Berkeley Political Review Spring 2016

Page 1

Berkeley Political Review






China’s Censorship When News Speaks for the Party


Letter from the Editor Dear Reader,


As graduation nears, I am inclined to reflect on my time at Cal. I have been thinking about the “non-practical” applications of my education. Today, there are a great deal of economic, political, and social problems. As such, many students pursue the important and urgent study of how to make things fairer and more efficient for the many who are denied opportunity and basic goods. By necessity, this form of education is driven by tangibility and use. I wonder whether our conception of what is useful may have become too narrow for the kind of thinking that is commensurate with the serendipitous advancement of knowledge; in other words, whether a goal driven education comes at the expense of the kind of thinking that may solve tomorrow’s problems. For example, radio. Who was more important in the development of radio? An argument can be made for Guglielmo Marconi, the man who made a commercial success of radio by building on the work of previous physicists. On the other hand, the fundamental credit may belong to Clerk Maxwell. Maxwell’s theoretical work of magnetism and electricity was built on by Heinrich Hertz, who detected and demonstrated that electromagnetic waves can be carriers of wireless signals (the basis of radio). Hertz nor Maxwell were concerned with the utility of their work, they weren’t concerned with practical objective – they were curious about a problem, and satisfied when they understood it better. The inventor of radio in a strict sense is Marconi, but Marconi invented the last technical detail, which today is almost completely not in use. My point is, curiosity may or may not result in a tangible advancement and will probably result in wasted dollars, but the theoretical advancements caused by the open invitation of intellectual adventure will result in discovery. These discoveries may well prove to be more important in solving tomorrow’s problems. The less confined minds are to use, the greater the potential to the contribution of not only human welfare, but also intellectual satisfaction. The fundamental premise is identical in governance: the great advancements of political life came from people taking a moment and thinking, “what if ?” The Declaration of Independence, for example, was created because a group of people wanted to explore the idea that, as President Lincoln said: “in due time the weights should be lifted from the shoulders of all men, and that all should have an equal chance.” At Berkeley Political Review, we strive to ask big questions. To that end, our writers explored topics of their choosing. They have worked hard to bring to your attention in an impartial way topics of importance. I hope you enjoy the Spring 2016 issue of the Berkeley Political Review. Sincerely,

Nikhil Kotecha Editor-in-Chief














EDITORS EMERITUS Matthew Symonds Elena Kempf Niku Jafarnia Hinh Tran Writers: Omar Mohamed, Lilac Peterson, Dahlia Peterson, Khairuldeen Al Makhzoomi, Alexander Ye, Zaki Alattar, Adrian Hernandez-Morales, Jessica Hillyard, Saalar Aghili, Divya Vijay, Catherine Chang, Dosbal Aibyek, Tiffany Lo, Abhinav Adduri, Kevin Mahoney, Cathrine Petersen, Maggie Deng, Vishal Narayanaswamy, Manas Agrawal, Elyse O’Neill, Anisha Dangoria, Yoojin Shin, James Yixuan Zheng, Kush Berry, Ron (Tianlang) Gao, Ishaan Srivastava, Arman Jaffer, Oliver Ma, Alice Ma, Jeffrey Wirjo, Bhaavya Sinha, Dave Bengardi, Nathan Black, Sophie Khan, Michael Eliot, Hanna Haddad, Carol Gao, Jessie Mao Design & Business: Niharika Jain, Sadhvi Mathur, Thamashi De Silva, Victoria Lu, Vishesh Mehta, Yash Sanghrajka, Kazumi Iwase

ASUC sponsored. The content of this publication does not reflect the views of the University of California, Berkeley or the Associated Students of the University of California. 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. 2 | Berkeley Political Review

Berkeley Political Review Volume XII/ Spring 2016 CALIFORNIA Tiffany Lo


Innate, Not Immoral

Dosbal Aibyek


(R-CA) Is it Possible?

Divya Vijay


Right to Choose your Poison

Abhinav Adduri


Politics of Water

Kevin Mahoney


Occupational Licensing

Catherine Chang


Patching up the Problem United States

Elyse O’Neill


Make America Vote Again

Manas Agarwal


Medicaid: It Hurts

Cathrine Petersen


Blurring the Lines

Vishal S. Narayanaswamy


Pandora’s Box

Anisha Dangoria


Learning on the Job World

Saalar Aghili


Iran’s Private Sector: Putting Up A Fight On An Uphill Battle

Khairuldeen Al Makhzoomi


The Role of Terrorism In Indonesia and Malaysia

Jessica Hillyard


The Decline of Mugabe And The Political Surge In Zimbabwe

Lilac Peterson


How An Indian Biotech Company Shot Ahead On The Zika Vaccine

Alex Ye


Nobels And Whistles In Beijing

Dahlia Peterson


Will The Rainbow Flag Fly Over China? Opinion

Tianlang Gao


Cover Story: When News Speaks for the Party

Kush Berry


Playing God in the House of Commons

Yoojin Shin


The Woes of the Model Minority

Ishaan Srivastava


The Follies of Exceptionalism

Yixuan James Zheng


On Palliative Care

Arman Jaffer


A Horrifying Reality

Oliver Ma


North Korea’s Nuclear Program editorial

Adora Svitak


The Social Bad in Selling Social Good

Cover artwork by Carol Gao Cover Layout by Nitisha Baronia and Ruochen Huang

Berkeley Political Review | 3



Gay conversion produces nothing more than broken souls and lasting trauma. Source: Tiffany Lo


imilar to Pavlov’s experience with dogs, I was supposed to associate the touch of a man with pain. By the end, even hugging my father brought on flashbacks.” This is one small part of the story of Sam Brinton, who was forced as a child into conversion therapy, onto a journey of confusion, pain, suicide, all starting with a crush on his male best friend in the seventh grade. Currently, only four states: California, Oregon, New Jersey and Illinois, as well as the District of Columbia have laws that ban the gay conversion therapy which Sam and many other youths had and have to go through to “fix” their sexual orientation. More than 18 states have introduced and are considering similar bills. In April 2015, Valerie Jarrett, top official in the Obama administration, responded to a We the People petition denouncing conversion therapy practices. In February 2016, four members of Congress, Senators Murray of Washington and Book of New Jersey, California representatives Speier and Lieu sent a letter to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) chairwoman Edith Ramirez urging the FTC to exercise their authority under the Federal Trade Commision Act to prevent businesses from counseling individuals with intent of conversion. In the same month, several LGBT groups filed a complaint with the FTC against a Virginia-based group, People Can Change. Also in February, New York’s Governor Cuomo introduced measures relying on economic incentives to discourage the practice, such as banning insurers for covering costs associated with therapy for minors.

Avant-Garde On September 19 2012, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law SB 1172, the nation’s first legislation banning “conversion therapy,” which prohibits licensed mental health professionals from offering therapy aimed at changing the sexual orientation of gay and lesbian clients under the age of 18. The law states that therapists and counselors who use efforts to eliminate or reduce minors’ same-sex attractions would be deemed engaging in unprofessional conduct and subject to discipline by state licensing boards. The statute did not apply to unlicensed pastors or lay counselors.

4 | Berkeley Political Review

Both the governor and California Attorney General Kamala Harris actively spoke about the necessity to ban the so-called “reparative therapy” to protect minors. Harris asserted that the law was “based on scientific and professional consensus reached decades ago that homosexuality is a normal expression of human sexuality and not a disease, condition, or disorder in need of a ‘cure’”.

A Shameful History Even before the American Psychiatric Association listed homosexuality as a personality disorder in 1952, conservative and religious groups and individuals have argued that sexuality is not innate and can be altered, and have taken part in the horrific history of curing homosexual men and women. The techniques used are ridiculous and strange at best, cruel and terrifying at worst. Bicycling is believed to help restore health and heterosexuality, as homosexuality was rooted in “nervous exhaustion.” Exorcism is practiced to cast out the “homosexual spirit,” exemplified by a church’s gay exorcism video where people shouted “Come on, you homosexual demon! You homosexual spirit, we call you out right now! Loose your grip, Lucifer!” as a young boy laid writhing on a church floor. Electroconvulsive therapy involves needles stuck in fingers of its recipient, who would be shocked upon showing pictures of homosexuals engaging sexual acts. One technique forces minors to masturbate to images of the opposite sex. These are merely a few of the many other approaches: fetal intervention, “overdose on homosexuality”, cold showers, teaching heterosexual dating skills, hypnosis, sex organ transplants, cocaine, and genital mutilation. Exploiting shame where no shame should be felt, invoking anxiety where no anxiety should be endured, these therapies can create damages taxing on mental and physical well-being, and even lead to fatalities. The American Psychological Association’s 2009 report listed the risks associated with the practices, including suicidality, substance abuse, selfblame, hostility, sexual dysfunction and many more. These risks are even greater for the developing youth. The lack of familial validation and love in the lives of lesbian, gay and bisexual young adults during their adolescence resulted in an increased likelihood of attempted suicide by eight times, of deep depression by three times, of illegal drug use by three times, compared with peers who experienced no or low levels of rejection by their families. Currently, the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), a group of therapists who endorse and practice conversion therapy, offers practice guidelines to its members. Scientific and medical groups have pointed out the lack of evidence substantiating the claim that sexual orientation is malleable and have offered proof that such conversion therapies are damaging. Every major mental health professional association: the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Pan American Health Organization unanimously question or reject the efficacy of this therapy. The American Psychiatric Association argued that such therapy could lead to “depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior,” while the Pan American Health Organization, a regional office of the World Health Organization, have stated that this therapy poses “a serious threat to the health and well-being” of those affected. Both the American

“... these therapies can create damages taxing on mental and physical well-being, and even lead to fatalities”

CALIFORNIA Psychological and Psychiatric Associations have published conclusive studies and statements that substantiate the claim that there is not any therapy that can change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. A federal report released in October 2015 by the Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration called for an end to the practices.

New Jersey Chris Christie made his state the second to ban gay conversion therapy practices. Oregon and Illinois followed on May 19 and August 20, 2015 respectively. Bans have been introduced in other states in late 2015 and early 2016 and are pending or under review by committees or subcommittees.

“The Dangerous Law”

Looking forward

Given the contentious nature of the issue, the success of the California legislation drew controversy and outcry by those who believed in the therapy. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee weighed in and slammed the Californian law as a “dangerous” political statement on the April 18th installment of his radio show, speaking to its harmful effects on people who “decide” to be heterosexual. Speaking with Liberty Counsel head Mat Staver, he asks rhetorically, “Let’s say a young person comes in and says, ‘You know, I’ve always believed I’m homosexual, believed that since I was 7 years old, but now that I’m 17, I’ve decided that I’m not, I’m heterosexual [and goes to a pro-homosexual counselor.] Would that person be at risk?” Staver echoed Huckabee’s sentiments, pointing out how the law prevents the moving of a client “towards heterosexuality” and expressing his concerns that it would direct clients to untrained or unlicensed therapists.

It is wonderful that there are proposed bills and tangible efforts aimed to protect homosexual minors, who are almost always coerced to undergo the horrific techniques prescribed by conversion therapy, and to prevent licensed therapists from preying upon parents and guardians who are well intentioned, but uninformed about the grave risks to which they subject their children. However, the lethargic legislative process means that many minors continue to be tormented, physically, psychologically, and mentally for being who they are. It is urgent and imperative that the LGBTQ community is protected from these kinds of therapies. One method is to raise national conversation about this issue with proposals for federal and state legislation and ballot initiatives to ban any form of conversion therapy, no matter who administers it and who is subject to it, in order to send a clear message that this kind of practice will not be condoned. Though a challenge, the solid scientific backing and a proper approach can help ensure that no one will ever be put through such traumatic experiences that can create lasting damage.

The ban, originally scheduled to take effect on January 2013, was delayed by the 9th Circuit pending its decisions on challenges to the law brought by families and therapists. Among them are a national association of Christian mental health counselors, Florida-based Liberty Counsel, California-based Pacific Justice Institute, as well as two families who say that their teenage sons benefitted from the therapy. They argue that the ban infringes upon free speech, freedom of association and religious rights, suppressing all other viewpoints while only permitting the message that same-sex behavior must be accepted, thus silencing the counselors who, in their professional judgment, determine that the same-sex attractions conflict with religious and moral beliefs of their clients. For counselors who practice sexual orientation change therapy, they claim that the law threatens their livelihoods.

The Decision On August 29, 2013, the law was upheld in a unanimous decision by three judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th district on the appeal of Pickup v. Brown. The panel ruled that the law did not violate the free speech rights of either the counselors or the people seeking treatment. It ruled that it was in the state’s interest to eliminate professional treatments with harmful effects on its citizens. In the court’s opinion, Judge Graber wrote “The First Amendment does not prevent a state from regulating treatment even when that treatment is performed through speech alone.”

California Representative Ted Lieu, author of the bill which eventually became the legislative precedence set by California, introduced HR 2450 - Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act to the House of Representatives on May 19th 2015, a bill which prohibits conversion therapy from being provided in exchange for monetary compensation. It was referred to the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade on May 22nd 2015. The subcommittee and representatives of the House should seriously consider this bill and work toward passing legislation that protects their constituents from the harm posed by conversation therapy. Concluding his story, Sam says,“ I am living proof that what conversion therapy can destroy, self-acceptance can save. Today, I know who I am. I’m strong in my faith, and I’m strong in my identity. And I know that I can’t change what I never chose.” Not all stories have a happy ending like this, but may the survivors’ tales warn us of the dangers conversion therapy can inflict if it is not eradicated and propel us to take action. ■

The court’s ruling was indubitably a setback for proponents of gay conversion therapy. Supporters and opponents alike agreed that the decision could embolden efforts in other states to ban this therapy. In regards to the court ruling, Wayne Besen, executive director of Truth Wins Out, which combats misinformation about gays and lesbians, said that “This is a massive victory, and it sets the stage to pass similar laws in states across the country.” Indeed, even before the judgment was published, the victory in California saw itself echoed in other parts of the country. In June 2013, the leading beacon of the ex-gay movement for 37 years, Exodus International announced that it would disband amid growing skepticism surfaced internally of the proclaimed alterable nature of sexual attractions. In the past year, the group’s own president, Alan Chambers, had vocalized his belief that therapy could not change sexual orientation and had released a statement apologizing to gay men and lesbians for the pain his organization had caused,“I am sorry we promoted sexual orientation change efforts and reparative theories about sexual orientation that stigmatized patients.” On August 19, 2013, Republican governor of

Source: IB Times

Berkeley Political Review | 5




As a moderate Republican, Duf Sundheim is the underdog in the upcoming California Senate Elections. Source: LA Times

hat is the cost of being a Republican -much less a conservativein the state of California?

an already struggling California Republican Party against their betterfunded, and all-but-anointed Democratic opponents.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not completely condemning. After all, California produced Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, who is arguably the father of modern American conservatism. But as states with longstanding political identities further entrench themselves into their labels, some politicians are finding it difficult to reach across the aisle without alienating the very demographics that could elect them.

As it stands, the two Democratic candidates, Kamala Harris and Loretta Sanchez, have raised a combined total of nearly $9 million. Duf Sundheim stands--barely--at $200,000.

George ‘Duf ’ Sundheim is one of them. As a former chairman of the California Republican Party leader, Duf Sundheim is a model candidate for the Senate position soon to be vacated by Barbara Boxer (D-CA). But Mr. Sundheim is also largely a moderate --and that is where the conservative electorate rejects him. In a highly divisive election year, both the Democratic and Republican parties are splintered along the narrative of grassroots against party establishment figures and institutions. Far from the media blitz bombarding the presidential election, Mr. Sundheim is hoping to be the banner carrier of a California Republican Party that is struggling to reconcile largely moderate leadership with a vocal conservative member base with increasingly more Tea Party advocates. Mr. Sundheim’s fight is on multiple levels: 1) unite an incredibly disunified California Republican electorate 2) mobilize millions of disillusioned voters following abysmal election returns, and 3) take on a juggernaut Democratic apparatus led by State Attorney General Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA). Mr. Sundheim’s opponents for the nomination echo similar concerns about the race. Al Ramirez, a far more conservative candidate, is actively courting the Tea Party, and by doing so aims to bring organization and recognition to the grassroots movement. While California Republicans are known to be relatively reserved due to serving in a state dominated by Democrats and reigned by liberal values, they are now embracing their conservatism. Tea Party advocates are riding the tide of populism and are beginning to voice their frustration about the moderates who continually control the direction of the state’s Republican Party. The public mood has chipped away at the establishment, and the rift in the party only grows. It is debatable whether candidates like Al Ramirez can afford to further divide 6 | Berkeley Political Review

In the face of enormous challenges from within and without, the California GOP’s hopes at securing the Senate seat hinges on their ability to mobilize supporters, secure funding, and outsmart better equipped opponents. Part of the difficulty of running as a Republican candidate from California for an office as significant as the US senator is mobilizing hope for a Republican victory. For the past 25 years, the same two Democrats have steadily held both of California’s seats in the Senate. Installing a fiscal conservative like Duf Sundheim or a social one like Al Ramirez following Barbara Boxer will surely not resonate well with California’s Democratic establishment, nor will it with a large plurality of faithful Democratic voters. Though California’s liberal consensus is unlikely to flame out anytime soon, a mobilized conservative activist base hints that a Republican resurgence is possible, though difficult to accomplish, to say the least. A GOP victory for the Senate in California is contingent upon widespread unrest. Yet, California under Jerry Brown’s (D) leadership has achieved a fiscal stability many states have yet to secure, which provides little positive value for a Republican establishment yearning to dethrone California’s long-standing Democrat monopoly. However, reports are perennially misleading, and Californians’ lowered approval of Jerry Brown --currently at 53%, down from 64% in February-- could be channeled into the Senate election in November. To elect a Republican to the Senate nearly a quarter of a century later would undoubtedly be a major boost of confidence for California conservatives, most of whom have had to shift to the center in order to assimilate to the state’s overwhelming liberal majority. To stand a chance, Mr. Sundheim and his fellow Republican candidates must defend conservative values without isolating the many moderates within the party. If disgruntled Tea Party voters in the state’s GOP electorate do not turn out come Election Day, victory will prove difficult once again for the GOP. ■

