Citizen Reflection

A Look of How Far I Have Come 

As we wind down the semester, it is important to take time to look back and reflect of where we started, what we have learned, and re-evaluate what we are trying to achieve in our future. Walking into this class on the first day of school, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’ve never taken an academic writing class, nor a Political Science class. I couldn’t fathom how the two could be intertwined or how they could be taken together as a U-course. I assumed that we would write for the first half, take a break, and then go onto the Political Science side of the course.  I quickly learned that these two classes truly suited each other, and that we used academic writing for the political science piece of the class. I have certainly grown as a student, as a writer, and as a group member from taking this class. When I first started this course, I normally do not take the lead on group projects, share in class, or ask for help. As groups changed and I joined the Amazing’s group for Planned Parenthood and abortion, I increasingly became more comfortable with the people around me and I began to express myself by taking risks, talking in front of the class, and taking the lead on group projects. I have become close with my groupmates and I fear the last day of class will be a bittersweet end.  I am so glad to have gotten to know these people and have them help shape me in my academic journey here at Chico State. It seems like  yesterday was the first day of school and we were asked to jot down a quick write on our thoughts for the upcoming election. This class has really taught me how to search for correct sources and how to use these sources properly. I learned what a scholarly article was and how to find them. Chico State’s Meriam library is a great resource for writing and I would venture to guess that most of our students don’t even know of the sources it provides. The scholarly articles were daunting at first, but as time went by I started using them more and more. I became increasingly comfortable searching, reading, and incorporating them into my writing. I wasn’t the best at writing at first, but I have gained new skills and learned a lot about myself.

The weekly focus that stuck with me the most and the one that really made me question and think differently was Focus 8. The topic for this focus revolved around the use of media and how it impacts our lives. This paper was very interesting to write because this was the first time two of my courses were talking about the same thing at the same time. My Philosophy 102 class had recently discussed the importance of credibility and the relationship it has with readers and the government. It is well-known that the media is biased politically and that “…governments are known to influence and even manipulate the news” (Moore 120) by framing issues.  The media is not the only source of information, but the world is dominated by mass communication, and more and more, the political agenda is being set by the media, either through priming or framing. “The media wield the most influence in shaping the public agenda when the events and issues are either outside an individual’s experience or new to the society” (Gitelson 334) and needless to say, the media plays a large role in presenting the issues at hand. It was interesting to me how these two classes came together to say the same thing: major newspapers, magazines, and news shows, for the most part, are credible sources of information, “but it is necessary to keep an open mind about what we learn from them” (Moore 124). Governments have been known to influence or manipulate the news in some way or another, so it is crucial to use skepticism and partake in independent research when obtaining information and forming your political opinions. I kept this all in mind as the presidential election was coming up.

I have also learned what it truly means to be an engaged and aware citizen. “Studying the propositions, government, politics, or the activities aimed at influencing or controlling government for the purpose for formulating or guiding public policy” (Gitelson 9), as well as the presidential election has made me grow as a citizen and helped me to cast more educated votes this past election cycle. Government is the, “institutions and officials whose purpose it is to write and enact laws and to execute and enforce public policy” (Gitelson 9) that is present in our lives every day. We did an activity in class where we had to give ten examples of how government played a role in our morning. I  became aware of just how far reaching the government is and how greatly it influences our lives. We did a lot of work with local issues, as well as looking at the propositions; it has been interesting to discuss these with my class members as well as friends and family.

I am a pre-nursing major and I have decided that after I become a nurse and have gained work experience as a Labor and Delivery nurse, I will pursue health care issues with a focus in policy. I may join an interest group, or “any organized group of individuals who share common goals and who seek to influence government decision making” (Gitelson 293). There are many interest groups that deal with health care policy, such as the American Nurses Association. This committee gets together to “promote the improvement of the healthcare system in the United States by raising funds from ANA members and contributing to support worthy candidates for federal office who have demonstrated their belief in the legislative and regulatory agenda of the ANA” (The Voters).  After doing research for the Town Hall meetings and research all semester for the policy papers, the idea of having a voice with policy really interests me now. I had reservations about Town Hall, but I thought it was a really interesting experience to be able to collaborate with other students and adults who were focused on the same policy issue.  I want to be able to research the current policies we have in the United States further, and find a way to change these policies and better those receiving health care.  I have also become aware of how to be more of a team player and truly work in a group setting. This is an important skill set, and especially important for when I become a nurse.  It is transparent to me now how vitally important it is to work together toward a common goal, and get to that goal in a timely and efficient way, while respecting each other’s opinions.

