Morality and Politics

The concept of morality has been observed in human nature since the earliest recorded pieces of history dating back tens of thousands of years. The definition of morality that I found on the Oxford Living Dictionaries website is, “principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior.” Different societies and cultures have different views on morality, a fundamental bible belt Christian has vastly different moral views than the Atheist drug dealer from California while the citizens of the conservative Saudi Arabia live completely different lives than the progressive country of Switzerland. One may ask what the United States’ moral compass looks like and whether it’s a “good” moral code?

The morality of American society was initially built on Christian values and over time we as a whole have become more progressive on the moral compass. America in its beginning stages was much like any Christian society in the seventeenth century, in this society hard work was valued throughout the week and Sunday’s were a day of worship. The typical American family had many kids, divorce was almost nonexistent, adultery was a death sentence to one’s reputation, members of the LGBT communities had no place in society, and women had no true role in society. This was the case for society until the twentieth century when social progressivism took America by storm and all those Christian ideals instilled in the American life took a complete one-eighty. One can look at our society today and say things are better now and that American’s are free from these moral contracts that America used to place on its citizens hundreds of years ago. I’d like to argue that society is indeed worse now since we expect the people of the country to be more progressive than they are at the moment. The reality is that media has painted a false progressive image of America as a whole while much of the country hasn’t caught up to this image.

In James A. Morone’s The Democratic Wish, he states, “The real political danger lies not in immorality but in the crusades against the immoral.” Socially conservative Americans have learned to excuse behavior that they deem immoral but they still target the groups of people that they deem immoral as a whole. We saw in the previous presidential election with Donald Trump that conservative Americans are very willing to support an immoral politician if they are willing to protect their conservative views. Morone also stated in his book, “Immigration generally provokes this jeremiad; new Americans are accused of threatening traditional values that they do not understand.” Many conservative Americans dislike foreigners since they bring along different religions and cultures that threaten the more traditional Christian ideologies. Oftentimes those  of different races and religions face racism and scrutiny from the right since they feel they are morally superior and view all others as a threat. We can look at the conservative Americans for the cause of all the social tension in this country, however progressives and liberals need to burden their share of the blame. The liberal media has pushed a progressive narrative regarding social rights when much of the country wasn’t ready for this change. Morone has this to say regarding social changes, “Rapid social change, especially shifting gender roles, also provokes moral fears (maybe this is why pelvic sins and homosexuality loom so large along the moral fears).” I’m not saying there shouldn’t have been a change but liberals labeled America as a progressive society, love-all society way before it was ready and the conservative Americans are fighting back as a result. Overall, both the liberal and conservative morals are on different ends of a morality spectrum and strong attachment to these morals has divided social interactions within this country.

The main point is that morality and politics do not belong together. The political parties that run this country both have their own set moralities that they uphold and this complicates politics way too much. If you support small government, you also need to be against gay marriage while on the other end if you are for legalization of marijuana you need to also support universal healthcare. Politicians need to stop policing people’s morale convictions. If the parties detach themselves from their moral convictions, the people ultimately win as you are free to practice whatever moral standards (within reason of course) you wish without it being present in the national media spotlight

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Living in Political Extremes.

Maybe we’re self-deprecating by always asserting that there are two clear sides and everyone must pick one? We saw this trend in our reading of the Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers—two sides fighting over what foundation to lay for the development of America. We see this today, particularly in contemporary politics as Democrats and Republicans continue to battle it out. If someone doesn’t pick a side it seems their opinions are somewhat invalidated, Libertarians thoughts are worth less than those of the ruling parties.

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True, we have psychological tendencies to categorize people, to place them in camps and subsequently make assumptions about them based on said labels. Yet, I fear we are doing more harm than good by allowing so much of our political and government organizations to exist as a system of classifications. Ronit Baras explains how toxic and overpowering these labels can be. In a Psychology Today article, Baras (2012) notes how easily we can be “trapped by labels”. Baras argued that when labels such as ‘gifted’ or ‘learning disabled’ are placed on school children they not only affect how others perceive them (and their subsequent strengths or weaknesses), but also how they perceive themselves, as the labels often follow them for years to come. These effects remain even after the labels are removed. In another study, Francesco Foroni and Myron Rothbart (2012) discovered that individuals’ thinking continues to face the restrictions the labels presented, even after the labels are removed.

