BATTLEGROUND STATES 08 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The direction of the 2012 presidential election will become increasingly apparent in the days and weeks to come as the candidates and their supporters target important battleground states. Battleground states are states that are considered to be contestable in the upcoming election; in other words, the state is worth visiting and investing substantial resources in. Non-battleground states are states that candidates do not expect to win, making them less likely to receive much attention from candidate or their surrogates. The identification of battleground and non-battleground states begins just as the election results of the previous presidential election are being tallied. Campaign managers, political scientists, journalists, and others have been studying campaign maps for decades; especially Electoral College maps for presidential elections going back to the 1960s.
Battleground states are more likely than not to be states that have a history of voting democratic or republican. Battleground states can also be determined by the margins of victory by various statewide elected officials (governors, etc.) in recent elections. For example, if republican candidates have won recent elections in a state by what are considered wide margins the state is not likely to be considered a battleground state by the democratic party (they will basically write it off). Once the battleground states are identified the process shifts toward identifying swing voters in battleground states that can make all the difference in a close election. Hispanics, women, younger voters are likely voting blocks that will be targeted by candidates in the 2012 election. What do you think about candidates for the Presidency targeting some states and ignoring others? Should all fifty states receive their fair share of attention? Is this even possible given the costs associated with national elections?
Posted in Campaigning, Campaigns, Civil Rights, Democracy, Elections, Individual Rights, Interest Groups, Media, Political Participation, Political Parties, Presidency, The Media, Third Parties, Voting and Elections, Voting Behavior
Tagged Electoral College, swing state, Voting
Vote Oregon! (Photo credit: jugbo)
According to the Constitution of the United States individual states are required to provide to their citizens a republican form of government. The guarantee of a republican form of government in the Constitution is vague, but it provides a wide door for rights related to voting, representative-based government, and the sovereignty of the people in all fifty states. The clause in the Constitution is also used as a foundation for each state to organize and conduct all elections in a state, whether the elections are for local, state, and even federal offices.
The state of Florida is currently involved in a legal dispute with the federal government over the issue of voter registration rolls. The state of Florida is arguing that it has the right to purge voter registration rolls of names of persons not eligible to vote in Florida elections. The state is arguing that it has the right to establish voter qualifications that do not directly deny citizens of the United States their fundamental right to vote and that maintaining voter registration rolls that are accurate and based on state law includes taking reasonable steps to protect their integrity. In the current dispute, the federal government is arguing that the state of Florida recently purged properly registered voters from the rolls causing citizens of the United States to be denied their right to vote simply because they have the same name as a person who is ineligible to vote. Both sides of the dispute are well-grounded in law, precedent, and practice—unfortunately, the specters or partisanship and electoral self-interest are seen at work on both sides as well. The current dispute is about to peak in the middle of a presidential election year in a well-known battle ground state. Do you believe the issue can be addressed by the courts impartially? Do you think the current dispute is a legitimate clash of opinions and positions or a side-show of the election season we are watching unfold?
Posted in Bill of Rights, Campaigns, Civil Rights, Democracy, Elections, Federalism, Individual Rights, Judiciary, Political Participation, Political Parties, State and Local Government, Voting and Elections
Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson writing the Declaration of independence (1776) were all of British descent. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution include references to due process any time a person is in jeopardy of life and property. While the Amendments themselves do not specifically define what due process is, the Constitution itself provides elements of due process as have subsequent court decisions through the years. For example, the right to know what one is charged with in all criminal matters is in the Bill of Rights, as are the rights to a public trial and the right to cross-examine witnesses who testify against you. Any legal proceeding in the United States that fails to uphold these protections is not living up to the protections we claim to value so highly.
A former U.S. Senator is currently fighting for his freedom, as is a former Hall of Fame caliber baseball player. All over America, people high and low are depending on due process to level the playing field, to diminish the power of Goliath, and to stand a chance when forces that want to destroy them are at play. In some cases the guilty will go free; in others the innocent will be punished unjustly. Regardless of the particulars, every American should take a solemn oath to protect and defend the tents of due process, just like the oath sworn by the men who signed the Declaration of Independence.
We mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor
What do you think? Is due process something most Americans understand? Can you identify how various elements of due process have been important in your life? How important is due process to the American creed? As for me, I pledge my life, my Fortunes and my sacred Honor.