This class was only the beginning of my academic career and has taught me a great deal. I have obtained information regarding policy and politics and have learned how to incorporate these teaching into my future political ideals. I feel better equipped as a citizen of the United States. I have a lot to still learn, but this was a magnificent start.

 

Works Cited

Gitelson, Alan R. et al. “Chapter 10: Media and Politics .” American Government: Myths and Realities.

Moore, Brooke Noel., and Richard Parker. Critical Thinking. Boston, McGraw Hill, 2007.

“The Voter’s Self Defense System.” Project Vote Smart, votesmart.org/interest-group/1737/american-nurses-association#.WD5BkKIrLPA.

Policy Paper

Public Policy

______________________________________________________________

The Dilemma of the 72-hour Waiting Period for an Abortion

in the State of Missouri

 

Sarah Laughon

slaughon@mail.csuchico.edu

Professor Morris

Professor Moore

English/Political Science

Fall 2016

The Dilemma of the 72-hour Waiting Period for an Abortion in the State of Missouri

Introduction

There is an issue with Missouri’s abortion procedures, more specifically the 72-hour wait to receive an abortion. Of all of the issues Americans fight for or against, abortion is a broad and  extremely controversial topic. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, abortion is defined as, “the termination of a pregnancy after, accompanied by, resulting in, or closely followed by the death of the embryo or fetus”. Since 1973, when the Supreme Court legalized abortions, the debate has been climbing and has yet to cease. Currently, “50 percent of Americans now call themselves pro-choice, including 54 percent of women and 46 percent of men” (Toosi). The last time reportings of this nature was this high for pro-choice was in 2008.

There has been a rich history in how abortion came to fruition. “Until the late 1800s, women healers in Western Europe and the U.S. provided abortions and trained other women to do so, without legal prohibitions” (Schnall). As the years passed, the churches became involved, and the states slowly began to outlaw abortions; it became a crime as well as a sin, forcing women to turn to illegal abortions. Reform came in the 1960’s when women began seeking out their rights on this matter. January 22, 1973 changed the lives for many women when the U.S. Supreme Court made its ruling in Roe v. Wade, that “only a pregnant woman and her doctor have the legal right to make the decision about an abortion” (Schnall).  Through the 14th Amendment, no state shall “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law” (Gitelson), while the fifth section states that Congress may enforce, “by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article”. Based on the 14th Amendment, it is fair to conclude that unborn children are persons under the law. For those seeking an abortion, there are several different programs. For example, Medicaid is the federal health system “for the poor, aged, blind, and disabled which provides medical, hospital, and long term care” which is funded by the federal government and state governments (Scarpelli). Those seeking an abortion can also go to clinics such as Planned Parenthood. The scholarly article, “The Postwar Medicalization Of Family Planning: Planned Parenthood’s Conservative Comic, Escape From Fear”, written by Travis Cox, describes the history of Planned Parenthood and its ideological transitions through the years. Originally, Planned Parenthood was a birth control clinic that was founded by Margaret Sanger in 1916. It was renamed in the 1940’s and became the Planned Parenthood Federation of America that it is known as today. It was at this point that there was a transition in the ideological basis of the federation. Feminism and women’s rights began to be discussed in society. In the beginning the representatives of Planned Parenthood  spent their efforts advocating for family planning. Then, as society began changing, their basis became women’s liberties and choices for personal reproductive health. They tried to steer clear of the focus that conservatives, who don’t support the clinics, put on abortions. Many also failed to realize that Planned Parenthood was an outlet for men, too. They offer many services that benefit every member of society. Planned Parenthood made strides to demonstrate the importance of equality.

Over the years, the clinics have received a lot of backlash from pro-life and socially conservative individuals. They have been accused of  illegal activities, such as selling fetal tissue, and called “child murderers”. In Missouri, there is one remaining Planned Parenthood clinic for the entire state. Planned Parenthood clinics need to be kept open, running and accessible for the sake of women’s healthcare. In the scholarly article entitled, “Local Access To A Planned Parenthood Clinic Linked To Reduced Dropout Rates”, recounts a study on how important it is to have Planned Parenthood readily available for women. This article offered statistics regarding how access to Planned Parenthood clinics affects dropout rates among young women and teens. The sample included white Americans, African Americans, and Hispanics. Their research showed that access to Planned Parenthood is linked to the success of many individuals, and those who live close to a clinic have a reduced school drop-out rate.