The Right to Choose Your Poison





n March 10, 2016, the California Senate approved of raising the legal age to smoke cigarettes or other tobacco products to 21 years old. Senate Bill 7, introduced by Senator Ed Hernandez (D-12) last July, is part of a six-bill package aimed at reducing usage of cigarettes in California, proposing steps such as classifying electronic cigarettes as tobacco products. If Governor Brown signs the bill, California will become the second state (after Hawaii) to raise the age requirement for buying cigarettes. The passing of the bill in Senate occurred just a week after San Francisco instated the new age limit on buying cigarettes. According to a report by the Institute of Medicine, increasing the minimum age limit for tobacco access to 21 would likely prevent or delay initiation of tobacco use in teenagers and adolescents, having the most impact on 15-17 year olds. Although teenagers still manage to obtain tobacco products through their social networks, raising the minimum age will limit their resources because those who would legally be able to purchase these products would most likely not be in the same social circles as high school students. This would have a major impact on young smokers since, according to data from the U.S. Surgeon General, the vast majority of smokers start before they are 18. The report also found that raising the smoking age to 21 could prevent approximately 223,000 premature deaths among Americans born in the 21st century. Public health officials justify the passing of the bill due to its projected significant impact and the low cost of implementation. Other bills approved in the anti-tobacco package would ban the use of e-cigarettes in public areas, raise the licensing fee and tax for cigarette distributors, and expand the ban on workplace smoking to include public

areas left out of a previous law. Despite the promising results, many are skeptical of the proposed package of bills, notably state Republicans and tobacco companies. “I’m sure plenty of minors are smoking without concern about the current minimum age of 18,” stated Sen. John Moorlach, (R-Costa Mesa) regarding compliance with the bill. “I don’t expect human nature to change, whether in or out of a university. Even if the bill will truly reduce rates of teenage smoking, is it the government’s place to control and influence citizens’ decisions to make better health choices? Some argue the bill infringes upon personal liberty. Much of the opposition has come from Republicans such as Assemblymember Donald Wagner (R-68) who argue that, despite the health risks associated with smoking, “it’s our job to treat our citizens as adults, not to nanny them.” If someone who is 18 years old is able to legally enlist in the army, marry, and vote, then should they be exempted from using tobacco products at their will? The governments of New York City and Hawaii seem to think so. Hawaii became the first state to raise the smoking age to 21 in January this year. New York City did the same even earlier, in 2013 when Mayor Bloomberg signed into law an anti-tobacco bill similar to California’s. The city’s health officials hoped to make it more inconvenient for teenagers to buy cigarettes, but Jim Calvin, President of the New York Association of Convenience Stores disagreed, “What are you really accomplishing? It’s not like [the teenagers] are going to quit smoking. Why? Because there are so many other places they can buy cigarettes.”■

Berkeley Political Review | 7


The Politics of Water


such voluntary efforts have not been enough to help cities facing larger than a 15% reduction in average water supply, a threshold that many cities are now passing. For example, a suggestion by the city to reduce water usage by some percentage might not bode well with residents in the city - if one took heed of this suggestion, it would be difficult to complete landscaping projects, and most lawns would degrade from a bright green to a deathly brown, which resulted in the net impact of lowered real estate prices. Until the last year of the drought, the portion of California that was hit the hardest were agricultural institutions. Actually, it has only been during this last year that the drought has had a significant impact on the average Californian resident, and as such it is to be expected that a sudden imposition of voluntary suggestions regarding water conservation will not be nearly as effective as mandatory state or city legislation.

Folsom Lake before the 2015 El Niño. Source: LA Times


he issue of water is more important now than ever before in California. For the past several years, the state has been in a severe drought, with water reservoir levels dropping to historical lows. Recently, with the advent of the El Nino storm, there has been a massive surge in the amount of rainfall the state has received, and although reservoir levels are not high enough to claim that the state is no longer in a drought, there has been enough of an increase to begin a discussion regarding the politics of water rationing in the U.S. Senate. Unfortunately, water division cannot be justly achieved through a simple rationing weighted by population densities throughout the state. This is because some areas, such as farm lands and animal farms, require a much greater amount of water to sustain than even metropolitan areas in order to maintain economic stability. Any bill that aims to fairly and appropriately divide the state’s water supply must take into account that these agricultural areas will require more water. In light of the recent droughts, several parties have legitimate claims to an increase in their respective water rationing. Thus the task of crafting a bill that can achieve a fair division of Californian water has been long, grueling, and as of now, unsuccessful.

On the national level, the politics of water conservation has been in partisan gridlock, as the Democratic party does not wish to concede current measures to a reordering of water rationing policies, whereas the Republican party has been trying to override California’s water management system to provide emergency relief and drastically changing the water system even in years of abundant supply. However, with the recent El Nino storm, there have been bipartisan talks in Senate regarding a fair rationing of water. Republican U.S. Senator John Garamendi has proposed a plan that parallels one of Democratic U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, who has been advocating for a national regulation of the water supply but has not, until recently, garnered any substantial support. John Garamendi claims to want to “take steps to address the drought immediately, and to take long-term measures” regarding water policies in California, and he claims that his plan would provide for new dams, spur water transfers, and fund emergency drought aid throughout the state. With the massive increases in reservoir water in California compared to the respective historical averages, the issue of safe and smart rationing of water may only be taken with a grain of salt. However, there is a possibility that there will be bipartisan support in the House and in the Senate for such a bill, as showcased through the actions of both Senator Feinstein and Representative John Garamendi. ■

California currently has several emergency mandates still in place from its past four years of severe drought. These emergency mandates are intended to be immediate fixes, and do not provide long-term solutions to the issue of urban water overuse. For example, measures over a longer timeframe can be more ambitious in their means to yield water savings, such as “changes in plumbing infrastructure, building codes, landscaping ordinances, and water pricing”. As per Governor Brown’s executive order regarding water conservation, the Department of Water Resources has been leading a statewide initiative to collectively replace 50 million square feet of land with drought-tolerant landscapes; the State Water Resources Control Board has imposed restrictions regarding the urban use of state water; the California Energy Commission has implemented a state rebate program to provide monetary incentives for citizens to update inefficient appliances; the Water Board has imposed regulations on commercial, industrial, and institutional properties to implement water efficiency methods, and it has prohibited irrigation with potable water on public street medians. The use of strict policies to regulate water usage is not unjustified. Although it does not demerit voluntary water conservation, historically 8 | Berkeley Political Review

Folsom Lake after the 2015 El Niño. Source: LA Times



n California’s East Bay, a mother of five and a refugee of the Vietnam War who goes by the name of Thao runs a hair salon in her home. She worries that the increased stringency of occupational licensing could lead to more raids on illegal parlors in industries that require licenses. “If I lose my business, I might as well lose my house. I can’t see what is wrong, many of my customers have been happy with the hairdos and nail services that I do. We pay taxes and give [back] to our community, if they take it [the business] away, they won’t get that money. I just don’t understand.” Occupational license laws have been some of the strictest in California. They are often used as justification to ensure the quality of work that is performed, but targets those who are particularly outside of the white-collar workforce. Though it is important to have some sort of quality assurance, the additional regulations that apply to more and more professions come at the cost of hindering social mobility and the opportunities of going into these particular professions, either as employees or as business owners. Licensing promotes monopolies among industries and stifle competition from small business practitioners. Such restrictive laws that do not allow non-license holders to practice their trade will inevitably lead to higher service prices for these services, leading consumers with a choice of facing receiving such services in an illegal manner or by paying hefty prices. It is highly likely that consumers with less purchasing power will pick the first option, which helps to a current trend of finding or sentencing lowerincome individuals based on not obeying petty laws like those that involve occupational licensing. Indeed, there is strong bipartisan support towards curbing the additional regulations that are being proposed, as well as existing ones that have already been implemented by the state. This is due to the fact that such regulations are crippling opportunities, especially for those who are trying to move up the socioeconomic ladder, including veterans, ex-convicts, disabled people, immigrants, and those who lack or only have a high school education or a GED equivalent. Many of these laws actually expose the bureaucracy of the state government, where a significant amount of training as well as a qualifying examination have to be passed. These laws even apply to barbers and workers within the cosmetic industry, auctioneers, gardeners, and even travel agents and scrap-metal recyclers. Many of the mandatory licensing fees and its increases are unencouraging to business-owners with little capital, in addition to preventing employees, especially for those at the minimum wage rate and even above, to start their own businesses while making it harder for employers to pay fairer wages because of the smaller difference in revenue. The 20 percent increase in professions that require a license nationwide over the last 60 years, along with only 35% of workers who need licenses actually are in possession of them in California, means that expanding the umbrella over more professions does not yield or verify the quality assurance of any services within these professions.

CALIFORNIA The large increase in occupational licensing laws is highly likely due to the laws which are backed by lobbyists of businesses that dislike competition. Many of these lobbyists work in the interests of successful and wellstructured business owners as these owners fear or simply do not want to partake in a more competitive market with non-license (or continual license-renewing) holders. Established business owners are more focused in having as much of a monopoly as they can within occupational markets that are easily competitive, meaning that are willing to put as many obstacles as they can for other entrepreneurs and employees to compete with them. This in turn puts socioeconomically disadvantaged business hopefuls out of opportunities due to the sheer amount of costs and training that is needed to acquire licensings -- time and money that could cost them their current job as well as time that many of these low-income people can not afford to lose. Many families depend on these small businesses that often do not have licenses. Many business professionals cannot give up their time due to fear of losing revenue, in addition to language and cultural barriers that may also prevent access to courses needed to obtain licenses. The complexity of these lobbyists makes it hard to ensure other ways of quality assurance and authenticity as alternatives to the current occupational licensing laws. Many of these lobbyists often have representatives in state departments, and regulatory boards and agencies. However, there are other means to ensure such practitioners are doing a sufficient job in their work. Such alternatives include voluntary certifications that allow increased competition by people who originally are discouraged to pursue their own businesses. In spite of the concerns regarding safety and quality assurance, market competition will be the route to which will ensure the selections trends based on actual consumer behavior that will help determine competency, which uses these reviews and business trends as a measure over the binary stature of owning, or not owning licenses -- which are largely put in measure by the influence of powerful lobbyists within the same market niches. to use such laws to ensure quality, the negative impacts of stifling small business in addition to increasing the amount of consumers who break the law in response means that the easing of such laws will lead to greater diversification, autonomy, and competition within California’s economy. ■

California has one of the highest license fees and one of the longest educational training requirements in the nation. Sources: Institute for Justice Research Report (2012), Mercatus Center at George Mason University (2014)

Berkeley Political Review | 9



Governor Jerry Brown recently signed into law a new tax plan on healthcare insurance plan providers. Source:


ave Californian lawmakers solved the state’s healthcare budget problems? Yes, or at least for now.

Currently, under the regulations of the Affordable Care Act and through Covered California, which helps people and small businesses navigate the healthcare insurance market, Californians may buy private insurance or may qualify for receiving health insurance through the Medi-Cal program—the state’s health insurance which is aimed at supporting lowincome Californians and covers a third of California’s residents through expansion under the Affordable Care Act. Late last year, there was a $1.1 billion hole in the 2016 healthcare budget, as the state faced a need to replace its managed care organization, or MCO, tax on health insurance plans, which does not truly comply with federal law. The previous plan, which expires this June, requires those managed healthcare insurance plans serving Medi-Cal recipients to pay a separate flat sales tax of 3.9%, which is collected and put in a special fund by the state’s Board of Equalization. This has allowed the state to increase its Medi-Cal budget, which is matched by the federal government, while taxed insurers are later reimbursed. In 2014, the federal government warned California that all managed care plans, including commercial insurers, must be taxed—this would generate more revenue to alleviate the federal government’s funding burden and produce more equity in taxing. On February 29, after long debate and Governor Brown’s calling of a special legislative session, the California State Legislature passed a new tax plan on healthcare insurance plan providers. On March 1, Governor Brown announced he has signed the legislation, which “will result in a net tax cut.” The new plan preserves about $1.35 billion in revenue for the state government in funding and involves a tiered system of taxation based on the number of enrollees who are either Medi-Cal or non-MediCal patients. Crucial to the plan’s passing was the support of members of both political parties of the legislature—in particular, Republicans who

10 | Berkeley Political Review

“In 2014, the federal government warned California that all managed care plans, including commercial insurers, must be taxed” oppose what some have called a “tax hike”—and healthcare insurers— those being taxed. The plan was passed in the House with 61 “yes” votes out of a total of 80 possible votes and in the Senate with 28 votes in favor out of a possible 40. To pass the plan, there was a need for compromise on both sides of the partisan divide in the face of a great sense of pressure and urgency. Yet, compromise means mutual concessions. Proponents of the plan have indicated that the new tax plan will not adversely affect Californians. Interest groups and some major healthcare insurance providers like Kaiser Permanente and Blue Shield have demonstrated their support. Meanwhile, healthcare insurers are given greater tax relief with the plan, thus scaling back their tax burden. Additionally, supporters in the legislature have stated that passing the plan was a sign of collective action among lawmakers that will benefit the whole state. According to Minority Leader Kristin Olsen, via Twitter, “Who benefits from [new] MCO plan? Every Californian! Cutting debt, helping disabled, improving healthcare access, saving CA.” She has stated that “[u]nder the new structure, people’s health insurance rates will not increase from the [new] MCO because health plans are either fully reimbursed with federal funding or receive a net tax benefit through the elimination of other taxes.” To gain the support of Republicans and get passed, the plan needed to involve tax relief for insurers and needed to

CALIFORNIA be tied to measures that provides funding for particular areas; the GOP called for control of great portions of the budget to allocate funds for the developmentally disabled (about $290 million) and restore funding for the In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program cut during the budget crisis. Moreover, it called for reimbursement to skilled nursing facilities (about $120 million) and using a portion of the revenue generated from the new tax plan to repay some of California’s debts. However, opponents suggest that the new healthcare tax plan does actually translate into excessive costs for consumers. Some state that those insurers with smaller portions of Medi-Cal patients will bear a greater burden of the tax because they will not be reimbursed, though they gain tax relief. Furthermore, Republican State Senator Andy Vidak argues that this adds on to already-high taxes Californians must pay and does not address the main issue, which is the state’s “spending-priority problem.” Instead of raising revenue through a tax hike, the state needs to provide and ensure services for those populations in need—such as the disabled— in other ways. Vidak argues that there are major political motivations behind passing the tax, which would benefit insurance companies and hurt consumers with higher premiums. Without the new healthcare tax plan, about a billion dollars would have been lost, and this would have most likely led to the further cutting of health services throughout the state. Alternatives to the plan would have been tightening the eligibility of services and programs, such as the IHSS. Those with Medi-Cal eligibility may also be eligible for the InHome Supportive Services (IHSS) Program, which helps pay for services that allow those who are elderly, disabled, or blind to remain safely and preserve some independent life within their own homes. These services include meal preparation, grocery shopping, and personal care services like grooming. It has been estimated to serve about 460,000 Californians. According to a 2013 study done by the Southern Area Consortium of Human Services (SACHS), the IHSS Program provides mostly for the

elderly of varying racial/ethnic demographic groups. It was reported that 57% of IHSS recipients indicate a primary language other than English, and there are manuals for the program provided in different languages, including Armenian, Chinese, and Spanish. From these results, it is evident that the program does affect a wide range of the population. Greater reduction in eligibility would not solve any problems in the long-term because those for whom the program provides would be under greater economic strain and would not be able to live independent lives in their own homes. Another alternative is increasing taxes in other areas. Previously proposed tax increase options have included upping taxes on tobacco, alcoholic beverages, and sweetened beverages. While some of these have been estimated to generate over a billion dollars in revenue, these taxes directly affect consumption—the effects of such taxes has yet to be completely determined in California, while legislators may not be very keen on supporting such taxes. However, the plan has yet to be explicitly approved by the federal government. Furthermore, there is always the question of how beneficial this plan will actually be and what effects, unintended or not, it will actually have. For now, it may seem relatively convincing. Still, there is a need to be more transparent about the details of the plan and what insurance providers might pass onto consumers. The current healthcare system is complex. Funding the current healthcare system and providing for the public is also complex. Providing adequate healthcare and other programs—even good healthcare and programs—and funding them are often difficult because lawmakers must navigate within a constraining system that needs serious reform. They must also be willing to extend a hand across the partisan divide and strike a balance between the budget and social programs. Lawmakers may have patched up the problem, though problems with the healthcare system and budget definitely have not been solved. ■

Berkeley Political Review | 11



Our average pre-2016 voter. Source:


veryone in the United States may have the right to vote, but that does not mean that they are using it. In recent years, voter turnout has been exceptionally low. Many attribute this to voter apathy people do not think that their vote matters, so they do not bother to vote. Even presidential elections, which typically attract the most attention, have had very low turnout rates in recent years. Voter turnout has not been over 60% since 1968, meaning that in the past 50 years only about half of the electorate has been represented. In 2008, which was viewed as a historic presidential election, voter turnout was still only 56.8% - just 1.5% higher than it had been in 2004. These low turnouts make one thing very clear - American voters do not seem to care. But this year may be different - Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have shaken up this election cycle. They have managed to make traditionally apathetic voters rush to the polls. Part of Sanders’s and Trump’s appeal is that they are seen as outsiders who have refused to take money from big corporations. Since the Citizens United ruling in 2010, which allowed more money to pour into our political system, many feel that all politicians are owned by big businesses. In comparison, one of Trump’s biggest talking points is that he is funding his own campaign, while Sanders has turned down donations from corrupt business men like Martin Shkreli whilst funding his campaign with a record breaking number of small donations. The way these men are running their campaigns makes them seem like a different brand of politician, causing traditionally apathetic voters to view them as leaders they can finally trust and believe in. This faith that they have in the candidates gets people who usually stay home to swarm to the polls. Though Trump and Bernie have some basic similarities, many of their methods for attracting voters differ. According to Jamie Chandler, a Political Science Professor at Hunter College, young people are traditionally apathetic. Bernie has managed to fire up this group - millennials across the nation are feeling the Bern. The youth vote has overwhelmingly favored Bernie and helped him to achieve many of victories, including his upset in Michigan. Bernie has focused his campaigning on young voter issues such as tuition-free college and the legalization of marijuana. Having the support from this one group may seem unimportant, but it could have a major impact on this election. According to Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, the director of The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University, millennials could change the outcome of the election by impacting results in key states like Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. This will be the first election where millennials will make up more of the electorate than baby boomers, making the youth vote more important than ever before. Sanders has been dominating the youth vote because he has been

