Politics

This Instagram Post Sums Up The Difference Between Obamacare And Trumpcare

This seriously nails it.

A post shared by Philip Lewis (@phil.lews) on

They’rrrre not as good as Obamacare.

Why Politics Is Actually Personal

“I love you, but I just don’t really agree with your lifestyle.”

“Just because I voted for Trump doesn’t mean I don’t care for you.”

“Trump’s policies aren’t actually going to affect you.”

“It’s just politics, it’s nothing personal.”

I’ve heard every single one of these comments – whether it was over lunch in high school, with friends both before and after the election, and just through everyday interactions with people with different personal and political ideologies from myself.

I’m used to it, it happens to everybody from all walks of life and from all political parties.

You’re going to come face to face with people that don’t agree with you politically, and sometimes you’re just not going to like them.

Which is fine.

It’s one thing to acknowledge that you don’t agree with someone’s views.

It’s one thing to acknowledge that you can still try to maintain a relationship regardless of different ideologies.

It’s one thing to acknowledge that you simply can’t get along with someone due to their views.

But it’s a completely different, and frankly ludicrous, thing to pretend and ignore the fact that your political thoughts, opinions, and choices are not personal, nor that they will be taken personally by someone.

When I tell someone that supports ‘traditional’ marriage that I support marriage equality, that’s a direct assault on their belief system.

When people tell me that they don’t believe in evolution, that’s a direct assault against my scientific beliefs.

When people tell me they don’t want non-Christians in the United States, that’s a direct assault against my personal belief system.

Let me be clear, I identify as a Christian, but I also strongly believe that under the Constitution, people have the right to identify with what religion they so choose – which is a core value I hold.

When people choose sides on key political policies and issues, they are attacking the other side, and it gets personal.

Want an example of how personal politics can be?

Look at the last election.

Both sides attacked the other’s character.

Politics is often about identity, which means its personal. Photo Credit: 5chw4r7z/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

They focused not on the policy issues or promises while in office, and instead fixated on how corrupt the other was, how self-serving the other was, and how they were bad for the American people – not because of their policies, but because of their person.

The most remembered question of the debates was, “What is one nice thing you can say about your opponent?”

That question served no true purpose in the sense of the debate or in persuading voters’ opinions, and, in my opinion, was just used to continue the ongoing personal fight between candidates.

This piece isn’t supposed to be a liberal whining session, but instead to show everyone that politics is personal, and that everyone takes it personally.

The only times you’re truly not going to take politics personally is when your party is winning and in control.

And that’s okay.

It’s okay to be upset when there’s a policy that affects you in a negative way.

It’s okay to be elated when the Supreme Court rules in favor of a case that positively impacts your life.

It’s okay to not get along and to have different sides on issues.

What isn’t okay, and what is downright dangerous, is to ignore the notion that politics is anything but personal.

You’re going to be biased, and when someone attacks your values, they’re attacking you.

My collegiate career in NC State’s Student Senate has been defined by the debates and bills I have worked on, and even though people may say it’s not the case, every attack on my bill is an attack on me, my values, and my work.

And frankly, I don’t know of a way to get around this.

Politics is so ingrained in our society and the impact of the government on people’s lives is so pronounced that people take all policy changes personally – and that’s just the world we live in.

Just be sure to acknowledge that you’re biased, and remember what it feels like when you’re party isn’t the party in charge next time your friend complains about what’s going on in politics.

You don’t have to be impartial or remove all emotions and preconceptions of your ideologies – just have some compassion and empathy towards your fellow political junkie.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Photo Credit: Robert Couse-Baker/Flikr (CC by 2.0)

In Historic Move, U Of Alabama Elections Board Acknowledges Existence Of Secret Society

In a historic announcement, the University of Alabama SGA elections board acknowledged for the first time, the existence of a secret society that has for decades dominated campus politics.

The action came in the form of a post on the SGA website asking for students to “provide information regarding the existence of Theta Nu Epsilon a.k.a ‘The Machine.'”

