Political Musings

Political Apathy and the Status Quo

Columbia, Missouri — With the recent midterm elections resulting in a voter turnout rate of only 36.4 percent, it’s becoming quite apparent that a plague of political apathy is taking the United States by storm. In fact, according to the New York Times Editorial Board, this has been the worst voter turnout in 72 years. With our leaders’ approval ratings plummeting, the American people may be beginning to feel that now, more than ever, their interests are simply not being represented.

CBS News recently released a report unveiling that the youth vote (ages 18-29) only represented a meager 13 percent of the national electorate this year. Historically speaking, a lower midterm voter turnout is usually expected in between presidential elections, however the lack of activism and interest among America’s youth was especially unprecedented this year. This underscores the growing divide between the few individuals on top of society enforcing major economic decisions and the remainder of the population that deals with the consequences of those decisions.

Some would argue that an increasing plethora of distractions is keeping the younger generations from finding much motivation to partake in the political system. According to Penelope Romero, a typical middle-class midwesterner, “these distractions [are] not allowing them to see the issues of reality.” Upon further inquiry, it was agreed that online media and social networking have become somewhat of an affliction to political awareness. Entertainment masquerading as “news media,” or what some call “infotainment” gives people, especially youth, a false sense of being on top of national issues.

The function of social networks is also heavily debated in the realm of politics. Penelope Romero continues to say that “They are very useful to political activism, and should continue to be used that way. You just can’t negate the fact that they are also major sources of distraction for today’s youth. The youth will not learn to look at what’s really happening in the political world unless the teachers show them. Who are the teachers? Parents, internet, TV, schools, etc?”

This opens up the question of what or who is the purest and most unbiased source of political knowledge available to incoming generations? Many will look to their preferred cable news network (i.e FOX, MSNBC, CNN), yet the increasingly partisan and idealogical lens through which stories are reported is not conducive to a pure political understanding. Some will unquestionably adopt the viewpoints of their parents and peers, yet how can this be any better if those opinions are founded on a basis of misinformation and rigid ideology?

Schools and Universities are little better. Noam Chomsky, professor emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has discussed the influence of big money in colleges and the slow and steady shift of Universities to corporate business models. This also involves the indoctrination of youth to become ever more passive and apathetic to the unjust economics being thrust upon them. The most prominent method of indoctrination is the heavy burdening of student loan debt that an increasing number of youth are struggling with. This ties them securely into the capitalistic society and money-centered mentality. Chomsky continues to say that “…another technique of indoctrination is to cut back faculty-student contact: large classes, temporary teachers who are overburdened, who can barely survive on an adjunct salary. And since you don’t have any job security, you can’t build up a career, you can’t move on and get more. These are all techniques of discipline, indoctrination, and control.”

Indeed, the issue of procuring pure and unbiased political knowledge is a daunting task in the United States today. There are a few online publications that feature “alternative news” and several illuminated individuals devoted to spreading truth, however most of these sources are being put under the label of “radicalism” by those on top who wish to keep the populace indoctrinated and apathetic. So far, these methods have worked quite effectively in subduing the political activism of Americans, but when they haven’t, there is always voter suppression and gerrymandering to fall back on.

Beyond the superficial partisan squabbles of Democrat vs Republican or Liberal vs Conservative, there is an underlying trend of misinformation and pure, unabashed ignorance within today’s youth. This indoctrination is all that the younger generations have ever known, and so it is unlikely to be questioned or scrutinized in any broad sense. However, there is hope. Every now now then a movement springs up that could be considered truly populist in nature, such the Occupy Wall Street movement fighting for economic equality. Even in a society where critical thinking and individual thought are happily traded for a herd mentality and the bliss of obedience, there is still something moderately functional in our conscience. Something that speaks loudly when an injustice is brought to light. It is up to those who are brave enough to question the status quo to drag those injustices, kicking and screaming, out of the shadows where they can be seen by all for what they truly are.

To quote from Apple: “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round heads in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them. Disagree with them. Glorify, or vilify them. But the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

Special thanks to Penelope Romero for consenting to an interview for the inclusion of quotes in this article. Your input was very much appreciated.

Works Cited:

“The Young Voter Turnout in 2014.” <i>CBSNews</i>. CBS Interactive. Web. 9 Dec. 2014. &lt;http://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-young-voter-turnout-in-2014/&gt;.

Stableford, Dylan. “Voter Turnout for 2014 Midterms Worst in 72 Years.” <i>Yahoo! News</i>. Yahoo!, 12 Nov. 2014. Web. 9 Dec. 2014. &lt;http://news.yahoo.com/voter-turnout-2014-midterms-worst-in-72-years-143406756.html&gt;.

