Monthly Archives: December 2010

Miller vs. Murkowski vs. the U.S. Constitution

After weeks of uncertainty, incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski was certified as winner of the U.S.  Senate race in Alaska. Her election victory is astonishing considering she originally lost to “tea party” favorite Joe Miller in the Republican primary in August but returned for the general election as a write-in candidate. In fact, Lisa Murkowski will become the first senator to be elected in a write-in campaign since Strom Thurmond in 1954.

Miller’s supporters view Sen.  Lisa Murkowski as a spoiler and someone who should not have run for re-election considering her defeat in the Republican primary. However, political parties, as well as their primary elections, play no official role in elections as far as the U.S. Constitution is concerned. Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution sets three qualifications for the U.S. Senate: 1) each senator must be at least 30 years old, 2) must have been a citizen of the United States for at least the past nine years, and 3) must be (at the time of the election) an inhabitant of the state he or she seeks to represent. Anyone who meets the above qualification can run for the U.S. Senate and that is exactly what Sen.  Lisa Murkowski did.

We must remember that “political parties” did not exist at the time of the constitutional convention nor was the U.S. government designed with political parties in mind. Losing a primary election, an election by which a political party nominates its candidates, does not disqualify a constitutionally qualified person from running in the general election. Sen. Murkowski may be a spoiler, but she had the legal right to do so. Maybe more people who are exhausted by the political minutiae inherent in party politics should follow her example.

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Video Glossary: Redistricting

The census is taken every ten years, and subsequently congressional districts as well as state legislative districts are redrawn. This process is known as redistricting. What are the political consequences of redistricting? Professor Gaffaney explains.

Weekly Quiz:Test Yourself on This Week’s Current Events

This week’s Quiz is now live in MyPoliSciLab. Good luck!

Weekly Poll: Your Opinion On The New Health Care Law

In January 2011, the Republicans will take control of the House of Representatives; and some of them seem determined to repeal the new healthcare law. What do you think?

DADT Repeal a Victory for Civil Rights

The controversial “don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) policy that blocked homosexuals from openly serving in the U.S. military was officially repealed by Congress and signed by President Obama. The repeal can be equated to other historic civil rights achievements including the desegregation of U.S. military in the 1950s. Ironically, many of the same arguments made against the repeal of DADT were similarly used to justify the continuation of race and gender discrimination in the US armed forces. “Allowing them to serve would only degrade the quality of service” was the exact position expressed by people against racial and gender integration of the armed forces.

We must never forget that civil rights are fundamental freedoms and privileges guaranteed by the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and by subsequent acts of Congress, including due process, equal protection of the laws, equal treatment, and freedom from discrimination. Since the controversial DADT policy was introduced in 1993, the military has discharged over 13,000 troops from the military simply for being gay. The end of “don’t ask, don’t tell” is a victory not just for gay-rights; it is a victory for civil rights. The question remains whether the repeal of DADT will have any significant implications for other gay-rights issues including same-sex marriage and the rights of partners to share health-care benefits. Only time will tell, but we may already know the inevitable answer considering what’s past is prologue

Daily Show: America’s Tweetheart

John Stewart mocks the media’s obsession with Sarah Palin’s tweets.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The Social Experiment: Students Try No Facebook, No Texting For One Week

Facebook and texting are like food and water for modern-day teenagers. They think in status updates, check e-mail before brushing their teeth and fall asleep while texting. But can they live without social networking for a full week? This article reveals how some high school teenagers faced the challenge of going cold turkey on “a trip back to 1995: no Facebook, no texting, no e-mail, no Instant Messaging.” (12/10/10 ABCNews, Ki Mae Heussner and Neal Karlinsky) … Read Article

1. What event inspired the “Social Experiment”? What did Nicholi Wytovicz say about “paper-and-ink book” during the experiment?

2. What is the relationship between video production teacher Trent Mitchell and the teacher from the rival high school, Shorewood?