Here’s the full announcement from the elections board:

 

“The Elections Board is extending an open invitation from anyone wanting to provide information regarding the existence of Theta Nu Epsilon a.k.a “The Machine.” This could include but is not limited to those that are members or officially tied to “The Machine” in any way.

To clarify, we would like to offer the opportunity to all individual(s) that are involved to speak before the board, as is one’s rights to due process. We do this to ensure all parties are given the opportunity to speak on the matter at hand.

Persons willing may send tangible evidence and information or submit a request to speak with the board in person, can correspond to kknox-hall@sa.ua.edu. We request this be done ASAP and at least by Monday, March 6 at noon.

This information is requested in response to multiple violation reports regarding endorsements and any information provided will be included on record for this case.”

This is a breaking story. We will update this story as more information becomes available. 

For more background on “The Machine”:

Read- Here’s Why The Current State Of Student Government Elections Are Killing American Democracy

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: University of Alabama/ Facebook

The DNC Is In An Impossible Situation

On Feb. 25, the Democratic National Committee chose former Labor Secretary Tom Perez to lead the party into the disarrayed, foggy wilderness of modern American politics.

As the Bernie Sanders-backed candidate Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) was denied the position, the bifurcation of the mainstay liberal party continues.

The DNC is in an impossible situation.

They are pitted against two raging participants, both with heads angry and fierce, who have vastly different visions of the party moving forward.

Questions surrounding how to combat the efforts of President Trump and how to regain what the Democratic party has lost in recent decades, most notably the populace squeezed between the liberal coasts, is stoking the inner frustrations.

Left-ward bound are the progressives, closely aligned with the ‘social justice warrior’ mindset who are diligent activists that have shaped a lot of the dialogue of the past election.

Their strategy is defined by identity politics, safe spaces and trigger warnings.

Their goals are post-national and rabidly unpatriotic.

They have come to dominate what hordes of Americans see as modern day liberalism.

There are hints of anarchic chaos in this camp as well.

When we watched the Berkeley anti-fascist protesters erupt into violence at the very thought of Milo opening his mouth, very few of us imagined the existence of a master plan.

There was no commanding officer directing deployments, only low-level infantry grasping at whatever could become a flaming projectile.

There is, coincidentally, a Trump-like element to their anti-Trump beliefs.

What unites them is the ultimate desire to just burn the whole thing to the ground.

This group aims to wholeheartedly refuse to work with President Trump on anything, as that would be shaking the metaphorical hand of a genocidal, Hitlerian ruler whose only wish is to inflict harm on non-white persons from any and all nations. This strategy won’t go over well in dispatched corners of Trump country.

The progressives on the left are fed up with the Democratic establishment just like the pro-Trump movement is fed up with the Republican establishment.

They did find some success when Sen. Bernie Sanders sounded the horn of economic populism, a core message used by both sides during the campaign cycle.

New DNC chair Tom Perez has an impossibly tough job ahead. Photo Credit: Maryland GovPics/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

As he talked of the harmful trade deals and low wages, millions found him to be speaking their long-awaited mother tongue.

On the other hand, there is the establishment end of the party.

A moderate, less-rebellious brand of liberal politics with the expectation of some compromise with those on the other side.

Tom Perez falls squarely in this camp, as does Hillary Clinton and similar figureheads in Democratic politics.

If there was a section of the Democratic party that was to undergo a serious self-reflection as to why 2016 became the year for the GOP, it would be from this end.

That is a big if, but for disaffected areas that saw promise in Trump, a steadied working-class approach by level-headed Democrats would entice them more than Antifa protests or an extra dose of virtue signaling.

The establishment’s main problem is, well, the fact that they are the establishment.

The big money, shadowy donors, corporatist leanings, the hawkish Democrats who resemble neocons instead of war-weary liberals.

There is the perceived rigging of the 2016 nomination in favor of Clinton over Sanders and the inside baseball we all characterize as a symptom, or possibly the definition, of the Washington machine.

Ultimately, they lack the intoxicant of change – the most potent reason to overlook them in the ballot box.

