Congress’ Insult to Millennials

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We’ve all been having fun with government shutdown memes and government shutdown pick-up lines, but the consequences of Congress’ latest hiccup has hurt Americans across the country and will have much farther-reaching effects on young people than stopping us from going to the zoo.

Besides once again demonstrating Congressional incompetence, the government shutdown and debt ceiling debate has shown Congress’ current inability to govern for our future. As pushed by an American Progress report, failure to raise the debt ceiling would have the harshest effect on young Americans by severely affecting job markets, student loans, the housing market, and the economy overall. Even without the debt ceiling immediately hanging over our heads, the federal government cannot function indefinitely without substantial change. Putting off dealing with the bad policies will only add to the burden on young people that we are already struggling to bear.

On September 18, 2013, Congressman Aaron Schock (R-IL) and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) partnered with the Millennial Action Project to launch the Congressional Future Caucus, the first Congressional caucus led by Millennials, which aims to focus on developing long-term solutions to issues facing America’s next generation. Millennial involvement in politics through such steps may help to enhance young Americans’ voices in policies that affect our future, but organizations like the Future Caucus must not fade into the background like too many other congressional caucuses (ever heard of the Congressional Bourbon Caucus?). Furthermore, young people must make Congress understand that we are just as much to be reckoned with as our parents and grandparents. Congress may be losing Americans’, and the world’s, trust, but the solution is not to avoid civic engagement. For example, the youth vote empowered Obama to his presidency, yet Project Vote found that 21 million citizens under 30 did not vote in 2008. How much can the votes of millennials change elections this year, or in 2014, or 2016? 

On Voter Registration Day this year, Politics Club held a voter registration drive and updated the registration of over 100 students. Also, on October 3rd, Politics Club hosted a bake sale and raised over $100 in donations that will go to veterans in Portland whose benefits were affected by the government shutdown. The club is furthermore in the process of sending a letter to our Congressman Earl Blumenauer (OR-3) regarding LC students’ response to the shutdown, and will have a meeting next Tuesday at 5pm in JRHH 116, open to all students, for more political discussion.

In a National Journal article, Ron Fournier stated that “There will come a time when Millennials aren’t just mad as hell; they won’t take it anymore.” Millennials must show government that we will not stand for their partisan antics and I hope that time is now.

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Welcome new school year!

And welcome new authors, viewers, commenters, and political issues that we all love to complain about. This blog began almost a year ago now to promote discussion surrounding the 2012 elections and politics more generally among L&C students and we’d love to for you to add your voice to the page. Just shoot me or the club a message or email to become an author or find out more about club events and meetings.

So what do you think about what the US should do about the conflict in Syria? How do you speculate upcoming elections will go? (It may not be an election year but there’s a lot of talk about the NYC mayoral race and Clinton 2016…) Will an immigration or gun-related bill (or any significant new piece of legislation really) ever reach Obama’s pen?

Let’s talk politics.

Tough road ahead, no matter who wins.

One day to go and the heat is on. Nate Silver’s projections make it look like Obama is set to win but even he says it’s not a done deal. Polls in most of the swing states have the candidates neck and neck, sometimes leaning one way, sometimes the other. It’s a headache if you’re a politico that’s partisan enough to care one way or the other, but not so in-tuned to wishful thinking that you believe wholeheartedly in a blahblahblah victory.

Regardless of the outcome, whoever’s the winner will only be so by a small margin and that raises questions for how much influence they’ll really have over politics the next four years. It’s easy to forget the lackluster enthusiasm President Bush suffered in his first year in office, until 9/11 happened and the US needed a leader. Perhaps the most hotly contested president was Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876 who lost the popular vote to Samuel J. Tilden, but won the presidency when the Congressional commission awarded Hayes twenty disputed electoral votes. An informal deal was made, now known as the Compromise of 1877, whereby Hayes would keep his presidency but would, as his opposing party wished, remove troops from the south and “end reconstruction.”

Now why am I bringing this up? The chances of such a deal or even a tie in the electoral college happening are near ridiculous. But Hayes never had the respect he could have had as an uncontested winner, and in the current political climate, with the House and Senate looking like they’ll both be deadlocked again next Congress, presidential respect, legitimacy, and the knowledge of a clear winner, are needed to show where the country really wants to go. Without a clear direction, it’s difficult to exult the stagnation we’ll see in Washington for the next two or four years.

And, like when Hayes’ election ended Reconstruction after the Civil War before it could come to fruition, if the country goes with Romney and he succeeds in stopping Obama’s policies of the past 4 years, maybe we’ll never know what Obamacare would really have been like, how different it would be with the richest of us paying higher taxes; maybe our kids won’t know what we mean when we say Planned Parenthood and Big Bird. If the country goes with Obama, maybe we’ll never know what Romney’s specific economic plans are and if they would really be better, what China would really do if we declared them a currency manipulator, whether there could really be more compromise in Washington.

Of course, I’m also getting too ahead of myself. In less than 24 hours, the first polls will be closing. In two days (hopefully) we’ll know for sure. And in four more years (don’t you just love elections?) we’ll get to talk about this all over again.