“Political Apathy Threatens Our Nation.” <i>The Nation</i>. Web. 9 Dec. 2014. &lt;http://www.thenation.com/blog/176252/political-apathy-threatens-our-nation&gt;.

Edwards, Dennis. “POLITICAL APATHY AND THE YOUTH VOTE: A SURVEY OF UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS.” <i>POLITICAL APATHY AND THE YOUTH VOTE: A SURVEY OF UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS</i>. Web. 9 Dec. 2014. &lt;https://www.coastal.edu/business/cbj/pdfs/articles/spring2005/edwards.pdf&gt;.

“Jacobin.” <i>Jacobin The Death of American Universities Comments</i>. Web. 9 Dec. 2014. &lt;https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/03/the-death-of-american-universities/&gt;.

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Fog of Glory

Throughout colonial Boston Massachusetts, until about 1770, Pope’s Day was celebrated to commemorate the discovery and thwarting of a Catholic plot to overthrow King James in 1605. Occurring on the 5th of November, this anti-catholic celebration served as a way to unify the colonists religiously and through their mutual hatred of the Catholic church. The event often included violence, rival mobs, and the burning of effigies to signify disgust in the Devil, Pope and even Tax Collector. It was an unofficial holiday upon which the “have-nots” and poor workers of town would gather, demanding coins from households and brawling in the streets.

In Boston, upon this day of celebratory madness, two rival mobs would generally form: a North End Mob and a South End Mob. Meeting in the middle of town, these two mobs would commence to brawl, the winners partaking in the burning of the effigies. During the time in which the Stamp Act emerged, other mobs developed in opposition to the act, proving to be a vital patriotic aspect of the coming Revolution. The 5th of November, leading up to roughly 1770 in which processions for the Boston Massacre superseded, was defined by protests to the many parliamentary taxes enacted by the British. After the Revolutionary War, Pope’s Day ceased to be celebrated.

This historical event was significant in that it highlights the violent, maddening and overall bloody nature of conflict in the colonies during the 18th century that is often insufficiently mentioned in textbooks. Akin to an outright civil war, the events leading up to the Revolution were hardly peaceful. The mobs, brawls and death at the hands of colonists within their communities paints the decade in a grim light. The transition from British rule to Independence did not arise without sacrifice. Revolutions in general are often glorified to reflect the societal change as beneficial and to prove that the many glaring sacrifices were not made in vain. The families that were torn apart, the children that were killed needlessly and the disruption of economic order are hardly discussed in detail.

Of course, it’s impossible to guess where the United States would be today if the Revolution had never occurred. Most likely, its citizens can thank their freedom and economic opportunity to the very revolution that was carried out in blood and death. What’s important to realize is that the details and possible motives of any major societal change are never completely pretty. November 5th in the original colonies is just one example. Pope’s Day is merely a window into the true passion, desires and animosity of the colonists. However, we can use it as a way to see clearly and factually what the fog of glory has obscured from the mainstream belief.

Remembering the “who” and what” is never enough. Always search for the “why” and “how” and the cause and effect. Only then can the truth of any event be unveiled.

Sources:

“Pope’s Day (1765).” Pope’s Day 1765, a Large Anti-Catholic Celebration Held in Boston Eacy Year during Colonial Days. Web. 3 Oct. 2014.
Deming, Brian. “Pope Day in Boston Before the Revolution.” Suite. 14 July 2009. Web. 3 Oct. 2014.

Satirizing Fat America

Throughout the entirety of the western world, corporations and entrepreneurs are heralding the mass adoption of a single moral philosophy: self-indulgence. The lynchpin of these ethically hedonistic nations is none other than the United States of America, where morbid obesity is on the rise. In response to this unfortunate and reprehensible trend, I propose to form a coalition of socially aware and morally concerned individuals to combat self-indulgence in our fair land.

We shall be called the NFFDPA or Network of Fat Fighting Diet Promoters of America. Our obligation to the health of US Citizens is a unifying philosophy our members can rally around. Petitioning Congress and proposing health-conscious policies to the leaders of our great nation is the primary objective of the Network.

The first mandate on our agenda will be to convert all sidewalks between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to treadmills. Sidewalks are normally considered a form of public transit for pedestrians and are typically used to get from one place to another. However, our mandate will change everything. Instead of moving from place to another, pedestrians will remain in a single spot, walking onwards in vain. We believe this plan will work based a recent study unearthing the low IQ scores of American pedestrians.

Our second mandate will be to ban food entirely. Despite the logical errors in our reasoning, the NFFDPA acknowledges that this will successfully solve the problem of obesity within a few months. The rate of obesity has climbed dramatically in the past 20 years, but we believe this trend can be curbed with debatably extreme measures such as a nationwide food ban. Failure to comply with this policy will be classified as a criminal action, and will thus be punishable by law. Criminals may face life-long imprisonment and disembowelment.