There is no middle ground when it comes to abortion, but we need to continue to allow woman to have a safe and healthy way to carry out this procedure. This issue is still here in this day and age and it so controversial and common. In fact, “3 out of 10 women in the U.S. have an abortion by the time they are 45 years old” (Planned Parenthood). There has been much history behind this topic, dating back to the 1800s, it is still relevant in our television and political campaign topics.

Current Policy

Missouri has its own rules and regulations on abortion making the issue more complex. The policy on waiting periods in Missouri states that there is a “72-hour waiting period for obtaining informed consent about the procedure (no exception for cases of rape or incest)” (Missouri).  This policy is inconsistent with a woman’s reproductive freedom and constitutes an undue burden for women in this situation. In the fall of 2015, Missouri, along with  Utah and South Dakota, passed legislation that established that women wanting an abortion must receive counseling, wait three days, and then return to the clinic for the procedure. “During counseling, the women are handed materials declaring that life begins at conception and, if they are 22 weeks along or further, that a fetus can feel pain” (The Atlantic). The legislature argues that putting in a waiting period will help women get all the information they need, and potentially change their minds.

Policy Actions

By decreasing the waiting period in Missouri from 72 hours to 24 hours will allow the women seeking an abortion to stay in the town of St. Louis for a shorter amount of time, saving them time, money, and an extra trip back to the same facility. Missouri only has one Planned Parenthood clinic, located at 4251 Forest Park Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63108, for the entire state. Anyone wanting a safe and legal abortion has to travel there. By decreasing the wait time down to 24 hours, women would not be required to make a three or more day journeys. It would save time and money. “Abortion rights supporters have argued that the law hampers women’s access to the procedure because they often have to travel far to have one, and the waiting period could force them to incur extra travel and lodging costs and perhaps take time off work” (Jefferson). This legislation also forces women to get counseling before making this choice, and there are not exceptions for cases of rape of incest. To change this policy, the use of social media and the internet must come into play. The media can play a key role in swaying an individual’s beliefs. Someone lacking knowledge on the subject or who doesn’t have a set opinion may simply adopt the views of the news outlets or media commentators. The media is not the only source of information, but the world is dominated by mass communication, and more and more, the political agenda is being influenced by the media. “The media wield the most influence in shaping the public agenda when the events and issues are either outside an individual’s experience or new to the society” (Gitelson 334) and nevertheless, the media plays a large role in presenting the issues at hand. The advanced technology of today’s world helps promote the media’s political views. The use of television and the internet helps political figures address the public directly.  Citizens who have done independent research or have a firm opinion to begin with are less susceptible to the influence of the media. “People with strong partisan views tend to gravitate toward sources that express the values that they already hold” (Gitelson 336). The media can sway individuals and how they form political judgments if they do not already have strong views or do not know much about the subject. Taking it a step further, policy changes can come about by writing letters to your congressmen and senators about issues you care about. Some citizens even participate in interest groups. There are many groups that come together to share a common goal or  to promote changes in legislation. Even though they usually lobby for policies, they are vastly different from political parties. Interest groups do not try to get a candidate elected, rather, they specifically focus on their own specialized area. Many people join interest groups to promote social or economic change. NARAL (National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws) is a broad interest group that was founded in 1969 to deal with abortion laws. NARAL  is comprised of three separate branches: NARAL Pro-Choice America Inc, NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation, and NARAL Pro-Choice America PAC. The founder of this interest group was Betty Friedan. This interest group, “assesses the pro-abortion rights vs. pro-life composition of Congress, rating legislators according their voting records on abortion-related issues” (NARAL).  Changing the wait time to get an abortion in the state of Missouri may not seem of a large scale importance, but it can mean the world to some women and it can be done and will be done by these actions.

Policy Strength and Weaknesses

There are several points of view that can we argued on this topic. Many can argue that the waiting time doesn’t truly matter and, “… abortion opponents who supported the bill said that women who wanted the procedure done more quickly could cross the state line into Illinois or Kansas, which have no 72-hour waiting period” (Roberson). It is not simple to drop everything to go have a life changing procedure done. Women at this stage have already made up their minds about receiving an abortion, and according to research, a majority of the time, the wait time has no impact on them receiving an abortion. This issue of having a long wait time for an abortion also occurs in Utah, and according to the scholarly article, “The Longest Wait: Examining the Impact of Utah’s 72-Hour Waiting Period for Abortion”, the results are clear. Like Missouri, Utah has increased their waiting period to 72 hours and it is stated that, “…close to two-thirds (62%) reported the 72-hour wait affected them negatively in some way, including the lost wages of needing to take extra time off work (47%), increased transportation cost (30%), lost wages by family or friend(s) (27%), and having to disclose their abortion to someone they would not had told without the waiting period (33%)” (Study). In all, this study concluded that women are heavily impacted by this policy and their are several burdensome aspects to it that need to be changed for the overall benefit of women. By focusing on one major issue at a time for the state of Missouri regarding women’s reproductive rights, the citizens then can focus on other issues surrounding the state, such as the fact that there is only one Planned Parenthood clinic for the entire state.

