THE INFORMED STUDENT S GUIDE TO Southern Democrats
Face of Terrorism
VOL. X ¦ SPRING 2016
Letter from the Editor
Revenge of the Nerds
A Lament for the Swastika
Third Wave Crashing
10 Pregnancy, Parenthood, and Infant Institutions
12 What is the Beltline Doing to Atlanta? 14 Downtown Developing
18 Safe Harbor
28 Monkey Business
Georgia’s Big Opportunity
20 Missing in Action
The Image of the Female Veteran
22 A Southern Bel
The Rise of John Bel Edwards and the Future of Democrats in the South
24 Bernie Sanders and the Progressive Evolution of the Democratic Party 26 Why the Court Matters
China in 2016
30 Brazil, Women, and the Olympics The Real Victim of Zika
32 This Is What a Terrorist Looks Like 34 Brexit 36 Sparkling, Shimmering, Tenuous
Democratic Transition in the Golden Land
Examining Economic Growth and Conflicting Narratives in Athens
Georgia Political Review ¦ 3
LETTER EDITOR from the
The publication of Spring 2016 magazine marks two special milestones for Georgia Political Review. Not only is this our 10th print issue, but this May we will also celebrate the 5th anniversary of the organization’s founding. Such an occasion warrants a trip down memory lane. In the spring of 2011, six University of Georgia students launched Georgia Political Review with the goal of creating a publication by undergraduates, for undergraduates. They posted the first content online, and that fall, 23 staff members collaborated to print the first GPR magazine. Since then, our staff has increased to over 80 writers, layout designers, and markevting team members who each contribute unique experiences and viewpoints. We have had the privilege of working with Georgia Debate Union, Student Government Association, and Roosevelt Institute, not to mention numerous faculty, to host events on campus. Perhaps our proudest accomplishment is our newly redesigned website, georgiapoliticalreview.com, which
currently features over 700 articles analyzing politics, economics, culture, and more. When Georgia Political Review was founded, the United States was preparing a presidential election. Now we have reached that time again, but accompanied by a far more polarizing political climate. Despite the recent tumultuousness, however, GPR’s goal remains the same as ever: to provide insightful and clear-cut analysis on current events and to engage students in productive discussions. Our generation is alternately teased for being too sensitive, too apathetic, too wide-eyed, too pessimistic. Yet, college campuses continue to be the epicenters of grassroots movements, the prolific producers of all types of innovation. Our hope for this edition of Georgia Political Review is to demonstrate the high level of engagement students continue to exhibit within their community. The articles in this magazine address the double-edged sword of Athens’ rapid economic growth, the fight to end human trafficking in Georgia, and the delights and drawbacks of “nerd culture.” We take a broader look at our nation in articles about challenges faced by female war veterans, the changing image of political parties in the South, and dramatic developments in childbirth technology. Globally, we examine the growing volatility of international politics.
SHUCHI GOYAL We are grateful for the support of the School of Public and International Affairs and our readers, and I am eager to see how the publication will continue to grow in the future. On behalf of the entire staff of Georgia Political Review, I am proud to present the 10th edition of our magazine. As always, we invite you to read, think, and join the conversation.
TENTH EDITORIAL BOARD OF THE GEORGIA POLITICAL REVIEW Editor-in-Chief Shuchi Goyal Managing Editor Caitlin Felt Operations Director Eli Scott Senior Editor Austin McCandlish Assistant Senior Editors Tommy Desoutter Priyanka Ghosh Kal Golde Faiz Saulat Business Manager Tré Brown Marketing Director Rory Hibbler Layout Editors Christina Lee Kim Nguyen 4 ¦ Georgia Political Review
Staﬀ Writers Swapnil Agrawal Shayan Alam Rachael Andrews Davis Beauchamp Madison Bledsoe Meredith Brasher William Brockman Claire Brunner Catherine Carter Bryce Culver Baylee Culverhouse Sandy Davis Caskey Dyer Alex Estroﬀ Steven Feng Melissa Florkowski Jake Frenkel Robert Galerstein Jacquelyn Faye Harms Joseph Hendricks Garrett Herrin Grace Holland Gregory Kier Joy Evan Katz Hammad Khalid Megan Kriss
Justin Lewis Nathan Li Alex Lilly Gaby Lohner Emily Maloney Jeptha McNair Prabhjot Minhas Michael Momayezi Cole Mullis Maggie Naughton Grace Nelmes Robert Oldham Paul Oshinski Bailey Palmer Christian Pedraza Nathan Pinnell Ariel Pinsky Lindsey Powell Vineet Raman Chart Riggall Nasser Rizvi Caitlin Rueden Sam Schaﬀer Aumber Sharma Alex Soderstrom Chase Solomon Aditya Sood
Generously supported by the University of Georgia School of Public and International Affairs
Deryn Sousa Ryan Switzer Rachel Tepper Bert Thompson Hannah Turner Jennifer Watkins Design Staﬀ Manasa Kadiyala Ashka Patel Jenny Rim Samantha Sego Mollie Simon Camden Stovall Mallory Traylor Marketing Staﬀ Laura Carr Kiran Chaudhary Karen Mejia Alexis Pache Brooke Seitter
REVENGE OF THE Rachael Andrews Staff Writer
erd culture operates in society as a counterargument to the mainstream popular culture media and its preconceived ideas of identity, particularly gender. Male “nerds” have created for themselves a community wherein the societal pressures of traditional masculinity become fodder for endless mockery and resentment, instead of oppressive standards which men need to live up to. This bitterness tends to manifest itself through the treatment of women in nerd culture, both in the entertainment and in the consumers of that entertainment. Throughout science fiction and fantasy movies, television shows, and video games, women tend to fall into the same damaging tropes that they do in the mainstream, despite the fact that nerd culture prides itself on being alternative to mainstream gender roles. Often, women are seen as objects to be won, as in the earlier games in the Mario franchise, in which Princess Peach is not a playable character, but rather the trophy at the end of the game. Likewise, in the contemporary television show, The Big Bang Theory, the female characters are all the love interests of the male characters, and are seen as a reward for the male characters for being “nice guys” - the exception to this is Amy, a scientist and love interest of Sheldon, who, by virtue of her intellect, is portrayed as unattractive and frumpy. The narrative surrounding the “nice guy” - as often seen in manifestations of nerd culture - creates a sense of entitlement among male nerds that women must want to date them because they are “nice guys” and in some ways above the men of mainstream culture. When this is not the case, the women are assumed to be vapid or shallow, not unlike Penny - the main female character who is conventionally beautiful and unintelligent - is portrayed in the early seasons of Big Bang. This entitlement creates a dangerous idea of women’s place in the entertainment and within the culture itself. Women are often the victims of gender-based and sexual violence in genres across the field. Game of Thrones has made an unsavory reputation for itself in its disregard for sexual violence against women being used as a plot device or tool for “unlikable” women to gain sympathy from the audience. Many, if not all, of the female characters on Game of Thrones have suffered at the hands of men. The popular video game, Grand Theft Auto, has women appear as sexual objects purchased to perform sexual acts, after which the player can decide whether or not to kill her in order to get his money back. Grand Theft Auto V, the latest installment of the series, has drawn much ire from consumers and retailers alike for perpetuating dangerous attitudes and sexual degradation towards women.
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In 2014, Anita Sarkeesian, founder of Feminist Frequency, a website that analyzes women in popular culture, was the victim of severe online harassment, including rape and death threats for her video series, Tropes vs Women, which discusses women’s place in nerd culture, specifically video games. Her attackers, using the hashtag #Gamergate on Twitter, responded to her and her colleagues’ - Zoe Quinn and Brianna Wu critique of misogyny in video game culture. The hostility aimed at these women was primarily focused on attacking their integrity as professionals and their place in the male-dominated profession. This misogynistic treatment of women can also be seen in the so-called “Nerd-vana” of Comic-Con, and other entertainment conventions in which female cosplayers are routinely harassed based on the clothing they wear. The harassment has grown so much that Comic-Con has released official guidelines for treatment of cosplayers that are clearly visible throughout the convention. Nerd culture operates very similarly to the mainstream popular culture in creating and perpetuating male privilege, and female objectification. The nerdy guy also, at least in some aspects, buys into the traditionally masculine values that are presented in the mainstream. He recognizes that in some way or another, he is “less than” what he is supposed to be as dictated by the larger society. In creating this counterculture, male nerds also create within themselves a sense of entitlement comparable to that of the mainstream “manly men.” However, this ignores the privilege that all males, including male nerds, have and the homogeneity of the entertainment they consume. These male nerds are self-proclaimed victims of society, and as such, do not like to acknowledge their own privilege or their own systematic oppression of others, namely women. Not only are there misogynistic attitudes towards women, but there is a lack of visibility for people of color and people in the LGBTQ community in the entertainment. The struggles faced by male nerds ignore the struggles of basically anyone who is not straight, white, male, and middle-class, but who still feels the lingering insecurity of “not being good enough” by the mainstream’s standards.
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SWASTIKA Shuchi Goyal Editor-in-Chief
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n the late autumn every year, my family, along with over 800 million other Hindus around the world, celebrates Diwali, the festival of lights and the marker of the new year. Our neighbors in the United States now expect to see the Christmas lights in our bushes in October and to hear the bangs of firecrackers at night. Indoors, we host a quieter affair as my sister and I ignite tea light candles in front of an idol of Lord Ganesha and arrange them into patterns. First we make an Om, which resembles a backward “3” wearing a crown. Then, we carefully arrange the candles into a hooked cross, making the swastika. The Om and the swastika are auspicious symbols in Hinduism, believed to bring peace and good fortune to devotees. Yet I wonder what would happen if any of the 2 million Hindus in the United States displayed a swastika outside their homes, as people in India have done for centuries. Would our neighbors mistake us for racists? Would we find egg yolk dripping down our front doors the next morning? Would toilet paper hang from the trees in our yards? In the Western hemisphere, few signs are as reviled as the swastika. The swastika has been banned in Germany since the end of World War II, and there have been numerous attempts to ban it across the European Union as recently as 2007. These proposals have failed because of laws protecting free speech, even if it is discriminatory. Yet, few elected officials have acknowledged that the swastika could be used without malicious implications. Meanwhile in the United States, the AntiDefamation League connected the swastika with antiSemitic hate crimes until recently. Then in 2010, the organization’s director Abraham Foxman declared that the definition of the swastika had been broadened to a “universal symbol of hate... against AfricanAmericans, Hispanics, and gays, as well as Jews.” He continued by calling it “a symbol which frightens.” Yet for thousands of years before Foxman’s declaration, the swastika existed as a revered multipurpose icon, outlasting entire civilizations. The ancient Phoenicians, Greeks, and Egyptians all independently used the swastika as far back as 1200 BCE. The most prominent and continuous use of the swastika, however, began over 5,000 years ago in India with the advent of Hinduism. It represents positive energy and the core tenet that one is everything and everything is one. When Buddhism and Jainism developed later in the same region, the swastika became significant to religions as well. Today, the swastika remains an omnipresent symbol in South and Southeast Asia. People paint it on top of their doorsteps, the walls of their homes, the backs of their vehicles, the fronts of their skin. It is also visible in virtually every religious ceremony. The swastika existed primarily in the East until the late 19th century, when a German archaeologist
C U LT U R E named Heinrich Schliemann found it on artifacts discovered in Troy, possibly brought there by ancient Indo-European migrants. He concluded that the swastika linked Western people to their “Aryan” ancestors and represented pride. From there, the swastika rapidly spread into the Western hemisphere as a sign of good luck, appearing on wedding dresses and even in the nose cone of the plane Charles Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927. Schliemann’s erroneous connection between the swastika and European ancestry took a new tone when it was incorporated into the German völkisch movement, a period of late 19th century nationalism coinciding with growing anti-Semitism. Nazi theorists and leaders like Alfred Rosenberg further adapted the swastika into symbol of victory for the ancient Indo-Aryan invaders, whom they claimed as the ancestors of the Aryan race and based their racial hygiene theory upon. In 1920, the German Nazi party formally adopted the swastika as a political symbol. Within just 30 years, the symbol sacred to Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism– religions that teach peace and coexistence above all else – would become equated across the Western hemisphere with the murder of 6 million Jews and 5 million other victims, including Romanis, homosexuals, and people with disabilities. Most practicing Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist immigrants in Western nations observe the swastika privately out of respect. They keep it off their jewelry and clothing and confine it to their homes. The swastika has been used to intimidate members of several minority groups, so many people understandably perceive the image as a threat; a person who, for example, spray-paints swastikas outside a Jewish fraternity house, almost certainly intends to cause fear. If the tragedy of the Holocaust did not guarantee irreparable damage to the swastika’s reputation, the symbol’s subsequent adoption by Neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups definitely has. It is too difficult t o reverse the deeply entrenched belief that the swastika is a hateful symbol among such a large group of people. The fact remains, though, that by calling the swastika a “universal symbol of hate,” Abraham Foxman made a bold use of the word “universal.” Today, about 1.28 billion people, or nearly 20 percent of the world’s population, are Hindus, Jains, or Buddhists. For at least 1.28 billion, the swastika retains its original meaning: harmony, not hate. Members of these religions were not asked for their opinions or approval in the 1880s when many Western archaeologists, not just Schliemann, came to the mistaken but seemingly harmless conclusion that the swastika represented ancestral pride. In fact, most Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist adherents at the time were otherwise occupied fighting a system of oppression in countries occupied by Western colonial powers. They were completely removed from the abhorrent misuse of the swastika in the West. Without anticipating it, they now find themselves in a world where they must constantly defend a symbol of cultural and spiritual value against Western confusion and, often, anger.
