A video posted to Facebook is bringing the problem of the increased role of money in electoral politics in the United States to the forefront of millennial dialogue.
The video was created by Represent.Us, a group that calls itself a “non-partisan movement to end money in politics corruption.” The video was also played on local television in Washington, D.C. and has gone viral on social media.
Represent.Us is known for its support of the American Anti-Corruption Act, which seeks to “reign in congressional corruption and restore a government that represents every American.”
Using parody as its means, the video makes an awfully good point about how the system works today.
What Do You Think?
About the AuthorRich Robinson is the CEO and publisher of Rise News. He is also a journalist and a native of Miami. Robinson graduated from the University of Alabama and can be followed on Twitter @RichRobMiami.
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By Andrew Parks
Last December, Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump called for a “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States while we figure out what the hell is going on.”
At the time, I considered that to be the straw that broke the camel’s back for Trump’s candidacy, metaphorically speaking. To me, it was the latest in a long string of outlandish, extreme, hateful statements made by that particular candidate, and I made my sentiments on the subject known publicly.
Since then, however, I’ve found myself asking that question repeatedly. Not with respect to terrorism or immigration, but rather, with respect to democracy in the United States. What the hell is going on with America’s voters?
I could go on here about the immense anger in the American electorate that seems to be playing itself out through our electoral process, or about the so-called “low information voters” that some academics and several prominent political pundits have spent the better part of eight years excoriating.
But to do so, in my opinion, would be to provide an analysis which lacks depth; if there’s one criticism I have of pundits, it’s that they tend to focus on what’s right in front of their face, and don’t spend much time digging into the underlying issues behind the latest political trends. Besides, plenty of elaboration has already been offered on that in various elements of the media, as is.
Instead, I think it would be better to focus on the endemic problem in American elections today: the loss of the vote’s value as a real expression of political principle to a significant portion of the American electorate.
In my opinion, this isn’t the result of the “dumbing down of America” or any such nebulous conceptual trend, as many pundits and talking heads would suggest. At least, it’s not that, exactly. Instead, I think this is the result of a special brand of apathy by which the average American voter has convinced himself that their vote just doesn’t matter.
Think about it. Surely, you’ve heard someone say that before. I’ve heard it multiple times, myself, from multiple people. And I’ve heard it more from members of my generation than members of others.
To a significant number of Americans, voting is no longer seen as a sacred right or even a civic duty.
It’s seen as a burden and a waste of time. And, as a result, many Americans do just enough to get by when selecting a candidate to vote for.
This is perhaps the biggest difference between modern times and years past with respect to American politics. There was once a time when Americans put serious effort into determining who to vote for – the traditional approach of researching issues, policy positions and records, and selecting a candidate based on some set of criteria.
To each of these voters, the exact criteria were often different – my father often talks about my paternal grandfather, a yellow dog, card-carrying-union-member Democrat from the era of a blue Texas, “voting his pocket-book,” or rather, for the candidate whose economic policies he felt would most benefit himself and his family, whereas my maternal grandmother, a lifelong Republican also from Texas, was always more concerned about electing men and women of strong moral character to office. But, nonetheless, both had a standardized approach that took into account discrete factors in an attempt to produce an objective result.
Those days are long gone.
In their place is an age in which many voters look for the candidate not that they can connect with intellectually or principally, but emotionally. Instead of the candidate that shares their views, they want the candidate that they can grab a beer with.
Instead of the candidate they believe is most qualified for the position, they want the candidate that they feel cares about them the most.
Instead of looking for even temperament in a candidate to take charge of the world’s most powerful military and second largest nuclear arsenal, much of the electorate looks for the candidate that shares a deeply seeded anger that has festered for years while the opposing party has controlled the White House.
Relatability has now replaced capability and suitability as the chief characteristic of electoral viability.
Peculiar though this new paradigm may be, it gives way to an even worse mindset among some younger voters, to many of whom the vote matters so little that even basic ethical constraints don’t apply.
Take, for example, student government elections at The University of Alabama, where I attended undergrad.
