Drake Political Review
Spring 2019 | volume 5 | Issue 2
The problem with prison privtization If prisoners broke laws set forth by the government, why are they in prisons controlled by private entities?
Voting rights: Who Has them and where?
With different voting laws being put into action, Iowan voters will be facing a lot of new changes. With some earning the right to vote for the first time, to those facing new roadblocks to go out and vote.
A government left stalemate
Partisan divides have always been part of American politics and the longest government shutdown in U.S. history shows just how strong the gridlock can become.
2 | Spring 2019
LETTER FROM THE
I never applied to be a part of Drake Political Review. It sort of came to me, reluctantly, when a position needed filled. At the time, I was avoiding politics like the plague, afraid of saying the wrong thing or drawing a line between myself and the wrong person. I took the position to help a friend but as soon as I got involved I realized Drake Political Review was something truly worthwhile. Drake Political Review was founded on a simple idea and there’s a reason why we’ve stuck with it. Politics may be complex and nuanced and even scary but what outweighs those cons are the dynamic and essential and potentially life-changing qualities. Political opinion is no longer about one platform over another where the argument and results take place far from your day to day life. It’s about things that matter, things that impact us and our loved ones, and things we want to talk about. At Drake Political Review, we strive to provide you with reliable insight on the most current issues in politics each semester. Earlier this year, the United States came back from the longest government shutdown in our history, so we looked at what can, and has, caused the government to close its doors. We evaluated voter rights and accessibility in Iowa, both for felons who have completed their sentences and for students who face difficulty finding a polling place. And we discussed the conditions of privatized prisons and the strange relationship that allows them to
Editor-in-Chief Haley Hodges
operate. We hope to give you a balanced and non-partisan look on the people, policy, and social issues facing us locally, nationally, and worldwide both with stories hitting the headlines and those that get passed over in the bustle of constant news. We can’t cover it all but we aim to give readers a quick look at some of the most important politically charged issues facing the world today. Whether it’s new information or a fresh look at something you already know a lot about, we encourage you to take time to learn, engage, and act meaningfully so that political topics don’t have to be something to avoid but rather, something to share. This may be my last semester working on Drake Political Review but being a part of something that encourages me to learn about, engage in, and discuss political topics has been essential to me, not only as a student, but as a young adult, as an active citizen, and as a voter. As Editor-in-Chief, it’s my job to learn these stories inside and out and can’t expect that every reader does the same but hopefully, something makes you want to fulfill our mission. So, whether this is your first time reading, last time picking up the magazine, or somewhere in between, turn the page and let’s talk politics.
Art Director Lila Johnson
Assistant Art Director Nick Ellis
Staff editors Elena Hildebrandt Rachel Trbovic Sarah Ball Allyson Miller
Alina Dorion Sarah Herring Catie Wiltanger Emma Brustkern Lauren Selfridge Julie Uram Peyton Maulsby Emily Wilcox Abby Lashbrook Holly Santman Carson J.S. Reichardt Kasey Springsteen Lorien MacEnulty
Haley Hodges Editor-in-Chief
Aubin Murphy Emily Hanna
Drake Political Review | 3
TABLE OF CONTENTS PEOPLE
18 6 12 19 9 14 10 16 20 Voting rights: who has them and where
Celebrating 50 years for student rights and freedom of speech
A womAn for president?
With different voting laws being put into action, Iowan voters will be facing a lot of new changes. With some earning the right to vote for the first time, to those facing new roadblocks to go out and vote.
A record-number of women are running for president in 2020. What are the challenges that they may face?
School strike for climate change
A politicianâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s dirty laundry
From Sweden to Des Moines, youth activists are growing the conversation on climate action.
Scandals and problematic pasts are ending careers for politicians nationally.
Anyone can be president
The United States is seeing a rise in political candidates without political backgrounds
supreme court justices
Supreme court justices play an integral role in American politics but few know much about these nine men and women.
Super villian politics
Motives of supervillains have historical precedent in past and present political ideologies.
Bulldog abroad: the power of panama A long-term drought in Central America causes a big dam problem in Panama.
Based on breed
the problem with prison privtization
26 34 28 37 21 22 31 38 24 32 40 The city of Des Moines and many other municipalities consider pit bulls to be “high-risk animals” based on appearance rather than individual behavior.
Impeachment: What it is and isn’t The path to impeachment is narrow and rarely traveled, but what exactly does it look like?
A government left stalemate
Partisan divides have always been part of American politics and the longest government shutdown in U.S. history shows just how strong the gridlock can become.
If prisoners broke laws set forth by the government, why are they in prisons controlled by private entities?
and the award goes to.... Actors and actresses are taking a stand while they take the stage in Hollywood.
Electoral College With opponents of the electoral college on the rise, people wonder if it will ever be abolished.
bulldog abroad: Brexit breakdown
Nearly three years after the initial Brexit vote and the UK, the EU, and spectators alike still don’t know what to expect.
Venezuela by the numbers The crisis in Venezuela has been mounting for the past several years as President Nicolas Maduro has led the country through the worst economic crisis in almost all of Latin American history.
Politics in an internet age The rise of memes and misinformation in today’s political world.
Socialism: More than a cow analogy While political ideologies can be described by what happens to your cows, a more in-depth look may help break down what socialism actually is
A spread in misinformation has lead to a spread of preventable diseases in the United States. What do these outbreaks mean?
Voting Rights: Who Has Them and Where? BY RACHEL TRBOVIC
fter the 2010 election, state lawmakers nationwide started introducing hundreds of harsh measures that make it harder to vote. The new laws range from strict photo ID requirements to early voting cutbacks or registration restrictions. Since then, 25 states have put in place new restrictions — 14 states have more restrictive voter ID laws in place, 12 have laws making it harder for citizens to register, seven cut back on early voting opportunities, and three made it harder to restore voting rights for people with past criminal convictions. Iowa’s voting policy has seesawed in the last several years. The state generally banned people with previous criminal convictions from voting. In 2005, after an advocacy effort by the Brennan Center and others, thengovernor, Democrat Tom Vilsack, issued an executive order that automatically restored voting rights to felons who had completed their sentences. That executive order was reversed in 2011 by Vilsack’s Republican successor, Terry Branstad, who mandated a lengthy application process for former felons
6 | Spring 2019
With different voting laws being put into action, Iowan voters will be facing a lot of new changes. With some earning the right to vote for the first time, to those facing new roadblocks to go out and vote.
with decisions at the discretion of the governor. Branstad streamlined the application process in 2016, but a low number of returning citizens in Iowa – 88 since Republican Kim Reynolds became governor in early 2017 – have actually seen their voting rights restored. In late 2016, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled to uphold the state’s voting ban, saying it did not violate the state’s constitution. The plaintiff in the ban’s challenge, Kelli Griffin, had been charged with perjury connected to illegal voting in 2013. She had completed five years of probation for a drugrelated crime and had been eligible to vote under Vilsack’s executive order. Unbeknownst to her, the reversal of that order had also reversed her eligibility. However, on March 28, 2019, the Iowa House of Representatives voted in favor of a constitutional amendment that would automatically restore voting rights to Iowans with felony convictions after they complete their sentence. Gov. Reynolds made this a priority and has been advocating for the amendment. “Today’s strong bipartisan vote is a victory for Iowans who deserve a second
chance,” Reynolds said in a statement on the day of the vote. “This is something that I and many members of my caucus have been talking about, filing bills about, and working towards for many years now,” said Rep. Mary Wolfe, D-Clinton. Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton, managed the resolution in the House. He said people who have paid their debt to society should have the right to vote. By doing this at least 52,000 disenfranchised Iowans – about 2 percent of the state’s population – including nearly 7,000 AfricanAmericans will regain the right to vote, according to 2016 data from the Sentencing Project. Iowa is one of two remaining states, along with Kentucky, that permanently disenfranchises returning citizens unless the governor approves their individual appeals. In November, Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment that will restore voting rights to as many as 1.4 million residents with a past criminal conviction. But a Senate committee on April 10th, refused to advance a bill taking the first
step toward allowing Iowans to decide whether to automatically restore voting rights to felons who have completed their criminal sentences. Sen. Brad Zaun, R-Urbandale, was among those who refused to move the measure forward. “It’s not the end of the world,” he said. “This is a long process.” The GOP is doing its best to ensure that giving voters the opportunity to amend the state constitution is an especially long process — or perhaps will never happen. The Senate committee’s failure to act was also an insult to Gov. Kim Reynolds, who has said restoring rights is one of her top priorities. Now it’s time to see if Reynolds is serious about not giving up. Because restoring rights does not have to be a long process. It doesn’t require legislative action or amending the constitution. The governor can sign an executive order restoring voting rights for felons who are not incarcerated. She has an opportunity to show she can be an independent leader who is not being held back by her political party. As prisoners fight to gain their right to vote in Iowa, college students will be finding it more difficult to vote this year.
? ? ? Now students at Iowa’s public universities will not be allowed to vote early on campus under a wide-ranging election bill that advanced in the Iowa Senate on the week of March 7th. The expansive measure would also make changes to other state election laws. Should it become law, the bill would shorten the number of hours polling places are open on Election Day, require absentee ballots to be delivered by the time the polls close, and require a county’s property tax information to be included on the ballot for bond measures. One of the bill’s provisions would also prevent satellite voting locations from being set up “in any state-owned building.” Critics say this unfairly targets the state’s three public universities — University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and University of Northern Iowa — while allowing private schools to continue to provide satellite voting opportunities on campus. Those who voted at the University of Iowa sites in the last two elections tended to be overwhelmWingly Democratic. “I’m not sure why we are making that kind of distinction. It seems to be a bit discriminatory,” said Sen. Pam Jochum, D-Dubuque. Sen. Roby Smith, R-Davenport, who chaired the Senate State Government
Committee that approved the measure on a party-line vote on March 8th, said the bill provides uniformity to elections in Iowa because some counties have more state-owned buildings than others. Democrats say the bill would prohibit satellite voting at community colleges, but Smith says those institutions would not be affected. Smith said there are a variety of other ways for people to vote aside from an on-campus satellite location, like at a county courthouse or auditor’s office, via absentee ballot or at their polling place on Election Day. “They can still have satellite voting just right off campus,” Smith said. Travis Weipert, the Democrat auditor in Johnson County, said satellite voting sites on the University of Iowa’s campus give students a convenient opportunity to register and vote early instead of adding to the long lines on Election Day. Weipert said his office also runs a satellite voting site at a universityowned hospital building, which he called “one of our biggest turnout sites.” That location would also be nixed if the bill becomes law. “There’s no rhyme or reason to take that away from the folks there,” Weipert said. “We’re providing a service
Drake Political Review | 7
to them so that they can vote.” Between the hospital and the Iowa Memorial Union, Johnson County saw 2,284 people vote early at a university building in the 2018 general election. 35 percent were Democrats, 8 percent were Republicans, and the remainder were Green Party, Libertarian Party, or had no party affiliation. In 2016, 4,329 people voted early at a University of Iowa satellite voting site. Of those voters, 56 percent were Democrats, 13 percent were Republicans, and the rest were no party or other voters Taylor Blair, president of the Iowa State University College Democrats, called early voting on campus “a huge blessing for students.” “We have crazy schedules. Like everyone else in the world we have classes, we have work. And people can just run over there and vote,” Blair said. Blair said just that under 1,900 people voted early on Iowa State’s campus in the 2018 election and about 3,140 voted early in 2016. Blair is one of the plaintiffs suing the state over a 2017 voter identification law, which he argues violates sections of the Iowa Constitution. “I already feel like we’re fighting for our lives out here just to have Americans be able to vote, specifically young people, and I read this just screaming inside because it’s even worse,” Blair said of the Senate bill. “It’s explicitly targeting students.” But not all students are finding problems with this election bill, hoping it will give better estimates of voter turnouts in Iowa. Kyle Apple, chair of the University of Iowa College Republicans, said there are parts of the bill he likes and parts that he would like to see amended. Apple was surprised to see the provision about
8 | Spring 2019
prohibiting satellite voting at stateowned buildings. “I had never really heard a problem with the location of it until now so that just kind of struck me as odd,” Apple said. He said he doesn’t believe the bill is intended to be discriminatory but he would like to see all colleges and universities treated the same. “I do think for the consistency of things the bill should either prevent all schools from hosting satellite locations or allow all schools to,” Apple said. If the bill becomes law, students at the three public universities would also be asked to fill out a form when they graduate, notifying the Iowa Secretary of State whether they plan to move out of Iowa or remain in the state. If leaving Iowa, the graduates would be removed from the voter rolls, with the exception of absentee military voters. Smith said the form would help clean up the state’s voter rolls. Students staying in Iowa would have the option of providing their new addresses so they could re-register, he said. “If they’re moving back home or moving to a new community, they can put their new address on there, they can get updated right away and then they’re ready to vote for the next election,” Smith said. Weipert said there’s already a process in place to cancel someone’s registration if they register to vote in another state. “It just seems weird to entice students to get their names off the voter rolls,” Weipert said. Apple said he supports that part of the bill, but would like to see it applied equally to all colleges and universities.
