Page 1

Spring 2o17

The Informed Student’s Guide To: What Fuels Private Prisons


Undocumented immigrants remain trapped in America’s incarceration system Page 8

Atlanta’s Next Mayor?

A closer look at the top contenders for the November 2017 election Page 14

Fighting Poverty with Property A proven method for improving economic malaise in the developing world Page 26



IN IN THIS THISISSUE ISSUE Georgia Political Review | Vol. XII



UNITED STATES GEORGIA 5 Democracy’s Gatekeepers How the press checks the president

6 The Catholic Schism Can the Church survive polarization?

8 What Fuels Private Prisons Undocumented immigrants remain trapped in America’s incarceration system

10 A Swampy State Department Donors to diplomats and the American spoils system

12 Cornering History A look at the Hot Corner of Athens

14 Atlanta’s Next Mayor? A closer look at the top contenders for the November 2017 mayoral election

16 The Raw Deal Resurrecting the Opportunity School District

CULTURE 18 COVER STORY: Independent Bookstores Binding stories and activism

22 From Guwop to Gwinett County The suburbanization of Atlanta’s hip hop culture

28 WORLD 26 Fighting Poverty with Property A proven method for improving economic malaise in the developing world

28 Fake News: Russia’s Information Warfare Campaign in Europe Russia’s propaganda campaign is shaping opinions, even outside of Russia

30 Moderate No More The end of the Syrian opposition

32 Climate Change: The Road Ahead What does the Trump victory mean for the future of the planet?

34 Paradise Found The search for solutions in the world of welfare

24 A Proud Start to an Equal Future An education beyond the books


LETTER LETTER from the EDITOR Dear reader, reader, Dear Thank you for for picking picking up up aa copy copy of of the the 12th 12th edition edition of of Thank you the Georgia Political Review. I hope you enjoy reading it. the Georgia Political Review. I hope you enjoy reading it. In an an age age of of incessant incessant political political news news updates, updates, we we strive strive In to offer refreshing commentary on the stories that go unto offer refreshing commentary on the stories that go unnoticed. Here you can read about the untold history of noticed. Here you can read about the untold history of Athens’ black business center, the struggle of property-less Athens’ black business center, the struggle of property-less entrepreneurs in in Colombia, Colombia, and and the the impact impact of of Atlanta’s Atlanta’s entrepreneurs hip-hop juggernaut. hip-hop juggernaut. This magazine magazine is is written, written, edited, edited, and and designed designed entirely entirely This by students at UGA. Featuring stories from all sides of the the by students at UGA. Featuring stories from all sides of political spectrum, it is one of the only publications of its political spectrum, it is one of the only publications of its kind in the country, and certainly at this university. Our kind in the country, and certainly at this university. Our staff is is extremely extremely proud proud to to present present itit to to you. you. staff The GPR community began with this magazine. Now Now The GPR community began with this magazine. in our fifth year, we have grown to achieve much more. in our fifth year, we have grown to achieve much more. I’d like like to to highlight highlight aa few few of of our our other other accomplishments accomplishments I’d from the past semester, and to thank the members of of our our from the past semester, and to thank the members editorial board who made them happen. editorial board who made them happen. Senior Editor Editor Bailey Bailey Palmer Palmer and and our our Assistant Assistant Senior Senior Senior Editors publish daily articles from GPR staff writers on our Editors publish daily articles from GPR staff writers on our website,, which I would website,, which I would encourage you you to to explore explore ifif you you enjoy enjoy what what you you read read here. here. encourage Operations Director Faiz Saulat partnered with Operations Director Faiz Saulat partnered with aa number of other other organizations organizations to to host host successful successful events events number of

on campus: campus: aa raucous raucous and and informative informative panel panel led led by by four four on UGA professors on climate change with Roosevelt at UGA professors on climate change with Roosevelt at UGA, a debate between executive tickets in the student UGA, a debate between executive tickets in the student body elections elections with with the the Georgia Georgia Debate Debate Union, Union, and and aa body discussion on the future of healthcare with the American discussion on the future of healthcare with the American Society of of Law, Law, Medicine, Medicine, and and Ethics. Ethics. Society Outreach Director Ashton Jones-Doherty and and MarMarOutreach Director Ashton Jones-Doherty keting Director Katie Kinard helped our staff get involved keting Director Katie Kinard helped our staff get involved with the the local local community. community. We We volunteered volunteered at at aa local local afafwith ter-school program, joined the press corps at the TedX at ter-school program, joined the press corps at the TedX at UGA showcase, and produced a podcast series with the UGA showcase, and produced a podcast series with the Arch Conservative. Conservative. Arch Thanks to Layout Layout Editors Editors Christina Christina Lee Lee and and JessiJessiThanks to ca Ma, the style and feel of GPR is receiving a modca Ma, the style and feel of GPR is receiving a modern upgrade. upgrade. Besides Besides our our new new logo logo and and aesthetic aesthetic on on ern display in this magazine, our website will soon feature display in this magazine, our website will soon feature an entirely entirely new new design. design. an Through all this, Managing Managing Editor Editor Priyanka Priyanka Through all this, Ghosh and Business Manager Karen Mejia kept Ghosh and Business Manager Karen Mejia kept our organization running. Without their behind-theour organization running. Without their behind-thescenes efforts, efforts, neither neither this this magazine magazine nor nor any any of of the the scenes above would have been possible. above would have been possible. On behalf behalf of of the the editorial editorial board, board, I’d I’d like like to to offer offer sinsinOn cere thanks to a few other groups: to the writers whose cere thanks to a few other groups: to the writers whose work is is featured featured here, here, to to the the designers designers whose whose vision vision and and work

KALVIS GOLDE talent created created these these pages, pages, and and to to the the marketers marketers who who help help talent our efforts reach a wider audience. our efforts reach a wider audience. With that that said, said, please please explore explore the the magazine magazine you’re you’re holdholdWith ing in your hands! I think you’ll be impressed. ing in your hands! I think you’ll be impressed. Let’s get get political. political. Let’s

Kalvis Golde, Golde, Editor-in-Chief Editor-in-Chief Kalvis

Twelfth Editorial Editorial Board Board of of the the Georgia Georgia Political Political Review Review Twelfth EDITOR -IN-C HI HI E EF F EDIT OR -IN-C Kalvis Golde Golde Kalvis M ANAGI NG E E DI DI TOR TOR MANAGING Priyanka Ghosh Ghosh Priyanka OPERATIONS DIRECTOR DIRECTOR OPERATIONS Faiz Saulat Saulat Faiz SENIOR E DITOR DITOR S EN IOR E Bailey Palmer Palmer Bailey ASSIS TANT SE SE NIOR NIOR EDI EDI T T OR OR S S A S S ISTANT Grant Mercer Mercer Grant Prabhjot Minhas Minhas Prabhjot Seamus Murrock Murrock Seamus Paul Oshinski Oshinski Paul B US USINE SS MANAGE MANAGE R R B IN ESS Karen Mejia Mejia Karen OUTREACH DIRECTOR DIRECTOR OUTREACH Ashton Peter Peter Jones-Doherty Jones-Doherty Ashton SOCIA L ME ME DI DIA & S OCIAL A& M ARKETI NG DIRE DIRE C C TOR TOR MARKETING Katie Kinard Kinard Katie LAYOUT & DE DE SIGN SIGN E E DI DI T T OR OR S S LAYOU T& Christina Lee Lee Christina Jessica Ma Ma Jessica G EO EO R RG G II AA PO LI TT II C C AA LL R EVI EW EW PO LI R EVI 44 •• G

S TA TA F FF FW WR R II T T ER ER S S S Miranda Abe Abe Miranda Rachael Andrews Andrews Rachael Madison Bledsoe Bledsoe Madison Alexander Boylston Boylston Alexander Meredith Brasher Brasher Meredith William Brockman Brockman William Claire Brunner Brunner Claire Benjamin Burnum Burnum Benjamin Catherine Carter Carter Catherine Bryce Culver Culver Bryce Sandy Davis Davis Sandy Tommy Desoutter Desoutter Tommy Ben Diamond Diamond Ben Samuel (Sam) (Sam) Driggers Driggers Samuel Shane Duer Duer Shane Caskey Dyer Dyer Caskey Alex Estroff Estroff Alex Matt Fasig Fasig Matt Steven Feng Feng Steven Kristin Fillingim Fillingim Kristin Jake Frenkel Frenkel Jake Shuchi Goyal Goyal Shuchi Sneha Gubbala Gubbala Sneha Jacquelyn Faye Faye Harms Harms Jacquelyn James Haverly Haverly James Joseph Hendricks Hendricks Joseph Grace Holland Holland Grace

Phillip Jones Jones Phillip Evan Katz Katz Evan Hammad Khalid Khalid Hammad Megan Kriss Kriss Megan Vaibhav Kumar Kumar Vaibhav Sarah Kathryn Kathryn Lasseigne Lasseigne Sarah Justin Lewis Lewis Justin Bruce Li Li Bruce Nathan Li Li Nathan Zoe Li Li Zoe Gaby Lohner Lohner Gaby Torus Lu Lu Torus Hannah Lumapas Lumapas Hannah Emily Maloney Maloney Emily Austin McCandlish McCandlish Austin Michael Momayezi Momayezi Michael Cole Mullis Mullis Cole Maggie Naughton Naughton Maggie Grace Nelmes Nelmes Grace Jessica Pasquarello Pasquarello Jessica Christian Pedraza Pedraza Christian Ariel Pinsky Pinsky Ariel Bhanodai Pippala Pippala Bhanodai Loran Posey, Posey, Jr. Jr. Loran Sebastian Puerta Puerta Sebastian Vineet Raman Raman Vineet Advait Ramanan Ramanan Advait Chart Riggall Riggall Chart

Hunter Riggall Riggall Hunter Nasser Rizvi Rizvi Nasser Caitlin Rueden Rueden Caitlin Sam Schaffer Schaffer Sam Stephen Schmidt Schmidt Stephen Aumber Sharma Sharma Aumber Zoe Smith Smith Zoe Alex Soderstrom Soderstrom Alex Chase Solomon Solomon Chase Aditya Sood Sood Aditya Bennett Souter Souter Bennett Natalie Speier Speier Natalie Ryan Switzer Switzer Ryan Valtteri (Walter) (Walter) Tamminen Tamminen Valtteri Andrew Teal Teal Andrew Rachel Tepper Tepper Rachel Alex Vanden Vanden Heuvel Heuvel Alex Cecilia Walker Walker Cecilia Mara Weissinger Weissinger Mara Bobby Wetherington Wetherington Bobby


M AR AR K KE ET TING STAFF M ING STAFF Abby Benton Benton Abby Claire Dickey Dickey Claire Jessica Batten Batten Jessica Kiran Chaudhary Chaudhary Kiran Laura Carr Carr Laura Melissa Davies Davies Melissa Michael Shutley Shutley Michael Nishka Malik Malik Nishka Shahzad Razza Razza Shahzad Simran Modi Modi Simran DES IG IG N N STA FF STA FF DES Na’Im Carlyle Carlyle Na’Im Uma Kasibhatla Kasibhatla Uma Dejana Peric Peric Dejana Mollie Simon Simon Mollie Vivian Truong Truong Vivian

Generously supported supported by by Generously the University University of of Georgia Georgia the School of of Public Public and and School International Affairs Affairs International