The swastika is beyond redemption in the West, but its history contains modern relevance when the phenomenon of cultural appropriation has been scrutinized numerous times in the last year alone. Like many current objects of cultural appropriation, the swastika was native to a systematically disadvantaged group of people. It was redefined in a supposedly inoffensive way by a population in power, probably without intention of harm. Yet the new group never sought the invitation or consultation of the original knowledge-bearers. Its meaning eventually became so heavily distorted that it bore no resemblance to the original. Today, the incorrect definition has become the widely accepted one. Rejecters of the concept of cultural appropriation often argue that culture can only be shared, not stolen. In this instance, though, the appropriation of the swastika has necessarily led to a cultural loss for Hindus, Jains, and Buddhists living in the Western hemisphere – the loss of the ability to safely and freely express a part of their faith. And while the swastika is an extreme case of a symbol of peace transforming into a symbol of genocide, it is not alone among powerful icons gradually taking on negative connotations. Navajo-themed clothing sold at Urban Outfitters is apparently meant to represent worldliness, when really it links the company with materialism and inauthenticity. Nor does cultural appropriation belong solely to the West. In the Middle East, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has adopted the battle flag of the Islamic prophet Muhammad as its own, even though the group acts against every teaching of Islam and targets primarily Muslims as its victims. To the fear of Muslims around the world, the flag, deeply symbolic of Islam and Muhammad’s teachings, is now being used to represent terrorism to the world. When I see modern cultural appropriation, I worry because I know well what might lie at the end of its current path. In America, it is either too late or too soon to try and revert the meaning of the swastika to its original positive message, but a symbol does not need association with murder to be rendered useless. Gross misunderstanding and ignorance are enough. Georgia Political Review ¦ 7
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s this all?” These words from Betty Friedan in “The Feminine Mystique” ignited a movement amongst American women in the 1960’s known as second-wave feminism. This movement was about far more than suffrage. “Sexism” became a word that entered everyday conversations. The titles of “Mrs.” and “Miss” became unpopular, as women no longer wanted their title to be determined by their status of marriage – “Ms.” will do. Women began challenging a notion deeply ingrained within society: that woman’s proper place was in the home, her main duty to take care of her husband and children. Feminist icons like Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan dominated the scene. This dialogue is especially relevant today in the presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. This election seems to have pitted feminists against one another. So why exactly is Hillary Clinton--the first woman in the history of the United States to be an actual contender for the presidency-driving such a wedge between feminists? In the beginning of her run, it seemed obvious that Hillary Clinton would easily clinch the Democratic nomination. After all, her only competitors were the governor of Maryland and a no-name, democratic socialist senator from Vermont. However, that no-name senator started gaining ground – and gaining it fast. Senator Bernie Sanders quickly became quite competitive in the race for the Democratic nomination. One of the more surprising aspects of this race? Hillary was losing young women to Bernie Sanders. As a feminist icon since her time at Wellesley College in the ‘60s, when “The Feminine Mystique” lined the shelves of college bookstores everywhere, Secretary Clinton must have been shocked to find herself losing ground among such a seemingly dependable bloc: young feminists. What was she to do? How
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could she possibly be losing young, female supporters to yet another male running for president? Even though Hillary has managed to keep hold of older women who identify as feminists, she has lost the young voters. Feminist icons like Gloria Steinem and Madeline Albright have sided with Clinton and rebuked young women for abandoning her. Albright, the first female secretary of state, was not afraid to hide her feelings at a Clinton rally in New Hampshire in February, announcing to the world that “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.” She continued by challenging the idea of a Sanders political revolution: Albright argued that a true revolution would be the election of a female president of the United States of America. Steinem made her feelings known in an interview with Bill Maher also in the month of February, insinuating that young women are only supporting Sanders because young men are. Steinem said “When you’re young, you’re thinking: ‘Where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie.’” These statements caused conflict almost immediately. Very quickly, it seemed to be that young feminists were pitted against older feminists over whether or not to support Hillary Rodham Clinton. Many have seen this as a battle between second wave and third wave feminism. It makes sense that older feminists like Madeline Albright would be so upset. Older feminists have struggled with far more discrimination and experienced so many more of the realities of female life in America than young feminists have. Second-wave feminists like Albright and Steinem fought for Title IX, as well as women’s liberation in the sixties. Their entire lives have consisted of battle after battle over women’s roles in the workplace, in society, and in politics. But finally, they can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Decades of canvassing, paneling, and speaking
Third Wave Crashing
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Jacquelyn Faye Harms Staff Writer
up are going to be worth it. Their vision of a woman running the West Wing rather than the East Wing is coming to fruition. Hillary Clinton is their hero, the woman they watched declare that “women’s rights are human rights” to the United Nations in 1995. This is the same woman who was at the helm of President Bill Clinton’s push for healthcare reform - despite heavy criticism that she was claiming too much power as the First Lady. Eerily reminiscent of a time when wives were meant to be seen and not heard, this idea seemed to also apply to the West Wing. However, it is undeniable that Hillary is running for a president in a nation where millions of her target demographic (young women) were only toddlers during her time in the White House. Feminist millennials today lack the cherished memories that their mothers hold of Clinton. The memory of a stained blue dress is far more memorable than Hillary’s political efforts in the 90s to students flipping through pages of their history textbooks in third period. However, the factors in play here go beyond age alone; feminism has also changed as a concept. Many young feminists have asserted that it is a good thing that they are not voting for Hillary based solely on gender. This is what the suffragettes wanted almost a century ago - for women to vote for whom they want as empowered, independent adults. It seems hasty to imply that a woman should vote for Hillary only because they are both women. Just like any other voter, a woman should have the ability to analyze the candidates and decide whom to support based on his or her stance on the issues. Modern feminism has embraced the struggles of homosexual women, working class women, and non-white women. Many modern feminists view Hillary as an out-of-touch secondwave feminist who primarily supports other white, middle class and upper class women. It is difficult for t hem to envision Hillary fighting for those who are the most marginalized – although, this trend is confounded by Clinton’s receipt of far more African American support than Sanders. Bernie Sanders brings a passion that connects with young people, the same sort of passion that Barack Obama brought to his own campaign in 2008. It is fiery and different, and that makes
it exciting. Young women are undeniably hooked on the idea of a political revolution - 82 percent of Democratic women under the age of 30 supported Sanders in New Hampshire. A common saying in politics is that you “campaign in poetry and govern in prose.” If that is the case, then Sanders is quite the poet. Second wave feminists want the powerful woman, who has been a central, inspirational figure in their lives, to change history and become the first female president of this nation since the office was first established in 1789. They believe that women will finally establish a firm leadership role in politics when Hillary lays her hand upon the Bible and swears to uphold the Constitution. However, third wave feminists have embraced the idea of saying whatever you want whenever you want. The modern woman should not be affected by any of her peers. She should not be afraid of what other women will think of her. She should be able to vote for whomever she pleases without being plagued by guilt. Another important aspect of third wave feminists’ support for Bernie Sanders comes from their distrust for Hillary Clinton. In their view, Clinton’s relationship with Wall Street is far too comfortable. Sanders supporters cite the millions she’s been paid to give speeches, specifically to Goldman Sachs. During an interview with Fox News, when Sanders was asked about whether or not Wall Street is really influencing Hillary Clinton, he responded, “Obviously, I don’t think that there’s any debate”. Sanders has become the more trust-worthy candidate to third wave feminists. With more small donations (less than $35) than any other candidate, it is evident why so many have given him their support. Since his pockets are not lined with millions from Wall Street, they believe Sanders will be the president who truly stands for the average American. “Is this all?” has certainly come a long way, and has carried different meanings for women over the decades. However complex third wave feminist goals have become, with intersectionality and transgendered rights moving to the forefront, it is essential to remember the enduring message of feminism: there is still a lot to be done for women’s rights in the United States. The fight is not won quite yet. Georgia GeorgiaPolitical PoliticalReview Review¦ ¦97
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Pregnancy, Parenthood, and Infant Institutions Austin McCandlish Senior Editor
trange things are happening across the pond. In March 2015, the parliament of the United Kingdom voted overwhelmingly to approve a procedure that creates what have been called “three-parent babies.” The reality, of course, is not nearly as fantastical as the phrase suggests, but it is no less significant. The procedure, a modification to typical in vitro fertilization, sees the genetic material of a birth mother mixed with that of a “mitochondrial donor.” In short, the technique works by placing the birth mother’s nucleus inside a donor’s embryo prior to fertilization. It has been used only a few times on humans but has the potential to stop inherited mitochondrial diseases from passing down through generations. The implications of the procedure are far-reaching, and it remains only one of many recent breakthroughs in human reproduction. But many institutions dissent parliament’s vote with vague warnings of “designer babies” or opposition to nontraditional parentage. In a world where our phones seamlessly deliver us a cornucopia of information and driverless cars are thought to be less than a decade away, new technology and scientific advancements are changing the way we think about pregnancy, childbirth, and what it means to be a parent. The institutional knee-jerk reaction to these innovations has often been to obstruct them out of hyperbolized fear and moralistic bombast. The modern world demands a new approach. Mitochondrial swapping is just one of many novel improvements to traditional IVF. These enhancements are opening up the idea of childbirth to people who never thought it possible and allowing more women to have children later in life. The Washington Post reports egg freezing, whereby a woman may preserve her eggs for use when she is older, has become increasingly common and effective, and a process known as genetic screening lets physicians analyze the embryos of older women to ensure no genetic abnormalities exist before undergoing IVF. Procedures that allow for freezing and storing parts of the ovary itself have had success in cancer patients and may one day be expanded to women simply looking to delay pregnancy, according to NPR. The repercussions of these advancements cannot be overstated. Reports continue to show that women are waiting longer to have children. NPR reports the mean age for a woman having her first child rose from 24.9 in 2000 to 26.3 in 2014. Changing social and cultural norms are shifting when individuals feel ready to have a child and be a parent. Advancements in IVF technology
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have enormous potential to make choosing to have a baby later in life a safer and more accepted decision. Furthermore, these advancements are allowing women with cancer and genetic disorders the freedom and ability to have children they know will be healthy. Unfortunately, research in IVF remains vastly underfunded, and many options outside traditional childbirth remain debilitatingly expensive. Globally, governments remain reluctant to fund stem cell research. According to the National Institutes of Health, virtually all stem cell research is banned in Germany, Italy, Poland, Ireland, and much of the United States, and government funding of the exploration remains scant practically everywhere. This means that most of the tab is picked up by private companies eager to get new services to the public. This is problematic. If governments wish stem cell research to be ethical, scientifically sound, and conservative in its approach, they must take the lead in it’s funding. Partial bans and penny pinching only ensure that those doing the most groundbreaking work are those with feasibly corrupting incentives and most likely to do harm. Government funded research often has strict requirements of transparency and ethical practice, but these requirements seldom extend to the private sector. Daniel Perry, executive director of the Alliance for Aging Research, contends that privately funded research bypasses many of the scientific and ethical standards demanded of publicly funded research, such as peer review and public reporting of practices. Insurance companies also wait on the sidelines. Even cancer patients using well-established reproductive treatments, such as egg freezing, seldom see help from their insurance companies. This, too, is foolhardy. Not only is coverage of such procedures commanded on moral grounds, insuring the cost of childbirth remains a smart investment. A report in Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health found that couples with children were significantly healthier, mentally and physically, than their childless counterparts (it should be noted here that this study specifically dealt with couples who wanted children). If governments and insurance companies fail to take ownership of modest advancements in IVF technology, they will be very ill equipped to handle the broader implications of such advancements when they inevitably arrive. Certain developments in stem cell research and IFV technology have scientists and medical researchers looking to procedures that could radically alter the ways in which society
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defines parenthood. Earlier this year, Newsweek reported that scientists recently created functional sperm out of stem cells in mice. Beyond the possibility of allowing couples struggling with infertility to have children, such a procedure could conceivably allow same-sex couples the ability to have biological children of their own. The process would allow for eggs to be developed from a man’s cells, and sperm from a woman’s. Some have even put forth the idea of single-parent children. Of course, the implications of these advancements are enormous; they have the potential to do a tremendous amount of good but will inevitably create with them philosophical and legal battles over what constitutes parenthood and how or if such innovations should be utilized. The science itself remains in the very early stages and has a host of questions and potential problems. In the even more distant future, now theoretical concepts of “designer babies” and rigorous genetic modification may come to fruition, but those developments remain rather far-off. Nevertheless, radical, life-altering technologies and procedures are certainly on their way, and society’s primary institutions are leaving themselves out of the molding process through policies of banning, cutting, and taking a back seat. Even in a (relatively) less ethically ambiguous area of human reproduction, birth control, governments, health care organizations, and pharmaceutical companies refuse to take lead. From transportation to entertainment, technology has spent the past few decades altering the way we live at a tremendous pace. One area that has seemingly been overlooked by this revolution, however, is birth control. Since the pill was approved for contraceptive use in 1960, birth control has remained more or less the same. For as long as it has been around, chemical birth control has been a pill of hormones regularly taken by women to prevent fertilization during sex. But hormonal birth control has an array of negative side effects and the Atlantic reports that nearly a third of women give up the pill within a year. Furthermore, the frequency with which the pill needs to be taken (usually every day) means that a few forgotten pills can substantially increase the likelihood of pregnancy. But better birth control may be on the horizon, and it’s not for women. Enter Vasalgel, a long-lasting, nonhormonal contraceptive for men. The first human trials begin later this year. Other forms of male birth control, hormonal and not, are in the works as well, though most remain in the early stages of testing.