“Having students self-report that information is easier than the secretary of state’s office having to go and find it themselves when they’re cleaning up the voter rolls,” he said. No groups are registered in favor of the bill. Several organizations are opposed, including the Iowa State Association of County Auditors and the League of Women Voters of Iowa. Other groups are undecided. Amy Campbell, a lobbyist for the League of Women Voters, said the state is still implementing the last big change to Iowa election law — the 2017 voter ID measure. That law still faces a pair of legal challenges. “We’re still educating people to that,” Campbell said. “It’s still being implemented so I think another big batch of changes might cause confusion right now.”
SCHOOL STRIKE FOR CLIMATE CHANGE From Sweden to Des Moines, youth BY ALINA DORION activists are growing the conversation on climate action.
want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.” This was the statement posed by 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg during her speech at the Davos World Economic Forum in Jan. 2019. Since then, Thunberg has inspired thousands around the world to join her in School Strike for Climate, a campaign for climate action. Thunberg started the strike movement in Aug. 2018, calling on Sweden to do more in terms of climate action. Thunberg’s original plan was to strike until the Swedish election. When no further climate action came after the election, however, she continued to strike, using the hashtag #FridaysforFuture. Through social media, Thurnberg’s story spread and the strike grew. First, the movement traveled from Sweden to the rest of Europe and has since spread to nearly 100 countries. Among increasingly dire environmental reports, thousands of students have taken to the streets, walking out from schools to demand climate action. In Minnesota, student activist Maddy Fernands has led her own #FridaysforFuture effort. As one of the leaders of the youth climate strike movement in the United States, Fernands said that youth see the urgency, which is why they’re turning out in big numbers. “This is a crisis. It should be addressed as a crisis. We should not delay it, or have any concessions on this issue. We *Base image of protest sign was sourced from Wikipedia commons
can’t compromise with climate change,” “Climate change is an existential threat Fernands said. “Although the timeline to human civilization,” Bailey said. “It’s just is dire…we still have the ability to avoid basic physics: you put more carbon dioxide 2-degree Celsius warming and the worst into the atmosphere and it warms the planet impacts of climate change.” and that has all kinds of consequences: rising Strikes continued with a global seas, and more extreme weather events, movement on Mar. 15. Lydia Pesek, 14, of coastal erosion and ocean acidification. I Ankeny, Iowa, lead a local strike in Des don’t know how to make a more powerful Moines. Pesek was inspired to act when argument than that for people getting she saw one of Thunberg’s speeches on involved in [climate action].” Instagram and saw other young people Government action is also incredibly getting involved. important, Bailey said. He urges people to “If everyone has the mindset that support current climate action legislation somebody else will do it, then nobody like Iowa’s Energy Innovation and Carbon will,” Pesek said. “And we have 11 years left Dividend Act (H.R.763), which has before climate change is no longer able to bipartisan support. stop, so we need to take action right now Calls for action will continue. Canada and pay attention to our has a youth climate strike environment. Our future “The one thing we need planned for May 3 and is just as important as any another global strike more than hope is action,” is planned for Sept. 27, generation before us.” Matthew Bailey, Bailey said. U.S. youth Thurnberg said. “Once founder of The Plant activists are also planning Sync, an organization that we start to act, hope is to speak at the UN climate promotes climate change summit in September, everywhere.” action through gardening Fernands said. The goal is in Des Moines, has been striking at the to vary methods of action to keep people’s Iowa State Capitol since January. attention. And, as Thunberg said in her Bailey is part of a team of adults helping TEDx Stockholm talk, action is the most student leaders in the U.S., though he important thing. emphasized that students are the ones “The one thing we need more than hope leading the charge. Bailey has degrees is action,” Thurnberg said. “Once we start in biology, plant biotechnology and crop to act, hope is everywhere.” genetics. When he saw how climate change was progressing - and how climate action wasn’t - he decided to act.
Drake Political Review | 9
Supreme Court Jusitices
8 6 4
BY SARAH HERRING
Supreme court justices play an integral role in American politics but few know much about these nine men and women.
Justice John G. Roberts Jr., 2005:
Justice Roberts serves as Chief Justice of the United States. He took his seat on the Supreme Court on September 29, 2005 and represents the District of Columbia Circuit, Fourth Circuit, and the Federal Circuit. He was appointed as Chief Justice of the United States by President George W. Bush. Roberts earned his A.B. in 1976 from Harvard College and he earned his J.D. in 1979 from Harvard Law School. After graduation from Harvard Law School, he worked for Judge Henry J. Friendly of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit as a law clerk from 1979 to 1980. In 1980 he served for the former Associate Justice William H. Rehnquist of the United States Supreme Court as a law clerk. Roberts then worked for the United States Department of Justice from 1981 to 1982 as Special Assistant to the Attorney General. Later, Roberts worked as Associate Counsel to President Ronald Reagan, White House Counselâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Office, and returned to the Justice Department from 1989 to 1993 as Principal Deputy Solicitor General. In 2003, Roberts was appointed to serve at the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
10 | Spring 2019
Justice Clarence Thomas, 1991:
Justice Clarence Thomas took his seat on the Supreme Court on October 23, 1991 and serves for the Eleventh Circuit. He went to Conception Seminary from 1967 to 1968 and later went to Holy Cross College and received his A.B., cum laude in 1971. He earned his J.D. in 1974 from Yale Law School. From 1974 to 1977 Thomas served as Missouriâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Assistant Attorney General. After he worked for Monsanto Company as an attorney for two years. From 1979 to 1981 he worked as a Legislative Assistant to Senator John Danforth and served as the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights. He then served as Chairman of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission from 1982 to 1990. The following year Thomas was a Judge for the United States Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia Circuit. Thomas was nominated by President George H. W. Bush. He was narrowly confirmed as a result testimony from lawyer Anita Hill on allegations of sexual assault. Her hearing was public before the Senate Judiciary Committee as she testified that her former employer, Clarence Thomas, had sexually harassed her.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 1993:
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was nominated to serve as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton. She took her seat on the Supreme Court on August 10, 1993 and is for the Second Circuit. Ginsberg went to Cornell University to earn her B.A., attended Harvard Law School and received her LL.B. from Columbia Law School. From 1959 to 1961 Ginsburg worked as a law clerk for Edmund L. Palmieri and she then worked as a research associate for the associate director of Columbia Law School Project on International Procedure from 1961 to 1963. From 1963 to 1980 Ginsburg was a professor at Rutgers University School of Law from 1963 to 1972. She then taught at Columbia Law School from 1972 to 1980. Ginsberg was a fellow at Stanford at the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Science from 1977 to 1978. She served as the ACLUâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s General Counsel from 1973 to 1980 and worked on the National Board of Directors from 1974 to 1980. In 1980 she became a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia Circuit.
Justice Stephen G. Breyer, 1994:
Justice Stephen G. Breyer became an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on August 3, 1994. He was nominated by President Bill Clinton serving for the First Circuit. Breyer went to Stanford University for his A.B., received his B.A. from Magdalen College, and went to Harvard Law School to earn his LL.B. In 1964 Breyer worked as a law clerk for Justice Arthur Goldberg and as a Special Assistant to the Assistant U.S. Attorney General for Antitrust from 1965 to 1967. In 1973 he was an Assistant Special Prosecutor of the Watergate Special Prosecution Force. He worked as a Special Counsel of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee from 1974 to 1975 and then worked as Chief Counsel of the Committee from 1979 to 1989. Breyer worked at Harvard Law School from 1967 to 1994 as an Assistant Professor, Professor of Law and Lecturer and was a Professor at the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government from 1977 to 1980. He was also a Visiting Professor at the College of Law in Sydney, Australia and the University of Rome. Breyer was a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit from 1980 to 1990 and would later become the Chief Judge from 1990 to 1994. He was also a member of the Judicial Conference from 1990 to 1994 and was a member of the United States Sentencing Commission from 1985 to 1989.
Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., 2006:
Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. was nominated by President George W. Bush to be an Associate Justice. He took his seat on the Supreme Court on January 31, 2006 and is for the Third Circuit. Alito earned his A.B. in 1972 from Princeton University and his J.D. from Yale Law School in 1975. Alito was a law clerk from 1967 to 1977 for Leonard I. Garth of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. From 1977 to 1981 Alito was Assistant U.S. Attorney District of New Jersey and Assistant to the Solicitor General of the U.S. Department of Justice from 1981 to 1985. He worked as Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the U.S. Department of Justice from 1985 to 1987 and from 1987 to 1990 he was U.S. Attorney of the District of New Jersey. In 1990 he was appointed to serve the Third Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, 2009
Justice Sonia Sotomayor was nominated to serve as an Associate Justice by President Barack Obama. She took her seat on the Supreme Court on May 26, 2009 for the Sixth Circuit. Sotomayor went to Princeton University to earn her B.A. and graduated summa cum laude in 1976. She then earned her J.D. from Yale Law School
in 1979 and worked as an editor of the Yale Law Journal. From 1979 to 1984 Sotomayor worked in the New York County District Attorneyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Office as Assistant District Attorney. She worked at Pavia & Harcourt as an associate and later partner from 1984 to 1992. She was nominated by President George Bush to serve on the U.S. District Court on Southern District of New York in 1991. Then from 1998 to 2009, she worked as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second District.
Justice Elena Kagan, 2010:
Justice Elena Kagan was nominated by President Barack Obama to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. She took her seat on the bench on August 7, 2010 and represents the Ninth Circuit. Kagan earned her A.B. in 1981 from Princeton, her M.Phil. in 1983 from Oxford, and then went on to receive her J.D. in 1986 from Harvard Law School. From 1986 to 1987 Kagan worked for Judge Abner Mikva of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit as a clerk. She then worked as a clerk for Justice Thurgood Marshall in 1987. She was a law professor at the University of Chicago Law School and Harvard Law School. She served as an Associate Counsel to President Bill Clinton for four years and as Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy. President Barack Obama nominated her as Solicitor General of the United States in 2009.
Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, 2017:
Justice Neil M. Gorsuch was nominated by President Donald Trump to be Associate Justice. He took his seat on the Supreme Court on April 10, 2017 and is for Eight Circuit. Gorsuch earned his B.A. from Columbia, completed his F.D. from Harvard Law School, and went to Oxford University to earn his D. Phil. He worked for Judge David B. Sentelle of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit as a clerk. Then worked as a law clerk for Justice Anthony S. Kennedy of the Supreme Court and Justice Byron White. Gorsuch then worked at a private practice from 1995 to 2005. Gorsuch worked at the U.S. Department of Justice as Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General then was appointed to serve the United State Court of Appeals to the Tenth Circuit. He was chairman of the Advisory Committee on Rules of Appellate Procedure and was on the Standing Committee on Rules for Practice and Procedure of the U.S. Judicial Conference.
Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, 2018:
Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh was nominated by President Donald Trump. He took his seat on the Supreme Court on October 6, 2018 and represents the Seventh Circuit. Kavanaugh went to Yale College to earn his B.A. in 1987 and then went to Yale Law School to earn his J.D. in 1990. He then worked for Judge Walter Stapleton of the U.S. Court of Appeals of the Third Circuit as a law clerk from 1990 to 1991. He then clerked for Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals from 1991 to 1992 and then he clerked for Justice Anthony M. Roberts of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1993. Kavanaugh served as an attorney in for the Office of Solicitor General of the United States from 1992 to 1993 and worked as Associate Counsel in the Office of Independent Counsel from 1994 to 1998. He was a partner in a law firm from 1997 to 1998 and from 1999 to 2001. Kavanaugh was Associate Counsel and later Senior Associate Counsel to President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2003. He then worked for President George W. Bush as Assistant to the President and Staff Secretary. In 2006 Kavanaugh was appointed to the Columbia Circuit to be a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals. Kavanaugh was narrowly confirmed as a result of allegations that he had sexually assaulted Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. She testified at a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the alleged sexual assault that occurred at a party in high school.