Conclusion

The best solution to this issue, since Missouri only has one Planned Parenthood clinic, is to repeal the policy of the 72-hour waiting period and replace it with a more palatable 24-hour waiting period. Women will still be required to wait a day and have time to think over their decision, but it would dramatically cut her travel time and costs associated with her predicament. Also, if the individual has a job, it lets them stay at work two extra days. It is clear that there is only one real solution to helping the women who are in this predicament. By getting this policy changed, it is my hope that other states with similar laws will follow suit, thus helping even more women in the United States of America.

Addendum

I believe that during the Donald Trump presidency, nothing about the wait time for abortions will be changed, but he may try and may succeed in overturning the decision for the well known court case, Roe v. Wade. “Asked where that would leave women seeking abortions, Mr. Trump, on the CBS program “60 Minutes,” said, “Well, they’ll perhaps have to go — they’ll have to go to another state” (Davis). Trump is changing his views on issues such as immigration, such as  his wall will be a fence in a few places, or deciding to “deport two million to three million immigrants he characterized as dangerous or as having criminal records, a change from his original position that he would deport all of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country” (Davis), so perhaps he may change his mind on pursuing this issue as well. Mike Pence, the future Vice President, has made serious remarks against Planned Parenthood and against abortions since he is pro-life and not in favor of abortion. Back in March, he signed a measure to ban abortions based on gender and those with genetic anomalies; which was later turned down by a federal judge.  At a town hall meeting in July he said, “We’ll see Roe vs. Wade consigned to the ash heap of history where it belongs” (Jagannathan). Since Trump’s win for the presidency, over 128,000 people have donated to Planned Parenthood, many of them donating in Mike Pence’s name.

Works Cited

Cox, Travis L. “The Postwar Medicalization Of Planning: Planned Parenthood’s

Conservative Comic, Escape From Fear.” Women’s Studies In Communication 39.3 (2016): 268-288. Communication & Mass Media Complete. Web. 17 Nov. 2016.

http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.mantis.csuchico.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=c6e62b6c-9373-4d43-a378-93eb6d136dd8%40sessionmgr120&vid=4&hid=111

Davis, Julie Hirschfeld. “Donald Trump Appears to Soften Stance on Immigration, but Not on Abortion.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 13 Nov. 2016. Web. 14 Nov. 2016. <http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/14/us/politics/donald-trump-twitter-white-house.html&gt;.

Gitelson, Alan R. et al. American Government: Myths and Realities. New York, NY, Oxford University Press.

Jagannathan, Meera. “People Are Donating to Planned Parenthood in Mike Pence’s Name.” NY Daily News. N.p., 14 Nov. 2016. Web. 15 Nov. 2016. <http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/people-donating-planned-parenthood-mike-pence-article-1.2872920&gt;.

“Local Access To A Planned Parenthood Clinic Linked To Reduced Dropout Rates.” Perspectives On Sexual And Reproductive Health 48.3 (2016): 154-155. MEDLINE. Web. 29 Sept. 2016.

“Missouri Abortion Laws – FindLaw.” Findlaw. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2016. <http://statelaws.findlaw.com/missouri-law/missouri-abortion-laws.html&gt;.

“NARAL Pro-Choice America Fact Sheet – Research, Statistics, and History on Abortion &Amp; Human Rights.” Research Statistics and History on Abortion Human Rights, http://liveaction.org/research/naral-pro-choice-america-factsheet.

Parenthood, Planned. “Who We Are.” Who We Are, 9 Sept. 2016, https://www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us/who-we-are.

Roberson, Jeff. “Missouri Enacts 72-Hour Wait for Abortion – The New York Times.” N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2016.

Scarpelli, Craig. California in the American System. McGraw Hill, 2012.

Schnall, Marianne Marianne. “HISTORY OF ABORTION.” HISTORY OF ABORTION, Simon & Schuster Inc., http://www.feminist.com/resources/ourbodies/abortion.html.

“Study Results from University of Utah in the Area of Women’s Health Reported (The Longest Wait: Examining the Impact of Utah’s 72-Hour Waiting Period for Abortion).” Women’s Health Weekly 2016: Health & Wellness Resource Center. Web. 26 Nov. 2016.

