Federalist No. 10’s Legacy: The Rise of Partisan Antipathy and How It Is Controlled

“Lock her up”, “not my president”, “Hitlary”, “make Russia great again” “today’s illegals, tomorrow’s democrats”, and “Benedict Donald”. These are just a few attacks that circulated throughout the country during and after the 2016 presidential election. A 2014 Pew Research Center study has shown that the overlap of political values between Republicans and Democrats has diminished greatly since 1994. Donald Trump is a president unlike others in many ways. One key difference is that he has stuck with divisive policies supported by his core base that propelled him to victory. Most presidents in recent decades have enjoyed a stable approval rating above 50% through their first year in office. This has not been the case for Trump. Although trump was elected into office and has catered to a strong, yet non-majority group, many of his efforts have been curbed by the countries other representatives: members of congress. If James Madison could speak to us today regarding his writing of Federalist No. 10, I’d imagine his message would be roughly equivalent to this: “I told you so!”

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One of the best writings related to the political climate we are in today is James Madison’s Federalist No. 10, an essay which offers remedies to handle “factions”, or groups of citizens that have interests that are not in line with the rights of the whole community. Madison states that these factions/parties can obtain so much mutual animosity that they would rather frustrate and oppress the other than work for the common good. Madison argues that you cannot get rid of these factions, as their roots come from within human nature, but you can curtail them through a republic, or as others would say, a representative democracy. The people will elect their representatives who will posses wisdom to best perceive the true interests of the country. Has this worked as intended?

One of the key reasons Donald Trump had an energized base of supporters that voted was his promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The senate was unable to create a repeal and replacement bill that would pass, so they opted to try to simply repeal large components of Obamacare for now. While they had the votes (a 52 seat majority), 3 Republicans went against the grain (Murkowski, Collins, and McCain). Why? Susan Collins stated that “this approach will not provide the market stability and premium relief that is needed”, Lisa Murkowski stated “their [her constituents] personal situation may be made worse under the legislation considered this week”, and John McCain stated “I encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to trust each other, stop the political gamesmanship, and put the healthcare needs of the American people first”. In essence, they argued that the “skinny repeal” remedy would make things worse for the country. Whether one agrees with repealing key parts of Obamacare or not, the reasoning given by these senators, that is, that the current repeal would not benefit the country, is exactly what Madison claimed a republic would create.

While our representative democracy aided Donald Trump in winning the election without receiving a majority of the vote, it now dilutes his ability to pass key policy actions through congress, which represents large swathes of Americans. The political climate of the United States has transformed into harsh rhetoric and animosity, but the representative government structure has made government more stable and less perceptible to rhetorical mud slinging. The next time we see a protest or rally for or against certain politicians or values, let’s remind ourselves that what might result in the legislative process is often reasonable and takes what is best for the country into account.

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Civic Republicanism in Disguise