12 | Berkeley Political Review

driving his millennial supporters to the polls. In the Nevada caucus, youth turnout was a full 5% higher than it had been in 2008, showing the impact that Senator Sanders has had. Rigel Robinson, the founder of UC Berkeley Students for Bernie - the largest college organization supporting Sanders in the country - feels that “Bernie’s appeal to young voters lies primarily in his authenticity and his appeal to change.” He went on to note that “Bernie’s campaign has awoken a sleeping giant, an immense population of voters that would not otherwise have been involved in the political process. From independents that generally boycott the two-party system to young people about to cast their first votes, Bernie has excited a generation.” This enthusiasm that Bernie has created in young voters has helped to fire up a traditionally apathetic base. Donald Trump has energized his base in very different ways. He has managed to inspire people to go out and vote for him by stirring up anger in the Republican base over racial issues. On Super Tuesday, every Republican primary (with the exception of Vermont) had record breaking voter turnout. Yet not every Republican is being driven to the polls because they support Donald Trump - many Republicans have voted to help defeat Trump. With 63.1% of people viewing Trump unfavorably, he has the highest unlikeability of any candidate, meaning that he has inspired those who hate him to come to the polls as well those who love him. His xenophobic statements about Mexican immigrants and his anti-Muslim rhetoric have caused some to rally behind him and others to rally against him. Fear has driven many Republican to vote for the first time - some people are so scared of Trump being the nominee that their desire to vote against him drives them to the polls. In fact, exit polls show that a majority of first time voters did not vote for Trump. While Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric has incited hatred amongst some, to his supporters he represents the new Republican Party. One Trump supporter, who was dedicated and brave enough to show his support for Trump at a Sanders rally, supports Trump’s “nationalistic economic policy and non-interventionist foreign policy” and feels that Trump has managed to “mobilize independents who are fed up with the establishment of the Republican Party.” Though many picture Trump supporters as older, this man could not have been older than twenty (though he chose not to share his name and age). Many people do support Donald Trump - as evidenced by his position as a frontrunner for the Republican nomination. Countless news and comedy shows have talked to panels of Trump supporters to find out why they are voting for him, with similar results - they think that he tells it like it is. His unscripted speeches and frankness have made many voters believe that Donald Trump is the right man to be president. Trump and Sanders have both managed to strike a chord with voters who typically stay at home on election day. Even if neither of these candidates win, they have both managed to bring new voters to the polls and inspired people to care about democracy. Both men have shaped the debate within their parties by bringing issues to light that have previously been ignored. By talking about these divisive issues, they have inspired the most apathetic members of our democracy to vote, which may be a victory within itself if it leads to lasting change. To create tangible change in this nation, these candidates need to inspire people to vote in midterm, state, and local elections, not just the presidential. Any divisiveness that these two men have caused may be worth it if it inspires more people to vote. If they end up being one-election wonders where their influence ends with the termination of their campaigns, they will have failed in creating a true political revolution. ■





ow, when you die and get to the meeting with St. Peter, he’s probably not going to ask you much about what you did about keeping government small. But he is going to ask you what you did for the poor. You better have a good answer.” Republican presidential candidate and Ohio governor John Kasich has become famous for repeatedly providing this same response almost every time he’s been questioned about why he accepted federal dollars to expand his state’s Medicaid program. In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that while the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act was constitutional, the provision requiring states to expand their Medicaid programs was not. States could not be coerced into accepting this program, and many Republican governors seized the opportunity to weaken the Affordable Care Act by refusing to accept federal funding to expand state Medicaid programs. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that as of January 2016, as many as 3 million people have been left uninsured due to the states that refuse to expand their Medicaid programs. However, John Kasich’s decision to expand Medicaid marked only the beginning of the slow crumbling of heavy opposition to the Medicaid expansion provision. As some Republican governors have started to expand state Medicaid programs, the Republican Party is beginning to face a new partisan divide among its own governors, US Senators, and state legislators. Since the advent of the Affordable Care Act, which was infamously rammed through Congress by a Democratic majority in both houses, Republicans have staunchly opposed the law, even though the policy itself is deeply rooted in conservative ideology. The main reason for the inclusion of the individual mandate is to prevent the high, and often unpaid costs of emergency room care given to uninsured patients from being shifted onto hospitals and taxpayers when medical care is not paid for. Mitt Romney’s signature Massachusetts healthcare law signifies how an individual mandate was once a Republican idea. The continuous opposition to the law has much to do with appealing to Republican voters. The healthcare law is still deeply unpopular among registered Republicans. A New York Times survey from January 2016 found that only 10% of Republican primary voters approve of the Affordable Care Act. With the rise of the Tea Party and ultra-conservative factions, policy views have followed the shift in the Republican base and skewed sharply right over the past decade as these smaller political groups have managed to gain vast electoral influence. Many Republican voters have simply followed the party’s rightward shift on this issue as Republican politicians have sharpened their rhetoric regarding the Affordable Care Act and the individual mandate. This offers a viable explanation as to why Republicans have abandoned an idea they once widely supported; Republican governors at first realized that by refusing to expand Medicaid, they could please their fiscally conservative voting base and simultaneously weaken the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, killing two birds with one stone. Much of the current political clash on the issue is whether or not expanding Medicaid programs would signal approval of the Affordable Care Act. Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas demonstrated how Republicans are bundling every provision in the ACA together and indiscriminately rejecting all of it. In his most recent State of the State speech, he reiterated his view that the ACA was the biggest contributor to Kansas’ healthcare woes and that “We should not expand Obamacare to solve the problem,” a clear dig at critics calling on him to expand Medicaid coverage in Kansas.The rhetoric about Medicaid expansion has largely been used to convince voters that expanding Medicaid is the same as expanding

the entire Affordable Care Act so that governors don’t have to worry about the consequences of denying state residents federally funded healthcare. Though the initial gut reaction for most Republican governors was to immediately reject any program that would expand the influence of the Affordable Care Act, and thereby the Democratic party, some Republican governors are also beginning to reconsider for the sake of their state residents. This has led to a divide in many states between Republican governors and state legislatures and has also drawn a sharp contrast between Republican governors and Republicans in Congress. According to Joan C. Alker, a senior researcher at the Health Policy Institute of Georgetown University, the divide was “a reflection of the larger fight in the Republican Party between more pragmatic Republicans, including governors, and the ideological wing of the party that wants to stop Obamacare at all costs.” To many of these governors’ credit, waiting to expand Medicaid serves as a politically effective position. It allows them to show their voters that the eventual move to expand Medicaid was made in good conscience and using sound judgment after carefully considering of all the available options, and not as a way to appease the President. The new problem lies with the clash between some Republican governors and their state legislatures. Several Republican governors have tried to get Medicaid expansion passed through their state legislatures only to be met with stiff opposition. Governor John Bel Edwards of Louisiana and Governor Bill Walker of Alaska were both forced to sign executive orders to proceed with Medicaid expansion after similar bills were rejected by state leaders. Other governors who have taken a different route haven’t been so lucky. The governors of Utah, Tennessee, Florida, and Wyoming all tried to push bills to approve Medicaid expansion only to have each bill killed by their respective state legislatures, and as a result none of these four states have been able to expand their Medicaid programs. This specific clash is interesting because it shows how deeply state legislators are tied to their constituents’ beliefs when compared to governors; many governors see Medicaid expansion as a major step toward improving and strengthening state hospitals, whereas state legislators feel more beholden to their constituents’ political views. Now many Republican governors who wish to expand state Medicaid programs are having to either succumb to their state legislatures or fight them over a deeply contentious issue, revealing a partisan and ideological divide in the modern Republican Party. They are finding themselves caught in the middle of a yearslong movement to undermine the new healthcare law at all costs. If Republican governors can figure out a way to sidestep conflict with their state legislatures either through the use of executive actions or through compromise, it will bring about health insurance coverage for millions of Americans. As for governors who have yet to consider expanding their Medicaid programs, they should think about the benefits their states would face from insuring residents. Reducing emergency room usage, one of the main contributors to the degradation of the healthcare system’s well-being would protect taxpayers and hospitals from being compelled to unfairly pick up the tab for uninsured patients. Expanding Medicaid would be a sign that the Republican Party still remembers how to follow through on conservative causes. ■

Gap in Coverage for Adults in States that Do Not Expand Medicaid under the ACA. Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

Berkeley Political Review | 13



Source: Cathrine Petersen


he 2016 election has been widely described as a race of “outsiders.” However, it may not be just the candidates who are out of the norm, but our parties themselves that are shifting. Promotion of a two-party system exists nowhere in the Constitution. Throughout its history, the U.S. has experienced vast changes in party dominance as third parties rise and fall from power. The Federalist and Anti-Federalist parties of the late 18th century are long gone; the Whig Party of the 1830’s elected four presidents before dissolving prior to the Civil War, and the abolitionist parties of that era became obsolete after the war’s conclusion. This series of oustings suggests that although the twoparty system currently dictates American politics, with the Democratic and Republican parties as bastions that together hold approximately 98% of the vote, the seemingly impenetrable nature of the Democrat-Republican dichotomy is not necessarily permanent. The common perception that third parties necessarily embody radical views creates doubt that their candidates will make a significant impact in elections. Because of the U.S.’s winner-take-all system, a vote for a third party is seen as a wasted vote and a lost cause. Thus it becomes very difficult for third parties to rise to power. However, third parties may instead make inroads into the major parties in order to make their voices heard. Two figures in particular demonstrate this strategy: Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders. Self-described as the third largest party in the United States, the Libertarian Party has yet to gain more than 1% of the vote in a presidential election since 1980. However, libertarian-inspired candidates have garnered substantial results under the Republican label. Ron Paul joined the Libertarian Party from 1987 to 1996; he ran as the Libertarian Party presidential candidate in 1988, gaining 0.5% of the vote. However, after rejoining the Republican Party in 1996, he ran for president in 2008, but was consistently polling lower than 3%. His breakthrough campaign was in 2012, when he received 190 delegates at the Republican National Convention. In a December interview with CNN’s “State of the Union, Paul said, “I’d like to think of myself as the flavor of the decade.”

14 | Berkeley Political Review

Unlike his father, Rand Paul has not ever been a member of the Libertarian Party. However, he evokes distinctly Libertarian ideas, and has described himself as “libertarian-ish.” Strategically however, he has remained loyal to the Republican Party. As quoted saying to a Harvard audience, “I think a libertarian twist or a libertarian influence in the Republican Party is good, but I’ve pretty much just stayed with the party and plan on doing so.” This angle has allowed him to spread Libertarian ideas to a far larger voter base than his father. Similarly, Bernie Sanders did not identify as a Democrat until 2015, and long before had already developed a history of denouncing the party. As Paul Starr writes for the Atlantic, “In 1989 he said the Democrats and Republicans were ‘in reality, one party—the party of the ruling class.’ That year he wrote a New York Times op-ed describing the two parties as “tweedle-dee” and “tweedle-dum”, since both subscribed to what he called an ‘ideology of greed and vulgarity.’” His new Democratic allegiance reveals the compromise between political beliefs and the political reality - in our current political climate a major party candidacy is the only chance to win. However, his expansion of Democratic rhetoric leftward allows selfidentified socialists to more comfortably don the Democratic label. There is an innate aversion to labels such as “Libertarian” And “Socialist”. Only about one in five Americans identify with the label Libertarian. However, among younger voters, the label is more popular; about 32 percent of Americans aged 18 to 29 consider themselves Libertarian. Further, a larger percent find themselves holding Libertarianleaning views, allowing the Libertarians to encroach on the voter base of the main parties and tout libertarian views under other labels. Likewise, prior to the Sanders campaign, the term “socialist” was often slung by conservatives to criticize Democratic policies and ideas. Obama was called a socialist in his 2008 campaign against John McCain. These accusations continued throughout his presidency and have been aimed at other Democrats as well. Oddly enough, the overuse and misuse of the term may have helped it become acceptable and opened the door for Sanders. Now a reported 42% of democrats have a favorable view of socialism, according to data and research firm YouGov. Perhaps even more telling is the 43% of Iowa Democrats who describe themselves as socialists according to the recent Des Moines Register poll, which was based on telephone interviews with “503 registered voters who say they definitely or probably will attend the 2016 Democratic caucuses” and has a 4.4% margin of error. The 2016 presidential campaign of Rand Paul illustrates the continuing incursion of libertarian ideas on the Republican Party, while the campaign of self-proclaimed democratic socialist Bernie Sanders has blurred the line between liberal and socialist, and pushed the primary rhetoric of the Democratic primaries leftward. Although Rand Paul dropped out in February, his unorthodox candidacy appealed to a wide base of voters. On the left, the flocking, particularly of young voters, to Bernie Sanders has left no doubt about his appeal. A Crowdpac study ranked Paul as the most conservative presidential candidate in the 2016 race, surpassing even Ted Cruz. However, on issues such as government surveillance, he ranked more liberal than any Democrat, strongly opposing infringements on the civil liberty of privacy. This shows why the Republican platform is perhaps most appropriate for candidates like Paul to gain traction while still invoking Libertarian ideas. Similarly, Bernie Sanders’s aversion to the Democratic Party seemed to dissipate in the face of creating real political change; during his time as an


Polarization of the Bipartisan System Over the Last Two Decades Source:

Independent in the Senate he still caucused with the Democrats, at times giving them a majority, and now he has pledged to the Democratic label in this and all campaigns going forward. The rise and influence of such candidates is seen in a larger trend of rightward movement within the GOP and leftward movement within the Democratic Party over the last two decades, as shown below by an excerpt from this study. The trend is more pronounced within the GOP, and is exacerbated by the rise of different brands of conservatism, the evangelical conservatism of Ted Cruz and the near-populist government intervention mantras of Donald Trump. Trump has pushed the rhetoric and stances of the GOP primary rightward, leading his competitors to assert more radically conservative stances. Dean of UC Davis school of law Kevin Johnson called this “the Trump effect,” saying “He has staked out an enforcement position over immigration and that in turn has moved everybody else over to enforcement thinking.” Interestingly, Sanders, like Trump, could be characterized as a populist economically, albeit in a very different manner. As Jonah Goldberg writes for the National Review, “According to populist economics, the rich exploit the poor and the middle class intentionally. They leech off their hard work, and they send them to war.” Sanders represents a distinct shift in the Democratic platform. As Steve Chapman writes for the Chicago Tribune, “Socialists have long endorsed

nationalization of important industries, steeply graduated income taxes, a 30-hour workweek, drastic cuts in military spending and the abolition of the CIA. Democrats, as a rule, have not.” However, now even staunchly establishment democrats such as Chair of the Democratic National Committee Debbie Wasserman Schultz dodged a question from MSNBC’s Chris Matthews that asked for the difference between Democrats and Socialists, as did Hillary Clinton in a later interview. This strain upon party platforms has not been received well by the establishment of each party. The candidacy of Rand Paul faced strong opposition after he blocked faster consideration of the USA Freedom Act, a move in line with his libertarian view of government surveillance and the civil liberty of privacy. No. 2 Republican in the Senate John Cornyn accused his actions of being “part of the presidential campaign.” Republicans tried to block Paul’s attempt to change the Kentucky primary to a caucus so that he could run for the Senate and presidency simultaneously. Although this attempt was unsuccessful, they succeeded in blocking Paul’s nomination prior to the Kentucky caucus. Sanders has faced similar conflicts with the party elite. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the DNC have faced alleged claims that they are facilitating the Clinton campaign, particularly because of the originally scarce Democratic debate schedule; some critics even called for

Wasserman Schultz to resign over this issue in a petition garnering more than 23,000 signatures. Further, after Sanders staff breached data from Clinton’s campaign, the DNC froze Sanders campaign access to the voter database, prompting Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver to accuse the DNC of “actively attempting to undermine” the Sanders campaign. There have also been debates about the role of superdelegates in the Democratic primary, and whether they will “rig” the election against Sanders. The United States has found itself in the midst of a changing political climate. At a time when trust in the government is at nearly “historic lows,” public opinion has gravitated away from the party establishments on both sides. This election may polarize the parties beyond what America has witnessed thus far. It may provide a significant opening for a third party to emerge. Or it may result in a convergence around moderate centrist policies, an overcorrection for decades of radicalization. ■

Berkeley Political Review | 15





ne could say it was divine intervention. After organizing Pope Francis’ visit to the US, House Speaker John Boehner shocked the political world on September 25th, 2015 by announcing his resignation from Congress. In a bizarrely upbeat and emotional press conference, Boehner crooned a few bars of the Disney classic “Zip-a-dee-doo-dah” before declaring that he would leave the House by the end of October. Boehner noted that his encounter with the Pope the previous day was “a crystallizing moment”, remarking to reporters, “last night I started thinking about [resigning] and this morning I woke up and I said my prayers… and I decided today’s the day I’m going to do this”. Although he was to remain Speaker until the end of the year, Boehner resigned earlier than expected when pressure from ultra-conservative members of his party proved too much to handle. Seeing the Pope’s visit as a chance to exit on a high note, Boehner seized the opportunity to escape the far right’s wrath. John Boehner’s story - that of initial sanctification and later crucifixion by the fiscally and socially conservative Tea Party movement - is indicative of how the Republican Party has changed in recent years. Today, a protracted struggle between the party’s moderate establishment and conservative activists has turned into a battle for the soul of the GOP. Where once it was a collection of grassroots activists opposing taxation and Obamacare, the Tea Party has now morphed into a beast of uncompromising ideology the Republican establishment can no longer control. As the Tea Party has become a dominant voice in the GOP, the compromise-willing old guard represented by the likes of Boehner has become heretical to the conservative right. Now, six years after its inception, the Tea Party has left its mark on the GOP’s future, with bombastic conservative and Tea Party darling Donald Trump poised to clinch the Republican Presidential nomination following several primary victories against establishment challengers. If the Republican Party’s next Presidential nominee is an unwavering ideologue accused of bigotry, misogyny, and demagoguery, there has never been a more important time than now to examine how the Party of Lincoln transformed into the Party of Palin. To survive in 2016 and beyond, the GOP must rein in the Tea Party because of the latter’s limited appeal, self-defeating tactics, and potential for long-term internal conflict. The Republican Party’s “Civil War” between conservative activists and the establishment began during the 2010 midterm elections. Following the passage of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act and economic stimulus initiatives, a coalition of grassroots conservatives, far-right media personalities, and select corporate donors, angry with the Democratic Congress’ actions on health care reform, immigration, and federal spending, mobilized in record numbers. The initial “Tea Party protests” in September 2009 brought together small-government libertarians, conservative populists, evangelical Christians, and anti-immigrant nativists in large-scale protests in Washington D.C. and elsewhere across the nation. Sensing the Tea Party’s electoral potential, Republican strategists embraced the conservative movement as a political awakening, urging Tea Partiers to vote against the Democrats in the upcoming midterms. With the movement’s popularity growing, many Republican candidates - such as Nevada’s Sharron Angle and Delaware’s Christine O’Donnell - declared their support for the Tea Party movement in 2010, and Tea Party-backed candidates led a wave of victories that delivered Republicans a sizeable majority in the House of Representatives, 29 state governorships, and 19 state legislatures.

