Berkeley Political Review Fall 2016 Election Issue

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Berkeley Political Review








Letter from the Editor-in-Chief Dear Reader, Every four years, this nation comes together to select its next leader. The ritual began with the presidency of George Washington, the popular leader who made the baffling decision to humbly step down after two terms of the presidency. America’s most popular man went on to leave its highest office with a farewell speech for the ages. His words demonstrated an acute awareness of the tumultuous political and social tides that engulfed the nation, threatening to drown the then-nascent democracy at any moment: “The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.” Perhaps Washington was just trying to put on a solid closing act. Perhaps he was predicting the 2016 Presidential Election. 220 years later, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump epitomize Washington’s most grave concern. In its fullest embrace of party politics yet, the American election has descended into a spiral of vitriol and chaos directed not only towards both candidates, but their respective voting camps as well. Domestic and foreign policy concerns have all but disappeared as candidates engulf their voters within a sensationalized year-long thriller built of deleted emails and missing tax returns, dragging the nation through harrowing reels of sexual assault and infidelity. In warning against this very behavior, George Washington implicitly recognized that American voters are equipped to combat it. This election is not just a toss-up between Wall Street and The (Trump) Wall. As the articles within this special election issue demonstrate, America’s Choice is far more nuanced than what campaign trail media coverage may bring you to believe. Whatever your party affiliation, whatever your ethnicity, sexual orientation, or citizenship status, we at the Berkeley Political Review implore you to participate however you can in this historic election. This nation only comes together to select a presidential leader once in four years. That midterm can certainly wait. Sincerely,

Nitisha Baronia Editor-in-Chief

MASTHEAD EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Nitisha Baronia EXTERNAL EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Ruochen Huang INTERNAL EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Gloria Cheung CALIFORNIA EDITOR JJ Kim DEPUTY CALIFORNIA EDITOR Tiffany Lo UNITED STATES EDITOR Rea Savla DEPUTY UNITED STATES EDITOR Cathrine Petersen WORLD EDITOR Giacomo Tognini DEPUTY WORLD EDITOR J Jung OPINION EDITOR Adora Svitak DEPUTY OPINION EDITOR Kush Berry ONLINE EDITOR Suleman Khan DEPUTY ONLINE EDITOR Bhaavya Sinha BUSINESS MANAGER Yash Sanghrajka DESIGN DIRECTOR Dishary Hossain TECHNICAL DIRECTOR Luqmaan Abdul-Cader EDITORS EMERITUS Nikhil Kotecha Matthew Symonds Elena Kempf Niku Jafarnia STAFF Writers: Adrian Hernandez-Morales, Alex Casendino, Alice Ma, Ananya Sreekanth, Anastasia Pyrinis, Anisha Dangoria, Anthony Swaminathan, Christian Fong, Dahlia Peterson, Dave Bengardi, Dosbal Aibyek, Elyse O’Neill, Faaria Hussain, Gavin Greene, Griffin Potrock, Jack Foley, Jack Sadler, James Yixuan Zheng, Jeffrey Wirjo, Jessie Mao, Jonah Berger-Cahn, Kevin Klyman, Lilac Peterson, Leslie Aguilar, Liya Nahusenay, Manas Agrawal, Manu Meel, Michael Eliot, Nicholas Pingitore, Nicolas Friedlich, Oliver Ma, Ron (Tianlang) Gao, Saalar Aghili, Sean Vernon, Sebastian Miller, Sophie Khan, Taylor Fatherree, Tushita Saraf, Utsav Kedia, Yoojin Shin, Zaki Alattar Design and Business: Carol Gao, Niharika Jain, Olivia Lipari, Sadhvi Mathur, Selena Gomez, Thamashi de Silva, Tonya Ngyuen, Victoria Lu, Vishesh Mehta

ASUC sponsored. The content of this publication does not reflect the view of the University of California, Berkeley or the Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC). Advertisements appearing in the Berkeley Political Review reflect the views of the advertisers only, and are not an expression of the editorial opinion or views of the staff.

Berkeley Political Review Volume XVIII, No. 1 / Fall 2016 CALIFORNIA Jack Sadler


California Passes Legislation To Transform How We Vote

Nicholas Pingitore


Why The Golden State Didn’t Bern OPINION

Sebastian Miller


Hillary Clinton’s Brand of Nationalism

Jonah Berger-Cahn


If He’s Messed Up, You’re to Blame

Ron Gao


A Middle Ground For Snowden


The Death of the Conventional Politician

Tushita Saraf

UNITED STATES Anisha Dangoria


An Education In Racism

Nicolas Friedlich


Battling the Burden

Elyse O’Neill


Who Will Rebuild America?

Alex Casendino


Prize for Parents WORLD

Adrian Hernandez-Morales


The Forgotten Migrants Of Central America

Cover artwork by Dishary Hossain Cover Layout by Dishary Hossain and Gloria Cheung


California Passes Legislation to Transform How We Vote



t’s not a new or radical idea to suggest California has significant issues with voter turnout and civic engagement. Data from the United States Elections Project has shown our state’s precipitous fall from having higher voter turnout than the nation as a whole in 2002 to falling to the bottom 20% of states by the 2014 midterm. Missing, however, in many conversations about this troubling trend are solutions. Last Thursday, Governor Brown signed into law SB 450, which aims to revolutionize our state’s electoral system through a series of reforms that make voting easier and more efficient. The legislation, modeled off similar legislation enacted three years ago in Colorado, may not be a panacea to our civic engagement woes. It does, however, have the power to positively transform the way we vote. Tuft University’s CIRCLE institute conducted studies in 2014 analyzing the reasons people don’t vote. The study identified two leading causes: inconvenience and apathy. Surprisingly, inconvenience, not apathy, dominated as the leading cause of why people failed to vote. As a result of fast paced lives and transient or busy entry level jobs, young people are often inconvenienced to vote. It’s easy to see why. California’s labyrinthine elections were held on workdays, voters had to vote at assigned polling locations and register to vote in advance. Addressing the primary reason people don’t vote is a logical step to take for any legislature with the interest of including more voters in the electoral process. However, in many Republican states, incorporating more historically disenfranchised voters into the electoral process can result in “problems” for Republican politicians. In primarily Republican states across the country, lawmakers have passed voter ID laws which do a negligible good (protecting against possible election fraud) in order to make it harder for new voters to vote. These laws suppress traditionally Democratic voters, while skewing elections towards white Republicans. Seven states, from Wisconsin to Tennessee have passed strict photo voter ID laws with questionable political motives. Efforts taken by California and Colorado reflect the ideological makeup of both state legislatures. In 2013, Colorado signed into law the Voter Access and Modernized Elections Act of 2013.The law sent out ballots to every voter through the mail and created polling “centers” as opposed to polling places. These polling centers allow all voters to drop off their mail in ballot in days preceding the election, as well as on election day. These centers also allow voters to register to vote on election day. According to Pew Research, these reforms have decreased the cost of elections, increased voter satisfaction with the voting process, probably increased voter turnout and “reduced reliance on provisional ballots”. One of the strongest recorded effects of the legislation has been its effect on the price of administering elections. In the counties that reported data on the cost of implementing the system, the cost of administering elections dropped from $16 dollars in 2008 to $9.56 in 2014. This 40% drop in cost provides strong reasons for the state to adopt the new system, even if voter turnout isn’t affected. Voters, according to Pew, were also very satisfied with their voting experience. 95% of mail in voters were satisfied as well as 96% of in-person voters.

