Weekly Focus 6

 

The Critical Connection

After studying all these sources, I have come to understand of how important it is to advocate for something you’re passionate about and to spread awareness.  January 22, 1973 changed the lives of 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” (Health).  14th Amendment states, 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. Depending on the political party with their respective platforms, the views on abortion differ My issue this semester is on how clinics should be available to all women, in particular, Missouri. This state has only one abortion clinic for its entirety.

      On Tuesday, my group visited the Chico State Health Center. Everyone in the group has similar research topics: Planned Parenthood and abortion.  I learned that the health center is similar to Planned Parenthood in some aspects; it provides health education, contraceptives, and STI treatment. Having a health center available to students greatly adds to their overall health and well being. This connects with the article we read together as a group, Local Access To A Planned Parenthood Clinic Linked To Reduced Dropout Rates, which was a scholarly article that summarized a study done on women who were in close proximity of a Planned Parenthood clinic. 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.  The researchers concluded that “women living in areas that included a Planned Parenthood site were significantly less likely than others to have a child under the age of five, 5.0% vs. 6.0%” (Local). Their research showed 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 places wrestle with the same issue: there must be a way for women to get better access to health care. This links with the documentary our group watched called The Hunting Grounds. This documentary was an eye opener and tear jerker; it was about the amount of rapes and sexual assaults occur on college campuses. “More than 16% of college women are sexually assaulted while in college” (The Hunting Grounds), and a majority of the time the rapist doesn’t get penalized for the crime. The universities try and downplay rape reports, finding that it will look bad for their reputation. Sometimes, the universities just claim that the accusation was false, which is actually “2-8% of the time” (The Hunting Grounds). The documentary focused on two women, Annie and Andrea, who were raped during the start of the school year. They found their way to supporting each other and eventually other girls. They advocated for something they wanted to bring awareness to, and something that needed to be changed. This links with Village Politics, and “how our Attention Deficient disorder world creates so many competing claims on our focus that it’s almost impossible to escape the noise, and harder to distinguish the important claims from the trivial ones” (Loeb). The two survivors soon started ‘connecting the dots’ (as they said) and wanted to change policies, particularly title IX. A title IX complaint is for the university or institution when a student feels as though they have been discriminated against (The Hunting Grounds).  “Given the potential of technological resources to distract us, we need, to stop using them as toys and start using them as tools” (Loeb). This is exactly what Annie and Andrea did; they heavily relied on the use of technology to reach out to other victims and to spread awareness. They phoned, texted, emailed, Skyped, and Facebooked to change policies, and support student survivors and their families. Word spread and people started telling their stories and change started to happen. But, “if nothing changes, more than 100,000 college students will be sexually assaulted in the upcoming school year” (The Hunting Grounds). Public interest groups and single-issue groups all seek to lobby Congress on this issue. Without these groups and people like Annie and Andrea, change would not come about.

The article our group read from Gitelson, U.S. Attitudes Altered by Sept. 11, was about the country’s reaction to 9/11. This article described how in times of tragedy, people come together as a nation. The population is able to disregard differing opinions about politics and social issues in order to support the nation in times of need. I believe when a woman needs help, we need to all come together to support her, no matter what.

All of these sources are intertwined. The people who support and advocate for what they believe in really make a difference on legislation. All of the sources come together to prove a few points: support a cause you are passionate about and make your voice be heard.  In addition, we must all come together to support and care for women in an adverse situations, whether from sexual assault or choosing to have an abortion. Change cannot be done without taking the first step for what you believe in, and as Gandhi remarked, “be the change you wish to see in the world”. This documentary has made me want to help those in need in cases of sexual assault. I do not know much about this subject, but I know that I am interested in lending a hand and having my voice be heard. Change is coming and it can start with one person.  

 

Works Cited

Clymer, Adam. “U.S. Attitudes Altered Little by Sept. 11, Pollsters Say.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 19 May 2002. Web. 11 Oct. 2016.

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

“Health Centers – Planned Parenthood.” Health Centers – Planned Parenthood. N.p., 2016. Web. 13 Oct. 2016.

Loeb, Paul Rogat. Soul of a Citizen: Living with Conviction in Challenging times. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2010. Print.

“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.