If you’re familiar with the politics of secret societies in the United States, you’ve undoubtedly heard of the Machine, UA’s underground coalition of fraternities and sororities that has controlled student elections for just over a century, using the flagship university of the state of Alabama’s quaint student government framework as a springboard with which it propels its alumni into some of the state’s most powerful positions.
In the past, the Machine has done some incredibly insidious things. Members of the organization have burned crosses on campus in protest of the election of a black SGA president over the Machine-backed candidate, tapped another non-Machine presidential candidate’s phone lines, beaten up and stabbed non-Machine candidates and campaign staffers, broken into SGA offices in the middle of the night and defamed applications for appointed positions from black and non-Greek applicants with racial slurs and other injustices, stolen both banners supporting non-Machine candidates and stole thousands of copies of the school newspaper containing scathing exposés about the Machine, coerced fraternity and sorority members to vote a particular way through illicit means, and ordered members of Machine houses to boycott Tuscaloosa businesses owned and operated by the families of non-Machine candidates at threat of severe penalty.
As of late, the Machine’s chicanery has taken up a less violent, but no less insidious and certainly no less disappointing, theme.
After losing the SGA presidency in 2015, my senior year at Alabama, for the first time in three decades, the Machine went on a recruiting spree that would make the average SEC booster blush.
Throughout the school year, I’ve been kept apprised as numerous Greek houses that previously took strong stances against the Machine were lured down into “the basement,” as the Machine is often referred to due to its members’ subterranean choice of meeting place, by promises of rewards – date parties with the most prestigious fraternities for the sororities, appointments from within their membership to prominent SGA positions for fraternities, and full backing, with all of the Machine Greek votes that come with it, for individual members of non-Machine fraternities seeking elected office.
On the night of the 2016 elections held just last Tuesday, I received text messages from friends at Alabama about frat guys being promised a case of beer for every vote cast for the Machine nominee for the presidency, and screenshots from a conversation between a sorority executive officer and a rank and file member in which a free manicure was offered as an incentive for voting – all of which not only explicitly violates UA election rules, but is also patently unethical.
And yet, among the broad majority of my former peers at UA, this behavior is not only found palatable, but acceptable and even standard.
Imagine that for a minute. To some of the brightest millennials in the country – UA is one of the nation’s top 50 public universities and ranks among the best in the nation for national merit attendance – a vote isn’t the righteous expression of the voter’s political willpower as the American ethos might demand, but instead a commodity ready to be bartered for material gain as menial as beer and manicures.
Among the quite literally hundreds, if not thousands, of UA students who take that approach to selecting a candidate for whom to cast their vote, there isn’t so much as an afterthought about the moral or philosophical implications of such a decision.
A little alcohol and some fresh nail polish is all it takes to wash away any objections which might exist over voting for the candidates nominated by a racist, underground organization with a history of violence, corruption and intimidation spanning a century.
You might say to yourself that this is believable, or perhaps even to be expected, in a state like Alabama, where just last week a sitting United States Senator endorsed a presidential candidate on the same day that same presidential candidate tacitly accepted an endorsement from the Ku Klux Klan.
And you would have a point; if there’s any state where this kind of nefariousness is the norm, it would be Alabama. But consider this: The University of Alabama isn’t the only place where things like this are happening.
Just last month, a whistleblower at The University of Florida came forward in a tell-all video to discuss the System, an underground organization bent on student election domination at UF eerily similar to the Machine in both design and methodology.
And Yale, of course, is home to the infamous Skull & Bones.
Numerous other universities foster student governments dominated by their Greek systems, though, to be fair, with far less violence and blatantly corrupt activity.
Nonetheless, it seems the very kind of backroom dealings we so despise Washington for have their roots in America’s college campuses.
You might also say that student government elections are trivial things in and of themselves, and that it’s laughable to say that students should be expected to take them as seriously as “real” elections.
To that, I point out that student government and student elections are universally considered to be educational experiences for candidates, elected officials, appointees and voters alike by university administrations; indeed, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals explicitly held exactly that in reference to The University of Alabama’s Student Government Association in 1989.
