Letter From the Editor: No Donnelly, No Braun, A Lot of Problems

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While news publications strive to remain neutral, it is not uncommon for newspapers to officially endorse candidates. For example, the Houston Chronicle recently endorsed Beto O’Rourke of Texas after endorsing his Republican opponent for Senate Ted Cruz in 2016.

A few days ago, I would have begrudgingly endorsed Joe Donnelly for Indiana Senate. I disagree with him on a myriad issues, most notably immigration and his spineless concession to President Donald Trump to help fund a wall at the America-Mexico border. However, as a middle class American, healthcare is a crucial voting issue for me. I believe that candidate Mike Braun would gut the healthcare that my family depends on. While issues such as immigration and reproductive freedom are important to me, the fear of losing my healthcare is enough to push those issues aside and cast my ballot for Donnelly.

And then the massacre at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue occured.

On Oct. 27, a 46-year-old Pittsburgh native entered the house of worship armed with an AR-15 and three pistols. In the course of 10 minutes, he killed 11 people and injured six others in a horrific act of hate. Among the deceased were a husband and wife, two brothers and 97-year old Rose Mallinger. 

Rose Mallinger and several other victims in this attack were old enough to remember the horrific acts of hatred perpetrated by Nazi Germany during the Holocaust. And on Oct. 27, 2018, in a small, tight-knit American community, they were murdered in an act of reprehensible hatred which was enabled in part by divisive political rhetoric and America’s gun culture.

As horrific as mass shootings are, they too often get buried in the 24-hour news cycle. It seems that every week, the evils of gun violence plague a new city, new people, and leave pain long after the victims are buried.

I remember watching the news in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre. As a sophomore in high school, I watched interviews with mothers and fathers whose babies would never come home. Along with the rest of the world, I heard the stories of children not yet old enough to know the darkness the world holds. Those stories ended in a matter of minutes in the Connecticut school. I remember Pulse and Charleston, hate being a factor in both tragedies. I remember reading recounts from students in Parkland who watched their young classmates be gunned down in their high school.

And I certainly remember holding my breath during lockdowns at high school, praying for the best and preparing for the worst. The worst case scenario, as too many Americans were forced to face, is death. Never going home. Never seeing your family again. Never getting to say goodbye. The 11 victims in Pittsburgh, though unique in their personal stories, are all pieces of the large, troubling puzzle that is gun violence in America. Next month, there will likely be more victims. It may be another hate crime. It may be yet another seemingly random act of violence. The one thing we do know is that this epidemic of mass shootings is unique to America. These acts of terror have become so commonplace in American life that they are easily forgotten. We read a few articles, watch a half hour of the news and move on. We pray for the victims and then carry on with our day, comforted by the notion that “it will never happen here.”

Until it does.

Don’t get me wrong. If you’re 18 or older with no criminal record, you have a constitutional right to own a gun. I’m not in favor of taking that right away from anyone. But all Americans have the right to life. To be safe in their movie theaters, malls, concert venues, bars, schools and places of worship. And I’m in favor of preserving that right above all else. If that means putting laws in place that restricts certain types of guns from being sold or ending the gun-show loophole, so be it. The right to life is paramount.

And this belief makes it impossible for me to endorse Joe Donnelly for Indiana Senate.

As of February of this year, Donnelly has an A- rating from the National Rifle Association, based on his voting record. While the NRA has officially endorsed candidate Mike Braun in this election cycle, Donnelly is no stranger to taking money from the gun lobby in previous elections.

Most problematic is the bill that Donnelly co-sponsored in 2007 that aimed to lift the ban on semi-automatic weapons in Washington D.C., as well as to eliminate criminal penalties for possessing an unregistered firearm.

If you’re looking for a candidate that will work to create and enforce gun control, you have no options in this Indiana senate race. Neither Donnelly nor Braun will work to the best of their abilities to ensure that Hoosiers are safe from gun violence.

I strive everyday to be an unbiased reporter. While I work to ensure my politics never make their way into my reporting, I am extremely politically active. From the age of 18, I have voted in every election for which I was eligible, and I have never been a straight-ticket voter. There were many things that I overlooked about Donnelly’s voting records in the hopes to preserve my healthcare. I overlooked his comments about “the wall,” his half-answers on his stance on reproductive rights and his views on military expansion.

I’m done overlooking.

In honor of the lives of Jerry Rabinowitz, Cecil and David Rosenthal, Rose Malligan, Bernice and Sylvan Simon, Daniel Stein, Joyce Feinberg, Richard Gottfried, Melvin Wax, Irving Younger and the more than 1.5 million Americans who have died as a result of gun violence in the past 50 years, I will not be supporting Joe Donnelly in the 2018 senate election.

I will still advocate for health care and everything else that I believe in. But I’m listening to my gut on this one. If you are overlooking many stances of a particular candidate for the one stance you agree with, perhaps it’s time you find a new candidate.

I cannot, in good conscience, vote for either Donnelly or Braun, and I cannot in good conscience, endorse either candidate for The Campus Citizen.

However, I encourage every reader to play an active part in your community, particularly by voting. This column is not intended to deter readers from practicing their civic duties. Find what you’re passionate about, advocate for it and vote for it.

Editor's Note: This story has been edited. At the time of original publications, it was reported that 97-year old Rose Mallinger was a Holocaust survivor. This has since been proven to be untrue.

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