s relevant to the entire life of that specific food you may be able to tell if that production process is actually organic or not,” Wang said. This is one of many examples that underscore the importance of blockchain technology’s use in supporting cryptocurrencies. Another proposed use for blockchain technology is tracking government spending and campaign financing. This could help remedy the transparency problems that plague governments all around the world. In addition to these blockchain possibilities, because cryptocurrencies are decentralized, they provide advantages normal currencies lack. In a typical centralized currency system (like the U.S. dollar), there is room for price manipulation, inflation and a range of other problems because a single entity has control over the entire system. Conversely, in a decentralized system, value is determined solely by consumers and their trust in the system. This implies that failure within the system is increasingly less likely to occur than when under a centralized fiat currency because the entirety of the market is decided by those within the market, not a select few. Weighing the advantages and disadvantages of cryptocurrencies is extremely complex. The scale has dipped back and forth on both sides of the argument, and at this point, it is difficult to tell where everything will settle. The massive energy consumption of the Bitcoin system alone is enough to do a massive amount of damage to our already fragile

climate, and that doesn’t even account for other popular cryptocurrency systems like Ethereum and Solana. On the other hand, if enacted with good faith in mind, cryptocurrency does have the potential to make a positive impact in the future. Nevertheless, its future hangs in the balance, teetering on whether or not a sustainable solution can be established in regard to its environmental impact.

DIGITAL CURRENCY LANGUAGE DEFINED All this terminology hurting your brain? Here are some definitions of common digital currency terms, according to the Associated Press Stylebook. Bitcoin: The most popular cryptocurrency system. Other systems include Dogecoin, Ethereum and Solana. Blockchain: An electronic data structure that holds transactional records. When dealing with cryptocurrencies, it works like a chain of digital blocks that work together to contain records of transactions. These blocks are intricately linked and therefore difficult to hack, making it an extremely secure way to store information Cryptocurrency: A digital currency created and exchanged independent of banks or governments that exist as lines of computer code, essentially using digital files as money. Cryptocurrency Mining: The process of creating new cryptocurrency coins by solving complex mathematical equations. Fiat Currency: A form of currency declared legal tender and backed by a country’s government instead of a physical commodity like gold. Most coin and paper currencies used throughout the world are fiat currencies. The value of the money is determined by the government, and it retains its value through government and economic stability. The U.S. dollar is an example.

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