16 | Berkeley Political Review

While none can deny the magnitude of the Tea Party’s electoral successes, its victories are limited to non-presidential elections, meaning that the Tea Party only confers Republicans a Congressional advantage. Midterm elections tend to favor Republicans because turnout amongst Democratic voters - typically younger and racially diverse - tends to be lower, whereas turnout amongst higher income, older, and whiter voters (the traditional “Republican base”) is higher. Tea Party candidates are inherently appealing to the latter group of voters, sharing their conservative stances on guns, taxes, debt reduction, and immigration with the Republican base. This has led Republicans to move further to the right to motivate large base turnout and get conservative candidates elected in large margins of victory. A “preaching to the choir” strategy comes at a cost to the GOP. Todd Purdum of Politico argues that the Republican Party’s adoption of far-right candidates and policy stances in midterms alienates the larger electorate in general elections. He notes that because the Tea Party’s hopes to repeal Obamacare, prevent immigration reform, and limit access to abortion are not shared by most national voters, Republicans’ midterm-induced shift to the right comes at the expense of winning the White House and other down-ticket races in Presidential years which see larger overall turnout. While Republicans could prevail from youth apathy and Republican-led voter ID laws disenfranchising poor and minority voters complicating natural victories for Democrats, such barriers are often offset by states with same-day voter registration and growing overall turnout rates for Democratic voters in Presidential years. Overreliance on a loud, yet proportionally small, conservative base thus ensures limited political victories for the Republican Party, as GOP gains in midterms can be easily overturned by broader Democratic sweeps in general elections. The Tea Party’s rise has also brought self-defeating electoral tactics to the GOP. Candidates have often been forced by conservative activists to adopt far-right platforms in primaries to win the support of the party’s base, only to then wind up with unelectable stances for the general electorate. This strategy - criticized by establishment Republicans as “winning the primary to lose the general” - hurt some Tea Party candidates like Christine O’Donnell in 2010, as well as Republican contender Mitt Romney in 2012, whose shift from Northeastern moderate to conservative

Tea Party activists protest the Affordable Care Act in Hartford, CT, on April 15th, 2009 Source: Wikimedia Commons


Snippets of the Republican Divide, featuring: John Boehner on his last day, Senator Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, rally held when the federal government was shut down in 2013, and Governor Jeb Bush. Source: Wikipedia Commons

primary candidate back to moderate party nominee was perceived by many as flip-flopping. The Tea Party has also caused a significant image problem for Republicans, as many conservative candidates have lost due to controversial remarks. In 2012, Tea Party conservatives Richard Mourdock and Todd Akin made highly controversial comments about rape and lost by a large margin to their Democratic opponents. In a retrospective report on the 2012 election, party chairman Reince Priebus identified the GOP’s shortcomings in failing to appeal to key voter blocs and demographics – including Latinos, African-Americans, and women – and placed blame squarely on the Tea Party’s unelectable stances and gaffes. This image problem is worse for Republicans in today’s diverse and demographically-changing nation, where many racial and ethnic groups from Latinos to Asian-Americans- are turned off by Tea Party nativism and vote Democrat. The Tea Party’s lasting damage to the Republican brand has led many, such as former Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, to declare the modern GOP “the stupid party”. Despite these electoral realities, opposing the Tea Party is costly for moderate Republicans, as conservative activists can hold the larger GOP hostage to its will. Often, the Tea Party eyes low-turnout primaries to flood the polls with conservative voters, whose aggressive activism and right-wing populism will elect a challenger to oust an undesirable incumbent. In so doing, the Tea Party distorts the true will of the people with a unique “tyranny of the minority”. Former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, for example, lost his 2014 primary to an unknown Tea Party challenger in part due to his support for immigration reform, a non-negotiable issue for the nativist Tea Party. Longtime Republican Senator Thad Cochran also faced a brutal 2014 primary race against Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel, resulting in a protracted electoral battle that saw the establishment spend far more than they had intended in advertising money to keep Cochran in the Senate. Similar intra-party primary challenges have been launched against Senators John McCain and Pat Roberts. These electoral threats are often emboldened by uneasy ties between Tea Party leaders and billionaire campaign donors’ political machines - such as the Koch Brothers’ Tea Party linked organization Americans for Prosperity - which ensure that an incumbent who voted against Tea Party interests will face a stiff primary challenge. While the Tea Party may not win every primary challenge, its efforts at ousting the establishment have distracted the GOP with bitter internal fights and weakened party cohesion. With a vitriolic blend of hyper-conservatism and anti-establishment anger, the Tea Party is destroying the Republican Party from the inside. The fear of being “primaried-out” has scared many Republicans in government into following the Tea Party’s will. Since the Republican 2010 midterm sweep, Tea Party politicians have repeatedly adopted unwavering ideological positions on key legislation, resulting in several high-profile

budget showdowns that have damaged the GOP’s reputation. The 2011 budget talks over raising the U.S. debt ceiling - a necessary procedural vote on government spending to prevent the nation from defaulting on its debt – were stalled by Tea Party lawmakers opposing increases in federal spending without immediate debt reduction. Then-Speaker John Boehner, fearing for the party’s Congressional unity and his own security as speaker, gave in to the Tea Party’s partisan demands even as brinksmanship brought the nation close to national default. In 2013, Tea Party lawmakers again convinced their party’s establishment to rebuke any increase in federal spending and instead shut down the federal government for two weeks. Refusals by Republican leaders to follow the Tea Party has often been met with internal revolts, such as when 25 conservative House Republicans - led by Tea Party stalwarts Louie Gohmert and Ted Yoho - opposed John Boehner’s reelection as Speaker of the House in early 2015, making it the most significant rebellion against establishment Republican leadership since the Tea Party’s inception. Such absolutist governance by a small faction of the GOP puts the Republicans in the awkward position of having to prove they can govern responsibly. Daniel McCarthy of The American Conservative argues that, given their Congressional track record, the “Tea Party ensures that all it can do is protest and obstruct”. A refusal to compromise exacerbates gridlock between the two political parties in an already hyperpolarized Congress and paints Republicans as the “party of obstruction,” moving the GOP further away from pragmatic politics. The infighting between the Tea Party and the establishment threatens to tear the GOP apart, potentially creating a new era of party alignment where right-wing conservatives control the Republican Party and ousted moderates are left without a political home. The Republican Party’s profound shift to the right may inadvertently bring about its downfall, as a party torn between two ideological ends cannot survive indefinitely. The short-term victories, ideological governance, and protracted infighting of the Tea Party takeover are unlikely to help the Republican Party in the long run. In light of establishment Republicans backing Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, GOP leadership can no longer be indifferent towards accepting or rejecting the Tea Party. Rather, Republicans must now make a clear decision on whether the party will stand for uncompromising Trump-ian ideology or political pragmatism. Absent a concerted effort by the establishment and voters to rebuke the far-right beyond simply stopping “the Donald”, the Tea Party will only deepen wounds that not even holy water could heal. To survive in an ever-changing America, Republicans must close the Pandora’s Box of the Tea Party once and for all. ■

Berkeley Political Review | 17



Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail. Source: New York Times


an you hear it–the shattering of the glass ceiling? The 2016 presidential race has been a cacophony of political noise, but not much noise can muffle the fact that, come November 2016, the United States may have its first female president. Hillary Clinton is not only making history and breaking convention by being the first woman to truly contend for the most powerful public office in the United States, but also by breaking a lesser known mold–the role of the former first lady. Political spouses have played a role in American politics since the very beginning, with first ladies like Abigail Adams and Dolley Madison aiding their husbands in wooing political opponents. With the advent of television, the role of the modern political spouse was augmented. As the American electorate found its presidential candidates reaching into its living rooms, it found itself more invested in the lives of the people vying for their votes. Jackie Kennedy pushed for more Americans to vote whilst her husband was up for election, participating in Spanish-speaking television ads attempting to increase Latin American votership. Pregnant at the time, this outreach not only served to make John F. Kennedy an appealing candidate to targeted groups, but also made him a trustworthy family man in the eyes of the American public. The trend of spouses campaigning for their husbands carried through to the most recent first couple, Michelle and Barack Obama, in their 2012 election as well. But first ladies are not only helping their presidential husbands; they are helping themselves too. The political exposure and political connections gained by being first lady can prove to be invaluable assets in furthering her own political career. Such is the case with Hillary Clinton, who is fighting to occupy the White House once again. Through her tenure as first lady during the Clinton administration, Hillary Clinton earned valuable political experience and connections that allowed her to find the level of political success she has achieved. By and large, Clinton was the first “modern” first lady. Not only did she serve the functions of campaigning for her husband and elevating the moral image of the first family, but Clinton also found herself immersed in the political workings of her husband’s administration. Stepping beyond the White House, Clinton used her first lady title to spearhead her husband’s health care reform, delivering a speech to a joint session of Congress in September of 1993. She also worked heavily on the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the Adoption and Safe Families Act, cooperating with several members of Congress to pass the Children’s Health Insurance Program and advocating privately at the White House. Clinton’s political legacy as a highly political first lady was further cemented during a hearing regarding whether or not federal advisory committees were required to be open sessions; a judge, however, ruled that, in the eyes of the law, a first lady is equitable to a government employee.

18 | Berkeley Political Review

As first lady, Clinton also had the opportunity to learn how to strengthen her public image by enhancing her political abilities through the Clinton administration. Documents released by the Clinton Library show a first lady who was heavily instructed to stay conversational, encouraging and careful of being too honest and exposing. These documents also depict a first lady that was polarizing, subject to public scrutiny, and unable to handle herself in the public sphere. This analysis and subsequent assistance most certainly provided Clinton with a level of public-image awareness that she may not have possessed as a civilian lawyer, and is certainly responsible for her current political tact. Clinton developed not only her political tact during her time as a first lady, but also her political persona. As first lady, Clinton gained immense exposure to Congress, through pushing legislation and giving speeches, creating political connections in high places. According to a memo from 1993 released by the Clinton Presidential Library, “The first lady’s months of meetings with the Congress has produced a significant amount of trust and confidence by the members in her ability to help produce a viable health reform legislative product with the president.” When one examines her political trajectory, from politically active student, to civilian lawyer with no interest in politics, to first lady, to eventual senator, cabinet secretary and presidential candidate, Clinton’s deviation from the political tract early in her professional life begs the question of whether she was only riding her husband’s political coattails after. Clinton had no interest in politics when she was first given the chance to make a name for herself in Washington, D.C., opting instead to further her careers in law and academia. However, in 1999, at the tail end of her tenure as first lady, Clinton became the first first lady elected into public office, winning a New York senatorial bid, and cementing her position in DC. Not only was this an impressive victory for an individual with no political presence before, but it was a political anomaly: the only other outof-state candidate to win political office was Robert Kennedy, who himself also had impressive family ties. Once in the Senate, Clinton continued to push causes she supported as a first lady. This win is made even more impressive given that, before this, Clinton had no prior experience running for public office herself. Further arguments may also emphasize the fact that, on the campaign trail, Clinton was continually supported by both her husband and daughter. However, analysis of her pre-campaign efforts makes it clear that Clinton put in all the work of a “standard” candidate in making sure to assure her victory–she canvassed the state and educated herself on both state politics historically, and on what the electorate wanted to see done. In several speeches, she made it clear to the public that, not only was she running independent of her husband’s name, but she was running in order to ensure the interests of the people she was representing. In order to distance her from her husband’s political office, she also invested in the short-film “Hillary” to further humanize her as a candidate. Hillary’s own political know-how, and political capabilities also allowed her to distance herself from the image that voters believed they had of her. Through her studying of the issues that plagued the state, however, Clinton adeptly took her public persona as a somewhat disliked political enigma, and shaped it into a political leader that voters in the state of New York not only respected, but believed in. However, after participating heavily in her husband’s political endeavors as president, it is clear that these are skills she gained through her tenure as first lady. Although her 2008 presidential run was unsuccessful, Hillary Clinton remained a strong presence on the American political stage, and as a candidate in the 2016 presidential race, has distinguished herself as not only an experienced and shrewd, but groundbreaking presidential candidate. However, when one looks back to the blossoming of her political career, it becomes clear that the transition from Hillary-the-academic to Hillarythe-politico came as she entered the national spotlight as first lady of the United States. ■


Iran’s Private Sector: Putting Up A Fight On An Uphill Battle THE EMERGING STARTUP INDUSTRY IN TEHRAN SAALAR AGHILI

influence on Iranian society. Having the Iranian economy in the hands of the government means most of the new growth is going to government officials, including clerics and members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). These members of government are the same people that the West labels as a “state sponsor of terrorism” and the root of corruption in Iran. To show how vested the economy is in high-ranking Iranian officials, one need only look at data from Setad, an organization that is invested in many of the state-run industries like finance, oil, and telecommunications. It reports that Ayatollah Khamenei has a net worth of $95 billion – about 24% of Iran’s GDP at official exchange rates. But it’s the Supreme Leader himself who has vouched for some economic activity to be shifted towards the private sector. For years, Khamenei has advocated the increased role of privatization in Iran. He stresses more focus on rural industries, particularly the agricultural industry, both of which are in the hands of the private sector.

Tehran’s Accelerator Avatech. Source:


y the end of this year, you will likely see Tehran displayed on the departures list in the airports of many major European cities. With the passing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the official name of the Iran nuclear deal, Iran has had an influx of business inquiries from Western companies. Headlines show Iranian President Hassan Rouhani signing huge trade deals that are meant to boost the reopened Iranian economy. With state-owned companies behind many of these deals, the private sector of Iran is not benefiting from this deal nearly as much as the government is. Sanctions that include financial restrictions in dealings within Iranian society still exist for issues concerning human rights and terrorism, leaving the private sector bereft of all the new opportunities that the JCPOA has opened to Iran.

Even President Rouhani has advocated empowerment of the private sector of Iran to lift the country out of all its economic problems. In order to do this, he has proposed stripping much of the economic control of Iran away from the IRGC by affirming that the Revolutionary Guard remain in their jurisprudence of guarding the Islamic Revolution, and not retain the large amount of influence over large-scale industries that determine Iran’s economic productivity. With support from the most important figures in Iran, Tehran has made progress in altering the structure of Iran’s economy. In the past Iranian calendar year, the country has transferred 47.738 trillion rials (over $1.3 billion) worth of shares of state-run companies to the private sector. Additionally, the Fifth Five-Year National Development Plan (2010-2015) envisioned an augmented private sector by aiming to annually privatize 20% of state-owned firms. Despite Iran’s large-scale industries — like fossil fuels and finance — remaining largely in the hands of the government, Iranian society has been utilizing its young, educated population to boost previously weaker industries like tourism and technology.

Private enterprises in Iran have voiced their hardships trying to conduct business with foreign companies, claiming their hands are tied behind their With the lifting of sanctions, Westerners are flocking to Iran for its unique backs. They cannot transfer payments across borders, leaving obstacles to culture and diverse geography. Even with State Department warnings complete a business transaction. placed by the U.S. government, American travel agencies are booking trips to Iran at a record high level. Such travels contribute to projections that Some of the biggest deals recently made between Iran and the West in- Iran will attract four times the number of tourists and generate almost $30 clude the purchase of aircraft from Airbus for refurbishing Iran Air’s billion in the next ten years. obsolete fleet. Iran Air is the national carrier for Iranian citizens and is led by the Ministry of Transportation and Housing. Many other airlines, Above all, Iran’s startup industry seems to be the hottest growing aspect like the privately owned Mahan Air, do not have the same opportunities of the country’s private sector. With a formidable higher education system as their state-run competitor due to lasting banking sanctions that make it that is infamous for brain drain, students from Tehran University and Sharpractically impossible for private groups to conduct business with foreign if University are starting to build their own Silicon Valley around Tehran. companies. Such struggles have existed for Iranians since the foundation of the Islamic Republic in 1979. Avatech is a startup accelerator based on Tehran University’s campus that Iran’s post-revolution constitution sets an economic organizational foundation of 3 sectors: state, cooperative, and private. The bastion of Iran’s economy is maintained by the state through controlling all of Iran’s largescale industries like foreign trade, banking, major minerals, and aviation. Keeping the economy in the scope of the government maintains the Islamic values that the Republic stands by and strengthens the government’s

facilitates startup development for business ideas through strategic and managerial advice. Venture capital comes from firms like Sarava Pars that fund new business ideas in return for a portion of shares. Other startup accelerators include DMOND, TrigUp, and Setak, which is connected to the acclaimed Sharif University of Technology.

Berkeley Political Review | 19


Their app developments include food delivery, audio tracks, and even e-commerce for young mothers. Koodakoo is a website that offers retail for maternal needs that was founded by two sisters, Ladan and Melody Golshani. Women are huge contributors to Iran’s growing startup scene. Outnumbering men in higher education, Iranian women have the technical skills to take advantage of new economic frontiers like startups. Other startups led by women include Mamanpaz and Ruban, which range in services from homemade meal delivery to cosmetics. Such a role played by women in the private sector of Iran is unprecedented in its history.

The Role Of Terrorism In Indonesia And Malaysia KHAIRULDEEN AL MAKHZOOMI

On Tehran University’s campus, where Avatech is located, women are usually required to dress even more conservatively than they would in public. Yet the growth of startups has brought overtones of colorful scarves and dolled up faces to a campus filled with neutral-toned maghnae, a professional female uniform. Such trends have come along with new developments for decreasing gender inequality in Iran. For the first time since the Revolution of 1979, an Iranian woman was appointed ambassador to Malaysia. On February 8, President Rouhani gave a speech in Tehran, “advocating a greater role for women in the Islamic republic’s public sphere,” at a conference titled “Women, Moderation, and Development”. Masoumeh Ebtekar became Iran’s first female Vice President in 1997 under Mohammad Khatami and was reappointed by Rouhani in 2013. She is also head of the Department of Environment that handles Iran’s environmental regulation. As the department’s head, she has led a push for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to give more responsibility to the private sector for environmental conservation.