New technology and scientiﬁc advancements are changing the way we think about pregnancy, childbirth, and what it means to be a parent. Again, the consequences of these developments cannot be understated. Birth control that does not require taking a daily pill does away with the problem of human forgetfulness, and making a non-condom birth control method nonhormonal means pregnancy prevention with far fewer side effects and less anatomical disruption. Finally, targeting these products toward men would mean birth control becomes a more shared responsibility, furthering equitability between the sexes. Not to mention unwanted pregnancy would likely decline further below its already record low levels. The problem of course is that here, as with stem cell research and IVF technology, society’s most capable and well-equipped institutions are disruptors rather than partners. Pharmaceutical companies, skeptical of men’s willingness to use birth control and comfortable with their profits from the pill, have invested next to nothing in promising male birth control methods such as Vasalgel. This is despite reports, such as one in 2004 by Oxford Journals, that at least half of all men would use them. Most money for these methods has had to come from niche donors and crowdfunding. In fact, the creators of Vasalgel, Parmesus Foundation, are literally an institution that specializes in funding “medically neglected research.” Government participation, too, has been dismal. The United States, for example, only recently demanded that insurance fully cover female birth control with the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010. This is simply unacceptable. Research that signals higher-quality birth control for less human and economic cost should be a pritority for funding, and if companies are unwilling to invest, governments should make up the difference. Well-targeted investments have the potential to generate huge economic savings and improve the quality of life for millions of men and women. Science and technology are continuously ushering in a new age, and human reproduction is no exception. Recent advancements demonstrate a capacity to give individuals greater autonomy in childbearing and parenthood, allowing women to have children later in life and delivering long-term, reversible, nonhormonal birth control to men. Simultaneously, developments hint at a future in which the possibility of parenthood is open to more individuals than could possibly be imagined, from cancer patients to gay couples. But these developments carry with them astonishing challenges and unanswered questions. They have the potential to do irreparable damage to human life should they be handled with improper care. Yet governments, institutions, and companies across the globe turn their heads. It is time that society’s most vibrant and qualified institutions take the lead and take ownership. The modern world demands it.
Georgia GeorgiaPolitical PoliticalReview Review¦ ¦11 7
Paul Oshinski Staff Writer
n 1999, college student Ryan Gravel’s master’s thesis was an ambitious proposal to restructure and reconnect Atlanta by drawing a green circlet of parks and rail transit around the perimeter of downtown Atlanta. Fast-forward 17 years, and this idea is now commonly known as the Atlanta BeltLine (ABL), which began development upon its approval by the Atlanta City Council in 2005. Today many parts of the ABL have come to life. The northeastern loop of the ABL has especially transformed its surrounding areas, and impressive housing and business developments continue to spring up around the pathway. However, not all of the BeltLine is created equally. The western and southern portions of the BeltLine are largely unfinished and disconnected, and these are the portions of the ABL that pass through the most poverty-stricken areas in metropolitan Atlanta. The planned ABL rail line has not even begun construction, with some sources saying it could be cut from the ABL altogether. With the project expected to be complete by 2030, it is too early to say how the finished BeltLine will affect Atlanta, but the initial developments of the ABL have raised questions. Atlanta began as a city defined by its comprehensive railroad system, and the ABL aims to revitalize the city’s old railroad infrastructure by following a 19th century railroad path around downtown Atlanta. In short, the BeltLine is a planned 22-mile pathway that connects 45 Atlanta neighborhoods and constructs a light rail system adjacent to the path. It further creates a greenway of 1,200 park acres interconnected by multi-use transit trails. The project’s estimated cost is $2.8 billion, and it has garnered $350 million from private donations and property taxes. Procuring funding for the ABL has been sluggish at best. In one instance, the ABL’s funding model introduced a measure that took property taxes, which were previously used to fund Atlanta Public Schools (APS), to pay for its construction costs. The BeltLine’s plan was to spend APS’s tax dollars now, and gradually pay them back after the BeltLine secured more funding. Although the ABL’s plan to gradually pay back the APS for their borrowed tax dollars seemed fair, they missed one of their payments. Adding to the funding struggle, the Georgia General Assembly voted down a 2011 bill increasing the Georgia sales tax by one penny that was meant to fund the ABL. Even in 2016, the BeltLine project has progressed gradually and concerns over its full completion have arisen. Business and housing developments, artwork, and general liveliness have virtually transformed Atlanta neighborhoods around the northeast ABL loop (Figure 1), especially the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood, and these changes are byproducts of the ABL’s proximity to the community. Today, the historic home and neighborhood of Martin Luther King, Jr. sits just a couple blocks from Krog Street Market, a marketplace for gourmet eats and local beer. Old Fourth Ward, the historic neighborhood where the Civil Rights Movement began, is being renovated and gentrified as a result of developments around the BeltLine, similar to the gentrification of Inman Park in the early 2000s. Although the ABL has brought much economic stimulation to Old Fourth Ward, it has simultaneously displaced
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many low-income residents that have resided in this historic neighborhood for decades. In fact, median home values in parts of Old Fourth Ward have increased by 119 percent since 2000, and Atlanta had the nation’s 5th fastest gentrification rate in 2013. After spending time on the BeltLine, it becomes clear that the ABL is incomplete in many areas. Living near the BeltLine, I have used the northeast loop many times for jogging and leisure. The northeast pathway is full of life; thousands of people use the path daily, and the new Ponce City Market housing and business development conveniently connects with the ABL, attracting even more business and economic stimulation to the northeast ABL corridor. However, on my first visit to the BeltLine, I ran northwards on the northeast loop, and suddenly reached what seemed to be the end of the path. This is because the ABL is largely unfinished. In fact, the northeast loop is the lone-shining jewel in the necklace that is the ABL. Existing parks, trails, and green-spaces are located in segments on the BeltLine, but most are not yet connected by the ABL’s planned multi-use pathway. The vast majority of economic, urban, and cultural development has been around the northeast loop, with the west and south loops largely underdeveloped and disjointed.
Figure 1. (Transit Alignment Map, Beltline.org 2012)
Figure 2. Median Household Income (Left) and Percent Black Population (Right) in Atlanta (Respatializing Race: The Open Case for the Atlanta Beltline 2013) One of the concerns with the ABL project is that it will exacerbate the social, racial, and urban divisions that already characterize Atlanta. Figure 2 displays the de facto racial segregation in the metropolitan Atlanta area: predominantly lower-income African Americans reside in west and south Atlanta, while upper middle class whites are established in the eastern and northern rims of the city. Additionally, the median household income in west and south Atlanta is vastly lower than north and east Atlanta. Although the BeltLine passes through the western and southern portions of Atlanta, these portions are the most underdeveloped segments of the ABL. If the BeltLine aims to reinvigorate and connect Atlanta, it needs to distribute its resources equally across the path. Completing construction on the parts of the BeltLine that benefit higher income Atlantans and shortchange the lower income, predominantly black populations is a mistake. Although the BeltLine has been shown to mostly benefit upper middle class Atlantans, ABL has taken action to combat its tendency to gentrify communities. Byproducts of economic and urban development have reinvigorated downtown Atlanta, and the BeltLine has made promises to combat gentrification by allocating affordable housing for communities surrounding the BeltLine. In the proposed plan for the ABL, 15 percent of the Tax Allocation District will go to public housing, and the BeltLine project promises to erect 5200 units of affordable housing throughout its surrounding communities. These are significant
arrangements that would combat the BeltLine’s tendency to gentrify surrounding communities. Furthermore, the Beltline has provided local workers with thousands of construction jobs in the surrounding communities, acting as a jobs stimulus as well as inviting communities to take part in the ABL’s development. While it is easy to shortchange the BeltLine for the discrimination of its construction efforts, the ABL has begun to construct the west and south corridors, and its plans for 2016 boast of increased funding and equally dispersed efforts for lower and middle-income areas of the BeltLine. While the BeltLine has only begun its initial steps to reconnect and restructure Atlanta, it has raised questions of its commitment to promoting both meaningful and equally dispersed change to Atlanta’s sharply divided socioeconomic and racial communities. Yet, the ABL is a just “a narrow strip of land,” and its slender path that encircles Atlanta should not be held accountable for remedying all of Atlanta’s current glitches. It is, as BeltLine creator Ryan Gravel says, what happens around the BeltLine that will determine the true outcome of the project. However, current BeltLine construction has benefitted mainly upper middle class Atlantans at the expense of lower income populations who have not yet seen the returns of the BeltLine. If the BeltLine’s goal is to benefit and bring together Atlantans, it needs to be constructed and disseminated in a manner and punctuality that benefits the entire city and not just certain parts. Georgia GeorgiaPolitical PoliticalReview Review¦ ¦13 7
Downtown Developing Examining Economic Growth and Conﬂicting Narratives in Athens
Caskey Dyer Staff Writer
y roommate and I walked through the doors of the Standard as the sun was setting. The manager agreed to us taking pictures, and passed us off to one of the student employees for a tour. We were led through a fivestar common room; a rec room with pool tables and a flatscreen; a golf simulator; and an enclosed courtyard with two grills, a fountain, and fake grass. Students usually get this tour with their parents in tow – lacking those, my roommate and I probably received less schmooze. Despite its name, the Standard’s design screams exceptionality, particularly when contrasted with the average Athens household. On a larger scale, the name becomes less of an oxymoron: “Standards” exist at the Universities of Florida, Appalachian State, Tennessee, Baton Rouge, and California-Berkeley. They’re operated by Landmark Properties, the real estate firm that also manages “the Retreat” northeast of downtown (“Retreats,” ironically, exist across the entire country). Landmark does not, however, own the Standard. They sold it to the American Campus Corporation, one of three large Real Estate Investment Trusts (or REITs) that dominate the market on upscale student housing. REITs are like mutual funds – they own or finance real estate that generates income for shareholders. The boom in luxury student housing really began about twenty years ago. Now, these projects are listed on some of the biggest balance sheets in the country – investment firm giants like the Vanguard Group are their top owners. At the Standard, the employee led us to the rooftop infinity pool. Sunlight bathed everything in orange, casted long shadows behind pool chairs and sparkled blindingly on the clear surface of the pool. I crossed to “infinity” edge and stared down at the roofs of Whistlebury (another student housing complex). By the elevators, my roommate and the employee looked out over the rooftops of downtown. “I never knew Athens had a skyline,” the employee said. “But here it is, it’s beautiful.” “Downtown is a student district,” explained Dr. Hilda Kurtz. Dr. Kurtz is a professor in the Geography Department at UGA. “We call it downtown as a residual. It has seats of government, it
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has some of the central administrative functions of a downtown, but functionally? It’s a student town.” It’s easy to see what she means. Wind your way up from Broad to Dougherty, and you’ll pass block after block of restaurants, bars, concert venues, and boutiques. There are a few exceptions, of course, like Horton’s Drug Store and the CVS. But the majority of businesses downtown are shaped by two important consumer bases: students armed with, as Dr. Kurtz calls it, “non-trivial amounts of disposable income”; and the townies, the young-adult locals, primarily non-students, who dominate the established music scene. Downtown wasn’t always this homogenous. Prior to the 1980s, it hosted shops for groceries and appliances, movie theaters, and even a car dealership. There were still bars and concert venues, but these were amongst a wide variety of other goods and services. If you weren’t as affluent as some of the students, you could still walk or catch a bus downtown and buy things for your family and home. This portrait matches our traditional idea of what a “downtown” is: a central hub of economic and social activity where a variety of needs are met. Things began to change in the early 1980s, when the Georgia Square Mall opened on Atlanta Highway. Locally-owned downtown businesses either moved voluntarily or were bought up by larger retail chains. For a brief period of time, downtown Athens was, according to Chamber of Commerce President Doc Eldridge, a “ghost town.” Shortly afterwards, a “nighttime economy” filled the void, and the explosion of bars and venues in the 1980s brought Athens national recognition as a small college town with a whole lot of quirk. Students got an extra boost in 1993, when Georgia established the HOPE scholarship. What originated as an attempt to stem the state’s brain drain ended up freeing up a lot of savings for middleand upper-class families with children, which drove up the demand for higher-quality student housing. Students who could afford to upgrade moved closer to nicer locations near Downtown. Boutiques and restaurants flourished. Though many rarely stayed
+ _________________ $1,635
in business for more than a few years, building improvements and increased foot traffic became attractive qualities for investors, and rarely was a space empty for long. Now, while places like the Standard and Urban Outfitters may seem to stand out, it’s unknown how significant they’ll be in the long-term. So it’s undeniable Downtown is good for businesses – and for the county’s tax base. The Walker’s regulars I spoke to weren’t worried about the higher-end locations. “Athens is cyclical,” they argued, “and it always keeps its character.” Doc Eldridge was also optimistic. “It’s a welcome addition. Is it competition for local business owners? Of course. It’s good for everybody.” You hear this narrative often – new business is good business, and expensive business is even better. We all stand to benefit from the increase in competition and tax revenues. But it’s just as obvious that not all growth benefits everyone equitably. As GPR’s own Eli Scott pointed out, Athens is still one of the poorest counties of its size in the country. Take an Athens Transit bus down Oglethorpe, and you’ll pass by miles of marginalized communities – largely low-income, largely African American and Latino. Despite the growth Downtown being good for “everyone,” it’s difficult t o imagine these communities benefitting much from a new J. Crew opening up – even with marginal increases to the tax base. The housing situation isn’t improving much, either. A study commissioned by the ACC government found that “workforce housing” – housing for families making between 60 and 120 percent of the area median income – is getting harder to come by. The low-density, single-family housing that these families want just isn’t being built here. Affordable rental housing’s getting rarer as well. In the past decade, 67 percent of the rental housing built was intended for students, and only 11 percent for low-income families.