Humans are creatures of habit, and voting patterns are at their core habits themselves. The habits these students form in college don’t simply end at the graduation stage. Indeed, Cleo Thomas, who became the first black SGA President at UA in 1976 and is one of only nine UA students to ever beat the Machine in a presidential bid, called campus politics at the Capstone “the training ground” for “how [elected officials] govern Alabama” in a 2015 interview.
Where politicians are concerned, Thomas’s words sum up the political history of Alabama over the last century; senior US Senator from Alabama Richard Shelby is a Machine alumnus, as are two of his predecessors in Alabama’s Senate delegation and a long list of Alabama governors and congressmen.
“What Starts Here Changes the World,” the motto of The University of Texas, could be adapted to fit The University of Alabama as, “What Starts Here Runs the State.”
But the “training ground” statement rings true for voters as well, and is demonstrated by another illustrative example from my time at UA. In 2013, amid an entirely separate segregation scandal in UA sororities, several hundred UA students filed to vote in local school board and city council elections, electing two former Machine-backed SGA presidents to the two separate governing bodies respectively, and ousting a highly respected school board incumbent in the process.
As though that action wasn’t audacious enough in itself, campus was soon inundated with reports that the students had not only illicitly registered to vote, but had been shuttled to the polling stations in limousines, and then taken to local bars to be served free alcohol after voting.
Just as they set aside any semblance of a moral compass to mindlessly vote for whomever they were instructed to in SGA elections, those students directly incurred in a local election to do the same in exchange for free drinks, taking the first step toward carrying the habit over into their adult lives.
The difference between student government and real government was, I suppose you could say, trivial, in their eyes.
If Donald Trump’s campaign is indicative of the state of democracy in modern day America, this is a sign of its future.
Democracy cannot continue to function in a society where America educates her best and brightest in a way that inherently objectifies and devalues it.
Mindless, coerced, bribed, group-think style voting is not what our Founding Fathers intended, nor is it what our brave men and women in uniform fought and died to protect.
This is the kind of democracy that lends itself to despotism and, eventually, societal ruin.
Ronald Reagan once famously said that freedom is never more than a generation away from extinction.
The same rings true for our system of government. The longer we allow our democracy to be turned into a reality TV show and our votes to be traded for alcohol and cosmetics, the shorter its lifespan will be.
In order to reverse this trend, it is incumbent upon you, the average American, whether you be a college student, a working adult or a retired senior citizen, to actively take responsibility for your vote.
Research the issues, discuss them civilly, but openly and vigorously, with trusted family and friends, teach your children to value their rights and to think independently, and most importantly, always take a strong, principled stance for ethics and integrity in the electoral process.
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place.
Cover Photo Credit: Lillian Roth for SGA President/ FacebookPost Views: 897
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Miami Shores residents are concerned that toxic blue-green algae that has brought ecological disaster to parts of Florida, has come to town.
According to NBC Miami, multiple residents of the quiet Miami suburb have expressed concerns that the algae has come to a canal in the area.
“In the late afternoon, there was some type of green algae that was floating on top of the water,” Miami Shores resident Michael Schock told NBC Miami. “Unlike anything I have seen before. I was concerned about the algae.”
Residents told the TV station that algae was seen floating everywhere in the canal over the weekend, but it had dissipated some by Monday.
According to NBC Miami, state officials will be coming out to the area to conduct tests on the water.
The toxic blue-green algae found in other parts of the state has been known to cause rashes and hay fever like symptoms in people that it has come in contact with, and nausea and vomiting in people who ingest it.
WATCH: NBC Miami report on algae found in Miami Shores canal
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.
Cover Photo Credit: Brian Goodwin/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)Post Views: 409
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By Staff Report
The 8 leading Republican candidates for President have gathered in Milwaukee, WI for the fourth primary debate in the 2016 election campaign. The debate is hosted by Fox Business Channel and The Wall Street Journal.