Unfortunately, we saw this in our nation’s infancy as the Federalist and Anti-Federalists existed in dichotomous camps and today as many Democrats vehemently despise Republicans and vice versa. Kaufman (2012) argues that “when we split people up into such dichotomous categories, the large variation within each category is minimized whereas differences between these categories are exaggerated.” Last week in class we attempted to place Trump in one of the two camps: is he an Anti-Federalist or a Federalist? Lo and behold, we were unable to do it. It seemed that depending on the speech we examined, or the initiatives he has organized, he could be placed in either label. This could easily prove true for our US Democrats and Republicans. There is far more common ground than we often realize. Sure, some of us want more guns in our country and less regulation, some want the opposite, but we are aiming for the same goal, a safe country.

The centuries of political dichotomous labels results in a citizenry which exaggerates the difference between each other and minimizes our similarities. People are unique, complex and always changing—they simply cannot be appropriately and effectively placed into one of two sides. It is not only inappropriate to place ourselves into two opposing camps, but dangerous for our nation’s future. We are already fighting an uphill battle as we strive to become one united community and these labels are placing boulders in our path. One way to begin to combat this is to be aware. Recognize the mental entrapment these labels impose and maybe, just maybe, we can begin to break free and realize we all aren’t that different.

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Is Money Power?

Over the course of what we have been speaking about a common theme that occurs is does money play a significant role in politics? When speaking about Anti-Federalist and Federalist they both have different views of how our government should be ran and divided. On one side you have the Anti-Federalist who believe in a small government and have hopes that small business owners and rural workers can have a good portion of say in what the government is deciding. On the other hand you have Federalist who want big business to rule and have the ultimate power and final say in matters.

Politics and money pair together because in order to manage a functional campaign you need money and money fuels a majority of how the world operates. There is actually a quote from Michelle Obama saying “Write a big, fat check…Write the biggest, fattest check that you can possibly write.” Which does not surprise me because money has always been a priority. It does not matter which generation you are from political figures have always been of wealth and power.

I am against money being a big part of politics I think that it takes away from equality and does not give everyone the same voice that people would want to be heard. Big businesses should not get an upper hand or have their opinion favored because of the money or power that they hold but by which is right for the entirety as a whole. I do not think that the class or social status of a person should hold them back from getting their point across.

I like to use this presidential election as a prime example as money is power. The current president of the United States President trump is a wealthy individual and there no argument against that. It just so happens that also members of his cabinet are of power and wealth also. Two members of his cabinet have formally ran and operated major companies that dominated their industries. They are apart of a big business type of government in my eyes. Trump was not known for being apart of politics, but for being a business tycoon. He was a business man that knew how to operate and run a successful business. It might be the first time in history where a business oriented person has taken office over a political figure.

This chart above just shows how much that money effects campaigns specifically. More funding for a certain party means more opportunities and more coverage. A lot of donations are not obscene million dollar checks, but of course it turns into a numbers game and the more money the more successful a party can be.

There is a bigger picture for what money does in an election whether its hiring staff members, advertising, or hold a rally in another state. All of that cost money, and with more money there is more that you can do and more to conquer. Even though it would be difficult I think money and politics should be separated and taken in a different direction.

Work Cited

http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/16/opinion/schmitt-politics-money/index.html

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/03/fix-money-in-politics/473214/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Where do we draw the line?

People want equal representation in congress. To create the illusion that this happens, the state divides itself into districts of equal population and each district elects someone for the House of Representatives. Ideally, these districts would be drawn proportionately to represent the voters’ political parties throughout the state. However, the process that makes fair representation […]

via Where do we draw the line? — Site Title

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How would Federalists and Anti-Federalists feel about the DACA Debacle?

