HARVARD POLITICAL REVIEW
IS THERE A ROBERTS COURT?
CONSERVATISM AND HUMAN RIGHTS
THE NFL ON TRIAL
VOLUME XL NO. 1, SPRING 2013 HARVARDPOLITICS.COM
THE FUTURE OF CONSERVATISM
THE SHORT LIST Your one-stop source to the most scintillating and dynamic political content.
THE FUTURE OF CONSERVATISM
7 Law-and-Order Ashford King
12 The Future of the Christian Right Alasdair Nicholson
9 Is There a Roberts Court? Jenny Choi
14 Conservatism and Human Rights Priyanka Menon
30 Corruption, Courts, and Clerics Matthew Disler
Harvard’s Problem with Problems Zeenia Framroze
FUNNY PAGES 19 The NFL on Trial Harry Hild
Dear Abby: The Future of the Republican Party Ben Shryock
28 Defusing Iran Elsa Kania
16 The Future of the GOP David Freed
Can Today’s Social Movements Succeed? Johanna Lee
UNITED STATES 22 A Way Forward: Progress at Last on Immigration Jay Alver
32 The Reactionaries of Cairo Rachael Hanna
BOOKS & ARTS 35 Why Promised Land Doesn’t Deliver Cory Pletan 39 The Art of Remembering Sarah Stein Lubrano
INTERVIEWS 41 David Keene Matthew Disler 42 Senator Richard Lugar Colin Diersing
24 The Digital Economy
26 A New Way to Count Matthew Weinstein
ENDPAPER 44 Giving Up the Bow Tie: Navigating Our Moral Obligations Neil Patel
37 Devil in the Details Taonga Leslie Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. ISSN 0090-1030. Copyright 2013 Harvard Political Review. All rights reserved. Image Credits: Wikimedia: 3-Harvard University Trademark Office, 12-H. Rousseau, 26-Wikipedia. U.S. Government: 17-Louisiana, New Mexico, U.S. Senate, South Carolina; 42- U.S. Senate. Flickr: 21-Monica’s Dad.
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FROM THE EDITOR
HARVARD POLITICAL REVIEW A Nonpartisan Journal of Politics Established 1969—Vol. XL, No. 1
EDITORIAL BOARD EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Andrew Seo PUBLISHER: Olivia Zhu MANAGING EDITOR: Beatrice Walton ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR: Arjun Mody ONLINE EDITOR: Frank Mace COVERS EDITOR: Matt Shuham CAMPUS EDITOR: Zeenia Framroze CAMPUS ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Sam Finegold INTERVIEWS EDITOR: Colin Diersing U.S. SENIOR EDITOR: Ross Svenson U.S. ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Daniel Backman U.S. ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Daniel Lynch WORLD SENIOR EDITOR: Gram Slattery WORLD ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Krister Koskelo WORLD ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Priyanka Menon B&A SENIOR EDITOR: Holly Flynn B&A ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Jordan Feri B&A ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Rachel Wong HUMOR EDITOR: Ben Shryock STAFF DIRECTOR: Tom Gaudett BUSINESS MANAGER: Naji Filali ASSISTANT BUSINESS MANAGER: Jake Matthews CIRCULATION MANAGER: Matthew Disler DESIGN EDITOR: Ashley Chen GRAPHICS EDITOR: Paul Lisker MULTIMEDIA EDITOR: Jenny Choi WEBMASTER: Peter Cha WEBMASTER: Tom Silver
SENIOR WRITERS Lena Bae, Alpkaan Celik, Alexander Chen, Caroline Cox, Medha Gargeya, Christine Ann Hurd, Eli Kozminsky, Kathy Lee, Joshua Lipson, Neil Patel, Raul Quintana, Paul Schied, Henry Shull, Sarah Siskind, Simon Thompson, Jimmy Wu, Jonathan Yip
STAFF Jay Alver, Oreoluwa Babarinsa, Humza Syed Bokhari, Alex Boota, Florence Chen, Samuel Coffin, Cansu Colakoglu, Corinne Curcie, Tyler Cusick, Neha Dalal, Jacob Drucker, Mikhaila Fogel, David Freed, Caleb Galoozis, Harleen Gambhir, Nicholas Gavin, Aditi Ghai, Nicky Guerreiro, Barbara Halla, Raphael Haro, Eric Hendey, Harry Hild, Kaiyang Huang, Nur Ibrahim, Elsa Kania, Brooke Kantor, Arjun Kapur, Adam Kern, Gina Kim, John Kocsis, Sandra Korn, Ha Le, Tom Lemberg, Ethan Loewi, Zak Lutz, Ken Mai, Jimmy Meixiong, Jacob Morello, Chris Oppermann, Andrea Ortiz, Caitlin Pendleton, Sylvia Percovich, Valentina Perez, Heather Pickerell, Cory Pletan, John Prince, Ivel Posada, Gabriel Rosen, Alexander Smith, Martin Steinbauer, Alastair Su, Danielle Suh, Lucas Swisher, Rajiv Tarigopula, Selina Wang, Danny Wilson, Teresa Yan, Jenny Ye, Benjamin Zhou
ADVISORY BOARD Jonathan Alter Richard L. Berke Carl Cannon E.J. Dionne, Jr.