Civic republicanism is the idea in political thought that suggests that the members of society’s interconnectedness with one another, provides incentive and benefit for all members through engagement and working together in order that the common good of all can be achieved.  Alternatively, classical liberalism finds its traditions in the principle of the individual’s right to liberty and one’s owns nature to pursue his or her own interests and that of which we see as beneficial to us.
Some of the great many of things that comes to mind when the term civic republicanism is mentioned are how we as a society understand and manage things like the prevention of disease, care for the environment, crime control and public defense, disease prevention, sanitation services, and the education of young people in the higher learning school system.  The premise for all of these institutions (often referred to as public goods) is that the benefits that they provide, serve the best interests of society as a whole. In the cases of higher learning and management of the environment, proponents would agree that the more people that are engaged in them, the more successful that the institutions can be considered. As a result of that logic, advocates for all these things go through great lengths to educate society of their value to and promote government policies that reinforce their place in public life. I find this interesting, as I am not always sure that things are what they seem.
A moment ago I mentioned higher education as an institution that is widely accepted as useful tool for young people, the idea being that they will transform the education they received into a successful career, business, or other venture. In promotion of this idea, the government has made it extremely easy for almost anyone to go to college to receive an education. While the majority of Ivy League schools have remained competitive to get accepted into, most other two and four year universities in the country have become significantly easier to become a student at. Lowering the standards for admission, and ensuring that all students have a way to pay for their education through grants and loans have essentially made post high school education available and the desired outcome for an increasingly larger percentage of high school graduates. While on the surface this is widely seen as positive thing (more college educated people equals more productive members of society), I take the position that the devil is sometimes in the details.
While the percentage of college educated adults is higher than it has ever been, Americans have not seen wages rise in at least two decades. While the portion of our national debt attributed to student loans has increased dramatically in the last 20 years, more Americans are in need of public assistance and other forms of welfare than ever before. Universities and banks have profited billions of dollars, while the percentage of young people who are forced to live with their parents long after graduation day because of the enormous burden that their school debt has placed on them is at the highest we have seen in three generations.  Many young degree holding Americans are forced to face the harsh reality that the careers they have been promised are simply not there;  many will never find employment in their field of study and are forced into low paying food and customer service jobs. Defaults on student loans are at an all time high too, ensuring that some will never be able to work in the fields that they aspire to as well as make it impossible for them to open businesses where they may need capital to start.

Higher education is an example of something that while it is marketed as something that benefits us all, may not always do exactly what it is intended to do. If in the event that it does more harm than good, can it still be seen viewed to the civic republican as valuable to society as a whole? In my opinion, the answer is no. While higher education is certainly a public good, the fact remains that just because someone chooses to receive a college education, does not mean that their time or money spent in a university will produce a contributing member of society- in fact it may just even have the opposite effect for them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Embracing a Civic Republicanism that Doesn’t Embrace Us All

Today our nation faces deep problems and divides. Common ground feels rare on good days, and impossible to achieve on most. Some Americans argue that these trench-line disagreements are a result of the moral degradation of citizenship; a country without a moral standards. My grandfather is one of these Americans. The tumult of our nation, he says, is due to the country’s failure to maintain traditions of common decency and compromise. My grandfather and many others argue that the virtues of civic republicanism – cooperation, compromise, and consideration – are inherent within our national identity and should be reflected in our politics. I disagree. From the birth of our nation, the values ofUS civic republicanism haven’t been afforded to all communities. Communities in the US have been continually denied participation in the greater, civic republicanism community due to racialized, gendered, homophobic, and xenophobic biases. Viewing our nation’s past of civic republicanism through this lens reveals much about our current political climate, exposing challenges in returning to political civility.

My journey in exploring our nation’s past of civic republicanism began with a recent road trip through the Old West – a region of the United States that particularly prides itself on civic republicanism values.  I spent the first week of my semester traveling the northern Western states of the United States with my family and other eclipse chasers. While on the highway through the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park, the values of civic republicanism were evident in nearly every road stop and curious shop during the thirteen hour drive. At the National Oregon California Trail Center in Montepelier, Idaho, the idea of community survival was emphasized, with the museum docents insisting that settlers would not survive the journey without cooperation, trade, and communal attitudes. Without trusting neighborhoods, they said, crops would not flourish, wagons would not repair, and livestock would die.

Upon arriving back to Phoenix, many of the values I experienced on my road trip were reflected back within the Barn Raising and Port Huron readings. While reading, sentiments expressed in the text were reflective of the civic republicanism that I experienced on the road trip’s museums. Memories in the text of Montana, “But on these Montana plains, life was still harsh enough that they had no choice. Avoiding people you did not like was not an option. Everyone was needed by each other in some capacity” (121), made me reflect on the Wyoming plains that I had just experienced. After seeing the arid land that stretched for miles, I was agreed that a community couldn’t thrive without codependence and trust. Just as it took a community to build a barn, it would take a community to fend off buffalo, starvation, and disease.

