October 16, 2007

Question for Guest Speaker

I am going into PR (hopefully), so I will be in contact with a lot of people who work with the press or as press spokesmen or women. My question isn't so much about Newt Gingrich or politics but more about how you handle your job. What is a typical day like for you?


The Death Penalty

As I was reading the Washington Post today, I saw an article about the death penalty. This is particularly interesting for me because my dad works in the DA's office in Philadelphia, in the appeals office, and deals a lot with death penalty cases. He has actually argued in front of the Supreme Court twice, both times about minor details concerning the death penalty.

First of all, I am definitely against the death penalty. Having said that, there are some really horrible people in the world who do deserve it. I've had lots of talks with my dad about this, and pretty much you have to do something REALLY bad to get the death penalty (obviously). We hear about the death penalty a lot because it's such a controversial issue, but not that many people receive it.

This particular article is about lethal injection. It is "inhumane," but I mean really, the death penalty itself is inhumane.

What does everyone else think? I know this is a touchy issue and I hope I didn't offend anyone.

Here's the article from The Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/15/AR2007101501759.html


Dworkin, Debate Scholar

“I think our politics are in an appalling state, and I doubt that many of you would disagree with that. We don't have a rational discourse, and the greatest casualty of our dumbed-down politics is the lack of argument.” –Ronald Dworkin, from a transcript published by the Carnegie Council.

Ronald Dworkin is better known as a legal philosopher, but he is also a debate scholar. He wrote a book titled, Is Democracy Possible Here? Principles for a New Political Debate. In the book, he stresses the need for conservatives and liberals to understand that they are not enemies, but have the same goal: Bettering America.

He goes on to insist that debaters must have at least a few shared principles in order to form discussion. Without a common ground, campaigns become wars. This trend is recognizable if one considers the Republican vs. Democrat, Conservative vs. Liberal, Red vs. Blue, grudge-match image that is promoted by the media. Unfortunately for the American constituency, the biggest loser is always rational discourse.

By focusing on their basic commonalities they can transcend petty squabbling. As he puts it, “this will lead to substantive political debate among people who mutually respect each other.”- Ronald Dworkin

Writer for The Guardian, Jonathan Derbyshire criticized Dworkin’s book in his blog:

“He envisages a “partnership” model of democracy, in which public reasoning and debate are placed at the centre of political and policy justification. This deliberative conception functions as a sort of utopian ideal, but since Dworkin is doing political philosophy here and not advocacy, his book is none the worse off for it.” –retrieved 10/16/2007

Derbyshire’s analysis of Dworkin’s book is right on point. Is Democracy Possible Here provides an interesting dialogue about the ramifications of the debate crisis. His solution to the problem is a bit unrealistic.

Can Mike Huckabee and Hilary Clinton bonding over their mutual appreciation of something vague like civil liberty, lead them to a rational debate about abortion?

I doubt it.

Al Gore: Old Man? …Or Spry Youngster?

In an interview with the Associated Press, Ron Fournier, online political analyst, makes an intriguing argument about Al Gore’s undeniable fierceness in the political spectrum. Fournier argues that Gore would be a “formidable” competitor in the democratic presidential race. Despite his potential threat, however, Fournier notes that each of the democratic candidates rushed to send Gore words of congratulations after he was honored with a Nobel Prize. Fournier argues that, despite his potential threat for the democratic candidates, they seek his endorsement because he is such a popular figure in the media. In the interview, Fournier also brings an interesting idea to the table – Gore for President: 2012. After I stopped contemplating whether or not the Oval Office is walker accessible, I actually considered this idea. Could Gore potentially run in 2012? Or even, dare I say it, in 2008?!

Perhaps his stern dedication to the Global Warming crisis is his way of warming the hearts of liberals and conservatives alike to gain support for a potential future election. I suppose only time will tell what the future has in store for Gore, but until it does, I’ll speculate.