Drake Political Review | 11
A Woman in the white house? A record-number of women are running for president in 2020. What are the challenges that they may face?
he candidate pool for the 2020 presidential race is something that the United States has never seen before. The nearly 20 declared candidates present an impressively diverse pool, particularly on the Democratic side. This includes the noteworthy record number of female candidates up for party nomination. By April of 2019, Senators Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, Representative Tulsi Gabbard, and self-help author Marianne Williamson have all officially declared their candidacies. Although there is a possibility the United States could see a woman for president in less than two years, many female candidates running for all types of office have already had their fair share of scrutiny. According to Soraya Chemaly, author of “Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger,” the disparity between how male and female candidates are treated may be the reason the United States has not had a female president yet. Chemaly believes that society is still so culturally shaped by sex segregation that the news presents it as women competing against women and men competing against men. Such a framework could be a reason why female candidates have gotten far more
12 | Spring 2019
BY CATIE WILTANGER
questions about what they are wearing time,’ … [but] there’s not going to be a than most male candidates do. time where things are super calm and Running for president or any you can run for office.” elected office as a woman can be like Although Horn was not on the carrying a double-edged sword but ballot until the recent 2018 midterms, there are many female politicians who she experienced discrimination strive to defy the norm. One woman during the nomination process. who has experienced this is Kansas “At the nominating convention, state representative Eileen Horn. I was obviously pregnant. I Horn, who was previously the addressed it in my speech and how Sustainability Director for the City I have a great support network, of Lawrence, Kansas, was appointed but a reporter came up to me to finish another representative’s afterwards and said, ‘You know, term while she was seven months I’m probably not supposed to pregnant. Although hesitant at first, ask you this, but how are you she realized that pregnant or not, going to juggle this?’” Horn said. there is no convenient time in one’s “I don’t think men get as many life to run for office questions about how as a woman. “I don’t think men get as you balance family and “[If women] work. Nationally, the many questions about don’t step up, we’re discussion [for male going to continue how you balance family candidates] is always to be perceived a questions on capacity and work. Nationally, certain way,” Horn and ability.” the discussion [for male Because of the state’s said. “[While there are] higher costs, illustrious political candidates] is always especially if you’re a landscape, Iowa mother, it’s definitely questions on capacity universities attract worth it. Because political science students and ability.” I was pregnant, from around the country. my initial reaction was ‘no way,’ but I One of these students was native just kinda had that moment where I Missouri resident Pat Rynard, who realized that women and moms will graduated from Drake University say, ‘I’ll do this later when it’s a better over 10 years ago and has worked
PEOPLE on numerous political campaigns since, including Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. “[Clinton] was a little bit more hawkish on foreign policy type of ideas, and was under a little more pressure to kind of display strength when talking about foreign policy issues,” Rynard said. “[In 2016] it felt like there were a lot more questions about Clinton’s leadership style, whether she was being friendly enough on the campaign trail, talking more about her lewd than her policy issues.” Things may have changed since then. In Iowa, Rynard said there was “a lot more energy and excitement
around campaigns for women in the 2018 primary.” One thing he found interesting about the 2020 election cycle was a Politico story about Elizabeth Warren being ‘unlikeable.’ “If you actually read through the story, it was a rather legitimate and carefully balanced and reasonable analysis,” Rynard said. “Reporters do not always write their own headlines, and the editors, to make it more controversial, unfortunately, fell back on some kind of language that has some kind of sexist undertones of talking about ‘well if a woman is likeable enough.’” While likability may be a factor
for male and female candidates alike, Clinton’s 2016 campaign certainly highlighted the problem for women. Although Horn and Rynard both believe that America has a long way to go before female presidential candidates are able to run campaigns the same way as male candidates, they are confident that things are improving. Rynard tells pessimists to look at the 2018 midterm elections, where in Iowa “almost every single Democratic primary where there was at least one woman and one man, the woman won.” So, while it’s too early to tell if 2020 will see the first woman president, things may be looking up for female candidates.
Drake Political Review | 13
n a s i â&#x20AC;&#x2122; c i t i l Po
L a u y t
y Scandals and problematic pasts are ending careers for politicians nationally. 14 | Spring 2019
BY EMMA BRUSTKERN
n Feb. 1, the right-wing news outlet Big League Politics published a photo allegedly showing the Virginia governor, Ralph Northam, wearing blackface while he was in college. Northam initially apologized, but the next day claimed he was not the one in the photo. According to a report from AP News, he did admit to using blackface for a Michael Jackson costume the same year the photo was published. The backlash surrounding Northam’s yearbook controversy was tremendous, but people across the country had different ideas about what this meant for his role as governor. Some called for him to resign immediately while others pointed out that the incident happened over 30 years ago and had no bearing on his current position. In late February, a Quinnipiac University poll showed that 48 percent of Virginia voters surveyed believed Northam should not resign, as compared to 42 percent who believed he should. Scandals raise interesting questions about how politicians should be held accountable for former indiscretions. Unlike some issues, various politicians from both sides of the aisle have been implicated by scandals that happened before they were elected, effectively making scandals a nonpartisan issue. Still, as seen in the cases of Northam, former president Bill Clinton, and former U.S. senator Al Franken, many individuals are unsure how to react to these scandals. For some voters, scandals are simply better left in the past. The scandals could either be dismissed as youthful mistakes or used as a call for sympathy. However, some people would argue the opposite. Incidents like this may indicate a moral downfall, which can influence the way voters view the politician. Voters want to have confidence that the politicians in office are “good people,” a trait they would
hope to expect from other individuals been recently lodged against Supreme they support. Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh or Iowa Lee Rood, an investigative reporter State Senator Nate Boulton than to and founder of the Reader’s Watchdog one-off scandals like Northam’s. column at the Des Moines Register, With the rise of social media and the believes that it is a political issue any 24-hour news cycle, it is easier than ever time a politician’s private life interferes for secrets to be revealed. The current with their professional life. media climate may make politicians “When something that somebody is more vulnerable to criticism from doing in their private life could affect individuals across the country. their ability to do their “Certainly, social public job . . .that’s “When something that media helps spread when it can become the story much faster somebody is doing in newsworthy,” said and wider than it their private life could used to be in the Rood. Beyond the private past,” Rood said. affect their ability to lives of politicians, “I’m not sure that do their public job . . however, some people the repercussions would rather focus on .that’s when it can beare always the same past policy decisions though. It’s hard to say come newsworthy.” or previous political whether people deal positions. For example, with politicians more Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s previous record harshly as a result.” on same-sex marriage may scare away Even so, not all scandals regarding members of the LGBTQ+ community and politicians end in a loss of support. Sen. Kamala Harris’s history of having During the midterm elections a tough-on-crime record as California following news of Clinton’s affair attorney general may turn away black with Monica Lewinsky, democrats communities who were disproportionately actually made gains in the House of affected by her policies. Representatives and kept the Senate Rood cited a local controversy in in a show of solidarity with Clinton. which former Iowa state senator and Additionally, despite Franken’s majority leader, Bill Dix, was filmed resignation after his scandal broke, kissing a lobbyist at a bar. The Des some democrats still view him as a Moines Register posted the video and political idol, a fact that may hurt Dix resigned shortly after the video Kirsten Gillibrand’s 2020 campaign was released to the public. According since she originally led the charge to Rood, the Register felt the video against him. needed to be posted due to a clear In an age where controversies conflict of interest. plague everyone from the sitting “Part of what we try to do is president to state officials, it is worth point out conflicts of interests and asking if scandals have become the relationships that might not be readily norm. The rules surrounding political apparent so that you can know how controversy seem to be constantly people are trying to influence those changing. While certain moral issues who vote on public policy,” said Rood. may raise voters’ eyebrows, it seems But not all controversies are that political baggage is not necessarily considered equal. Many people may disqualifying anymore. give greater consideration to sexual assault allegations like those that have
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Motives of supervillains have historical precedent in past and present political ideologies. Disclaimer: This article focuses on villains within the Marvel Cinematic Universe and contains spoilers for films up to and including the March 2019 release of “Captain Marvel.”
or over 10 years now, Marvel Comics has retold comic book stories through the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Starting with “Iron Man” in May 2008 and coming up on the climax in the final Avengers installment in April 2019, the MCU has introduced old and new fans to famous superheroes. And every superhero story comes with a supervillain. “Avengers: Endgame” is the culmination of 11 years and 21 movies worth of story development, all of which have been building to a face off with the one enemy the Marvel heroes have failed to defeat: Thanos. With Thanos’ core belief that the universe is overpopulated and resources are dwindling, many fans were forced to admit something disturbing: he’s not wrong. Creating complex villains is not a strategy unique to the MCU as it’s a tool used to create more interesting stories across the board, but Thanos is different for one reason: he won. But that does not mean that other Marvel villains have not
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given it their best shot and like Thanos, some of their beliefs are not completely politically evil. HYDRA “Schmidt believes he walks in the footsteps of gods. Only the entire world will satisfy him.” – Dr. Arnim Zola on the leader of HYDRA in “Captain America: The First Avenger” Hydra was introduced to the MCU with the first Captain America movie, which takes place during World War II. HYDRA is most simply an authoritarian dictatorship, believing in the rule of a group by fear mongering and limiting freedoms. It is presented as a Nazi terrorist organization that follows the motto “Cut off one head, two more will take its place.” The spin-off television show, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” later revealed that HYDRA had been around in different forms for thousands of years before they aligned themselves with Nazi Germany in World War II. Yohan Schmidt, called the Red Skull, leads HYDRA as part of the Nazi party before eventually straying from Hitler’s vision in order to fulfill his own vision of world domination, which is what
BY HALEY HODGES constitutes the plot of the movie. Red Skull is defeated at the end of “The First Avenger,” effectively ending his reign of HYDRA. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” though, reveals that Red Skull’s defeat did not lead to the downfall of HYDRA and instead the organization has continued to grow in the shadow of S.H.I.E.L.D., the U.S. organization founded to keep organizations like HYDRA from forming. The conflation of these two organizations leads to the final downfall of HYDRA, which takes S.H.I.E.L.D with it. Loki “Is not this simpler? Is this not your natural state? It’s the unspoken truth of humanity that you crave subjugation. The bright lure of freedom diminishes your life’s joy in a mad scramble for power. For identity. You were made to be ruled. In the end, you will always kneel.” -- Loki to a crowd he has forced to kneel before him in “The Avengers” Loki is autocratic, with firm beliefs that a single ruler should prevail above others, which means he lives up to his title as Asgard’s god of mischief. Loki has daddy issues with the reveal that he has been adopted by the Odin, the King of
PEOPLE Asgard, and the fact that he has no right to the crown leads him to a desire to rule humans, who used to worship his people as gods. Odin’s son and Loki’s adopted brother Thor is the heir to the throne, which leads to the conflict in “Thor” where Loki tries to get Thor deemed unfit to rule. When that fails, he turns to the humans and he turns into the villain presented in “The Avengers.” Loki believes in so called consent of the governed and a divine right to rule, which is often seen in early monarchies and political upheavals. As one of the MCU’s favourite villains, Loki goes back and forth between helping Thor and the other superheroes and betraying him. Most recently, he lost his life in a resistance against Thanos at the beginning of “Avengers: Infinity War.” He’s the most prevalent MCU villain, with main roles in four films multiple returns from the dead. Despite being a villain, Loki has a complex duality and a love for mischief that redeems him in the eyes of many fans. Erik Killmonger “Y’all sittin’ up here comfortable. Must feel good. There’s about two billion people all over the world that looks like us, but their lives are a lot harder. Wakanda has the tools to liberate them all.” – Erik Killmonger to the royal family in Black Panther. Not unlike Ronan, Erik Killmonger’s philosophies are rooted in a sense of extreme and militaristic nationalism. The first Black Panther comic was released in the same year as the formation of the Black Panther Party but similarities between the two were not always obvious. Though Killmonger exists in versions of the Black Panther comics, his main purpose within the MCU differs. His plan to arm black citizens directly mirrors one of the early goals of the Black Panther Party. Prior to the emergence of the Black Panther Party, Malcom X preached similar ideas of overthrowing the oppressors of black people. While Malcom X was a proud member of the Nation of Islam, his specific actions were not always in line with the group. His own beliefs during the civil rights movement were significantly more memorable than of any one group, perpetuating his own political leanings. Characters in the movie and fans alike agreed that Killmonger had a valid point in his crusade for the throne that
was executed poorly. As Wakanda hid both from the global eye as well as that of their neighbors, African citizens and descendants suffered for centuries. From colonization, the slave trade, apartheid and segregation, repression of civil rights, and racial injustice that continues through 2018 when the film was released, Killmonger’s desire to turn the tides is not unreasonable. His violent path to the crown, desire for revenge against the royal family, and extremist plan to violently overthrow white suppressors is what makes him into the villain, albeit a sympathetic one. Ronan the Accuser “My government knows no shame. The Xandarians and your culture are a disease.” “You will never rule Xandar.” “No. I will cure it.” –Ronan and a Nova Corps member in “Guardians of the Galaxy” In the MCU, Ronan is first introduced in the “Guardians of the Galaxy” as he attempts to destroy the Nova Empire after an unsatisfying peace treaty leaves him bloodthirsty. He makes a deal with Thanos for the power of an infinity stone which he will use to defeat the planet base of the Nova Corps, Xander. Ronan is Kree, a militaristic colonizing race that have taken over several entire worlds over the course of their history. In the newly released “Captain Marvel,” audiences get to see a glimpse of Ronan’s early political career. He is leading a group of Kree as they attempt to obliterate the Skrulls, a race that inhabited their most recent planetary acquisition. While Captain Marvel herself had been brainwashed into working with Kree for the beginning of the film, she realizes the true intentions of the Kree and ends up chasing Ronan and his crew away from Earth. Ronan’s level of nationalism rivals that of German Nazism that was presented through HYDRA in early MCU films. Among other beliefs, Adolf Hitler’s national socialism took nationalism to a new extreme, promoting a so called Aryan master race that leads to the mass destruction of other communities. Ronan and the Kree share this philosophy, which is what leads to their hunt of the Skrull and the eventual campaign against the Nova Empire.
