Stop All This Partisanship! Or Should We?

In my last post, I reblogged a CNN opinion article “We’re Pointing A Gun At Our Democracy” , which called for Americans to stop all this current partisanship between Republicans and Democrats or else democracy is dead. In today’s post, I want to suggest the opposite: this  political division that America is currently experiencing now is not dangerous, as the article suggests, but rather something that should be encouraged for a healthy democracy.

Recent polls in America have shown that we as a nation are deeply divided than ever before. I sometimes muse that this is perhaps actually America’s Second Civil War, where the war is not physical but rather purely political. This war occurs in almost every aspect of America- economically, such as in taxes; politically, such as in elections; and personally, such as in gay marriage. Republicans are feeling fervent for GOP policies and Democrats are feeling passionate about Democratic policies. As a result of this division or partisanship, they fight each other fervently for their principles. I even confess that I’m caught up in this war.

On the outset, it does look bad. As Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” And this can perhaps best describe our current situation in the government. But, if one rids himself of the thought that first comes to mind and thinks about it a little bit more, one might realize that maybe not all of this is so bad; in fact, it is perhaps necessary for a healthy democratic government like America.

CHECKS AND BALANCES

How could a house fighting against itself be good at all? you ask. Well, the first reason might be that the Founding Fathers would have wanted this. As you might’ve learned from your history class, it was they who implemented the concept of checks and balances into the Constitution. And as it conveniently turns out, this bickering between the GOP and Democrats is evident proof of this happening. How?

Refer back to my 1/4/2013 post. “Say the majority has the opinion of pro-abortion, and say that pro-abortion is truly immoral (this is just an example). Well, more than often will there be another group, a minority,  who will have the opinion of being anti-abortion. This minority group restraints the majority group, because through media and persuasion, they are able to spread more of their influence, countering the majority’s influence. But this is not just a two-side issue. There are multiple sides, and thus multiple minority groups, each spreading their influence and thus each countering each other’s influence. In a sense, the minorities do have power over the majority, and if the majority is corrupt, then the minorities will keep it in check.”

The basic concept from here is that it is only through political division that this system of checks and balances can work. No party can become too powerful because it is restrained by other parties. No party can pass its own law because it has to wait for the opinion from the other party. Overall, no party can take total control, and the more partisanship there is, the less power a party has to do whatever it wants.

THE GOVERNMENT IMPROVES

Another reason why we should encourage this division that we have right now is because it helps make the government improve. Although this partisanship has made the government get things done a lot slower, as noted in the CNN opinion article, it has definitely made sure that the government doesn’t do things carelessly and quickly but cautiously and slowly.

Extreme Partisanship There!

Take the 2012 election, which was mostly characterized by mud-slinging between the Dems and GOP. Every time on TV, I would always see negative ads exchanged between Obama and Romney. Oh, boo hoo, one might say, it’s another sign of a deepening division within America. But notice how each negative ad almost always points out a certain negative aspect of the opposing candidate. Think about it: what’s the mostly likely response of the candidate being attacked? First off, he might work to fix that problem. Then the second thing would be to attack back. And now, the candidate being attacked back is also going to do the same thing. He’s going to fix the problem being pointed out and attack back again. Than that candidate that just got attacked again is going to fix his problem and attack back. And so on.

It seems like a dull, repetitive process, but that’s the point. What is the pattern here? As you see, each candidate, after being attacked every time, improves a certain mistake. However, it doesn’t just stop there; the candidate goes on to attack the other candidate, which in turn causes the other candidate to improve and attack back. Here, it’s a process in which both sides improve and gain benefit, and not just one time, but repetitively. It’s the same thing with our government: one “candidate” is the Dem Party and the other is the GOP and right now, they are both mud-slinging each other. And similarly, by mud-slinging each other, each party is continually fixing their mistakes and improving themselves. Thus, in the end, whatever action the government takes is usually not flawed– it has already gone through this system of continual improvement that by the time it is put into action, it is already at its very best. (Please contact me if you think I still need to clarify this part.)

HISTORICAL EXAMPLES

Perhaps the strongest reason is history itself. If I were to tell you to imagine one day in America where the Dems and Republicans agreed on every single thing (in essence acting as one party), you probably would guffaw right in my face. You would say, “Yeah, that would be nice,” but then you would suspect that it would perhaps never happen.