Yet, both while reading the museum exhibits and class readings, the idea of community dependence felt misleading. While settlers in Idaho may have embraced fellow settlers, they certainly didn’t embrace indigenous populations. Instead of relying on indigenous communities for trade and knowledge exchange, they responded with gunpowder and alienation. The restrictive nature of American community can also be seen through subtler ways. The barns built by Kemmis were most likely constructed by a community of white individuals – certainly not reflective of racial, religious, or other identity differences.

The community of the United States that our nation currently faces is much more diverse, intersectional, and different than the community early settlers or theorists faced. Learning to work together requires not only overcoming differences in opinions, but also the acceptance of the humanity within every person and community. It’s hard to work together over a collective issue if all sides at the table don’t agree who deserves to be at the table. As our nation struggles an openly racist President and growing white-supremacy movements, the current loss of civility makes sense. Our nation can only build a barn together after it accepts the ability of every individual to build a barn – a consensus of unity, inclusion, and diversity that our country hasn’t reached. With this in mind, perhaps civic republicanism can still thrive in the United States – but only after our nation expands ‘community’ to include more than just the white cis-males elected to office.

A Better World Is Possible

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Texans have a sense of community

At the end of August nobody could miss the terrible weather event that took place in Texas. This storm did a lot of damage in the region of Houston. Many pictures and videos of this disaster have been broadcast on television, on the Internet, on the radio or in newspapers. The Houston area was drowned under the water. Americans and the whole world were shocked by this disaster and Houston was the focus of attention of many reporters all around the world.
According to the first estimates, the storm caused at least 44 deaths, many injured people and more than one million victims. Many military and police officers have come to help thousands of Texans trapped by the floods caused by Hurricane Harvey.

On the other hand, many volunteers are involved in helping people who lost everything during this storm. Camp beds were installed in non-flooded public buildings. In addition, many people have “left their lives behind” to help those in difficulty. Some carry families on their boats, others save babies or helped in emergency shelters. Some people even drove more than 5 hours to help rescue.
The Texans have a very collective spirit in general, but this is even more visible in this type of disaster. This type of behavior makes me rethink about Kemnis’s text “Barn Raising” in which the author speaks essentially about the spirit of community. Kemnis explains in this text that each one is useful in one society and needs others, even if he does not like it. This is how he defines the community. In this type of community there is no place for individualism or egoism. Everyone has to make their own contribution and this will inevitably benefit society. This is totally the case in Texas when many people volunteer to help others who are in a worse situation than they are. They are ready to welcome them home, give them food, help them find their family, even if they do not know each other. Two characteristics of the community approach to democracy are visible following this event. The first point is that one can always accomplish more with a group of people. That’s what’s happening in Texas right now. Thanks to a great mobilization, many people were saved from the floods. On the other hand, the second characteristic is that individualism comes in second place. People do not stay at home, but come out to help people in trouble. The principle of civil republicanism rests on a common good which in this case represents the security of the population in Texas. In moments like this, there are no more social classes as described by Sumner. Everybody is at the same lever on the social stairs.
In addition to the Texans, it is a whole country that supports this state through donations of clothing, food or money. US President Donald Trump also traveled to Houston to support the people and expressed his immense joy in the effectiveness of relief services.
There is no doubt that this storm has created a strong spirit within the Texas community, but also within the United States.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/08/30/human-chains-among-viral-stories-inspiring-us-out-hurricane-harvey/615479001/

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/hurricane-harvey-latest-dying-words-save-friend-electrocution-andrew-pasek-houston-texas-a7923436.html

 

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Dumb and More Dumber

Ever since Soviet missiles were discovered in Cuba and President Kennedy ordered a full naval blockade of the communist aligned island, the world has been on an unsettling knife’s edge between relative peace and devastating nuclear fallout. Now, has there been a crisis that has realistically brought us to the brink of nuclear catastrophe to the same extent that the Cuban Missile Crisis did? The answer most likely is no; however, as relations between the United States and North Korea continue to deteriorate, a feat that few ever thought possible, the future of international relations is likely to be defined by how these two nations, their allies, and their leaders choose to behave.