Indonesian activists shout slogans and hold a banner reading “We Are Not Afraid” at the bomb site in Jakarta. Source: TEMPO


n Jan. 14, 2016, Indonesians awoke to yet another terrorist attack in the central business district of Jakarta, the capital. It was the latest in a series of attacks stretching back to 2011, when a suicide bomber attacked a mosque in the city of Cirebon. Terrorism incidents like While Iranian women have surprisingly had some degree of a role in the these in Indonesia and Malaysia are primarily caused by the mutual distrust Islamic Republic’s government, including appointments in the cabinet and created by differences between religious groups. head of ministries, women in Iran’s private sector have been very underGiven the events unfolding in Iraq and Syria, including Iraqi forces’ recent represented. Now, the startup scene is rapidly changing this inequality. recapture of Ramadi, ISIS may be looking to expand its operations elseMaybe the Iran Deal does not really benefit the private sector of Iran. It where, causing it to launch an attack on Jakarta. However, many Muslims might even hurt it with the intervention of foreign companies and lever- in Indonesia refuse to identify with the terrorist group’s corrupt ideology, age to state-owned enterprises. Nevertheless, government intervention has and are working to condemn ISIS’ proposition of a global Muslim caliphshied away from the constitution’s economic framework and driven privat- ate. Anton Alifandi, a principal analyst for IHS, a global analysis firm, said ization. Iranians, especially women, are taking advantage of such opportu- that the ideology ISIS is propagating does not appeal to the majority of nities and the people are taking more of their country’s economic activity Muslims living in Indonesia, and that many Muslim organizations have into their own hands. In a world where money is power, such economic started actively campaigning against ISIS’ terrorist activities. One of these changes can help potentially spark something new in Iran’s political dy- organizations, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), has more than 50 million Muslim namics. If the West truly seeks a dynamic and freer Iran, foreign countries members. Indonesian Muslims have taken to social media to denounce ISIS might want to consider removing sanctions that leave the private sector at using the hashtag #KamiTidakTakut – in English, #WeAreNotAfraid. a disadvantage against their state-run competitors. ■ Southeast Asia has faced multiple terrorist attacks in the recent past, particularly in Indonesia and Malaysia. The Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, has called Southeast Asia a “key recruitment area for ISIS,” and during the opening of the ASEAN summit in November, the Malaysian Prime Minister, Najib Razak, said that the attacks were propelled by ISIS’ religious ideology. The increasing number of both terror threats in Malaysia and successful attacks in Indonesia could imply that ISIS has reinvigorated its terror networks as part of its plan for the region. Indonesia is third largest democracy in the world, home to over 250 million people. More than 80 percent of them are Muslims, giving the country the largest Muslim population in the world. This means that ISIS may still have hopes of promoting its ideology there, making Indonesia prone to further attacks. However, more European Muslims have joined ISIS than their Indonesian counterparts. ISIS may be having ahard time infiltrating Indonesia, even though it is a primarily Islamic nation.

20 | Berkeley Political Review

WORLD Recently, Malaysia has also received threats of terrorist activity that never materialized. However, with the recent bloodshed in Jakarta, a long-dreaded terrorist attack in Malaysia may be looming nearer. Mohamad Fuzi, Director of the Malaysian Special Forces, confirmed that the terrorists involved in the Jakarta attack made a phone call to a contact in Malaysia before striking. Malaysian authorities, with the support of Australian and American intelligence, were successful in killing terrorist leaders Azahari Husin and Noordin Mohammad Top in 2005 and 2009, respectively. However, the Syrian conflict has worked to intensify terrorist activity in Southeast Asia — and specifically Malaysia — in many ways. In April of 2015, Malaysian authorities arrested 17 people in the capital Kuala Lumpur on suspicion of plotting terror attacks, and at least 70 members of Malaysia’s armed forces were identified by police as having ties to ISIS.

The Decline Of Mugabe And The Political Surge In Zimbabwe WHAT IS TO BE IN THE POST-MUGABE ERA? JESSICA HILLYARD

The Malaysian government has beefed up security in anticipation of an imminent attack. Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, the Malaysian Inspector General of Police, confirmed on January 16th that the police had arrested a suicide bomber who was allegedly on route to detonate a bomb in Kuala Lumpur the same day. In the wake of this latest suicide bombing attempt, the threat of a similar attack in Malaysia is plausible. While the fight against Islamic extremism is real and dangerous, there are concerns as to whether the war on terror can be won through military force alone. Since ISIS uses radicalization as its primary recruitment tool. Directly fighting the ideology propagated by ISIS could be a more efficient way of combating terrorism, since the group cannot maintain a military presence if it cannot persuade new members to join. Terrorist organizations like ISIS use the Islamic faith to justify their ruthless acts. The religious conflict they seek to instigate is the primary cause of terrorism, both in Southeast Asia and in many other parts of the world. But ISIS’ beliefs are founded on a ridiculous misunderstanding of Islamic teachings — many Muslims around the world already disagree with them.

President Robert Mugabe with his wife, Grace, at President Jacob Zuma’s inauguration in South Africa. Source: GovernmentZA


fter years of authoritarian rule in Zimbabwe, it looks as though the tide is set to change. Political tension in Zimbabwe was demonstrated in a recent ten-hour long meeting of the country’s ruling party, the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU–PF). Several party members were either suspended or expelled without being given a chance to argue their case, and Minister of Higher Education Jonathan Moyo, presidential spokesperson George Charamba and War Veterans minister Chris Mutsvangwa hurled invectives at each other in public. As more reports highlight President Robert Mugabe’s ill health, refusal to relinquish power and erratic behavior, the question of who will succeed him is intensifying.

In Southeast Asia, it may be necessary to launch combat operations, conduct surveillance and tighten security in areas prone to attack. However, it is possible to win the war on terror by instead advo- If recent actions and reports are believed, Mugabe’s last days may be numcating the proper teachings of Islam, thereby fighting radicalization bered. In September last year, he dealt with heckling in parliament after rewithin the Muslim community and exposing ISIS’ beliefs as lies. peating a previous speech and reports of illness and a potential heart attack spread over social media whilst he was in Singapore earlier this year. SubseAs it is written in the Qur’an, “Whoever kills a person [unjustly]…it is as quent political infighting within Mugabe’s party have commanded attention though he has killed all mankind. And whoever saves a life, it is as though and complicated future predictions as two major rival factions jostle for power. he had saved all mankind.” ■

One faction is known as Team Lacoste in reference to Emmerson Mnangagwa’s nickname, the crocodile. Mnangagwa was appointed vice president in 2014 after the sacking of Joice Mujuru, and from 2009 to 2013 he served as Defense Minister and head of the Central Intelligence Organization. He has cemented his position by ensuring important cabinet posts are filled by his allies and securing the responsibilities of reforming the economy and the legal system, two important areas of concern. In 2000, Mugabe organized a referendum on a new constitution expanding the powers of the presidency, allowing the government to seize whiteowned land. Widespread violence occurred and many Zimbabwean whites fled the country before commercial farming collapsed. One of Africa’s most promising economies fell into nearly a decade of deep recession until 2008 and Zimbabwe’s output was cut almost in half. Devastated agriculture, lack of electricity, large-scale corruption, fiscal mismanagement and continued sanctions led to a stagnant economy with unemployment at around 85%.

Berkeley Political Review | 21

WORLD In February, Mugabe also declared a ‘state of disaster’ due to a severe drought. With up to a quarter of the country potentially lacking food in the upcoming months, many are fleeing to neighboring countries. Mugabe also received criticism for his exuberant 92nd birthday celebrations which took place in the drought-stricken area of Masvingo, where 75% of stable maize crop failed. It cost up to $800,000, complete with a 200 pound birthday cake and the slaughter of up to 50 cattle. If Mnangagwa was successful in tackling Mugabe’s failures, he may have an advantage in being successor. Mnangagwa has previously been accused of being one of the chief architects of the Gukurahundi massacres, with estimates that around 20,000 opposition supporters were killed in the 1980s. Still, Mugabe receives great support and significant legitimacy from the military, which is a clear advantage. Despite statements that she has no political motivations to be successor, the other faction, known as Generation 40 (G40) is focused around First Lady Grace Mugabe. The Party’s women’s wing, young government ministers, and Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo are key members of the G40. Last month, comments at a rally made by Grace were reminiscent of those that led to the fall of Joice Mujuru and highlighted her distrust of current leaders. “They go around saying [I] want to lead, I am already in charge,” she said. “Those that we thought could succeed [Mugabe], we no longer have any confidence in them”. Many in the party have raised concerns about the influence that Grace may wield over the president..

How An Indian Biotech Company Shot Ahead On The Zika Vaccine Long Before The Rest of the World LILAC PETERSON


Chairman of Bharat Biotech Krishna Ella. Source: Getty Images

pen any news website and you’ll come face-to-face with heartbroken Brazilian parents cradling a doleful infant with microcephaly, a condition in which people are born with abnormally small heads. Next to that are the statistics: Brazil has a conservative estimate of Wider opposition and broader challenges to ZANU-PF rule in Zimbabwe 500,000 to 1.5 million cases of the Zika virus, which has now spread to 32 are limited. In 2008, after an election involving ZANU-PF-sponsored vio- countries and territories. These images and numbers have sown fear in the lence, Mugabe was pressured by his regional allies to form an inclusive gov- international community. ernment with Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai as vice president. It could have been a step in the right direction, Contrary to what the surge in media attention would have you presume, had MDC legislators not been subject to arrest, imprisonment and torture. the Zika virus was not introduced to the human race in 2015. In fact, it was first discovered in a rhesus monkey in Uganda’s Zika tropical forest in The once strong Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is now a 1947. Since then, the virus has infected small pockets of the globe, from shadow of its former self, wracked by infighting and damaged by a poAfrica, India, and Southeast Asia between the 50’s and 80’s, to the Pacific litical playing field heavily slanted in favor of the Zanu-PF. Those that Islands in 2013 and 14. These cases did not spark international alarm seek to criticise the party also do not go unnoticed. Suspicious deaths are becoming increasingly common, including that of Edward Chin- because, until the Pacific Islands outbreak, there was scant evidence that dori-Chininga in 2013, a former ZANU-PF chairman of the mines Zika could spread swiftly through the human population. Also, victims committee who was killed in a car crash on a distant country road. often did not exhibit any symptoms, or if they did, they were too similar to other mosquito-borne viruses to declare as Zika cases. The typical However, one challenger for succession has emerged in former symptoms were a rash and high fever, and were not usually fatal. Vice President Joice Mujuru and her new political party Zimbabwe People First, launched in March. Importantly, Mujuru’s polit- As scientists race to discover the connection between Zika and microical experience means that she has gained support from key prov- cephaly, one biotech firm in India has been developing two Zika vaccines inces and younger people, especially those active on social media. since November 2014, several months before the first cases were reported in Brazil in April 2015. Support for Morgan Tsvangirai is strong in urban areas, and a Tsvangirai-Mujuru coalition could potentially defeat President Mugabe in 2018. Zika piqued the interest of Bharat Biotech, a private pharmaceutical A senior intelligence officer indicated that in the next 24 months, Mujuru company based in Hyderabad, because it had been developing vaccines could ‘build a party that could erode Zanu-PF’s rural support base and for dengue and chikungunya, which affect many Indians. Notably, the divide the ruling party’s traditional stronghold’. clinical features of early-stage Zika are indistinguishable from these two other mosquito-borne viruses. Given that in 2007, Bharat was the first Zanu-PF’s ongoing dominance may provide order, but it continuously fails company to map the chikungunya genome, it felt confident that it could to provide key services for the Zimbabwean people. Its focus on political take on Zika also. tension has taken attention away from the country’s grave problems and the challenges of political succession. If Joice Mujuru is able to capitalize on the wave of discontent and mobilize widespread support, there is a very Bharat has developed two medications for Zika, described as “leads” rathreal possibility that she could challenge both main factions within the ZA- er than full vaccines in the words of Soumya Swaminathan, the Director NU-PF for power. This could result in a new era of post-Mugabe Africa.■ General of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), which has already established an expert panel to determine how well the vaccines will work.

22 | Berkeley Political Review

WORLD These vaccines are now in pre-clinical testing before animal trials, which are expected to take about five months, before a follow-up set of human trials. Then, it needs to pass Indian regulatory authorities’ approval. These stages could take many years, but once on the market, Bharat Biotech projects that it can produce millions of doses within months. Even if Bharat’s vaccines jump successfully through the regulatory hoops, it still may not be able to immunize the population more quickly than the Aedes aegypti mosquito can transmit the disease. The Aedes has been called a heat-driven missile of disease and the “dog” of the mosquito world because it has adapted so well to living with humans. It spreads yellow fever, dengue, chikungunya, and Zika very rapidly because it takes small meals from multiple human hosts per meal before it becomes full. Then, as the blood is absorbed, the mosquito’s digestive system reproduces the virus. In fact, not only the Aedes’ feeding habits but also its biology is made to transmit the virus to many more people. Even though its flight distance is only about a quarter mile, because it tends to stay in cities, the higher population density assures that the Aedes is a “missile of disease”. Bharat is not the only player in the medical field that is trying to push a Zika vaccine. The nonprofit Butantan Institute in São Paulo, Brazil has an industrial-scale manufacturing plant that can produce tens of millions of vaccination doses for Brazil. It is testing a weakened but live vaccine, which they believe is more effective than inserting a dead virus into the bloodstream. Building off dengue vaccine research done at the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Butantan may now partner with NIAID to create the vaccine. In the same way that researchers deleted genes from the dengue virus so the vaccine’s virus could copy itself but not cause disease inside the host, the same “deletion” method could be used to safely introduce Zika in the form of a vaccine. While Bharat has the advantage of an early start on developing a Zika vaccine, it may face challenges from the international medical community regarding the rigor of its trial design and quality control. Indian drug companies have come under suspicion from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the past. As of September 2015, the FDA had issued 42 alerts for Indian drug companies, the most “import alerts” for any country. Such alerts recommend that drug products from these companies be detained without needing a physical inspection of the drugs. The common issues Indian drug manufacturers are criticized for include product contamination, sub-par quality systems implementation, shoddy data integrity, and unvalidated manufacturing or testing processes. Even Krishna Ella, the managing director of Bharat, agreed that Indian drug companies face multiple problems when inspected by global regulators. When asked to respond to a recent Ernst & Young survey on the Indian pharmaceutical industry, which revealed that poor record-keeping, absence of data reviews and severe work pressures to achieve key performance indicators, Ella admitted that Indian pharma’s data integrity was a major problem. As its labs race to develop a vaccine, Bharat hopefully will not compromise the structural integrity of the drug and its trials in the pursuit of a deliverable product. In the meantime, you can be sure that Aedes aegypti will continue sowing chaos in countries around the world. ■


Tu Youyou. Source: xRapid


u Youyou was labeled with “three noes”: no medical degree, no doctorate, and no work overseas. And yet, she became not only the first Chinese woman to win a Nobel Prize, but also the first Chinese citizen to earn a Nobel Prize in science. Tu was honored as one of 2015’s three Nobel laureates in physiology or medicine for her discovery of Artemisinin, a drug that has significantly reduced mortality rates for patients suffering from malaria. China’s first Nobel Prize, however, seems to reveal more about the country’s politics than its science. Beijing’s reaction to this notable achievement for Chinese medicine highlights the Chinese government’s pride in traditional Chinese culture and provides insight into how the one-party government exploits its media resources to construct internal social stability. Artemisinin was derived largely from traditional Chinese medicine, not modern pharmaceuticals. Tu and her team sifted through 2000 medicinal texts as part of their work on “project 523,” which brought Chinese scientists together during the Vietnam War to work on a treatment for malaria. One recipe written 1,600 years ago proved crucial to the development of artemisinin by proposing to use chemical extracts from sweet wormwood as treatment. Though it took the World Health Organization nearly 30 years to endorse the drug, this treatment has ultimately saved millions of lives. Chinese government mouthpieces were quick to highlight the Nobel Prize not only as international acknowledgement of China’s rising strength, but also as proof of the relevance of traditional Chinese culture. That artemisinin was developed from ancient formulae is fortuitous for the Chinese government, which has long sought to marry traditional Chinese culture with modern relevance. Traditional Chinese cultural values include harmony, righteousness, wisdom, and loyalty. However, Beijing often wields these cultural values as a political tool to influence national psychology. Indeed, China’s Communist party often falls back on rhetoric such as “building a harmonious society” to justify and preserve the country’s authoritarian political system. Beijing’s depiction of artemisinin is just another example of such rhetoric; beyond relaying accomplishment, these portrayals groom public opinion and promote supposed social harmony.

Berkeley Political Review | 23


Will The Rainbow Flag Fly Over China?

Tu is not the first Chinese citizen to earn a Nobel Prize. That distinction goes to Liu Xiaobo, who won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2010. Instead of emphasizing China’s first Nobel Prize as a source of pride, Beijing immediately accused Western countries of attempting to sow discord in China. Government mouthpieces such as Xinhua News claimed that Liu Xiaobo was a racist and was bribed by foreigners, and even went as far as to say that awarding the prize to Liu desecrated the prize and potentially worsened China-Norway relations. Liu was ultimately sentenced to eleven years in prison for circulating a petition (Charter 08) calling for greater democratic rights in China. Subsequent coverage was actively silenced by Chinese censors, and the human rights violations taking place in the country were never discussed.