The Hunting Grounds. Directed by Kirby Dick, performances by  Andrea Pino, Annie Clark, Claire Potter, The Weinstein Company, 2015.

 

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Focus 5

 

The Differences Between the Republicans and Democrats

George Washington once said, “However political parties may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.” The citizens of the United States were warned by Washington that dividing the country by political parties would have a negative impact. But,  since the 1700s, it seems this country has been divided by political parties.  A political party “is a coalition of people organized formally to recruit, nominate, and elect individuals to office and to use elected office to achieve shared political goals” (Gitelson 221).  The early United State’s parties were established in 1787 when Hamilton and other leaders, who wanted a strong central government started calling themselves Federalists.  Those who opposed Hamilton called themselves Democratic-Republicans and were lead by Thomas Jefferson. In 1828, Andrew Jackson, a democratic-republican, was elected president. He changed the party’s name to Democrats. Those who opposed the Democrats who were once called “federalists joined with anti-Jackson Democrats to form the National Republican, or Whig, Party” (Flanders). The two parties soon  became widely divided when the topic of discussion for the United States turned to slavery.  In 1854, antislavery forces formed the Republican Party. Today, generally the two parties agree on “social security, unemployment insurance, basic foreign policy, and civil rights” (Flanders). There are hundreds of issues that the two parties debate over, such as abortion, healthcare, and gun control.

Generally, for most of our nation’s history, we have had a two-party system. The system known as single-member district, winner-take-all electoral system is when a candidate must win by most votes (Gitelson).  Then only one U.S state or representative from each district may win. This is vastly different from European nations that use proportional representation, which seats are assigned to party candidates in proportion to percentage of the vote that the party gets within a district.   

The Republican party is represented by the color red and an elephant mascot. It was established in 1854 and is considered to have right wing conservative beliefs. States that are traditionally Republican are Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas. A few past presidents that have been Republican are Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan. Republicans are more interested in a smaller government, individual rights, freedoms and liberties. Republicans are likely to favor “reducing taxes…governmental services, including aid to minorities and social welfare programs” (Gitelson). Support generally comes from those who are white, reside in southern states, Protestant, and are in the middle to upper classes.  

The Democratic party, whose color is blue and has a mascot of a donkey, was brought into fruition in 1824. Those who are Democrats have liberal, left-wing beliefs and states that have a strong Democratic background include California, Massachusetts, and  New York. Past democratic presidents include Franklin Roosevelt (FDR) and John F. Kennedy. Democrats are concerned with the equality of an individual and the overall community responsibility, with a high degree of governmental oversight.  A large governmental role in “policy areas such as social welfare and business regulation” (Gitelson). African Americans, Hispanics, Catholics, Jews, women and those over the age of fifty tend to support this political party.

There are countless issues that both Democrats and Republicans have their views on, such as, the debate over abortion, military involvement, and the role the government should play.   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. 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 induces abortion coverage. They heavily support adoption instead of abortion. 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.  Of all of the issues Americans fight for or against, abortion is an extremely controversial and a broad topic of argument.

In addition, when the issue is centered on health care, Republicans oppose too much government involvement while Democrats support full involvement (TheDemocrats). Democrats prefer having government involvement, they believe that having the government regulate the healthcare system, it will thrive. They support acts such as the Affordable Care Act, previously referred to as Obamacare. “The sweeping health care reform was designed to lower healthcare costs, make health insurance available to the 30 million Americans lacking it, and prevent the health insurance industry from denying coverage to any American with a pre-existing condition” (Scarpelli 12). Republicans wish to eradicate the Affordable Care Act by repealing it; they believe that this act has a negative impact on overall patient health and drives up the cost for the ones paying for the healthcare. Millions of Americans are still without health care, however, due to its high cost and/or high deductibles. These Americans are choosing to take a penalty on their income tax returns rather than pay the higher healthcare costs.

Another issue that is largely debated over is gun control, with Republicans being in favor of it and Democrats are not. Republicans believe that individuals have the right to bear arms (2nd Amendment) and these individuals may store and have firearms. They also “oppose federal licensing of law abiding gun owners and national gun registration as a violation of the 2nd Amendment and an invasion of privacy of honest citizens” (Republican Party). Democrats believe that owners should have guns with reasonable regulation. By doing this, they hope to keep the weapons out of the hands of criminals by fighting gun crime and closing the gun show loophole (The Democrats).  This is a feat easier said than done.