Even public housing tenants are feeling the pressure. As Marina Applegate of the Athens Housing Authority told me, legislation from the Department of Housing and Urban Development tied public housing rents to market rates – meaning occupants had to start paying a couple hundred dollars more for the same run-down housing. The remaining affordable housing is located in places like the Eastside, where poverty abounds and many units aren’t even fit for occupancy. The point here isn’t that this inequality is a new, frightening thing. What’s worrisome is that we’ve allowed our narrative of “what’s good for Athens” to subtly exclude a whole lot of Athenians. The city has a reputation for being hip, progressive, and inclusive. But the kinds of policies that would really integrate disparate Athenians – like an inclusionary zoning ordinance or infill development for affordable housing – aren’t likely to be passed without, as Link argues, widespread public shaming. The spatial seclusion of low-income neighborhoods helps us put them out of mind. The average UGA student may pass by the lowincome housing on Broad St. daily, but it’s easy to avert our eyes during those few uncomfortable seconds when socioeconomic injustice is staring us in the face. It would be harder to ignore Athens’ inequality were we passing through neighborhoods like Pine Wood or Tallassee Club on the daily. During research for this article, I came across an interesting essay by David Harvey called “The Right to the City.” Dr. Harvey is an English scholar of geography and anthropology who writes extensively on capitalism’s effect on cities. As Harvey argues, cities are unique for their concentrations of surplus capital investments. As space runs out, the old must often be torn down to make way for the new, a process which hurts the poor first, and hardest. As capital globalizes, and financial institutions grow and evolve, the owners of these projects – the ones deciding the physical landscape of cities – are increasingly removed from their streets. This poses a real threat to the citizens’ “right to the city” – the right, Harvey argues, to ultimately shape our landscape and shape ourselves. Regardless of whether we’re here for four years or for the rest of our lives, our consumption choices will have a very real impact on Athens’ cityscape. If we want to keep thinking of ourselves as a uniquely inclusive space, it’s time to start pushing for real, inclusionary policies to make that happen.
In the past decade, 67 percent of the rental housing built was intended for students, and only 11 percent for lowincome families.
Georgia Political Review ¦ 15
SAFE HARBOR Georgia s Big Opportunity Kal Golde Assistant Senior Editor
eorgia voters have a chance to make an enormous impact when they vote in November 2016, and it has nothing to do with choosing our next president. There is a state constitutional amendment up for ratification in November that could help protect victims of one of Georgia’s worst crimes - child sex trafficking. Called the Safe Harbor Fund amendment, it would establish a permanent fund to help children rescued from the sex trade to recover from the deep physical and psychological damage of forced prostitution. Currently, little to no public funding exists in Georgia to provide for this recovery. Sex trafficking is arguably t he worst, and most prominent, form of modern slavery. Traffickers lure individuals with low standards of living by promising a better life and working conditions. Extremely susceptible runaways are offered food and shelter by their exploiters, but no teenager is immune – teens with better living conditions are often tricked into a trafficker’s h ands o nline. A bout h alf o f a ll v ictims k now t he person who pushes them to prostitution. The victims are disproportionately women and young girls: in Georgia, girls are forced into the industry at an average age of 13, but can be as young as 10. The girls are often physically abused by their traffickers o r t hreatened a gainst fl eeing, b ut many have no sense of life outside the sex trade anyway. Some girls are raped thousands of times before they escape, if they escape at all. As much as human and sex trafficking are global problems, this is also a local issue. Georgia, particularly Atlanta, is one of the biggest hubs for sex trafficking in the United States: every month in Georgia, nearly 7,200 men pay for sex with girls under the age of 18. That is a striking, but incomplete statistic. The number of underage girls sold for sex in Georgia each month is about 400 - an alarming indicator of how many of these girls are repeat victims. Additionally, only 10 percent of these men know they are purchasing sex with minors, which speaks to the lack of age transparency in the state’s prostitution industry. Ten to fifteen years ago, awareness of this problem was scant. Efforts of Atlanta’s then-Mayor Shirley Franklin, nonprofits, and lawmakers began to spread the word and push for reform. As a result, in 2011 Georgia lawmakers passed a bill that elevated sex trafficking to a felony charge. At that point, the biggest issue became the treatment of children exploited by sex traffickers; in court, they were viewed not as victims but as delinquents. Many girls were charged with
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80% of victims are girls and women.
Girls are forced into the industry at an average age of 13, but can be as young as 10.
Each month, 7,200 men pay for sex with one of only 400 girls under the age of
GEORGIA Now the fate of Safe Harbor rests in the hands of Georgia voters. prostitution or other crimes and sent to jail instead of receiving help. In Atlanta a pair of sisters arrested for prostitution, 10 and 11 years old at the time, were kept in jail by court officials because there was simply nowhere else safe for them to go. Upon release, the lack of care from both child services and their mother, a victim of severe drug addiction, found the girls back in traffickers’ hands. A diverse group took up the challenge to change this: a number of non-profit organizations; GA Senator Renee Unterman and GA Representatives Chuck Efstration and Andy Welch; and the state Attorney General’s office. In the words of Heather Stockdale, executive director and cofounder of the non-profit Georgia Cares: “It was quite a fight. While a lot had already been done to further the field, we were taking a hard line against the buyers and traffickers as offenders, while simultaneously addressing the victimization of these children…We were really re-establishing the state’s philosophy on the issue of child sex trafficking.” A formidable task, but in 2015 their combined efforts succeeded in passing two bills through the state legislature. The first was Rachel’s Law, named for a brave survivor of sex trafficking who testified before Georgia lawmakers. Sponsored by Sen. Unterman, the bill prevents minors who are trafficked from being charged with sexual offenses (a notion known as “Safe Harbor”), increases penalties for sex traffickers, and requires that traffickers be listed on the state sex offender registry. Victims of sex trafficking need more than safe harbor, though. They need care, and that requires money. That is the purpose of the current measure, Senate Resolution 7 (also sponsored by Sen. Unterman), a state constitutional amendment known as the Safe Harbor Fund. It establishes a permanent public fund that will go directly and solely to helping children rescued from sex trafficking b y p roviding h ealth s ervices, s afe h ousing, a nd psychological care. Without this help, rescued victims have little hope of long-lasting rehabilitation: in 2011, half of all girls rescued and placed in safe homes ran away, becoming easy targets for traffickers. A nd n onprofit r escue h omes o nly h ave so many beds. The state legislature could have passed a simple spending measure to help rehabilitate victims of child sex trafficking, but this funding would expire each year and could be slashed in the future. As a result, lawmakers, led by Unterman, chose to pass the Safe Harbor Fund as a constitutional amendment. In this form, the money is untouchable except for its express purpose. Passing a constitutional amendment in Georgia requires a 2/3 majority in the legislature - Safe Harbor passed the Senate by an overwhelming 46-3 margin. Stockdale explains just how monumental last year’s joint passage of Rachel’s Law and the Safe Harbor Fund was: “The state took a stand to say that it believes that children who are victims of sex trafficking are victims, not criminals. [And the amendment] ensures in perpetuity that there are funds to support these victims and that money each and every year will go towards this purpose…For us at Georgia Cares, the overwhelming support from our legislative branch…gave us incredible hope that one day, we might eradicate this crime in Georgia.”
Lawmakers have acted, but now the fate of Safe Harbor rests in the hands of Georgia voters. Any state constitutional amendment must be ratified by the people. If Safe Harbor is ratified by 51 percent of Georgia voters in November, the Fund will have permanent status, and the government will neither be able to deplete the fund nor use it for other purposes. At face value, passage seems like an easy task. Even the most fiscally conservative voter would have a hard time deeming this money as unnecessary, and the amendment requires no new spending by the state. The Safe Harbor Fund will be fed by two sources: assets seized from caught perpetrators of sex trafficking, and a one percent assessment on the revenue of Georgia’s adult entertainment industry. It is that last aspect where the potential controversy arises. The links between the adult entertainment industry - mainly strip clubs, brothels, and pornography - and sex trafficking are well documented. If the owner of an adult entertainment business knowingly employs victims of human trafficking, this penalty is the minimum they deserve; if an owner does so unawares, the one percent assessment is a reasonable way to help ameliorate the damage done. Regardless, Ms. Stockdale recounts that the assessment complicated passage of the amendment in the legislature: “Many legislators struggled with the additional fines and assessments on adult entertainment, but in the end, [they] saw enough of a connection with these businesses and [sex trafficking] to move it forward.” The concern now is that the adult entertainment industry will launch an advertising campaign against ratification, and the industry has deep pockets. But hopes are high. A simple majority of Georgia voters is needed to ratify the amendment, an attainable goal. And university-age voters have an important role to play. Senator Renee Unterman, the amendment’s sponsor and a champion of the anti-sex-trafficking movement, called out to young voters in a statement to GPR: “College students and Millennials have shown a high propensity to get involved in the fight against minor sex trafficking. The challenge to these young people is to translate that passion into voting “Yes” on the Safe Harbor Amendment in November.” If you vote this November, keep the Safe Harbor amendment in mind. For the many students voting in their first presidential election, voting day will be exciting enough. But it is rare that voters, especially students, have a chance to make such an impact with their vote at the state level. Should the Safe Harbor amendment pass, it would be a huge step forward in Georgia’s battle against child sex trafficking, and a testament to the army
Sen. Untermann and the SafeHarborYes invite students at the University of Georgia to go to SafeHarborYes.com and sign the pledge to vote. We ll help them mobilize their friends through social media and send them information on how and when to vote, along with reminders before the election.
Georgia Political Review ¦ 17
N AT I O N A L
Missing in Action
The Image of the Female Veteran
Sam Cleare Staff Writer
This article focuses on women of the female sex; however, it is important to recognize the specific challenges of transgender women as well.
ost Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has received more attention from the media in recent years. Films such as American Sniper inform the American public about the dangers and realities of PTSD. News articles cover flaws within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as well as crimes influenced by the disorder. Presidential candidates for the 2016 election speak out about the future of American soldiers and PTSD as well. However, while male U.S. veterans are the center of discussion, the media leaves female veterans in the dark. This year, Sarah Palin spoke out about her son’s PTSD in relation to his criminal charges, leading to discussions about male veterans and PTSD. Nevertheless, this puzzle lacks a large piece. Just as women are often left out of discussions concerning leadership in government, rebel movements, and more, they are typically left out of representations of the U.S. Armed Forces. Women live with PTSD in increasing numbers and are often affected differently from men due to biological factors, family structure, and high levels of sexual harassment and rape. Researching the disorder as if the solution is “one size fits all” ignores the specific challenges that females face when experiencing the disorder. Viewing PTSD with a single, gender blind lens does not service the needs of all female soldiers.