If that’s the case, then you got it all wrong. One- it would not be nice. Two- it already happened. We can take many authoritarian regimes from the past, such as Stalin and his USSR or Hitler and his Nazi Germany. In both cases, both nations only allowed one party, meaning that there was none of the political division that the US is currently having right now. So was this wonderful, as one might expect it to be? No! What happened were many violations of human rights. Freedom of speech and freedom of the press was repressed. People were killed. Stalin and Hitler became infamous. You ask, “How could all of this happen? I thought that the government would be super effective once all partisanship and political division was gone. I thought that democracy would be saved once this division was gone, as said by the CNN opinion article.” The answer to why all this happened lies in that the parties, and specifically the dictators, could do almost anything to want, because there was no opposition party. There was no political division to do checks and balances. In the end, democracy was destroyed rather than saved. So the real fact is, by removing political divisions are we actually pointing a gun to our democracy. I find that very ironic given the title of that CNN opinion article, which stated that political division was pointing the gun. Apparently, the author of the article got that wrong big time.

Protesting Against Arizona’s Immigration Law

In recent history are we also seeing this. Take Arizona, for where in one specific law the Dems let the GOP take control. (In essence, for this law, the GOP was in total control and there was no political division.) What law was it? It was that police could pull over anybody who looked like an illegal immigrant to see if they had legal status. In other words, they could pull over anybody as long as they’re Latino. Obviously, that’s very racist, but the government still refused to change it even when Latinos started pouring out protesting it. More importantly, notice how Latinos had no say in this law. Why? Because the party in control- the GOP- did not represent them. This violates the very principle of democracy. Not only that, the Dems who were supposed to represent the Lations did not argue against this. As you can see, this lack of political division failed to help Latinos become fully represented and thus violated democracy.  So, we need political division in order to be able to represent all kinds of people. And in this case, too, to keep a party in check.

******

All in all, I want to warn you that I am not supporting total political division. No, especially not to that extent of the US Civil War. But neither am I supporting no political division at all, which was what that CNN opinion article did. All I’m supporting is for the government to stay a fine line between these two scenarios. And in that case, it’s happening right now in Washington D.C. So, why not continue this current political partisanship? Cheers for democracy!

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Racism Will Always Exist And Our Need To Embrace It

One of the most touchy subjects, especially in America, is the subject of race. Ever since the beginning of civilization, racism existed. Yet, gradually, reforms were being made. First came the abolishing of  slavery in many nations, and next came civil rights movements across the world, including Africa and America. The result from all these civil rights leaders was a theoretically color-blind society.

Many of these leaders, such as Martin Luther King, called for an end to racism and to discrimination. Yes, these goals were good and had high morality, yet there is one problem: the society we live in today is not an Utopian society. Racism will always exist, and exists to even this very day. Many optimistic people might believe that this is not the case, but let me point out a few examples.

One minor example happened in my class this morning, in which my history teacher was white and most of my classmates were Asian. We were talking about World War II, when all of a sudden one of my classmates, (let’s call him Evan) made a funny face. My history teacher told him to stop making that funny face. Soon after, another Asian classmate (call him Chang) made the comment that he looked like an Asian with his narrow eyes. I was thinking that if the history teacher had made that comment, he would have been in big trouble. However, Chang was able to comment as such simply because he was Asian himself. Why, I thought, this is not fair. Either everybody can’t make that comment, or everybody can. The fact that certain people can make certain type of racist comments just shows how society is still concerned with race. In a sense, this is racism- we are differentiating between the races.

Travyon Martin (right) and George Zimmerman

Perhaps a better example is the Travyon Martin case. Just because a half-white guy (George Zimmerman) shot an African-American doesn’t mean that the shooter is a racist. Yet, sadly, the media and many people are portraying him as such. Why so? Perhaps because society notices these differences in the race of the victim and the race of the offender, and so the stereotypical situation arises, in which whenever a white shoots a black, the white is a black-hater. As a result, a big irony comes out- in the process of society trying to portray Zimmerman as a racist, society becomes racist itself.

The best example I have seen is the elections, specifically the 2012 presidential elections. Many, more than many times have I seen the media talking about Latinos for Obama, women for Obama, white males for Romney, blah, blah, blah, etc. It may be a fact that there are more Latinos rooting for Obama, but isn’t this supposed to be a color-blind society? Aren’t we supposed to not classify voters based on their race, and in some cases gender? Isn’t this how it’s supposed to be?

Again, this goes back to my statement that we are not living in an Utopian society. Racism will always exist, because it is inevitable that we notice the difference of skin color between different people. So what do we do now? Rather than see all racism as bad, we have to embrace it. Not embracing the intolerance sort of racism, such as hating all Asians. Nor the racism encountered in the Travyon Martin case. Rather, society should embrace the differences. Let it be okay for a white man to make an Asian race comment, as long as it is not demeaning to Asians. Let it be okay to classify voters based on ethnicity. Let us consider all of us racists, and let us consider that a good trait, for by noticing the differences between race is one exposed to the incredible diversity of society. Racism is not always a bad thing. In fact, it is perhaps necessary for a good, diverse society.

