The Helsinki Summit Explained

On July 16, 2018, President Trump rounded off his European sojourn with a clandestine meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland. Through personal diplomacy, President Trump hoped to reform broken relations with one of the world’s nuclear power holders and discuss solutions over global issues such as Syria, Crimea, nuclear power and oil pipelines. Despite the indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers by Robert Mueller and the advice of canceling the meeting, President Trump followed through with his objective. However, by siding with the Kremlin, and not condemning the alleged election meddling, Trump demonstrated anti-US attitudes by blaming the US for the poor relations, leading to this meeting being viewed as a win for Putin, and an embarrassment for the nation’s leader.

Russia’s Global Mission

As an ex-KGB agent, Vladimir Putin has held significant control over the Russian Federation. His hunger for domination and control is evident in his legal yet authoritative means of ruling, craving the legitimacy of Russia on the global stage. Now, he holds the new position as a puppeteer, manipulating foreign leaders such as President Trump to end US sanctions; dominating Ukraine, Syria, Iran; and annexing Crimea. Putin is a man constantly craving more; compromise and negotiation with him will be very difficult. Thus, it becomes imperative for voters to acknowledge this meeting as another failure of the current administration, allowing a foreign power to control and impede upon the democratic principles and foundation of our nation. Young voters can and need to stop Putin by voting to elect officials who will represent US interests.

Politicians’ Reactions

Even members of Trump’s own party condemned the meeting, criticizing the President for his unpatriotic attitudes, blaming the US for the “worst relations ever.” House Speaker Paul Ryan expressed his disapproval by stating, “There is no question that Russia interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world. The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally.” This also resulted in an immediate reaction from the left, in which Senator Bernie Sanders demanded “more from Republican Senators now.” He urged for “Republican colleagues [to] join with Democrats to make it happen or all of their words are worthless.” However, many Republicans still applauded Trump after the Summit. According to a poll released by SurveyMonkey and Axios, 79 percent of Republicans approved, even after evident betrayals of his nation and its interests.

Nevertheless, the decision to meet with Putin was Trump’s doing. The consequences following it can further breach our rights. This is when the voters’ voice becomes pivotal. By electing officials to Congress who will defend the core principles of democracy, the US can have faith in our system of checks and balances. While the upcoming election will not force President Trump out of office, electing dedicated candidates with voters’ interests in mind can help morality prevail.

The Voices of Voters

American voters of all ages and ethnicities also voiced their reactions towards the Summit. Despite the recent poll released by NBC News and The Wall Street Journal, which showed that Trump’s approval rating had risen to 45 percent, many voters still disagreed, claiming “A real American president would be worried,” “I thought he could go no lower,” and “It made me feel like vomiting in my sleeve.” This feeling of disapproval was shared by both the Baby Boomers and Millennials, the latter being deemed a more important demographic for the upcoming Midterm elections. This is simply because Millennials now represent a quarter of the nation’s population, overpowering Baby Boomers by both size and diversity. Thus, elected representatives need to represent the changing population of the United States; each vote is one step closer to a government that is truly representative of its people.

Upcoming Millennial Voting Prediction

In the fight between Republicans and Democrats, the latter has clearly won over the young demographic but may suffer a loss if these politically voracious voters do not follow through in November. In fact, only 28 percent of voters between 18-29 say with absolute certainty they will cast their vote, according to a poll by the Public Religion Research Institute. While Republicans have a difficult time connecting to this growing demographic, they are at an advantage if the “certain level” does not increase within the next few months. The only way to guarantee the “blue-wave” is to follow through with the most basic democratic responsibility.

The Nation’s Responsibility

Therefore, the only way to ensure young voters reclaim victory in November is to understand why this demographic does not vote as much, despite voiced political interests. Firstly, young voters believe being political is a lifestyle choice, not a civic obligation. Consequently, the most significant barrier to address is apathy and inconvenience. There needs to be more incentive to vote, as many more Americans claim this duty as a choice. Work hours need to be more flexible during Election Day and schools need to accommodate childcare for working parents. Since many students are motivated by grades on assignments, voting should be a part of assigned work. If young voters cannot understand the necessity, they need to be forced into acknowledging it.

Choices have consequences, which many do not consider at the moment. The Helsinki Summit was able to demonstrate that, if not stopped, old white oligarchs, such as Putin, can soon become the puppeteers manipulating those who choose not to choose: Americans. Remember, each election and vote is crucial in preserving our democracy!

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