The DACA “Debacle”

The current debate on DACA can be viewed from the perspective of Federalists and Ant-Federalists. Federalists would consider President Trump’s actions to end the program and challenge Congress to expedite a fair and just national immigration policy as giving the federal government control in this matter. Anti-Federalists advocating smaller government and more power at a state level would feel better about states having the control of how to best manage immigration policies. This would appear to be another situation that the Founding Fathers of our nation would never been able to envision the scope of this problem, the entire population of America in 1789 was less than the number of undocumented immigrants we have today. This is a situation that should be handled at the federal level since immigration is a very complex issue that affects states in a multitude of ways. Anti-Federalists would prefer that States handle the issue and many states have policies in place that support immigration regardless of Federal policy. This may have been an opportunity for compromise then and now.

The Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program was initiated in 2012 by then President Obama. It was intended to, and for the most part accomplished relieving the worry of deportation for thousands of undocumented immigrants who had been brought to the United States by their parents as children. It never provided a path to citizenship yet allowed the recipients the ability to obtain work permits and made them eligible to continue their education. When President Trump made the decision to end the program he deferred any additional action on those covered for a period of 6 months giving Congress ample time to legislate a program that would protect approximately the 800,000 eligible immigrant youth currently protected. Trump is on record as stating that if Congress failed to pass legislation he would re-visit the issue.

Trump has also said “Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military?” He added “I have a love for these people, and hopefully now Congress will be able to help them and do it properly…” By bringing authority over immigration back to Congress he increases the chance for one of the bipartisan measures such as the Dream Act of 2017 has many of the same protections in place as DACA does and also creates a path for citizenship or permanent legal resident status if applicants meet certain requirements to move forward.

It is obvious that there will always be a need for cooperation between the Federal and State Government and that in today’s political climate to be successful politicians must embrace both Federalist and Anti-Federalist ideologies to be successful.

It would seem to me that rather than protesting, walking out of class or disparaging the American flag, those effected should be reaching out to Congress and urging them for fairness and to do their jobs.

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Social Insurance: As American as Apple Pie

On September 13, 15 U.S. Senators, lead by Vermont Senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, introduced Medicare-for-all, single payer health care legislation in the U.S. Senate. In an email sent out to supporters, Senator Sanders explained that the aim of the legislation is to “guarantee health care as a right for every single man, woman and child in the United States of America.” This isn’t the first time Senator Sanders has proposed such a bill. In 2013, he introduced similar legislation, but failed to secure a single co-sponsor in the Senate. Now he has 15, including, prominent Democratic figures such as Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker.

But it’s not just the Democratic Party that is warming up to what is popularly dubbed “universal healthcare”. According to the latest polls, 60% of Americans agree that “the federal government is responsible for ensuring health care coverage for all Americans.”

These events represent a major shift in American public discourse. During the 2016 presidential election, Sanders was often derided as a “socialist” who wanted to enlarge the government at the expense of the American people. Although he ultimately lost, analysts were in agreement that he outperformed expectations despite the socialist association. Polling early in the election season revealed that younger people, the core of Sanders’ base, have a much more positive view of “socialism” then older generations. Overall, Americans are increasingly becoming less hostile to “socialism.” Seeing how Americans already overwhelmingly support social insurance programs such as Medicare and Social Security, perhaps this shift in public opinion is unsurprising and only logical.

Senator Sanders, despite the popularity of his policy initiatives, is deemed to be “far left” by virtually all commentators. Given the right-ward shift of the American political spectrum on economic issues since the Reagan years, it’s understandable why. But it is nonetheless remarkable how Sanders and his ilk in America are treated as radicals introducing alien notions into the political discourse. This was seen in the 2016 Republican Primary, when candidates scoffed at what they described as an attempt to make America like Scandinavian countries or Germany, or even communist Cuba. Even Sanders himself somewhat embraced this meme, as he adopted the label socialist (qualified with the prefix “democratic”) and referenced countries like Sweden as examples of his vision. The discourse on all sides treated his ideas and policies as foreign to America. But are they really? Many will recall the New Deal of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1930s, which gave us Social Security. But the idea of social insurance dates back even further, to when America was just 13 colonies on the east coast.