This time around, however, Beijing was emphatic about receiving a Nobel Prize; the Chinese government proudly boasted of winning the highest international acknowledgement in science and claimed it rejuvenated confidence in Chinese scientific practices. However, just as with their reports of Liu Xiaobo, Chinese media distorted its portrayal of Tu earning the Nobel Prize, focusing on the international recognition and the relevance of Chinese science instead of the historical background of artemisinin and project 623. Suggesting that artemisinin was not solely the work not of Tu Youyou, but rather of a group of scientists, would likely have created Celebration After Gay Marriage Legalization. Source: Glennbeck slight social discord. Indeed, moderate controversy has already been stirred ollowing last summer’s landmark Supreme Court decision to legalabout whether Tu stole credit from her colleagues. To minimize this, the ize gay marriage in the U.S., and the world’s first-ever legalization government framed the awarding of the Nobel Prize as recognition from through the popular vote in Ireland, legions of rainbow flags were Western countries and a testament to China’s growing prowess in the world hoisted up from Australia to Colombia. However, in South Korea, conand remained largely silent on project 623. servative evangelicals and other anti-marriage equality protesters outnumThe contrast between the ways in which China’s government-controlled bered proponents 25,000 to 20,000. A parallel narrative may exist in China, media portrayed these two Nobel Prizes highlight how the government where legalization of gay marriage is still a large hurdle to clear. Although uses its media to maintain artificial stability through censorship and na- homosexuality in China has been legal since 1997 and no longer considered a mental illnesses since 2001, pro-marriage equality protests are still labeled tionalism. as either illegal or as potential subversions of state power, and social stigma A Nobel Prize in science is a milestone for Beijing. However, the rising remains high, especially among older generations and in rural areas. Asian power must still cope with its political corruption and authoritarianism. While the world has acknowledged China as a world player ready Interestingly enough, gay rights activists may make significant headway to make meaningful contributions to human health, it is unclear whether through the courts. China’s court system was previously well known for its China is ready to make meaningful contributions to human rights.■ refusal to accept cases, even those built on solid evidence, on the grounds of “sensitive court filing policies”. However, as of May last year, courts are now switching to automatic registration for all cases that meet evidence requirements. As a result, two cases were accepted. Late last year, after months of protest in south China, lesbian activist Chen Qiuyan successfully held a judge-brokered meeting to retract the Ministry of Education’s continued use of books or course materials that make the outdated, incorrect claim that homosexuality is a mental illness. This appeared to be a major capstone to the “Reveal the Homophobic Textbook Around You” campaign of 2012, where 13 homophobic texts were found. However, the meeting reached a stalemate; she was told that the Ministry itself had no say over what universities chose to teach, even though top-down censorship and standardization commands remain ubiquitous throughout China. Even so, Chen’s lawyer is pleased that the court has put such an issue on their priority list, however low. If more activists like Chen step forward, it is almost inevitable that the government will eventually shift it to a higher priority tier.


The second case is a direct challenge to laws preventing marriage equality. Sun Wenlin and Hu Mingliang, a young gay couple, sued after they were denied the right to marry at a local civil affairs bureau. In his complaint, Sun argued that Chinese marriage law refers to marriage between “husband and wife”, but lacks the key distinction as to whether two gay individuals 24 | Berkeley Political Review

WORLD can also be looked upon as such. As a result, in a surprise first-ever acceptance, the Changsha district court took on the case and will have a decision within six months. While these educational and legal fronts are solid starting points for further steps towards marriage equality, they may stand as isolated cases if one does not look beyond the legal side to the cultural side. Here, ingrained cultural perceptions of homophobia and rejection of one’s sexual orientation may force gay individuals into gay-straight marriages. In such a case, parents of gay individuals are ultimately the most instrumental in paving the way to nationwide acceptance. From a cultural point of view, traditionally minded parents continue to place a high, Confucian emphasis on childbearing and still consider homosexuality to be an illness. Violence and abuse against LGBT individuals is commonplace within families, who may commit children to psychiatric wards against their will. Violence and misunderstanding is especially high towards transsexuals; officially, it is still considered a mental illness. Support for homosexuality continued to hover around 21% of the Chinese population in 2013. However, of the roughly 80% of Chinese citizens surveyed who claim to be homophobic, according to Parents, Families, Friends of Lesbians and Gays – China founder Ah Qiang, another 80% of parents interviewed find homosexuality to be acceptable but are not comfortable with outsiders knowing their child’s sexuality. If children are met with either halfway acceptance or complete denial by their parents, it may create even larger social repercussions, as familial pressure may leave them no option but to enter gay-straight marriages. Such are called tongqi – straight women married to gay men – or tongfu, straight men with lesbian women. In many such cases, there are instances of deception, where partners are unaware of each other’s sexual orientations, issues of consent, and transmission of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

still been met with frustration. For instance, in accordance with censorship standards, Chinese gay activist and filmmaker Fan Popo’s film Mama Rainbow, on six mothers learning to accept their LGBT children, could have been particularly influential in building widespread parental acceptance of LGBT children, but was taken down from Chinese websites. As an alternative, and to ensure that LGBT individuals can create communities of acceptance, online communities should take a page from Lala, an organization for lesbian and bisexual women. While many LGBT organizations do not actively work with civil society organizations (CSOs), Lala used the combination to span China, Hong Kong, Macau, and beyond. In a country where denial and stigmatization of homosexuality remains high, it is promising that courts are beginning to take a more active role in heeding gay activists’ pleas for removal of inaccurate texts on homosexuality and ultimately, for marriage equality. With greater cultural acceptance through stronger ties between the LGBT community and CSOs, the next necessary step may be to create an anti-discrimination law that extends from the family to the workplace, rather than a direct jump to legalization of gay marriage. Creating a law-mandated culture will spread acceptance from families on outwards, and lessen the risk for backlash from older generations who still place a high emphasis on childbearing. The first steps to an anti-discrimination law will have to come from the National People’s Congress itself, China’s legislative body. 30 out of 3000 members are needed to put forward a proposal that will be considered by the entire NPC. With greater acceptance from within families, there is a higher likelihood that legislative body members will personally know a gay individual and will be more willing to move legislation forward. Ultimately, this legislation may extend to universal legalization.■

Likewise, the need to appease unforgiving families has created a rise in gay-lesbian marriages, which are seen as less emotionally volatile. With the creation of the website and the mobile app Queers, which each have over 400,000 users, “sham marriages” have allowed both parties to “cheat” their parents and help save face for their families, a key cultural concept in China. As a long-term solution, better communication and understanding between children and their parents may help diffuse these misconceptions. For instance, father Lin Xianzhi ultimately overcame a rather severe wariness of his son’s “condition” when his son began openly sharing contributions that gays were making to the Chinese community. Today, he has become a prominent rights activist and has sent letters to over 1000 legislators arguing for access to equal property rights and medical care. On a larger scale, Qinyou Hui, a parent-led organization modeled after Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays in the U.S., seeks to increase family support for LGBT individuals through promotion of open discussion and support for parents with gay children. The China National LGBT Community Dialogue hosted by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in August 2013 united legal experts, NGOs, community-based organizations (CBOs), and government representatives to comprehensively discuss LGBT rights in media, health, and grassroots community development. In a country where police raids have shut down celebrations of one’s identity, education and awareness promotion may thrive more in the online sphere. However, opportunities to de-stigmatize homosexuality have

Berkeley Political Review | 25



Original Illustration. Source: Carol Gao, BPR.


don’t trust WeChat anymore,” a friend told me. “It’s terrifying.” She had recently updated the popular Chinese instant messaging app on her iPhone and was logged out because she forgot her password. WeChat instructed her to choose three friends for identity verification. It then sent texts to her friends, including me, with verification codes. I received a text from her cell phone number, reading: “Send a verification code to my WeChat please! Thank you! 957496” After calling her to dismiss the possibility of a social media fraud, I sent the verification code to her WeChat. She immediately logged back in. But I was confused: “If you forgot your password, how could you see the verification code I sent you?” “I don’t see it,” she said. “The system sees it.” “Terrifying, isn’t it?” She added. “They could see anything you send to anyone.” “They” are the two million internet censors reporting to the Cyberspace Administration of China. Monitoring 600 million people on WeChat and 200 million on Weibo (China’s version of Twitter), they delete speech they perceive as damaging to the Communist Party of China (CPC). The Chinese government intrudes upon people’s private lives to maintain political stability, but that’s not the end of the story. Media control has recently taken a sharp turn in China, with the CPC starting to reinforce party loyalty among news stations. Eradicating dissenting opinions, China’s leaders hope to foster much needed political stability. However, lessons from history suggest otherwise, as heavy media control often leads to misinformed decisions from the top and disastrous consequences at the bottom. China’s tightening media control is such a step towards catastrophe, but today’s intertwined world cannot afford the reappearance of historical calamities. It is crucial that China’s leaders reverse the direction of media control, now. The unspoken truth is that media stations in China already exhibit party loyalty by nature of the system: they must not spread information damaging to the CPC, and, regarding major events, all media have to report the CPC official media Xinhua’s news word-for-word. Just ask a friend who has been to China what they have available to watch on TV everyday 26 | Berkeley Political Review

at 7PM: every station re-transmits to China Central Television’s (CCTV) program “News Broadcast”; foreigners who don’t know their way around have nothing else to watch. Media freedom beyond that limitation, however, varies from period to period; the harshest of which dates back to the 1950s, a turbulent era of constant political reform. The Great Leap Forward, initiated in 1958, was a disastrous policy that lead to more than 15 million deaths, the greatest famine in the history of mankind. In these crucial times, the media went along with the party, making loyal but false reports to the leaders, who blindly stayed optimistic, oblivious to the calamities happening in the real life. History is repeating itself once again. On February 19th, 2016, Chinese President Xi Jinping toured China’s major state-run news organizations with a clear message: “China’s media must unflinchingly promote the party line and serve as a faithful tool of ideological struggle.” David Bandurski, a researcher at the Hong Kongbased China Media Project, remarked: “It’s a very sensitive time economically, and even without the downturn, China is facing a whole array of really complicated social issues. There is a nervousness [within the Chinese leadership], and this makes media and information control that much more of a priority.” To the public, Xi’s order was simple to understand: if not so before, starting now, news speaks for the Party. The visits caused considerable criticisms on social media, the most provocative of which came from Chinese real-estate mogul Ren Zhiqiang on Weibo. Known as “The Cannon” for his outspoken stance, Ren lambasted the idea that media should serve the CPC: “When did the ‘People’s Government’ become the ‘Party’s Government’?” he wrote. “Does it run on party dues?” Internet authorities quickly responded: claiming that Ren used the account to “spread illegal information” that had a “vile influence,” Ren’s Weibo account was shut down two days later. His local Party committee even hinted further repercussions. The Wall Street Journal article “China’s Muzzled Microbloggers” noted a wave of celebrities’ accounts closing on Weibo in the wake of Ren’s comments. In the end, virtually all criticisms of Xi and the CPC disappeared on the social media. On the other hand, popular media outlets do not set great examples for netizens to follow. The BBC reported one ironic case in which a prominent Chinese financial magazine by the name of Caixin was censored immediately after publishing a piece on censorship in English. The government’s official media accounts are no role models, either. I myself witnessed a ludicrous exchange on Weibo in which the Communist Youth League, regarded as the stepstone to the CPC, posted propaganda narrating: “I’m in love with [the CPC]. [It] is very determined of his belief, claiming it’s Communism. I don’t understand it, but I simply feel it sounds terrific. I support [it].” A microblogger by the alias MEEEOW commented and retweeted: “This is the most depressing post in the history of Weibo.” Then, to my utmost surprise, the Youth League replied: “I just like the way you feel so cynical, yet you can do nothing about it.” It even added a smiley face emoji, often used satirically in China. The person managing the Youth League account is just one of the many irresponsible managers of government outlets feeding into Chinese people’s minds. No wonder many teenagers in China can be criticized for lacking creativity or critical thinking abilities: media arguments fail to use


Playing God in the House of Commons


Original Illustration. Source: Carol Gao, BPR.

reason and logic, appealing to party loyalty instead. Citizens in China are too often silenced and repressed, without the means to argue or fight for freedom—even when their opponents are poorly educated wage-earners standing on the moral high ground of patriotism. Pondering my friend’s experience and the prevalent silencing treatments on various platforms, I have come to a conclusion: nobody should voice their real opinions anywhere in China. Nobody dares to these days. Delegates to the annual Two Sessions, a meeting where representatives from all over the country meet to discuss problems and pass legislation, are evidently worried. Asked about the controversy involving Ren’s case on Weibo, Nobel laureate Mo Yan brushed off the reporters’ request with just one word: “Lunch.” As China Digital Times reported, prominent film director Feng Xiaogang tried to exit a meeting room under cover of a baseball cap. When asked about Ren, Feng raised a finger to his lips. “Shush,” he whispered, before walking away. The New York Times asserted that “the annual meetings come amid a tightening ideological atmosphere that is chilling speech”; clear are the ruinous legacies of dissolving media freedom. When the delegates of the Two Sessions, typically rich and powerful, are afraid of voicing their opinions, the lingering effects on the people will only present itself with greater sacrifices. Once the media starts to speak for the party, people’s interests will be neglected. As reporter Zhang Xin argues, the emphasis on party loyalty among the media today is a great step backward in China’s history of reform, heading to a nationwide disaster. The prioritization on media loyalty fosters dissent and anger, plus it forbids China’s leaders from hearing back from the people. Quite contrary to leaders’ belief, monotonous reports on the merits of Party policy work against the goal of political stability. It’s not emphasizing the Party’s good works that elongates stability, but the underreporting of bad works that threatens stability. China cannot afford the repeat of historical tragedies, and it takes candid, humble minds of China’s leaders to recognize the mistake. News should speak for the people, not the Party. China’s leaders should reverse the direction of media control, and it must be reversed now. ■


he United Kingdom has orchestrated a silent medical revolution, one with consequences that will impact mankind for generations. In early February, Parliament authorized genetic treatment that will prevent mitochondrial defects. Mitochondria, the “powerhouses” of every living being, have DNA of their own. The new treatment would inject mitochondrial DNA from a non-parental third party in to treat mitochondrial disease, which is currently untreatable, with horrifying consequences including extreme pain, blindness, or early death. Despite this, the extreme enthusiasm surrounding the treatment is misguided and naive. Genetic treatment opens up a host of ethical and medical arguments, and while the treatment is a great step forward if it proves to be medically viable on the first set of patients, this news should be treated with more caution. The lack of gravity during the decisionmaking process can be conveyed through the following fact: in the House of Commons, it was debated for a total of ninety minutes, leaving many unresolved questions. A defect with the input of mitochondrial DNA is not one that will end with the individual involved—something that would be concerning in itself. The DNA will be passed on and on. They could be present in individuals hundreds of years from now. This idea is the basis of the EU’s Clinical Trial Directive—no medicine is supposed to be able to alter the genetic makeup of an individual in a clinical trial. The UK sidestepped this by stating that the treatment isn’t “medicinal” in the way that the directive requires. But has enough been done to understand the procedure? Robert Winston, a professor and a major advocate of the new treatment, made statements two years ago criticizing the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), which would oversee the treatments. He described it as a “jungle”, unregulated and driven by private interests. This is concerning, particularly because a great deal of support in the parliamentary debate transcript revolve around the prestige of the HFEA and its work on the matter. When MP Richard Drax raised important points about how no clinical trials have been performed on primates, these points were drowned out. The response to his point was that this was being done with ebola vaccines in Africa because benefits outweighed risks. With such an issue at hand-one that will impact generations to come-such arguments shouldn’t hold that much weight in the chamber. Besides the practical concerns, it is natural to have philosophical concerns as well. One radical view implies that it is a step towards a society of genetically engineered test tube babies, where parents pick and choose particular traits, “playing God.” Mitochondrial DNA does not affect behavior or appearance, so such views are unfounded and reflect little faith in mankind’s ability not to step back into an obsession with eugenics. However, again, the point is that it warranted more debate. Surely there should have been some more concern in the House of Commons, particularly given the reasonable amount of controversy surrounding the HFEA’s regulatory environment and Robert Winston’s comments about them. This is an issue beyond the treatment at hand - it is an issue about the decision making process. The implications are huge. There is no doubt that some sort of ethical boundary is being crossed - this is the first treatment of its kind, in which transferable DNA is being injected into an embryo. To a certain extent, humans are “playing God”. While that may not be the worst thing in limited doses, particularly in these drastic scenarios, it is a question that warrants discussion, the ability to be open to contrary opinions, and potentially for one to change his or her mind in response to alternative viewpoints. The length of the parliamentary debate indicated that this didn’t quite occur, and the transcripts confirm this fact. ■

Berkeley Political Review | 27





n 1966, the New York Times Magazine published sociologist William Petersen’s article, “Success Story, Japanese-American Style.” Petersen wrote that Japanese-Americans, despite enduring the “most discrimination and the worst injustices” of WWII-era internment, achieved great success in America “by their own almost totally unaided effort.” Petersen goes on to claim that this success was driven by the Japanese’s strong work ethic, family values, and respect for authority, while pointedly noting the lack of these same traits in African-Americans. This article introduced the “model minority” concept in American political discourse in an era of the Civil Rights Movement and the Johnson Administration’s “Great Society” programs geared towards eliminating racial injustice. Primarily citing Japanese-Americans’ higher educational attainment as emblematic of the population’s success, Petersen argued that their cultural values prevented them from becoming a “problem minority”; unsurprisingly, the study went on to be utilized by the opponents of the Civil Rights Movement, who argued that African-American communities could achieve similar success by conforming to the preexisting structure of governance and focusing on education. Hidden under the praise of high educational attainment, Petersen’s notion of the model minority embodied a minority population’s strikingly apolitical presence in America. And in fifty years of progress in racial equality, nothing much has changed for Asian-Americans. Today, the American media portrays Asian-Americans as studious and intelligent, but also socially awkward and quiescent. The math-nerd with glasses who can’t function as a normal human being around the opposite sex; the dude with a runny nose and a lisp who gets bullied by the “cool kids,” but wins math Olympiads to end up at Stanford—we all know who I’m talking about. Such comical portrayals aside, numerous studies do enumerate a prominent presence of Asian-Americans in America’s elite universities, highest median household income, as well as their lowest total arrest rates among all racial groups. Combined with the presence of segregated Asian enclaves—such as Chinatowns, Koreatowns, and Little Saigons—and a much less prominent history of political activism, these portrayals have cemented Petersen’s “model minority” into the minds of the American public. But this “positive stereotyping” has alienated the Asian-American population from the discussion of racial discrimination in America, and for predictable reasons. As evidenced by Petersen, Asian-Americans are perceived as a population without any needs for government support. One article published by the Washington Post states, “the idea that Asian-Americans are distinct among minority groups and immune to challenges faced by other people of color” has come to a prominent existence in American domestic politics. The deeply ingrained cultural perception of the model minority acts as a blanket statement for Asian-Americans who hail from over 50 nations. And when incredibly diverse groups of people are lumped together under the banner of “They’re Rich, Educated, and Successful,” poor policy implications are bound to arise. “When you break it down by specific ethnic groups, the Hmong, the Bangladeshi, they have poverty rates that rival the African-American poverty rate,” said Algernon Austin, the director of the Race, Ethnicity and the Economy Program at the Economic Policy Institute, in a 2013 interview with NPR. “Because there is a high median family income [for Asian-Americans], it’s harder to get the resources and the services to low

28 | Berkeley Political Review

income Asian-American communities.” And race-based challenges don’t end at the classroom door. Asian-American students are subject to intense verbal and physical harassment based on their appearance, school performance, and accents. In a study conducted by New York University’s Susan Rakosi Rosenbloom and Niobe Way, Asian-American students in urban high schools described experiences of racial slurs, teasing, and physical harassment—in horrendous forms such as being randomly slapped in hallways—more than other racial groups. Nevertheless, despite the simultaneous overexposure of Asian-American students to sometimes socially abusive environments and hypercompetitive academic pressures, the issue of mental health remains an invisible elephant in the room. Despite the consistent findings that Asian-Americans exhibit higher rates of depression and anxiety than their white counterparts, these symptoms often go unaddressed due to the sharp stigma and shame associated with mental illnesses. And the pressure to live up to the “model minority” stereotype is a predominant source of this shame. Asian-American students, who are viewed as immune to the struggles of racial discrimination and bias, are often under intense pressure to pretend everything is fine—to embody academic success, assimilation to American culture, calm composure, and bright futures. To be anything less is widely regarded as to be a failure, from both within and outside of the Asian-American communities. “I don’t want to rock the boat,” said one Chinese-American student at UC Berkeley. “Yes, depression and anxiety are serious issues, but [...] I have working class parents who have worked so hard to send me to college, so I can’t afford to not succeed because I have emotional problems.” Unyielding demands for excellence and an emphasis on work ethic do bring numerous Asian-American students to top elite universities. In

UC Berkeley admissions data for Fall 2015 displays a high percentage of Asian students (in green) on campus.