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The topic of women with PTSD is increasingly relevant as an issue of national security. One third of all American soldiers develop PTSD, and women now make up 15 percent of America’s armed services in Iraq and Afghanistan. While the majority of these women do not engage in combat, many serve on the front lines. Women in noncombat roles suffer from PTSD as well, as they frequently experience similar traumatic events. During the Afghanistan War in 2001, 149 women lost their lives, and PTSD threatens the lives of many more. Since the Department of Defense recently lifted its ban on women serving in combat roles, more and more women are fighting on the front lines. There has been an increase in women returning home with PTSD in the recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq in comparison with the 1991 Gulf War. It is predicted that thousands of women could return home with PTSD next year as well. Advancements in military protection technology will ensure that more soldiers can return home. However, while the bodies of female soldiers can be strongly guarded, their minds remain vulnerable. PTSD and other traumatic brain illnesses continue to go untreated and misunderstood. Medical studies also show that women are more likely to develop stress disorders than men after being victims of these traumatic events. Women are more susceptible to depression along with their hormonal regulation and chromosomes, which vary due to contraception
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drugs and menstruation. Depression, traceable to dominant genes in the X chromosome, is more commonly diagnosed in females due to the fact that they possess two X chromosomes while men possess only one. Additionally, research supports the fact that sexual trauma increases women’s chances of being diagnosed with a form of PTSD, separate from PTSD relating to combat trauma. Yet incidents of sexual assault and rape within the military continue to go unpunished. Instead, public statements of the V.A. have included victim blaming and policies related to sexual assault have led the administration to cover up crimes in the past. Family structure affects the involvement of soldiers in the military as well. Due to maternal norms, mothers are expected to be the primary caregivers, not the country’s protectors. Throughout history, the roles of mother and soldier have only been combined during crises and rebellions. However, with a push of inclusivity in these ads, norms and treatments may change. Breaking female gender stereotypes, including motherhood and fragility, ignites controversy. When asked about registering women in the Selective Service system, U.S. presidential candidate Ted Cruz responded, “I’m the father of two little girls. I love those girls with all my heart. They are capable of doing anything in their hearts’ desire, but the idea that their government would forcibly put them in the foxhole with a 220-pound psychopath trying to kill them, doesn’t make any sense at all.” Women continue to be associated with the “private sphere,” and many individuals, including Cruz, reinforce the idea that all women are “little girls,” lacking agency. Why do these stereotypes exist concerning war and gender? Throughout history, many women have possessed the ability to participate in combat positions. Not to mention, explanations concerning the biological gender differences do not account for the statistical overlap. There are outliers of men and women who do not represent average physical qualities of the two genders. War is also changing in ways that have the potential to create more roles for women. Individuals who are smaller in size may be better fit for certain roles, such as pilot positions and others that would benefit from carrying a lighter load. Elizabeth Tepe, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who attends the University of Georgia, explained that she felt that her physical abilities did not cause issues. The
“culture of the military” created the difficulties t hat she faced as a woman serving in the Marine Corps. She stated, “It is a man’s world.” According to scholar J.S. Goldstein, protecting the private sphere, including women, children, and other family elements, has been a consistent motivation for men entering the military. Today, the norm behind this behavior is breaking as more women are joining the military and succeeding in combat positions. The formal process of opening positions of combat to women in the United States military began in 2013. However, women in the military have been fighting in combat positions for years. Government policy is finally catching up to the reality of females in the military. The treatment of these female veterans lags behind. Due to the historical roles and gender norms, the United States women veterans continue to lack treatment options. However, the consequences of PTSD on women often lead to homelessness as well as drug, unemployment, and alcohol abuse. Tepe explained that females dealing with PTSD are often not believed or taken seriously. With almost 100,000 female veterans living in Georgia and numbers increasing, services in Georgia leave out a growing percentage of veterans in the state. Although legislation that would challenge the chain of command reporting system did not pass, President Barack Obama has made strides against the issue of PTSD through sexual assault policies. After studies came out stating that only one in four sexual assaults is reported in the military, President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014, which includes legislation that would keep military commanders from overturning jury convictions for sexual assault. Fighting the long-standing issue of sexual assault in the military acknowledges the plights of both male and female veterans. Hopefully these new policies will persist, ending decades of ignorance and victim blaming. Changing stereotypes continually alter the image of female veterans. Politicians and legislators continue to enter the conversation slowly. Will their actions come quickly enough, or will delays deconstruct the gains we have made?
Societal norms concerning the maternal role cause mothers to be expected to be the primary caregivers, not the country s protectors. Georgia GeorgiaPolitical PoliticalReview Review¦ ¦19 7
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A Southern Bel
The Rise of John Bel Edwards and the Future of Democrats in the South
Rob Oldham Staff Writer
ohhnnn Belll Edwudds.” A name so sweet and southern that you’d have thought he was a Republican. John Bel Edwards, the newly-elected governor of Louisiana, is defying all expectations for Democratic politics below the Mason-Dixon. He is a white social conservative and the lone Democratic governor in the Deep South. In the 2015 gubernatorial election, Bel Edwards won 56 percent of the statewide vote, the most of any Democrat in a Louisiana governor’s race since Edwin Edwards defeated Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke in 1991 with 61 percent of the vote. Bel Edward’s victory is reminiscent of an earlier age in American politics when Democrats held an iron grip on the South. Republicans did not win a single state in the Deep South in presidential elections from 1876 to 1956. This was due to the Republican Party being “The Party of Lincoln,” that had put an end to the Confederacy and slavery during the Civil War. It was not until the mid-1960s, when Richard Nixon and Barry Goldwater turned the Party sharply to the right on social issues, that the Republicans became competitive. By the early 1990s, Republicans held most of the
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non-urban congressional seats in the South and were consistently winning the southern states in presidential elections. Democrats still held some sway in the Deep South—then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton won Georgia and Louisiana in 1992—but many of these Democrats were much more conservative than the national party, falling somewhere right-of-center on the ideological spectrum. Moderate voting records did not help them though. Republican landslides in 2010 and 2014 vanquished the remaining conservative southern Democrats, including Georgia Representative John Barrow, the only white Democratic congressman left in the South. History was against John Bel Edwards when he entered the 2015 Louisiana gubernatorial race. There was only one other Democrat serving in a statewide office in the Deep South and his opponent, Republican David Vitter, had won two U.S. Senate elections in 2004 and 2010. Vitter, who campaigned as a strong social conservative, won reelection in 2010 even though he had been implicated in a Washington, D.C. prostitution ring. Moreover, Louisiana had voted against Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 by 20 percent margins. In 2014 voters ousted incumbent Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu despite her desperate attempt to win over conservative voters by championing the Keystone Pipeline in her final days in office. C learly, L ouisiana was not a friendly environment for Democrats. But even in a red state, John Bel Edwards saw an opportunity to win. He was the Democratic Minority Leader in the State House, so he was reasonably well-known. More importantly, he was running against a weak incumbent who had revealed himself as a hypocrite with the prostitution scandal. Just months before the election, Vitter was viewed unfavorably by 51 percent of voters, including 44 percent of Republicans. Bel Edwards’ campaign took advantage of Vitter’s weakness. Attack ads contrasted his decorated military background with Vitter’s moral sleaziness, the most devastating one declaring that Vitter had chosen “prostitutes over patriots,” when he skipped a Senate vote honoring fallen soldiers to make a call to an escort service. Vitter’s inadequacies do not tell the whole story of the governor’s victory though. Bel Edwards refused to give up the Democrats’ liberal economic platform to appeal to conservative voters. Instead, he doubled down on his criticisms of previous Gov. Bobby Jindal’s cuts to education and healthcare, pledging to use executive power to expand Medicaid on his first day in office. He also shored up
N AT I O N A L his support among social conservatives by remaining pro-life, pro-gun, and anti-drug. His economically-liberal, sociallyconservative policy stands were similar to those taken by the conservative southern Democrats after the New Deal. He might have even reminded voters of the last Edwards who was governor of Louisiana. Edwin Edwards was also an economic populist who leaned right on social issues and he was elected governor four times. Maybe Bel Edwards’ pro-Medicaid, antiabortion platform resonated with a state that is among the poorest and most religious in the country. So with the apparent success of Bel Edwards’ message and the rise of a new electoral coalition in Louisiana, could there be new formula for Democratic success in the Deep South? They could certainly use it after losing five southern gubernatorial elections and six southern senatorial elections in 2014. Democrats might be eyeing a southern resurgence with Bel Edwards’ strategy as the guiding light. His success should not be misread though. There are other examples of southern voting trends in 2015 that are more instructive than Bel Edwards’ defeat of the scandal-ridden Vitter. In the Kentucky gubernatorial race, Matt Bevin, a Tea Party-style Republican, handedly won despite accusations that he had abused a former girlfriend. Bevin ran on an antiMedicaid position even though Kentucky had expanded Medicaid under its previous governor, Democrat Steve Bershear, who was quite popular among voters. In Virginia, the most liberal state in the former Confederacy, Republicans maintained their majority in the State Senate even though many predicted they would lose. These losses for Democrats illustrate the Party’s perpetual unpopularity in the South, unpopularity that may come more from the label “Democrat” rather than legitimate qualms with their policy goals. The South’s aversion to all things “Democrat” began with the uneasy Republican alliance formed in the 1960s. Many religious southerners were repulsed enough by the national Democrats’ social progressivism that they aligned with anti-tax, anti-regulation business leaders under the banner of the Republican Party. The factions have coexisted for 50 years even though there is no obvious connection between social and economic conservatism. The result is an incoherent blending of the religious right and business leaders who have one common goal: no more Democrats. Though the Democrats’ social policies appeal to many pro-business progressives and their economic policies would benefit impoverished rural communities with religious values, both groups have remained staunchly Republican. This may be because voters are fiercely loyal to their party labels, often changing their
views on policy before changing their partisan affiliation. This loyalty to party labels over policy could partially explain why over half of Republicans support Medicaid expansion but continue to elect governors and legislators who reject it. Apart from the disadvantage of their party label, Democrats also face a structural disadvantage in winning southern governorships. Almost every gubernatorial election south of the Mason-Dixon occurs in an off-presidential election year (North Carolina being the exception). High turnout during presidential election years typically favors Democrats while lower turnout in midterm elections helps the GOP. Republicans’ three biggest electoral sweeps (1994, 2010, and 2014) have been in midterm elections. Increased turnout might have pushed up-and-coming southern Democrats, like 2014 Georgia gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter, over the top in their elections. But without it, southern Democrats are typically relegated to small urban districts where their candidates must compete for legislative seats or mayoral offices. W hen t he S outh’s v ast r ural l andscape i s brought into the fold in statewide elections, Democrats find it hard to win. Yes, the South belongs to the GOP and it has not taken long for that to hit home for John Bel Edwards. Ever since Governor Huey Long ran the state during the 1930s, the governor has typically handpicked the Speaker of the House. The Republican majority in the State House (which gained three seats in 2015 despite Bel Edward’s victory) denied Bel Edwards the opportunity to do so for the first time in nearly 100 years. The governor next called a 25-day special legislative session to address the state’s financial woes. Republicans are not playing ball though, giving little ground on Bel Edwards’ proposed tax and spending increases. As John Bel Edwards finds himself in tough battles with the Republican state legislature and sees his state embrace conservatives in the 2016 presidential election, he might want to start preparing for a tough reelection campaign in 2019. In 2015 he was elected over an unpopular incumbent who had betrayed his conservative bona fides. It is doubtful he would have done as well against a stronger opponent. Unfortunately for Democrats, Bel Edwards is not a trend setter or a resurgence candidate. He is the exception that proves the rule: conservatism reigns supreme in the South. Unless Gov. Bel Edwards finds a creative way to be a Democrat, but govern as a conservative, southerners will likely be sending him, and all Democrats, a clear message at the end of his term: This is Republican turf and you best remember it.
So with the apparent success of Bel Edwards message and the rise of a new electoral coalition in Louisiana, could there be a new formula for Democratic success in the Deep South?