Thanos “The entire time I knew Thanos, he only ever had one goal. To bring balance to the universe by wiping out half of all life. He used to kill people planet by planet, massacre by massacre.” -- Gamora explaining Thanos’ motives in “Avengers: Infinity War” Thanos makes his first appearance in the mid-credits scene of “The Avengers,” revealing that Loki had been working for him throughout the movie. He’s brought up again when his adopted daughter Gamora becomes one of the main heroes in “Guardians of the Galaxy” and Ronan becomes his henchman. He again haunts the Avengers by appearing in the end credits scene of “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” leading up to his appearance as the main villain in both “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame.” “Avengers: Infinity War” reveals that Thanos’ home planet, Titan, was victim to overpopulation and that resulted in a lack of resources that killed most of the residents. As Thanos’ power grew, he sought to provide solutions for the rest of the universe by developing a plan to destroy a random 50 percent of the entire population. He wished to acquire all six infinity stones so he could do so instantaneously. Thanos’ non-discriminatory genocide is a refreshing change from Ronan and the Kree’s racist nationalism. Thanos believes in an anti-caste system, criticizing socioeconomic problems that separate the rich from the poor. He assumes that eliminating half of the population will help eliminate those problems for the survivors. Thanos’ exact beliefs don’t have a lot of historical precedent, though overpopulation is an often forgotten concern that could lead to environmental, social, and industrial threats. Perhaps the most famous policies for population control came out of China in their one and two-child-policies, which became problematic for the sustainability of an aging population. Thanos’ solution does not have the same risk for an inverted population pyramid or other long term risks of population control and therefore could be more effective in the long run. But with the power of all six infinity stones, one has to wonder why Thanos would destroy half of the population when he could just double the resources.
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Q & A WITH JOHN AND MARY BETH TINKER Celebrating 50 years for student rights and freedom of speech. BY HALEY HODGES
ohn and Mary Beth Tinker made history 50 years ago after getting involved in a simple protest against U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. A small group, including the Tinkers, agreed to wear black armbands to school as an unobtrusive show of solidarity but were threatened with suspension. The Tinkers wore the bands anyway and, after being suspended by their schools, the Tinker family sued the Des Moines Independent Community School District. The case made its way up to the Supreme Court where they ruled that the school district had infringed on their First Amendment rights to the freedom of speech and expression. In the years since, the Tinker case has been heralded as a champion for both the First Amendment and the rights of students. For the 50 year anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling, the Tinkers came back to Des Moines to reflect on their roles in history. Q: When did you realize the significance of this case? Mary Beth: I think one of the first times I realized how important it was was when I was in nursing school some years later and the case was in my nursing school book under children’s rights because nurses have to learn about children’s rights. That’s when I started realizing that this case was more significant than I realized. John: Well, it was quite a ways after the case, after the decision, that I realized that it was important. I realized it was important when other cases, the decisions in other cases, started citing our case as the basis. At that point I realized that it was a precedentsetting case and was important now of course it’s so universally acclaimed as such a significant case that I have to agree. Q: What did you know about the First Amendment and your rights at the time? Mary Beth: No, I certainly didn’t. I don’t remember being taught about the First Amendment in school at all. I was in eighth grade and I don’t know, we did have social studies, but I don’t particularly remember the First Amendment but maybe I did study it and pass it for a test or something. But, I saw it in action with people in our world, like the civil rights movement and our parents, who used their rights to speak up about things they believed were wrong. John: I did understand the First Amendment, I think, at the time. In the public schools in Iowa, I was taught the First Amendment was an important part of our constitution and that we had the freedom of speech and so on. And so when they made the ban against the wearing of the arm bands, besides my opinion on the
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war which I felt needed to be expressed, it offended my sense of what the First Amendment was. Q: Aside from the school district, which was being sued, did you face any backlash from other parties about the case and what you were doing by wearing the armbands? John: People have different opinions and some people really supported us and others did not like what we were doing so it was a mix. Mary Beth: Some people got very mad about it and called us communists, commies, pinkos, threw red paint at our house, sent us hate mail, [and] threatened to bomb our house on Christmas Eve. So there was some backlash but others supported us, like the Des Moines Register [which] wrote an editorial in our favor. Q: What do you think the line is between free speech and hate speech? Mary Beth: Well, it’s not like there’s really a line between hate speech and free speech … because there really is no legal definition for hate speech and you could be using your free speech rights to say hateful things. And so that’s been the court’s rulings in recent important cases having to do free speech that, unless there is an imminent threat of violence, the speaker should be allowed because of the First Amendment to express their feelings even if those feelings are hateful. And I believe right now that that should be the line: when there’s an imminent threat of violence. Now there’s a big debate about whether speech itself is violence without physical violence, that you can hurt someone with your speech. And I’m glad that there is such a debate and I’m not sure about all of that, which is why students should weigh in too, because it’s not like some adult has the answers to all of this. But, at the moment I believe that if there was an imminent threat of violence that we have to counter speech that is hateful with our own speech. John: I see a distinction between political law and culture at large and I think that the culture is how we determined to be polite or not and the political law is more like a fencing or barriers put up that say ‘don’t cross this line.’... The boundary between what we call hate speech and between free speech is a boundary I don’t think we should be testing, but people are going to test it. I wish the culture would kind of encourage people to back off a little bit from that boundary and to look at the other side and to see the world as the other person sees it a little more but, being human beings, that’s not going to happen all the time.
ANYONE CAN BE PRESIDENT The United States is seeing a rise in political candidates without political backgrounds. BY LAUREN SELFRIDGE
ver since the election of Donald Trump in November of 2016, presidential hopefuls have amped up their campaigns in the fight for the presidency in 2020. While many career politicians and leading voices in American politics have already come forward, there are some new voices in the race. This new phenomenon of “anyone can run for president of the United States” certainly will not go away once Donald Trump leaves the office. In fact, there are already several unconventional candidates who have already announced their intent to run for the presidency in 2020. One of the first democrats to declare his candidacy for 2020 was Andrew Yang. Like Trump, Yang is a businessman from the other side of the political spectrum. He is the founder of Venture for America, a nonprofit fellowship program with the goal of “creating economic opportunity in American cities by mobilizing the next generation of entrepreneurs and equipping them with the skills and resources they need to create jobs.” Yang does not have any political experience but has chosen to shed light on economic disparities in the United States. One of his main policy issues that has
*Base image of candiates was sourced from Wikipedia’s open source files.
gained attention is the idea of Universal Basic income, which would give every American $1,000 every month. He claims this will jump start the economy and the $1,000 would be paid for by a tax, much like those used in European countries. During a visit to Drake University, Yang noted that as his name recognition goes up, his support level follows suit. When asked about his campaign, Yang said, “I’m just doing what feels naturally. [I’m] presenting facts to the American people and saying look, this is what’s happening and we need to have meaningful solutions as fast as possible… It seems to be attracting people from all over the political spectrum.” Because early stages of candidacy relies on name recognition, Yang is polling particularly low and will likely continue in this spot unless he can garner more attention. Marianne Williamson is in a similar situation to Yang, though boasts her self-proclaimed title as Oprah’s spiritual advisor.” Williamson is also an author with over 12 books published about non-denominational spirituality and humanitarianism. Williamson has tried to enter the political realm previously. She ran for Congress in Los Angeles in 2014 and came in fourth in a jungle
primary. Her presidential campaign focuses on the message of healing America by taking it back into her core idea of “We the people.” As of April of 2019, Williamson is still shy of the number of donors she would need to participate in the democratic debates. Because she has not yet qualified, poll numbers on Williamson are not readily available. Though not officially decided, Howard Schultz, a former CEO of Starbucks, has certainly been considering a presidential bid and may run as an independent candidate, rather than aligning with the democratic or republican parties. “I intend to think about a range of options, and that could include public service,” Schultz said after stepping down from the board of Starbucks. He also noted that he was not near a point where he would make a decision yet, marking him only as someone to keep an eye on for now. With new candidates still popping up regularly, it’s hard to say who will even have a chance at becoming president, but right now candidates seem eager to embrace the possibility that anyone can be president.
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Bulldog Abroad: The Power of Panama A long-term drought in Central America causes a big dam problem in Panama.
entral America has been facing a drought since September 2018. So far the impact has been significant, according to Aly Dagang, Panama City local and the director of the study abroad program SIT in Panama. Unseasonable drought and excessive rainfall are expected to increase as the climate continues to change. El Niño and La Niña are routine climate patterns that occur every few years and have recently been increasing in severity due to climate change, and these extreme weather patterns are changing the way that people use and need water. Changes like this lead to water concerns becoming increasingly important to Panamanian politics. In Cerro Punta, the agricultural center of Panama, environmental conservationists are at odds with farmers. Historically, the highlands in which Cerro Punta are located were naturally fed with rain, but extended drought is causing farmers to create irrigation systems using local water sources. Farmers in the highlands need water to create produce, which people throughout the rest of Panama rely on.
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BY JULIE URAM
Even a little drought can have a large impact on the quality, availability, and price of food in supermarkets. At the same time, removing water from its natural place can lead to destruction of habitats and ecosystems that connect to the larger food web. For over a century, people have attempted to manipulate water for human benefit using hydroelectric dams. Dams are considered an eco-friendly form of infrastructure because they harness hydro-power, which is a renewable form of energy. The harm that dams cause to ecosystems and communities is often ignored or forgotten in both private and political realms. Dams can cause lower crop production and decreased fish populations downstream, degradation of water quality, displacement of communities near the reservoir, floods, and fragmented ecosystems. Indigenous populations and communities located in areas surrounding dams are also at risk. When a hydroelectric dam is created, a human-made lake is produced nearby to create the water reservoir required to fuel the dam and avoid flooding. The Union of Concerned Scientists notes
that “[f]looding land for a hydroelectric reservoir has an extreme environmental impact: it destroys forest, wildlife habitat, agricultural land, and scenic lands.” Aly Dagang comments that the flooding caused by dam construction leads to eutrophication, creating previously non-existent methane sources. Damaffected communities across the world are currently working to mitigate the environmental issues caused by poorly planned dams. Nonprofit International Rivers notes that reducing the demand for water and energy is the greatest alternative to constructing more hydroelectric dams in the future. Activities that reduce demand include recycling, shifting to less water-intensive crops, and encouraging the use of more efficient electrical appliances. Existing hydroelectric dams are created with good intentions, but the harm inflicted on people and ecosystems shows that the infrastructure has a lasting impact on existing spaces. Hydroelectric dams benefit a few at the expense of human rights, livelihoods, and irreversible ecosystem change.