The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2016. <http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/05/waiting-periods-and-the-price-of-abortion/393962/&gt;.

Toosi, Nahal. “Pro-Choice Outpolls pro-Life for First Time in 7 Years.” POLITICO, http://www.politico.com/story/2015/05/gallup-poll-pro-choice-pro-life-118406.

Weekly Focus 10

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Congress and Their Duty to the Constitution

George Washington once said, “The Constitution is the guide which I never will abandon”, which is still looked upon to this day. The United States has evolved, but has our doctrine that provides us with fundamental laws, while establishing fundamental rights.  The Constitution continues to guide us to this day, with the accordance with the President as well as Congress.

American citizens “have developed a complex relationship with the Constitution in their efforts to make sense of the gap between their urge for democracy and the undemocratic provisions of that document” (Gitelson 66). Believing in the Constitution to govern us as a whole puts faith in the system’s ability to deal with the unforeseen future. By allowing the Constitution to be changed, it allows for the Constitution to endure year after year. There are certain ways this can be done: revolution, formal amendment, interpretation, and construction. Change through revolutionary action involves starting from scratch with our current system. Otherways the constitution can be changed are through amendments. Some “proposals are not adopted because they fail to get the required number of states to ratify them” (Gitelson 55). This is done through constitutional interpretation, which attempts to apply words to different provisions. But, constitutional construction lets public officials “fill in the blank spaces left by the Constitution” (Gitelson 58). Some of these constructions are from congressional action or executive orders, and some come from customs over time. Some argue whether or not the Constitution is a living thing; whether the system has become too adaptable is in question. In all, the changes to the constitution allow for dividing authority, setting limits, and  specifying rules.

Congress as a whole is “responsible for the creation of taxing and spending policies for the nation” (Gitelson 381). Members of Congress play a role in the concept of checks and balances and therefore play a role in the executive branch. The committees and subcommittees are the way the work of Congress is done.  It is no secret that those who make up Congress are constantly voting on many issues and this can transpire to a wide range of topics.  Since no member can be knowledgeable about every single topic, the members of Congress ask each other for opinions, guidance and knowledge surrounding the topic and on how to vote. These members, in turn, are experts in certain issues, but depend on other members when it comes to other legislation.  A single vote can represent a whole arrangement of choices and the, “predicament of the legislator is that every vote is a dozen votes upon as many issues all wrapped together, tied in a verbal package, and given a number of this bill” (Gitelson 379). How large the party is a stable indicator on how the specific member will vote. “In 2012, for instance, 75.8 percent of the votes in the House were party-unity votes-votes in which a majority of Democrats oppose a majority of Republicans” (Gitelson 379). Members of Congress relish votes on controversial topics such as abortion.  January 22, 1973 changed the lives for many women when the U.S. Supreme Court made its ruling on Roe v. Wade, that “only a pregnant woman and her doctor have the legal right to make the decision about an abortion” (Schnall).  Through the 14th Amendment, no state shall “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law” (Gitelson), while the fifth section states that Congress may enforce, “by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article”. From the 14th Amendment, it is fair to conclude that unborn children are persons under the law. Such topics can make or break the Congressman’s reelection and that is why they are concerned  “with what future opponents may make of their floor votes” and few members of Congress vote in opposition of their districts (Gitelson 378). From an article in Ithaca, published in 2015, the “Senate passed legislation to defund Planned Parenthood and repeal the Affordable Care Act, with a 52-47 vote” (Chang). With the upcoming election happening on November 8th, the topic of Planned Parenthood and Abortion is bound to come up; with Hillary Clinton for Planned Parenthood and Donald Trump against. “The President can’t be shielded by the weighty decision he’ll finally have to make when this measure lands right on his desk…when the President picks up his pen, he’ll have a real choice to make” (Chang). This will really come into play when the new President is sworn into office and either the Senate, Congress, and citizens will be with him/her or against.  If Planned Parenthood is defunded, it will impact dropout rates for teens. In the scholarly, peer-reviewed article, “Local Access To A Planned Parenthood Clinic Linked To Reduced Dropout Rates” touches on this subject. This article offered statistics regarding how access to Planned Parenthood clinics affects dropout rates among young women and teens. The sample included white Americans, African Americans, and Hispanics. Their research shows that access to Planned Parenthood is linked to the success of many individuals, and those who live close to a clinic will have a reduced school drop-out rate. These two sources wrestle with the same idea: the idea of Planned Parenthood and abortion is a controversial subject; and whomever the next President of the United States will be will impact this subject greatly.