Upholding the status quo doesn’t feed the hungry masses, it doesn’t put people in the seats, nor does it fire people up to ‘make history’, even if it is to elect the first female President of the United States.

This is why Perez and the DNC have a virtually impossible challenge to overcome.

They must choose one side over the other, and both are undoubtedly flawed.

Can Democrats compete in parking lots like these all over America again? Photo Credit: Jimmy Jim Jim Shabadoo/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

The division won’t naturally melt away.

The progressives can unite the young, the energetic, and the squadrons of protestors at a Trump hotel or a dance-off outside of Vice President Mike Pence’s house.

However, they struggle to connect with ‘fly-over’ country.

The people who are concerned with overspending at Wal-Mart, not the amount of gender identities recognized in the legal code.

To people outside of major cities and college campuses, the progressives are consumed with trivial anger and idealistic revolutions the world has tried over and over again.

The establishment of the Democratic Party can show that they aren’t identical to the social justice warrior type.

If they, for example, promote a pro-business campaign that isn’t completely anti-gun, they could compete in some of these rural areas, places where American flags fly high but Main Street is all but abandoned.

But doing that will alienate the anti-capitalist, anti-establishment thread running through the party.

They would lose the progressives to the Jill Stein’s of the world, only to be inevitably shut out of the power structure again.

Choose the progressives, you lose those within the margin of persuasion.

Choose the moderates, and the hatred of the elites may sweep them further away from elected office.

Republicans have factions erupting as well, but with controlling so much power their movement isn’t in the same state as the left.

I’m not a Democrat so I don’t have skin in this game.

However, I can acknowledge that Tom Perez has very little room to work with.

He must walk on the edge of a razor blade.

Every move he makes will infuriate half of his party and embolden the rest.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Photo Credit: Lars Plougmann/flickr (CC by-SA 2.0)

Cover Photo Credit: Kim Love/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

What I Learned From Running For SGA At Liberty University

I have learned more than I think I could possibly write in a single article about life and politics by running for SGA office at Liberty University.

The office I ran for specifically within the SGA was Freshman Class President.

The reason that I had originally decided to run was because I felt a calling to.

Faith has always played a big part in my life and this was no different.

After I decided to run in August of 2016, I put together a team, budget, and strategy to run do it.

I learned very quickly that this was not like high school.

After talking to several people, I realized that others had budgets way higher than mine, but I knew that the power of communication and face to face interaction would be powerful.

I knew this because my father always stressed professionalism and being personal with people as the most effective tool.

Others had told me the same thing—so I understood it to be true.

In the process of running, I came to understand that presenting myself professionally is important and that you only have a few seconds to attract a voter.

I knew what my vision was and while I would have loved to speak about it for several minutes, I realized I had perhaps thirty seconds before someone gained interest or lost interest.

I experienced this quickly as I saw faces turn into forced smiles, or more preferably, eyebrows raise in interest.

I knew that in running, I would have to be personal with people, but do it quickly.

Very quickly actually.

Many people wandered on to other booths and others had food to attract voters.

In fact, one table made people pancakes.

I realized that it would be important for me to send people out to convince voters to vote.

At the table I ran, I left a video playing that expressed my views and went out to different people and tried to get them to vote.

Many already voted and were unable to vote again.

I learned this rather quickly and went out of my way to speak to several classes that had several hundred students.

All in all, I spoke to over 1500 people in only a few hours.

That evening, I found out that I won the election.

I was beaming.

The team that my Vice-President and I put together was exceptional, and we won our first election.

The team was quick and efficient and most importantly, personable.

The only way to attract a voter is to truly connect with them.

I learned through running for class president that it would be hard but definitely worth it if I could help people out.

I also learned that professionalism and being personable are the most important aspects of a campaign.

People care more about personal connection than they do about a video or a poster.

I remember a professor once told me that there a few things someone can tell about an individual.

Amongst those things were if someone cares, is passionate, and if they have vision.

I actually listened to people and went out of my way to understand why they wanted SGA to do for them.

I promised them that I would do my best to help them.

I remember the people I promised I would try to help and I have advocated for each and every one of them.