Although there is a long, complicated history of belligerence and distrust between the United States and North Korea, there are salient similarities and difference between the two countries that define their relationship. One nation has become increasingly isolationist and frightening in the eyes of the world, has a bombastic and many would say mentally unstable leader who is ostensibly intent on using strife and mayhem to promote his own self-interests, and has come to rely on demonstrations of force to prove its relevance and relative standing. The other nation, North Korea, is an absolute authoritarian dictatorship that is hell-bent on enhancing its nuclear capabilities and has been locked in a perpetual state of war with its southern nemesis since the 1950s. What could possibly go wrong?

After successfully detonating a hydrogen bomb, many now believe that the traditional cycle of a North Korean outburst and American appeasement may soon come to end. Usually, North Korea does something to ignite condemnation, the United States escalates, and then they say they want something, and then we begrudgingly but conditionally oblige. Simple, yet somehow effective. But as the dance went on, there was always the hopeless feeling that both partners were simply delaying the inevitable: war, nuclear or otherwise. What has changed? Well, it is not the party affiliation of the American president. Clinton, the Bushes, and Obama all had similar methods of dealing with North Korea. Then North Korean leadership has changed, but it is hard to argue that Kim Jong Un is more unstable than his late father. One could contend, reasonably, that the only thing that has been standing between a tenuous peace and a potential Armageddon is the temperament of the leader of the United States. If there is an adult in the car, more often than not they can steer it to safety. Now, when there are two leaders who are not exactly known for their steadiness or dovotion to meticulous calculation, to put it mildly, the course of history seems destined to change, one way or another.

Throughout the timeline of longstanding grievances and disdain, there was always one fact that endured: the United States and South Korea have a strong, consistent and unbreakable relationship that is more durable than any threat that North Korea might launch. Now, that historic bond could be in serious jeopardy. Animosity has grown between both Seoul as Washington. The current South Korean government leans in favor of appeasement, reducing the harshness of rhetoric and aiming to achieve peace through negotiation and understanding. The current American government, however, believes that a parade of power and willingness to use force is the last, remaining option to deter North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. At the same time, President Trump has spoken on numerous occasions regarding how he disapproves of the existing trade agreements between the United States and South Korea; he has also frequently questioned the need for the United States to station over 30,000 troops near what is, without a doubt, the most contentious border since the Berlin Wall. Cracks are beginning to appear in the armor, and as the pressure rises and no one seems willing to remove the cap, it appears that war may burst upon the world unlike anything that’s been seen in our lifetimes.

Now, the ideals of classical liberals and civic republicans alike may seem somewhat insignificant in the face of a nuclear standoff, but to think so would be misguided. People comprise these nations. People negotiate and, if needed, fight for these nations. And, perhaps most importantly, people lead these nations. Sometimes, I think it is less important to focus on the ideologies that lead us to certain methodologies of thinking and particular courses of action. Instead, practical, real results are far more essential. Perhaps the ideals of both classical liberals and civic republicans have a considerable effect on the outcomes of actual situations and disputes; it may be necessary, then, to focus less on categories and more on ideas and actions themselves, regardless of where they may lead us.

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/09/04/trumps-options-on-north-korea-going-from-bad-to-worse.html

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The pitfalls and victories of working alone.

It’s a fact that everyone experiences pitfalls and rough patches all throughout this journey we call life. However, we all have different methods of dealing with the hard times and different beliefs as to what actions we should take in order to address the issues at hand. For example, the idea of self-reliance is practiced and lived by many people. Some do believe that the only way to move ahead in life is by caring about yourself and only yourself. Some even go as far as saying that helping others will only slow down the momentum you have been working towards to get to where you want to be. In a basic scenario, we can say that you are driving a certain distance from point A to point B. Along the way you see a person on the side of the road in need of tools to change a flat tire. You have the tools but decide to keep heading towards your destination. You make it to point B without any problems and you continue to live your life. In a different situation; you decide to stop and help the person out. The both of you exchange a few laughs and move on with your day. You make it to point B later than you expected, but come to find out that the person you helped is the chairman for the company that you work for. After everything is said and done you realize that they took notice in your willingness to help others and offer you a promotion for your outstanding character and the fact that they can always depend on you to do the right thing.