Photos curtosy of Julie Uram
IMPEACHMENT WHAT IT IS AND ISN’T
The path to impeachment is narrow and rarely traveled, but what exactly does it look like?
ince 2016, there seems to have been more discussions about impeachment than ever, or at least since two decades ago during then-President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial. It seems the political climate in America has grown increasingly polarized, and tension runs rampant throughout the political sphere and among everyday citizens. There are constant calls to impeach Donald Trump as his approval rating falls more and more by the day. But has he done anything to viably constitute impeachment, or has “impeachment” just become a buzz word devoid of meaning? Generally speaking, very few people today understand what impeachment actually means. Lack of widespread understanding can become very dangerous in an issue as serious as presidential impeachment, so it is important to understand the quite simple definition. Contrary to popular belief, impeachment is not when the President is removed from office. According to Elaine Kamarck, Founding Director of the Brookings Center for Effective Public Management, impeachment is essentially the equivalent of an indictment in a criminal court that comes from the U.S. House of Representatives. The Constitution lists standards for impeachment as “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors,” so the list of crimes provided must fit within these standards. After the indictment, a trial begins in the U.S. Senate to determine whether the crimes the President was accused of constitute a conviction and, therefore, a removal from office. This trial and removal are entirely separate from the act of impeachment alone. Hereafter, this indictment will be referred to as impeachment.
BY PEYTON MAULSBY
The first case of presidential House intern Monica Lewinski. The impeachment in the U.S. was with trial following his impeachment was Andrew Johnson, the 17th President. overwhelmingly partisan, with no members The U.S. House adopted eleven articles of Clinton’s own Democratic Party voting of impeachment against Johnson in guilty. Since the Republican Party only February 1868, detailing his “high crimes held fifty-five seats in the Senate, the twoand misdemeanors.” The House’s primary thirds majority vote to remove Clinton charge against Johnson was his violation from office was not met and, like Andrew of the Tenure of Office Act, which was Johnson, Clinton was acquitted and a law intended to stop the President maintained his presidency. from removing certain members of office And now in 2019, current President without the Senate’s approval. However, the Donald Trump’s approval rating is at an Senate fell short of the required two-thirds all-time low. He cannot be impeached solely majority for conviction, so the trial was based on his unpopularity, but it remains to closed and Johnson remained President. be seen if he has committed any impeachable Over a century later, an impeachment offenses. In March 2019, after nearly two process began again, this time against 37th years of investigation, Special Counsel Robert President Richard Nixon. The U.S. House Mueller has completed his investigation Judiciary Committee began to investigate into conspiracy between the Donald whether there were grounds to impeach Trump campaign and Russia to influence Nixon of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” the outcome of the 2016 U.S. Presidential The Committee was prompted to begin this election. When asked if Trump could or investigation based on should be impeached, the Watergate scandal, in The Constitution lists standards Allan Lichtman, a which there was a breakhistory professor at for impeachment as “treason, in to the Democratic American University, National Committee listed obstruction of bribery, or other high crimes headquarters and and misdemeanors,” so the list justice, violation of Nixon’s administration campaign finance laws, attempted to cover up his of crimes provided must fit and probable violation involvement. This scandal within these standards. of the Constitution’s prompted discoveries emoluments clause that of several abuses of power by the Nixon could be used to levy impeachment against administration. After tapes that he had Trump. To conclude, Lichtman said, “If all recorded of private conversations were this is not enough to begin an impeachment subpoenaed, Nixon resigned to avoid facing inquiry, then the House will have legitimized almost certain impeachment. presidential transgressions short of ‘smoking The most recent case of impeachment gun’ proof that he conspired with a hostile came in December 1998, when 42nd foreign power to rig an American election.” President Bill Clinton was accused of perjury and obstruction of justice in relation to his affair with White
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ELECTORAL COLLEGE With opponents of the electoral college on the rise, people wonder if it will ever be abolished. BY PEYTON MAULSBY
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ive times in U.S. history a presidential candidate has won the presidency but lost the popular vote. The electoral college system complicates elections in the United States because rather than competing for the most individual votes, candidates rely on the set number of votes a state is allotted, meaning a president does not have to win the popular vote to be elected. The U.S. was founded on the theory of representative democracy, which means that the elected officials should represent the views of the people. In the 1700s, technology did not allow for easy counting of every individual vote so the process of electorates was chosen to still represent the wills of the people. Because of this key difference, the United States is not truly a democracy. “It’s either one person, one vote, or it’s not a democracy,” said Kevin Gannon, a history professor at Grand View University. A number of politicians and public figures have come out against the electoral college, some calling for it to be abolished while others want to see a revision to it. According to Sanford V. Levinson, a government professor at University of Texas, every poll of the American public that has been taken in the last 75 years has shown that a majority of Americans are opposed to the electoral college. Yet, the system is still the way the president is elected. A main argument in support of the electoral college is that it was created by the Founding Fathers and is part of the Constitution, the primary source of law in the United States. However, the Founding Fathers were not without fault. In “Federalist No. 68,” which is assumed to have been written by Alexander Hamilton, the electoral college is presented as a system to save us from an unqualified or immoral president. Basically, the electoral college was created to clip the wings of the people and put the final power in the hands of the elite. The Founding Fathers simply
did not trust ordinary people to make a big decision like electing the president. “Just because it’s in the Constitution doesn’t mean that it was intended to fully support democracy,” Gannon said. “The Constitution, in many ways, is kind of a retreat from some of the more bold, purely democratic principles of the American Revolution.” The electoral college still fulfills its intended purpose, but that purpose was not necessarily an honorable one since it was always intended to privilege some voters over others. Still, one common argument among the those who benefit from the current system is that direct voting gives privilege to people who live in urban areas where those who live in rural areas may become underrepresented. The electoral system has evolved as a way for individual states to assert their power over the federal government. By using electors in a winner-take-all system, states can essentially vote for one candidate as a whole rather than breaking it down by varied political beliefs among the state’s population. “That really ends up disenfranchising what could be the 49% of people who vote for the loser. Their votes just turn out to be worthless because every single vote will go to the person who got 51 percent,” Levinson said. Adam Lawrence, a professor in the Department of Government and Political Affairs at Millersville University, argues that a more significant difference would be made by adjusting the primary system before adjusting the electoral college. “If the goal is to improve the quality of the candidates we elect to the office of president we might begin by considering ways to improve the methods used by the major parties to select their presidential nominees,” Lawrence said
and listed the formulas involved for awarding the number of delegates each state gets, the use of superdelegates, and the early primary and caucus process as potential areas for improvement. A large population has been opposed to the electoral college for a while yet this system still stands the test of time. But change is finally coming, particularly among Democrats who have suffered defeats due to the electoral college system. As of March 2019, 12 states along with the District of Columbia have adopted a bill to join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. States in this compact have vowed to award their electoral votes to whomever wins the national popular vote. This agreement will not go into place until enough states adopt it to represent a majority of the electoral college. However, as it stands now, the pledged states together make up 33.6 percent of the electoral college. To abolish the electoral college, the United States would have to amend the Constitution. In a practical sense, it’s very unlikely that Congress would secure a two-thirds majority to do this. Lawrence suggests an approach that aligns more with the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. “A good start would be convincing state legislatures to award their electoral votes proportionally, rather than on a winnertakes-all basis,” Lawrence said. With legislation like the compact on the rise, it is now more likely than ever that the electoral college may become more effective in truly reflecting the voices of the people.
“A good start would be convincing state legislatures to award their electoral votes proportionally, rather than on a winner-takesall basis.”
*inspired by a graphic from Getty images
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Nearly three years after the initial Brexit vote and the UK, the EU, and spectators alike still don’t know what to expect.
mericans may know the term Brexit but as discussions delay and the matter complicates, more and more people don’t seem to know what exactly it means anymore. But that’s okay, it seems like nobody does. Not even in London. “Brexit is madness... true madness,” said Charley Dove-Edwards, a finance professor at Richmond University in London. Many people have said something similar. Watching the same news for the past two years, a broadcast in the morning can be completely different from the one at night, causing citizens of the United Kingdom to feel alienated and fed up with Brexit, despite most of the time being unable to define what it means. In simple terms, Brexit is the name for the United Kingdom, which includes Britain, Scotland, Wales,
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and Northern Ireland, withdrawing from the European Union. While the definition may be simple, the execution is anything but. On June 23, 2016, a referendum was held to see whether or not the UK should leave the EU. The Leave Vote won 52% to 48%, making it certain the UK would leave but putting the UK parliament and EU leaders in a tough spot. Negotiations have taken place to try to define how the UK will exit the EU, known as the “withdrawal agreement,” which is not entirely unlike a divorce. However, the agreement only lays out how the UK will exit the EU, not the consequences after the fact. This is mainly what gets people’s knickers in a twist, according to a report from The BBC. There are four different options when it comes to what decision will be made about Brexit,. Currently, the four
BY EMILY WILCOX
proposed deals are the Chequers Deal, Hard Brexit, Soft Brexit, or no deal. The fifth option was the postponement of the dreaded March 29, 2019 date which was supposed to mark the UK’s official split from the EU. While the UK can continue to delay their decision, eventually they probably need to pick from the four other options. THE CHEQUERS DEAL The Chequers deal is Theresa May’s plan for how the UK should exit and is an attempt to please both sides of the argument. This plan was put in place in order to make sure there is no hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, allow the UK to have full control over their own immigration policy, and give the UK full control over tariffs and trade deals that would occur between the UK and EU,
“People are very sick of it. It’s been on the news all day every day for the past two years. Even within the two political parties, there are lots of opposition” -Emiline Rogers (European tour guide) creating their own Single Market. This deal has already been rejected twice by the UK, but the EU has hinted this deal may be their favorite. HARD BREXIT OR SOFT BREXIT? Hard and Soft Brexit seem to be the two options have been the least defined, but both are very different in an attempt to please the far sides of each opinion. Voted on mainly by the majority Conservative Party, a Hard Brexit deal would mean that the UK would make a sharp split from the EU, giving the UK its own power to make any deal, tariff, rule, etc. that they want to make without any say from the EU. This would be good for the UK because they would not need to check with the EU to make sure they are making a good decision, but it could cause companies that trade goods outside of the UK to have to take the brunt of all the tariffs and the delays it would cause at the border. In contrast, the choice by many members of the Labor Party is a Soft Brexit which would be a split that would be a little easier to handle, but would take a lot of defining. If the UK chooses this deal, it would mean they would be able to keep some ties with the EU by staying in some institutions like the Customs Union, Courts of Justice, and the Single Market. Choosing this deal would also mean that trade would not be as heavily taxed, but the UK could miss out on being able to make their own trade deals. Having trade be taxed less could create massive competition for UK companies that already trade within
the UK, opening the border up to more trading from other countries and possibly undermining UK’s national democracy. As for Northern Ireland, it is most likely that there would be no hard border, only slightly more regulation to ensure that trade and immigration are being regulated. WHAT ABOUT A NO-DEAL If the UK votes for a No-Deal, it would mean that the UK would split from the EU with no deal, no warning, and no idea what would happen afterward. If the UK takes this route, it would mean that the UK was never able to make a withdrawal agreement. No deal could cause a lot of problems like trade shortages, possible food and medicine shortages, uncertainty around a possible border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, and no idea about how immigration will work. This is the default plan no one wants to use, but might be okay with to avoid extensions. WHAT HAPPENS TO IRELAND AND NORTHERN IRELAND? No matter what, Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK, and the Republic of Ireland, which is part of the EU, are two countries that will be greatly impacted by the decision. Currently, the two countries have an open border where the switch from Ireland to Northern Ireland is almost seamless but, if the UK decides to leave on a no-deal, a border would need to be put in place between the countries. Whatever decision the
UK makes, the fate of Ireland is a constant looming question, especially considering the violent events that happened as a result of the island being separated in the first place. Border or no border, the Republic of Ireland will likely still be impacted by what the UK decides to do. As of now, the cheapest way to export potatoes to France is to drive them through Great Britain. When the UK splits from the EU, they would be able to regulate what goods come in and out of the country a lot more. Ireland has been worried about the impact Brexit will have on trade, and it does not help that the UK has been unable to provide any answers to Ireland’s questions to help them prepare for what Brexit could bring. WHAT IS HAPPENING NOW? “I’ve compared it to Trump. It’s one of those things people have very strong opinions [about],” said Emiline Rogers, a European tour guide. “It’s just the same if you ask someone about Donald Trump. People have strong opinions on both sides. People really care about Brexit on both sides. This is a really fascinating time in British history.” The status of Brexit can change daily. It can seem like everyday there is a new report on what the Members of Parliament have discussed or decided and the results leave many people confused and frustrated.Right now, no one can say for certain what will happen with Brexit but the frustration of the nation is something to take note of as the process moves forward.