Posted in Bill of Rights, Civil Liberties, Constitution, Democracy, Individual Rights, Judicial Review, Judiciary, Supreme Court
Tagged Bill of Rights, Constitution, Due Process, Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, United States Declaration of Independence
Trayvon Martin - Million Hoodies March 2012 080 (Photo credit: calvinfleming)
The tragic death of Trayvon Martin has catapulted the problem of racial profiling to the top of the nation’s consciousness. Racial profiling is an expression of racial stereotyping that leads to discriminatory treatment. The term itself is primarily applied in cases involving government actors engaging in behaviors that violate the tenets of equal protection (e.g., police officers subjecting African Americans to higher levels of scrutiny during traffic stops).
In this sad case the perpetrator was a civilian volunteer—a private actor not representing government law enforcement—who believed the victim was suspicious based on a number of circumstances. George Zimmerman was a community watch volunteer who claims that recent residential burglaries had made him suspicious of Trayvon’s presence in the gated-community he was patrolling. According to media reports, George Zimmerman decided to report Trayvon to the police and then follow him despite police instructions to break off contact. There appears to be no claim that Trayvon was violating any law or had been identified as a trespasser at the time he came to George Zimmerman’s attention. Given the absence of any other reason for George Zimmerman’s attention, the possibility that race may have played a role in the evolution of the incident is only reasonable.
The fact that polls are showing that attitudes about the case vary based on race is not surprising. If anything, the difference in attitudes concerning the case actually supports the supposition that race may have played a part in the tragic death of Trayvon Martin. How do you view this case? Is this a case of racial profiling? Should the term racial profiling be used when a non-government actor is the protagonist? Will this become a civil rights case that goes beyond the actual criminal charges recently filed against George Zimmerman?
Healthcare policy refers to the government regulations and guidelines that exist to operate, finance, and shape the delivery of healthcare. Healthcare policy covers a range of health related issues including: the financing of health care, public health, preventive health care, chronic illness and disability, long-term care, and mental health.
Currently there is a debate concerning the availability of birth control coverage to American woman and religious freedom protected by the 1st Amendment. The problem is the reality that not all women take the pill to prevent unwanted pregnancies. In fact, women are often prescribed the pill for the therapeutic benefits it offers including protection against:
- bone thinning
- cysts in the breasts and ovaries
- ectopic pregnancy
- endometrial and ovarian cancers
- extremely irregular menstrual cycles
- headaches and depression associated with menstruation
- iron deficiency anemia
- pelvic inflammatory disease
- serious infection in the ovaries, tubes, and uterus
As such, the Obama administration views birth control as merely a women’s health issue. However, for some, the whole notion of birth control violates a religious belief that life begins at conception. Should employers be forced, as mandated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, to provide a service that violates their personal religious conviction? In other words, which liberty is more important, the privacy rights of the employee or the religious freedom of the employer?
Posted in Bill of Rights, Civil Liberties, Health Care Policy, Individual Rights
Tagged Affordable Care Act, birth control, Combined oral contraceptive pill, Ectopic pregnancy, health, Health care, Irregular menstruation, Obama, Obama administration, Ovarian cancer, Preventive medicine, Rush Limbaugh, United States, Women's health
Separation of church and state is one of many great attributes that separates the United States from Iran, the Taliban and Al Qaida. The concept of separation of church and state refers to the segregated relationship between organized religion and the institution of government. The term is originally derived from Thomas Jefferson’s 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists Association in which Jefferson states:
I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.
Nevertheless, many Americans wholeheartedly believe the U.S. to be a Christian nation founded on Christian principles. Constitutionally the United States, while a nation of Christians, is not a Christian nation. However, even in the modern era political groups are openly carrying out a Christian theology litmus test to determine which candidate for office is authentically Christian and therefore legitimate. Obama is regarded by some as either a closeted Muslim or a radical black Christian. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith is viewed as not Christian enough. Religious tests for holding public office are banned under Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, yet politicians are compelled to disclose and discuss their personal faith ad nauseam.
Are we the United States of America or the Christian Republic of America?
– TERRANCE MULLINS
Posted in American Demographics, Bill of Rights, Civil Liberties, Constitution, Individual Rights, Political Culture
Tagged Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Christian, Church & State, Mitt Romney, Obama, religion, Separation of Church-State, Thomas Jefferson, United States, United States Constitution, United States of America