Walter Isaacson Whitney Patton Maralee Schwartz
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Why We Write Dear Readers, The Harvard Political Review was founded as an outlet for political commentary on campus. One founding editor remarked at the time that Harvard did not possess a magazine like the HPR in form and purpose. Nearly one half century later, we, the 45th Editorial Board of the HPR, believe that this is still the case, and we remain committed to our founding mission. We strive as a publication to be the premier platform for political discourse on campus, and we aspire to this mission day in and day out. Our editors and writing corps took on an ambitious covers topic this cycle in the future of conservatism. Following the elections in the U.S. this past year and developments abroad, we felt compelled to tackle this lofty and important subject. One may not look to Harvard for conservative punditry. But our writers approached this topic with the analytical scrutiny and thoroughness that we have come to demand. The articles that comprise this covers topic intentionally focus on political issues beyond merely the state of the Republican Party. In covering the future of conservatism, we wanted to do more than simply chart a path forward for the GOP. We wanted to think more broadly and explore the ways in which conservatism as a political philosophy can progress in the coming years, all across the world. Ashford King charts the conservative strain of politics in Mexico and the direction that newly-elected President Enrique Peña Nieto can take with his administration. David Freed dissects demographic shifts in the United States and covers ways in which the GOP can navigate these circumstances. Priyanka Menon takes a step back to explore how conservatism has been incorporated into the human rights movement. Finally, Alasdair Nicholson charts the future of the Christian right while Jenny Choi demystifies the John Roberts Supreme Court.
As you can see, the modern conception of conservatism is widely encompassing. The points are nuanced. There’s more to it than simply red states and Fox News. We hope that in presenting this slate of pieces, we can spearhead this broader discussion— one that is too often neglected by the mainstream media and traditional political circles. We write because we want these debates to take place. We don’t claim to know all the answers. But we hope that in conducting due diligence, reaching out to the foremost experts and relevant public figures, and synthesizing these materials with a perspective of our own, we can spark discussions in dorm rooms, the classroom, and beyond. We also write because we are concerned with the world in which we live. We ponder questions concerning our 21st century economy that is growing increasingly digital. We are curious what the ramifications of fracking are. We wonder how social movements can succeed on Harvard’s campus. This issue is uniquely forward-thinking. As students and citizens, we at the HPR hope to navigate these questions and uncertainties. Finally, I am pleased to present our latest undertaking, The Short List, which you can visit at our new home, HarvardPolitics.com. We are returning to our online roots and bringing back shorter form blogging, in which we seek to bring you the most scintillating and relevant political content of the day. The Short List is a fantastic place to feature brilliant long-form journalism covering the U.S. military, as well as quips about how Netflix’s House of Cards relates to the sequester. We are really excited about it, and we hope you join the discussion.
Andrew Seo Editor-in-Chief
Harvard’s Problem with Problems Zeenia Framroze
o many of us come to Harvard because it’s Harvard. Our crest grandly inspires us to pursue truth, but ‘veritas,’ emblazoned on our crimson shield has started to seem more and more evasive. Harvard has a problem with problems. From student mental health issues, to Occupy Harvard, to academic integrity, like any perfectionist parent, Harvard just doesn’t seem to like having aberrations and outliers among its students. In a sense, it’s an attitude that is understandable. Reputation is and should be immensely important to both the Harvard administration and community. Harvard strives to retain its high popularity and esteem in intellectual circles in the increasingly competitive market of private education. Obviously, we should value our reputation, but at what price? A price at which students themselves feel sidelined? A price at which an overwhelming student opinion on sexual assault policy is ignored? In its admissions process, Harvard selects students from different backgrounds and of
different talents. The University has lofty expectations for all students to succeed in their individual fields and in the classroom. At every freshman orientation session, we are told that we “are not the admissions mistake,” that we ought to risk failure, push ourselves, and make mistakes— because that’s what a university education is supposed to be about. But the truth is that mistakes at Harvard are costly. Surrounded by an elite, highly competitive student body, each mistake seems crushing and debilitating. If Harvard wants to continue to encourage its students to take risks and grow, it needs to start providing a better safety net. One often hears that Harvard is the bastion of liberals. It was surprising to me, therefore, when after a recent student mental health rally, a friend described the student body and administration as definitively “conservative.” Truly, at Harvard, we are all conservative in that we initially resist change—to academic policy, the University’s alcohol policy, and investment policies. The administration is content with the status quo, and the student body seems too busy keeping
itself afloat to invest in activism. Perhaps now is the time for both the student body and administration to bend towards each other in compromise. Harvard students love Harvard. And for that reason, the University ought not to shy away from criticism because they think our reputation will suffer or that we will drop in the rankings. If anything, addressing controversies and issues will help the University, and specifically the College, set a better precedent for colleges around the country. In the last year, Harvard has received a substantial amount of accusations of apathy against the concerns of its student body, demonstrated at least once in a student-wide referendum. The mental health issue at Harvard is the administration’s chance to demonstrate its empathy. Student anger and outrage is a sign of something deeper—a hope that we can accept and grow from the mistakes we’ve made, change systems no matter how entrenched their problems may seem, and ultimately a hope that our Harvard can do far, far better.