Provisions already made to the Constitution is how we all ended up where we are today; it has established the legitimacy of the government as well as “divided the authority within the new national government” (Gitelson 67). With this, Congress members have to decide on many issues and take note of the views of their party leaders as well as asking trusted colleagues for guidance on issues. Finally, no matter who you decide to vote for on Tuesday, go out and vote; your voice needs to be heard.

Works Cited

Chang, Ailsa. “Senate Passes Bill To Defund Planned Parenthood, Repeal Health Law.” NPR, NPR, 3 Dec. 2015, http://www.npr.org/2015/12/03/458304236/senate-expected-to-pass-bill-to-defund-planned-parenthood-repeal-health-law.

Gitelson, Alan R. et al. “Chapter 11: Congress .” “Chapter 2: Constitutional Fundamentals.”  American Government: Myths and Realities.

“Local Access To A Planned Parenthood Clinic Linked To Reduced Dropout Rates.” Perspectives On Sexual And Reproductive Health 48.3 (2016): 154-155. MEDLINE. Web. 29 Sept. 2016.

Schnall, Marianne Marianne. “HISTORY OF ABORTION.” HISTORY OF ABORTION, Simon & Schuster Inc., http://www.feminist.com/resources/ourbodies/abortion.html.

Weekly Focus 9

155682075-0-0The Role Citizens Have in the Political System

Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country”. That statement is still incredibly relevant to this day. As citizens of the United States, we are strongly urged to participate in the political system; after all, it is a privilege. Political culture is a set of beliefs and traditions that are shared by society, meaning we have faith in democracy, freedom of speech, and individual rights. You gain these values through political socialization, which is heavily influenced by those you come in contact with (Gitelson 187).   Americans can participate in the political system by merely learning about the overall structure of government and policies, by voting, as well as protesting, and the continuation of learning and keeping up with political issues.

Americans act on their emotions and opinions by participating in the political system. “Politics involves the process by which decisions are made” and it should not be taken lightly (Scarpelli 1). Those with strong political participation include “voting and learning about politics, to engaging in efforts that directly affect the structure of government, the selection of government authorities, or the policies of government” (Gitelson 201). The more information we have, the more willing we are to participate.  Americans can participate in the government in many ways, by “discussing politics with family and friends and by following campaigns, elections and other political events on television and in the newspaper” (Gitelson 201). During my senior year, I decided that I did not want to be in the so-called dark any longer about the issues around the election. I wanted to know what my peers, family, and friends were actually talking about. I took it upon myself to get educated. I started little by little to do my research, compare sources, and make opinions based on what I learned. I read the information, watched the presidential debates, and have done the research that I needed to do to. I felt like it was my responsibility as a United States citizen to become aware of the issues on the ballot and to know for whom I am voting for. Along the way, I started discussing politics with my friends and family, and now, I feel more aware of the issues and controversies.   

Taking it a step further, you can also participate by writing letters to your congressmen and senators about issues you care about and issues that you want to have changed. Some citizens even participate in interest groups. California has a wide range of issues that have been debated and struggled over for years, including energy, the environment, healthcare, and education k-12. For example, with regards to the issue on the environment, there are several interest groups such as: California League of Conservation Voters, California Wilderness Coalition, and the Planning and Conservation League (California). The Greenhouse Effect, or the warming of the planet, suggests that there is a “buildup of gasses in the atmosphere that prevents the sun’s heat from escaping” (Scarpelli 10). This is a serious issue in California as our state is the world’s “ninth largest emitter of greenhouse gases” (Scarpelli 11). In addition, citizens can participate by means of civil disobedience, or refusing to obey the law through sit-ins and boycotts. Some citizens are unable to participate in the political system because of things that are out of their control. Examples include threats of violence or being excluded; like African Americans in the South who were excluded from politics until the 1960’s (Gitelson 202). Work or family matters may overrun their lives and leave no time for such involvement. Some people even believe that “their participation will have no impact on government and are satisfied with how things are and therefore feel they have no reason to get involved” (Gitelson 202). These two sources wrestle with the same idea: we must get involved and participate in the government if we want to see change. We can no longer just sit around and wish for someone to do it for us. Donating to a campaign, or running for political office are two other ways of participating in the government.

To sum up, politics is the process by which choices are made, and it is clear that not just in California, but for the entire nation, there are countless issues to be talked about, debated, and rallied for. Citizens participate in the government by means of voting, educating themselves, and getting involved in rallying, joining an interest group or even running for office. We have various “interests competing to obtain government policies beneficial to their needs” (Scarpelli 18) and we as citizens should not just inactivity participate in the government. We all have a political privilege, civic duty and opportunity to make a change, and a difference.  

