Some prominent members of the Republican Party in the Congress have harshly criticized the Obama administration for its mishandling of the incident in Benghazi on September 11, 2012; even calling for a Watergate-style of congressional investigation. What do you think?
English: Barack Obama at the Fort Worth Convention Center during his presidential campaign. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Mitt Romney (Photo credit: Dave Delay)
In politics, a campaign strategy is a strategy to communicate a candidate’s platform in order to win an elected position. In a perfect world, candidates running for public office would merely explain to the electorate why they, the candidate, deserve their votes. The campaign strategy would simply be on the merits and the electorate would be well informed on the issues thanks, in part, to an objective and competent news media.
However, it is not a perfect world and the electorate is not well informed. As such, political campaigns heavily rely on the spinning of facts and the spreading of misinformation to win elections. Negative ads and spin doctors (i.e. campaign surrogates) now make up the core of the successful political campaign. Facts are now increasingly irrelevant to both the political campaign as well as the news media.
The result is a campaign agenda to depict Pres. Barrack Obama as a secret Muslim communist-socialist-fascist who not only hates America, but has secret plan to destroy her. Equally, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is portrayed as a heartless non-Christian über capitalist who not only hates workers, but has Machiavellian plans to destroy the American middle-class.
Whom do you blame for the seemingly irrelevancy of facts that has saturated political campaign strategy?
Politicos are the political animals that both eat and serve up the real red meat of politics. They are the insiders inside “The Beltway,” they are the government and party faithful that play the game of politics day-in and day-out, 365 days out of the year. Many textbooks use the term primarily in reference to theories of representation (i.e., “trustees” are legislators who act in what they believe are the best interests of their constituents while “delegates” are those who act in accordance with their constituents’ expressed wishes). In this usage politicos are the wheelers and dealers in and out of government who best epitomize the expression that “politics is the art of the possible.” Details related to right and wrong, and questions related to what is in the best interest of the nation, are not central considerations to the politico. It’s not what they do.
A politicomay not be a type of person, maybe its best described as a trait that all political actors possess to some degree or another. Maybe it’s the part that prompts an elected official to be coy when answering—or not answering a question posed by a reporter. Maybe it’s the purposeful pivot that a
Capital Beltway (Photo credit: JohnRiv)
Congressperson makes when debating an opponent and the need to change the subject arises to avoid an embarrassing moment. In any event, ‘tis the season of the politico; when every statement, every speech, every step, every stop, every chance to score a point against the opponent is seized like the last piece of meat on the platter. For the rest of us it would be smart to remember another well-known expression: never get between a dog and its bone. What do you think about the current political climate of the nation? Do you believe the people in charge of the action are presenting us with the amount and kind of information people need to make good choices?
Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson writing the Declaration of independence (1776) were all of British descent. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This week, Americans around the country will enjoy spectacular fireworks displays and gorge on countless hotdogs in celebration of the nation’s independence. The Fourth of July holiday would not be possible if it was not for the Declaration of Independence, one of the most well-known and quoted documents in the United States of AMerica:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
However, most Americans do not realize that the declaration itself is not a legal document, but merely an announcement declaring the 13 American colonies as independent states, and no longer a part of the British Empire. The Declaration of Independence may not be legally binding; it is nonetheless, the philosophical foundation of what will latter become the American political culture and American jurisprudence. It solidified within the American psyche, the idea of rights untouchable by government and the notion of liberty and justice for all.
Rick Santorum suggested the island territory of Puerto Rico adopt English as its official language as a condition for statehood. The comments immediately sparked controversy as Puerto Ricans already learn and speak English and English is not a constitutional requirement for entry into the United States of America.
Under Article IV, Section Three of the United States Constitution, Congress has the power to admit new states into the union if the following constitutional requirements are met:
The new state gives “full faith and credit” to the acts of other state legislatures and courts (recognition of legal contracts, marriages, criminal judgments, etc.)
The new state guarantees military and civil defense by the federal government
The new state operates under a republican form of government
Why was Rick Santorum compelled to bring up the issue considering the United States does not have an official language to begin with? Moreover, was discussing the issue in Puerto Rico politically smart?
Campaign finance reform touts transparency so Americans can see who funds a campaign. This includes requiring PACs to list all contributions, and who they are from. Now, there is a way to give unlimited funds anonymously. Professor Gaffaney explains.
John Blake wrote a great piece on political conflict in Washington that can add perspective to the role of checks and balances in American politics. The President (and his party) wants to raise the debt-ceiling and government revenues of the United States to head off historic defaults on American credit around the world. The House of Representatives (headed by the opposing
party) disagrees, wanting to cut federal spending, hoping to avoid increasing
the national debt. The political angles aside, what we have here is a classic example of the system of checks and balances that is built in to the Constitution of the United States.
The powers of the national government are distributed between a bicameral or two-house legislature, the executive branch, and the federal courts. The House and the Senate, though belonging to the same legislative branch of government, each have different terms of office (two year and six year respectively). They have different Constitutional duties (the House can originate new taxes while the Senate can deny Presidential nominations and treaties). And each has different constituencies (smaller House districts verses States). The President on the other hand is the only nationally elected official, thereby armed with the responsibility and opportunity to speak to a national constituency. Add to all of this a political issue that has captured the attention of the media and the people just as a new election season dawns on the horizon and you have what we have now: theatrics, name-calling, posturing, starts and stalls, gridlock, and apparently no end in sight.
The issue of the national debt-ceiling has become the political football that we all have our eyes on. No one political actor, branch, or constituency will win or settle this debate. They can’t. Institutionally, the system of checks and balances is denying both the President and Congress the ability to impose some solution on the other. No single player or branch can claim supremacy over the issue and cancel out the prerogatives of the other. They either find a political solution that they can each sign-off on or they don’t. This isn’t the first time. It won’t be the last. It’s what we depend on year-in and year-out because it’s what the Framers of the Constitution handed down to us.
Look beyond today’s headlines with our analysis of American politics! This blog is a feature of Pearson’s MyPoliSciLab, the most popular online learning solution for American government courses. To learn more about MyPoliSciLab, visit www.mypoliscilab.com.