Thomas Paine, a “Founding Father” of the nation and author of the famous revolutionary tract, Common Sense (1776), wrote a short work entitled Agrarian Justice in 1797. In it, he defends and proposes a plan for a “national fund” that would provide each and every person a modest sum of money upon turning 21, and an even smaller amount on an annual basis for those 50 years and older. It was essentially social insurance in the form of what today would be called “universal basic income.” This was decades before the emergence of socialism and communism, let alone modern social democracy and democratic socialism. Yet as novel and remarkable as this fact is, it is barely known. On the contrary, Paine is frequently misappropriated by popular commentators to defend ideologies that propose policies anathema to those Paine supported. Glenn Beck for instance, a popular conservative commentator, authored a book entitled Glenn Beck’s Common Sense: The Case Against an Out-of-Control Government, Inspired by Thomas Paine, in which he claims Paine as an inspiration for a form of government so “limited” that social insurance of any kind would be nonexistent.

Image result for thomas paine social insurance

This is but an example of a wider phenomenon: the (at times willful) ignorance of the history of social insurance, or “welfare,” in America. Not just as a measure adopted in reaction to economic depression, but as an ideal rooted in notions of “natural rights” and “justice.” Social insurance is, as the old adage goes, “as American as apple pie.”

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A Nation Divided (Geographically)

Increasingly our society has become divided between rural and urban. Truth be told that the solutions to most of our problems (economic disparity, political divide, environmental challenges) cannot be found in the traditional mainstay of American aspirations. The idea of owning a house to raise a family; a car for mom, dad, and the kids; a freshly cut green lawn. This vision is unsustainable, and presents a dangerous fantasy from which we squander resources, impoverish our citizens, and breed general discontent among the masses.

The suburbs have become emblematic of the ideal American life, and that is truly unfortunate. The appeal is obvious: a home to raise a family, a neighborhood where one can feel secure, breathing room from the city. While there is an argument to be made for the suburbs as a “nesting ground” on which to raise a family, they are a luxury that has been made a necessity in the eyes of many. To that end, the Federal Government has subsidized suburban living and home ownership through the mortgage deduction. The result has poor implications on the environmental and social fabric of our nation.

By necessity, suburbs are inefficient uses of space. The phenomenon known as “urban sprawl” is widely known. Homes spread out, taking up large tracts of land. As this progresses, forms of public transportation become harder to use effectively, and in order to effectively transit to-and-from work, school, and any other location that daily life necessitates for an individual, a car becomes a necessary item to own.

As this sprawl increases, the car becomes increasingly necessary, and as the family size in one household increases, thus the number of cars needed for daily transit increases. The result is families with multiple cars, driving further miles, and taking up large amounts of land. The environmental impact from this is considerable. This land must be developed, multiple cars must be driven, and the large sizes of houses mean that heating, cooling take up more energy than they would in a smaller area. Further development of lands to build suburban housing builds over previously untouched lands, creates an increasingly costly infrastructure to maintain, requires in many cases, the usage of multiple motor vehicles to a single household.

On top of this, the distance one must travel to find a job increases necessarily as a result of increasing sprawl. Given that in general, large amounts of land will be used solely for one purpose in suburbs (housing), businesses must be spread out, meaning that cars become the only viable form a transit to them. Thus one must travel further to work, to attend school, or to shop or engage in leisure activities. As such one finds that commuting is a much heftier task, taking from up to fifteen minutes to an hour for many individuals in the suburbs.

Given the isolationist thinking that guides many individuals in how they choose to live, it can hardly be surprising that political tension is at all time highs. It is far easier to distrust those you do not live amongst or interact with on a regular basis in any meaningful way. So simple to vilify that which we do not know. Indeed the current setup, where we live and interact simply with those who are most like us is a greatly harmful thing. “How could we have such racial tensions in our country?” we ask as we enact policies that ensure that only people who look like us, live like us, and make money like us can live in our same vicinity. We live in an increasingly diverse country, where people refuse to interact with each other.

To truly build a stronger, more understanding America, we must begin to bridge the geographic divide between ourselves and our fellow citizens before we begin to bridge any other.

 

 

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