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N AT I O N A L
Bernie Sanders and the Progressive Evolution of the Democratic Party Robert Galerstein Staff Writer
he Democratic primaries began as a battle between David and Goliath. Hillary Clinton was the inevitable nominee, described by Harry Enten of FiveThirtyEight as “the most dominant non-incumbent front-runner in modern primary history.” Having only been narrowly defeated by President Obama eight years earlier – despite actually getting more votes – she served as Secretary of State in her former opponent’s administration, becoming the obvious choice for Obama to pass the torch to as the next Democratic standard-bearer. Before the formal primary process had begun, the invisible primary had already concluded, with nearly every major member of the Democratic establishment endorsing Clinton. On April 30th, 2015, Bernie Sanders addressed a small group at the U.S. Capitol and announced he was seeking the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. The 74-yearold self-described “democratic socialist” Senator had only recently joined the Democratic Party. Despite frequently being to the left of the establishment consensus as the most liberal member of Congress, he had his eyes set on influencing party platforms. While Sanders presented an obvious charm and was able to convince many of his sincerity, he was not necessarily seen as presidential and only polled at 3 percent nationally. Many guessed that his intentions were aimed at influencing the frontrunner, forcing her to commit to stances further to the left on a number of issues including trade agreements, the Keystone XL Pipeline, and Wall Street regulation. Little did Sanders know he would soon be speaking in front of massive crowds and become the only credible challenger to the seemingly inevitable nominee. The diversity of both political parties is difficult t o c apture i n a s ingle c andidate,
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and Hillary Clinton was not without her flaws. Clinton’s lack of popularity was only compounded by liberal frustrations with her advocacy during her husband’s administration (in favor of welfare reform and policies blamed for mass incarceration) and her vote in favor of the Iraq War. More recent investigations by the State Department and FBI and revelations about expensive and confidential speeches given to Wall Street did not help. Liberal voters were distrustful of Clinton’s triangulation and were looking for serious alternatives. Bernie Sanders filled that void in a way that few anticipated. Despite his opponent’s attempts to paint him as such, Sanders is far from a single-issue candidate, often giving hour-long speeches touching on nearly every issue imaginable. That being said, he has focused heavily on areas he feels most passionate about, as shown by his tireless advocacy in Congress: Wall Street, campaign finance, and income inequality. Sanders’ proposals, often criticized as unrealistic in terms of potential passage through Congress, went above and beyond the party orthodoxy, promising to reinstate Glass-Steagall, provide free college, instate a single-payer healthcare system, and campaign without creating or endorsing a Super PAC. Hillary Clinton largely agrees with Sanders as to which issues the United States must address, as well as the direction of the solution. Their area of disagreement most often lies in scope and method of change. Hillary Clinton favors pragmatic, incremental solutions, and is often described as a “policy wonk genius” who can master minute details. She believes that results do not come easy, and continually warns against making promises that cannot be kept. Bernie Sanders has a radically different vision that refuses to accept the system as
N AT I O N A L is. His idealistic policies would require overhauling our entire economic and political system – taking money out of politics and making substantial structural changes to limit the power and influence of the economic elite. His speeches and debate performances mirrored many of his followers’ YouTube favorites from the Congressional floor, filled with fiery, populist rhetoric challenging dominant assumptions of the status quo. Another difference quickly arose in the nature of their campaigns. Bernie Sanders looked for more than simply a presidential nomination – he encouraged a political revolution. He was dismayed by both the lack of youth participation in the political process (after observing the 2014 midterm sweep by the Republican Party due to a millennial turnout of around 20 percent) and the Republican Party’s surge in support from lower-income white voters whom he believed to be voting against their self-interest. The Democratic Party needed to return to some of its populist roots by campaigning around central economic and political themes that affected voters of all backgrounds from the middle and lower classes: “I am focusing on the fact that whether you’re white or black or Hispanic or Asian, if you are in the working class, you are struggling to keep your heads above water.” Mobilizing these groups would enable the radical change he sought to achieve; a Democratic presidency could only accomplish so much without a drastically different political environment. As his campaign began to gain momentum, closing deficits in poll numbers and amassing a wealth of small financial donations, Sanders developed into a far more serious contender. Topics that initially caught him off guard in early debates forced him to work on more detailed and eloquent defenses of previous Congressional votes in later ones. When pressed on weaknesses in foreign policy, gun rights, and immigration reform, he ultimately sharpened his skills and became a more complete candidate. Early results in Iowa and New Hampshire only reinforced the notion that his nomination was a real possibility. However, the real test in winning the nomination involved securing perhaps the most important foundation of the Democratic Party’s base – the Obama coalition that was able to mobilize minority voters. This consideration motivated Clinton to utilize the rhetoric of a third Obama term, a shift from her strategy
in 2008 when she attempted to leverage the popularity of her husband’s presidency instead. Sanders distanced himself from his criticisms of the Obama administration and focused on developing his racial justice platform. However, he was still severely lacking in the political connections that the Clintons had built with minority voters over the last two decades and proved unable to pull out victories in any state with a substantial population of primary voters of color, save a narrow win in Michigan. Low overall turnout and big wins by Clinton throughout the South seemed to stop the political revolution in its tracks. While Sanders has the money to wait on a more favorable calendar, the path to gaining the necessary delegates to win the nomination looks incredibly difficult without a more diverse body of support. The significance of the Sanders campaign extends far beyond the nomination – it is an incredibly important inflection point in the history of the Democratic Party. Hillary Clinton has moved to the left not only because of the Sanders campaign, but also because of broader changes in the party’s base. Sanders supporters have every right to view that shift as inauthentic, but campaign rhetoric and promises matter and extend into the presidency. Over twenty years ago, incumbent President Bill Clinton emphasized the tenuous condition of the Democratic Party by campaigning on the promise that “the era of big government is over.” After narrowly winning Iowa, Hillary Clinton proudly made a vastly different proclamation, announcing, “I am a progressive.” While the merits of this statement are certainly up for debate (cue pointless quarrelling over what truly constitutes a “liberal” or “progressive”), the statement reflects a wide-ranging shift to the left in the Democratic Party. Regardless of the selection of the ultimate nominee, Bernie Sanders will not go away. He will maintain his important role as a Senator and has arguably cemented himself as the third most important member of the Democratic Party – a group he joined less than a year ago – trailing only Obama and Clinton. He will likely be an important ally for a potential Clinton presidency in realizing progressive ideals, as well as a potential whistleblower if Clinton threatens triangulation. His campaign was crucial to a substantive primary process that will help prepare everyone involved for a grueling general election. The Sanders campaign has been historic – even if ultimately unsuccessful, it will shape the Democratic Party for years to come.
Source of Funds for Hillary Clinton s Campaign
Source of Funds for Bernie Sanders Campaign
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N AT I O N A L
Why the Court Matters Bryce Culver and Garrett Herrin Staff Writers
ver the years, the American presidential election cycle has come to dominate media attention. Each cycle begins sooner, consumes more air-time, and takes a more personal hold in the life of the average American than the last. At every turn, one is inundated with interviews, specials, polls, opinion pieces, endorsements; the list goes on and on. It seems that the candidates are bombarded with questions of domestic policy, foreign intervention, religious sympathies, and minority issues. Yet, among all this turmoil, one vital issue fails to garner the attention it deserves: the judiciary. Perhaps this is because of its resigned role in politics or the lack of interaction with the voting populace. Regardless, such an influential branch of our government that is directly affected by the president deserves a greater share of our attention. Compared to the public perception of the federal judiciary, the lasting influence of the court cannot be overstated. Congressional action is often perceived to have the largest impact on the daily lives of citizens. Any basic government class will proclaim it is Congress who creates law, not the judiciary. While this is true, it is the judiciary that interprets law. Competing theories of judicial restraint and judicial activism embody the opposing approaches judges take in interpreting the law. The former, embodied by the late Justice Scalia, emphasizes
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the principle that judges should only rule on that which is brought before them. Issues of constitutionality and interpretation are limited to the scope of the legal question brought in a case. Judicial activism rejects this premise in favor of a proactive approach. Activists highlight the judiciary’s role in not only interpreting law, but defining it when it is vague. These differences carry implications for the impact of the court on the fabric of our society and economy. This effect is best exemplified in the litigation of sexual-orientation employment protection. Citing Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, cases that expand the interpretation of “sex-based employment protection” as sexual-orientation inclusive have now worked their way up through the federal judiciary. This controversial issue has not been addressed by Congress; nevertheless, many judges have granted extended protection using a broad definition of “sex” in “sex-based protection.” The adoption of this interpretation affects millions of citizens nation-wide, hardly something to ignore. The judiciary influences all areas of the law, not just federal employment protection. In the last six years, the judiciary has handed down contentious decisions encompassing issues of campaign finance, same-sex marriage, voting rights, and healthcare. It seems that as Congress stalls, the judiciary begins to take on greater action.
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Why, then, should the actions of the judiciary be a topic in the presidential election? The president’s power to appoint federal judges, so often overlooked, can be extremely consequential. Due to the life tenure of federal judges, the president can further her policies for decades after her administration through selective appointments to the judiciary. Since the Nixon administration, presidents have installed systems of judicial selection that select judges who align with their policy goals. These “litmus tests” ensure an appointee’s alignment with key policy issues before being placed into action. The recent death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has made the judiciary a central campaign issue for Republicans and Democrats alike, as the parties’ potential nominees offer vastly different visions of both the composition and proper role of the Court for decades to come. Several candidates have revealed which issues they will use as litmus tests in their appointments. On her campaign website, former Secretary of State and Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) identifies five previous cases as well as one forthcoming case and in doing so insinuated any potential nominee must satisfy the following pre-conditions: that she or he would (1) protect the integrity of Roe v. Wade; (2) overturn Shelby County v. Holder, the landmark 2013 case that struck down key provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act; (3) protect the integrity of the same-sex marriage cases United States v. Windsor and Obergefell v. Hodges; (4) overturn Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which determined that political spending is protected under the First Amendment (meaning corporations and unions could spend unlimited amounts of money on political activities, as long as this was done independently of a party or candidate); (5) ensure the protection of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; and (6) regard President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration as constitutional. Secretary Clinton’s challenger, Senator Bernie Sanders (IVt.), who has made campaign finance reform a central issue of his campaign, offers a more limited list of cases when questioned about potential litmus tests. In a February 2016 Bloomberg Politics interview, Sanders said, “I’m not a great fan of litmus tests. … [But] this issue of Citizens United is so significant [and] fundamental to the future of this country.” Regarding an interviewer’s criticism that his answer was too one-dimensional, Sanders shot back, “It goes without saying I am pro-choice [and it is] not terribly likely I will be nominating someone who is anti-choice, etc.” On the issue of Citizens United, Sanders said in a 2015 CNN interview, “No nominee of mine to the United States Supreme Court will get that job unless he or she is loud and clear that one of their first orders of business will be to overturn Citizens United.” Justices, as laid out in Article III of the Constitution, cannot set their own agenda; whether a substantive position on a major legal question is more important to voters than whether that candidate understands the nuances of judicial procedure remains to be seen. To Sanders’s credit, however, he has not only been actively campaigning in favor of campaign finance reform, but has also translated that rhetoric into action in the Senate chamber. Notably, in 2013 Sanders introduced a constitutional amendment that would have overturned the Court’s decision, but it attracted only one co-sponsor, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D.-Ore.), and stalled in the Judiciary Committee.
Activists highlight the judiciary s role in not only interpreting law, but deﬁning it when it is vague. These diﬀerences carry implications for the impact of the court on the fabric of our society and economy. The differences between the Democratic and Republican candidates’ answers to this question are stark. Senator Marco Rubio (R.-Fla.) has argued for an originalist interpretation of the Constitution, suggesting at a 2015 Republican debate, “As we look ahead, it must be a priority of the next president to nominate judges and justices committed to applying the Constitution as written and originally understood.” However, there may be no Republican candidate who has spoken more of the Court’s importance than Senator Ted Cruz (R.-Texas). In a February 2016 Meet the Press interview, Cruz had the following to say: “Well, my litmus test for any Supreme Court justice is whether he or she will faithfully apply the constitution of the law. It’s not a specific issue. It is rather a jurisprudential approach.” Like many of his Republican opponents, he has expressed frustration that Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the liberal wing of the Court to affirm k ey p rovisions o f t he Affordable Care Act. Unlike his opponents, however, Cruz has questioned the legitimacy of an unelected body and notably suggested that justices face elections every eight years. Businessman and Republican frontrunner Donald Trump (R-N.Y.) has indicated two “absolute litmus tests: ”protecting the integrity of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the 2014 landmark decision in which the Court recognized a for-profit corporation’s claim of religious belief, as well as District of Columbia v. Heller, which ruled that no jurisdiction can limit an individual’s right to a handgun. Additionally, he has said he would “strongly consider” appointing a justice who would overturn the same-sex marriage decision Obergefell v. Hodges and has called Chief Justice Roberts “disgraceful” for his vote affirming the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate. Asked to identify the jurist with whose judicial philosophy he most closely aligns, Trump named Clarence Thomas, widely regarded by scholars as the most conservative justice spanning several decades. Constitutional scholar William G. Ross argues that judicial issues “produce much campaign bluster but … affect few ballots”; however, the importance of that campaign bluster should not be underestimated. In recent years, research has shown that the president’s litmus tests do indeed have a large impact on the voting habits of the judiciary. It has been observed that a judge is 12 percent more likely to vote conservatively if appointed by a Republican president and 11 percent more likely to vote liberally if appointed by a Democratic president. Eleven to 12 percent may seem not seem too consequential, but considering the tens of thousands of cases heard by the appellate courts each year, this effect on voting behavior influences thousands of cases across the country. Properly acknowledging the impact that the president has on the judiciary is essential in recognizing the lack of attention presidential nominees receive concerning their plans for the judiciary.
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I N T E R N AT I O N A L
MONKEY BUSINESS China in 2016
Bruce Li Staff Writer
015 was a tumultuous year in the global economy as it hit its first major speed bump since the financial crisis in 2008. Oil prices were decimated thanks to the explosion of shale and the slowing of global demand. The European stock markets reeled in the wake of the Greek bailout deal announcement. Emerging markets suffered throughout the year. Yet perhaps the biggest driver of the economic trends was China. Imports and exports declined as China’s economy sputtered to its slowest growth rate in two decades. The Chinese central bank surprisingly allowed the yuan to drop a historic 3 percent in just two days last August. On August 24, the Shanghai Composite dropped 8.5 percent in a day, the nadir of a months-long slide that prompted the global selloff that hit all the major markets. While the year closed with the U.S. Federal Reserve’s announcement of raising interest rates as the global economy recovered modestly, major questions loomed for the Asian superpower and the rest of the world in the new year. Four months into 2016, some of the answers are starting to take shape. After an initial rough patch that had investors worrying about a potential global downturn, so far American and European markets seem to be reaching calmer waters. China may not be in the same boat. In mid-March, given data on the strengthening job market but weak wage growth, the Federal Reserve announced that they were keeping interest rates steady, scaling back their plans for rate increases throughout the year. The U.S. stock market responded positively to the news—the Dow Jones Industrial Average turned positive on the year following the Fed’s announcement, capping off a rally from the poor start to the year. Meanwhile, the European Central Bank unveiled a comprehensive monetary plan to stabilize the economy and revive inflation. While oil prices are still weak given the oversupply problem, U.S. oil prices have shown signs of
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2016 is the Year of the Monkey. In Chinese culture, monkeys represent intelligence and cleverness, and according to Chinese horoscope expert Laura Lau, 2016 may be a year of reinvention a very energetic year and an auspicious one. After a rough 2015, will this prediction hold true for the Chinese economy? Or will 2016 be more of the same for the embattled world superpower?