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THE FUNNY PAGES DEAR ABBY:
THE FUTURE OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY DEAR ABBY: I worked really hard on my Conservative Victory Project, but the Tea Partiers accused me of attacking my own party. All I want is a future with more Republicans in office. What should I do? CONFUSED KARL DEAR CONFUSED: Don’t give up now! Financing electable Republicans is a great first step, but even a well-financed, electable-looking Republican doesn’t have a great chance of winning. For that reason, I’d like to introduce the natural progression of your idea, the Three Step Conservative Victory Project 2.0. First, take a generic white man and leave him in a room full of reporters for a day or two. If he doesn’t babble about rape’s legitimacy, argue that God intends rape, or use the word “rape” and the phrase “this one time” in the same sentence, he’s a keeper. Next, ask him where his home state is. If he doesn’t know and looks frightened, take his wallet and check his driver’s license. Then scratch him behind the ears. Finally, dress him up to look exactly like his opponent, change his name to be that of his opponent, and ensure he never says anything his opponent has not already said. If the American public can’t tell your Republican apart from his opponent, there’s a 50% chance of him being elected. We couldn’t ask for better odds than those.
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DEAR ABBY: I recently proposed a ban on Federal gun bans in my home state of Texas. Is this an efficient way to spend my time? TEXAS STATE LEGISLATOR STEVE DEAR TEXAS STATE LEGISLATOR: It is the pinnacle of efficiency. Until now, you’ve had to wait for Democrats to try to do something before you were able to shut it down. Now you can preemptively nuke any idea their little Democratic grandkids might have 50 years down the road. You’re paving the way to a bright future for the Republican Party. Picture this: you’re walking down the halls of the Texas State Capitol and you see a couple of Democrats. I know there aren’t actually any Democrats there, but let’s pretend someone left a door open and they wandered in. And you hear the Democrats talking about legalizing gay marriage. So you just run over to the House floor and ban legalizing gay marriage. Then you walk into the men’s room and you hear a couple more Democrats talking about science. So you ban science too! And then you ban talking in the men’s room, because it’s time that became official. The best part is that by banning first, you can ban the Democrats from banning your bans by passing a ban-banning bill that bans banning all ban bans.
CAN TODAY’S SOCIAL MOVEMENTS SUCCEED? Johanna Lee
ote Yes on 1 for Harvard’s UC Election: Divest From Fossil Fuels!” “Vote Yes to a Social Choice Fund, Referendum #3!” Leading up to the November 18 Undergraduate Council (UC) election, slogans such as these were plastered over campus and the Internet, encouraging students to vote yes on two important referendums: Divest Harvard, led by the Students for a Just and Stable Future (SJSF), and the social choice fund campaign, led by the Responsible Investment at Harvard Coalition (RIHC). The divestment campaign aims to convince Harvard University to divest its endowments from the fossil fuel industry in order to combat climate change, while the social choice fund campaign aims to give donors the option of contributing to investments with a “positive social impact.” The two are intrinsically linked; both question the ethics surrounding Harvard’s investments,
highlighting the discrepancy between what the university says it values and what its monetary investments indicate it values.
AN EVALUATION Despite initial criticism and skepticism of the campaigns, both have certainly seen some success after gaining overwhelming support in the UC election. Seventy-two percent of students voted “yes” to the referendum on fossil fuel divestment, while 80 percent voted to support the social choice fund referendum. The divestment campaign has transformed into a full-fledged national movement. Just this past September, a dozen college campuses had divestment campaigns. Now, 252 colleges across the nation have joined the movement, along with three colleges
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that have already successfully divested. Furthermore, despite its initial refusal to consider divestment, Harvard ultimately agreed to open discussions with representatives of the divestment campaign on February 1, 2013. “This is an unprecedented movement that has spread with such speed and effectiveness and momentum,” environmental activist and undergraduate Chloe Maxmin said in a recent interview with the HPR. “You have thousands and thousands of students who say they don’t want to invest in climate change.” In fact, the fossil fuel divestment campaign has even started gaining political attention. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) commended the divestment effort in December; Jon Huntsman expressed support in January; and Al Gore backed the campaign in early February.