OPINION top public universities in California, where admissions based on racial criteria are prohibited, Asian-American students constitute a staggering percentage of the student body. But the statistics show a strikingly opposite representation of Asian-Americans in the workplace. In a 2015 article, the Economist notes “27% of professionals, 19% of managers and 14% of executives were Asian-American.” In addition, in 2014, “whereas 11% of law-firm associates were Asian, 3% of partners were.” The lack of representation continues at the top, where in the span of 14 years the number of Asian-American CEOs rose from eight to ten while “the women’s tally in the same period rose from four to 24.” The lack of representation continues in the C-suite. Even in the technology industry, in which Asians stereotypically dominate, there is a noticeable absence of Asian-Americans in the upper echelons. In 2013, Business Insider used NY Times data to list the twenty-eight highest paid CEOs of technology companies. Only one of those twenty-eight—Shantanu Narayen, the Indian-American CEO of Adobe Systems—was Asian. So where do all the Asian-American software engineers go? In her 2005 book, author and executive coach Jane Hyun first coined the term “bamboo ceiling” for this invisible barrier that stumps Asian-Americans in the workplace. A parental phrase, called the “glass ceiling,” is much more frequently used in modern political discourse as an umbrella term that affects women and various minority groups. However, despite their underrepresentation in professional realms, Asian-Americans remain soundly—and paradoxically—excluded from the modern American discourse on workplace representation. The model minority stereotype has obscured the perspective of the American public, keeping them from embracing the Asian-American struggle. Horrifying racial violence against Asian-Americans was rampant in American history, but American textbooks acknowledge practically none of it. The Chinese massacre of 1871, in which seventeen Chinese residents of Los Angeles were lynched, is practically unknown to today’s mainstream activists for racial equality. The 1982 murder of Vincent Chin, a Chinese-American man who was beaten to death in the suburb of Detroit by two white men, was not enough to remind Americans that Asians, too, have been victims of racially charged physical violence. The necessity to acknowledge, and fight against, the racial Vincent Chin. discrimination experienced by the Asian-American population does not delegitimize the magnitude and the severity of the struggles experienced by African-Americans today. Rather, it is an acknowledgement that racism exists in diverse and nuanced forms in America. Indiscriminate murder of African Americans is, indeed, a life-threatening issue that must be addressed with urgency; however, to perpetuate a stereotype that Asian-Americans are uniformly well-educated, wealthy, and free from oppression, is to perpetuate an equally dangerous disguise that hides the poverty, mental illnesses, and racial discrimination that plague Asian-American populations today. Perhaps, in order for Asian-Americans to be acknowledged as human beings—just as imperfect, struggling, and fraught as members of other races—the boat has to be rocked. ■




od is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him… Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?” ­­– Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, 1882. By pronouncing God dead and declaring us all complicit in his killing, Friedrich Nietzsche indirectly revealed the profound utility of the narrative put forth to explain our collective existence. What are we to do in the absence of an ultimate explanation for the world around us? Nietzsche found part of his answer in the copious consumption of chloral hydrates, but unless a chemically-aided descent into insanity seems ideal to you, too, perhaps his response leaves something to be desired. Rather than succumb to a similarly despondent fate, many of Nietzsche’s contemporaries sought to fill this vacuum with a modified version of this narrative. Some of us, they said, were simply extraordinary because a Supreme Being – dead, alive, or omnipresent – bestowed unique qualities and abilities upon us to make us exceptional. Part of the problem with exceptionalism is its rather ironic commonality. In Orientalism, Edward Said argued that every imperial actor imagined itself an exception – without exception. “Every single empire in its official discourse has said that it is not like all the others,” he wrote, adding that each believes its circumstances to be special, and “that it has a mission to enlighten, civilize, (and) bring order.” The end of empire did not do away with this narrative. In the midst of the mania of presidential campaigning, we are regularly reminded that America has been and will continue to be exceptional itself. While its specific terms and conditions remain up for debate, the broad contours of American exceptionalism are widely agreed upon: one nation, under God, unique by dint of its individualism and upholding of the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Exceptionalism rears its ugly head in India as well. It is often expressed through the idiom of religion, with tolerance extolled as its prime virtue -- and the ether that binds together a nation united by little else, save for an appreciation of extraordinary movie ‘heroes’ and an (objectively) excellent cricket team. To some, India’s exceptionalism lies in its tolerance of one and all, which in turn is a product of a glorious and gloriously Hindu past (and present). Others who reject the idea of Hindu superiority - and question the historical construction of the ‘Hindu’ religion itself - are more sympathetic toward an interpretation of Indian exceptionalism as a modern manifestation of the “idea of India” espoused by an avowedly secular Indian republic. Others still reject this dichotomy, and, while professing their Hindu faith, suggest that India is exceptional because of its peoples’ deep faith in democracy. Parliamentarian Shashi Tharoor offers a particularly compelling depiction of India not being a ‘melting pot’ like the US, but a ‘thali’ - or meal with several separate dishes - where many different identities co-exist because of a powerful, invisible and, of course, exceptional force. Some narratives rather explicitly transcend the boundary between the sublime and ridiculous. In multiple WTO rounds, Japanese trade officials expressed their reticence to drop barriers as a function of Japan’s own exceptionalism: rice from other countries should not be imported into Japan, they argued, because Japanese digestive systems were unique. Similarly, Eu-

Berkeley Political Review | 29

OPINION ropean ski sets would not work on the Japanese mountains, because the technological prowess required to manufacture skis that were appropriate for Japan’s unique snow could only be possessed by the Japanese themselves. These are but three variations of this narrative. The Russians, Venezuelans, and the Chinese have their own. As do the British, both before the sun could never set on their empire, and after it did. They, of course, are as exceptional as the Saudis, Germans and Pakistanis are in each of their own opinions. And, lest we forget, the Thais, Israelis, North Koreans, South Koreans, and the French, with their mission civilisatrice, are supposedly exceptional as well. If these narratives were as innocuous as they are inaccurate, their importance would not extend beyond noting their commonality with a smirk or two. However, the lens through which we view the world undoubtedly colors our impression of the world, and directly influences our action. It is essential to acknowledge that a belief in exceptionalism is necessary rooted in two unfounded beliefs: first, that our lives in this present historical moment are far superior to those of our predecessors; and secondly, that there is some infallible logic embedded within the passage of time which ensures that humankind’s path is one of continual evolution toward moral perfection. Consequently, the narrative of exceptionalism acts as a particularly debilitating pair of blinders that renders any believer unwilling and unable to confront the stark challenges posed by reality. Each narrative of exceptionalism evinces this flaw. The quasi-religious faith that every American presidential candidate has in the product of a political compromise which exhorts that “all men are created equal” elides any acknowledgment of the fact that the framers agreed to define people of a particular skin color as three-fifths of a man. It also fails to acknowledge the debilitating civil war whose resolution contributed to the amendment of that fact on paper. Furthermore, amid the specter of police brutality, economic injustice and the kind of rank ignorance displayed previously in New Orleans and currently in Flint, this notion that all are indeed equal is yet to fulfill its promise in practice. This contradiction becomes particularly poignant when leaders of the United States, armed with these 2000 words, seek to re-create the world in an idealized image of their exceptional selves, sending thousands of men and women into harm’s way in the process. Most importantly, it allows for the ahistorical criticism of proposals to ban Muslims from entering the United States as being ‘un-American’. However disturbing they may be, such proposals are not exactly inimical to the ‘values’ of a country and government that extended similar privileges to those of Japanese background following the Pearl Harbor attacks. In India, avocations of exceptional religious tolerance scrub clean the troubling history of intolerance that the country has long grappled with; one that repeatedly manifested itself in various garbs much before individuals in certain sects of society displayed their collective shock at its supposedly recent emergence. Perhaps Mr. Tharoor is correct in asserting that India is the one country in the world where the Jewish community has not been persecuted since time immemorial. This, however, is of minimal comfort to the Muslims who perished in overt displays of violence in 1947, 1992, 2002, and suffer daily from subtler forms of discrimination. Neither is it meaningful for the Hindus who perished in many of these riots - and especially to those whose own accident of birth rendered them so vile as to be untouchable for some. India’s Sikhs, too, will find minimum solace in the expression of tolerance as the driving force behind a government whose leader once tacitly endorsed the violence following the assassination of an Indian prime minister by suggesting that “when a big tree falls, the earth shakes.”

30 | Berkeley Political Review

If the troubled experiences of some in India and the United States seem too tangential to be related to the epistemic closure that comes with exceptionalist narratives, consider the case of the apocalyptic death cult currently in vogue: ISIS. However flawed their interpretation of the Quran and the Hadith may be, it is the Islamic State’s understanding of these holy texts and belief in the exceptionalism of Muslims that drives them to maim, burn and murder scores of ‘infidels’: the unexceptional who do not see the errors of their ways. So what is to be done? It is rather easy to try and type away the end of a narrative, but to do so would be to engage with the problem of exceptionalism with a similar naivete and ignorance. Such a narrative is indeed alluring, but more importantly, it speaks legitimately to the pride any individual may have in belonging to a particular group. Extolling the irrationality of this pride offers minimal analytic purchase. Indeed, each country offers ample justification for such narratives as well. America has been an unparalleled land of opportunity that has offered freedom from persecution. Apart from the cricket team whose objective excellence is worthy of reiteration, India too offers much to be proud of for its inhabitants, whether it be the strength of its democracy or its unity amid cultural and geographic diversity. Critically, however, certain voices are left out of these narratives, and further marginalized in the jingoistic expressions of exceptionalism that are weaponized by politicians the world over. Rather than accept the premise of attacks that question one’s character based on whether or not an individual believes in exceptionalism, we would all be best served by explicitly repudiating such a narrative. These are not just the idealistic musings of a kid ensconced in the Berkeley Bubble™, but the primary takeaway of the Singaporean success story; a country no one can describe as valuing idealism over pragmatism. As the nation’s deputy prime minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam stated in a 2014 interview, any success Singapore has had can be attributed to the nation’s collective willingness to recognize its decidedly mortal nature, and leave the Nietzschean playing of God and narratives of exceptionalism to others. Instead, he suggests, Singapore’s path forward has been paved by learning and adopting best practices from other nations, for everyday comfort and security are far more alluring than any metanarrative can be. In this regard, at least, perhaps we could all learn from Singapore. ■

Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay. Source:





few months ago, I had the opportunity to shadow an oncologist, a physician who treats cancer patients. From day one, he emphasized how much suffering there was in his profession, particularly in his specialty. It was sad to watch these patients agonize through chemotherapy and radiation therapy, as treatment regimens sapped their vitality. As a doctor, he had to lay out all the available options for his patients. He would give recommendations, but sometimes, he had to aggressively treat patients despite the high cost-benefit ratio because of their wishes. They just weren’t ready to accept palliative care, despite the option being on the table. Why? Answering this question is crucial to improving palliative care in the United States.

What really is palliative care? Palliative care is essentially adopting a plan of care that aims to control symptoms and provide physical, psychosocial, and spiritual support to patients as opposed to pursuing aggressive treatment that can often worsen symptoms and pain. Improving the quality of life during a time when the patient is going through health issues is a vital aspect of this type of care. There are several common misconceptions about palliative care. Many conflate “palliative care” and “hospice care.” Hospice care is certainly oriented in pain management and opted by many patients with terminal illnesses. However, palliative care can be coupled with curative treatments as well, whereas hospice care is not. It is also important to note that “endof-life care” is not the same thing as palliative care either. Another misconception is that accepting palliative care is the equivalent to “giving up” and accepting imminent death. This is certainly not true; patients simply have more control over their care and comfort and doctors will not pursue the most aggressive treatment plans, rather choosing only treatments that preserve the physical and mental comfort of patients. This is the crux of why an effective palliative care plan is so vital to the well-being of an ailing patient: patients should be able to choose the ratio of curative and symptom-alleviating care they receive.

Policy proposals – from the top down Currently, our palliative care standards and implementation are not where at a level where most patients are comfortable going with it. As a result, there is unneeded suffering in hospitals across the nation. I therefore propose a four pronged policy approach to improve palliative care standards in the U.S: Education, Research, Funding, and Standardization. Many of these recommendations, particularly in the first 3 categories, are proposed by the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC), but I also believe that Standardization is a vital component to tie all these recommendations together and ensure that everyone has equal access to palliative healthcare. First, education of both healthcare professionals and the general public is needed to ensure that there is a standard of understanding. This involves expanding the palliative care curriculum in medical schools and even undergraduate pre-medical programs. As of 2014, there is still no mandated palliative care curriculum in medical schools. End-of-life care is part of the curricula, once again illustrating the conflation of these speciously similar terms. According to a study by Horowitz, Gramling, and Quill, teaching of palliative care and end-of-life care in medical schools ranged from just a couple hours of lecture to weeks of both classroom and clinical rotations. This massive discrepancy in education is a reason why some healthcare

professionals do not feel comfortable recommending palliative measures to their patients. The CPAC recommends the establishment of educational palliative care centers to train healthcare professionals in palliative care skills. Such trainings should be made mandatory for doctors and nurses working with end-of-life patients. These trainings should also be available for medical students, undergraduate pre-medical students, and members of the general public who may want to gain expertise in this specialty to better take care of their loved ones. It is just as important to educate the general public on what palliative care is. It doesn’t take a healthcare professional to precisely define vaccine or hospice or health insurance. We need to add palliative care to that list. One way to accomplish this is to expand the role of educational palliative care centers to also work to disseminate information to the general public and correct those common misconceptions. I imagine these to be similar to vaccine informational centers, where licensed professionals hired by the government will be responsible for increasing public awareness. Education alone is not enough; palliative care needs to be optimized in both cost efficiency and efficacy in comfort care and pain management. This can be done through the support of research studies aimed at developing models of palliative care and delivery through both analyzing statistics and communication with patients and their families. Currently, we have standard treatment protocols that physicians use as guidelines for many diseases. These protocols were developed on the backs of many research studies that provided concrete data on which treatments were most effective at various stages of disease. Similar standard operating procedures should be developed for how to most effectively use palliative care to manage symptoms and pain. We need to know which diseases and at what times palliative care is most effective in terms of both prolonging life and reducing debilitating symptoms. Of course, one of the unique things about palliative care is that each patient is treated differently based on their wishes and state of being. This should not change; however, having an overarching roadmap is still nonetheless necessary for the safety of the patient. Thirdly, lack of funding on both ends of palliative care, physician and patient, needs to be addressed. Congress needs to allocate funding to improve quality and efficiency of palliative treatments. Some doctors are not comfortable with pushing for the use of palliative care not only because they are not adequately trained, but also because there is no standard that can give them the confidence to definitively say that this is the best course of action for their patient. Funding to increase the prevalence and quality of palliative care hospitals can alleviate this concern. One of the greatest issues is that often, palliative care measures are not covered by private health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid. When they are, they are often not referred to as palliative care, which not only creates unnecessary confusion, but also makes it so that not all aspects of a complete palliative care plan are covered. For example, some insurances will cover hospice care, but since by definition, hospice care does not include any curative treatments, those who want both comfort care and a measure of curative care would have to choose between the two. Fortunately, there are many insurance companies who are increasing access to palliative care. Finally, we need to synthesize research results to create standardized palliative care plans implemented across the nation. Currently, standards for palliative care programs not only vary but are also voluntary. Thus, many hospitals do not even have palliative care specialists or nurses and nurse practitioners trained in this specialty. A lack of standardization also means that patients at various hospitals will receive varying degrees of

Berkeley Political Review | 31

OPINION quality of care. Once again, standardization does not not mean that each patient with the same condition should be treated the exact same way, as this goes against the personalized methodology of palliative care. Standardization simply ensures that a minimum standard of care is met so that patients can receive the best guidance possible. For standardization to be truly effective, insurance plans need to be standardized as well. Much of palliative care is not done in the hospital, because it is a goal to keep patients at home in their normal lives as much as possible. Thus, only by mandating that insurers cover specific out of hospital care such as home visits can we have an overarching minimum standard to maximize the efficiency of palliative care. In addition, grassroots Community Based Palliative Care Centers are an effective way of providing needed services to members of the community. Such centers are beginning to form in California, but has yet to become a staple of medical care. These four main points are all interconnected so merely focusing on one or two will not improve our palliative care system much. For example, without standardization and research to optimize palliative care, insurance companies will not cover all the costs accrued in one bundle, leaving potentially uncovered parts of the treatment plan. Without education and research, we cannot standardize care plans. Without adequate funding to actually implement changes in clinic and hospital, there is little point in spending money to educate and conduct research.