Works Cited

“California Interest Groups.” California Voter Foundation, http://www.calvoter.org/voter/politics/groups.html.

Gitelson, Alan R., Robert L. Dudley, and Melvin J. Dubnick. American Government: Myths and Realities. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

Scarpelli, Craig. California in the American System. N.p.: McGraw Hill, 2012. Print.

Weekly Focus 8

Media: A Blessing and a Curse

Everyday, we as a society are over run with a never-ending flow of information on various topics like politics, foreign affairs, and celebrity gossip. Our media is the first thing we reach for in the morning, and it is the last thing we see before we go to bed. The media has evolved over the years, and it may not be for the better. And it all started “with the publication of the Sun in New York, American publishing entered the age of mass journalism” (Gitelson 324). The Sun, appeared to the masses and then the penny press (general term for newspapers with a large popular appeal) took root. Following, yellow journalism was developed, used by New York City newspaper owners; Joseph Pulitzer (The New York Word) and William Randolph Hearst (The New York Journal) (Gitelson 324). The tactics involved using alarming explanations and powerful words that would draw in the readers.  Yellow journalism tabloids are still seen today at almost every checkout counter and convenience store. By the end of the twentieth century, the internet became widespread, resulting in a new form of transmitting news. The general consensus is that the media does play a role in framing issues and setting the political agenda.

My Philosophy 102 class has recently discussed the importance of credibility and the relationship it has with readers and the government. It is well-known that the media is biased politically.  “Governments are known to influence and even manipulate the news” (Moore) by framing issues. Priming isolates particular issues and gives more attention to others. For example, you can be primed to vote a certain way based on the location. Three professors, Jonah Berger, Marc Meredith, and S. Christian Wheeler, were the “first to investigate this matter, finding that individuals voting in Arizona schools were more likely to support a ballot measure that increased the state’s sale tax to finance education” (Pryor). People do not even realize they are being primed, it takes place in our subconscious.  

In general, the media does play a role in swaying an individual’s beliefs. Someone lacking knowledge on a subject or who doesn’t have a set opinion may simply adopt the views of the news or media commentators. The media is not the only source of information, but the world is dominated by mass communication, and more and more, the political agenda is being set by the media. “The media wield the most influence in shaping the public agenda when the events and issues are either outside an individual’s experience or new to the society” (Gitelson 334) and nevertheless, the media plays a large role in presenting the issues at hand. The advanced technology of today’s world helps promote the media’s political views. The use of television and the internet helps political figures address the public directly.  “The Internet has reorganized the way Americans do everything—including elect their leaders. Candidates who would have had no chance before the Internet can now overcome huge odds, with the people they energize serving as the backbone of their campaign” (US News). All of these sources wrestle with the same idea: the mass media has hugely influenced the way we carry out political campaigns. However, the media should not be a figurative mouthpiece for the political leaders; it should be a neutral platform that is free of any bias.

Citizens who have done independent research or have a firm opinion to begin with are less suspectable to the influence of the media. “People with strong partisan views tend to gravitate toward sources that express the values that they already hold” (Gitelson 336). I have been keeping up with the presidential election fairly well and came across an article from Ithaca titled, “An Election Unworthy of America”. The article went onto describe how some “incidents don’t even begin to cover the unbelievable vulgarity 2016 has unleashed”. The article is not just talking about the two main presidential candidates, but the 2016 election as a whole. There has been so much violence, such as  the “GOP office was firebombed in North Carolina” or just the vulgarity of the supporters of the candidates. I was not influenced by this media outlet; I had my background knowledge before reading this. The media can sway individuals and how they form political judgments if they do not already have strong views or do not know much about the subject.

To say the least, major newspapers, magazines, and news shows, for the most part, are credible sources of information, “but it is necessary to keep an open mind about what we learn from them” (Moore 124). Governments have been known to influence or manipulate the news in some way or another, so it is crucial to use skepticism and partake in independent research when obtaining information and forming your political opinions.

Works Cited

Boulianne, Shelley. “Social Media Use and Participation: A Meta-analysis of Current Research,” Information, Communication & Society, 2015.

Gitelson, Alan R. et al. “Chapter 10: Media and Politics .” American Government: Myths and Realities.

Moore, Brooke Noel., and Richard Parker. Critical Thinking. Boston, McGraw Hill, 2007.

Pryor, Ben. “You’Re More Likely to Support a Conservative Candidate If You Vote in This Type of Building.” Business Insider, Business Insider, Inc, 25 Feb. 2016, http://www.businessinsider.com/how-priming-can-influence-votes-2016-2.