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BAsED ON BREED The city of Des Moines and many other municipalities consider pit bulls to be “high-risk animals” based on appearance rather than individual behavior. BY NICK ELLIS
reedom is something that the United States prides itself on but for a fourlegged companion with a blocky head and a big heart also named Freedom, her liberties are lacking because of her breed. Freedom is considered to be a pit bull, a common term for multiple breeds of dogs that share similar physical traits and ancestry. She was adopted from the Des Moines branch of the Animal Rescue League (ARL) of Iowa by Stephanie Filer, the Director of Development at the ARL. Freedom is now 8-years-old, or 56 in dog years, though she has the heart of a puppy. Freedom is also certified by the American Kennel Club as a Canine Good Citizen, an obedience certification and prerequisite to becoming a therapy dog. Using this certification, she visits schools to educate kids about stereotypes and bullying. Like many other dogs, her owner considers her a member of the family but,
26 | Spring 2019
because they live in the city of Des Moines, Freedom is also considered to be a “high risk animal” and must conform to a series of restrictions. This is all based on her appearance, even though Freedom doesn’t fall under the pit-bull descriptor, according to her DNA. According to an article from Today, the term pit bull isn’t a breed name, but a descriptor for dogs that are either from four specific breeds of dogs or that appear to fit some of the basic physical descriptors as those breeds. Physical characteristics of pit bulls include short hair, a stocky body, and often a blocky head. In Des Moines, city ordinance no. 15348 restricts the ownership of dogs which have “the appearance and characteristics of being predominantly of the breeds of Staffordshire terrier, American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier.” This legislation affects dogs under these categories regardless of whether
or not they have had a reported incident of aggression. This legislation is aimed at decreasing bites based on dog breed, although Filer explains that a dog’s breed or appearance isn’t necessarily an indicator of a dog’s behavior, findings which are based on “A Dog and It’s Genome” by Elaine Ostrander. “When you look at a dog’s DNA, it’s important to realize that only 1% of the dog’s DNA presents physically. And out of that 1% of DNA, none of that determines behavior,” Filer said. “So when you’re looking for behavior traits, generally you’re seeing dogs that act the same way but look differently.” Des Moines’ city ordinance is considered to be Breed Specific Legislation (BSL), a term for any law that prohibits or restricts certain dog breeds. The ordinance requires several things from the owners, including $100,000 special liability coverage on their renters or homeowners insurance with an
“Anytime there’s [a] negative incident involving the dog and it happens to be a pit bull they use the breed,” Filer said, “There’s a lot of confirmation bias that plays into it too. So, when people have these perceptions created from the media or maybe an experience they had with one dog one time, they project that on all of the dogs that look like that.” insurance provider that doesn’t have breed 18-66, “a high risk dog by breed as defined restrictions on their policy. Outside of the in this chapter shall not be destroyed until home, owners must always have the dog after it is evaluated for adoption by the on a leash six feet or shorter, cannot let contractor.” If they are deemed safe for someone under 18 hold the leash, and the adoption, the dog is given to organizations dog cannot be chained outside or be in a like the ARL to facilitate adoption. public dog park. “Well, if you beat that perception In the United States, BSL is enacted on [connecting breed and behavior], you the municipal level with 700 cities that realize that these extra restrictions are just have enacted BSL in some form. Iowa has unnecessary and burdensome and don’t 73 municipalities that have BSL legislation really do anything to stop incidences of either restricting or banning certain breeds bias because like we said, all dogs across according to the BSL Census. different breeds, it’s an individual dog, The Des Moines ordinance presents a issue not a breed issue. So, I think once financial and legal burden for potential you beat the perception, people will owners. BSL contributes to high come around and realize, this ordinance euthanasia rates specifically in pit bulls. is ineffective and offensive” Colin According to the nonprofit Animal People, Grace said, Director of Legal Strategic pit bulls face a 93% euthanasia rate and Initiatives at the ARL. only 1 in 600 pit bulls finds a permanent Grace also described the ordinance, home. Many cities with BSL have a clause like other BSL legislation, to be both over that states restricted dogs may be seized and under inclusive, meaning that the law and euthanized if they are found at includes all pit bulls, including ones that large without their owner. A prime are in no way high-risk and at the same example of this is Denver, Colorado, time does not include dogs that aren’t which has euthanized considered pit bulls but are 3,497 pit bulls since the “If the purpose of BSL is very dangerous. start of its ban in 1989 “You can’t make any to reduce the number of blanket according to Denver statements about newspaper, Westword. dog bites in its affected any particular breed,” In Des Moines, a high Grace said.“If the purpose communities, it is risk dog may be seized of BSL is to reduce the if it is found to be off consistently ineffective.” number of dog bites in its leash two or more times, affected communities, it is it is unlicensed, or the owner has come consistently ineffective.” under investigation for the dog’s behavior. After a thorough study of fatalities In these cases, however, the dog is not caused by dog bites, the United States immediately euthanized. According to Sec. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) decided
to strongly oppose BSL. In an article with advice on how to avoid getting bitten, they comment “Any dog can bite – know how to enjoy dogs without getting bitten.” Given that BSL hasn’t proven to be effective in decreasing the number of dog bites, the reasoning for implementation is unclear. Filer shares that it could be stemming from a bias against pit bulls in the media and preconceptions about the breeds considered pit bulls. “Anytime there’s [a] negative incident involving the dog and it happens to be a pit bull they use the breed,” Filer said, “There’s a lot of confirmation bias that plays into it too. So, when people have these perceptions created from the media or maybe an experience they had with one dog one time, they project that on all of the dogs that look like that.” BSL could be a part of larger systemic problems involving race and class, where over time people have projected bias in socioeconomic status and race of their owners onto these breeds, explains Filer. “It unfairly targets people with limited incomes, unfairly targets people of all backgrounds just based on the dog that they happened to fall in love with,” said Filer. “Class and race spheres [have been] projected those onto dogs that some of the people in those populations would own. Over the years they’ve kind of been associated with all of these other underlying issues that we have with people that they never really were about the dogs.”
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A GOVERNMENT LEFT STALEMATE Partisan divides have always been part of American politics and the longest government shutdown in U.S. history shows just how strong the gridlock can become. BY ABBY LASHBROOK
he U.S. Government is a complex, multi-faceted system with many moving parts that are all working at the same time. With multiple ideas coming from left and right, there are bound to be moments when people butt heads. Healthy discourse and disagreements are expected, but sometimes it gets to a point where everything stops. When the system halts and people are stuck in gridlock, the government shuts down. However, there is a misconception that government shutdowns are entirely bad. Similar to filibuster, there are advantages and disadvantages of shutdowns. A prime example of this is the most recent government shutdown, which ended after 22 days, making it the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.
28 | Spring 2019
“The number of shutdowns is ultimately dependent on whether or not the acting president is willing to use executive power in order to force Congress into a compromise,” said Tanner Helms, a student of political science at the University of Northern Iowa. A government shutdown occurs in instances concerning the federal budget. Every year, Congress has to pass budget legislation that
determines how the government will spend its money for the next fiscal year. Congress must pass the bill, meaning it has to be approved by both the House and the Senate and then the president must approve it. This budget legislation involves 12 appropriation bills, one for each appropriation subcommittee. During the most recent government shutdown, five of the 12 appropriation bills had to be passed and signed by President Donald Trump through two “minibus” bills. A minibus bill is what occurs when legislators
“The number of shutdowns is ultimately dependent on whether or not the acting president is willing to use executive power in order to force Congress into a compromise”
POLICY package multiple bills together as they are going through the approval process. It limits the ability to debate, since there is so much packed into one document. This process promotes efficiency but challenges integrity.
Government shutdowns have been occurring for centuries. The first U.S. shutdown occurred in 1879 when the Confederate Democrats refused to fund the government unless protections for African American voters were abolished.
The next shutdown wasn’t for almost another century until 1976 for 10 days during President Gerald Ford’s term. This shutdown resulted after Ford vetoed a spending bill for the Departments of Labor and Health, Education, and Welfare stating that it failed to acceptably restrain spending. Congress then overrode Ford’s veto and the spending bill went into effect, ending the government shutdown. The latest government shutdown resulted from Trump’s demand for $5 billion to fund the border wall with Mexico. Congress negotiated a
compromise of $1.6 billion which was then denied by Trump.
While it may appear that the entire workings of the government cease during a shutdown, only 40 percent of federal workers and agencies were affected in the most recent shutdown. Many agencies were working normally, like the Department of Defense while other agencies, like the Department of Transportation, the Department of Commerce, and NASA, among others, were affected the most.
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For the safety of Americans, the agencies deemed as “essential” for security purposes are permitted to keep working while other departments may be shut down. The employees for the agencies that are shut down are placed in two categories: the 380,000 workers who cannot go to work or get paid and the 420,000 workers who must go to work but do not get paid. Those who are required to work include important government officials in law-enforcement or the Department of Homeland Security. Now, for those who are out of work and not receiving pay, Congress has approved “back pay” that would compensate workers for lost income after the shutdown ends. The issue is that some federal workers, maintenance workers and cafeteria employees, depend on a paycheck every month. If there is no money coming in, they have to look for income elsewhere or tap into savings.
“A big partisan divide is the main recipe for gridlock [in American politics],” said Dr. Mack Shelley, the department chair of political science at Iowa State University. As political issues and beliefs become more divided, members of political parties are becoming less likely to compromise and work together to solve issues. This multifaceted system has so many responsibilities and many times participants in the system disagree on ways to carry them out. “Shutdowns form based on an inability to work through the usual process of compromise,” Shelley said and emphasized that presidents use shutdowns as a tool to promote their own or their party’s ideological
“A big partisan divide is the main recipe for gridlock [in American politics].”
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CAUSE OF SHUTDOWN
NUMBER OF DAYS SHUTDOWN
10 Department of Labor, Health,
Education and Welfare spending bill
The Abortion Shutdown
The Abortion Shutdown II
The Abortion Shutdown III
The Abortion Shutdown IV
Domestic Budget Cuts
Decision Not Made In Time
Foreign Aid Budget
Water Projects II
Contra Funding/Fairness Doctrine
Deficit Reduction Plan 5
Clinton v. Gingrich
Clinton v. Gingrich II 16 Affordable Care Act
Nuclear Aircraft Carrier
mission. As Shelley explains, it is all about compromise. However, with growing partisanship in Congress, there is a larger divide in public policy. Partisan politics is nothing new, but it is progressively getting worse. Heated debates, nasty campaigns, and strategies of belittlement have become routine in the political arena. Politicians are humans. They develop resentment toward those whom they disagree with and may develop a lack of respect which can lead to tension. That tension does not help government shutdowns, but, in order to resolve those conflicts, it is essential for the different entities in the government to set aside their differences in order to handle essential
Border Wall Funding
government responsibilities effectively. The government may not be completely defunct during shutdowns but the gridlock and consequences certainly hint at a significant problem. The partisan divide in politics is a big contributor to the occurrence of government shutdowns. The inability for people to compromise and work together has divided not only elections but the effectiveness of politicians in office. Just like for any issue, if Americans want to see change, then they need to demand it. The United States boasts government for the people, by the people and shutdowns are rarely the solution constituents want.
VENEZUELA BY THE NUMBERS : T
he crisis in Venezuela has been mounting for the past several years as President Nicolas Maduro has led the country through the worst economic crisis in almost all of Latin American history. Over this time, many people have fled the country, and those remaining in Venezuela have faced high prices for basic necessities and steep opposition while protesting. The most recent development occurred when Juan Guaido, opposition leader in the Venezuelan Congress, declared himself the interim president in January according to the Venezuelan constitution. The situation has mounted into an extreme humanitarian crisis that has many governments and international organizations concerned for the fate of the people.