My Ideal Voting System

Sorry readers for not posting anything yesterday. For today, however, I would like to touch upon a recent issue that I think is not as important as the other issues, yet it is receiving a lot of media attention. This issue is whether to abolish the electoral college system and establish a totally new voting voting system.

Let’s say that this issue all started with the Republicans. Apparently, they didn’t seem to like the fact that they lost to Obama last year, so they proposed in their states to instead of making the system winner-take-all, it should be proportional. This all brings us back to the electoral college.

Electors in Action

Now, one thing first: the Founding Fathers were not stupid idiots. In fact, they were perhaps super-intelligent. Throughout my political life, I have heard people complain about this electoral college system. They think the American population is underrepresented because of this. My response: if the fathers were not stupid, then there must be a reason why they did this. And the reason’s simple- the majority can be corrupted. That’s the reason why America is not a democracy but a republic. Think about history, such as with Hitler, in which he was legally elected. People were influenced by propaganda, economic failures, and were desperate for hope. They became corrupted in the sense that because they were so desperate, they were willing to look to any hope, whether good or bad. As long as people self-satisfied their needs, they were happy. Even to this day is the American majority a little bit immoral. For instance, many polls have shown that most Americans approve Obama using drones to kill terrorists, even US citizens that have terrorist ties. Hello, but what happened to the moral value of forgiving and not killing?

With a republic, and in this case with a electoral college system, this case would not happen. Think about it: the representatives, or in this case the electors, are usually people who are smart or at least know how to manage things better than the ordinary person. This can be proved by the fact that they have to win hard-fought campaigns which require cunning and skill. Thus, because they are smart and now how people manipulate politics (why, since they’re politicians themselves), they are less liable to fall prey to the corruption politicians like Hitler did onto people.

Of course, all of this is theoretical. Today, our electoral college system is sort of “messed up.” The reason is that they are now such things as pledged electors, in which the electors pledge to vote for a certain candidate. So if you vote for the elector that pledges to vote for Obama, you are in a sense just voting for Obama. My problem- if this is so, why even have this electoral college system? It’s just the same thing as a direct democracy. In order for this to truly work out like the way the Fathers wanted to, the electors should not  pledge to vote anybody. The people should vote who they think best represents them and then let that elector vote whoever he wants. In a way, these electors who are theoretically smart know who is the right candidate and can decide for us; not the other way around, in which the people choose the electors in which the people know will the choose the guy the people want.

The Founding Fathers

So far, I am just advocating for going against a direct democracy. I am not advocating for the present electoral college system that we have now. Again, the Founding Fathers were smart, but not so godly smart that they could tell the future. First, let us take this scenario. There is a group of 10 people. You choose a guy who best represents the group, which is fairly easy. However, the bigger the group gets, the more harder it is to get one person who best represents the group. This “group” is America’s population, which is booming right now (contrary to the past, in which populations were relatively small).  Having a group of around three electors to represent  a whole state is not sufficient enough. Thus meaning that a winner-take-all method of voting and the proportionate method are both don’t do well in representing. My suggestion: have one or two electoral votes come from each district. Thus, the groups are much smaller and much easier to represent. This is what I advocate.

Like I said in the beginning, despite my attention on this issue today, I think this should be one of our lesser concerns for this nation. Right now, there are much more important issues facing our country: gay rights, women rights, gun control, immigration, and perhaps the most important one- needing bipartisanship. As Americans, we should push back this issue for a later time.

Today’s GOP- Not the Same Grand Old Party As Before

Today at lunch in my school, my friend and I were talking about people who we thought were just mentally crazy or damn annoying. In the middle of the conversation, I talked about how damn annoying Republicans are. Now don’t get me wrong here; I don’t hate all Republicans. Just those GOP politicians or those wealthy Republicans. But overall, I am sick of the Grand Old Party.

It’s not like the GOP is my number one archenemy ever since from the day I was born. In fact, throughout the history of the USA,  I actually admired what the Republican Party did. I mean, think about Lincoln, who freed the slaves. Or about Teddy Roosevelt, who whipped those damn capitalists. However, despite the GOP’s wonderful history and legacy, today’s GOP is not the same grand old party as before. In fact, I believe it is way worse. Check out below a word by word article from Yahoo:

The GOP Has Turned Its Back on Reagan and Lincoln

Republican heroes of yesteryear would be personas non grata in today’s increasingly radical party

To borrow the name of one of the better movies of the ’90s, the Republican Party needs a few good men (and women) who can tell the truth about today’s GOP. But for many rank-and-file Republicans, engaging with reality may be very difficult. As the tough-as-nails Marine colonel (played to perfection by Jack Nicholson) bellowed: “You can’t handle the truth!”