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Although voter turnout increased by just 3%, the effects on voter turnout will take longer than one election to truly be felt. It will take time for would-be voters across Colorado to see the effectiveness of the new system. It is important to point out that scholars generally do not agree that there is one magic solution to fixing voter turnout issues. According to Kelly Born in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, “a mix of strategies would need to be pursued, each (on their own) with incremental effects,” to boost turnout. Changes like same day voter registration, which is included in SB 450 are possible solutions. Born argues that although changes like these will have an impact on turnout, ultimately much of the responsibility falls to the “social sector” to increase turnout. She is however optimistic that government action can positively affect turnout. California’s new law, originally introduced by Senator Ben Allen (D) and Bob Hertzberg (D), mandates voters be sent a “mail in ballot” that can be dropped off at new voting centers up to ten days in advance. These centers would also allow for same day registration, and accept any voter from the county they operate in. Under these reforms, busy voters are able to cast ballots when and where they choose. One major difference between SB 450 and the Colorado law is that each county in California will have to choose to be a part of the new program. Some counties will inevitably choose to continue with our current system. California is significantly larger than Colorado. In fact, it’s nearly eight times bigger. Mandating that all of California’s 58 counties opt in to the system at the same time produces both logistical and political concerns. However, lawmakers are trusting that the financial incentives and increased voter satisfaction of the new election model will push counties to opt-in. SB 450 won’t instantly solve voter turnout issues. Its implementation will likely be slow, and for some voters, confusing. However, our system of federalism allows for legislative experimentation. In Colorado, the results are in, and they are positive. For the many would-be voters, limited by their schedule and ability to navigate our current system, this new law has tremendous potential to make voting easier. Ultimately, voter turnout issues must be solved not just by government institutions, but also by our social institutions. However, smart, research based legislation, like SB 450, is a big step in the right direction.■

Source: The Hollywood Reporter


Why The Golden State Didn’t Bern NICHOLAS PINGITORE



espite the hype, California did not swing for Bernie on June 7, 2016. While national polls predominantly aligned with Clinton, a Sanders victory was still a real possibility leading up to the California primary, especially coming on the heels of a well-won Midwest campaign. While Clinton already had the majority of delegates, the Sanders campaign strategized that winning California by a large margin would persuade a substantial amount of superdelegates to change their pledges to give Sanders a majority vote at the DNC and thus clinch the nomination. As the primary approached, this strategy seemed plausible. The latest polls placed Sanders well within the 3% margin of error; some even had Sanders leading Clinton by one point. Sanders had also been campaigning heavily in some of California’s most liberal districts, such as Alameda County. His support in the Bay Area alone was so overwhelming that if the nine-county area was its own state, it would have ranked third on most donations per capita. However, by the time the dust cleared and the votes were tallied Clinton had won by over seven points. Moreover, she had won California’s most liberal counties including Alameda, San Francisco and Marin. Many expected a Sanders loss, but few predicted it to be so overwhelming. Why were the results of the California primary so different from the projected outcome? First, since its inception, Sanders emphasized that the key to its success lay in large voter turnout. To access this, a major tenet of the campaign was to increase voter registration of non-voting populations, such as youth, which could then translate to more votes on June 7. However, across the campaign trail, Sanders consistently won caucuses, where voter turnout is low, while losing large primaries like New York and California. Primaries are often determined by the respective state’s large population centers; in California, these are Los Angeles County, San Diego County and the Bay Area. All three of these areas swung for Clinton (even Alameda County, which contains both Berkeley and Oakland, supported Clinton by a fivepoint difference). Urban areas tend to be more racially diverse, with high populations of middle class Whites, Latinos, and African-Americans, all key members of the Clinton bloc. This is not to say that Bernie’s coalition is not diverse, but Clinton’s ability to rely on a large and loyal voting bloc was what gave her the edge in California. Clinton lead Sanders two-to-one among middle-aged voters and led 57% to 36% among African-Americans, but it

was California’s large Latino population which swung hard for her. Clinton won all twelve of California’s supermajority-Latino districts, which are also some of the most populous. Clinton’s ability to pick up Latino votes ultimately worked as a major blow against Sanders, as Latinos in California total almost 39% of the state’s population. This coalition of loyal voters is mirrored nationally. Black voters (which played a large part in Clinton’s Super Tuesday victory in the South) shared similar voting habits in California and helped her to carry many of California’s more urban constituencies. Latinos in California overwhelmingly supported her as did those in Nevada, New Mexico and Arizona, three states that she also won with decisive numbers. Additionally, a rise in voter registration did not correlate to a rise in support for Sanders. According to California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, over 2 million new voters registered for the 2016 primary. Of those new voters, over 75% were Democrats. Despite this, only 47.7% of the state’s registered voters cast their ballot. Popular rhetoric during the primary assumed many of those 2 million new voters reflected the passion of Sanders supporters preparing to hit the polls. But while over 70% of voters aged 18-29 favored Sanders in the California primary, only 10% of voters aged 35 and under turned in their ballots. The youth vote in California has long been underwhelming. The most accepted hypothesis for the low turnout is that younger voters have less at stake, as they have yet to buy into state and federal programs at the extent to which older voters do. As a result, they are less concerned about elections and ballot measures and have less of an incentive to turn out to the polls.While The Sanders Campaign may have succeeded in getting the youth to register, not enough of the younger generation followed through with the second half of the strategy, actually voting. Third, part of Sanders’ draw was his ability to market himself as a fresh voice on the national campaign stage. While he was able to attract younger voters, older voters were more apprehensive about his agenda. This was especially evident with the influential Latino vote in California; while Latino voters under fifty supported Sanders 58% to Clinton’s 31%, voters over fifty supported Clinton by 69% to 16%. Many older voters respect Clinton as a stalwart of the Democratic party, and chose to back the candidate whom they felt was politically tested and ready to go up against Trump in the national election. Furthermore, polls that were optimistic for Sanders did not calculate mail-in, absentee and early vote ballots during the 2016 primary. Many Asian-Americans and Latinos (which together make up roughly 50% of California’s population) vote by using mail-in-ballots. This meant Clinton had a relatively unreported 400,0000-vote lead well before June 7. Many polling centers derived their numbers only from expected turnout at local polling centers, ignoring a large portion of California voters. Moreover, mail-in voters tend to be older. Over 50% of voters 54-63 and 70% of voters 64 and older use mail-in ballots. Both demographics voted overwhelmingly for Clinton. On the other hand, youth voters got a particularly large number of their mail-in votes rejected, for a variety of reasons including missing signatures and missed deadlines. In many ways, the California Democratic Primary was a microcosm of the 2016 primary presidential race. Sanders mounted a hearty challenge to the establishment-favored Clinton. He successfully sparked the interests of America’s younger generations in politics, motivating more people to vote than ever before. Many theorize that Sanders may have turned a new page on how campaigns are to be run in the future. While that may bode well for