The Georgia Political Review SPRING 2017 | VOL XII



Democracy’s Gatekeepers How the press checks the president GRANT ME RCE R A S SIS TA N T S EN IOR EDIT OR


he president, fearful of outsiders creating havoc on American lands, signed into law a bill allowing for any person with ties to an enemy nation to be deported immediately. Newspaper headlines lambasted the president for his foreign policy, urging citizens to “turn out, rise up, and save the country from ruin.” Mobs in Baltimore, Boston, and Philadelphia denounced the president for his actions. In return, the president took aim at the group that, in his opinion, was inciting these rabble-rousers—the press. Passing an act that made it illegal to publish any news that might be false, scandalous, or denigrate the administration, the president set about silencing his detractors in the press. Any news published with the intent to heap contempt upon the president was punishable with fines and imprisonment. Twenty-five newspaper editors were arrested and thrown in jail for the offense of reporting the news. This is not Donald Trump’s vision for America’s future, but rather John Adams’ reality over two hundred years ago. Adams’ passage of the Sedition Act of 1798 was aimed squarely at silencing a free press. At a time when rumors of a French invasion were daily fodder, Adams placed the need to keep foreign invaders at bay above the right of everyday Americans to challenge his decisions. First Lady Abigail Adams worried that if “journalists weren’t stopped, the nation would be plunged into a civil war or forced to bow down before the French Crown” and urged her husband to silence reports criticizing his executive actions. Even Thomas Jefferson noted that he “feared to write what I think” as this crackdown on the press swept America. The president and the press have always had a love/ hate relationship built upon a foundation of shared distrust. The media’s role is to report on how the president is performing, holding him accountable for his actions, while also educating voters on their democratic rights. The president’s role is to promote the needs of Americans while protecting the nation against its enemies, both at home and abroad. The balance between the media keeping the public informed and the president maintaining secrecy for the sake of national security is delicate. This balance became even more fragile when television became a key force in the political arena. In the 1950s, a mere 10 percent of Americans owned televisions. By the 1960s, over 90 percent of American homes had televisions planted firmly in their living rooms. Aware of television’s ability to sway public opinion, President John F. Kennedy was the first to televise live news conferences. Surprisingly, the press loathed them, labeling them dog-and-pony shows. No longer could they choose

what segments of a president’s message to print: now the public would hear his thoughts in their entirety, making their own decisions on its validity. As Kennedy began his presidency, the press was entranced with this handsome, young leader, welcoming us into Camelot alongside him. However, this trust eroded during the Cuban Missile Crisis. In the name of national security, Kennedy restricted press access to his administration. Kennedy did not want a war with the press, but felt that the deadly challenge facing America warranted secrecy. He asked that all news agencies ask themselves two questions before reporting their findings: Is this news, and is it in the interest of national security? The media responded in mass to these two simple questions by accusing the president of cutting off critical information to the American public. In response, Kennedy forbade his department heads from telling the press anything about foreign entanglements. The Dallas Morning News accused the president of “spreading propaganda that could pave a path to dictatorship. The people cannot rule unless they have the facts upon which to base their judgments.” Kennedy, while never enjoying a public lashing by the press, saw that the United States “needs an active press for its democracy to thrive. That’s what differentiates us from a totalitarian system.” While Kennedy accepted the media ’s role , President Richard Nixon made press manipulation central to his tenure in office. Intimidating journalists, sidestepping White House reporters, staging reality-TV-worthy events —now common presidential practices—were all originally a Nixon brainchild. Labeling reporters “the elites”, Nixon proclaimed that the “media were an unrepresentative, irresponsible interest group that patriotic Americans needed to defend themselves against.” Wiretapping reporters’ phones and directing IRS harassment at them were a few of his bullying tactics. After a Los Angeles Times reporter wrote about the cost to the taxpayers of Nixon’s vacation home, he was immediately banned from the White House. Nixon’s browbeating tactics proved effective. While presidential aides plotted crimes within a hundred feet of the press room, White House correspondents, harassed for delving too deeply into political matters, instead focused on reporting the president’s daily schedule. Two Washington Post police reporters flying under Nixon’s radar—Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein— broke the Watergate scandal. After Watergate, the press corps was determined to never again let a scandal of that magnitude go undetected on their

watch. Press conferences became battlegrounds – the president standing as a lone gladiator facing his foes while the White House correspondents lob verbal spears at him. Reporters repeatedly ask variations of the same question , hoping as much to goad the president into a news-worthy reaction as to glean new information. Trump, in his February free-for-all masquerading as a news conference, lambasted the journalists for being “out of control for reporting on Russia”, advised that “all bad news is fake”, and scolded a reporter for asking a question that he considered unfair, then commanding him to sit down. Seeking not truth but rather victory, Trump, at least in his own mind, had vanquished the enemy. With the rise of social media, presidents have an even greater opportunity to take their messages directly to the American people. Presidential postings on Twitter and Facebook, regardless of their passing acquaintance with the truth, become established reality in many American minds, without having been verified by an independent press. Failure of the media to agree with his message, when their fact-based sources tell them otherwise, earns them the president’s assertion of being “dishonest” and “failing.” Likewise, that designation, very quickly, also becomes an established fact for many Americans. Senator John McCain (R – AZ) observed that dictators get “started by suppressing the free press. I hate the media. But the fact is we need you. We need a free press. We must have it. It's vital." Nixon’s tapes disclosed that he privately ranted that the “press was the enemy” while today’s president publicly blasted the same sentiment, tweeting that the media is “the enemy of the American people.” While Trump’s war on the media has left many fearing that freedom of the press is under siege, the American press has walked this path before under past presidents, prevailing even under threat of imprisonment. By the power of the First Amendment, the media is charged with being America’s watchdog, always holding the commander-in-chief accountable for his deeds. No amount of presidential insults will reduce the media to the status of lapdog, blindly accepting the president’s words without verification of his deeds. A free press shall always be the cornerstone of American democracy.



The Catholic Schism Can the church survive polarization? TOMM Y DES OU TTE R S TA FF WRI T E R


ope Francis is one of the most popular pontiffs in history, boasting approval ratings upwards of 85 percent among U.S. Catholics in December 2016 according to the Catholic News Service. Living in a small apartment and preferring simple garb, he is an international icon of humility and generosity. But beneath the surface of Francis’ reinvigoration of the Catholic Church lurks a major conflict that is polarizing


Catholics in the United States and worldwide. The divisions in the American Catholic Church fall along two loosely related categories: response to modernization and race. The reforms of the Second Vatican Council, as well as Pope John Paul II’s outspoken opposition to abortion and birth control, provided the first two fault lines among the American faithful. A Huffington Post survey found that American Catholics today frequently hold

views that dissent from official teachings – only 36 percent agree with the prohibition on female priests, only 40 percent agree with the Church’s opposition to same-sex marriage, 79 percent support the use of contraception, and more than 70 percent believe abortion should be allowed in some cases. Parishes tend to be racially segregated, some predominantly white and others Hispanic, with integration obstructed by the language barrier. As large-scale immigration from Latin America continues, the proportion of U.S. Catholics who are Hispanic continues to rise, currently standing around 34 percent. There are major divisions among white Catholics on political issues but this is less true of Hispanic Catholics, who overwhelmingly vote for the Democratic Party. However, according to Catherine Brekus of Slate, they tend to have more conservative views on abortion and homosexuality than white Catholics – putting them more in line with the Vatican than white Catholics are. The political divide between white and Hispanic Catholics was especially evident during the racially charged 2016 election, as Hispanic Catholics provided a crucial part of Hillary Clinton’s base and white Catholics narrowly favored Donald Trump. The parishioners aren’t the only ones divided – the episcopacy is extremely political as well. Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, the most prominent bishop in the U.S., has maintained a large degree of authority over the rhetoric of the American church for years. He was an outspoken opponent of the Obama administration on “religious liberty” issues related to birth control requirements under the Affordable Care Act. He has a close alliance with an advocacy organization called the Catholic League, which regularly challenges the ACLU on cases involving the separation of church and state. Dolan and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops were also notably critical of the “Nuns on the Bus” movement – a pressure group of U.S. nuns, founded in 2012, that sought to draw attention to poverty and social justice through bus trips across the country. Dolan has provided religious backing

for the administration of President Trump, treating him notably better than he treated President Barack Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast and praising his reinstatement of the “Mexico City Policy,” a ban on federal funding to any NGO that provides abortion counseling or advocates for its legalization. According to Emily Crockett of Vox, analysts anticipate that this ban will have the effect of killing thousands of poor women and removing birth control access for millions of others. Pope Benedict XVI was a close ally of Cardinal Dolan. Pope Francis, on the other hand, has made significant changes in the direction of the Catholic Church’s top leadership. From the very beginning, he has emphasized openness and compassion over purity or adherence to rules. Pope Francis has made tolerant statements about homosexuals and atheists, softened the Church’s rules on divorce and remarriage, lessened the Church’s public emphasis on divisive cultural issues like abortion, and served as an outspoken advocate for

including Cardinal Raymond Burke, a prominent critic of Pope Francis. Bannon is an anti-feminist, anti-secularist, and harsh critic of Islam whose worldview is oriented around an ideological battle between civilizations. Naturally, he sees the Catholic Church as a key western institution that needs to be “militant,” not opened up. His staunch opposition to immigration and the admission of refugees has led him to reach out to numerous opponents of Francis within the Catholic world. It may be difficult for the Church of Pope Francis, emphasizing inclusion and social justice, to remain under the same roof as the more moralizing and sectarian Church of Dolan and Bannon. In December 2016, Cardinal Burke warned, “There is a very serious division in the Church which has to be mended…if it’s not clarified soon, it could develop into a formal schism.” While insisting that he respected the papacy, he suggested that a Pope who preached heresy would forfeit his position and necessitate the election of a new Pope. However, other traditionalist bishops such as Cardinal Daniel DiNardo – Dolan’s successor as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops – have vigorously denied their opposition to Francis and asserted that one can be a traditionalist while following him. Which side will triumph in the battle for the future of the Church? As in politics generally, progressives tend to pin their future hopes on demographic change, specifically the growth of the Hispanic population. However, a wrench may be thrown into these demographic assumptions by the major evangelical revival currently pulling large numbers of people away from the Catholic Church throughout Latin America. A different demographic factor bodes poorly for progressives – progressive young people tend to reject organized religion entirely rather than attempting to reform it from within. This leaves a rump community of older conservatives who then dominate all levels of Church organization. The result is a Catholic community considerably more conservative than the median person born into the faith. Or perhaps demographics are less important than most people think. The Catholic Church is a hierarchy that somewhat reflects but is ultimately not accountable to its members, so it remains entirely possible that the direction of the Church will be determined by high Vatican politics and the development of the massive issues the globe is facing. Perhaps the divisions exacerbated by the crises of the last decade will be eased by the events of the next.

“...beneath the surface of Francis’ reinvigoration of the Catholic Church lurks a major conflict that is polarizing Catholics in the United States and worldwide.”

refugees during the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis, even taking refugee families into the Vatican. Alongside his rhetoric, Francis has made transparent institutional moves to change the direction of the American church. In October 2016, he elevated the progressive-leaning bishops Blase Cupich of Chicago and William Tobin of Indianapolis to the rank of cardinal. Traditionalists consider Cupich an “extremely liberal bishop” who belongs, in the words of Claire Chretien and Steve Jalsevac of Life Site News, to the “centrist, non-cultural warrior wing of the country’s hierarchy.” Earlier in 2016, Francis had promoted Cupich to the crucial Congregation for Bishops, which oversees the selection of new bishops. Later he would promote Tobin to the Archdiocese of Newark to provide a counterweight to Dolan in the New York metropolitan area. While it may seem that the tide is in favor of a more progressive church, Francis’ allies received a shock in the victory of Donald Trump. As the New York Times has reported in detail, President Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon has ties to several “traditionalists” within the Vatican and the American Church,



WHAT FUELS PRIVATE PRISONS Undocumented immigrants remain trapped in America’s incarceration system



ince the inauguration, there has been a multitude of changes across the nation, including dramatic increases in the stock prices for the top two private prison corporations in America, the GEO Group and Correction Corporation of America (CCA). These publicly traded corporations are incentivized to generate revenue at the expense of the incarcerated, and with less political will behind the war on drugs, the industry is turning towards a new source of income: undocumented immigrants. The United States did not achieve the highest prison population and the highest incarceration rate in the world overnight. Due to changes in drug and sentencing laws in the 1980s, the United States saw a dramatic increase in incarceration. This increase resulted in need for additional prison space. In


order to prevent more taxation on citizens, federal and state governments turned to private prisons. Private prison corporations are able to save money in two ways: they are not bound by governmental regulations, and can procure funds quickly rather than waiting on lengthy appropriations processes from the government. The transition from state-run facilities to private corporations is known as the prison industrial complex - a phenomenon described by the Washburn Law Journal as “an enterprise whereby lawmakers and undocumented immigrants are commodified as raw materials for private profit.” With this burden lifted off of the federal government, prison privatization has left the responsibility of federal inmates in the hands of private companies.