I N T E R N AT I O N A L rebounding, hitting prices over $40 a barrel in March for the first time all year. China, however, has been a different story. The industrial sector has underperformed in the opening months, with industrial production showing growth still lower than last December’s. The retail sector, traditionally resistant to economic slowdowns, has also dropped, failing to meet expectations even with the increase in consumption that comes with the Lunar New Year holiday. The overall economy continues to grow slowly coming off of 2015’s historically low growth rate. This negative data is particularly troublesome for the country in light of the government’s multitude of stimulus measures designed to jumpstart the stagnant economy. In January, Beijing pumped over $800 billion in funds into the economy, a sum even greater than its stimulus response to the 2008 financial crisis. Most experts were skeptical of this stimulus package’s efficacy. The money does nothing in the way of “changing the fundamentals” and “the calm could be only temporary,” says securities analyst Yang Weixiao. More recently, China announced a bank reserve cut of 0.5 percentage points. This move lowered the amount of capital Chinese banks are required to keep on reserve with the central bank, freeing up around $108 billion in additional funds. Experts agreed that while the move was executed to bring stability to the fragile market, it also risks devaluing the Chinese yuan further, something the Chinese government wants to avoid. Indeed, the Chinese currency has suffered as of late. After dropping the huge two-day drop last August, the yuan continued to fall almost another 3 percent over the final months of 2015. While the yuan has regained ground in recent weeks, its demand is predicted to continue shrinking. “Given the yuan’s volatility…it’s hard to see interest in using the currency among our customers,” said Zhou Lin, finance director of a Chinese trading firm.
This slide in currency, coupled with the slowing economic growth, has created huge capital outflows as Chinese individuals and corporations alike try to move their money abroad to the relative safety of the United States and Europe. Interestingly, these conditions may have led to the unprecedented spike in foreign acquisitions by Chinese companies. With a slowing economy at home, Chinese companies are seeking more promising opportunities abroad and given the questions about the yuan’s value, companies may be looking to make moves before any further declines in their purchasing power. Chinese insurance company Anbang Insurance Group made a $13 billion bid for Starwood Hotels earlier in March; the month before, China National Chemical Corp. set the record for biggest foreign acquisition by a Chinese company by buying Swiss pesticide company Syngenta for $43 billion. So far this year, Chinese companies have already agreed to $102 billion in foreign deals—to compare, they spent $105 billion in all of 2015, which itself was a record. The future of China remains gloomy at best. According to renowned China analyst Charlene Chu, the government will need massive credit injections— to the tune of $5.7 trillion, nearly a third of the U.S. GDP in 2015—to revive the economy. “Other monetary policy levers are either approaching exhaustion, or have limited effectiveness in staving off the deflationary wave China is contending with,” says Chu. Yet even still she admits that the stimulus may be futile. “What would adding further credit on top of what is already the biggest corporate credit boom the world has seen do?” If the government manages to find solutions to the slowing economic growth and weakening currency, as well as mountains of debt, there may be hope for world’s second largest economy. If not, 2016 may be the beginning of the end for China.
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I N T E R N AT I O N A L
BRAZIL, WOMEN, and the OLYMPICS The Real Victim of Zika
Priyanka Ghosh Assistant Senior Editor
he first sign of the Zika virus in the Americas appeared last May in Brazil, but it wasn’t until August of 2015 that a team of doctors in Oswaldo Cruz Hospital in the northeastern state of Pernambuco, Brazil, discovered the link between microcephaly in newborns and the mosquito-borne virus. Microcephaly, a birth defect where a baby’s head is smaller due to incomplete brain development, is a condition that so far has been unique to Latin America – the first case wasn’t seen until October. Confronted with the rapid spread of the disease, Brazil has declared a national public health emergency. The United States government and other nations have already advised women to avoid travelling to certain countries and territories like Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Venezuela and Puerto Rico. However, a new problem arises with the 2016 Olympics. Brazil, which is to hold the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, is the epicenter from which the disease is spreading into South and Central America as well as the Caribbean Islands. Many Olympic athletes are conflicted over whether or not to attend games held in a country that has advised women to avoid pregnancy for the next two years. Most vocal about these concerns is Hope Solo, the goalkeeper for the U.S. national soccer team. In an interview during a tournament she commented “If the Olympics were today, I would not go,” later stating that if conditions were to change or questions were to be answered she will attend. Numerous other athletes, especially women, have raised concerns over the virus, with Kenya threatening to pull out of the games if the virus reaches epidemic level. This is not the first time that the location of the Olympics has held some concerns. In 2008, China’s air pollution problem was seen as a hindrance to the health of the athletes. But this time, with minimal information on the long-term effects of the disease 28 ¦ Georgia Political Review
and the dire potential consequences, the Zika virus looks riskier than past issues that have plagued the Olympics. The International Olympics Committee is working to educate its athletes about the risks of Zika, claiming that health concerns are greatly exaggerated. ...with minimal information on Many athletes and the long-term effects of the the Brazil Olympic disease and the dire potential officials are hoping consequences, the Zika virus that, with time on their looks riskier than past issues that side, Brazil will be able have plagued the Olympics. to minimize the risk by putting in preventative measures. The Olympics will also happen during the winter, when mosquitos are less common in the region. However, the problem is not just the Olympics. In the wake of the national health crisis, which has seen an increase of 147 to 2,400 cases in the last year, Brazil has told its women, “Don’t get pregnant.” While the CDC claims there is not a clear cause-and-effect link and the connection is only circumstantial, the discovery of the virus in the placenta of children affected by microcephaly is damning. World Health Organization (WHO) director general Margaret Chen believes the link between the virus and the brain defect that shows symptoms of blindness and paralysis is growing stronger. The reasoning behind telling women not to get pregnant is clear and even logical, but this is an unreasonable expectation. More than 50 percent of pregnancies are unplanned in Brazil. This, combined with the lack of reproductive rights – abortion is illegal in Brazil – places an unfair burden on the mother to control something she never planned for in the first place. Women in Latin America are not equipped to prevent their own pregnancies. These largely Catholic countries in Latin
I N T E R N AT I O N A L America have criminalized abortion and lack high-quality contraceptives. El Salvador, the country that called for women not to get pregnant until 2018, forces raped children and women with ectopic pregnancies to carry the child to term. Of those countries that have called for women not to get pregnant, only Colombia allows for abortions, but only in the case of fetal anomaly. For this reason, University of Brasilia law professor Debora Diniz is bringing a petition to the Supreme Court. The petition hopes to see the disease affecting change in current abortion laws – similar to how , in the 1960s, the rubella outbreak in the United States paved the way for Roe v. Wade. However, if the petition is not successful, women, especially those who are underprivileged and have a lack of sexual health education, will have to grapple with Zika while living under a government that refuses to take immediate action to help them. Some scientists believe microcephaly might not be a result of Zika, but of something entirely different. If fact, of the 732 cases studied, more than half either were not microcephaly at all or were not as a result of Zika. Zika-linked microcephaly has only been seen in Latin America, mostly Brazil, and not in Africa, where the diseased originated, or Asia, where doctors and scientists have also seen large amounts of cases. So then, what is causing microcephaly? If it’s not due to the mosquitoes, then the surge of microcephaly has something to do with the environment that has cropped up in Brazil recently, and it’s not something that women can easily protect themselves against. Brazil and Latin America are correct in their assessment that the disease has been blown out of proportion for non-pregnant women who want to visit the country or compete in the Olympic games. Cold weather combined with good preventative measures will most likely prevent female athletes from obtaining Zika. However, the real problem lies with the thousands of women in Brazil and these other Latin American countries who lack access to the same reproductive health rights that Hope Solo or Adeline Grey have. The real risk doesn’t even exist for Brazilian athletes like Aline Silva, a Brazilian wrestler and Olympic hopeful who has had dengue fever twice. The young, poor Brazilians who live in underdeveloped regions like the northeastern state of Pernambuco, where the first case of microcephaly linked to Zika was discovered, are the most exposed to the detrimental effects of Zika. Their substandard housing is a breeding ground for these mosquitos, that often carry dengue or chikungunya. The residents do not have access to mosquito repellents. They do not have access to sexual education. They definitely do not have access to abortion clinics. It is ineffective for the government to tell these women not to get pregnant – they do not have the ability to prevent it. It is also ineffective for the government to expect these women to raise children affected with microcephaly – they have inadequate access to healthcare required to take care of these disabled children. Brazil is correct that Zika will most likely not be a problem for foreigners either competing or spectating at the Olympics. The underprivileged population is most at risk – a risk which Brazil, and the rest of Latin America, hope to abate by telling women not to get pregnant. But the perception that this will do anything is wrong. Nothing will happen without real, effective reproductive health rights and better sex education. The disease is rampant, and scientists and doctors have yet to find a cure or establish preventative measures for the babies affected. And in Latin America, where religion usually trumps individual rights and health, it may be time for countries like Brazil and El Salvador to give a little in the face of this unpredictable disease.
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I N T E R N AT I O N A L
THIS IS WHAT A
TERRORIST LOOKS L I K E Rory Hibbler Marketing Director
very act of terrorism in a developed, Western society seems to shake the world to its core. The attacks on September 11 were such a shock to the United States that they inspired the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, the idea of a “Global War on Terrorism”, and the revolution of how Americans approach security. Videos of Islamic terrorists beheading Western journalists after pleas of mercy have circulated their fair share of the news cycle. The recent Paris attacks of 2015 also sent mourning and grief around the globe, prompting hesitancies in the influx of migrants to Europe and tighter international action against ISIS. Meanwhile, in the same week as the Paris attacks, a bombing in Beirut killed 43 people. Why is it that the Lebanon attack was not publicized nearly as much in the media as the Parisian attacks? Why are the events that shake the world the ones that are primarily tragic to the Western hemisphere? To answer these questions we must first ask ourselves: What is terrorism to us? Terrorism is a tricky word to define, especially for Americans and their politicians. While the United Nations defines it as “criminal acts to provoke a state of terror,” Americans seem to have different views. Studies have shown that post-9/11 media uses the term “terrorist” mostly associated with the words “Al Qaeda”, “Islamic terrorism”, and “Middle Eastern terrorism.” Republican presidential primary candidate Donald Trump claims he can “predict” acts of terrorism, that the Syrian refugee crisis is the next source of it, and that
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banning Muslim immigration to the US will make America safer. Opposing primary candidate Ted Cruz went so far as to claim that Christians do not commit terrorist acts because of
their principles. On the other side of the aisle, President Obama
associated terrorism with “extremely poor societies” stricken with conflict. 26 percent of Americans have reported having an unfavorable view of Muslims in America, leading to a slippery association between terrorism and Islam. Terrorist Attacks on U.S. Soil by Group Other 16%
Latino 42% Extreme Left Wing Groups 24%
Jewish Extremists 7%
Islamic Extremists 6%
I N T E R N AT I O N A L Statistically, are these definitions true to what a terrorist looks like? Not exactly. The FBI reports that between 1980 and 2005 Muslims committed only 6 percent of domestic terrorist attacks, and only 2 percent of terrorist attacks in Europe. Jewish extremists committed more terrorist attacks than Muslims. Yet 51 percent of Americans believe racial and ethnic profiling when trying to prevent terrorist attacks is acceptable. 49 percent of Americans are “very worried” about being the victim of a terrorist attack in the United States, and 84 percent believe ISIS to be a “critical threat” to the country. In reality, the average American is more likely to be killed by a couch or toddler than by a Muslim. You are 35,000 times more likely to die from cardiac arrest than from any sort of terrorist attack. However, terrorism is a major security issue to other parts of the world. In 2013 more than 80 percent of all terrorist attacks in the world occurred in just five countries: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Syria. In that same year, out of the 16,000 deaths due to terrorism, only 21 were American citizensoverseas and on US soil. While incidents like 9/11 and the Paris attacks do happen, white, Christian citizens of the Western world are not the ones that should be worrying over terrorist attacks. In 2011 the US National Counter-Terrorism Center reported that, globally, religious terrorist attacks claim an 81-97 percent Muslim victim rate. In 2014 there were over 125 hate crime incidents against people of Islamic faith within the US. The Planned Parenthood shooting in Colorado Springs was an act of extremism meant to induce fear. It was carried out by a white male, Robert Dear. Men are responsible for 98 percent of mass killings in the United States. US Senator Sherrod Brown stated in November that “generally white males” are the ones that commit domestic terrorist attacks. The media generally referred to Dear as a “shooter” or “attacker.” He has been described as a social recluse. The New York Times labeled him a “violent loner.” Mike Huckabee did charge him as a “domestic terrorist,” however most politicians, including President Obama, avoided that word when describing this tragic event. In fact, it is quite difficult to find any source besides extremely left-wing media labeling him as a terrorist. In contrast, the San Bernardino shooters were Syed Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik; they killed 14 people at a Christmas party in California. Beforehand, Farook had gotten into an argument with a coworker about Islam. The shooters were Muslims and had recently traveled to Saudi Arabia. The FBI immediately investigated this as a terrorist attack. President Obama’s initial statement called it a terrorist-related activity. The Los Angeles Times jumped to label it a terror attack; another shooting on US soil, by a US citizen, meant to induce fear and carry out an extremist ideal. Only this time, society labelled it as terrorism. The media and terrorists have an unacknowledged symbiotic relationship. The media gives terrorists, The most appalling part of it all is particularly ISIS and other Muslim extremist groups, attention and legitimacy for their actions while catching that the formula for a great news the public eye with morbid tales. This feeds into the story is foreign, Islamic terrorists primary goal of terrorism, which is to gain publicity and spread fear. Al Qaeda formerly attempted to send attacking white Americans. messages to fellow members around the world to TV station al-Jazeera. News sources get sensational stories, particularly if the attacker is Muslim, a population many of the Western world already loves to hate; terrorists get the mass audience for their heinous acts. The most appalling part of it all is that the formula for a great news story is foreign, Islamic terrorists attacking white Americans. In light of the Paris attacks, people filtered their Facebook picture to the French flag. 9/11 is still a sobering memory, 15 years later. These sorts of events happen so frequently in developing countries without so much as a media blurb. In February there was a car bombing in Ankara, Turkey killing 28; even though it was officially considered an act of terrorism, it was already back of the news cycle a few days later. Later that month a bombing in Syria took 130 lives. If that had happened in America the news would cover it for weeks on end, but those in Syria seemed to be quickly forgotten in the international realm. Politicians on both sides of the aisle use terms like “terrorist cells” and “Islamic extremism” as a fear-mongering statement, promising that in exchange for our vote they will keep us safe. The media uses it to sensationalize viewers for higher ratings. Terrorism, while it is one of the least likely ways for someone in the Western world to die, is still a grave global security concern of the modern era. Currently the word “terrorism” is a loose social construct, used by politicians, the media, and violent extremists to further their interests. These semantics are important. We need to define it properly in order to prevent it without generalizing or profiling, which will just continue the cycle of hatred. If we continue our bellicose ways we will spur a cycle of terrorism with our own closed-minded extremism. Georgia GeorgiaPolitical PoliticalReview Review¦ ¦31 7