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n 1942, two months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, 127,000 people of Japanese descent were rounded up and subsequently marched into American internment camps. Though these individuals included fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters from diverse backgrounds, they shared one common characteristic: they were perceived as “un-American” by the US population at large. FDR ordered the internment on suspicions shared by many Americans: that Japan had planted spies in the US. While the soldiers who corralled thousands of innocents into pens were the instruments of this injustice, the true mechanism by which internment became possible was the painting of Japanese-Americans as “non-citizens”, whose very existence stood opposed to what it meant to be American. Today, in the 2016 national election, a similar unleashing of nationalistic rhetoric is being employed, namely by the Democratic Nominee Hillary Clinton. Of course, Donald Trump is also severely guilty of employing nationalistic rhetoric which demeans and otherizes various populations. His comments equating Mexican immigrants to criminals and rapists, his recentlyabandoned attempts to claim President Obama was not a US citizen, and his uninformed desire for militaristic expansion are all testaments to this fact. However, all of these aspects of Donald Trump’s campaign are well documented, with the mainstream press reporting with jubilant glee on every word and phrase Trump uses. Those who still support Trump are either aware of his dangerous rhetoric and don’t care, or are more interested in a specific issue which they believe he can uniquely provide for. What is covered far less, and has been practically ignored in this election cycle is the far subtler, yet similarly potent use of nationalistic rhetoric employed by the Clinton campaign. Specifically, the Clinton campaign has painted Donald Trump and his supporters as un-American, and has suggested that everything Trump stands for is in direct opposition to what America values. This phenomenon is difficult to pin down to specific comments, as it is constructed by the usage of less overt, more digestible diction designed to raise fewer eyebrows than Trump’s bombastic ravings, yet it can be seen in several key moments throughout the electoral cycle. Clinton has attacked Trump for criticizing American exceptionalism, linked him to foreign adversaries (most notably Vladimir Putin), and labeled his rhetoric un-American. Similarly, in his endorsement of Clinton, President Obama also asserted that Trump was un-American by virtue of his character, values, and temperament. This rhetoric is dangerous for a myriad of reasons. First, it implies that Trump’s comments are isolated from American values, even though much of Trump’s derogatory dialogue harkens back to the ideas which plagued America in the past, and permitted institutions like slavery to exist. Denying this difficult history is incredibly problematic, especially coming from a figure who might end up deciding how best to shape our society for the future. Secondly, Clinton’s suggestion that Americans are uniquely powerful and bear a unique capacity to combat demagogues insinuates that other nations are either unwilling or incapable of combating similar figures on their own (which has justified detrimental American intervention in the past). Finally, it rallies Americans against Trump supporters as an outlier group (or as a basket of deplorables) to be expunged, which can result in violence. Attacks coming from Clinton or Obama are far more likely to be taken seriously by the population at large than attacks from Trump, and are therefore uniquely dangerous. The media has contributed tremendously in

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this respect. While Trump’s nationalistic rhetoric has been almost universally condemned by most mainstream media, Clinton and Obama’s comments are often described by the media as encouraging, smart, and even powerful. Whether or not one believes in a general liberal bias in media, in this area, media outlets have spoken: Trump’s nationalism is condemnable, and Clinton’s is empowering. I can already hear outraged responses to this observation: “Trump deserves it! He did say all those things! Those things do make him unAmerican!” Yes. Exactly. Trump deserves it, or at least, that’s what this rhetoric feeds upon. It’s certainly the rationale used by those who have attacked Trump supporters at various rallies. While Trump supporters are certainly no strangers to violence, observers have shown no hesitation in linking violence to his rhetoric, whereas no such link has been attempted with Clinton and her supporters.

Source: Jae C. Chong, Associated Press

In this way, Trump and his supporters have become universal punching bags, where nearly any response—however violent—is justified by powerful nationalistic sentiment which permeates much of American society. Attacking Trump and his supporters, according to the implications of Clinton’s rhetoric, is no longer justified or moral—it is a “true” American’s duty, and is everything that America stands for. Certainly, Trump deserves to be decried for his absolutely reprehensible remarks pertaining to women, the disabled, and a disturbingly wide variety of races, yet there is such a thing as crossing a line when dealing with Trump. Unleashing nationalist sentiment in any context is highly dangerous, and harkens back to the Bush era moto of “either you’re with us, or you’re with the terrorists”, which launched a full-scale witch hunt against Muslim Americans, and embroiled the US in a war on terror which shows little sign of slowing down after 15 years of conflict. Both candidates have used nationalism and American exceptionalism to incite hatred, ignorance, and even violence towards their respective opponents. While we can quibble over who is more direct or visceral (a lopsided argument, given Trump’s track record), it is undeniable that we have only identified half of the problem. Both Clinton and Trump must be condemned for their nationalistic rhetoric. Until such a rejection is commonplace, the political escalation of this electoral cycle will continue to spiral out of control, and more violence is likely to follow.■


If He’s Messed Up, You’re to Blame


Source: Jae C. Chong, Associated Press


n the parlance of Donald J. Trump, ‘many people are saying’ how the candidacy he has waged is unprecedented, incomprehensible, and astounding. The narrative goes that never in the history of the Republic has a candidate come about with such an unintelligible policy platform or knack for the offensive and absurd. The Access Hollywood tape depicting Trump’s already well-documented misogynistic folksiness is just another nail in the coffin for those espousing this view. But Trump’s candidacy did not develop in a vacuum, and the forces that paved the way for his ascent are often left under-examined, or willfully ignored. In many ways, Trump’s campaign for President actually represents one of the most derivative, unoriginal, and plainly plagiarized candidacies in the history of the United States. Popular discourse in the US has similarly promoted the idea that Trump’s rise disproves the long-standing assumption that America’s two political parties are the absolute deciders in who becomes their respective nominee for President (a thesis posited in the book The Party Decides). But this is patently untrue. The Republican Party has been working for the better part of 30 years to cultivate ‘mainstream’ support for the exact issues and interests that Trump has rhetorically relied upon to fuel his flamboyant rise. In 2016, the Party did decide: they chose Trump. First off, Trump’s calls for restoration of ‘law and order’ carry on a well-established conservative tradition of blatant dog whistles to aggrieved or selectively color-blind whites in the Republican base. This is because, as Michelle Alexander writes in The New Jim Crow¸ politicians found they could continue to exploit and encourage racial-prejudices “without violating the law or the new limits of acceptable political discourse, by demanding ‘law and order’ rather than segregation forever.’” It’s a term popularized by George Wallace and other Southern Governors who used their pulpits to spew racial invective, and its use now is no more original than its use in Nixon’s intentionally-bigoted ‘Southern Strategy’ in the 1968 Presidential Campaign. Trump is merely nipping at the heels of this racist history. Though to his credit, the strategy is well-paved and often successful, and continues to find an audience with disillusioned and economically-stagnant, though not necessarily ‘working class,’ whites. With that said, purported racism is contentious, and many conservatives naturally take offense at insinuations that their political candidates are walking vaguely racist tight-ropes. However, there is empirical evidence to support some insinuations, and the evidence does much to explain Trump’s