The formula follows a basic supply and demand model, but in reverse. A greater supply of prisoners results in an increased demand for prison space. Yet like any business, the primary goal for these companies is to earn revenue. Their profit comes from charging the state or federal government a daily rate, per person incarcerated, to cover investment and operational costs. This profit model, where the ‘social good’ doesn’t enter the equation, begs the question whether private prison corporations are ethical and in line with our country’s values. The United States has recently seen a drop in prison populations as a result of many states reforming their incarceration laws in order to relieve prison populations. However, CCA and GEO Group have found a new target population that

will keep prison space at a high demand - undocumented immigrants. There are several instances that link private prison corporations with lobbying for anti-immigration policies. In 2010, Arizona passed SB 1070, which authorized police to request the immigration status of someone who has been arrested when there is “reasonable suspicion” that they are not residing in the United States legally. Not only did this permit racial profiling, but it also created an incentive for the private prison industry to lobby for similar policies nation-wide. Their losses from a waning war on drugs could easily be replaced by increased incarceration of undocumented individuals. A study conducted by scholars Karina Saldivar and Byron Price from the Central European Journal of International and Security Studies found that

CCA and GEO Group spent 90 percent of their lobbying dollars in states that proposed similar anti-immigration legislation. The data showed that from 20032012, of the $2.2 million CCA spent on lobbying, over 90 percent was sent to states with copycat bills mirroring SB 1070. Similarly, 93 percent of GEO Group’s $3.2 million spent on lobbying was also sent to those states. These findings imply that the private prison industry sees anti-immigration legislation as a means of protecting the industry’s bottom line. In August 2016, the Obama Administration announced that it would begin to phase out the use of private prison corporations. Then deputy attorney general Sally Yates cited that the inmate population had decreased since 2013 and that “private prisons compared poorly to our

own bureau facilities.” She predicted that by May 2017, the Bureau of Prisons would house only 14,200 inmates in for-profit prison corporations—a 15,800 inmate decrease from 2013. However, President Trump is unlikely to decommission the private prison industry. With Trump having campaigned on immigration policies that would incarcerate thousands of undocumented immigrants, the demand for prison space will increase dramatically. It is no wonder that the stock values of GEO Group and CCA have increased exponentially since the election. Regardless of political affiliation, the truth of the matter is rooted in basic economics—as long as there are private prisons, these corporations will have a stake in lobbying any legislation that promotes incarceration.

Regardless of political affiliation, the truth of the matter is rooted in basic economics—as long as there are private prisons, these corporations will have a stake in lobbying any legislation that promotes incarceration.



A Swampy State Department Donors to diplomats and the American spoils system SAMU E L DRIGGE RS S TA FF W R IT ER


o the victor belongs the spoils!” lamented a New York senator in 1828, frustrated by President Andrew Jackson’s use of bribery with government positions to garner support for his campaign. To make room for promised positions, 919 officials were fired—10 percent of all federal officials in 1828. This turnover infuriated citizens, and several terms later public frustrations were exacerbated when President James Garfield was assassinated by an office-seeking supporter. As a result of ensuing political turmoil, civil service reform became a public priority. With this momentum, the Pendleton Act was passed in 1883, creating the Civil Service Commission, which regulated all but the most senior of government positions. With this progressive act, Congress proclaimed the end of the American spoils system. More than 130 years and several civil service reforms later, Transparency International now ranks the U.S. as the 18th least corrupt country in the world. The American spoils system, however, is not dead. This is perhaps most apparent in presidential transitions, when old political appointees 1 0 • GEO R GI A PO L I T I C A L R EVI EW

pack up their desks to be replaced by a new administration fresh off the campaign trail. Much of this reorganization is warranted; new administrations are generally accompanied by contrasting ideas and strategies of governance. Numerous positions, however, are dubiously awarded to supporters and donors of questionable merit. In the Trump White House, it seems that campaign donors and political supporters rule, or at least thus far. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, nine of President Donald Trump’s political appointees together offered his campaign and allied PACs over $6 million, and in the past 27 years, 26 of his political appointees have cumulatively given nearly $27 million to conservative campaigns and organizations. Several of these supporters have tentatively landed positions within the U.S. State Department, where appointed ambassadorial positions are traditionally left open with each administration’s exit. The American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) categorizes nominees for ambassadorial posts as either “Career Foreign Service Officers”

(FSOs), or “political appointees.” FSOs, the backbone of U.S. diplomacy, are career diplomats who spend around 75 percent of their careers abroad. Political appointees are typically businessmen, politicians, or campaign fundraisers. In nearly every case, FSOs are better qualified to fill ambassadorial positions. It is, however, the prerogative of the President to determine who is nominated. The Foreign Service Act of 1980 states that ambassadors, “should possess… a knowledge of the language… understanding of the history, the culture, the economic and political institutions, and the interests of that country,” before stating that ambassadorial posts, “should normally be accorded to career members of the Service.” With this in mind, it would seem that ambassadorial positions would be reserved, in nearly every case, for career diplomats. Thus far, Trump has nominated six ambassadors: Nikki Haley and Terry Branstad, two republican politicians; David Friedman, his bankruptcy lawyer; and Lew Eisenberg, Bill Hagerty, and Woody Johnson, three fundraisers for his campaign. All of these choices, with the exception of

Branstad—an “old friend” of Chinese President Xi Jinping—who was nominated to the ambasadorship to China, are disconcerting; the nomination of his campaign donors and former bankruptcy lawyer, who collectively hold little to no diplomatic experience, borders on patronage. At a minimum, the nominees are below-average choices for ambassadorial posts when compared to the State Department’s FSOs, who often have decades of experience resolving conflict, facilitating trade, and working to improve U.S. diplomatic relations. The Obama administration was plagued by similar problems, coming under public scrutiny for the appointment of donors to ambassadorial positions. Shortly after first taking office, President Barack Obama stated, “My general inclination is to have [Foreign Service], wherever possible, serve in these posts.” As president, however, Obama nominated more political appointees to ambassadorial posts than career diplomats. Worse yet, some of these posts were offered to seemingly unqualified candidates, surely violating the Foreign Service Act of 1980: Colleen Bell, an ambassador appointed to Hungary, struggled to explain U.S. strategic interests in Hungary during her confirmation hearing; George Tsunis, an unconfirmed appointment for the ambassadorship to Norway, was unaware that Norway was a constitutional monarchy; Noah Mamet, Obama’s nominee for the Ambassadorship to Argentina, was criticized for having never traveled to Argentina. To make things more awkward, each of these candidates— in addition to a number of Obama’s other ambassadorial choice—were “bundlers,” or fundraisers, for his campaign. According to articles by the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, Colleen Bell solicited over $2.1 million for Obama’s 2012 campaign, George Tunis garnered $1.3 million for Obama’s 2012 campaign, and Noah Mamet raised $371,600 for Obama’s 2008 campaign and more than $1.3 million for his 2012 campaign. According to the AFSA, political appointees constituted just over 30 percent of all Barack Obama’s ambassadorial appointments. This is quite similar to other presidencies. 31.8 percent of President George W. Bush’s appointments to diplomatic posts were political, and President Bill Clinton’s percentage was only slightly lower at 28.06 percent. The highest percentage of political appointments in the last 40 years was President Ronald Reagan’s 37.6 percent,

and the lowest was President Jimmy Carter’s 26.24 percent, but even these extremes are insignificant; rather than showing party differentials, they show a bipartisan tradition of political appointments to diplomatic posts and the continuation of the American spoils system. Most countries send the U.S. career diplomats, and foreign governments which send political appointees are often riddled with corruption and patronage. AFSA publishes letters from FSOs at the beginning of each presidential transition, and among them calls to end the nomination of political appointees to ambassadorships were prominent. One FSO wrote that, “allies and enemies alike rarely take seriously these appointees, who do careless damage to U.S. foreign policy.” This alone should be grounds for the abrogation of political appointments to ambassadorial posts. Some argue that political appointees are beneficial to U.S. foreign policy. Because they have a direct relationship with the president, political appointees often have greater access to the highest levels of policymaking. That being said, political appointees, who usually reside in cushy Caribbean or European posts, conversely draw attention away from career diplomats, who generally receive the less glamorous, more dangerous, and arguably more important posts. If political appointees were not allowed to take ambassadorial seats, access to the president would be based on importance to U.S. foreign policy rather than the relationship to the ambassador, and perhaps the Secretary of State would be less likely to be circumvented in this process. Furthermore, the political appointment of ambassadorships undercuts U.S. attempts to encourage the discontinuation of patronage abroad. A system based solely on merit would not only ensure that the State Department is led by the most capable and qualified leaders, but also ensure the stability and nonpartisan nature of U.S. foreign policy. From presidents like Trump and Obama, leaders who founded their campaigns on promises of “draining the swamp” and “bringing change to Washington”, the American people should expect more. Without enacting change within the executive branch, it is absurd to expect an end to lobbying and the undue influence of money on national politics. If Trump truly wants to “drain the swamp,” he should rethink his ambassadorial nominees and set a new precedent: the appointment of career diplomats to senior diplomatic positions.

If political appointees were not allowed to take ambassadorial seats, access to the president would be based on importance to U.S. foreign policy rather than the relationship to the ambassador.

Cabinet Corruption Percentage of non-career appointees to cabinet positions during each presidency since 1977


JIMMY CARTER (D) 1977-1981


RONALD REAGAN (R) 1981-1989


GEORGE H.W. BUSH (R) 1989-1993


BILL CLINTON (D) 1993-2001


GEORGE W. BUSH (R) 2001-2008


BARACK OBAMA (D) 2008-2017



Cornering History A look at the Hot Corner of Athens M ADIS ON B LED S OE S TA FF WR I T E R


he intersection of Washington and Hull streets in downtown Athens seems to many to be just another corner with its own set of bars and restaurants. Though many students proclaim themselves to be true Athenians, few know about the prolific history of this intersection and the


impact it continues to have on the city. This spot is the epicenter for the “Hot Corner,” a community of historically black businesses and a cultural hub for Athens’ black residents. The Hot Corner’s history has reflected the changing social landscape of Athens since the 19th century, and today plays a very unique

role in promoting an atmosphere of diversity and entrepreneurship in the Classic City. The Hot Corner is a place in Athens where black businesses have traditionally thrived. It is geographically centered at the intersection of Hull and Washington Streets, but its total area really stretches all the way from Lumpkin St. to Milledge Ave.; this space incorporates all of the land where many black businesspeople have owned real estate and started companies. For Athens residents, especially during the mid-20th century, the Hot Corner was not only a business center but also a community space

where they could come to socialize and shop in a welcoming setting. The Hot Corner has been the location of 66 catalogued black-owned businesses, and has been an important site for the achievements of black professionals in Georgia.

plethora of important local businesses including: the Ellington D. Harris Drug Company, Athens’ first black-owned drug store; the practice of Dr. Ida Mae Hiram, Georgia’s first licensed black female dentist; and the practice of Dr. Blanche Thompson, the first African-American surgeon in Athens. Most locals today know the building for the theatre, which is the oldest African-American owned and built theatre in the United States. From the 1950s to the 1970s, the Hot Corner played an intrinsic role in the Athens community. According to Mr. Homer Wilson, who runs Wilson’s Styling Shop on N. Hull Street, this thirty-year period

was the peak of the Hot Corner’s economic draw. Businesses from all over the state would vie to open up shop on the Hot Corner, and shoppers would go there for the diverse array of stores, services, and products that could be found. It was in downtown Athens that many civil rights demonstrations took place, and many businesses at the intersection of Washington and Hull were important to the cause. Businesses like Mr. Wil-

association is comprised of black business owners from Athens, whose companies make up the Hot Corner, and also individuals who are passionate about the history. Every year, the association puts on a weekend-long festival in early June called the Hot Corner Festival, with the goal of keeping alive the spirit of diversity that the Hot Corner has always contributed to Athens. The festival features attractions such as a barbeque competition, a vintage car show, and a concert series comprised of musically diverse acts. Mr. Wilson and the association are now playing a vital role in providing a place where everyone can celebrate the contribu-

tions that black Athenians have made to the city, and in keeping the intersection of Washington and Hull a welcoming place for everyone. The Hot Corner has left an immeasurable impact on the city of Athens, one that many people in the community fail to realize. It provided a much-needed cultural haven for black Athenians for over 100 years, where people could come to shop, socialize, and support their families. It has also been a place where residents could demonstrate their stake in the community and use their influence to push for more rights and protections for the diverse

“The Hot Corner has left an immeasurable impact on the city of Athens, one that many people in the community fail to realize.” The Hot Corner has a long and prosperous history in the Classic City. While it has no official beginning, many consider it to have started in the late 19th century. Its beginnings likely coincided with the founding of the First African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1866, which began as a congregation of freed slaves. The group purchased land and had their church built in 1916. This building still stands on N. Hull St, and is a historic black landmark in Athens. By the time the church was built, another landmark of the Hot Corner had also been established: the Morton Building. The history of the Morton reflects the economic opportunity that the Hot Corner provided for black Athenians during the first half of the 20th century, when segregation was a social norm across the South. In 1910, Monroe B. “Pink” Morton opened the building as both a theatre and an office complex. The building presented a place where black professionals could start their businesses and lease from a black property owner. The Morton has housed a

son’s shop hosted meetings where local ministers and politicians could plan their campaigns, and provided a place where activists could come to rest and find refreshments during protests. After the Civil Rights Era, the economic weight that the Hot Corner held in Athens began a slow decline as racial integration took hold across the city. Many black businesses that had originally opened downtown moved out into other areas of Athens. A few of the core buildings at the Hot Corner were torn down, such as the Samaritan Building and Union Hall. More whiteowned businesses also began moving in, changing the culture of the area. Today, the culture of west downtown Athens looks quite different than it did 50 years ago. The Hot Corner is now a mix of historically black businesses, like the Morton and Wilson’s Styling Shop, as well as white-owned businesses that cater to more of a student crowd. In 1999, Mr. Wilson started the Hot Corner Association, which works to promote the history of black entrepreneurship in Athens. The

population of the city. Ultimately, the legacy of the Hot Corner is one of empowerment.