As November 8th approaches, the Republican party won’t even consider a “Democratic president’s nomination for the Supreme Court and it means that the ‘I can work with Congress’ talking point should be permanently retired” (Washington). As long as Republicans have control over both the house and the senate, there is no working with Congress for President Obama on this issue.  Budgets will still get passed, but whether there will be compromise or not is up in the air if Hillary Clinton wins the election in November.

 Some presidents or even potential candidates may promise such things that they cannot control. Donald Trump’s plan for immigration is to convince the Mexican government to build a wall with Mexico’s own resources and money. This is an unrealistic approach, since Trump does not possess the power to do this. “Conservative voters are so locked into their hatred of anything “liberal” that even a man as openly vile and dangerous as Trump will probably manage to at least make it close on election day” (Washington) and will try to build his unreasonable wall. However, Trump has a point, the United States needs to do something about its immigration problem; immigration is a privilege, not a right. Both of these candidates are fighting for the title of the President of the United States. This election cycle has been somewhat person and vile to everyone, but anyway you look at it, we are going to have a new President come November 2016.

To say the least, after examining party platforms, the Democrats are considered to have liberal views, while Republicans have conservative views. Despite the core differences between the two parties, they “remain a key institution in American politics and are still one of the most important cues for voters making electoral decisions” (Gitelson).  The presidential election is a little over a month away and Americans will make decisions based on their views on the issues. The choice the voters have to make comes down to primarily this: more governmental intervention or less governmental intervention.

Works Cited

AM, September 1 201610:55. “A Personal Note about Donald Trump’s Candidacy.” Washington Monthly. Diane Straus, 02 Sept. 2016. Web. 06 Sept. 2016. <http://washingtonmonthly.com/2016/09/01/a-personal-note-about-donald-trumps-candidacy/>.

“Democrat vs Republican.” Diffen.com. Diffen LLC, n.d. Web. 2 Oct 2016.< http://www.diffen.com/difference/Democrat_vs_Republican >

Flanders, Steven. “The Origins and Functions of Political Parties.”Scholastic Teachers. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Oct. 2016.

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

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

“Republican Party on Gun Control.” Republican Party on Gun Control. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Oct. 2016. <http://www.ontheissues.org/Celeb/Republican_Party_Gun_Control.htm>.

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.

TheDemocrats. “Democrats.org.” Democrats.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Oct. 2016.

Focus 2

 

Federalism in Our World Today

        The very first idea of federalism came into light in 1789, “when the nation’s new rulers engaged in an ongoing debate from the onset” (Gitelson) and that still continues to this day. Many different participants play key roles in the U.S. federal system. Federalism lets two or more parties govern over a specific piece of land; explaining why each state has its own constitution and power.  Along with the national government, the major players include the state and local governments, and the citizens of the United States. Everyone has a pivotal role in the federal system.

        Since its origin, the federal system has changed and expanded, but continues to grow more and more complex, with each passing day, as the people of the United States continue to rely on it. As part of the national government, the Supreme Court, Congress and the White House play key roles in the building blocks of federalism. The American’s should not “change the text. Change the attitude with more judicial engagement in enforcing existing, critical constitutional features — in particular: federalism” (New York Times). In the 1980’s the Supreme Court indicated a willingness to give state and local governments more power on issues such as abortion, local campaign financing, and sobriety tests used for drunk drivers (Gitelson). Congress plays a vital role in the federal system. During the past few decades, Congress has expanded its authorization of grant programs. Here, local and state government have a chance to get federal funding. Also, White House initiatives have sought to expand the role of state and local governments in the federal system when “Clinton ordered members of his administration to administer programs that allowed states to experiment with innovative ways of dealing with the nation’s health and welfare problems” (Gitelson). Small changes such as this truly impacts the federal system.