appeal to many geographic regions this election cycle, as well as Republican efforts more broadly to court the racist and racially-aggrieved. A Harvard Kennedy School of Government study, “The Political Legacy of American Slavery,” found that lingering racial resentment by whites continues to define geographic regions that were historically home to large enslaved populations. This racial resentment occurs alongside animosity towards government programs (e.g., welfare and affirmative action) perceived as disproportionately advantaging to African Americans, as well as an affinity for conservative politics. Another study, from the University of Illinois at Chicago, found that conspicuous characteristics of racial resentment strongly correlate to opposition to gun control – a fundamental issue of today’s GOP. Without context, pointing to this research may appear patently offensive to the decency of Republican voters. This is by no means a personal attack, but merely an association that indicates a long-standing history of the “trope of ‘rights’ [being] used in defense of white privilege” (as the researchers Filindra and Kaplan contextualize for us). Analogously, “homeowners rights [were] used in defense of residential segregation, ‘taxpayer rights’ marshalled against welfare programs and affirmative action, [and] ‘victims’ rights employed in support of punitive criminal justice policies” (as quoted in the Washington Post). Beyond race, Trump’s remaining policy proposals are equally unoriginal and patently derivative. His economic approach is a reworking of the trickle down policies of the Reagan Administration, and his campaign slogans are shamelessly plagiarized (from Nixon’s “The Silent Majority,” to Ronald Reagan’s beckoning call of “Let’s Make America Great Again”). Further, his blatant xenophobia, nativism, homophobia, Islamophobia, climate-change denialism, ‘inner-city’ bashing and love affair with fear-mongering all have huge precedent within the Republican Party. Consider Ronald Reagan’s (racialized) belittlement of people receiving government-support through his ridicule of ‘welfare queens’ or George H.W. Bush’s racially-coded Willie Horton ad campaign accusing Governor Dukakis of promoting prison-leave policies that allowed a black man to rape a white woman and brutally assault her fiancé. Moreover, this just past Republican Primary cycle, even without the inputs of Trump, wasn’t the high-minded policy exchange conservative outlets like the Weekly Standard would suggest, but instead was blighted by attacks on immigrants (“anchor babies”), Muslims (“we need to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods”), the poor, and that scourge of an organization that provides affordable and decent health care to millions, Planned Parenthood. These are the reasons Trump has found a welcome audience in the Republican Party. He’s simply saying the things that Republican rhetoricians have been implying for decades, and the base knows it and responds. There are many, many ways the Republican Party could have stopped Trump, but it didn’t. True, the audio of Trump discussing sexually assaulting women has prompted a litany of Republican politicians to essentially disown him. But their efforts are not only too little too late, they’re also disingenuous. As some have pointed out, if Trump was up 5 or 6 percentage points in the polls, it is unlikely there would be nearly as many defections. Trump’s personality is vexing, but his politics have, at least until recently, trumped that. Republicans felt comfortable with him. He’s everything they’ve worked for and more. Simply put, before explicitly implicating himself as a predator, he was something most could live with. And now they are.■

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A Middle Ground For Snowden



hree years ago, Edward Snowden shocked the world with his revelation of NSA mass surveillance programs. Now he wants to come home. As a new wave of public debate surrounding privacy and national security takes place, now is the best time for the U.S. government and Mr. Snowden to find a common ground. The U.S. government should punish Mr. Snowden accordingly for leaking classified documents, but Mr. Snowden should also be granted leniency in recognition of his public service. A timely negotiated plea agreement would not only teach constituents crucial lessons about privacy and government power, but also resolve the taboo on whistleblowing and encourage civil disobedience through justified channels in the new administration. The “Snowden” movie, directed by Academy Award winning director Oliver Stone, made its theatrical debut in September, reinvigorating public attention toward the controversial figure. It depicted Snowden’s transformation from an enthusiastic CIA agent to an outraged NSA contractor in spotlighted detail, explaining his whistle-blowing as a justified response to the information he obtained over the years. Despite traumatic personal experience in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Snowden finally reasoned that in such massive, untargeted security efforts, “terrorism is just an excuse.” The end of the movie especially focused on the exile of Mr. Snowden, showing an unforgiving U.S. leadership and justice system that are challenged and embarrassed by Mr. Snowden’s public service. Stone’s movie did little to unpackage Snowden’s individual complexity, and was controversial in painting Snowden’s motives as purely principled civic duty. However, it drove many people to show their support for Mr. Snowden, with some participating in the Pardon Snowden campaign. Since September 2016, human rights activists and legal experts have been petitioning for a presidential pardon to bring Edward Snowden home,

Source: LifeNews on the Russia-24 TV Channel

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seizing the opportunity of President Obama’s final days in office. Snowden’s exposé revealed programs that that deeply intruded on privacy, for instance monitoring telephone “metadata” of virtually every phone call and Internet habits by millions of users. These disclosures generated a heated debate that altered the way U.S. government spies on its citizens. The New York Times editorial board echoed that Mr. Snowden, in revealing an unconstitutional mass surveillance system, performed a public service “of enormous value and scant harm,” and it is unjustifiable for him to remain as an outlaw in a foreign country. Civil right advocates are inspired by Mr. Snowden, who asserted that his “sole motive is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them.” The issue of privacy, as it turned out, is that rare topic that citizens across the political spectrum seem to agree on: according to a Pew Research Center poll, 74% of Americans say they shouldn’t give up privacy and freedom in the name of security, and a majority oppose NSA surveillance programs. In addition to public support, some well-known supporters of the Pardon Snowden movement include Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak and Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg. Even Eric Holder, former attorney general under President Obama, admitted that Mr. Snowden “actually performed a public service by raising the debate that we engaged in, and by the changes that we made.” The petition for a presidential pardon on obtained nearly 170,000 signatures, prompting a response from the White House. Lisa Monaco, the President’s Homeland Security Advisor, insisted that Mr. Snowden posted a severe security threat to the country. To express dissent, Snowden should “challenge it, speak out, engage in a constructive act of protest, and—importantly—accept the consequences of his actions,” she wrote, but currently he hides “behind the cover of an authoritarian regime.” The grave security threat triggered by Mr. Snowden’s documents leak was a point underrated by many of his supporters. Of the 1.5 million classified documents he copied, many are irrelevant to the national debate around privacy but straightforwardly about military, defense, and intelligence programs. For instance, a separate overseas NSA Internet Monitoring program, PRISM, was exposed, although it was both legal and non-threatening to constitutional privacy. Along with the files of mass surveillance programs, Snowden leaked crucial information on international intelligence operations, from monitoring terrorists to offensive cyber security operations. Washington Post, a newspaper greatly benefited from its initial reports on Snowden, argued that “no specific harm, actual or attempted, to any individual American was ever shown to have resulted from the NSA telephone metadata program Mr. Snowden brought to light.” In contrast, these leaks disrupted lawful intelligence-gathering and caused possibly “tremendous damage” to national security, according to a unanimous report from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Federal prosecutors charge Mr. Snowden with theft of government property and two counts of violating the Espionage Act, a WWI-era law that prohibits unauthorized communication of national defense information to an unauthorized person. Mr. Snowden violated the law by releasing