This piece was composed with help from Mr. Homer Wilson, who kindly provided information about the history of the Hot Corner.



Atlanta’s Next Mayor? A closer look at the top contenders for the November 2017 mayoral election ALEX VANDEN HEU V E L S TA FF WR I T E R

With Mayor Kasim Reed term-limited, Atlanta’s search for a new mayor is a wide open battle. Candidates will appear on a nonpartisan ballot on Nov. 7, and if no one reaches 50 percent of the vote, which is practically guaranteed, the top two will fight it out in a runoff for the four year term. Typically, many mayoral candidates come from the state legislature or Atlanta’s city council. The council has three at-large seats, 12 district seats based off of geography, and a President who serves as a de facto Vice Mayor.

John Eaves (underdog) Eaves disrupted the race even more by jumping in relatively late; he declared his candidacy in February, whereas as many of the candidates declared in the summer or fall of 2016. His late start is the primary weakness in his position, but he has a considerable amount of experience and connections that could compensate for his lateness. Eaves is the current Fulton County Commission Chairman, which effectively puts him in charge of the county level government.

Michael Sterling (underdog) Sterling served under Mayor Reed as the Director of the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency, and before that, he was a Senior Advisor to the mayor. “I think I’m going to be better on crime,” Sterling said at the forum, “I’m the only person who has experience with law enforcement and prosecuting criminals. I have worked with the FBI, U.S. attorney’s office and Secret Service to fight crime. Crime is a nuanced issue you can’t handle with a simple solution.”

Mary Norwood (top contender) Norwood, a council member serving in the Post 2 at-large seat, is a favorite after her close miss against Reed in 2009. After finishing first with 46 percent of the vote on the first election day, an unprecedented jump in voter turnout and attack ads from the Georgia Democratic Party resulted in Norwood losing to Reed by 714 votes out of nearly 84,000 votes cast in the runoff. Back then, Norwood ran on a straightforward platform of fiscal responsibility and transparency. For round two she’s sticking to it. At a January forum hosted by the Buckhead Coalition, Norwood called for a “forensic audit” of funds and spending by the municipal government, along with online postings of city expenses. Norwood’s platform on safety provides for an increase in community based intervention programs for juvenile offenders as well as “repeat offender intercession” and “more vigorous prosecution of chronic offenders who have historically wreaked havoc on the community.”

Cathy Woolard (top contender) Woolard is a former Atlanta City Council President and an ardent LGBTQ activist. She became the first openly gay elected official in Georgia history when she was sworn into the city council in 1997 and was the first woman to serve as the council’s president. Since her departure, she has lobbied for Planned Parenthood and served as the interim Executive Director for AID Atlanta in 2012. A recurring issue in her campaign is income inequality in Atlanta, as a quarter of Atlanta’s population lives at or below the poverty line. “To reach our city’s full potential, we must engage ALL in our community, especially those residents that our city’s growth is leaving behind,” Woolard wrote in a letter on her website, “Only through the strength and talent of our residents can big projects, projects like the Atlanta BeltLine, be accomplished.”


Keisha Lance Bottoms (underdog) Bottoms is a council member representing District 11, which covers the extreme southwest section of Atlanta. She also serves as the Executive Director of the City of Atlanta and Fulton County Recreation Authority (AFCRA). The AFCRA overlooks iconic landmarks across the city, including Turner Field, Philips Arena, Zoo Atlanta, and more. Interestingly, Bottoms may have a wild card. The AJC reported in January that while Kasim Reed has not officially endorsed her, an invitation to a fundraiser for her campaign was advertised over Reed’s mailing list. Could Reed eventually endorse Bottoms?

Peter Aman (underdog) Peter Aman previously worked in the lesser-known position of Chief Operating Officer of Atlanta, but managed many agencies crucial to the city. These included the Police, Fire, Corrections, Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs, and several other administrative agencies. “I have the insight in how the private sector creates jobs, in how the private sector can work with the public sector and partner to lift communities up. I have a demonstrated track record of results that has been proven time and time again,” Aman said at the forum, “I have the integrity to lead the city of Atlanta, all Atlantans, because I’m not a politician like the others on this stage.” Aman had the second best fundraising numbers in February, with around a million dollars. He could easily supplant one of the top-tier candidates, making him the strongest of the underdogs.

Kwanza Hall (underdog) Hall represents District 2 in the city council, which covers a diverse and vibrant part of Atlanta, ranging from Midtown, to Candler Park, to Sweet Auburn, Atlantic Station, and the MLK Historic District. “I’m going to be everybody’s mayor,” Hall said at the Buckhead Forum, “Atlanta’s not asking for a black, white, gay or straight mayor. I’m the only one with a proven track record for improving neighborhoods. We’ll use a transit-oriented plan for development to get our transportation working. We’ll have a neighborhood police program to mentor others. We’ll build out our city in a way to help others.”

Vincent Fort (top contender) The state senator for district 39, which covers a wide swath of downtown Atlanta, is looking to take his hard-nosed, confrontational style all the way to the mayor’s office. Fort has been a state senator since 1997; outside of that, he is a professor at Emory University- and last year he stumped for Bernie Sanders before Georgia’s primary. He’s a key player in the Democratic side of the Georgia Legislature, serving as the whip in the Senate. At the forum hosted by the Buckhead Coalition, he took a similar reformist note to Norwood. “One of the things I’ve done in the last year and continue to do is tell the people of Atlanta the truth,” Fort said, “Atlanta has lost its way. Atlanta City Hall has lost its way, not the people. There are people there more interested in serving their interests than the people’s interests.”

Ceasar Mitchell (top contender) Ceasar Mitchell is a common sight in Atlanta politics. He has served as the current Atlanta City Council President since 2010, and prior to that he served as the Post 1 at-large representative for eight years. Born in Atlanta, he graduated from Morehouse with honors and later from UGA Law. Outside of his work within the municipal government, Mitchell has worked with a number of charitable organizations. He has served on the boards of Hands On Atlanta, Points of Light, and Outward Bound Atlanta, and was he appointed to the Georgia Commission on Volunteerism and Service by Governor Deal. Mitchell has also posted the strongest fundraising numbers, having raised over $1.2 million as of early February. That being said, Mitchell is also facing questions about campaign finance violations related to his leadership PAC and his 2013 campaign for Council President- a large determining factor will be if he can move on quickly from that. G E O R G I A P O LI T I CA L R EVI EW • 1 5


The Raw Deal Resurrecting the Opportunity School District NATA L I E S PE I E R S TA FF WRI T E R



his past November, Amendment 1, an educational reform measure championed by Governor Nathan Deal, failed to pass with almost 60 percent of Georgia voters in opposition. With the initiative still fresh on the minds of the public, the governor has announced that, along with support from fellow Republican lawmakers, he plans to move forward with his vow to save chronically failing public schools–this time through legislation. In order to gain a better understanding of exactly what Deal and his legislative counterparts plan to do to revive these schools, it is important to look back at exactly what Amendment 1 proposed and why it divided the state of Georgia so decisively. The number of Georgia public schools that are chronically failing¬–meaning the school has received a College and Career Ready Performance Index score of below 60 percent for three consecutive years–is growing, especially among minority and low-income communities. According to the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement, in 2017, 153 schools received an ‘F’ grade, which is an increase from 127 in 2015 with the same failing score. Amendment 1 was designed to remedy this issue by placing 140 struggling schools into a single Opportunity School District (OSD). Modeled after a similar program in Louisiana the amendment would have given a state-appointed superintendent broad power to make reforms within the school district. Proponents of the amendment saw it as a new and innovative way to enact real change within the school system. Even the phrasing of Amendment 1 on the ballot, providing “greater flexibility and state accountability to fix failing schools through increasing community involvement,” made the OSD seem like a no-brainer. However, for the majority of Georgians, the initiative was not the exciting, one-stop plan for reforming schools that Deal advertised. To start, the broad powers given to the superintendent to close low-scoring schools or hand over their operation to charter schools were unsettling to many who believed that a state-appointed superintendent may play politics rather than do what is best for students. Another concern was that many of the schools slated to join the OSD have overwhelmingly poor, African-American populations. With Georgia’s history of school segregation, the possibility of creating a two-tier system seemed eerily similar to the education systems of the past. Though the amendment in no way suggests the re-segregation of schools, there was considerable worry that the OSD would inadvertently separate majority-minority schools from the rest of the state’s public school system. The fact that very little was said about exactly how this new school district would improve teaching and learning did not help the amendment’s case. When it came time to choose whether to amend Georgia’s constitution, 60 percent of Georgia’s voters stood against Deal’s plan, leaving the Governor’s promise to improve schools unfulfilled. For

the Republicans, this was an embarrassing blow: a great deal of political capital had been wasted, and with the 2018 gubernatorial election coming up, effective education reform seemed essential. Deal nonetheless is moving forward with what he calls his “Plan B” education initiative. Though the details of the plan have not been established, it is likely that Deal will want to make the new law similar to the program proposed by Amendment 1. This legislation, however, will face challenges before it becomes law, starting with a 2011 Georgia Supreme Court decision, which ruled that the Constitution of Georgia only gives county and local education, boards the right to maintain and create public schools. This decision, which struck down a law that would have created a Georgia Charter School Commission, makes it hard for lawmakers to find a constitutional route to build something like the OSD. This landmark case was the primary reason

bling the OSD would be unpopular, and Republican lawmakers will have to take this into account when voting for Deal’s “Plan B”. Additionally, Democrats in Georgia’s General Assembly have been re-energized by the vote against Amendment 1. Many see Georgia voters as on their side–at least concerning education reform. This means Democrats will probably put up a fight if the new bill too strongly resembles the failed ballot initiative. Georgia House Minority Speaker Stacey Abrams is cautiously optimistic about what an education bill might look like. She hopes the plan will include some Democratic priorities, such as pay raises for teachers and community reform initiatives in the areas surrounding these schools. With opportunities for compromise possible, she and many of her fellow Democrats will wait until the bill has been written before attacking it. Others are less confident and believe Deal’s new plan is more about recovering political ground lost than helping the more than 68,000 students currently enrolled in failing public schools. This argument, though pessimistic, may have some merit. Since a bulk of the state’s budget goes to education, Deal simply cannot afford for the failed ballot initiative to be the final word in his education legacy. The success of Deal’s “Plan B” is also important to the Republican Party, especially with the upcoming 2018 gubernatorial election. Being cast as the party that failed on education reform could sincerely hurt the Republicans’ chances of electing another governor. This forthcoming election makes a popular and effective education bill crucial to keeping the party in office, which is likely what Deal and his counterparts plan to do with their new legislation. Though no major party candidate has announced their intentions to run for governor, it is likely that Deal’s right-hand man and lieutenant governor, Casey Cagle, will throw his hat in. This makes success in educational reform even more imperative, as it is looking like Cagle will frame his run around his own educational policies. His 2016 book “Education Unleashed” offers a “comprehensive vision to transform the way that public schools educate.” With a Republican “Plan B” in the works, it seems likely that Cagle will frame himself and his party as advocates of public education. In terms of getting education reform legislation passed, the odds look quite good for the Republicans. Even though the GOP today is less friendly to Deal–due to two contentious vetoes made by the Governor in the past year–Democrats only make up one-third of the house. Deal’s efforts have already received the support of the Speaker of the House. Whatever bill is proposed, it is clear to both sides that the problem is only getting worse. The state of Georgia’s public schools is deteriorating. According to the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement, 26 additional schools were labeled as chronically failing in 2016. Whether Deal’s new plan will be the golden ticket is unknown for now, but for the sake of the students attending these F-rated schools, change needs to come, and fast.