        In addition to the national government, the states have a key role in federalism as well. They are responsible for areas in education, criminal justice, and enforcing laws in safety and health regulations.  The states also aid in helping with public problems and concerns. For example, California changed building standards to help with energy costs, reducing air pollution, and reducing gas emission. The citizen’s opinion always plays a key role “in determining the

extent of the state’s influence” (Gitelson). Over the past years, the opinion of the state has become more positive. How powerful these local governments appear is decided by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court issued a decision that local governments are allowed to take private property. Eminent domain allows the government to take property for public purposes, such as clearing slums and replacing them with public housing. “As of 2012, there were 90,056 local governments in the United States” (Gitelson), which includes general service governments; local governments that run services for people within their boarder. Of these 90,056 local governments, 38,266 of them are special district governments that deal with specific government functions, such as education, fire protection and public transportation (Gitelson). The state’s governments may not seem to have many roles at first glance, but it is clear that it has many functions to better their local areas.

        An important aspect that U.S. citizens should uphold as part of their civic duty is voting; whether it be the Primary Election or General Election. Everything in government is linked together. We need to vote people in office to carry out our needs, and they in turn, must carry out their positions. The Primary Election is where the voters propose a candidate to represent them in the upcoming election. This is different from a Closed Primary, where a voter would have to be registered in that specific party before being able to vote. These are vastly different from the General Election, which for California, happen “every four years on the same first Tuesday in November that national mid-term elections for Congress take place in each state” (Scarpelli).      Whether the voters are planning on voting in this upcoming November election or not they are ready for this showdown to come to a close. This election is different. It seems to be more personal than in past elections. For instance, Donald Trump has made headlines over countless controversial statements. Some people’s lives are being turned upside down by this political campaign and “this is not just about the potential damage a Trump presidency would do. It is also about the damage his candidacy is doing to people right now” (Washington Monthly). How the president of the United States is chosen is not by who has the most vote, they are chosen through the Electoral College as stated by the United States Constitution. Instead of having the mass public having to vote for their president, “the result was a system in which each state would select a group of electors who would cast ballots for President” (Scarpelli). For a candidate to win the presidency, he or she must obtain at least 270 electoral college votes. Each of these components play a key role in federalism and the basis of our government would collapse without the voters and without the candidates.

        The former governor of Texas, Rick Perry, once said, “Crucial to understanding federalism in modern day America is the concept of mobility, or ‘the ability to vote with your feet.’ If you don’t support the death penalty and citizens packing a pistol – don’t come to Texas. If you don’t like medicinal marijuana and gay marriage, don’t move to California”. Through cooperation, there are many different branches and officials that help to make federalism work. The key players include the state and local governments, as well as the citizens of the United States, just to name a few. “Federalism isn’t about states’ rights. It’s about individual liberty” (New York Times) and the willingness for two or more parties to govern over a specific piece of property.

 

Works Cited

AM, September 1 201610:55. “A Personal Note about Donald Trump’s Candidacy.” Washington Monthly. Diane Straus, 02 Sept. 2016. Web. 06 Sept. 2016. <http://washingtonmonthly.com/2016/09/01/a-personal-note-about-donald-trumps-candidacy/&gt;.

Elizabeth Price Foley. “Revisiting the Constitution: Restore Federalism.” New York Times. Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr., n.d. Web. <http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/07/08/another-stab-at-the-us-constitution/revisiting-the-constitution-restore-federalism&gt;.

Gitelson, Alan R., Robert L. Dudley, and Melvin J. Dubnick. “Chapter 3: Federalism and Intergovernmental Relations.” American Government: Myths and Realities. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. Print.

Scarpelli, Craig. “Chapter 3: California Elections.” California in the American System. N.p.: McGraw Hill, 2012. N. pag. Print.

 

           

 

Focus 2

 

Federalism in Our World Today

        The very first idea of federalism came into light in 1789, “when the nation’s new rulers engaged in an ongoing debate from the onset” (Gitelson) and that still continues to this day. Many different participants play key roles in the U.S. federal system. Federalism lets two or more parties govern over a specific piece of land; explaining why each state has its own constitution and power.  Along with the national government, the major players include the state and local governments, and the citizens of the United States. Everyone has a pivotal role in the federal system.