BY ALLYSON MILLER
*illustration of the Venezuelan protesters was created from open source files via Rueters
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Politics in the internet age
The rise of memes and misinformation in today’s political world. BY HOLLY SANTMAN
n today’s world, the internet is king: this can be seen when public debates spark over anything from the color of a dress to who should be president of the United States. With the rise of different social media networks, Twitter seems to be taking over the arena for political topics since people can share their thoughts quickly and efficiently. According to statista.com, Twitter has around 66 million active monthly users in the U.S. and around 321 million active users worldwide as of 2018, meaning the content shared in the U.S. has nearly unlimited potential to cross cultures and continents. This shows that Twitter is the social media platform of choice for many, including Drake University STEM librarian and professor, Dan Chibnall. “I really like Twitter. I think it can be a positive tool and I actually believe it can be a positive tool for good,” he said. Politicians seem to like Twitter just as much as everyone else. Today, it is very common to log-on to Twitter and see multiple tweets from President Donald Trump as well as responses to those tweets from other representatives, such as Rep. Ilhan Omar or Sen. Joni Ernst. Kirby Goidel, a professor in the department of communication at Texas A&M University, agreed that Twitter can be a good news source, but said that “the brevity of the medium means that people aren’t always responding with up-to-date, accurate information.”
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Chibnall said that, while Twitter can be a great place to find information, it can also be a “cesspool” where people get harassed and demeaned. To this point, the rise of “clapbacks” has changed the way people are interacting with each other on social media. Clapbacks are often considered to be quick comebacks in response to criticism. The term was coined in 2003 in a song by Ja Rule and has become increasingly popular since then. While Chibnall said he does not remember a specific origin of clapbacks, he says he sees them quite a bit. “It’s kind of baked into Twitter itself, that when you use Twitter, it shapes the way you think because you have to be concise and you have to think about things at sort of a much faster pace,” Chibnall said. Twitter’s format leads people to rely on their emotional responses, as opposed to their higher reasoning, Chibnall said. He also mentioned that memes sometimes have the same goals as clapbacks in that they are funny and can be very mean, but pointed out that they simplify the way people think, which feeds into the cycle of responding to others with emotion. Today, political clapbacks on Twitter and other social media sites do not necessarily make the news. Instead, the conversation around fake news and misinformation is becoming more
important. This comes in part because, on social media, people can pick and choose who they want to follow and listen to, leading to an increase in confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is the idea that people will interpret information in a way that supports their beliefs and, as a result, they are drawn toward more sources that affirm those beliefs. This works well for people who may have views contrary to the social norm and who want to find others who think like themselves. “We all gravitate to information that we agree with, so that’s how those fake news sites and those fake news stories work, is that they put something out there…[and] it’s going to be too irresistible to walk away from a nice clickbait headline,” Goidel said. Goidel also said that Twitter is a great way for people to reach others who share their ideas and opinions, but does not work as well for talking to people with a dissenting opinion or viewpoint. This makes Twitter a fantastic forum for politicians and public figures but does not work as well for those trying to find neutral information. The ability for people to choose who they follow and what kind of information is shown to them, whether or not they seek it out, is a major influencer in the spread of misinformation on the internet. The
SOCIAL more people rely on social media to send and receive important messages about current events or hot-button issues, the more misinformation and misconceptions can spread to more people. “When you look at something like vaccines causing autism, there are always memes. There are always memes because they fit into that narrative so easily. ‘Here is a simple explanation to why all our children have autism: it’s the shots,’” Chibnall said, referencing one example. In a 2017 New York Times opinion article called “How Twitter is Being Gamed to Feed Information,” Farhad Manjoo writes that since Twitter is so heavily used by people in the media, it can further influence the news and information business, leading to nicely packaged stories and memes that are more opinion than fact. All of this may have had an unintended consequence where public
figures began to voice their thoughts and opinions online without any regard for what evidence may support their claims. Nowadays, people are sometimes more focused on going viral than on spreading the most up to date, factual information. It does not help that Twitter allows for anonymity and for the automation of Twitter actions, known as “Twitter bots,” as these accounts look real, but are effectively robots spreading false information and facts, Manjoo said. This spread of misinformation was evident in the 2016 election which Goidel said will most likely happen again in the coming elections. “It’s likely there will be misinformation this time around. And it will be from different sources,” Goidel said. “We can try to be vigilant about the information that we pay attention to, especially that we pass along. [And] we can be more vigilant about responding when it is fake news so we can tell people.”
Both Chibnall and Goidel said more news and media literacy would help people navigate the information found on Twitter and other social media sites. Things like understanding the difference between opinion and news articles, as well as understanding the basics of algorithms can help. “We don’t tend to make conscious choices about our information…but I think we need to think a lot more deeply than that, about what it is we really want out of some of these platforms and why are we using them,” Chibnall said. Something that started out as an innocent joke may have turned into an internet-wide rise of misinformation that no one is quite sure how to combat or solve just yet. The jury is still out, but next time a funny meme pops up on someone’s Twitter feed, perhaps they should think twice about where it will go next.
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THE PROBLEM WITH PRISON PRIVATIZATION 34 | Spring 2019
If prisoners broke laws set forth by the government, why are they in prisons controlled by private entities? BY CARSON J.S. REICHARDT
n May 2018, inspectors with the Department of Homeland Security paid a visit to an ICE Processing Center in Adelanto, California. Their arrival was unannounced. Their evaluation of the facility revealed a multitude of horrifying violations. Bedsheets were strung together throughout the prison to create nooses and guards reportedly mocked prisoners who would come back from medical centers after using them to attempt suicide. Every inmate in a segregation unit during the inspection had been placed there without being found guilty of any violation of the facility’s rules. One, who required the use of a wheelchair to move, had been stuck in it for 5 days because guards hadn’t helped him get into his bed. Doctors confirmed the health and well-being of inmates they didn’t even speak to. Dental care, intended to be a requirement for all detainees every six months, was unheard of. When filing their report regarding these violations, the inspectors recommended a full review of the operations of the facility. They also requested a management review of the company running it, because the Adelanto facility wasn’t accountable to any government organizations. Instead, it was completely run by a company known as GEO Group, which specializes in privatized incarceration facilities. Every aspect of the facility was under the company’s control. Their only oversight was having to meet certain standards set forth by the government, which sold the contract to the facility, and the inspectors noted they failed to do so. The results of the inspection rightfully raised many questions and concerns, with the simplest questions wondering how this problem was created and why a private entity can become responsible for the housing of people who violate the government’s laws.
How We Got Here
The idea of privately-run prisons isn’t entirely a new one, although the concept has evolved over time. In 1852, inmates housed on a prison ship in California were contracted to build a land-based facility to house themselves. This facility eventually became San Quentin State Prison, which
is still in operation to this day, although the government later assumed control of its operations. The modern private prison is a product of the 1980s, when the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) was founded. Its existence responded to a need that was growing under the Reagan Administration, as the continued “War on Drugs” was flooding the criminal justice system with cases. The CCA’s claims to operate large facilities at lower costs was appealing, and from 1988 to 2008, the number of private prisons increased from five to 100. Two major companies dominate the private prison market: CoreCivic (a renamed Corrections Corporation of America) and GEO Group, which operated the Adelanto facility mentioned above. CoreCivic currently operates 129 facilities across the United States, while GEO Group operates 142, including seven international prisons. Both companies have faced increased public scrutiny of late. In addition to the incident above, an Idaho facility under CoreCivic’s operation (when it was still known as the CCA) was taken over by the state government in 2014. In another private facility, The Iowa State Correctional Center was found to have numerous issues by investigators. Violence between inmates was commonplace, and approximately 4,800 hours of guard duty that staff members logged did not actually take place. With public pressure mounting, and the benefit of private prisons becoming more unclear, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates in 2016 announced that the federal government would be ending its contracts for all private prisons under its employ. “They simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources; they do not save substantially on costs; and as noted in a recent report by the Department’s Office of Inspector General, they do not maintain the same
level of safety and security,” Yates wrote in a memorandum. The scope of this action would only have ended federal prison contracts, not those held by state governments, but it didn’t take effect either way. After the election of President Donald Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions instructed the Department of Justice to resume its course. “The memorandum changed long-standing policy and practice, and impaired the Bureau’s ability to meet the futures needs of the federal correctional system. Therefore, I direct the Bureau to return to its previous approach,” Sessions wrote.
“They simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources; they do not save substantially on costs”
As issues regarding private prisons become more visible, the discussion surrounding them has moved into the political field, as candidates for the 2020 presidential elections make their stances clear. Democratic candidate Andrew Yang, at an event hosted at a Drake University fraternity house, voiced support for the complete abolition of private prisons. “We need to get rid of any private prisons,” Yang said. “Having a prison with a profit motivation makes no sense. They profit from recidivism and from treating prisoners more poorly. Second, you reform drug laws, legalize marijuana fully, because we’re clearly incredibly racist in our administration of those laws.” Yang’s point about recidivism is backed by academic sources. A report published by Anita Mukherjee at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that inmates staying in private prisons most often served longer sentences than those in public ones, with the cause appearing to be the more frequent use of conduct citations against inmates. Further, there was no proof found that private prisons played a part in driving down recidivism rates among their inmates. Other candidates have yet to be as forthcoming as Yang regarding their stance on private prisons. While first running for senate in New Jersey, Cory Booker voiced
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in a study conducted by the Bureau of Prisons, it was found that private prisons had more issues with safety and security, per capita, than public institutions. Contraband and assaults, both those targeting other inmates as well as staff, were noted as the most significant problems.
support for ending private prisons. In 2016, Kamala Harris shared a petition on her Facebook page calling for their complete abolishment, as well.
Like any controversial topic, private prisons do have their defenders. A common criticism directed at private prisons has to do with the fact that their funding partially comes from government stipends, which are often calculated based on the number of prisoners being held in a certain facility. In other words, companies are incentivized to want more prisoners being held within their facilities. However, this argument has some flaws. Proponents of private prisons point out that the companies running them do not make the laws that dictate who should be put behind bars and for what offense. Criminal justice is still purely the responsibility of the government, meaning that commonlycited causes of over-incarceration, such as the war on drugs and mandatory minimum sentencing, can’t be attributed to the companies running prisons. In addition, some companies claim that media coverage of their work is unfair. For example, after inspectors made public the report describing the violations involving GEO Group’s Adelanto facility, the company claimed
36 | Spring 2019
that the issues described were resolved long before the government report was released. There’s also a commonly-cited argument that private prisons are more cost-effective, although the amount in questions varies wildly based on the study used, making it difficult to draw an accurate conclusion. Similarly, studies reviewing the living conditions of several private and public prisons haven’t really given an edge to either category. Private prisons tend to house lower-risk offenders overall when compared to public facilities. However, a study conducted by the Bureau of Prisons found that private prisons had more issues with safety and security, per capita, than public institutions. Contraband and assaults, both those targeting other inmates as well as staff, were noted as the most significant problems.
The Industry’s Future
Toward the end of Barack Obama’s presidency, his administration’s disdain for private prisons caused stock prices for private prison companies to drop dramatically. In the fall of 2016, GEO Group and CoreCivic reached their lowest point in the last five years, bottoming out at $13.90 and $13.18, respectively. The stock price declines coincided with comments made by presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in a debate, in which she endorsed the Department of Justice’s plan to phase out private prisons
and voiced support of state systems doing the same. Since then, however, the Trump Administration has been a boon to these companies, as immigrant detainees are often housed in private facilities, such as the one in Adelanto. Despite a recent recovery, GEO Group and CoreCivic aren’t out of the woods just yet. On March 6, 2019, JP Morgan Chase and Company announced that it would no longer help finance private prisons and other similar detention centers. Wells Fargo announced in January that it would be reducing involvement with private prison companies, and its Business Standards Reports from 2018 said that “our credit exposure to private prison companies has significantly decreased and is expected to continue to decline, we are no longer actively marketing to that sector.” The pressure from the public against prison privatization is becoming more prominent. The topic has even become fodder for late night programs like “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”, making the issue more visible than ever. Whether the industry will stay its current course, bend to public pressure, or eventually be phased out entirely is hard to say. But as of the most recent count, private prisons are still holding 128,063 prisoners across the country. The everyday lives of those men and women depend on answering that question.