Those are the things that I think about before I go to bed.

I found myself writing those issues down and petitioning my own resources and connections to try and get the job done.

In holding the office that I hold, I have realized many things about myself and others.

I have realized that sometimes it can be really hard to get something done when people disagree with you.

I learned that leadership is service to others.

I learned that in order to get things done, it is important to be assertive.

In a room with others who have also been elected to represent others, it is important to go to bat for those you represent.

With a freshman class nearing four thousand students, it is incredibly important to represent the general interest of the class, foster unity, and bring up specific issues that can be fixed.

Most of what I do involves listening to others and researching different ways to help them.

Although this takes up a lot of time, I enjoy every second of it because I get to help people every day.

Overall, the experience of running for an office in SGA is stressful but it teaches discipline, humility, organizational skills, and teamwork.

In fact, I would go as far to state that is nearly impossible for someone to win a student election if they cannot work in a team.

If SGA has taught me one thing, it is that helping people is worth every second of potential adversity.

This adversity develops patience and resilience which are two traits that only motivate me to continue working hard on others behalf.

Leadership is service, regardless of the title that comes before your name.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Taber Andrew Bain/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Celebrities Need To Shut Up About Politics

In the world today more and more well known people believe that their opinion matters, especially when it comes to politics.

It is like people who have never studied an ounce of political science seem to think they are well equipped to give a political statement.

And maybe they are right.

It is a democracy after all and we all have a part to play.

Sure, we are all entitled to our own opinions and yes, we have the freedom of speech to say what we want but here is who should refrain from doing this, celebrities.

By definition, a celebrity is someone who is famous for talents, wealth, or family name.

Now on the contrast a politician is a person who is experienced in the arts or science of government according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Let me break it down to a deeper level.

Most politicians in public life today does 4 years of undergraduate work, a 2-year master degree or even law school, and lastly either paid or unpaid internships.

That is over 6 years studying politics and what goes into understanding politics and therefore are well prepared to give political statements.

A celebrity may or may have not attended an art school or received a degree like journalism, psychology, education, or history.

The main difference that sets a celebrity aside is politicians are actively practicing politics.

They don’t just do it on the side, politics is what consumes them.

I love celebrities and I love their talents.

I’m envious of their carefree lifestyle, but I do not believe they are properly trained in politics enough to give such a public statement that people should actually care about.

Mark Wahlberg had some thoughts on this topic that I valued because they have truth behind them.

Back in December of 2016 he was interviewed by Task and Purpose magazine on this very topic and here is his response:

“A lot of celebrities, did, do and shouldn’t [give their political opinions],” he later goes on to say, “They might buy your CD or watch your movie but you don’t put food on their table. You don’t pay their bills. A lot of Hollywood is living in a bubble. They’re pretty out of touch with the common person, the everyday guy out there providing for their family.”

I value this because the issues you and I may face on a day to day basis are drastically different than a celebrity.

What may be important to a celebrity is probably not what is important to the everyday American.

While I love hearing what skin care products celebrities use and value some of those statements I just don’t find it appealing when they give an open and public political statement.

It is nothing against the celebrity, it is the simple fact that they are not all qualified.

Just like I am not a qualified brain surgeon, they are not a politician.

If they want to be then they should jump into the ring and run for office.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Here’s A Reminder That Justin Trudeau Is Not A Disney Prince

By Criswell Lavery

Before starting this article, I didn’t know a lot about Justin Trudeau.

Many (white, liberal Americans) think of the young Prime Minister and immediately connect him with the monikers “feminist”, “pro-LGBT”, “pro-choice”, all of which are correct.

But very few know much more about him.

I had seen a few articles floating around talking about his stance on foreign policy, his interactions with the First Nations’ peoples, and his meeting with Donald Trump, but never stopped to read them or look further.

Like many, I was blinded by Trudeau’s liberal social values and his fabulous hair, and thought of him only with a vague fondness.

This is a trap that many fall into, even in our age of easily accessible information.