        Since its origin, the federal system has changed and expanded, but continues to grow more and more complex, with each passing day, as the people of the United States continue to rely on it. As part of the national government, the Supreme Court, Congress and the White House play key roles in the building blocks of federalism. The American’s should not “change the text. Change the attitude with more judicial engagement in enforcing existing, critical constitutional features — in particular: federalism” (New York Times). In the 1980’s the Supreme Court indicated a willingness to give state and local governments more power on issues such as abortion, local campaign financing, and sobriety tests used for drunk drivers (Gitelson). Congress plays a vital role in the federal system. During the past few decades, Congress has expanded its authorization of grant programs. Here, local and state government have a chance to get federal funding. Also, White House initiatives have sought to expand the role of state and local governments in the federal system when “Clinton ordered members of his administration to administer programs that allowed states to experiment with innovative ways of dealing with the nation’s health and welfare problems” (Gitelson). Small changes such as this truly impacts the federal system.

        In addition to the national government, the states have a key role in federalism as well. They are responsible for areas in education, criminal justice, and enforcing laws in safety and health regulations.  The states also aid in helping with public problems and concerns. For example, California changed building standards to help with energy costs, reducing air pollution, and reducing gas emission. The citizen’s opinion always plays a key role “in determining the

extent of the state’s influence” (Gitelson). Over the past years, the opinion of the state has become more positive. How powerful these local governments appear is decided by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court issued a decision that local governments are allowed to take private property. Eminent domain allows the government to take property for public purposes, such as clearing slums and replacing them with public housing. “As of 2012, there were 90,056 local governments in the United States” (Gitelson), which includes general service governments; local governments that run services for people within their boarder. Of these 90,056 local governments, 38,266 of them are special district governments that deal with specific government functions, such as education, fire protection and public transportation (Gitelson). The state’s governments may not seem to have many roles at first glance, but it is clear that it has many functions to better their local areas.

        An important aspect that U.S. citizens should uphold as part of their civic duty is voting; whether it be the Primary Election or General Election. Everything in government is linked together. We need to vote people in office to carry out our needs, and they in turn, must carry out their positions. The Primary Election is where the voters propose a candidate to represent them in the upcoming election. This is different from a Closed Primary, where a voter would have to be registered in that specific party before being able to vote. These are vastly different from the General Election, which for California, happen “every four years on the same first Tuesday in November that national mid-term elections for Congress take place in each state” (Scarpelli).      Whether the voters are planning on voting in this upcoming November election or not they are ready for this showdown to come to a close. This election is different. It seems to be more personal than in past elections. For instance, Donald Trump has made headlines over countless controversial statements. Some people’s lives are being turned upside down by this political campaign and “this is not just about the potential damage a Trump presidency would do. It is also about the damage his candidacy is doing to people right now” (Washington Monthly). How the president of the United States is chosen is not by who has the most vote, they are chosen through the Electoral College as stated by the United States Constitution. Instead of having the mass public having to vote for their president, “the result was a system in which each state would select a group of electors who would cast ballots for President” (Scarpelli). For a candidate to win the presidency, he or she must obtain at least 270 electoral college votes. Each of these components play a key role in federalism and the basis of our government would collapse without the voters and without the candidates.

        The former governor of Texas, Rick Perry, once said, “Crucial to understanding federalism in modern day America is the concept of mobility, or ‘the ability to vote with your feet.’ If you don’t support the death penalty and citizens packing a pistol – don’t come to Texas. If you don’t like medicinal marijuana and gay marriage, don’t move to California”. Through cooperation, there are many different branches and officials that help to make federalism work. The key players include the state and local governments, as well as the citizens of the United States, just to name a few. “Federalism isn’t about states’ rights. It’s about individual liberty” (New York Times) and the willingness for two or more parties to govern over a specific piece of property.

 

Works Cited

AM, September 1 201610:55. “A Personal Note about Donald Trump’s Candidacy.” Washington Monthly. Diane Straus, 02 Sept. 2016. Web. 06 Sept. 2016. <http://washingtonmonthly.com/2016/09/01/a-personal-note-about-donald-trumps-candidacy/&gt;.

Elizabeth Price Foley. “Revisiting the Constitution: Restore Federalism.” New York Times. Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr., n.d. Web. <http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/07/08/another-stab-at-the-us-constitution/revisiting-the-constitution-restore-federalism&gt;.

Gitelson, Alan R., Robert L. Dudley, and Melvin J. Dubnick. “Chapter 3: Federalism and Intergovernmental Relations.” American Government: Myths and Realities. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. Print.