"Renewing" political debate...
I've tried to always stay on track with my blogs, and not wander too far from our class blog's actual mission. Inspired by the words of Newt Gingrich, my posts have concentrated on either debate topics, or on actual political involvement. How responsive the 2008 presidential candidates are with their constituents, how they interact with the media (whether they use it to their advantage or not), and how they embrace technology.
Consider this post my "midterm blog." It'll focus on the involvement of the candidates. Before this semester I had never blogged, or even spent a notable amount of time at someone else's blog. Now I recognize that it is a useful tool in the ever-growing technological age. This post is going to demonstrate (hopefully) all that I have learned about blogging this semester (labeling, adding pictures, etc...)
I wanted to get the attention of the people that this blog is actually about - the presidential candidates. I figure the best way to contact them is in an informal way, one in which they are likely to respond. Now, I know that the candidates themselves may not be the ones checking their MySpace accounts everyday, but I went out and friended 16 of them anyway.
As for the democratic candidates, I checked the profiles, and requested friendship with democratic candidates Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Christopher Dodd, John Edwards, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, and Bill Richardson. For republican candidates, I friended Sam Brownback, Rudy Giuliani, Duncan Hunter, John McCain, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Tom Tancredo, and Fred Thompson.
Once they confirm the friend requests, I'll be able to post on their walls, and send them messages...this is where I'll send them a link to our blogs and ask them to take a look, and maybe even write a quick response to some of their favorite posts.
It's encouraging to know the candidates have learned where to find the young voters, and are now trying to reach us at OUR level. They have accepted the fact that they must come to us, and the Internet is the easiest way to reach the Y generation.
Their participation in the YouTube debates (YouChoose '08) is only one example of their efforts to reach a wider array of voters; the fact that almost every presidential candidate has a MySpace profile is another.
The candidates whose names are linked above, were chosen because I felt their MySpace profiles were the best of the 16 that I checked out. They (or someone working for them) took the time to make their profile as user-friendly and interactive as possible. The three I linked were chosen based on several criteria: the last time they checked/updated their profile, how long their "wall" was, the personal information they included, and how much interactive/informational "stuff" they had in their profiles.
Actually as I'm blogging right now, Dennis Kucinich is online.
So, if the candidates are going online for the sake of our generation - we'd better meet them there. I've learned that it's possible to make my voice heard, and intend to do just that when I contact the candidates. I don't expect them to respond after just one post on their "Wall," which is why I'll try to contact them through their homepages, and maybe if I get brave enough.. I'll post a video on YouTube.. Who knows..

A Staffers Insight

This blog is the home of much dialogue about the 2008 elections, the candidates and debate issues. To get a more insightful view into the world of politics I went to the experts. Well, they might not be experts in the sense of conducting research and years of studying, but they work for the politicians. This semester I work on Capitol Hill for my Congressman, Maurice Hinchey form the 22nd district of New York, and the other day I took some time to ask one of the staffers a few questions.

My first question was: does the Congressman support or like one candidate more than the others? The staffer answered by saying that Congressmen do not usually say anything until the nominations are set. This way all the democrats can get behind the democrat and likewise for the republicans. However, since my Representative is from New York he is more or less obligated to support Hillary, but he has said nothing publicly. This answer got me thinking. Everyone gets to say who they like and don’t like and everyone gets to say the issue that is most important to them, expect for our politicians. This is a bit ironic; after all, the members of Congress are going to be the ones that need to work with the next president. If anyone should be guiding the public’s decisions, it should be those who know most of the candidates personally, and in some cases their colleagues.

Another question I asked was about campaign finance. Campaign finance has been the topic of many blogs and I thought I would try to get a deeper insight. I asked the staffer, who is a legislative assistant that handles a variety of domestic issues, what her thoughts were. She believes that too much money is invested into presidential campaigns. Consequently, candidates such Joe Biden, who has tremendous experience and is a great candidate with great ideas, is not given a chance. At the root of the problem are big business and certain interest groups that can donate a lot of money. Raising money is part of the game, she said, but if each candidate was given or allotted a certain amount the game would get more interesting. Spending money would become a strategic game. Since a candidate is only given so much money, it would become more important to do well at debates.

I asked several other questions, however, I felt these went along with the theme of the blog and were the most interesting to examine. So, now we have the view of someone who works in politics. Congressional staffers are the geeks of politics who have a unique insight to the world of politics.