“US News.” US News, U.S.News &Amp; World Report, http://www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2010/02/04/5-ways-new-media-are-changing-politics.

Focus 7

The Truth Behind the Promise

As elections roll around every four years, the potential candidate offers their views and opinions on issues, and shares their ideas on how to make the United States better. The candidates make their fair share of promises. How often these promises are kept is the question. It is no secret that the candidate simply cannot fulfill all of the promises made, but for the majority of the time, “the candidate does keep many of them” (Gitelson).

From the Washington Post, it is said “Presidents usually try to enact the policies they advocate during the campaign” (Washington), even though there have been exceptions of past presidents like George Washington. Our current President, Barack Obama, made more than 500 promises during his 2008 campaign and “in only 56 cases — about 10 percent — has Obama actually broken a promise” (Washington). For example, Obama pledged to create a national public health care, and he did through the Affordable Care Act. Often candidates fail to fulfill their promises due to concerns outside of their control, such as facing opposition from Congress, or members of the same party, or is unable to get the public to support his program. So presidents are successful in some areas not unsuccessful in others.

Whether it is a party-centered campaign or a candidate-centered campaign, there will only be one winner in the presidential race. When the topic of abortion comes into light, the answers, beliefs and views can be drastically different from one candidate to the next. The Republican platform believes that abortion should be considered illegal and oppose the ruling of  Roe v. Wade. They believe that life begins at conception and, “say the unborn child has a fundamental right to life” (Republican) and will not fund any public health organization that includes abortion coverage. They heavily support adoption instead of abortion. As for Donald Trump, “he’s pledged to defund Planned Parenthood – an effort that would effectively try to spread the Executive Council’s actions to all 50 states” (Ballot).  On the other hand, Democrats support this issue and support keeping late term abortions legal. They believe a woman has the right to choose what should be done with her body, and believe abortion should be done in a safe and legal way. They support contraceptive research, family planning and family life education. The website from Ithaca also portrays that as President, Hillary Clinton promised she would, “make sure that a woman’s right to make her own health decisions remains as permanent as all of the other values we hold dear” (Ballot).   Of all of the issues Americans fight for or against, abortion is an extremely controversial and a broad topic of argument. Retrospective voting is when individuals “base their votes on the candidates’ or parties’ past record of performance” (Gitelson 275). Hillary Clinton has had so much experience with politics; a U.S. Senator, Secretary of State, and First Lady. She has dealt with countless issues such as health care and women’s rights. As for Donald Trump, he has no true political experience, but has dealt with large corporations and has spent time dealing with the political system from the local level to international. All of these issues wrestle with the same idea: we need to vote for the candidate who will best carry out the job. My issue and policy research this semester is on how clinics (including abortion) should be available to all women, in particular, Missouri. This state has only one abortion clinic for its entirety. If a president is offensive as well as rude to women and wants to defund a resource center for them, it is unclear to me how he can be looked upon as our President.  The scholarly article Local Access To A Planned Parenthood Clinic Linked To Reduced Dropout Ratesoffered statistics regarding how access to Planned Parenthood clinics affects dropout rates among young women and teens. The sample included: white Americans, African Americans, and Hispanics. Their research shows that access to Planned Parenthood is linked to the success of many individuals, and those who live close to a clinic will have a reduced school drop-out rate. So, if Trump gets elected and goes through with said promise of defunding Planned Parenthood clinics, the results will be detrimental to the overall well-being of women.  These sources have connected the dots for me, I am going to vote for Hillary Clinton because she is the best equipped to handling the job at the White House and she supports women and their decisions about their body.

From all of the sources gathered here, it is true to conclude that “although some campaign promises are not fulfilled, many are” (Gitelson 281). A president’s program can fail from a multitude of reasons, such as opposition from Congress as well as his own party. They also might have been ineffective from the start. But, it is a mere myth to state that campaign promises are not fulfilled. Overall, we must vote for the president that we determine will do the best job for our country for the next four years and who has the qualifications needed to be president.

Works Cited

“2016-Ballotpedia.” 2016 Presidential Candidates on Abortion – Ballotpedia, https://ballotpedia.org/2016_presidential_candidates_on_abortion.

Gitelson, Alan R. et al. “Chapter 8: Campaigns and Elections.” American Government: Myths and Realities.

“Presidents Keep Their Campaign Promises.” Washington Post, The Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/presidents-keep-their-campaign-promises/2011/08/25/giqawca9dq_blog.html.

“Republican Party on Abortion.” Republican Party on Abortion. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Oct. 2016.