Here at Rise News, we are following the action and giving it a millennial spin. So follow along with us as we factcheck, crack jokes and make observations.
You can join the fun by sending us your perspective to email@example.com. We’ll include your thoughts in the live blog. You can also tweet at us @RiseNewsNow.
CB- Chris Beacham
BP- Ben Preez
RR- Rich RobinsonLoading ...
CB 11:21 PM:
How I think they did:
RR 11:17 PM:
How I think they did:
CB 11:12PM: Fiorina “Imagine a Clinton presidency.” Guy in audience yells “No!”
CB 11:08PM: Natural gas has been useful, and the transition will take time. But there are many jobs in solar and wind too.
RR 11:06 PM: JEB! logic: Only protect the environment if you have the money. Otherwise, just screw it.CB 11:06PM: Rand Paul is wrong on climate. Goal is to go to clean energy entirely.
RR 11:03 PM: Hell nah.
CB 11:02 PM: Yo Rich you wanna see Michael Bay’s Benghazi?
RR 11:01 PM: Is this debate over yet?CB 11:00 PM: Rubio mentioned student debt. Barely. One of the biggest issues of this election.
RR 10:55 PM: That Kasich answer didn’t make any sense. It would only make sense if he supported bail outs in worst case scenarios. Obviously, he would by the way. All established GOPers would not like the economy run down a cliff because of a weird Ayn Rand fascination (unlike the others).
CB 10:53PM: Kasich wasn’t too clear. Wants to help people who invested in banks while also allowing big banks to fail? Can you separate the two?
RR 10:47 PM: Really like the way Kasich talked about a moral capitalism. Never really heard it talked like that before but it is a good message.
CB 10:45PM: Kasich talking about greed, the dark side of free enterprise, and needed regulation. Scores even more points with me tonight.CB 10:44PM: Rubio, the government made them big because of NO regulation. Mostly under republican administrationsCB 10:42PM: And his brother’s policies are largely responsible for the dire economic conditions.CB 10:41 PM: Bush will not stand up to big banks.
RR 10:40 PM: JEB! says the economy will never fail on bad times ever again. Hooray!
CB 10:31 PM: Rand Paul: “I will not arm our enemies.” I love this guy. Unfortunately, it really is that simple.
CB 10:30PM: Rand Paul: “You can be strong and not be involved in every civil war int he world.” Couldn’t agree more.
CB 10:25 PM: Jeb Bush on foreign policy makes my toes curl.
RR 10:24 PM: JEB! got to step up his board game references. Letting Putin go into Syria not like Monopoly, more like Risk. #NothingButTheFacts
CB 10:21PM: Jeb Bush and Clinton agree with no fly zone in Syria.
RR: 10:15 PM: That Rand Paul slam was brutal. Trump really didn’t know what the trade deal is really about and Paul called him out. Ouch.
CB 10:13 PM: RAND PAUL REVENGE
BP: 10:13 PM: Rand : “Hey Gerard, We might want to point out, China’s not part of this deal”
CB 10:12 PM: Trump speaking against TPP. Unique situation where GOP majority agrees with Obama. Sounds more like Bernie Sanders.
BP: 10:11 PM: Trump: “TPP is a horrible deal”
RR 10:09 PM: @CB: Military is always asking for more money. That is nature of the beast.
CB 10:07 PM: Without question, Rand Paul is the smartest GOP on foreign policy. Wish we could get more inot that in this debate.
BP: 10:06 PM: Rand Paul “I want a strong national defense, but I don’t want us to be bankrupt.”
CB 10:06 PM: Is military asking for more money?
CB 10:04 PM: Good for Rand!
CB 10:04 PM: Jeb “I’m going to fight as hard as I can to make sure Supergirl gives me a chance. And everyone a chance. This is about giving people opportunity.”
CB 10:02 PM: Jeb “I’m going to fight as hard as I can to make sure Supergirl gives me a chance. And everyone a chance. This is about giving people opportunity.”
RR 10:00 PM: Bush supporter’s real name is Reagan Love? GIVE ME A BREAK.