We see articles about how he’s let over 25,000 Syrian refugees into Canada since he took office in 2015, and don’t see the one about the Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement (CETA).

This agreement was set to reduce 98% of tariffs on trade between Canada and the European Union and cause a small increase in jobs.

It also has provisions which are very similar to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), providing corporations with a huge amount of privileges and legal rights, allowing for them to sue entire governments to change laws and standards that impede their function.

CETA gives Canadian and European corporations these same rights, as well as giving international companies bidding rights to areas in cities, First Nation communities, and providences.

Despite the job growth and tariff reduction, it’s heavily weighted to favor big business, which one would think our Disney prince Prime Minister would be against, right?

Nope.

Prime Minister Trudeau had been pushing the agreement for months before it was signed in October 2016, and was ratified this February.

It’s been a big part of the reason recent press coverage has turned against Justin Trudeau, changing from their pretty steadily positive reporting to something a little more mixed.

He wholeheartedly supports CETA, which definitely did not fit with the ideal image of him that my little liberal heart had created.

And there’s plenty more where that came from.

A very controversial issue in Canada, just as it is in the USA, is indigenous peoples’ rights.

Like the tribes in the United States, the First Nations have been brutally treated and forced out of their lands since white people first got there, hundreds of years ago.

When Prime Minister Trudeau took office, he promised to bring the United Nation’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into law in Canada.

This document affixes the inherent rights of indigenous people, including the right to self-determinism and the right to not be forced to assimilate to the incumbent culture.

While the protection of indigenous culture seems like it should be assumed and respected, it’s not currently legally required.

Despite frequent promises to bring this into the new Canadian administration, in July of 2016, Trudeau’s Justice Minister stated that they would not be adopting the UN’s Declaration into law, that it “makes no sense.”

In breaking this promise, Trudeau lost a lot of respect and trust among the First Nations.

In the following year, many new blunders involving the treatment of indigenous peoples have been made, one being the support of the Site C dam, a hydro-electric power generator being proposed to be built on the Peace River in British Columbia.

The dam would destroy ancient burial grounds and threaten traditional hunting and fishing grounds.

In addition, Canada’s energy need hasn’t grown in recent years, and they even have a surplus of clean energy.

The support of this project is another check on a list of broken promises and backtracking.

Here’s the thing, I don’t necessarily think that Justin Trudeau is a bad person.

I can’t make that judgement.

Do I disagree with many of his policies?

Absolutely.

Do I agree with others?

Sure.

I’m not trying to condemn everything he’s ever done, I’m trying to illustrate the very gray nature of politics today, and the dangerous habit people have to put things in black and white.

When we’re distracted by buzzwords and a certain Prime Minister’s blinding smile, we fail to hold people accountable for their actions.

We don’t demand answers or retribution when they mess up or don’t follow through.

As much as we might like to think so, Trudeau isn’t a Disney prince.

He’s human, and a powerful political figure.

Let your ideal go, and demand answers when you have questions, ask for retributions when promises are broken.

Disney princes are perfect.

People are not.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Mohammad Jangda/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Admitting Your Machine Backing Isn’t Courageous

By Mike Smith

Alabama SGA Presidential candidate Jared Hunter dropped a bomb on campus politics after he wrote a piece in The Crimson White acknowledging his Machine backing.

It was a bold, surprising act rarely seen among Machine supported candidates.

The response on social media so far has been a mixture of appreciation and support.

I am here to say that this should stop.

Don’t get my wrong, publicly announcing your Machine backing takes a lot of guts and the honesty Jared displayed should be admired.

But that doesn’t make his actions right.

No matter what is written in a Crimson White column, the fact still stands that The Machine acts as a vehicle for certain Greek students to pad their resume and has systematically oppressed women and minorities for a century.

I will remind you that The Machine has burned crosses on campus lawns, painted swastikas on university sidewalks, and literally physically assaulted an independent presidential candidate.

Jared Hunter is the Machine backed candidate in the SGA election. Photo Credit: Facebook

Within the past decade alone, The Machine has systematically suppressed numerous rape allegations among their members, tossed out FYC applications for black students after labeling them with the N-word, and delayed the racial integration of sororities until 2013.

