Politics you should care about

Jackson Rudoff, Copy Editor

Will you get a stimulus check?

After weeks of agonizing politicization and grueling attempts to compromise, there is finally a new stimulus package headed our way. The American Rescue Plan, passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives, introduces a number of policies targeted at supplementing the lost income of lower- and middle-class Americans. 

Like previous stimulus packages, much of the package’s monetary aid will come in the form of checks. Single earners who made up to $75,000 qualify for the full $1,400, with other stipulations determining a partial payment for heads of households and married couples. For those of us at Case Western Reserve University who are married, so long as you made up to $150,000 last year, you are eligible to receive a full payment. 

Most importantly, this round of stimulus checks includes some college-age dependents—which include many undergrad students here—on the list of recipients. Your check, however, will not be addressed to you, and you’ll have to wrangle it from whomever has you marked as a dependent on their taxes. So, if they meet the previously mentioned income requirements for it, make sure you call your parents about their mail in the next month.

But aside from these one-off payments, the stimulus package is significant for a few other policies it introduces.

For starters, the bill alleviates the cost of health insurance premiums. Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) beneficiaries—people who buy insurance from a former employer—can actually expect the government to pick up the tab on their premiums until the end of September. Those of us who receive insurance through the government exchange can also expect lower premiums, a big plus for those who do not have insurance through work.

The package also makes some revolutionary changes to the child tax credit, at least by American standards. It increases the amount of the tax credit per child from $2,000 to $3,000 while also making it fully refundable. Half of the money parents would receive will be advanced beginning in July, rather than as a part of your 2021 taxes. Eligible households will thus receive both more money and receive it earlier than normal. This policy has been highly touted by analysts, and even though logistical concerns linger after the IRS’ prior mishaps, it would bring millions of children up from poverty. 

Although the only direct benefit for many CWRU students lies with the checks coming our way, this relief bill will serve as a proving ground for numerous policies relevant to our larger University Circle community.

Oh Q, where art thou?

Since the attempted insurrection on Jan. 6, the U.S. has been bracing itself for after-tremors. Though federal officials and law enforcement agencies across the country responded swiftly to the clear and evident threat of far-right domestic terrorism, many of us still felt unsafe as many participants and supporters of the violence felt even more emboldened. Demonstrations at state capitals in the days following were common, and a collective tension characterized political affairs of the next month and a half.

Despite being muted by arrests and deplatforming, regulars of Parler, Telegram and QAnon-related forums and groups didn’t seem to think it was over. Even after the inauguration of President Joe Biden, many pointed to a prophecy that was yet to pass: the March 4 inauguration.

For those of you who don’t keep up with QAnon lore, there are only a few key things to know here. One, the mythical “Q” has been making predictions for years now. Two, many, if not all of these predictions, have been false, and are largely responsible for the conspiracy theories that have come to define over-invested supporters of former President Donald Trump. They frequently revolve around current events, construing them to be the potential downfall of the Democrats. 

March 4 is no exception to this pattern, and in fact wasn’t even the original prophecy. Many claimed that Jan. 20, the date of the inauguration, was when Trump would seize the power that was “rightfully his.” When that went nowhere, the focus shifted to March 4, the original date of the presidential inauguration. Even at the beginning, cracks were beginning to show as QAnon posters called the date a “false flag” and in a rare moment of critical reflection, questioned why their momentum appeared to be dissipating. 

In a strange instance of conspiracy group hand-shaking, March 4 became prominent thanks to the sovereign citizen movement, another far-right rabbit hole that believes all laws after the 14th Amendment aren’t legally binding. They also believe they can pick and choose which laws apply to them, which has led to some rather bizarre courtroom proceedings. 

In the end, nothing came to pass, even as the National Guard braced for impact on Capitol Hill.  Confusion permeated message boards and public debate, as the QAnon movement suffered yet another blow to its collective strength. 

But why does this matter for us at CWRU? We’re not in DC, no violence has been directly perpetrated against us and it looks like the constant goalpost moving on the part of Q supporters has weakened it, even if only a bit.

Many a think piece has already been written about the “damage to our American democracy,” waxing poetic with conventional liberal terminology. That’s not what the purpose of this column is. 

What we should take special care to note is the state of our political inheritance. All of us are of voting age, though some of us are less active political participants than others. But as our generation grabs hold of elected and unelected positions in government, we will bear the consequences of this moment. After being enabled for far too long, a large portion of our voting populace will be living in their own epistemic bubble. QAnon supporters have demonstrated time and again that allegiance to our country can be superseded by allegiance to ideology. 

It shouldn’t be our responsibility to clean up a crisis of what’s true and what isn’t. But to some degree, we will be the ones reckoning with this sociopolitical mess for decades to come.