CB 9:59 PM: Interesting notes on Carson and economy Rich.
CB 9:59 PM: Would be funny if CNBC walks into the theater and just breaks the civility of this debate. As far as communicating ideas, this is a much better debate though
RR 9:59 PM: Ted Cruz just had an oops moment. Two mentions of Department of Commerce in his list of five departments he would cut. Politicians really have to stop listing off agencies they would cut. They never remember them all.
RR 9:57 PM: Can someone explain to me who collects taxes if we were to abolish the IRS? Who gives out business ID numbers? Who investigates tax related crimes?
BP 9:57 PM: Ted Cruz: “There are more words in the tax code than there are in The Bible!”
BP 9:56 PM: Rand: “I want a government really, really small. So small you could barely see it.”BP 9:52 PM: More coffee please!
CB 9:52PM: Seems like Dr. Carson took a lighter dose of morphine tonight
RR 9:52 PM Ben Carson doesn’t seem to realize how much the American economy changed after 1913. Went from very stratified society to a more broad base middle class. Government policies and wealth redistribution had a tremendous amount to do with it.
BP 9:50 PM Btw a 30 second ad during this debate sold for $750,000. Not that bad. affordable.RR 9:50 PM: Oh great, Michael Bay has turned Benghazi into modern day Alamo film.
CB 8:48 PM: Michael Bay’s Benghazi movie advertisement during the break. Coincidence?? NahCB 8:46 PM: Fox “What’s the alternative?” Good for them!CB 8:45PM: Fiorina talking about her business career. Don’t-don’t go there.
BP 9:45 PM Fiorina: “Obamacare has to be repealed because it is failing.”RR 9:45 PM: No, Obamacare has helped drive down costs and many people have become insured as a result. Hard to judge it fully though since there has been little help from the state level in the majority of the country.
CB 9:44PM: Is Obamacare a failure? Just playing devil’s advocate.
CB 9:43PM: Cruz: “It’s offensive!” Says it again in a Homer Simpson impression.
Democrats, laughing. pic.twitter.com/HbzZUXUTDt
— Chris Cillizza (@TheFix) November 11, 2015
BP 9:38 PM: Jeb: “Thank you Donald for allowing me to speak at the debate, I appreciate it. What a generous man you are.”
RR 9:37 PM: JEB! doing a lot more of that patented Bush lean tonight. He’s the decider. He he he.
BP 9:36 PM: Trump to Kasich: “You should let Jeb speak.”
CB 9:35PM: Kasich bringing common sense to the immigration conversation.
CB 9:34PM: Kasich is on the money tonight. Very strong so far.
RR 9:34 PM: John “Amnesty” Kasich’s immigration plan: “Would somebody think of the children?!”
BP 9:33 PM: Trump: “If you don’t think a wall works, ask Israel.”
RR 9:31 PM: Chris, you need to get out of the liberal elite bubble you live in. #MakeAmericaGreatAgain
CB 9:30 PM: Dr. Carson: “I have no problem being vetted”, after complaining a week about being vetted. Clinton and Obama are totally scrutinized by the media. Obama had to leave his church in 2008 because of media scrutiny.
BP 9:29 PM Carson: “Thank you for not asking me what I said in the 10th grade. I appreciate that.”
RR 9:29 PM: That’s a gotcha question Neil Cavuto!
BP 9:24 PM: Rand Paul “If you want less income inequality move to a city with a Republican mayor or a state with a Republican governor.”BP 9:24 PM: Agree.CB 9:24PM: The lighting on this stage is pretty rough tonight. Everyone looks tired.
RR 9:23 PM: Carly hangs out with some depressing people yo.CB 9:22PM: Fiorina: “Big government creating big business called politics.”
RR 9:20 PM: JEB! alive.
BP 9:19 PM: Bush says he wants to repeal every rule Obama has made so far.
CB 9:19 PM: Jeb Bush is having an aggressive opening.
Cover Photo Credit: Kristopher Volkman/Flickr (CC By 2.0)Post Views: 368
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