Source: CNN Money

classified documents to journalists, and the Espionage Act makes no distinctions between selling national secrets to foreign enemy and giving information to journalists to promote greater public good. If Mr. Snowden goes to trial today, he cannot defend himself by claiming higher purpose and the positive transformative impact that resulted from his actions. The Pardon Snowden movement supporters and many others believe Mr. Snowden has a case for leniency, and it would be disheartening for him to hide in Moscow for many more winters. To the U.S. government, an unsettled Snowden controversy could continue to be a nightmare post-election. It is in neither party’s interest to see the drama continue. Therefore, it is best that Mr. Snowden and U.S. government start talks about a middle ground. According to Stephen Vladeck, a constitutional scholar at the University of Texas School of Law, “the best scenario for everyone is if the government offered (and Snowden accepted) some kind of plea deal…in exchange for a suspended sentence and a whole bunch of supervised release conditions.” Major media outlets such as the LA Times and Washington Post similarly argue that Mr. Snowden should plead criminal responsibility for disclosure of classified material, but that the U.S. government should offer a measure of leniency in recognition of his contributions. In the aftermath of the Snowden drama, the U.S. government has established practices to protect and encourage whistleblowing, with rewards for “speaking truth to power, by exemplifying professional integrity, or by reporting wrongdoing through appropriate channels.” Nevertheless, according to Tom Devine, legal director of a Washington-based whistleblow-

er aid outfit, the Government Accountability Project, “consistently, they are used as a trap that identifies whistleblowers and funnels their evidence into entities with a conflict of interest that then try to cover up the misconduct.” A Newsweek article label these actions as an attempt “to corral future Snowdens before they leave their offices with thumb drives full of government secrets.” Just as the name of the article suggests: “Post Snowden, the government still can’t protect whistleblowers.” Although the Snowden files were leaked three years ago, the culmination of their revelation remains crucial today for its impact in the national privacy-security debate, and for its precedence in the whistle-blowing profiles. An just, timely end to the Snowden case will no doubt discourage similarly detrimental behaviors and pave new ground for intelligence-gathering and security endeavors in the new administration. All things considered, Snowden should be brought back home. Finding a middle ground is the best solution for both parties. ■

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Source: Pep Montserrat for The National


itler massacred three million Jews. Now, there is three million drug addicts. I’d be happy to slaughter them.”- Rodrigo Duterte, Incumbent Philippian President. “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” -Donald Trump, US Presidential Nominee of the Republican Party (2016). With conservative sentiments and political turmoil gripping significant regions of the world this year—Europe’s far right gaining electoral successes amid a worsening migrant crisis and sluggish economic growth, the rise of ISIS in the Middle East, economic decline and rising voter apathy in Japan— two leaders have taken center-stage in the international sphere, sparking criticism and widespread concern. Duterte and Trump both embody an insidious trend in politics: disillusionment with the conventional politician. They have made widely controversial statements that one would not expect from seasoned, diplomatic and capable politicians. However, their supporters have seldom been deterred. These two emerging leaders belong to widely disparate polities and backgrounds; labeling Duterte as the “Trump of the East” is not only blatantly misleading, but also fails to reason with the disenchantment that is gripping significant amounts of the voting populations in both countries. Although both men have run populist and unconventional campaigns, denigrated world leaders and prominent religious heads such as the Pope and made controversial misogynistic remarks at public events, they are dissimilar in many noteworthy ways. Their similarities end at their ceaseless ability to invite international concern. Unlike Donald Trump, Duterte has spent over 3 decades in public service, first as a prosecutor and eventually rising up to the rank of a Congressman. The accomplishment that Duterte himself boasts of excessively is his position as the Mayor of Davao, the country’s third most populous city, which he held for 22 years. On the other hand, Trump, the presidential nominee of a major political party has never held public office. It is concerning that a man with no political experience has advanced so far in the presidential election in a country that has never even considered electing a man with no history of public service to the most powerful office in the nation. Another way in which the two leaders are dissimilar is the international

10 | Berkeley Political Review

and national clout they possess. Duterte is unshakably supportive of minorities, such as the Moro Muslims, whereas Donald Trump has run on a platform of appealing to the white middle-aged section of the voter population by denigrating immigrants, Muslims, Latinos, blacks, women and Mexicans. Whereas Duterte is relatively progressive for a Southeast Asian nation, fiercely backing gay marriage, Donald Trump has earned the adulation of conservatives by opposing marriage equality and embracing the nation’s most odious anti-LGBTQ law, North Carolina’s HB2. It is clear that they appeal to widely different political bases and represent disparate policies. Lastly, Duterte’s rise to the position of the President cannot be dismissed as a result of voter apathy—he won a landslide victory with over 80% voter turnout. On the other hand, political apathy in America is evident, with prominent social activists, Hollywood actors, the President and the First Lady all urging greater turnout at the polls. The negative sentiments of the population regarding the conventional politician and established politics is evident through the concerns voiced by Duterte and Trump supporters; both leaders have been credited with the ability to ‘shake up’ longstanding and conventional political norms in their respective countries. Voters have expressed similar sentiments when asked why they prefer leaders such as Trump and Duterte: anti-establishment platforms that are commanded by ‘strong’ and ‘unafraid’ men who have the ability to make scathing remarks against international bodies, financial institutions and foreign countries. It is the fact that they are unabashedly politically incorrect that makes them politically favorable. For example, Duterte’s brazen dismissal of his country’s post war foreign policy stance did not cause a decline in his approval ratings of 91% since his election. Duterte drastically damaged his country’s longstanding relations with the US by expressing his willingness to reach an amicable compromise with China over the South China Sea dispute despite the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s judgement that China does not have valid historical grounds for claiming islands in the South China Sea. This radical reversal of long-standing policy, one of this most significant antiestablishment policies, did not hurt Duterte’s national image whereas it irreparably damaged his standing in the international sphere, at least in the eyes of the West and its allies. Similarly, Donald Trump’s statements about reversing the leadership role that the US has taken in the post-war order in Europe through NATO, ‘cancelling’ the Paris agreement due to his belief that climate change is a hoax and creating a strongly isolationist America has not reduced his popularity. These are radical changes to traditional American policy since the conclusion of World War II. Moreover, his lack of knowledge about significant world events (such as the Russian incursion in Crimea) has not hurt him either. Politicians were traditionally chosen for prominent positions based on their composure, political experience, knowledge and clear policy proposals. Donald Trump possesses none of the above: he has often lost his cool and used expletives during public speeches and debates, he has no political experience or knowledge about critical events and has failed to succinctly outline the foreign and domestic policies that he would implement as President. The conventional politician seems to have lost its appeal to large parts of the population. Therefore, instead of accepting the sensationalized Trump-Duterte similarities and comparisons, one must look at the underlying voter behavior that embodies disenchantment and growing apathy. It spells disaster for international and national systems when disillusioned voters of highly stratified societies fail to recognize the necessity of a conventional politician.■