I N T E R N AT I O N A L
BREXIT Tommy Desoutter Assistant Senior Editor
he year 2015 was rough for the European Union. The widely covered migrant crisis, continued unemployment, and increasingly disparate visions of the future battered the continent from all sides. In June 2016, the EU may be dealt the biggest blow in its history: the departure of the United Kingdom from the union by referendum, an option commonly known as “Brexit.” Such a move would be unprecedented. Since its foundation as the “European Coal and Steel Community” in 1951, no member state has ever left the European Union. As recently as the mid-2000s, entry into the union was seen as a lucrative goal. However, the European narrative has changed dramatically since the 2008 economic crash. The focus of reporting shifted to economic malaise, as member states were hit by mass unemployment. Spain’s unemployment rate remains above 20 percent, while France and Italy maintain rates above 10 percent. American economists like Nobel laureate Paul Krugman frequently heap criticism on the currency union. Since 2011, they have been vindicated as the value of the Euro currency has fallen from $1.40 to $1.09. A few crises have hit the EU hard in recent years. First came the Greek debt crisis, as Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras threatened to default on foreign bailout loans. Greece finally submitted to Germany’s austerity demands, cementing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s place as the de facto leader of the EU. Next came the migrant crisis (or refugee crisis – the terminology is itself disputed due to political implications). More than one million migrants and refugees arrived in Europe in 2015 alone, while 3,700 died on the way. Half of these were Syrians fleeing the ongoing civil war, while an additional 20 percent were Afghans. Notorious events like the Cologne sexual assaults and the drowning of a Syrian boy off the coast of Turkey have galvanized Europeans on both sides of migrant politics. Over all of this hangs the specter of Vladimir Putin’s Russia, which continues to menace Eastern Europe. The United Kingdom, which sports 5.1 percent unemployment and a higher 2015 GDP growth rate than France, Italy, or even Germany, may seem like a natural candidate for a larger role in European leadership. One might expect the nation that defied the Nazis and invented parliamentary democracy to step up as France recedes. Instead, the U.K. seems headed for the exit. The policy arguments for and against withdrawal from the EU involve a number of issues ranging from immigration and sovereignty to trade and regulation. In light of the millions of migrants pouring into Europe, many dissatisfied Britons seek control of their nation’s borders. A very visible symbol of this is the “Calais Jungle,” the name given to the camps of the roughly 6,000 migrants who resided near the coastal city of Calais in hopes of entering the U.K. A number of countries, most notably Germany and France, have been forced to reintroduce border controls in the past few months, as the entire EU system of free movement seems poised to collapse. Supporters of Brexit tend to argue that the EU’s principle of free movement of people will lead to unfair competition for jobs and social services by foreign workers, while opponents believe that in normal conditions, immigration brings net economic benefits and brings the continent closer together as one society.
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I N T E R N AT I O N A L Sovereignty and bureaucracy are factors in the Brexit debate as well. The EU has a notoriously undemocratic bureaucracy with little accountability to the citizens of member states. As UKIP leader Nigel Farage noted in a jarring speech to the European Parliament, the British public has no idea who the President of the European Commission is, how he got his position, or how he could be removed if the voters so desired. The EU also has a nasty habit of blatantly ignoring the European public. Most notoriously, the “Eurocrats” created a de facto European constitution in the form of the Treaty of Lisbon after French and Dutch voters rejected the creation of a European constitution in referenda in 2005. Eurosceptic Britons see their nation as a world power that shouldn’t be reduced to one equal state among many – some are irked by the return of Germany as Europe’s hegemon, while many are especially incensed at the idea of asking tiny countries like Luxembourg and Slovakia for permission to make their own laws. There is an observable trend of ever-closer union and centralization in the EU’s history, with the will of actual citizens treated as a mere obstacle to be overcome, and many Britons worry that this trend will become irreversible. Supporters of the EU counter that this is either untrue or a desirable thing – national governments retain enormous de facto power, and European integration is a positive, even beautiful, step away from tribal nationalism and towards peace, cooperation, and cosmopolitanism in the world. In addition to a lack of accountability, the EU is frequently criticized for high levels of regulation. Some of these regulations are lauded for protecting consumers or the environment, but they also reduce Europe’s economic competitiveness at a time when that is becoming ever more important. Consumer protection is difficult t o p rioritize when more than 44 percent of a country’s young people are unemployed, as is currently the case in Spain, Greece, and Italy. Moreover, many of these regulations come from European courts rather than legislatures, adding to the feeling of unaccountability and out-of-touch leadership. Opponents of Brexit argue that these problems can be changed from within the system, but it remains to be seen whether the public believes them. However, all of these arguments belie a fundamental truth: in decisions of this kind, factors such as identity, game theory, and cynical political moves often matter as much as an objective assessment of policy outcomes. A series of cynical moves brought Britain to the brink of departure. From 2010 to 2015, Prime Minister David Cameron led the Conservative Party (the Tories) in a ruling coalition with the centrist Liberal Democrats; this arrangement allowed him to use “soft eurosceptic” rhetoric in elections while hiding behind the Lib Dems’ pro-EU, proimmigrant platform when it came to actual policymaking. In the last week of the closely contested January 2015 general election campaign, Cameron resorted to a plea for strategic voting by supporters of the right-wing nationalist U.K. Independence Party to keep the opposition Labour Party out of power, promising a straightforward in/out referendum on continued EU membership. In an outcome that shocked all pollsters and media outlets, the Tories emerged from that election with an absolute majority of seats, eliminating any need for a coalition partner – and thereby eliminating their excuse for inaction. With his party in full control, Cameron was forced to set a date for a referendum on EU membership. At the same time, he began leading a campaign to defeat the referendum. His greatest weapon was a plan to use the prospect of Brexit to scare European leaders into giving some policy concessions to Britain, and then use that package of concessions to undercut support for Brexit, thereby addressing some eurosceptic concerns while defeating the referendum. In negotiations with continental politicians led by European Commission President Donald Tusk of Poland, Cameron was able to secure a package of concessions including an “emergency break” power to deny benefits to new workers from other EU countries, among other things. He has defended this plan extensively in the House of Commons and urged voters to reject Brexit, but newspapers that back both major parties have criticized the concessions as weak and insubstantial. Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn continues to give vague answers about changing Europe from within, refusing to make Labour a major player in Brexit politics. As a result, the debate over Brexit has largely played out in British media as an internal Tory struggle, splitting the party down the middle. Prime Minister Cameron staunchly opposes leaving despite the fact that he proposed the referendum in the first place. London mayor Boris Johnson, on the other hand, has come out in favor of Brexit after a period of public indecision. Johnson, a very prominent public figure, is seen as a potential successor to Cameron, and his stance is generally seen as self-interested. The likely results of Brexit are generally not positive. Cameron has been trying to demonstrate that Brexit would be harmful to the economy, but the group of pro-EU business leaders he has produced is smaller than he was hoping it would be. Regardless, many economists believe that British departure from the EU would be damaging to both parties. February polling indicates that opponents of Brexit have a slim but consistent lead, but nothing is certain; the British public may be just fed up enough to leave, and continental Europeans may be fed up enough to let them go.
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I N T E R N AT I O N A L
Sparkling, Shimmering, Tenuous: Democratic Transition in the Golden Land Eli Scott Operations Director
Human beings want to be free and however long they may agree to stay locked up, to stay oppressed, there will come a time whey they say That s it. ‒Aung San Suu Kyi
hen Aung San Suu Kyi uttered the quotation above, the credibility of her musings about democracy and freedom seemed tenuous at best, as the military regime continued to control Burma. Between 1990 and 2010, Aung San Suu Kyi was under house arrest by the ruling military dictatorship, and democracy in Burma seemed more like the basis of far-fetched rhetoric than a realistic governing system. Five years later, Suu Kyi is the leader of the winning party in the first truly democratic multiparty elections in Burma in over 60 years. On November 8, 2015, the people of Burma had the chance to exercise their newfound freedom by voting overwhelmingly for Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD). The last time that the country held multiparty elections was 1990, in which Suu Kyi’s NLD won 59 percent of the vote. However, the military dictatorship disregarded the results and imprisoned the NLD’s leaders. Looking forward, Suu Kyi and her NLD have the chance to usher in a new era for Burma, but the future of Burmese democracy is uncertain. Suu Kyi’s NLD won 79 percent of contested seats in the November election, but the 2008 Constitution, written by the military, is stifling the transition of power. The current military regime will expire at the end of March of this year, and the Parliament begins its presidential election process on March 17, but it is unclear what this transition of power will look like come April 1. Despite the mandate received by the electorate in November, Suu Kyi, as the leader of the majority NLD party, cannot serve as president because the 2008 Constitution includes a clause -- specifically targeted at her -- that bans from the presidency anyone who has immediate family members who are foreigners. The NLD, despite holding a majority in the Parliament, is unable to amend the constitution and remove the discriminatory clause because the military still holds 25 percent of the seats, just enough to block the amendment process. Apart from constitutional questions that could haunt the future of Burmese democracy, the ability of the NLD to strike a balance in the execution of government will also be important to stability come April 1. The Government of Burma employs over 1 million civil servants, and the NLD will have the challenge of administering this complex system of bureaucrats, many of whom are left over from the military regime. Moreover, the military still wields substantial control over the bureaucracy through the military-appointed Minister of Home Affairs,
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who controls issues ranging from collecting taxes to issuing licenses, Minister of Defense, and Minister of Borders. The military also holds significant political power through the appointment of one of the two vice presidents. Most important to the long-term success of Burmese democracy, though, will be whether Suu Kyi and the NLD can develop lasting peace after the country’s 68-year civil war. In October 2015, eight of the fifteen rebel groups involved in the civil war signed a nationwide ceasefire agreement; the military’s active role in ending the fighting was a repeated justification for its entrenched power. Despite the historic election, civil violence continues to plague Burma. The civil war has internally displaced an estimated 650,000 people and sent over 500,000 refugees to bordering countries according to the Oxford Burma Alliance. Additionally, the nationwide ceasefire agreement might have been little more than a symbolic victory: two major rebel groups, the Kachin Independence Army and the United Wa State, refused to sign the ceasefire agreement. As a whole, the civil war persists because of a lack of trust between the different ethnic groups, insurgents, and the government. The way in which the NLD deals with the civil war is the most important factor that will determine the consolidation of democracy, but its outcome is also the most nebulous. In the past election, the NLD conducted relatively little outreach to ethnic minorities involved in the conflict and Suu Kyi has been silent about the persecution of Rohingya Muslims by Buddhist extremists. Such silence on ethnic violence does not bode well for the NLD’s ability to negotiate the peace process. However, the fall of the military regime, the past target of many of the rebel groups, might increase the likelihood of a sustainable peace. The evidence remains mixed on the path forward for Burma. Constitutional challenges pose only a temporary challenge to Burma’s democratization, as the Parliament’s power relative to the president has increased in recent years. Even if the arbitrary constitutional provisions prevent Suu Kyi from becoming president, it is certain that she will wield her influence widely throughout the Parliament and the country at large. However, the bureaucratic challenge will prove a larger threat to Burmese democracy, as the continuation of military advisors in senior bureaucratic roles could stymie the implementation of political reforms. Nonetheless, how Suu Kyi and the NLD deal with the peace processes will ultimately decide the future of democracy in Burma. Although the first truly democratic elections in Burma in over 60 years have energized the people of Burma, the real test of strength of Burmese democracy will occur in the upcoming months as Suu Kyi and the NLD seek to consolidate their power in light of an obstructionist military regime and a persistent civil war.
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The Informed Student's Guide to: Southern Democrats, Face of Terrorism, Georgia Beltline