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  • Writer's pictureMadeline Kim

Missouri's Senate candidate sparks outrage across nation

Updated: May 9, 2022

Artwork by Anna Boyle

On Dec. 12, 2017, the nation nervously waited for Alabama to choose between Republican Roy Moore, an alleged predator, or Democrat Doug Jones, a consistent advocate for civil rights throughout his career. However, 2017 did not see the last of suspenseful Senate elections between conventional candidates and strikingly unqualified candidates. On Nov. 6, Missouri must elect someone to represent its state in the House.

Here is where Republican candidate Courtland Sykes comes in the scene.

Sykes identifies himself as the "America First candidate" and has consistently shown support for President Donald Trump's campaign promises and policies. "If you like President Trump, then you and I see eye-to-eye," he proudly stated in his campaign video. Ultimately, he has a mission to "fulfill Trump's 'America First' agenda," which he believes is being "sabotag[ed]" by "globalists and Big Government."

His stance on immigration is just as firm as Trump's. "Immigration is out of control," he says as a video of a riot plays in the background. Generalizing all immigration as being a detriment to American society is both misleading and factually incorrect. At first glance, immigrants may be interpreted as an economic burden to a nation. However, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania has shown empirical evidence which demonstrates the positive economic impact immigrants have left in this nation. Welcoming immigrants has provided more opportunities for non-immigrants, and immigrants generally pay more in taxes than they consume in government services. Immigrants are responsible for a "disproportionately high share of patent filings, science and technology graduates, and senior positions at top venture capital-funded firms." The Apple device that you are probably reading this article with would not exist had it not been for a refugee's son. The contributions are endless. However, even without the overwhelming support that data can provide, isn't life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness reason enough for us to welcome Americans? Not according to Sykes' or Trump's definition of "Make America Great Again."

He demands the swamp in Washington be drained. In his video, he defines this by having "no more RINOs [or Republican In Name Only]," flashing a video of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI), and "no more liberals," showing an emotional Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT). He heavily advocates for a uniform conservative government that will not "stand in Trump's way." What Sykes, like many hyper-partisans, conveniently forgets is that the U.S. is a democratic republic, meaning there is not, nor should have, just one party ruling in Washington. We need representatives in the Senate who speak for the millions of Americans, not just the select portion who happen to have one specific political view. That is not to say that Democrats and Republicans have all lived together in harmony, but such blatant demonizing of the opposing party is a phenomenon that has not been seen to this extent.

Sykes' criticism does not end with his political life. He additionally drew sharp criticism for his equivocal answer to the question: "Do you support women's rights?" What should warrant a simple "yes" or "no" ended up being a five-paragraph essay in an interview and later posted on Facebook where he criticized gender equality. "I support women's rights, but not the kind that has oppressed natural womanhood for five long decades," he states. He expects to "come home to a home cooked dinner at six every night" and for his daughters to adopt a similar lifestyle to the one he and his fiancé have set up. Of course, there is nothing inherently wrong with traditional gender roles if that is what the couple desires. However, Sykes fails to differentiate personal beliefs and ethics. What he and his fiancee decide to do is up to them, but what other individuals and families do across America is not. Instead of encouraging all Americans regardless of sex to pursue the "American Dream," his paradigm discouraged just about half the U.S. population from pursuing their respective dreams.

Although the Senate candidates who have sparked controversy have generally been Republican, it is important to note that the GOP is not the only party that is susceptible to having candidates who are morally-questionable; the Democratic Party has beyond its fair share of dirt that must be exposed. The problem of creating a larger political division runs far deeper than differences or conflicts between parties. It greatly lies in the divisive mentality that any political party can internally generate.

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