As cheesy as it sounds, it’s happened to certain individuals in one way or another. Working alone and accomplishing certain tasks on your own give you the ability to have things turn out the way you want them to turn out. However, where would we be as a society if all we cared about was ourselves? The truth is, we count on on other people all the time. In the university environment, we see the majority of student rely on their parents for many things including gas, service on their vehicles, food, and a place to live. As adults, many people rely on their siblings, cousins, and friends for a variety of things including advice, emotional support, or something as simple as having a new hobby presented to them. The truth is we rely on each other more than we rely on ourselves most of the time. We continuously speak about the ideas of political thinkers in the classroom however, we see how drastically things have changed in the past couple decades. The world we live in now is nothing compared to the world Emerson and Sumner lived in. There are a lot of more moving parts in today’s society that allow self-reliance to be more and more difficult. In the end, the overall last and final task will require you to ask for help in some way. As a greater military leader once told me, “cleaning your weapon, preparing your gear. and working on your marksmanship is something only you can do for yourself however, winning a fight on the battle field requires you to depend on and trust the person next to you in the best and worst of situations.”

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Free Speech and Violence

Note: This post is not from Jennet Kirkpatrick. I’m posting it for a student who had some technological difficulties.

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Was this a fair and accurate way for the Arizona Republic to report President Trump’s rally in Phoenix with the subsequent violence that followed? I think not. I was not at the rally, but I followed the coverage from all 3 of our local networks on TV. The reporting from the local networks were considerably different, but they all showed what I considered an exemplary example of how political support and protest should be conducted. I viewed in “live time” thousands of pro-Trump and never-Trump citizens gather and make it clear what their feelings were. Much of the coverage showed the President speaking, then to the audience, and then showed what was happening outside the convention center.

The people at the Convention Center were vociferous but had peaceful declarations of different political ideologies. The majority of the signs were tasteful with most of them most advocating love, and some actually clever and humorous. However the problem area was a couple blocks away. There was not nearly as large of a crowd, but were predominantly ‘Anti-Trumpers’. The signage more hateful; not as clever but seemingly peaceful. The Phoenix Police Department appeared to be well organized and doing a good job of crowd control at both sites. then A few antagonists (some wearing masks even) started trying to insight violence.

Unfortunately they succeeded and the police reacted, as they were instructed. They used nonlethal measures (tear gas and pepper spray) to disburse the entire crowd, in order to prevent serious personal and property damage. As is often the case, there were non-violent protesters who were affected, many had no idea what the police actions were in reaction to. I saw some standing with their hands in the air yelling “don’t shoot”, when there had been no display of firearms by the police. I even saw others attempting to cause physical harm to the law enforcement personnel by hurling objects at them.

Given what we have witnessed in other protests gone bad, I feel this outcome was very favorable. Emerson urged followers to be non-conformists and to not to be hesitant to voice your objections. He recognized that your actions can be misunderstood, whether it be peaceful or violent. Many of the news outlets focused on the relative small sample of violence. In the AZ Republic’s case using the front page to show the police department looking like storm troopers marching toward an apparently innocent lone individual, and not showing any of those individuals initiating violence. I found no pictures showing the large crowds behaving properly. I did not see any pictures of so called Antifi members dressed in black clothing who came prepared with gas masks seemingly knowing they could provoke law enforcement to use tear gas.

This appeared to be yet another tactic of the mainstream media, in this case the Arizona Republic, to sell more newspapers. By focussing on the anarchists and there by giving them the attention and stage that they seek, greatly diminished the overwhelming numbers of citizens who attended the rally to exercise their rights to free speech.

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