Scarpelli, Craig. “Chapter 3: California Elections.” California in the American System. N.p.: McGraw Hill, 2012. N. pag. Print.

 

           

 

Focus 1

Sarah Laughon

Professor Moore/Morris

English 130/Political Science 155

1 September 2016

The Myth of the All-Powerful President

The myth of the all-powerful president may make logical sense for those not in the White House or dealing with foreign affairs. It may seem easy for one to think that the president can declare war in a blink of an eye, interpret laws, or decide how federal money will be spent. But further research shows that the president does not have complete unlimited power. While he has abundant power, he also has restrictions. Congress is right alongside the president as he is governing. Just because a president wants something does not mean it will be become law.

The president has a long list of duties and responsibilities, including being the chief of state, chief diplomat, chief legislator. His primary powers are the veto and executive orders. Without the president’s signature, a bill cannot become a law. However,  a president can “kill a bill by not signing it the last ten days of a congressional session” (Gitelson), which exercises his veto power. This is known as a pocket veto. Another one of the president’s powers is the power to pardon. Congress may not limit the president’s power to pardon like they can for other orders. Also, the president can withhold information from Congress through executive privilege. A president can also turn to executive agreements, where he does not have to get the consent of Congress before making agreements with other countries. The title of Mr. President does not fall short of having a lot of power and responsibility in governing the nation.

While having a great deal of power, the president does not have complete control of everything; this is a myth “where voters believing in unrealistic presidential power” (Gardner)  that many Americans succumb to. The United States of America has a system of checks and balances. Congress plays a key role is certain aspects in the White House. The president can choose what money is needed for certain departments and he can prepare a budget to submit Congress, but in the end, congress decides whether to vote yes or no on the proposed budget. The president can also use the congressional-executive agreement which is used for dealing with foreign affairs. It is “an agreement with a foreign nation that is negotiated by the president and then submitted to both houses of Congress for approval” (Gitelson). President Bill Clinton used this to avoid the two-thirds vote in the Senate for treaty ratification, successfully winning the approval for NAFTA.  

As Bill Clinton’s wife, Hillary Clinton, prepares for the upcoming 2016 election, the Republican party won’t even consider a “Democratic president’s nomination for the Supreme Court and it means that the ‘I can work with Congress’ talking point should be permanently retired” (Washington). As long as Republicans have control over both the house and senate, there is no working with Congress for Hillary Clinton.  Budgets will still get passed, but whether there will be compromise or not is up in the air if Clinton wins in November.  

Some presidents or even potential candidates may promise such things that they cannot control. Donald Trump’s plan for immigration is to convince the Mexican government to build a wall with Mexico’s own resources and money. This is an unrealistic approach, since Trump does not possess the power to do this. “Conservative voters are so locked into their hatred of anything “liberal” that even a man as openly vile and dangerous as Trump will probably manage to at least make it close on election day” (Washington) and try to build his unreasonable wall. However, Trump has a point, the United States needs to do something about its immigration problem; immigration is a privilege, not a right.

The president has a wide range of responsibilities and power, but through checks and balances is limited by Congress. The central myth that the president is all-powerful can be misleading and voters put all of their hopes and wishes into one candidate when they cannot necessarily do everything they have promised.

 

Works Cited

Atkins, David. “How Much Bad Press Can Trump’s Campaign Take Before It Implodes?” Washington Monthly. Gone Viral, 27 Aug. 2016. Web. 30 Aug. 2016. <http://washingtonmonthly.com/2016/08/27/how-much-bad-press-can-trumps-campaign-take-before-it-implodes/&gt;.

Atkins, David. ““Working with Congress” Won’t Be Possible for Clinton.” Washington Monthly. Gone Viral, 27 Aug. 2016. Web. 30 Aug. 2016. <http://washingtonmonthly.com/2016/08/27/working-with-congress-wont-be-possible-for-clinton/&gt;.

Gitelson, Alan R., Robert L. Dudley, and Melvin J. Dubnick. “Chapter 12: The Presidency.” American Government: Myths and Realities. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. Print.