AND THE AWARD GOES TO... Actors and actresses are taking a stand while they take the stage in Hollywood. BY KASEY SPRINGSTEEN
e all know that the press is At the 2019 Academy Awards, under siege these days. But many people presenting or accepting we also know that it is the insatiable awards spoke about social issues while dedication to uncovering the absolute they were on stage. Melissa Berton, truth that keeps us from turning a producer of “Period. End of Sentence.” blind eye to corruption and injustice,” spoke out during her acceptance said Oprah Winfrey in her acceptance speech to bring attention to her of the Cecil de Mille Award at the 2018 subject matter. Golden Globes. “A period should end a It is becoming more common for sentence, not a girl’s education,” celebrities to use awards shows as Berton said. a platform to speak about social Although this statement issues. This trend came from the really came to topic of the “THEY ARE HUMAN the forefront of short-film BEINGS WHO viewer’s minds at specifically, it is HELP INSPIRE the 2016 Tony Awards still activism. when James Corden, “Activism is anyone OTHER HUMAN Barbra Streisand, Lin-Manuel who gets involved in BEINGS.” Miranda, and others paid an issue and speaking tribute to the victims of the out is one of the most Orlando nightclub shooting common forms of from early that morning. activism,” Brown Award shows have often said. “Celebrities been used for activism to some degree, taking a stance on issues can be a but it has become a common platform great way to inspire people to get where celebrities can speak out about involved. They are human beings who political and social issues. help inspire other human beings.” “Celebrities are people, too,” said Some critics claim that celebrity Bonnie Brown, an avid activist from activism can create a less substantive Iowa. “Celebrities have a right to following and understanding of social free speech. We don’t always have to and political issues. Sometimes, a agree with them, but their voice is link can be made between celebrity important.” activism and the oversimplification
of these issues. Celebrities are also accused of using stances on issues to further their own careers. When “Sex and the City” actress Cynthia Nixon announced that she would be running for governor of New York in 2018, her entire history of activism was called into question. Was it all just a ruse priming her to be a good candidate? She did not win the Democratic primary and continued her activism, but the question still lingered in many New Yorkers’ minds. Even with unclear motivations, however, celebrity activism has a substantial impact on the social climate of the nation. Issues gain more attention when celebrities speak out about them and consumer research suggests that celebrity endorsement can have a significant influence on an individual’s decision to purchase a product. Similarly, it has an influence on what issues people consider important and what position they will take. Celebrity activism is on the rise, and awards shows are becoming the place to platform. The 45 seconds an award-winner receives to accept their trophy has morphed into 45 seconds of potential political platforming, and it is not going away anytime soon.
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SOCIALISM: MORE THAN A COW ANALOGY While political ideologies can be described by what happens to your cows, a more in-depth look may help break down what socialism actually is. BY LORIEN MACENULTY
here are two cows. One cow is a socialist. The other is an average American cow with moderate yet undefined political views toying with the idea of becoming a socialist because capitalism seems flawed and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is cool. Neither cow has any idea how to concretely define socialism. To say socialism is complicated is an understatement. What worldview isn’t, especially after a century of propagandafueled antagonism and semantic misuse? On the one hand, socialism is an umbrella term referencing a motley crew of leftist ideologies. On the other, socialism is simply defined as what it is not—not capitalism, not communism; it’s that proletariat-ridden gray area in between. The average American cow no doubt braces itself for an aggressive presidential election cycle. She will need to equip appropriately, to gain access to an arsenal of leftist vocabulary that will vessel a wide range of humanitarian inclinations. The following guide provides such an armory, exposing the udder realities of socialism beyond the cow analogy. Non-denominational socialists are anticapitalists As a meeting icebreaker in March 2019, the Central Iowa Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) asked attendees which workplace— fictional or real— they would unionize. One person said Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Another said Drake University’s adjunct instructors. The concept of unionization is common enough in socialist rhetoric. Marxists, communists, anarchists, socialist feminists, environmentalists, democratic socialists— generically speaking, America’s “socialists”— all agree that workers, not owners, need control over the conditions of work. Consequently, all these sub-ideologies, in their breadth and diversity, unite under one
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common doctrine: anti-capitalism. What’s so bad about capitalism? Say a cow has some milk. The cow and her community assign a value to that milk at three tumbleweeds per jug. She exchanges her milk with consenting parties for four tumbleweeds per jug—three for the milk and one for her labor in producing the milk. Capitalism operates off the basis that people can and should sell their labor for profit. Socialists argue this assignment of value to human labor is arbitrary, inefficient and even harmful. They advocate instead for a system in which people do not have to sell their labor. “For the vast majority of people, you have to sell your labor on the market and that’s what your entire life is built around,” said Evan Burger, Iowa events coordinator for the 2016 Bernie Sanders campaign. “Under socialism, we’d be able to realize our full human potential because we’re not wasting our time with this inefficiency.” In turn, no one person profits off the means of production. All parties involved, according to their needs, benefit mutually from any transaction. “Socialism means an economy that is structured for people, not for profits,” said Patrick Stall, Central Iowa DSA member. “It’s an anti-capitalist ideology. It’s one which believes that the state—that is, the government—and the means of production— that’d be like the factories, the places you work—as well as the places you live should be democratically controlled.” THE NITTY-GRITTY OF SOCIALISM Where’s the government in all this? It wouldn’t be Big Brother, as the stigma purports. The government would be similar to the one the U.S. has now, but run more equitably: a big organization with workers and unions. Many socialists think of government as the bureaucracy behind a good welfare system
or an administrator of housing and health care. It’s this factor that differentiates socialism from communism. Socialism claims a reliance on the state. Communism sees socialism as a temporary, transitory state between capitalism and a utopian society. In theory, the state would deteriorate alongside the dark side of the current economic system. Where does democratic socialism come in? Democratic socialists utilize the Democratic party as a conduit to instill socialist ideals in a system that lacks them. The ideology emerged in parallel to the Bernie Sanders 2016 presidential campaign. Rather than run as an independent and risk political weight, Sanders used the ubiquity and presence of a partisan party to push healthcare for all, free college, climate change conscientiousness, and the redistribution of wealth. “All these kinds of policies are policies advocated for by people who identify as democratic socialist who at the very same time don’t have any grand view on seizing the means of production and putting them under central control,” said Stephen Biggs, advisor to the Young DSA group at Iowa State University. CRITICISMS OF SOCIALISM Capitalists raise quite a few concerns with socialism as a political theory, chief among them the million-tumbleweed question: if one does not sell their labor, what motivates anyone to work at all? No one really knows. The average American cow no doubt hesitates at the historical efficacy of socialism, as well. It hasn’t worked in the past. Why would it work now? The extent to which societies have succeeded in fully adopting pure socialism or capitalism is debatable. Even today, Nordic countries like Denmark and Sweden aren’t fully socialist; they’re capitalistic economies with excellent welfare systems. Capitalism provides individuals with the
SOCIAL liberty of choice in a marketplace of ideas untethered by social equity. Money fuels competition which in turn fuels innovation. Critics say this liberty will be lost in a socialist society that opts to progress as fast as its slowest member. “What a socialist society would say is there’s one coffee shop,” said Kollin Krompton, youth coordinator for the Kim Reynolds Iowa campaign. “Everyone pays a mutual fee based on what your means are, and everyone kind of gets what you want. You don’t get a choice in which one’s better and which experience
you want more…so that coffee shop has no incentive to create your experience any better or lower the price because, guess what, they’re the only shop in town.” Socialists rebut that the concept of choice is correlated with socioeconomic status. “There are so many things where the idea of choice between chocolate and vanilla ice cream is not important,” Ellerbroek said. “People just want to be able to get to work, or they want to be able to see a doctor, or they want to be able to sleep indoors. We’re not even denying them the choice: we’re
denying them the ability not to die.” The philosophies run rampant and the definitions get lofty. Socialism is multifaceted, to say the least. The world-view is definitively worth an afternoon of assertive Googling or a trip to the Central Iowa DSA’s weekly meeting. But at its core, socialism is defined as concretely economic. The upheaval of a global system entrenched in monetizing human labor will undoubtedly take time, so the dedicated socialists are in it for the long haul. But who knows? One day, a socialist society may render money useless.
ARE YOU A SOCIALIST? The people should chose
START HERE Should humans sell their labor for money? The people should choose
Do you believe the government should provide free college health care for all, climate change policy etc?
Should the workers control the means Yes of production?
Comrades, unite for the revolution! Hell Yeah!
Democratic Socialist No Not a Socialist (Not sure what you are)
We will be in constant revolution
I actually don’t care if the works control the means of production, everyone should selfregulate
The revolution was successful. Do we have a government?
No Meh, I’d rather infilrate the current system and change it from the inside
Will society ever be completely classless?
Should we still have democracy?
Yes Non-Denominational Socialist
I care about the environment Eco-Socialist
Down with the patriarchy
No, repress opposition as needed
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A spread in misinformation has lead to a spread of preventable diseases in the United States. What do these outbreaks mean?
s recent reports of diseases that were nearly eradicated rise, concerned citizens cannot help but question how and why these once preventable conditions are making a comeback. A rise in misinformation pushed by influential public figures and discredited doctors has led to an increase in “anti-vaxxers”- a term used to refer to people who don’t believe in or support vaccinations as a form of preventing disease for varying reasons and beliefs. As a result, dangerous diseases such as measles and strains of the flu have been appearing in outbreaks around the world. The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control both acknowledge vaccines as one of the top 10 public health achievements. They are second only to clean water. As vaccines were developed and became widely used at the beginning of the 20th century, rates of several life threatening diseases declined. In 2000, the CDC reported measles to be eradicated domestically in the United States. This changed when the anti-vaxx movement began to grow. Since the release of a 1998 report in the medical journal The Lancet, which stated a potential link between the measlesmumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism in young children, vaccination exemptions have become more common. In 2010, the doctor holding the study lost his medical license, Andrew Wakefield, after word that he had been receiving compensation from a law firm looking to sue MMR vaccine manufacturers. A year later, the journal retracted the study after an investigation found that the physician misrepresented information from the 12 children who were the basis of his study. According to the retraction, “no causal link was established between MMR vaccine and autism as the data were insufficient,” a report from US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health said.
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BY SARAH BALL
Despite the report being discredited due to skewed data, many seem to still believe the claims made. With the rise of “celebrity anti-vaxxers,” the discussion of vaccine exemptions has been at the forefront of pop culture. In 2007, Jenny McCarthy appeared on Oprah and mentioned how her “mommy instinct” told her that the MMR vaccine had caused her son’s autism. She then became a figurehead in the anti-vaxx movement, claiming that vaccines cause autism. She worked with advocacy groups such as Generation Rescue and Talk about Curing Autism. Since then, there has been an increasing number of measles and influenza outbreaks, and in 2013 measles officially returned to the United States. “Vaccinations are one of the most important measures we have today to prevent vaccine-preventable diseases,” said Bethany Kintigh, Immunization Program Manager of the Iowa Department of Public Health. Kintigh mentioned how the anti-vaxx movement is affecting Iowans across the state. “We are seeing a rise in religious exemption take place in the school and child care audits. [Iowa] is at consistent rates with the national level,” Kintigh said. “In the 2017-2018 school year, 2.2 percent of U.S. kindergartners were exempted from one or more vaccines, up from 2 percent in the 2016-2017 school year and from 1.9 percent in the 2015-2016 school year,” according to a report from the CDC. The Iowa Department of Public Health has been working with private medical professionals to advise parents to vaccinate, as people are five times more likely to take medical advice from a medical professional than anyone else. “When you don’t see the diseases and don’t see the fear that past generations have lived with, people start to question more,” Kintigh said. “There’s a need to
trust your healthcare provider and look at scientific data from different sources, there’s a lot out there.” In Iowa, the number of religious exemptions has more than tripled, from 2,572 in the 2006-2007 school year to 8,740 in the 2017-2018 school year, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health. According to a report from the Des Moines Register, “The number of Iowa parents obtaining religious exemptions to vaccination requirements is jumping amid continued fears that the shots can be harmful.” While these are termed “religious exemptions,” this term is just a catch-all for refusing vaccinations due to the individual beliefs of the individual or the individual’s guardian. However, anti-vaccination is not just an issue that’s affecting Iowans. It’s a national issue. A report from the CDC stated that, as of March 2019, 314 individual cases of measles were reported in 15 different states. These reports are updated and increase on a weekly basis. Because some individuals cannot get vaccinations for medical reasons, the idea of herd immunity is essential in helping protect a larger population. “Immunosuppressant people are unable to get vaccinated so it’s important that people who can get vaccinated, will. It not only protects the person vaccinated but also the people around them,” said Don Callaghan, Bureau Chief for the Immunization Program at the Iowa Department of Public Health. Herd immunity is how the medical community has ensured the safety of people who are immunosuppressant. To Kintigh and Callaghan, failure to vaccinate is a public health and public safety risk. “With a large number of outbreaks, now is the time to get vaccinated,” Kintigh said. “Anyone is a car or plane ride away from a life-threatening disease.”
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