Individual actions – from the bottom up Experts in this field, such as Dr. Eric Kessell of the UC Center for Health Quality and Innovation at the UC Office of the President, believe that more can be done by individuals as well. He says that “It is very important to fill out an advanced care directive and have that conversation early with your family, which can be considered as on the continuum of palliative care. You don’t have to be old to do this - it is much better to do so when you aren’t sick.” Having an advanced care directive can prevent complications from disagreements amongst family members and caregivers when one isn’t capable of decision-making anymore. This very short (5-page form for California) form can save much headache and pain down the road. This may be hard for some to have this conversation, and that’s one of the difficulties of palliative care. However, as Dr. Kessell puts it “People have a hard time inserting [such discussions] into conversation. It can be awkward to bring up, but it’s a relief to be able to know what’s expected of you [later on].” Clearly there is much individual effort concerned with implementing care consistent with individuals’ wishes and some policy should focus on encouraging this because in the long run, it will save much time, money and pain.

Why are we still getting B’s? We need to also look at underlying reasons that current efforts to improve palliative care are not producing much results. According to the CAPC, one-third of U.S. hospitals still have no palliative care services. The overall grade in palliative care services across the nation in 2015 is still the same B grade in 2011. Though a B grade in healthcare is not bad at all, according to Professor of Health Economics and Public Policy Richard Scheffler of UC Berkeley, what is troublesome is the lack of palpable improvement. Perhaps the reason that palliative care is so often frowned upon lies in the American culture of victory. The American healthcare system has always promoted pursuing aggressive and frontline treatments in order to cure diseases, not just relieve symptoms. Part of the reason is that America has generally been at the forefront of medical technology. As such, the American healthcare system has generally treated death as the worst possible outcome of a disease. The everyday rhetoric of “fighting” and “beating” cancer equates survival with victory. This becomes a problem

32 | Berkeley Political Review

in a culture where losing is so frowned upon. Is not living out one’s last days in happiness and comfort a victory in its own right? Each patient absolutely should have the choice of pursuing aggressive and experimental treatments. The issue is that they are often at an informational disadvantage because palliative care is not presented to them accurately. Oftentimes, the choice is between treatment, which will hurt and may or may not be effective, and imminent death. When there is no in between, or the in between choice is not presented accurately, the patient is the one who suffers. A shift in rhetoric is perhaps needed to fully implement effective palliative care in our healthcare system, but I believe that it can be done through increased education to correct misconceptions and public awareness. Economics is also a large part of why palliative care has not taken off in more rural parts of the country, especially across the South, where most states received a C or D grade from the CAPC. There are large start-up costs associated with implementation of palliative care programs, including expenses for trainings, facility improvements and expansions, and the hiring of licensed professionals. It is difficult to front such large sums of money without government assistance in these areas, even though in the long run, hospitals who have effective palliative care programs more than recoup start-up costs.

Past regrets but a bright future We are already doing more to advance palliative care in these areas. A PubMed search of palliative care yielded 10984 results published between 2005 and 2009 and 15827 results between 2010 and 2014. In 2015 alone there were 4356 publications on palliative care. According to the CAPC, the number of hospital-based palliative care programs has tripled between 2000 and 2010. Preeminent medical schools such as Harvard and Yale have expanded their palliative and end-of-life care curricula in recent years. My grandma passed away from pancreatic cancer at the age of 69. She spent the last few months of her life undergoing intense chemotherapy and radiation therapy. She was in constant pain and eventually passed away from treatment gone wrong. Would the last few months of her life been much happier and had she received less curative treatments and more comfort care and emotional and psychosocial support from a team of doctors who prioritized her immediate well-being? I’d be willing to bet. At the end of the day though, it’s up to the patient and immediate family to decide how much treatment the patient would like to get. However, stories like Luz Garcia’s make one wonder why palliative care is a rarity rather than the default. Luz’s husband and daughter disagreed on what lastditch measures should be taken, if any, to save her. Luz was not consulted and her husband had the power to make the decision to go ahead with immediate kidney dialysis. She tried to resist but the procedure was done anyways. She was gone within 24 hours. Had she on been on a palliative care treatment plan, this situation never would have happened. Only when the majority of the public is comfortable with the palliative care system can we begin considering making such compassionate care the norm. These improvements will go a long way in making this a reality. ■



Rohingya. Source: The New York Times.


iven the choice of exile or imprisonment, Aung San Suu Kyi chose to suffer fifteen years as a political prisoner in defiance to Myanmar’s brutal military dictatorship. The world needs more of such selfless devotion to democracy and human rights in the face of certain opposition. This November, in the first free elections in a generation, Ms. Suu Kyi’s party won a resounding majority in Parliament, giving her control of Myanmar. The world heralded the victory as a testament to the resilience of the global struggle for human rights. The election represented the storybook redemption of a woman who remained insistent on the rights of Burmese, even as she suffered harassment and detention. Unfortunately, reality can never quite fit our beloved and simple archetypes. Sometimes the virtuous hero overcomes great odds, but embodies the prejudice and indifference she sought to defeat. It’s this tendency to overlook the rough edges of our narratives of heroism that leads us to turn a blind eye to atrocity. Aung San Suu Kyi’s moral blind spot just happens to be 1.3 million Rohingya Muslims wide. The story of the Rohingya is similar to the story of many ethnically marginalized groups. Unwanted by the majority, subject to discriminatory laws, and forced into cycles of poverty, they have no place to call home. The 1982 Burmese Citizenship Law, which identifies 135 ethnic groups, intentionally fails to mention the 1.3 million Rohingya in Myanmar. In 2012, riots and violence broke out in Rakhine between Rohingya Muslims and Rakhine Buddhists, leading to hundreds of deaths. Hundreds of thousands were displaced by the conflict, but only Rohingya were forced into “internally-displaced people’s camps,” with no access to sanitation, employment, and nutrition. These camps ban the 140,000 Rohingya that they “house” from leaving; the squalid ghettos are rife with disease, violence, and crime. International aid groups are banned. Life outside the internment camps is not much better. On several occasions, regional governments have bussed young nationalists to Rohingya townships and told them that it was their “duty as Rakhine to participate in an attack on the Muslim population.” The recent refugee crisis of the “boat

people” in 2015 is symptomatic of a much larger problem; what desolation would compel so many people to board dangerous dinghies in pursuit of a better life? Killings, torture, rape and the beginnings of genocide. A report published in October 2015 by the International State Crime Initiative provides strong evidence to suggest that “the Rohingya face mass annihilation and that Myanmar is in the final stages of a genocidal process.” Leaked government documents prove the existence of an official strategy to weaken and finally eliminate the Rohingya. All but the most cynical would assume that Nobel Peace laureate, human rights activist, and now de facto leader of Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi would have a pretty clear-cut stance on the issues of Rohingya Muslims. It would seem “natural” that the woman who spent several decades of her life imprisoned for human rights would speak out against the systemic violence her government is perpetrating. They would be wrong. Our concept of what is “natural” is wrong. Ms. Suu Kyi flatly refuses to condemn the targeted violence perpetrated against Rohingya; her silence on the issue can only be taken as complicity given her influence in Myanmar. She has told the press repeatedly that she is not sure whether Rohingya can be Burmese, and her party refused to select Muslim candidates for the 1,151 seats they contested. Days after the recent election, a spokesperson for Aung San Suu Kyi stated that the “Rohingya are not our priority,” that they were “illegal immigrants,” and thus not a Burmese problem. There is little to suggest that her government will halt the state-sponsored violence against the Rohingya. It is unclear whether Ms. Suu Kyi supports the persecution of Rohingya or if there is another motive behind her stance. Many of her defenders argue for the political necessity of the ambiguous position she had taken. Buddhist nationalists represent a large part of the electorate and alienating them would be devastating, they contend. But that would miss the point. A targeted, systemic form of violence is being perpetrated. No amount of political popularity can justify that, especially from a Nobel Peace Prize winner known for her iron will. Heroism is standing up for others, not yourself. But who said Ms. Suu Kyi was a hero? Us. It was not Ms. Suu Kyi who awarded herself the Nobel. She did not plaster herself on the covers of TIME, the Economist, or the Wall Street Journal. What appears to be Ms. Suu Kyi’s humanitarian contradiction is actually our own. Twenty-four years ago, the Nobel Committee was so ready to “to honour this woman for her unflagging efforts and to show its support for the many people throughout the world who are striving to attain democracy, human rights and ethnic conciliation by peaceful means.” The irony needs no explanation. The irony could be amusing if it wasn’t so dishearteningly insightful. A Nobel Laureate presiding over concentration camps. The Nobel is seemingly reserved for those humans that embody something that the rest of us don’t. It’s something almost supernatural that allows them to transcend race, creed, and sexuality to fight injustice wherever it exists. We can sleep at night knowing that these “unflagging” superhumans exist to do what we’d rather not. So instead of waking up and doing something about an imminent genocide, in say, Myanmar, we can coronate a new defender of justice every 10th of December. Unfortunately, the aforementioned individuals don’t exist in reality. Our collective conscience is so ready to find somebody to embody the archetype of the ultimate humanitarian, that we forget that they too are imperfect humans, with their own egos, aspirations, and prejudices. For a mortal human, Ms. Suu Kyi’s politically-motivated decision to refrain from speaking out against violence could be expected, so why is this case any different? Aung San Suu Kyi is neither superhuman nor a monster. She is an accomplished human whose indifference to the Rohingya is particularly clear. In the story of good versus evil, good may be just a little less good than we thought. ■ Berkeley Political Review | 33


North Korea’s Nuclear Program A BLESSING IN DISGUISE?



n January 7th, 2016, North Korea announced that it had just conducted its first successful test of the hydrogen bomb, a weapon estimated to have the destructive power of 9 kilotons of TNT. World leaders protested the tests in unison. Brazil said that the situation was cause for “great concern,” Russia condemned the nuclear tests as “a threat to national security,” and the U.S. promised to “respond to provocations”. Yet what should the U.S. response be? Since North Korea left the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons in 2003, the countries of the international community have condemned the nation hundreds of times. Yet every time, it seems like nothing is done until North Korea tests more advanced weapons, which causes a new cycle of condemnations to ensue. Sanctions and military bases can only do so much. As technology progresses, it will only become easier for North Korea to build a nuclear weapon capable of striking the U.S. Permanent solutions, not delay tactics, are needed in North Korea. The best solution is overthrowing the Kim regime of North Korea through mutual compromise with China. In this scenario, the US withdraws its military presence from the South, China stops supporting the North, and South Korea unifies the peninsula as a neutral state. This solution will end the region’s nuclear fears and may bring democracy and prosperity to North Korea, perhaps in the same way reunification benefitted East Germany. Historically, China has been reluctant to agree to this compromise. However, North Korea’s nuclear program has made the status quo increasingly unbearable for the Chinese, and Beijing has made it clear that it is open to negotiations. Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s young leader, has repeatedly disobeyed China’s orders to cease his nuclear program, and has (understandably) yet to visit Beijing. As North Korea poses a larger and larger threat to the region, the benefits of allowing the Kim regime to collapse are beginning to outweigh the risks. Xi Jinping, China’s president, has begun to openly side with South Korea. In July 2014, for example, Xi Jinping visited the South before he visited the North. At the China-South Korea summit, the leaders of the two countries “affirmed their support for a nuclear-free Korean peninsula and the ongoing free trade agreement negotiations”. With China pursuing closer relations with the South, it’s the perfect opportunity to strike a deal with China and take down the Kim regime. But the benefits of a potential joint US-China operation to overthrow Kim extends far beyond just the Korean peninsula. At the moment, U.S. bases in South Korea, (mere minutes of missile flight time away from Beijing) represent a dagger pressed against the throat of China. This is not the context that 21st century U.S.-China relations should develop in. A US-China operation removing Kim will require the two Countries to work together to destroy a regional threat: a valuable experience that will set the tone for a future of cooperation instead of confrontation. At the same time, the Korean peninsula has historically been a powder keg in China-US relations. Ousting Kim will end a serious point of contention between the two superpowers. Thus, 2016 presents a unique opportunity that cannot be ignored. China has turned against the Kim regime at the moment, but the future is uncertain. Maybe Kim, the prodigal son, will realize how undesirable his current situation is and make peace with Beijing. Perhaps China, threatened by Kim, will attempt a solo mission to take out the young dictator and put a

34 | Berkeley Political Review

Kim Jong Un, the North Korean head of state, inspects a schematic for implosion nuclear bombs with scientists. Source: Rodong Sinmun.

new family in power; an action that at best will create a new Chinese puppet state, and at worst, plunge the country into chaos and leave North Korea’s nuclear weapons vulnerable to the wrong hands. Finally, and most likely, the status quo will remain and North Korea will develop yet more powerful weapons. Once Kim has bombs hidden in dozens of locations throughout the country’s mountains, it will be too late to topple him by force. Although North Korea’s nuclear program has been condemned by leaders all over the world, it has also opened up a unique opportunity. Kim’s nuclear threats is shifting China’s position, making compromise and cooperation between the U.S. and China possible. It will not be easy, but a joint China, U.S., and South Korea effort to topple Kim Jong Un and unify Korea will bring long-term benefits to the region and the world as a whole. ■




arch 2014: I’m at Seattle’s We Day, the flashy event celebrating youth public service that happens in stadiums in various big cities every spring. The heavily choreographed event fills Key Arena with cheering teenagers and flashing lights. I’m on a panel moderated by musician Joe Jonas, who reads questions off a teleprompter. I feel a strange pressure to say things that garner applause--which means staying light, upbeat, simple, saying happy things in the guise of “empowerment” that don’t critique, observe, upset. The questions are easy. They have to do with personal achievements, what had “lit my spark,” how I’d found “success.” I stay painfully conscious of the fact that the questions are meant to be answered in “approx. 15-30 seconds.” A lot can be done in 15-30 seconds; thoughtful and thorough analysis of a real issue is not one of them. A statement like “Follow your passion,” though, is. When I directed a youth event in high school, we had an informal rule for our speakers: don’t say the words “Follow your passion.” We expected our conference’s audience of peers to be as jaded as we were about hearing that phrase, made trite by overuse in every assembly with a motivational speaker, every over-cheerful poster or card. Phrases of fluffy optimism are delightfully non-committal, by way of being non-specific. There is no cost-benefit analysis of the consequences of following certain passions versus others. There is no scale, or even quality, specified for the impact. Yet somehow, We Day manages to make this ethos of well-intentioned platitudes desirable. It’s desirable enough to make a lot of money. The Kielburger brothers, who founded Free the Children, also founded the for-profit social enterprise Me to We, which sells a variety of apparel and accessories on its online store--and at We Day events. At Key Arena, volunteers (looking discomfortingly reminiscent of hot dog vendors at a baseball game) go roving through the aisles carrying baskets of merchandise with straps on their necks. They make quick work of selling We Day-branded trinkets. When I go outside there are T-shirts for sale, too, at booths that look like concert merch stands. I see people taking selfies together in shirts that say things like “Change the World” and “Be the Change.” I wonder if a more apt slogan for this milieu might be “Buy the Change.” After all, this ethos of good intentions and oversimplification ultimately presents the tantalizing possibility that you, too, can be a participant in the grand dream of social good. It used to be that only the very rich could be philanthropists. To grow up in America is to be surrounded by ghosts of magnates of industry--we walk on streets and go to schools and visit art museums that all bear their names. But now we live with a different beast: consumer humanitarianism. Few of us are Carnegies, but all of us are consumers. The prospect of “doing good” just by buying things democratizes our aspirations, so that even the middle-class students of Seattle-area public schools can dream of changing the world as they pay $30 for a T-shirt. It is the seductive whisper of consumer humanitarianism that allows us to fall for its gleaming promise, that we can simply buy the world we want to see. The Me to We online store even says as much: “Wear your passion for changing the world” on the front page, “Give a better world” on another. But are they wrong? People love TOMS Shoes. It seems like every other person pitching on ABC’s Shark Tank has a social good spin on

their company. I’m glad to see that social enterprises are raising awareness of important issues and generally bringing deprivation and poverty in the world to a more prominent place in public consciousness. Here’s the problem: the well-intentioned platitudes of events like We Day, and the ethos of consumer humanitarianism, can make it seem like poverty eradication or education access or a thousand other issues are really easy to solve. In her blog post “The Problem With Little White Girls (And Boys): Why I Stopped Being a Voluntourist,” Pippa Biddle wrote this of her private school’s service trip abroad: “Our mission while at the orphanage was to build a library. Turns out that we [...] were so bad at the most basic construction work that each night the men had to take down the structurally unsound bricks we had laid and rebuild the structure so that, when we woke up in the morning, we would be unaware of our failure.” Shoddy construction work is the least of the potential problems that can arise when people without requisite qualifications decide they can go into a situation and “fix” things. Sending boatloads of the cast-off clothing of the Global North to impoverished areas can decimate local clothing industries. Who would buy clothes from local manufacturers if they could get the equivalent quality for free? Moreover, there are long-term effects of NGOs having widening presence and power in developing countries that will never get discussed in a We Day event. Consider the potential for NGOs conducting services typically assumed to be government responsibilities (e.g., water, electricity, healthcare, sanitation, etc.) to “crowd out” government, decreasing its accountability to citizens and de-incentivizing it from providing needed services. These are not reasons to stop giving to your favorite charity or grow suddenly cynical that no efforts anywhere will make the world a better place. But uneducated actors can have unintentionally negative impacts, and blaring feel-good messages about social good that simply try to increase the number of uneducated actors without educating are doing the world a disservice. I wish for a We Day that invited people like my amazing professors at Berkeley to come speak, not just a lineup of sports coaches and rockstars told to answer questions in 15-30 second soundbites. Ultimately, there’s also something repulsive about the idea that consumerism can make a better world. India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, once said, “there was no lack of violence and suppression in the capitalist world, and I realized more and more how the very basis and foundation of our acquisitive society and property was violence.” The senseless purchasing of things we don’t need is rooted in a violent social and economic structure that it does absolutely nothing to challenge. Our frenetic cycle of making and buying and throwing away, regardless of what saintly goals for social good we tack onto it, bleeds our planet dry. It also makes us poorer inside: the consumerist bent of social good means binding our dreams to the pedestrian confines of material goods. Put simply, it makes it so we think in terms of things: “let me buy more things here, so that they can have more things over there”--instead of in terms of institutions, relationships, or ideals. It’s a good thing that so many people, all the bright-eyed students who I saw at We Day, want to change the world for the better. I’m just hazarding a guess that true change is usually woven with threads more transcendent and ethereal than the ones in $30 “Change the World” shirts. ■

Berkeley Political Review | 35


Berkeley Political Review

Join UC Berkeley’s only nonpartisan political journal Open Positions Writing





Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.