 

Weekly Foci

Sarah Laughon

Professor Moore/Morris

English 130/Political Science 155

13 September 2016

The ‘Helping Hand’ Known A the Government

It is no secret that the government doles out its fair share of help to those in need. “When you add pensions, unemployment, Social Security, and Medicare to the mix, the percentage of Americans relying on government for part or all of their subsistence is 49.5% of the American population” (Moreland), which is an overwhelming amount of people, considering the United States alone has roughly 300 million inhabitants.  The federal, state and local governments aid the poor through the use of social welfare policies that provided a sort of safety net for some people.

In the 1600s, England had a policy known as poor laws, which America strongly based its early social policies on. Poor laws made the British communities take care of the sick and poor. Not until around the Great Depression did the United States government become more involved in the care of the needy. “Beginning in the 1930’s, national policies focused on promoting the general welfare through social programs for all Americans, regardless of their income level” (Gitelson), therefore, resulting in different types of  government aide; for the poor and the general public. Before modern tactics came into play, the government issued programs for: general assistance, work assistance, and categorical assistance. These programs received a wide range of criticism. In the 1980s,  some thought these programs created too much dependency. This criticism still holds truth value to this day. An article from the National Review stated that “many welfare recipients, particularly long-term ones, lack the skills and attachment to the job market necessary to obtain the types of jobs that pay average or above-average wages” (Tanner). This dependence on welfare is caused by a lack of education and skills necessary to make a justifiable living in today’s society. These entitled individuals on welfare do not learn skills, rather they learn how to successfully live off government subsidizes year after year instead of using it as a safety net or as a means to getting back on their feet. Another criticism was that welfare was too expensive. People were not wrong about welfare back in the 1980s; in California’s state budget, about “30% of the budget is taken up with Health and Human Services which accounts for the health care and welfare programs provided by the state” (Scarpelli). Right now, about 10 million people live off Medi-Cal, the State health care system for ones in need. It may be easy to think from a taxpayer’s perspective that we need to cut welfare, but California’s funds are set up by means of matching funds, which means programs are matched, dollar for dollar, by Federal government dollars. The agreement coexists between two levels of government.  One level provides money for the program and one provides money for the purpose. If the Federal program was cut, the citizens would actually be losing Federal dollars since the two are tied together. It is crucial to take into account how much of the cutting will impact federal dollars.

In 1996, there was a major welfare reform legislation which resulted in the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act. This act also introduced Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). This assisted needy families, reduced unwanted pregnancies, and encouraged the establishment of two-parent families. At some point, “nearly 40 percent of Americans between the ages of 25 and 60 will experience at least one year below the official poverty line…, and 54 percent will spend a year in poverty or near poverty…” (Thomas) and having these programs help people in these situations. Other services include food stamps. In their life, “half of all American children will at some point during their childhood reside in a household that uses food stamps for a period of time” (Thomas). Now known as the Supplemental Security Income Program; it is the main food assistance for people needing food, and only those who have a gross income of less than 130 percent of the federal poverty line may qualify. These programs are just a few examples of the helping hand of the government and how many people it can help.

As Ronald Reagan once said, “We should measure welfare’s success by how many people leave welfare, not by how many are added”. tHIS couldn’t be more true. Governmental actions should give us the power and mobility to deal with difficult times and get us back on our feet and help us deal with poverty and inequality, but not rely on it forever. When used wisely, our tax dollars, and welfare system in general, can help the lives of thousands of Americans and get them to where they need to be today for a better tomorrow.  

 

Works Cited

Moreland, By James. “Percentage of Americans Now on Welfare .” Economy In Crisis RSS, http://economyincrisis.org/content/percentage-of-americans-now-on-welfare-paints-a-disturbing-picture-of-the-state-of-our-economy.

Scarpelli, Craig. “Chapter 15: Domestic Policy and Policymaking.” California in the American System, McGraw Hill, 2012.

Tanner, Michael. “Welfare: A Better Deal than Work.” National Review, 21 Aug. 2013, http://www.nationalreview.com/article/356317/welfare-better-deal-work-michael-tanner.

Thomas, Mark. “Why Social Insurance Is a Necessary Part of Capitalism.” The Fiscal Times, http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Columns/2015/02/10/Why-Social-Insurance-Necessary-Part-Capitalism.