The NFFDPA implores Congress to take action and fight self-indulgence in America, one fat cell at a time. With our fairly reasonable plan, the US will be purged of bad eating habits and hedonism. Both mandates should be passed by any and all legal means necessary. Some population decline may occur.

Is Our Constitution Still Relevant?


“There is nothing permanent in life except change,” said philosopher Heraclitus. The nature of the universe is relative in every regard, and infinity is only a concept that can be applied to the ever-evolving nature of the cosmos. This notion applies to many facets of life, including civilization and society. It even applies to humanity, which has always undergone a gradual, yet profound social change.  

Government has always been vital as the backbone of human coexistence. Finding the perfect means to instill order in the population has been the goal of countless leaders. One prime example is the United States Constitution, a 225 year-old document that comprises the founding principles of one of the greatest democracies in history. Enacted in 1789, it still persists as one of the oldest written constitutions still in use. 

Some argue whether such a time-honored document, originally constructed over 200 years ago, is still relevant in today’s society. Although numerous amendments have been made—and the possibility of more arising is a likelihood—some still argue whether the American people can continue to coexist under a patchwork quilt of quick fixes. Indeed, the founding principles of our government still stand strong. It is not the root of the Constitution that has become outdated; it is the unchecked and wild growth of its many amendments that lead this epitome of freedom into increasing obscurity.

I firmly acknowledge the importance of the 27 amendments and their many essential revisions. I merely fear that they have not correlated with the social change in our nation, as they should. The Constitution of the United States established a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” which was also expressed in the Declaration of Independence. This system was based on balance and attempted to involve citizens with government on an unprecedented scale. If our constitution is altered or amended without the the consent of the people, then a grievous blow has been struck to our nation’s fundamental values. 

The original intent of the Founding Fathers was to instill social harmony between government and population. Therefore, the Constitution must always—with no exceptions—reflect the mind of the people. This must be accomplished while still keeping the original integrity of the Founding Fathers intact. To accurately reflect the mind of the people, the Constitution must be open to change; it must continually adapt to the prevailing social outlook of society. 

It is human nature to overlook change, especially social reform. If the United States Constitution is to remain relevant, the government should accept that society is fluid and always changing. Ideology should not be immortalized within the Constitution. Besides the rights and freedoms that were endowed to us at the time of the Founders, any ideology should be frequently amended to portray the mind of the people. The integrity of the Founding Fathers should be respected and adapted as society’s needs evolve. Ensuring the evolutionary capabilities of the Constitution also ensures that original intent is upheld. The 27 Amendments have aided our government in modernizing its social policies, yet these ‘patches’ are only quick fixes. One step further should be taken to completely rebuild our founding document as an accurate portrayal of the American people.

Change is not a force to be feared, but embraced. According to Matthew 9:17 of the New Testament, “Neither do people pour wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” The world is in a constant and never-ending state of change. Nothing is permanent and everything eventually passes with time, including ideals. This is frightening to humans; the fact that our very thoughts, memories, and life will fade with time. Humans try to conform the world to their individual visions and immortalize the ideals they enforce upon others. The creation of government is a prime example of this situation. What every human fails to realize is that events will never pan out exactly as expected and will never remain permanent. This is the beauty of evolution, of change. The only foolproof way of ensuring a peaceful correlation between government and the people is by constructing a constitution that instills this beauty. 

The Founding Fathers did not just intend to create a constitution that suited their time and era. They recognized societal evolution as something vital to the future of our nation and, in turn, created an amendable document to dictate the law of the land. But our Founders cannot ensure the modernity of the Constitution from their graves. Their words are not strong enough to secure the legacy of their original intent. As mentioned, nothing lasts forever, including ideals. It is the job of newer generations to secure the relevance of the Constitution. They are the fore-bearers of change and future reforms. Only the people of today can determine the social values of our civilization and our culture.   

Our constitution is still relevant, but only just. Pressure from various advocates across the nation are calling for social reform of various scales. If a failure to heed the calls of citizens ensues, the Constitution of the United States of America will become close to dangerously outdated. We will find its irrelevance increasingly pronounced. This is my message to anyone with enough backbone to question precept: You have the right to dictate what is right or wrong. Inspiration can arise from our history, but only our hearts can truly determine what is best for modern society. This knowledge comes only by doing, not by the study of those who have already done. Our goal in life is to become trailblazers, and to forge ahead with our own modern ideals. So be a freethinker, and be original. Think for yourself and accept that times change. What was right for society 225 years ago may not be appropriate for today. I think the ultimate realization in life is when change is finally understood, and a modern generation is able to rise and follow their own hearts, not the heart of doctrine and creed.    

Image courtesy of http://www.teaparty911.com/blog/a-tenth-amendment-constitutional-crisis/