Being associated with this organization is not something that can be written off in one column.

Read More: Here’s Why The Current State Of Student Government Elections Are Killing American Democracy

Having its support is not a cute, little trivia fact.

Being backed by The Machine is something to be ashamed of.

Lillian Roth getting sworn in as SGA President in 2016. Photo Credit: Lillian Roth/ Facebook

SGA candidate Gene Fulmer. (r). Photo Credit: Trinidad Miller/ Facebook

Over social media, I have heard plenty of people say that admitting to be a Machine candidate takes some real courage.

I vehemently disagree.

It takes real courage for my friends who stay in their Machine sororities even though they have verbally abused, socially ostracized, and personally threatened.

It takes real courage for Lillian Roth (the incumbent and prior Machine backed candidate) to run for re-election even after some of her best friends started working against her.

It takes real courage for Gene Fulmer to run a huge grassroots campaign in the face of two giant competitors.

It doesn’t take real courage to admit something everyone already knew.

Read More: This “Funny Map” Of Tuscaloosa According To An Alabama Student Is Hilarious And Sort Of Spot On

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo: The University of Alabama/ Facebook

My Parents Couldn’t Afford Health Care Until The Affordable Care Act. Please Don’t Take It Away From Them

If President Trump repeals the Affordable Care Act (ACA), both of my parents will lose their care.

Right now, I’m sitting at the airport in Kansas City, waiting to board my flight back to Washington.

I spent the weekend advocating for the ACA in Topeka with the Save My Care campaign and Senator Bernie Sanders.

Since the ACA became law in 2010, Republicans have called for repealing it ad nauseam.

Now that they hold the White House and both chambers of Congress, they have promised to act swiftly in scrapping health care.

They claim that it isn’t helping people, and that it costs too much.

But the reality is that repealing the ACA means as many as 30 million Americans would lose their care — my parents included. Further, rolling back the law would actually increase the federal deficit by $353 billion over 10 years.

That said, the most important consideration concerning ACA repeal is how this would affect the lives of everyday Americans.

We must focus our attention on how repealing health care could be the difference between pain and suffering, and wellbeing and happiness.

The Kitchel family.

Both of my parents are self-employed.

My father is a landscaper and my mother operates our small family farm.

Growing up, I was privileged to always have access to health care because California’s Healthy Families program provided an affordable option for children in working class families.

My parents only had to pay about $12 per month to cover my brother and me.

However, given my parents’ working class income level, purchasing their own health insurance was beyond what they could afford.

My mother hadn’t had health care coverage since I was a baby. My father hadn’t had coverage since he was in college in the 1970s.

Both of my parents work blue-collar professions that require a great deal of manual labor.

Every week, my father can be found digging ditches, installing sprinkler systems, laying sod, and planting trees.

While I was a kid, I remember several occasions when he severely injured his back.

Given that he didn’t have health care coverage, he didn’t see a doctor.

The result was chronic back pain that he still experiences today.

When I say my mother manages our family farm, by that I mean that she plants the crops, tends to the crops, and ultimately harvests and sells the crops — all by herself.

This often-grueling work has resulted in a rotator cuff tear and back pain.

She could not afford to see a doctor about these injuries and therefore has endured long-lasting pain.

If my parents had been able to afford health insurance throughout their careers, I can’t help but think about all the pain and suffering that would have otherwise been preventable.

Everything changed when the Affordable Care Act became law in 2010.

For the first time in decades, my parents could afford health insurance.

They started visiting the doctor again, both to address existing conditions and to receive preventative care.

Given that they are growing older now, both in their 60s, preventative care is critically important.

Sen. Bernie Sanders with the author.

The fact that President Trump and congressional Republicans are playing politics with my parents’ health absolutely infuriates me.

And compared to many Americans who would be impacted by an ACA repeal, my parents are relatively well off.

I think about those who have chronic conditions, where access to care is literally the difference between life and death.

