Category Archives: State and Local Politics

Weekly Quiz: Test Yourself on this Week’s Events

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


Weekly Poll: Your Opinion on the Wisconsin Recall Election

Some political pundits believe the failed recall election of Republican governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin will affect Obama’s bid for reelection in November. What do you think?

Video Glossary: Recall

“Republican” Forms of Government & the U.S.

Article IV of the U.S. Constitution guarantees to every state a Republican form of government.  Unfortunately, the Constitution does not define or explain what is meant by the term.  What we do know is that the Framers were not using the term in any way as a reference to the Republican Party of today (the Republican Party was formed in the middle of the 19th century and the Constitution was ratified in the late 18th century).  Understanding the reference to a Republican form of government is important to the overall discussion of democracy in the United States and around the world and merits a closer look.

 Some believe that the answer is to be found in the writings of various Framers; or in the pages of the Federalist Papers.  Others believe the matter has been resolved by the courts or by various acts of Congress over the years.  In reality, the term continues in popular and academic circles without a definite understanding.  Generally speaking, “republicanism” provides an alternative to monarchies, dictatorships, and other forms of non-democratic government.  There appears to be widespread agreement on the role that representation plays in republics if by representation we mean that legitimate government power is based on the consent of the governed.  There is also widespread agreement that republican forms of government provide an alternative to forms of direct democracy (government that allows for citizens to directly make laws without the participation of elected or otherwise empowered officials).  This latter point raises some questions; for example, what do we say about governments based on the decisions of elected representatives that also allow for initiatives, propositions, referendums and other direct forms of participation?  Are such governments “republican” as far as the Constitution is concerned?

For a different take on the meaning of a republican form of government read Tim Heald’s piece in the Telegraph.  Republican forms of government abound throughout the world.  How does our’s compare.


New York Accepts Marriage Equality

New York State, the 3rd largest state by population, is the latest state to allow same-sex marriage.  The addition of New York to the handful of states that recognize marriage equality is a significant victory for gay rights and LTGB issues. 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.

Nevertheless, same-sex marriage is still extremely controversial and the largest as well as loudest proponents employ religion or a sense of religious morality as justification to deny equal treatment to a subset of American citizens. However, marriage in the United States is a secular contract so the question of religion has no bearing on it, at least legally. You can have a marriage ceremony preformed by any priest you want, or a rabbi, a preacher, of any faith but if you do not have a marriage license issued by a state government you are not legally married in any state in the union.  Besides, the government does not care about sexual orientation when it comes to collecting taxes.

The Maddow blog posted a video of the New York Senate passing  same-sex marriage but the question remains whether a large state like New York allowing same –sex marriage without a residence requirement will have any significant implications for other states in the union. Only time will tell. Do you believe same-sex marriage is a civil rights issue and what impact will New York’s acceptance of marriage likely to have for the rest of the nation?


Daily Show: I Give Up – Pay Anything…

As greedy public workers bankrupt states, America makes it harder for honest corporate citizens to create jobs.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

MPSL Vlog: Rules of Voting

Democracy is government by the people and for the people.  But what happens when some of “the people” are prevented from voting? Professor Gaffaney explains.