“Whatever bill is proposed, it is clear to both sides that the problem is only getting worse. The state of Georgia’s public schools is deteriorating.”

the governor’s plan was put forth as a constitutional amendment in the first place. Deal and Republican legislators have said they feel confident they will be able to work around this restriction in their new plan. However, it is unclear exactly what a reform bill that conforms to the 2011 decision will look like. The ruling will not be the only problem Republicans face, as the public voted heavily against the bill this past fall. It is very possible a bill resem-


Binding stories and activism E M ILY M ALON EY STAFF WRI TE R





he day after the election of then-President-elect Donald Trump, Avid Bookshop, an independent bookstore in Athens, posted on Instagram a picture of the chalkboard outside of their store. In striking block letters, it read, “Love Trumps Hate,” Hillary Clinton’s slogan throughout her unexpectedly ill-fated campaign. Since then, their presence on social media and in person has stood in solidarity with the Trump resistance movement, displaying carefully curated tables of relevant books concerning Trump’s recent moves, pencil bags proclaiming “feminist,” and messages of hope and wisdom on the chalkboard

Bookstores each day. Avid is certainly not the only independent bookstore to be political since (and even before) the election, especially in the South. From A Capella and Charis Books in Atlanta to Square Books in Mississippi and Wild Iris Books in Florida, the independent bookstore movement seems to be thriving, even in conservative states won by Trump. Independent bookstores are bookstores that are unaffiliated with corporations or chains. They are local in the purest sense, serving a particular community’s literary needs. “I think that [with] independent bookstores - it’s sort of a feeling you get when you walk in,” said Mannie Rivers, who works at A Capella Books in Atlanta. “You talk to this person who you know is going to sort of act like your personal bookseller and get to know you and your case and point you in the direction you need to go.” The reason why these types of bookstores can be spaces of solace and inspiration in social justice movements is because of the product they sell. Margaret Atwood proclaimed, “A word after a word after a word is power,” in her poem, “Spelling”. Audre Lorde famously asserted that poetry is not a luxury, but a necessity of expression for the oppressed. The written word, mobilized by skilled craftsmen, with all of its careful twists in plot, turns of phrase, and arcs of characters, manages to inspire intense feeling in readers. Literature is somehow capable of moving people into action – or at least providing them with a wider perspective – simply using different variations of the same letters of the alphabet. Stories are what make us human; they expose the inner human heart, for all its faults and pleasures. What’s more, books and poems make us see the world through another’s point of view. They push us to expand our horizons and grow in empathy. It is



no surprise then, that the bookstores selling these seemingly innocuous items – actually filled with ammunition in the form of ideas – double as activists in times of uncertainty. The collective progressive actions of independent bookstores did not emerge out of a vacuum after the election of Trump. In the 1970s, feminist bookstores opened all over the country, focused on organizing and driving the conversation around the women’s movement for equality. In her book, “The Feminist Bookstore Movement: Lesbian Antiracism and Feminist Accountability,” Kirstin Hogan maps the network of over 175 bookstores at the height of this movement, and how women of color and lesbian women used these bookstores as central locations for developing theory and ensuring that authors who were writing feminist literature got published and were circulated.

Stories are what make us human; they expose the inner human heart, for all its

faults and pleasures.

In a Q&A with “Shelf Life@Texas,” Hogan describes some of the activist tactics used by these feminist bookstores: “Feminist bookwomen changed how we read feminist literature and each other; I created the term ‘the feminist shelf ’ to describe this work. In order to get and keep on the shelves books that mattered, feminist bookwomen supported new authors’ writings (and were authors themselves), advocated with publishers to get feminist writing in print, waged letter-writing campaigns to keep that writing in print, and distributed out-of-print work.” These feminist bookstores served as both distribution centers of feminist ideas as well as places for their creation - community spaces for support and challenge, part-bookstore and part-activist organization. Unfortunately, only 13 feminist bookstores are left standing today. The rest succumbed to the rise of book buying on Amazon or corporate bookstores such as Barnes and Noble. But they left a lasting mark on both the feminist movement and the world of independent bookstores, creating a model for bookselling activism. Walking into an independent bookstore today gives you a sense of its double identity. You

2 0 • GEO R G I A P O L I T I CA L R EVI E W

are immediately hit with a visual of books filling shelves all over the store coupled with an atmosphere of hushed voices and quiet contemplation. But, with a closer look, you will often notice tables of books centered on themes of resistance, covering both women’s and civil rights. Displayed on walls and bookshelves are invitations to join progressive reading book clubs, writing groups, or attend events featuring influential civil rights activists such as Trayvon Martin’s parents. The New York Times reported that the political response of bookstores has ranged from simply being open ears to distributing information and literature on progressive thought, to hosting events for people to write discontented letters to congressmen. Recently, bookstores attending the American Bookseller’s Association (ABA) Winter Institute conference stood behind the slogan “Books are Borderless” in response to Trump’s executive order banning refugees and immigrants from Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Iran, Libya, Somalia, and Sudan for 90 days. Although the order was temporarily blocked by the United States 9th District Court of Appeals, it seems that bookstores are willing to take a public stand against presidential actions. But independent bookstores are certainly not without their flaws. At the ABA Winter Institute conference, Roxane Gay, the author of “Bad Feminist” and “Difficult Women,” urged booksellers to step up their commitment to diversity. Just like every other industry, the literary world struggles with representation throughout the spectrum of roles from readers to booksellers to authors to publishers themselves. “Ten days ago I did a reading at the wonderful Skylight Books in Los Angeles and later that night a Latina woman sent me a message on Facebook,” Gay said in her speech. “She asked, ‘Is it amazing or surprising to have a majority of white women in the audience tonight?’ And I thought ‘No, it isn’t amazing,’ because there was nothing remarkable about the demographics of that audience. I travel to bookstores all over this country and there are always handfuls of people of color, far more than most writers get no doubt, but a majority of white women and the men they bring along. The majority of the booksellers at these stores are white people and rarely does anyone bring this up.” Rivers, who works at A Capella Books, voiced this same concern. “There’s been some growth here at A Capella, but I think we can certainly expand our customer base,” he said. “But I think that also has a lot to do with how we engage communities of color in literature. When you look at that from an overall standpoint, not many

folks will argue this, literature is very white, it’s incredibly white.” Just like the major institutions in our society (and because of the racial inequality perpetuated by these institutions), booksellers are currently facing the manifestations of societal injustices when attempting to diversify their customer base. Rivers explicated this plainly in his discussion of Atlanta, one of the most diverse cities in the South. “Especially when you look


at Atlanta, which is an overwhelmingly black city - it’s the overwhelmingly black city of the nation, I think [reaching out to communities of color] is a solid challenge” he said. Booksellers face this challenge, according to Rivers, “because of the systemic issues we have in our education and in our judicial system and in our economic system, in our society as a whole, that continue to marginalize people of color and discourage especially black males from literature and reading.”

While the white people who frequent these bookstores may serve as important allies to the social justice issues of today, independent bookstores are aiming to expand their customer base into these underprivileged communities to truly make a difference in those communities. The conundrum of activism is clear within independent bookstores right now. National issues most successfully serve to galvanize the public, but local action makes the most difference. While authors and letter-writing campaigns to senators may go over well with their customers, independent bookstores may make more of a direct impact as they reach out to marginalized groups in their own zip code. However, there is no reason that these efforts cannot coincide. As Avid, A Capella, Charis, and others resist intolerance through their political actions, they are committing to engage people and communities of color by

hosting progressive events and featuring the voices and experiences of people of color. It makes sense that this comes with an increased effort to bring in individuals who may not have thought that reading, or independent bookstores, could be places for them. “The things that I really wanted, I thought I couldn’t have because I grew up in poverty,” Rivers said. “When you grow up that way, going hungry sometimes or insecure about your living situation or various things, then you don’t think that you can have anything you want. I wanted books a lot when I was younger, but I didn’t think I could have them. So when I got into college, I bought tons of books. I rarely sold my books back, and when I finally came to A Capella – it’s just been a dream.” Books open doors. The time is right for activist bookstores to successfully open doors for marginalized people to step through. G E O R G I A P O LI T I CA L R EVI EW • 2 1



’m a real young n***a from the six throwing ‘bows,” Lil Yachty repeats melodically in D.R.A.M’s Grammy-nominated hit song “Broccoli.” To most hip-hop fans, Lil Yachty’s reference to the six, or Zone 6, is commonplace, as hip-hop artists Gucci Mane and Future both regularly reference their stomping grounds in East Atlanta. The only problem is that Lil Yachty isn’t from East Atlanta. In fact, Yachty isn’t even from the area Atlanta natives call “inside the perimeter” (ITP), “real Atlanta” inside of Interstate 285 encompassing parts of Fulton and DeKalb counties. He’s from Mableton, Georgia, a small town in suburban Cobb County known for prefabricated neighborhoods and proximity to Six Flags. Increasingly becoming the epicenter of the hip-hop world, Atlanta emerged on the national stage with legendary rap duo OutKast, and other prominent artists such as Ludacris, Lil Jon, T.I., and Gucci Mane followed. All the major players in the Atlanta hip-hop scene came from ITP Atlanta, with OutKast from East Point in South Fulton County, Ludacris from College Park in South Fulton County, Lil Jon and T.I. from Bankhead in Fulton County, and Gucci Mane from East Atlanta in DeKalb County. Due to changing residential patterns and the growing suburbanization of Atlanta’s African-American population, the cultural capital within Atlanta’s hip-hop music scene is increasingly found outside of the Interstate 285


From Guwop

Perimeter and inside the city’s sprawling suburbs. Within the past year, rap group Migos and eccentric rapper Lil Yachty have taken the world by storm with chart-topping hits and Grammy nominations, and Donald Glover has made significant waves in depicting the suburban African-American experience in his award-winning show Atlanta. It might then be surprising to Atlanta natives and ITP hip-hop legends that Migos are from Lawrenceville, Lil Yachty is from Mableton, and Glover is from Stone Mountain, all “outside the perimeter” (OTP) suburbs located as far as an hour’s drive away from the city’s urban core. When “Players Ball” on their breakout album Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik emerged as a Billboard Hot Rap Track in 1993, OutKast challenged the existing gatekeepers of hip-hop in New York and Los Angeles. The duo cemented their position as the foremost Southern rap group by winning Best New Rap Group at the 1995 Source Awards. During their acceptance speech, Andre 3000, amid raucous boos from primarily New York emcees, defiantly proclaimed, “The South got something to say, that’s all I got to say.” Since that time, Atlanta has come to dwarf New York and Los Angeles in its influence on hip-hop and rap music, proving that the people liked everything the South was saying. The Atlanta hip-hop scene has shifted geographically four times in the past 20 years. Within the first wave of Atlanta hip-hop, OutKast and artists like