The fact that Republicans would put these folks’ lives at risk, simply for political gain, is the most disdainful excuse for governance that I can imagine.

As Senator Bernie Sanders said in Topeka, KS:

“We are working overtime to tell Republicans in Congress: You are not going to repeal the Affordable Care Act!”

This is a fight that I plan to see through to the very end. I hope you’ll join me.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Don’t Expect A Realignment Of Politics. Expect Something Much More Dramatic

As everyone can see, the world has undoubtedly changed in the past year or so.

From the Trump victory to Brexit to the resilience of right-wing parties in Europe, there remains a certain level of chaos in the world order.

There seems to be an aura of the past which we will never regain, for better or worse.

A space in time so close in a textbook but eons away from the society we inhabit today.

These sweeping changes to the status quo leave many of us asking, what’s next?

Lying ahead there must be some fundamental shift away from the political alignment of years past; a transformation that will reset our society after the obliteration of previous norms.

I’m not going to pretend that I know what type of realignment we can expect, nor am I advocating for any or all of those below.

Nonetheless, here are a few which I see, at least partially, as possible.

The first is the battle between big government and small government.

After a fiery American election cycle and two hotly contested primary challenges, the Democratic and Republican parties have taken a beating.

With civil strife bludgeoning both establishments we may see a revolt against the major parties and a new system of simple ideological differences emerging- not the traditional party labels being the great divide.

The new reality could be a more principled approach to worldviews instead of the patchwork we see in the main parties today.

A poll conducted in May of 2016 shows that only 13%  Americans surveyed believe the two party system works, and 38% say it is “seriously broken”.

One would imagine a rise in those who consider themselves Independents would be in order if that many seem fed up with the current system.

On the contrary, according to Gallup poll results which accumulated over the course of 2016, registration among Independents is at a six-year low.

To further complicate this entanglement between and within both parties, Republicans and Democrats see this divide in vastly different ways, according to Matt Grossmann and David A. Hopkins who describe their investigation into this question in their book Asymmetric Politics: Ideology Republicans and Group Interest Democrats.

They wrote about their theory in the Washington Post: 

“…the Republican Party defines itself in ideological terms as the vehicle of symbolic conservatism. The Democratic Party, in contrast, is organized as a social group coalition”.

However, their research finds that even Republican voters who consider themselves as having strong conservative principles depart from such “orthodoxy” on specific policy questions.

A more obvious example of this is in their support for then-candidate Donald Trump, someone who strays from ideological consistency much of the time.

For me, I see no clear direction for the conventional two-party system except to continue on in the confusing and muddied path it’s on now.

To suggest that an ideological realignment is likely to occur here, at least in American politics, would be inappropriate at this time.

The next is the continuation of the divide between the elites and everyone else.

In Europe and in America, disenchantment and the desire to throw out those in power are moving full speed ahead.

Concerns over immigration, political correctness, cultural ambiguity, and long-term economic prosperity are major factors in this anti-establishment wave the western world is currently riding.

People, on a large scale, no longer believe those in charge are inherently better at their jobs than people from completely outside of that system.

Photo Credit: Beshef/flickr (CC BY 2.0).

In comes the torch to burn it all down: voting.

This would be a different conversation if the United Kingdom had remained in the European Union and both candidacies of Senator Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump had inevitably failed.

That would have put a scare into the old order but their influence would have braved the storm.

But they didn’t.

The anti-establishment movement has gained real power.

It could fail miserably, or it could provide the footing for this anger to wipe out every remaining piece of the old system for the near future.

Insert the electoral chances of right-wing parties in France, Germany, and the Netherlands — to name a few — and Europe then makes the Trump revolution look like a dress rehearsal.

Now, elections could forever be won by who we think hates the elite most, not policy differences.

We may, as many of us already do, watch press briefings and tally not the legislation being announced but the number of coded messages sent to the holders of power in Washington, New York, Brussels, and Paris.

A candidate’s success may be determined by how many CEOs, seasoned politicians, TV anchors, and university professors are forced to face those who feel forgotten on bended knee. Those isolated and cold from globalization in the Bible Belt, Rust Belt, and Stoke-on-Trent.

