Monthly Archives: January 2012

Weekly Quiz: Test Yourself on this Week’s Events

The weekly quiz is now live in Mypoliscilab. Good luck!

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Weekly Poll: Your Opinion on the State of the Union Address

Some political observers believe that President Obama used his State of the Union Address to launch his re-election campaign. What do you think?

Religious Freedom vs. Americans with Disabilities Act

Aasif Mandvi reports from Washington, DC, on the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision recognizing a “ministerial exception” to employment discrimination laws.

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Anonymous Money and Campaign Financing

Abuses in the electoral processes associated with American democracy often result in the passage of legislation and regulations that are represented to the public as “reforms” that will correct the problems.  In fact, there is a relatively stable pattern of abuses, public outcry, and reform that many believe began in the early 1970s and continues to this day.  Specifically, campaign financing and the role of big money in the electoral process has been the focus of many such reform efforts.  Most recently, McCain-Feingold attempted to reign in “soft money” and issue ads—among other things—leading indirectly to the most significant change in American elections since sliced bread.  Just over two years ago the Supreme Court, in Citizens United v. The Federal Election Commission ruled, in essence, that corporations had the same rights as individuals to spend their own money as a form of free speech protected by the First Amendment.  Alas, we have witnessed the birth of the latest round of abuses and reforms that will dominate the money and politics debate for the next ten years (if we last that long).

The “baby,” the Super PAC, is the instrument being used by big money to influence the outcome of the 2012 federal election cycle.  Donors are giving money to non-profit corporations that have been established to serve some basic cause, which in turn are collecting and funneling money to Super PACs that have been created to promote particular candidates.  Because the donations are going directly to non-profit corporations donors do not have to be identified to the media or federal campaign finance regulators.  In other words, anonymous money, the complete and absolute opposite of transparency and reform has found a welcome and protected place in American electoral politics.  Any attempt to sell this as good for America can only be judged for what it is, the outright abandonment of one-person one-vote in the United States and the ascendency of government of the rich, by the rich and for the rich.  To claim as some have that there has always been a place for secrecy and privacy in American politics, citing examples such as the secret ballot and the use of aliases by the authors of the Federalist Papers can only be characterized as the most shameful sophistry.  How’s this for an example of anonymity, wearing a white hood and sheet to protect my right to privacy?  Why not, seems there are no limits after all.

What do you think?  Is there any way to keep money from corrupting the political process?  Is money an integral and unavoidable feature of democracy  in the United States?

–DENNIS FALCON

Video Glossary: Voting Rights Act 1965

They Hate Both Now, But They Will Love Either Tomorrow!

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney (Photo credit: Dave Delay)

Democrats are extremely gleeful now that the Republican presidential primary is in full swing between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. The idea being the two Republican frontrunners will split the Republican base making their supporters incapable of supporting the rival if he becomes the Republican nominee. However, the same was said during the 2008 Democratic presidential primary battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. In the end, Hilary supporters, who were adamant in their refusal to support Barack Obama, became committed to his candidacy once he became the actual Democratic nominee. The same will hold true for Republicans.  The visceral hate some Republicans have for Romney and others for Gingrich will not only subside, it will be replaced with enthusiastic devotion.

–TERRANCE MULLINS

Weekly Quiz: Test Yourself on this Week’s Events

The weekly quiz is now live in Mypoliscilab. Good luck!