Ludacris represented South Fulton County, the area around which hip-hop revolved in the late 1990s and early 2000s. With the emergence of Lil Jon and T.I. in 2002 with “Get Low” and 2003 with Trap Muzik, the center of Atlanta hip-hop slowly moved from the South Fulton county neighborhoods of East Point and College Park into the downtown Atlanta neighborhood of Bankhead. DeKalb County inherited the center of the Atlanta hip-hop scene when Gucci Mane’s characteristic low-effort braggadocio morphed with the notorious trap style that would consume East Atlanta. The final move of Atlanta’s hip-hop center seems to be outward in all directions toward the increasingly populous and influential suburbs, and these movements of Atlanta’s hip-hop influencers mirror the settlement patterns of the city’s African-American community over the same period. Nationwide, the movement of African-Americans from urban cores to suburbs began in the 1970s after the 1968 Fair Housing Act prohibited housing discrimination, thereby increasing access to non-urban housing markets. Between 1990 and 2010, the percentage of African Americans living in suburbs of major cities increased from 37 percent to 51 percent, meaning that more African Americans now live in suburbs than urban areas. Atlanta was at the forefront of this suburbanization, as the suburban African-American population increased from 67 percent in 1990 to 87 percent in 2010. In the last ten years, Atlanta has

to Gwinnett County The suburbanization of Atlanta’s hip-hop culture EL I SC O TT S TA FF WR I T E R

gained more suburban African-Americans than any other metropolitan area in the United States, and its suburban African-American population is currently four times as large as that of Chicago. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, over half of the metro’s African-American population was primarily located in the historically majority-black suburban counties closest to Atlanta’s core, namely South Fulton, DeKalb, and Clayton. These counties, however, have only accounted for one-fourth of the total growth in the African-American population over the past 15 years. Because these three counties house over half of the African-Americans in Atlanta, all the major hiphop artists until the mid2000s came from these majority-black suburban areas. The slow growth of the African-American population in these historically black counties, combined with the overall African-American population decline in the city of Atlanta, necessitated a large growth in the African-American populations of bordering counties that in 2000 had tiny African-American populations between 0 and 20 percent of their populations. The surrounding suburbs, all of which possessed negligible African-American populations prior to

2000, accounted for almost 70 percent of the African-American population growth in Atlanta. The two counties with the greatest proportion of the African-American population growth, Cobb County and Gwinnett County, accounted for 35 percent of the total growth between 2000 and 2010. It is no surprise, then, that two of the most notable artists in in Atlanta hip-hop in the past year, Lil Yachty and Migos, are from Cobb and Gwinnett counties, respectively.

rapper in an Atlanta suburb. The celebration surrounding Glover’s Atlanta mainly stems from its verisimilitude to the increasingly relatable suburban African-American existence. Despite the breakout success of suburban rappers Migos and Lil Yachty, the Atlanta hip-hop scene has retained some of its urban roots with the contemporaneous emergence of 21 Savage from Zone 6 in East Atlanta. The foil to suburbanite Lil Yachty, 21 Savage represents an alternative view of Atlanta hip-hop more in line with the rappers of its past. Nevertheless, of the Atlanta counties with populations over 500,000, Gwinnett County has grown at a rate almost double that of Fulton, Cobb, and DeKalb counties in recent years and is expected to be the largest county in the state by 2040. In recent years, exurbs like Forsyth County have grown by a rapid 4 percent annually, and the county is expected to double in the next twenty years. In this way, the suburbanization of the Atlanta hip-hop scene looks to be a long-term trend, and the increasing shifts in the African-American population to the suburbs will fundamentally alter the cultural capital of the city for years to come.

As the African-American population moved from the urban core and historically black counties surrounding Atlanta to farther-flung counties such as Cobb and Gwinnett, so too did the location of the city’s hip-hop icons and the content of its cultural capital. As the African-American population moved from the urban core and historically black counties surrounding Atlanta to farther-flung counties such as Cobb and Gwinnett, so too did the location of the city’s hip-hop icons and the content of its cultural capital. In fact, Donald Glover’s hit series Atlanta recently won a Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series. The subject of the show captures the changing culture of Atlanta neatly, as the show chronicles an up-and-coming African-American



A Proud Start to an Equal Future An education beyond the books BRYCE C U LV ER AND SA M C L E A R E S TA FF WR I T E R S


ith the slogan, “Where Freedom to Be Becomes Your New Reality,” Pride School Atlanta pioneers a program that focuses on supporting the specific needs of LGBTQ+ students in Georgia. This non-profit, independent school serves a wide range of individuals, accepting students from ages 5 through 18. Modeled after other schools that promote the education of LGBTQ+ individuals and allies – including Harvey Milk High School as well as the Albany and Brooklyn Free Schools – Pride School Atlanta paves the way for the future of safe spaces in schools. Today, these resources are more important than ever before. Discrimination and violence against the LGBTQ+ community is a persistent feature of modern America. Regardless, this community has recently made advances in civil rights and social acceptance. A recent study by the Pew Research Center found that a majority of Americans are now supportive of LGBTQ+ issues. Despite this approval, a significant number of Americans are still critical of sexual and gender minorities, especially in more rural communities and with regards to individuals of color. These attitudes are particularly pronounced in the school experiences of LGBTQ+ youth. Students learn to define themselves at school, and the experiences that lead to these discoveries can either shape

a student’s life for the better or lead to serious consequences. A recent survey of LGBTQ+ youth by the Human Rights Campaign helps illustrate the isolation and vitriol many LGBTQ+ students face as a result of sexual and gender discrimination. According to the survey, almost half of all LGBTQ+ youth view their community as unaccepting of sexual and gender minorities. Even students in more accepting communities are not immune to anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric, as 92 percent of

their sexual or gender identification, and 1 in 5 students have been physically harassed for the same reason. In Georgia, the numbers are even higher. Over 70 percent of LGBTQ+ students in Georgia have faced verbal harassment, one-third of students have faced physical harassment, and 1 in 10 students have been physically assaulted due to their sexual or gender nonconformity. In fact, LGBTQ+ students are three times as likely to be harassed than other minorities and twice as likely to have been physically assaulted. In addition, over 85 percent of all LGBTQ+ youth encounter homophobic remarks, LGBTQ+ slurs or negative comments about gender expression in school. While harassment and bullying can be a persistent problem for any school, the harassment against LGBTQ+ students is often reinforced by a lack of administrative action; in some cases, the administration itself has discriminated against students based on their sexual or gender expression. In Georgia, one-third of LGBTQ+ students were disciplined for expression of public affection (with no similar action pursued for non-LGBTQ+ students) or prevented from wearing clothes deemed inappropriate for their sex. A quarter of students were prevented from bringing a same-gender date to their school dance, and 1 in 5 students were prevented from using the bathroom or locker room that aligns with their gender. The majority of school administrations do not intervene against LGBTQ+ student expression, yet the vast majority still do not provide the necessary protections or resources for sexual and gender nonconformity. In Georgia, only 3 percent of schools have bullying/harassment policies that include protections for LGBTQ+ students. This data suggests that safe spaces, which provide the necessary resources and protections to LGBTQ+ students, are necessary to ameliorate administrative gaps. Safe spaces

Less than one-third of schools have a gay-straight alliance or library resources for sexual and gender minorities and only 1 in 10 have an inclusive health curriculum for nonconforming students.


respondents claimed they are exposed to negative messaging regarding sexual or gender minorities. It is clear that LGBTQ+ youth still face harassment in communities across the country. More so than community environments, school environments can act as the most effectual arena for acceptance or harassment. Based on the most recent data, researchers still see a strong presence of harassment against LGBTQ+ youth by peers in school. A recent study conducted in 2015 by the National School Climate Survey found that over 50 percent of LGBTQ+ students have been verbally attacked for

enhance and maintain environments in schools that are culturally competent and supportive to LGBTQ+ individuals, as well as straight, cisgender people who care about diversity, equality and inclusion. Promoting the implementation of these programs and training into the school environment can significantly improve the lives of LGBTQ+ youth. Therefore, Pride School Atlanta provides much more than a quality education for LGBTQ+ students and allies. Students learn more than math and other core subjects; they learn to understand and accept their identities as well as the identities of others. According to Charlotte, a student at Atlanta Pride School, “I can be myself at school for the first time.” With this freedom, students can truly come to full fruition, achieving at their highest potential. About three years ago, Pride School Atlanta also became a non-profit organization. According to the director, Christian Zsilavetz, the mission statement has never changed, and the organization has always aimed to provide a school environment free of homophobia and “where everyone can be themselves.” Pride School Atlanta also provides LGBTQ+ identifying role models for students and connects individuals with support through training with the National Urban League and the State Department, therapists, and mentors. Further, Pride School Atlanta serves individuals outside of Atlanta and even the state of Georgia. Students from all over Georgia attend Pride School Atlanta. Not to mention, parents benefit from the services of Pride School Atlanta, as the school provides a safe space for LBGTQ+ identifying parents to school their children. The organization works with the LGBT Youth Summit, other LGBTQ+ affirming schools, and over 30 other organizations. According to Zsilavetz, the media plays a large role. He states that it is important to utilize the media in order to gain publicity and provide support for individuals who cannot come out as LGBTQ+ identifying due to financial and safety concerns. In the future, he plans to create a television and radio show. However, Zsilavetz believes he will keep the school institution small in order to assist the needs of every individual student. Many of the students enter the school with PTSD from bullying. He explains, “There are many ugly roads to get here. By age 14, many of the students have been institutionalized multiple times, even 10-20 times. And these are just these 12 kids coming here. That’s not even the kids who haven’t made it here.” Pride School Atlanta continues to gain attention and help its students as well as their families. Individuals and larger organizations donate thousands in supplies to Pride School Atlanta. Hotlanta softball league also donated clothes to the school. Even in an uncertain political climate regarding the rights of LGBTQ+ identifying individuals, a non-partisan effort is being made to protect the right to an education for all. The need for this communal effort is especially necessary in a school environment still unfit for LGBTQ+ students.

1 in 5 students have been physically harassed for their sexual or gender orientation G E O R G I A PO LI T I CA L R EVI EW • 2 5


Fighting Poverty with Property A proven method for improving economic malaise in the developing world SEBASTI AN PU ERTA S TA FF WR I T E R


f you leave the Hilton Hotel in Cartagena, Colombia a sudden rush of the senses will hit you. As you walk toward the beach, the smell of diesel will smother you as you swim through a sea of motorcycles flooding the streets. As the tires of traffic slowly progress atop the cracked concrete, their constant rumbling produces a dissonance that is as paradoxically sweet as the mangoes that grow nearby. A woman wearing colorful garb and carrying a rainbow of fruit in a basket heads to market. Salt, brought by a cool breeze from the ocean, is tasted in the air. The humidity makes the air almost swimmable. The sun’s sharp and hot rays scorch any uncovered skin. As you approach the beach, a stream of merchants swarm to sell their goods, offering sunglasses, sandals, and cellphones with a charming vigor. The merchants may pester often, but only because if there is no money from sales this week, there will be no food on the table next week. When you left the Hilton, you did not just cross the barrier between air conditioning and no air conditioning; you traversed a border that is preventing the developing world from joining the rich. Although the vendors’ entrepreneurship is admirable, herein lies the malady of poor economies around the world. Most of these merchants lack the proper documentation for their business, as well as for their homes. The root cause of this is not to avoid taxes, but a growing bundle of suffocating regulation that effectively bars often uneducated property owners from taking on the monumental task of filling out headache-causing paperwork. This crime robs not only emergent nations of economic prosperity but also their people of the most important right that gave rise to the modern world: property.