Recent events have shown us just how disconnected these people are.

They all told us none of these political movements would get off the ground, and we have seen very few self-reflections once they all realized they had been fooled by the very people they were supposed to understand.

As a 21-year old, this was the first time I saw this strong of a vilification of the politics-as-usual attitude.

These exchanges could be typical every few years as elections and referendums come around.

But for me, I can’t imagine these frustrations going away.

The battle lines may have forever been redrawn.

The final is the chasm between multiculturalism and assimilation.

This is the most politically charged of the realignments I see possible.

Multiculturalism is the existence and preservation of distinct cultures within a community or society-at-large.

Assimilation, on the other hand, is the adaptation and conforming of different groups into a unified culture in a given community.

As different groups have become scrambled together in the modern world, people are trying to decide which of these they believe is best for society.

An interesting phenomenon I noticed through the election cycle was the proud flying of other nation’s flags on the streets of America.

If you were to watch a nominal protest of then-candidate Donald Trump you would have seen Mexican flags next to Cuban flags slightly behind Palestinian flags, all whose holders desire a more multicultural society.

The interior of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. It features great works of literature and art from all around the world, symbolizing America’s welcoming spirit. Photo Credit: m01229/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Many view this as a beautiful sign of toleration.

However, many others view this as one more stratification of American society.

Instead of coalescing under one banner, we all have different ones that make us take yet another step away from our neighbors.

The situation in Europe is slightly different than the one in America.

As a steady flow of migrants and asylum seekers from terror-stricken, war-torn areas of Africa and the Middle East have continued throughout 2016, this question revolves around the rapid changes to European culture and identity.

As the majority of refugees flee Muslim-majority nations, some European governments have welcomed them.

However, many Europeans are pessimistic about these changes.

Pew Research can help us understand this.

In a survey of 9 out of 10 European nations, at least half of individuals believe that Muslims want to maintain a “distinct” culture and not integrate into the customs of their new European communities.

A separate report shows that a majority of Europeans surveyed believe refugees increase the likelihood of terrorism, and no more than 4 out of 10 citizens in any EU country feel an increase in diversity is good for their country, compared to 58% of Americans who think diversity makes the U.S. a better place to live.

In Greece and Italy, a majority of citizens feel more diversity makes their country worse off.

Issues such as gender equality, acceptance of homosexuality, and secularism are a few instances where the two cultures just do not see eye to eye.

Right-wing European parties have become the vehicle for these frustrations.

Marine Le Pen, the head of the French National Front Party, is leading in the polls (as of the time of my writing this) to win the first round of the French Presidential race.

She also has more support from those aged 18-34 than any other candidate in France, which may come as a surprise to many.

The central issues which run through these populist, right-wing parties are immigration and a distaste for international agreements that reduce national sovereignty.

Many are calling for a total shutdown of Muslim immigration, something that an average of 55% of Europeans surveyed agree with, and making a Brexit-like move from the EU or other foreign obligations.

The multicultural attitude Europe is known for is being challenged strongly on many fronts.

As popular movements are seemingly rejecting the openness the continent has historically praised, the concept of assimilation seems to be a dire turn many are hoping to see.

As hordes of people around the globe chant for multiculturalism, for the elimination of border walls and even, in some cases, for the abolition of sovereign states completely, there is a powerful camp that believes different cultural groups living together is an ideal scenario.

On the other hand, there are millions of individuals who see a lack of a unified culture as a ticking-time bomb for social strife. People who feel the palpable modifications to their culture too large of a pill to swallow.

This possible realignment would be ugly, it would be a knock-down drag-out brawl of the most nativist sort, but it is undoubtedly an element that drove many to the polls in recent history.

In the end, no one really knows what will arise from this grinder the western political system has been thrown in.

Anyone that suggests they know for a certainty should be viewed with some degree of skepticism.

The possibilities I have just laid out are merely avenues our society may take as we move forward.

And only one thing is certain, whether we like it or not- we will experience this together.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Lorie Shaull/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

 

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