Indeed, the Republican Party is now so badly out of touch with the majority of voters, and so far to the right with most of its policies, that it can no longer be considered the party of Lincoln, Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan, and the first George Bush. In some respects, it has even moved beyond George W. In doing so, it has shunned its rich past and dismissed the legacies of its greatest heroes. All of those Republican presidents did things, reasonable things, that would render them toxic and unelectable with today’s unreasonable, untethered-from-reality brand of Republicans. In November, Republicans lost women by 11 points, voters between 18 and 29 by 23 points, and voters between 30 and 44 by 7 points. Who did the GOP win? Those closest to death. They won the 45 to 64 group by 4 points and those 65 and older by 12.

In an age in which education is more important for securing decent employment than ever before, Republicans generally did best among voters with the least education, and poorest among those with the most. They won conservative voters by an overwhelming margin, but that’s only one-third of the electorate. They lost the other two-thirds — moderates and liberals — by wide margins. They cruised among people who go to church at least once a week, but that group is just two-fifths of the electorate; it wasn’t close among the other three-fifths. They lost the youngest, and fastest-growing, voter bloc — Latinos — by 44 points, even worse than the 36-point embarrassment of 2008.

Demographics are moving against Republicans, and conservatives are going to have to change their tune if they want to better identify with the citizenry of tomorrow.

Republicans: Pick up a history book. Study the centrist, level-headed, cooperative inclusiveness of past GOP presidents. If you can handle the truth, here are some of the things they did that endeared them to voters:

Ronald Reagan

* Reagan was the first cap-and-trade president, using the concept to attack unleaded gasoline and pollutants that cause acid rain.

* Reagan’s 1986 Tax Reform Act cut taxes for individuals (by shifting the burden to businesses) to the tune, in 2012 dollars, of $750 billion. He also signed off on higher gasoline taxes and jacked up taxes on investment income. What a socialist!

* Richard Nixon, one of Reagan’s mentors, signed off on the 1969 Tax Reform Act, which cut taxes for the vast majority of Americans, but also created the dreaded Alternative Minimum Tax, designed to make sure that rich folks pay, as Barack Obama says, their fair share.

* Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency, which has worked for 40 years to — egads! — make sure the water you drink and air you breathe are clean.

* Dwight Eisenhower supported big government spending on infrastructure programs, notably the interstate highway system.

* The former five-star general, who led the D-Day invasion of France, also warned in his last speech to the nation in 1961 that military spending was too big and threatened the health of the U.S. economy.

* Abraham Lincoln asked Congress for the first-ever income tax in 1861 — a 3 percent tax on income — to help finance the Civil War. Lincoln believed that Americans should pay for their wars as they fought them. What a concept.

None of these ideas would pass muster in today’s Republican Party. Today’s GOP, inexplicably, has turned its back on these heroes, denied its own history, buried its collective head in the sand. This isn’t your grandfather’s Republican Party. It’s not even your father’s Republican Party. It’s something else entirely, and should have a new name: perhaps the “Know-Nothing Party” of the 1850s fits the bill. The Know-Nothing Party was formed to oppose immigration and to guard against what was perceived in the day as a threat to the economic and political security of white-Protestant America. Sound familiar?

Unfortunately, next to no one in the Republican Party (or whatever it should be called today) is speaking these truths. Bobby Jindal, the Oxford-educated Louisiana governor, dipped a toe in the water last week when he said the GOP “must stop being the stupid party.” He added: “The Republican Party does not need to change our principles — but we might need to change just about everything else we do.”

Finally, some truth. But in a broader sense Jindal’s criticism was muted: “I am not one of those who believe we should moderate, equivocate, or otherwise abandon our principles,” he said. Jindal’s comments can be seen as trying to nudge, as opposed to shove, a chastened party toward the center, where elections are won.

But can Republicans accept even this mild rebuke from one of their own? Many seem to live in an alternative universe, consuming content from only a handful of media outlets that tell them only what they want to hear. This meets the classic definition of bias, yet it’s everything else that’s slanted in their world view. Facts don’t matter. Data and science? Irrelevant.

It is this detachment from reality that is killing the party of Lincoln, Eisenhower, and Reagan. If the GOP is to survive, its leaders must not only handle the truth — but act on it.