What sits at the core of capitalism is the idea of the self as property and property as a right on par with the right to free speech. According to retired University of Georgia Associate Professor of Legal Studies Lee Reed, “[Property] is the legal right recognized by society and adequately enforced by the state to exclude all others from some object.” In the developed world, this means if you leave your keys in your car, someone cannot drive off in it without legal consequence. There lies the seeds of a revolution which sprouted to give the world the fruits that form the foundation of our world- individualism, due process, democracy, and capitalism. Without property, productive

enterprise cannot emerge. Or, as Professor Reed often says, property is “the goose that lays the golden wealth of nations.” Imagine the woman from earlier, carrying the basket of fruit upon her head as she went to market. If there were no system of property, what is to stop a passerby from simply taking the fruit by force? She has no right to exclude others from the fruit because there are no property rights. Thus, if the risk of her being mugged is sufficiently high, she may not go to the market in the first place. This analogy can be applied to all business, and in doing so, one can see why property is the bedrock of all commerce and why the lack thereof has stymied developing economies around the world. Without property rights, people must guard their resources from others, leading to a system in which the poor are preyed upon by the powerful and there is no incentive for exchange. As businesses either continue to wither or are unable to form and homeownership goes unrecognized, the result is a tragic loss of capital that otherwise could have been used to better standards of living. What can be done to solve such a persistent problem that has plagued countries for centuries? This question has been tackled by Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto Polar. Born in Arequipa, Peru and educated in Switzerland, de Soto formed a team known as the Institute for Liberty and Democracy (ILD), which has advocated for an expansion of property rights to aid the fight against poverty since its inception in 1980s. Their work has been met with success. In 1987, ILD concluded that Peru had about $70 billion in extralegal real estate assets that were essentially “dead capital”–unable to be used to obtain credit or to add to one’s personal balance sheet. ILD began holding public hearings to in-

International Property Rights Index WORSE


crease awareness of the issue and to de- which were successful. De Soto’s countless nous peoples? The far more difficult task termine what socially recognized property prizes, recognitions, and calls for counsel may lie in the East, where the command rights existed in order to transfer them into from presidents and prime ministers are a economies of Russia and China feature formal law. After this process, ILD drafted testament to his strategy’s success. frequent abuse of the rule of law. Both the “Property Registry Law” and presentHowever, an improvement to the struc- countries are on the United States Trade ed it to the Peruvian Parliament in 1988. ture of property law is not the silver bul- Representative’s “Priority Watch List” for It passed unanimously. The time necessary let: it must be done in conjunction with intellectual property rights violations. to obtain a title for land plummeted from other reforms contributing to the legal, The key to this aforementioned strategy about 21 years to a maximum of 15 days. political, and economic empowerment of is that it unlocks wealth that already exists. For comparison, obtaining By shining a light on the a land title in Los Ange- An improvement to the structure of property shadow economy, developles takes about 20 days. In ing nations can become the Lima alone, where 300,000 law is not the silver bullet: it must be done in next beacons for capitalism. titles were issued, the val- conjunction with other reforms contributing to Property rights will incenue of the land doubled by foreign investment as the legal, political, and economic empowerment tivize 1998. De Soto’s reforms firms’ legal risk decreases, have helped 1.2 million of those that live outside the current system. allowing homeowners to families and 380,000 firms borrow using their homes in Peru emerge from the shadow economy those that live outside the current system. as collateral and permit businesses all the and into the formal economy. As a start, he calls for improving the ju- advantages of operating within the legal ILD’s work became so successful and dicial systems’ efficiency, ensuring proper system. If a country does begin the monrenowned that de Soto gained recognition enforcement of the law, and rewriting fi- umental task of reform, there will be imfrom such distinguished leaders as Mar- nancial regulations. mense prosperity from fighting poverty garet Thatcher and Bill Clinton. He has Where shall de Soto take his red with property. Were Colombia to enact been awarded so many prizes that to look tape-cutting scissors next? Perhaps he may these reforms, the country’s streets will through them all requires a few flicks of the assist the woman in the Caribbean dress in become no less beautiful nor less delicious mouse wheel. He was invited to conduct Colombia where 64 percent of the urban to the senses; merchants may even badger similar programs around the world, from workforce is informal? Or will he continue you less over buying their trinkets due to Haiti to Egypt to the Philippines, all of his recent work with Amazonian indige- their newfound wealth. G E O R G I A PO LI T I CA L R EVI EW • 2 7


Faкë Иэws: Russia’s Information Warfare Campaign in Europe Russia’s propaganda campaign is shaping opinions, even outside of Russia. VALTT E R I TA M M I N E N STA FF WR IT E R


ussia has been engaging in a massive infor- The reporting is similar to other outlets, and mation warfare campaign in Europe over RT reporters rarely, if ever, have discernable the past few years, across the spectrum accents, making bias more difficult to spot. RT of media platforms. The aim has been to destabi- acts like any other news station, but with a more lize governments and international organizations, pro-Russian twist. cause confusion and show a positive view of Russia In addition to its state funded news agencies to the West. Their campaign is well planned and such as RT and Sputnik news, Russia also relies on highly coordinated, and it doesn’t let something as companies such as the Internet Research Agency trivial as facts get in the way. The Russian media to execute its information campaign. The Agency is still being used by the Russian state exactly as is a company that has industrialized “trolling,” reLenin saw it over 100 years ago. portedly hiring up to 400 people to work 12-hour       Russia’s history with propaganda dates bacк to  shifts commenting on posts, tweeting, and mainthe Soviet era, but has recently reemerged into the taining faкe social media accounts, all in support  public consciousness. Russian tactics have changed of the Russian government. This is not a unique with the increase in technology and its closer in- phenomenon to Russia either, as a 2013 study by tegration with the West today than during the Freedomhouse found that of the 60 countries asCold War. The creation of the Russian-language sessed, 22 had employed “paid government comnews station Russia Today (RT) was a cornerstone mentators”, singling out Russia, China and Bahof this new campaign. RT receives funding from rain as the main users of this tactic. the Russian government and is viewed by many as When Sweden considered joining NATO in the tip of the Russian information warfare spear. 2016, fake claims started circulating on Swedish While RT argues that it is not a Kremlin puppet, social media. Individuals claimed that NATO they consistently echo the Kremlin’s messages. It is could secretly move nuclear weapons onto important to note however, that state funded me- Swedish soil, that NATO could attack Russia dia is not unique to Russia, nor does state funding from Sweden without the government’s approval, necessarily imply that a news source automatically and that NATO soldiers would be immune from distorts facts or is a tool of information warfare. prosecution, and could rape Swedish women withPBS and NPR in the United States, as well as the out fear of criminal charges. All of these claims BBC in the United Kingdom, all receive govern- were  faкe,  but  they  sparked  confusion  and  even  ment funding, to spilled into tradiname a few. tional news media, RT has content the ultimate goal. in Russian, English, Russia is strongly Arabic, French, opposed to Sweden Spanish and Gerjoining NATO, and man, while Sputwhile the sources nik news, another of these narratives, VL A DI M I R P UT I N Russia-based news like so many others, agency, boasts news were never conclupages in 33 languages. This shows the broad reach sively tracked down, there is a strong pro-Russian, of Russia’s state-funded news arm, with RT boldly anti-West narrative in these stories. Before the claiming a viewership of 700 million across over Swedish  language  version  of   Sputniк  closed  in  100 countries , although serious concerns have the spring of 2016, the Swedish Institute of Inbeen leveled at the accuracy of those numbers. ternational Affairs compiled all 3963 news items

“A newspaper is not only a collective propagandist and collective agitator, but also a collective organiser.”


Sputnik published in 2015. It found that a majority could be grouped into 10 main categories, the most popular being “Crisis in the West” (705 articles), “Positive image of Russia” (643 articles), and “Western aggressiveness” (499 articles). Estonia and Lithuania have also been targets of the Russian disinformation campaign. The goal is to make Russian minorities in these Baltic states feel disenfranchised, prompting political disorder and a turn towards Russia. Russian news outlets incited riots in 2007 by claiming that the moving of a Russian statue in Estonia was an attack on their culture. The same outlets also broadcast news about a massive pro-Russian march that never took place. They spread rumors and false claims that a Lithuanian conscript, who died from a meningococcal infection, actually died from poor army canteen hygiene or from being used as a test subject for biological warfare, among other stories.

This disinformation attempts to weaken Baltic citizens’ view of NATO, their national armies and their governments as a whole.       In  Uкraine,  the  Russian  narrative  seeks  to  display the Euromaidan protest outcome as a Western backed coup and suggests that Uкraine is now under  the leadership of a fascist junta. Euromaidan saw over 100,000 protesters take to the streets in favor of a EU trade deal that then President Viktor Yanukovych declined to sign at the last minute. Over 100 protesters were killed by security forces, but the protests were eventually successful in ousting the president. However, Ukraine has a large Russian minority, liкe in the Baltic states, who can tap straight into Russian media. To respond to Russian fake news, teachers and students at Kyiv-Mohyla University created, which has analyzed and debunked hundreds of news items from across the Russian information warfare spectrum.

Finland, which has been victim to much of the same information warfare above, was also targeted in a different but not unique way. A Russian boy was taкen away from his parents and put into  protective custody by Finnish child protective services after he revealed that his parents slap him. While corporal punishment is normal in Russia, it is illegal in Finland. The issue became a sensation in Russia, where it was portrayed as a snub by Finnish authorities against Russians. This follows a trend of Russian media exaggerating problems Russians face abroad, usually painting a picture of prejudice against Russians. Unlike during the Cold War when the USSR tried to portray itself as an alternative to western democracy, today Russia is more concerned with picking at weaknesses and rifts in western governments and populaces. Though there have been small scale successes fighting Russian propaganda, the west has 

failed  to  find  an  adequate  counter  to  it  on  a  large  scale. This campaign has done well to locк into issues  that people feel passionately about, and much of the news gets spread by unknowing participants. Most European countries have been targeted by this campaign to some extent. It has been so successful that Russia recently announced the creation of military units who would wage information warfare. It is not always easy to tell the bias of your news, as mainstream news sources can also get duped into running fake news. Even this article has a Russian influence. Did you notice that roughly every fourth “k” was in fact a cyrillic “к”? Back during the Soviet Union, the official communist  party  newspaper,  Правда  (Pravda),  was  the most-read paper with a peak readership of 11 million  .  Правда  means  “truth”  in  Russian,  and  today, ironically, truth is still a state-manufactured commodity in Russia. G E O R G I A PO LI T I CA L R EVI EW • 2 9


Moderate No More A

s 2016 came to a close, people all around the world were inundated by stories about how Aleppo, the largest city in Syria, was under siege from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s army. Major news networks ran stories of an impending massacre in the city and social media websites all had trending topics urging viewers to “pray for Aleppo” or to raise awareness about the situation there. Pictures and videos across the internet depicted destroyed buildings, bloodied bodies, and citizens frantically trying to evacuate from the city as the Syrian rebels, who had been fighting to keep control over parts of Aleppo since 2012, could no longer hold on and were forced to retreat and leave citizens defenseless against Assad and his soldiers. However, conspicuously absent from these pictures and stories were depictions of the rebels themselves. Many people who wrote about the alleged atrocities in Aleppo were quick to draw comparisons between this event and others, such as the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, in which brave Polish Home Army rebels attempted to take back Warsaw from Nazi forces. When one looks at photos and videos from the uprising, the Polish rebels take front and center in many of them, showing how much they symbolized the Polish people’s struggle in World War II. As for Aleppo, while the media

makes countless references to “rebels” fighting, they are almost nowhere to be seen in any images. In fact, when Assad’s forces recaptured Aleppo, the only videos coming from inside the city were ones depicting Syrians celebrating in the streets, a peculiar sight if one believes that these rebels were the only thing standing between Aleppines and disaster. Though the media are quick to claim that the Syrian rebels are present and fighting, many news organizations do not draw attention to these “rebels” because many of them oppose secularism, adhere to Islamist/Salafist ideology, and wish

force fighting against Assad in the early years of the war. In fact, the FSA had gained control of all major border crossings between Iraq and Syria by mid-2012 while carrying out a number of offensives against government forces, expanding its territory to much of western Syria. On the diplomatic side, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (SNC) was founded in 2012. The SNC, which gave membership to representatives of the FSA and was endorsed by both secularists as well as moderate Islamic groups, gained diplomatic recognition from over twenty states by the start of 2013 and even obtained Syria’s seat in the Arab league after Assad’s government was suspended. At the time, there was hope that these moderate rebel groups would succeed. While the moderate rebels received diplomatic and military support from Western countries along with positive media coverage, little attention was paid to how fragile these moderate rebel coalitions were. Although it was rarely discussed in the Western media, Syria is a diverse state consisting of a variety of groups such as the Kurds, Alawites, Sunni Arabs, Assyrians, and many others who have their own aspirations for independence or ideas for governance. As a result, even the once powerful FSA was not easily held together and by the end of 2013, the group, which formed a

“The threat of Islamist and Salafist groups seizing power or leading the Syrian opposition has been downplayed by Western governments.” to establish an Islamic state in Syria. Consequently, they are much different from the moderate opposition groups that much of the world supported in the beginning of the Syrian Civil War. The Syrian Civil War began in response to Assad’s attempt to quash demonstrations during Arab Spring in 2011. Within a year of Assad cracking down on protests, an opposition army, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), was formed in Syria. The FSA, composed of defectors from Assad’s Syrian Arab Army (SAA) who wished to overthrow his regime, was perhaps the most notable of the moderate rebel groups and had been the strongest