Values of the FP Debate

The US Foreign Policy debate made headlines, but didn’t seem to stay in the news, or on people’s minds, for very long. It was the usual “I hate China more, I love Israel more” banter between the two presidential candidates, representing the two political parties. But did the debate help or hurt either candidate? It can be debated how much the public really understands, or, beyond the homeland security aspect of it, even cares about foreign policy. Even after the Kony 2012 video took off, how many people can easily point to Uganda on a map? How many people really understand why we “hate China,” and “love Israel”?

According to people in the media like Michael Shear of the NY Times, (http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/22/foreign-policy-debate-puts-focus-on-leadership/), the foreign policy debate was more about leadership than the candidates’ positions. It is understandably so given that foreign policy is such a tricky subject, tied down by a lot of history and consistency, and is shown by the overlapping of many of the two candidates’ positions (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/23/presidential-debate-2012_n_2004043.html?utm_hp_ref=elections-2012). A candidate’s foreign policy does show leadership in that they need leadership to be head of the most powerful country in the world, and to keep it that way. But I think there is merit in specific positions as well, not just a strong hand, that I can’t help but wish more people understood.

With such an “agreeable” subject, it’s difficult to say, unbiasedly, who won based on the issues. There seems to be bumps in the polls toward Romney’s favor late in the game that are causing speculation about his momentum (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2012/10/25/is-mitt-romneys-momentum-real-or-fake/). And with just a little over a week left, the momentum is definitely dangerous for Obama. Regardless, it’ll be an interesting last week.

What do you think should be the main values voters look for in a candidate? Leadership? Likability? A hot running-mate?

Did Romney Really Win?

An hour after the first Presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney and already articles began popping up online about who “won” the debate. Now, it could just be my own personal bias, but Romney, despite a lot of opinions in the news right now, did not win the debate.

Among others, Joe Klein in his Time article (http://swampland.time.com/2012/10/03/the-debate/) described “Obama’s cool” as “ice cold,” saying that “It was 30 minutes into the debate . . . before he mentioned an actual human being,” while Romney mentioned real hurt people “in his very first answer.”

Yet overall, to me, Obama came off as being much more likable and sound. Throughout the debate, Romney attacked Obama ferociously, asserting himself despite most, if not all, time constraints. His assertiveness could be great. Perhaps his assertiveness would make Romney a good leader for the most powerful country on Earth. Or maybe, contrarily, we don’t need a bully as a leader anymore. Maybe America is tired and needs someone more civil, who will bring the country further away from the kind of America that established Guantanamo Bay and dashed into Iraq.

Every time Romney made an interjection, I could not help but notice the smile that creeped on Obama’s face like a dad amused by his 4-year-old son who’s still testing the rules of the world. You can call Obama’s performance “ice cold,” but how do Romney’s general examples of “actual people” compare with Obama’s examples of his family, his own grandma, and the many people that he has talked to on and off the campaign trail as well? Romney may have seemed personable up to a point, but Obama also cracked a couple of jokes, making fun of Donald Trump among others.

Josh Green in Businessweek (http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-10-03/mitt-romneys-hostile-takeover-of-the-debate) asserts that Romney showed a “firm grasp” of his vision tonight, despite a great lack of details. But running against an incumbent president, a person who has already proven their own firm grasp of their vision, Romney needs a lot more to tell people who he is and why they should like him. I’m not convinced, but again, I’m biased. I guess we’ll just see in the polls tomorrow. I just hope voters make their decision more on who the candidates are and represent rather than who the media says did a better job.

-V. Wiggin

Are You Voting?

As a child, I spent a lot of time at my grandparent’s house (free child care right?), and over the years I noticed how often they would bemoan the news. Grandpa was the silent type: he’d see a depressing new story and mutter curses under his breath as he turned away. Grandma was a lot more vocal: she’d talk long and loud about how much worse America seemed to be becoming over the years with constant news of always more poverty, more crime, more hate.

In a way, you could say my grandma is right. How many mass shootings did we see proliferate the news this summer? How often, when you were last at the airport and encountered security numerous times, did you think about terrorism?

Yet, have things really gotten worse over the years? How long did the US embrace slavery, and Jim Crow laws, before discrimination became socially unacceptable? How many times has a real fight broken out in the US Capitol? (In one incident, in 1856, Congressman Preston Brooks nearly killed Senator Charles Sumner by beating him repeatedly with a walking cane on floor of the Old Senate Chamber.)

All in all, it seems to me that the US has not gotten worse over the years; rather, it has always been shit, and somehow, by some miracle, Americans have always managed to endure and adapt. To me, that’s what makes America beautiful and worth living in.

There are many people today who are disgusted by the state of American politics. It’s completely understandable, with the stalemate in Congress, an ever growing debt crisis, and bad news that seems to come out of Washington every day. However, voting this election, exercising that Constitutional right that so many Americans worked so hard and so long for, should be a priority. It’s through voting that we elect the people who not only represent our values but who will advocate for those policy initiatives we so want: things like #dontdoublemyrate, the Affordable Care Act, or the repeal of it if you prefer, etc. It’s okay if you’re disgusted with politics, you’re not alone; but in November, I hope you’ll vote for the person you’re least disgusted with. Then, one day, maybe even run yourself.

My grandma’s voting in this election. Are you?

-V. Wiggin