Are All Politicians the Same? The Willow Project


Nathaniel Seaman

Does it really matter who occupies the white house?

As our school’s zoning lines flirt with the border of the nation’s capital, we have had the unique experience of growing up with politics in our very own backyard. Many of us have watched political parties ebb and flow, vacationed at the same places as senators, and in some cases, called Supreme Court justices our neighbors.

As Margaret Thatcher once said, “there are no personal sympathies in politics.” This sentiment echoed deep within young people’s minds as they recently took to online platforms to express their emotions about President Joe Biden’s recent approval of the Willow Project. The Willow Project, an $8 billion dollar plan to extract over 600 million barrels of crude oil across the next three decades by drilling on the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska, raises heavy concern about the impacts on indigenous people and the climate. 

Biden, whose presidential campaign in 2020 featured strong promises for environmental justice, appears to have retracted his prior statements where he made promises such as “no more drilling on federal lands, period, period, period,” when asked about his stance on drilling in Alaska. 

Not only was this approval a potentially stark blow to the environment as well as indigenous groups that have previously expressed criticism of potential health risks, but it also left those banking on Biden’s ethics severely defeated. Many expressed their feelings of frustration in a petition with almost 5 million signatures. “The Biden Administration is showing us, just like Obama and Trump, that the only thing either party cares most about is profit, not the people,” wrote one comment from a signature in California. 

This comment epitomized many of those left across social media platforms. The primary source of disappointment seems to come from the realization that the political promises of Biden’s administration seem to be nothing but empty promises. 

Jaya Connor, a senior at B-CC, shared that the news of the approval has left her disheartened. Despite originally feeling empowered to be at voting age, Connor says the similarities between politicians have left her feeling somewhat helpless in major issues. Although she says she will always “encourage people to vote,” the greenlighting of the project has left her “demoralized [in terms of] political promises.” Connor added that although she still has hope in the impending lawsuits to curb the impacts of the project, this has altered her perception of the Biden administration regardless of the final outcome.

Connor’s opinion is reminiscent of a majority. Millions of comments across varying platforms criticize the presidential administration for betraying who they believe are the very people who put President Biden in power. “Disappointed…I guess all presidents are the same,” wrote one user on TikTok. 

But is the Willow Project a valid representation of the indistinguishability of the presidency? For all of Biden’s recent controversy surrounding the developments on this project, he has accomplished feats that are much different from the goals of his predecessor, 45th President Donald Trump. Biden has protected same-sex marriages, changed approaches to marijuana, worked to provide relief for student loan debt, and focused on addressing gun violence, all of which looked dramatically different than the platforms of Trump. So is this enough to refute the idea that all politicians are the same?

Perhaps the question is more satirical than literal. As our generation grows up and begins to take real positions of political power, it will be up to us to be the difference in the legislation we wish to see.