t is often said that children have a tendency to repeat what their parents do. And as children of the late-90’s enter college, there is no question from where their racial awareness comes. All one must do to find an explanation for the apparent increase of racism on college campuses is look at the 2016 presidential campaign. The candidates, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, appear to embody two opposite ends of the spectrum, the result of an America created by generations before us. Trump does not hesitate to call a spade a spade while Clinton represents a party notable for its political correctness. When two such ideals regarding race are forced to interact, the result is clearly reported by the media. It is very easy to say that society has become more racist–however, when one looks at the increased push towards political correctness, especially in universities, it is clear that the juxtaposition of not wanting to call one anything, and not hesitating to call them everything, has led to a complex racial dynamic in American society. The concept of microaggressions corroborates this evolution of racism. Initially developed in the 1970s by psychiatrist Chester Pierce, microaggressions are a form of racial bias held by individuals who do not realize their actions can be constituted as such. Though initially the term applied to a racial context, it has grown to encompass biases against everything from gender identification to mental health status. Microaggressions are also reported more often amongst the highly educated. In 1992, Claude Steele wrote an article revealing that microaggressions faced by minority students in universities have a negative impact on academic performance. According to Steele, 70% of African American students dropped out of universities. Despite numerous improvements put in place by institutions, a 14% graduation rate gap still persists between white and minority students. Such a lack of change is indicative of further improvements being needed. While such improvements are often pointed to as being a sign of progress in this respect, one only needs to listen to a presidential debate regarding people of color or immigrants to understand that minority groups are not welcomed by certain groups within American society. Derald Wing Sue, whose research on microaggressions helped define the term, further explained that microaggressions are an active manifestation of how we view the world, often resulting in inadvertent activities that can have a damaging meaning despite often initially appearing harmless. But at the end of it all, Sue states that microaggressions can often be “outside of one’s level of awareness and unintentional.” And if they are unintentional, is trying to combat them forcing individuals to acknowledge their inherent racist tendencies? Or is it placing racism in a context in which it was never intended to exist? Such are the questions being faced by college campuses today. Widely viewed as a hotbed of microaggression and rampant racism by the media, many universities around the country have taken actions to reduce microaggressions and instances of outright racism against minority students. Case Western Reserve University, for example, had the incoming class of 2020 attend talks on microaggressions. The student weekly paper, The Observer, describes the program, Diversity 360, as a tool that educates the student body on creating an environment that fosters diversity. The University of Minnesota has also taken measures to curb the prevalence of microaggressions on their college campuses. In a new training program offered by the school, librarians are being trained to intervene if they see microaggressions, an effort to make the school libraries a more inclusive place to study. Oftentimes, however, people, ranging from conservative critics to stu-

dents themselves, find that such training goes too far. In a picture posted by a Gonzaga student on Twitter, the university lists asking an Asian student for help on STEM as a microaggression. Opponents argue that such examples prove the fact that microaggression training and the hypersensitivity to diversity on college campuses is creating an environment in which students are coddled, as well as an environment that stems the free flow of academic thought. An article in CALIFORNIA Magazine, argues that trigger warnings on syllabi at UC Berkeley stem free speech on the campus that spawned the free speech movement. According to the article, there have been instances of potentially unpopular viewpoints and controversial opinions being stifled in a classroom setting because they could have been perceived as triggering or offensive to those around. Ultimately, this results in a creating an environment in which students–including those who write for school publications–are confused about what is considered acceptable

Source: Bangor Daily News

speech on campus, according to New York Magazine. There is no doubt–American society has a race problem. But instead of being one that is easy to fix, the problem is two-pronged, appearing to have a solutions for each extreme that simply exacerbate the greater problem. The depth of this problem–one that simply manifested itself on college campuses–is exemplified by our choices, as a nation, for presidential nominees. On one hand, Hillary Clinton and the Democratic party, by and large, appear to stand on the side of extreme racial correctness, something that can make even the most innocent and well-meaning of statements seem racist. On the other hand, Donald Trump has no qualms in demeaning members of different racial groups, and using stereotypes to further his cause. In the end, there appears to be no real blame to be placed on college students. After all, monkey see, monkey do...we are just behaving as we have been taught. ■

Berkeley Political Review | 11





ziz Dyab, like millions of his countrymen, was on the run. On the run from a repressive regime, unthinkable living conditions and little to no prospects for the higher education he so desperately sought. Aziz Dyab, however, would not be held back. He would escape to Turkey, be granted resettlement, and find his way to Germany. Today, Dyab studies mechatronics. He sees a bright career for himself. He wants to be an astronaut.

Source: NBC News

Supported by locals in Frankfurt, Dyab is a glowing example of how refugees might directly become educated, contributing members of an industrialized western economy. However, stories like Dyab’s are often been overshadowed by the darkest tones of our politics. It seems as though fear mongering, hate-driven, craven dialogue currently drives public discourse. Humanitarian pleas for Syrian refugees are met by proposed bans, generalistic religious tests and outlandish claims. This dialogue has become a major point of contention for the two major party presidential nominees. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has called for an increase in refugee intake to 65,000, while Republican nominee Donald Trump has lambasted Secretary Clinton for bringing in people who “don’t share our values” and could ostensibly be linked to ISIL. However, what neither party has saliently addressed on a public platform are the long-run economic effects of refugee intake. In this framework, we can eschew Islamophobic sentiment and engage in dialogue about tangible economic benefits. As the election nears, as Syrians and neighboring nations deal with millions of internally displaced persons, it may be worth reassessing what has been the focus of our national debate. The crux of the economic debate regarding the refugee crisis can be categorized into two distinct set of political shibboleths. The first is that massive influxes of refugees drag down wages, place a burden on social programs and taxpayers and force native born citizens out of work. The counter-argument is that, in the long-run, mass refugee waves offer a complementary approach to low-wage vocational opportunities not often sought by native-born citizens, and can spur entrepreneurial growth and positively contribute to fields through research and development. Many who posit such economic developments see short-run wage drops and unemployment spikes as necessary evils on the path to economic growth. In a Dec. 14 study done by Diana Furchtgott-Roth at the Manhattan Institute, finds that a balance of both low and highly-skilled workers can pose direct economic benefits over time:

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“The most important way immigrants benefit the U.S. economy, according to academic literature, is their possession of different skills and job preferences from those displayed by native-born Americans . . . immigrants complement rather than substitute for native-born workers, with capital moving accordingly to maximize available labor.” In an interview with Professor Mahmood Monshipouri, Professor of International Relations at San Francisco State and Visiting Professor at UC Berkeley, he analyzed how refugees are assimilating in a comparable western nation: Germany. He explained that when refugees are pushed out of their nation without easily transferrable assets, they can provide a boon in wage-labor: “They can be used as a large pool of labor, especially in industrially based economies where you need cheap labor. Germans are embracing the refugees because they know that they need to fill jobs.” In a study done by the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies they found that the refugee influx might help to alleviate the rapidly aging population: “Around one third of the 1 million migrants and refugees who entered Germany in 2015 are under the age of 25 and their labor will help maintain the generous pension and benefits system Germans hold dear… refugees’ contributions will outweigh these start-up costs after a few years, leaving the German economy better off.” An Oct. 2015 Bruegel article cited that while German taxpayers may see initial expenses in the short-run, “extra-spending does not vanish in a black hole, but is actually stimulating internal demand in Germany,” and should eventually result in a budget surplus. However, historically, refugee waves from other Middle Eastern and North African countries suggest this complementary balance of highly-skilled refugees and low-wage laborers does not always pan out to economic growth. A Jan. 2016 Economist article underscores such an argument through case examples from refugee waves in Australia: “Barriers suggest that it will be awhile before refugees pay more in tax than they receive in state support. A study of Australian refugees found that they paid less tax than they received in benefits for their first 15-20 years of residency.” Waiting long periods of time to see economic growth could act as a deterrent to any western economy. It may take a rejuvenated approach to this refugee question to create a more decisively positive plan. What remains germane is that Syrian refugees, and refugees of all conditions, can offer viable economic benefits to host nations if cultivated with the right assimilatory factors. However, if approached incorrectly, host nations may simply continue to disenfranchise and marginalize these refugee groups. As we approach Nov. 8., as partisan rhetoric and nationalistic sentiment is stirred, this discussion may seem less and less feasible. Yet, a candid debate in regard to economic growth through refugee assimilation remains an objective approach to this argument without unfounded generalizations of Islamophobic sentiment. Aziz Dyab wants to be an astronaut. Like many of his native people, he sees a future not dictated by Russian cruise missiles, a corrupt regime and little to no financial stability. While the polemic swirls around statistically unlikely terrorist linkages we lose sight of how this refugee wave, comprised of hopeful astronauts and shopkeepers alike, can provide gradual economic growth. However, if states don’t provide tested assimilatory programs, refugees might never fully realize their vocational potential and continue to burden the state.■


Who Will Rebuild America?



nfrastucture has always been used to build up the United States. Though the Great Depression was a time of loss, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt took bold strokes to better the United States through public works projects, which strengthened America’s infrastructure and economy. A few decades later, President Eisenhower continued this legacy when he signed the National Highway Act into law in 1956, leading to the construction of roads that linked the nation together. Though America has a history of investing in strong infrastructure, the US now faces a much different situation. In the 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, the United States received a D+. Given the current state of our infrastructure, it has become an important issue in the 2016 election. Both Clinton and Trump have both talked about increasing investment infrastructure throughout their campaigns, yet their overall plans differ. To really bring infrastructure in this country up to par, both sides of the isle need to agree to make this issue a top priority and give it the funding it needs. To fully understand this D+, it is important to first learn who comes up with this grade and what the rating means. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) determines the grade, which raises some red flags. Some argue that the ASCE is biased because civil engineers stand to profit from the repairs they say need to occur. Though the ASCE does stand to gain from these projects, it is also composed of the nation’s infrastructure experts, making it the most qualified group to make this assessment. Regardless of the exact measure, the nation still undisputably has an infrastructure problem. There are currently 70,000 bridges in this country that have been deemed structurally deficient by the US government. The ASCE analyzes all aspects of the nation’s infrastructure and grades based on seven basic criteria: capacity, condition, funding, future need, operation and maintenance, public safety, resilience, and innovation. The ASCE then averages the grade that different types of infrastructure get in different categories to determine the national grade. This means that the amount of money being put into programs heavily factors into the grading system. Given the constant flow of money that is necessary for infrastructure to be properly maintained, this is a fair way to measure the quality of US infrastructure. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have attempted to address the current state of infrastructure. Clinton plans to spend $275 billion over five years, $250 billion of which would go directly into public investment. The other $25 billion would go toward the creation of a national infrastructure bank which would lend another $250 billion out to public and private entities to rebuild infrastructure, meaning that her plan results in about $500 billion in infrastructure spending. CNN described the bank as a “public-private partnership where the government puts in some money and private investors put in the rest.” She also plans to cut red tape and increase accountability in these projects to bring down costs. Though she has been specific on the details of her plan, Clinton is vague about how she is going to pay for it. She has simply stated that she will get the money through business tax reform, but has not said much more than that. Donald Trump’s infrastructure plans are far less concrete than Clinton’s. On his official website, he says very little about infrastructure, only briefly mentioning new energy infrastructure in his plan to create 25 million jobs. However, he has made comments during interviews and speeches that

outline what his infrastructure plan may be. According to CNN, he has said that he plans to spend twice as much Clinton. The Washington Times claims that Trump will pay for the plan by allowing “companies to repatriate capital from abroad at a low tax rate,” meaning that he would allow companies that have been storing money in a different country to bring their assets back at a low tax rate, and any money earned from this tax would go toward infra-

Source: Cagle Cartoons

structure. Trump has yet to put a number on this tax, making it impossible to know whether or not it would generate enough revenue to fund his plan. On the whole, Trump has said very little about infrastructure other than that he plans to invest a large amount of money in it. At this point, Clinton seems to be the candidate who will best be able to rebuild America’s infrastructure given the depth of her plan and commitment to this issue. Her plans to invest, cut down on red tape, and create an infrastructure bank will help to lay a good foundation for future infrastructure projects. Until Trump fully lays out his plan, it is hard to truly compare the two. With less than thirty days until the election the only details about his plan that he shared on his website are that it will “will provide the growth to boost our infrastructure.” All in all, action needs to be taken on infrastructure. Both sides seem to agree on this, given that it is a part of both major candidates’ policy proposals, yet to date very little has been done to fix the problem. Rebuilding the nation is not a painless process-- FDR’s public works program cost about $11 billion and building the highway system cost the federal government $119 billion. Though Clinton and Trump agree on almost nothing, both say that infrastructure spending needs to increase. Given the plans--or lack thereof-- both candidates have laid out, it seems that Clinton is the choice for making the nation’s infrastructure stronger. To make the country strong and safe, bold action needs to be taken.■

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Prize for Parents


“Today, we’re the only advanced country on Earth that vary in each state. This policy is considered Trump’s attempt to draw support doesn’t guarantee paid sick leave or paid maternity leave to from female voters, a voting bloc favoring Clinton over Trump by double digits. Compared to Trump’s plan, Clinton’s plan provides a wider set of our workers.”


resident Obama’s statement from his final State of the Union Address remains true; within the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a consortium of 35 countries with developed economies, the U.S. is the only nation that does not guarantee paid family leave, a policy that mandates employers to provide paid time off work to employees taking care of a newborn child or a dependent family member. President Obama’s remarks might not hold true for long, as presidential candidates, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, have both proposed plans to address the issue of paid family leave. Given their platforms and bipartisan public support, paid family leave will soon become a reality. However, neither of the policies proposed by these candidates provide the social and economic benefits for families that are standard in other parts of the world. America’s shift toward paid family leave originates from long-term changes in the workforce. A June 2014 report from the Center for American Progress discovered the share of mothers who were breadwinners or co-breadwinners for their families increased from 1967 to 2012 by 35.8%. As a result, paid family leave has attracted support from mothers in breadwinner roles who must balance household finances and caring for a new child. However, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 provided American workers with just twelve weeks of unpaid family leave. Business groups played a crucial role in restricting FMLA to only unpaid leave, arguing businesses would otherwise suffer from over-regulation. Since businesses have blocked a federal paid leave system, states including California have taken the initiative to address paid family leave. Following a campaign spearheaded by several union organizations, California became the first state to pass a law mandating paid family leave in 2002. The policy has shown promising results; in a 2010 survey of California business owners, 91% of those surveyed reported the paid family leave program having a positive or neutral effect on profitability. California companies have not experienced losses because the program’s funding is supported by an employee payroll tax, which mandates workers to contribute a small fraction of their earnings into a distributional fund to pay for the paid leave program. While businesses initially opposed the policy, California’s paid family leave system has demonstrated employers can offer paid leave benefits without compromising their business’ profitability. California’s success marks the tip of the iceberg; a growing trend in favor of paid family leave is sweeping across America in 2016. Paid family leave has bipartisan support. According to a nationwide survey released by the National Partnership for Women and Families in February 2016, 94% of Democrats and 61% of Republicans surveyed were in favor of a national paid family leave system. Paid family leave has even entered the 2016 presidential race. Both Trump and Clinton have introduced paid family leave plans remarkably different from each other. Under Trump’s plan, working mothers would receive six weeks of paid family leave with payments through the unemployment insurance system. However, Trump’s plan excludes paternity leave and provides new mothers with just a fraction of their normal earnings because unemployment benefits