April 2011 the first opposition structures were formed

3 0 • GEO R G I A P O L I T I C A L R E VI E W

the opposition groups combined to form the Syrian National Council

Late 2011


The end of the Syrian opposition ALEX B OYLS TON S TA FF WR I T E R

large part of the national “moderate” opposition, started to unravel. The FSA, at one time the most formidable opponent of Assad, according to some, ceased to be a unified group sometime between 2012 and 2013, largely due to mass desertions that decimated the group’s numbers. When the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), now arguably the strongest secular opposition group in Syria, formed in 2015 in northern Syria, they did not include what was left of the FSA, indicating how far out of favor the group has fallen since its apex only a few years ago. The greatest threat to a unified, secular opposition in Syria is not one ethnic group but rather Islamists and Salafists, who made up anywhere from one-fifth to one-half of all Syrian rebels in 2013 and hope to establish an Islamic state governed by sharia law in Syria. Although many of these Islamist fighters were affiliated with or members of groups such as al-Qaeda, the United States still collaborated with states such as Saudi Arabia to train them while they were still fighting alongside the FSA in the hopes of accelerating the fall of the Assad regime. On the battlefield, both Islamists and moderates did have the same goal of toppling Assad. However, when the SNC was formed the ideological rift between the groups was exposed when Islamist groups refused to respect the authority of the SNC. Around the same time thousands of Islamists left the FSA to join Islamist militias and called for forming an Islamic state governed by Sharia law due to the ineffectiveness of commanders, low pay, and the

2011 a broader opposition umbrella group, the National Coalition Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, was formed

lack of a shared vision for Syria amongst FSA soldiers as well as officers. Islamist armies, many of whom enjoyed backing and financial support from wealthy Gulf States such as Qatar and Syria, seemed more appealing to many who were disillusioned by the secular opposition’s failures and were able to attract many fighters from not only Syria but foreign countries as well. Meanwhile, as ISIL rose to prominence in 2014, many fighters with Islamist sympathies in the FSA began to join the group as it seized nearly all territory held by the FSA in western Syria, most of which ISIL still retains to this day. Throughout the Syrian Civil War, the threat of Islamist and Salafist groups seizing power or leading the Syrian opposition has been downplayed by Western governments who would like to see Assad removed from power due to his alleged “support of terrorists.” However, in Syria the largest rebel groups on the ground also have strong connections to terrorist groups. al-Qaeda’s former affiliate in Syria, previously known as the al-Nusra Front and now called Tahrir al-Sham, is now one of the largest opposition groups fighting in Syria. On the diplomatic end, a leader of Jaysh al-Islam, another Islamist group which opposes secularism, represented the rebels at peace talks in Astana this

year. The likely reason why the media uses the term “rebels” without showing them or describing them is they are no longer the same rebels which challenged Assad when the war began. Despite once having a strong secular opposition fighting Assad, the only formidable groups left in the fight are either Islamist or, in the case of the SDF, are focused on fighting ISIL rather than ousting Assad. Although Assad seemed like an easy target a few years ago when there was a strong secular opposition, today he still holds territory with 65.5% of the Syrian population and the conflict has only led to hundreds of thousands of deaths and many more displaced. Should Assad be deposed, the groups who would replace him in all likelihood are no more committed to a unified, secular Syria than ISIL is. As such, is it fair to continue to stoke the conflict by arming rebels and endangering Syrian civilians when there is no longer a viable, secular alternative to Assad?

Syrian opposition groups held reconciliation talks in Astana, Kazakhstan

October 2015 G E O R G I A P O L I T I CA L R EVI EW • 3 1

Climate Change: The Road Ahead While the debate about its existence rages on at home, the world steps up its fight against climate change. What does the Trump victory mean for the future of the planet? ADVAI T R AM ANA N STAF F WR IT E R



he world is faced with its next great challenge, the challenge of global warming. The warm February days may feel great, but might be the sign of something more sinister. Climate change is here and action can’t wait. The evidence that this phenomenon is anthropogenic, or man-made is clear. Almost 97 percent of scientists believe that observed climactic variations are a product of greenhouse gas emissions created by human industry. In the face of overwhelming evidence that action had to be taken, a host of global leaders met in Paris in fall 2015 for a Summit as a part of the United Nation’s Framework Convention on Climate Change to strike an agreement that had nations agree to domestic emissions cuts. The agreement stipulated that each nation would submit a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) which included the state’s current levels of emissions and scheduled emissions cuts. The actual emissions reductions from promised cuts will be reviewed in 2018 and then every five years to ensure nations are meeting their obligations. The agreement also featured additional contributions from large states that included green technology financing, financial flows, and a general framework from green development to help small, developing states meet their targets. To sidestep ratification debates in each nation’s legislatures and ensure widespread participation, the agreement was kept entirely voluntary and is susceptible to cheating or circumvention. While the agreement is entirely voluntary, few were worried about non-enforcement given that most signatory states were not prone to domestic political pressure. The exception to this was the United States, a state with polarization regarding the climate change debate. Any potential fear was considered pessimistic, as the United States was expected to elect former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the presidency. This prediction was proven false by the election of businessman Donald Trump. President Trump ran on pro-coal and pro-fossil fuel platforms and considers most emissions restrictions to be wasteful. On the

WORL D campaign trail, he explicitly stated his disdain for the Paris agreement and promised to move away from the United States’ pledged contributions as they made America less economically competitive. While many expected Trump to soften his tone after he stepped into the Oval office, his actions in the first month as Commander in Chief have done little to quell fears. He began by appointing Scott Pruitt as the Secretary of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Mr. Pruit spent his career as the attorney general of the state of Oklahoma at odds with the agency, calling its regulations illegitimate and overly burdensome on the fossil fuel industry. President Trump has also rolled back last-second Obama executive orders restricting coal pollution and forcing oil companies to disclose contributions to foreign governments. Recent leaks indicate that the Trump administration plans on gutting the regulatory power of the EPA, and at the very least obstructing its ability to restrict emissions. The Trump presidency will also impact international efforts to mitigate global warming. The administration does not need to formally withdraw from the agreement due to its voluntary nature. This would be a huge blow for the legitimacy of the agreement. The United States is the second largest emitter in the world and would lose the moral high ground that voluntary emissions cuts bring. The perception of a large developed state weathering a hit to its economy in the name of emissions reductions was important in getting developing fossil fuel dependent states on board with these cuts. President Trump could also defund the climate fund for developing states which was a major factor in getting poorer states to sign the agreement. It is unlikely these states will honor their commitments in the face of inaction on the part of the United States. These states are necessary to meet and exceed the standards established at Paris, as developing states are the most carbon intensive due to industrialization. In the face of the surprise victory of Trump, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has been quick

to step in and double down on its commitment to emissions reductions. President Xi Jinping has taken on the challenge of getting other signatory states to commit to their contributed cuts by taking on the role of the major power in favor of resolving global warming. The Chinese have been the largest benefactors of American ambivalence on the issue of climate change. While former President Obama was bogged down by fights with congressional Republicans over climate action, the Chinese planned and implemented an Emissions Trading System to cap the amount of carbon emissions released and allow renewable energy sources to become economically competitive with fossil fuels. While it seems unlikely that the United States will take any climate actions over the next four years, the PRC’s newfound leadership role may galvanize further actions by other states. In the context of emissions reductions, it is believed that a large state initiating large climate initiatives will have a domino effect on other states. These conditions are met by China, the world’s largest emitter, fastest-growing economy, and a still developing economy. To offset the lack of mitigation in the United States throughout the Trump administration, it is important that other states go above and beyond their existing commitments. This can only be achieved by economy-wide market-based mechanisms such as a carbon tax or emissions trading system. Global warming is a challenge that must be confronted. While recent efforts by the global community are a step in the right direction, they are set to be stymied by the Trump administration. Domestic politics aside, Trump’s energy plan will halt global momentum to bring down greenhouse gas emissions, given the large role the United States plays in the international arena. China will step up into the United States’ role in due time. Regardless of the success of Chinese efforts, the election of Donald Trump will impact the Earth’s climate. Whether the future will be safe for future generations will remain to be seen.

G E O R G I A P O L I T I CA L R EVI EW • 3 3

Paradise Found


The search for solutions in the world of welfare SE AMU S MU RROCK A S SIS TA N T S EN IOR EDIT OR


f all the enduring principles set forth by our Founding Fathers, from Thomas Jefferson’s commitment to religious freedom to James Madison’s drafting of the Bill of Rights, one ideal has seemingly fallen through the cracks. In 1797, Thomas Paine, author of “Common Sense,” published his essay “Agrarian Justice,” which called for payments of 15 pounds sterling from the government to all citizens over the age of 21, regardless of employment status. This policy, Paine argued, would provide for the necessary economic underpinning of Enlightenment-era freedoms, which had already constructed broad standards for social, political, and individual liberty. Over 200 years later, Paine’s principles are gaining traction throughout the world through a legislative proposal known as Universal Basic Income, or U.B.I. The idea is simple: governments send each of its citizens, regardless of gender, income, or race, a monthly check, with no deductions and no strings attached, leaving each citizen free to spend the money however they see fit. Its simplicity is enough to turn many away, but its implementation would explore revolutionary fields of behavioral economics that no other policy has before. The concept of U.B.I. was floated in academic and policy circles throughout the 20th century before it became a subject of actual consideration by governments today. In the United States, Louisiana governor Huey Long supported basic income as part of his “Share Our Wealth” program in the 1930’s, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in his 1967 book “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?” that “the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a widely-discussed measure: the guaranteed income.” Today, several countries and cities around the world have already begun the process of implementing U.B.I. In Finland, a two-year trial began on January 1, 2017 that will send a check for 560 euros (a little under $600) to 2,000 unemployed Finns between the ages of 25 and 58 each month, even if they find employment before the experiment ends. In Switzerland, a petition for U.B.I. garnered 126,000 votes, enough to merit a national referendum on the policy that will take place on June 5 of this year. In India, chief economic advisor Arvind Subramanian discussed providing basic income for the country’s 1.2 billion citizens in his annual economic survey. Subramanian’s plan would only give 7,620 rupees per year to each Indian (around $113), but experts from the country’s Economic Advisory Council say it would reduce the number

Activists in Geneva, Switzerland installed a large poster in the Plainpalais Square in 2016. Advocates of U.B.I. claim that it would give citizens the chance to live unrestrained from degrading, low-wage jobs. of citizens living in absolute poverty from 22% to less than 0.5%. Even in the U.S., influential policymakers and entrepreneurs are beginning to latch onto the idea of a universal basic income. In Oakland, California, a startup incubator called Y Combinator announced plans to provide up to 100 local citizens with “an amount of money that is sufficient to meet basic needs” for a timeframe of six months to a whole year. Their goal, they say, is not to provide usable data regarding the merits of basic income, but to set an example for how the logistics of implementing the policy may play out on a larger scale. Advocates of U.B.I. claim that it would give citizens the chance to live unrestrained from degrading, low-wage jobs that will likely be wiped out by automation in the coming years anyway, and instead let them focus on more worthwhile tasks, such as higher education or civic engagement. Additionally, basic income could feasibly replace the United States’ broken welfare system, a bureaucratic alphabet soup (think SNAP, EBT, TANF, etc.) that leaves individuals and communities trapped in cycles of poverty and costs taxpayers billions of dollars per year. Opponents of U.B.I. have their choice of one of many reasonable criticisms to cite, claiming that a universal basic income would increase government dependence, drive up unemployment, and blow up

the federal budget in the process. Additionally, many fear the moral and ethical implications of a society in which fewer citizens have meaningful work to do and more rely on monthly government checks. The best argument for Universal Basic Income, however, was formed as an accident. In 1970’s North Carolina, researchers studying child development at a local elementary school unknowingly included in their sample group members of a local Cherokee community, whose leaders, striking gold off profits from a casino they had opened, decided to distribute their newfound wealth equally amongst the tribe’s adults. Compared to their peers, the Cherokee children showed fewer signs of behavioral disorders, earned better grades, and became less likely to engage in deviant behavior as the study progressed. Dr. Jane Costello, the Duke University epidemiologist who conducted the study, quickly realized that the students’ collectively improved fortune was largely a result of a steadier home life, including better parent-child relations and less drug and alcohol abuse, that had been afforded to them by the casino’s income. As demographics shift around the world and new technology provides drastic changes to our modern labor force, policymakers will have to be creative in finding new ways to make government work for all. To many, Universal Basic Income is the best place to start. G E O R G I A PO LI T I CA L R EVI EW • 3 4

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Georgia Political Review ¦ 21


The Georgia Political Review: Spring 2017  

The Informed Student's Guide to: What Fuels Private Prisons, Atlanta's Next Mayor, Fighting Poverty with Property