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benefits. It mandates up to twelve weeks of leave guaranteeing parents twothirds their regular salaries. However, both candidates’ plans are far less expansive than the benefits offered by most developed nations. According to a report issued in 2014 by the International Labor Organization, the U.S. mandates the shortest period of time off for new parents of all developed nations. In order to achieve long-lasting and impactful socioeconomic benefits, Trump and Clinton must take a stronger stance on paid family leave. Rather than settling for either candidate’s plan, policymakers ought to converge portions of European countries’ systems and California’s program into a nationwide system. First, America should adopt the European policy of extending a national paid leave program to past fourteen weeks. This extension would contribute significant health benefits for children. A thirty-year study conducted by the University of North Carolina of sixteen European leave policies, each far more generous with time off provided to new parents than the U.S. policy, discovered paid leave programs can substantially reduce infant mortality rates. Infant mortality rates in the U.S. remain strikingly high compared to other advanced countries. An extended paid leave policy could drastically reduce the infant mortality rate in the U.S. and improve the welfare of children and parents alike. The U.S. can easily cover the cost of such a program by drawing a key part of the California paid leave system: a distributional fund, in which each worker contributes a sliver of their earnings to a national fund. Around the world, policymakers understand helping workers meet their work and family obligations is sensible public policy. Paid leave is good for the economy, public health, and families. It is past time for the U.S. to join the trend and adopt paid family leave policies to help millions of Americans. Clinton and Trump have broadened the national interest in paid family leave by drafting separate paid family leave plans. However, the U.S. must take additional steps for a stronger family leave policy compared to the propositions made by these candidates for the sake of businesses, parents, and children alike. ■



The Forgotten Migrants of Central America ADRIAN HERNANDEZ-MORALES


Source: Reuters

he Northern Triangle, a region in Central America surrounding Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, is perhaps one of the poorest and most violent places in the world. The predominance of gang rivalry, post-civil war instability, repressive political regimes and extreme poverty have driven the region into a warped cycle of violence and impunity. Until recently, the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula ranked as the most violent city not at war, with approximately 111 homicides for every 100,000 people, with El Salvador’s capital, San Salvador, a close second — and these numbers only continue to increase. It comes as no surprise that more than 10% of the Northern Triangle’s population has migrated from the region, mostly to the United States. But it wasn’t until 2014 that the Central American exodus seized the attention of the international community. A humanitarian crisis developed when thousands of unaccompanied women and children arrived at the United States’ southern border seeking political asylum in the United States. Riding on top of cargo trains that connect both regions, a network of trains popularly known as La Bestia (The Beast), thousands of immigrants made their way through Mexico seeking comprehensive treatment and new opportunities in the United States. However, this opportunity was only granted to a couple of thousand migrants. The policy was rolled back when further waves of unaccompanied children arrived, only to be deported by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Not surprisingly, from October 2015 to March 2016, the number of deportations of Central Americans family “units” — women and children travelling together — rose to 32,000. During the same time period, 86% of undocumented Central Americans went to court without a lawyer, which predisposes them for failure in acquiring political asylum. During a 2016 election season in which the Republican nominee, Donald Trump, has repeatedly vilified Mexican immigrants and proposed building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, the plight of Central American migrants has been ignored in the negative coverage surrounding immigration. The inflammatory rhetoric of the Trump campaign, combined with the threat of deporting millions of undocumented immigrants who live and work and the U.S., damages both Central Americans’ chances of entering the U.S. and of traveling safely through Mexico, which is itself imposing stricter immigration policies.

Mexico continues to deport almost 100% of undocumented migrants to their countries of origin, most of them Central Americans who are transiting. What’s most infuriating is that many of these deportees should have access to political asylum in Mexico or the U.S. under international law if they manage to make their way there. Instead, they’re detained by the thousands and deported to their countries of origin. Today, the xenophobic rhetoric that the United States and Mexico employ regarding the exodus from the Northern Triangle has sent a clear message to Central Americans planning to cross through Mexico: don’t do it. The United States and the international community exhorted the Mexican government to address the Central American refugee crisis. In response, Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto launched a policy that militarized the Guatemala-Mexico border by increasing border patrol personnel and patrols on the most transited migrant routes and deploying new technology and military equipment, including monitoring devices and surveillance drones. This new immigration policy, called Plan Frontera Sur, was launched with the supposed purpose of closely regulating the movement of migrants in Mexico. Consequently, the number of detentions of undocumented Central Americans in 2016 rose by 71%, reaching a high point of 99,768 migrants, higher than the detentions of Central Americans in the United States. However, Plan Frontera Sur can’t be regarded as anything other than evasive, if not counterproductive — much like Trump’s much-maligned wall. The persistence of oversaturated deportation centers, alternative routes, and thousands of unaccommodated bodies that continue to make their way across borders, reveal that President Enrique Peña Nieto’s plan is merely a band-aid on the more profound problem of human rights violations that take place in militarized border zones and human trafficking routes. The plan shows no real intent to address the structural causes of the refugee crisis, nor does it improve the conditions of migrants in order to secure their natural rights. If anything, as the political magazine Animal Político puts it, Plan Frontera Sur is only responsible for dispersing the migration conflicts from the United States-Mexico border to the Mexico-Guatemala border. This action relieves the United States from dealing with large pools of Central and Latin American immigrants on its southern border — especially since the Central American crisis — yet it doesn’t begin to resolve the causes of the migratory influx, nor does it address the need for the social integration or reintegration of hundreds of thousands of migrants into the United States or their home countries. Today, thousands of immigrants are boarding rafts to make their way through the Pacific Ocean to the coast of Mexico’s southern state of Chiapas, and continue to the United States without detention. The inherent dangers of these trips, evident in the precarious rafts and the treacherous waters of the Pacific, calls for urgent humanitarian attention. This isn’t the first time the world has seen children, women and men flee their countries and take to the seas with the purpose of finding a better life abroad. One would imagine that the U.S. and Mexico would learn from the tragic loss of thousands of lives in the immensity of the Mediterranean; this is yet to be the case. We can only hope that the Pacific Ocean does not become another graveyard for thousands of desperate immigrants, guilty only of trying to survive and seek better lives for themselves and their families.■

Berkeley Political Review | 15


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