LOOKING FORWARD Neither campaign’s work is near completion, however. In order to fully accomplish their goals, the campaigns must exhibit four crucial attributes—broadminded and long-term thinking, solidarity, persistency, and realism.
Broadminded and long-term thinking Organizers of the campaigns must adopt a broadminded, long-term perspective of the campaigns. They must realize that their efforts do not simply pertain to a campaign on a campusscale, but instead as part of a movement on a national scale. Three components in particular are especially important to the adoption of such a perspective: the recognition that the campaigns represent a student issue, rather than simply an activist issue; alumni involvement; and long-term commitment to the campaigns, even after graduation. It is critical that the issues the campaigns address are not only concerns of the activist community, but of the student body as a whole. Campaign organizers must recognize that the campaigns are not going to be completed quickly, but will take several years to fully achieve their aims. Student leaders must commit to contributing to the campaigns even after they graduate. By the same token, organizers should try and garner the support of alumni.
Solidarity Solidarity is necessary for the success of the campaigns. Organizers must effectively publicize their campaigns through the use of conventional and social media in order to gain majority support of the student body. It is crucial that campaign organizers educate students regarding the issues on a deeper level if they want the student body’s support to be substantive, rather than simply nominal. For example, while many students may support divestment simply because being environmentally friendly has become the accepted social norm, they may not understand exactly how divestment will be an effective measure in combating climate change. As a result, they may not feel truly committed to the cause or desire to become involved. Furthermore, Harvard students must realize that they, in particular, have great potential to effect change. UC President Tara Raghuveer told the HPR, “People pay attention when articles
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are written that 80 percent of students feel this way or over 70 percent feel that way. I think it’s an incredible opportunity for Harvard students to use that platform while we’re here to make statements on behalf of our generation of thinkers. We can begin our lives as advocates for issues that we believe in.”
Persistence These campaigners must remain persistent in their efforts. One way to remain motivated is to look back at the success of past activist campaigns at Harvard. For example, divestment campaigns have proven successful in the past. In the 1980s, Harvard partially divested from the companies that fueled apartheid in South Africa. A few years later, Harvard divested from tobacco companies, and, in the 2000s, Harvard divested from PetroChina, which supported genocide in Darfur. Persistence is also required of the campaigns when working with university administration. “We are excited and heartened by what we’ve heard from the CCSR but we also want to make sure that they show a commitment to the financial sustainability of the social choice fund,” RIHC Co-Coordinator and undergraduate Nicole Granath said to the HPR. “We also would like President Faust to advocate for the social choice fund.”
Realism Advocates noticed RIHC representatives’ disappointment over the predictable and obscure answers members of the corporation gave during a town hall meeting last spring on Harvard’s investment practices. “The Harvard Corporation is a corporation, so total transparency of investments is not a realistic goal,” Raghuveer says. “From my perspective the dialogue was excellent and was a good step in the right direction, though not a solution.” By taking small, realistic steps, such as commencing the dialogue regarding divestment or a social choice fund, campaign members will be making steady progress toward achieving their ultimate goal without allowing overly idealistic expectations set them back.
UNDERSTANDING THE URGENCY Recognizing the urgency of these issues, security guard Aryt Alasti sums up the importance of the Harvard community’s participation in these campaigns. “There is widespread consensus about the need for institutions of higher education to use their unique potentiality in addressing the greatest crisis to face humanity in this era—global warming,” Alasti said to the HPR. “Transformative change must happen soon, and existing societal mechanisms by which change ideally might occur have once again proved themselves dysfunctional. It will be up to young adults with the understanding, the determination, and the wherewithal for the necessary time commitments, to literally save us all if indeed that is still feasible at this point.” All Harvard students, faculty members, and administrators should care about the divestment and social choice fund campaigns, rather than absentmindedly dismissing them as the concerns of only the activist community. The critical issues that the campaigns address affect us as individuals, a community and truly, an international society; it is time we start to fully understand the urgency of the situation.
LAW-AND-ORDER CONSERVATISM IN A TRANSITIONAL MEXICO Ashford King
n heated debates on immigration and the war on drugs, many Americans picture Mexico in much the same way they do old Westerns, which is not surprising given that Mexico’s legal and political foundations are derived from the same Wild West culture that shaped early American society. Today, both countries hunt outlaws in the name of justice, in the same territory they did over a century ago. Today, instead of marshals and vigilante posses, the brunt of the work is left to the FBI, the DEA, the Policía Federal, and the Mexican military. A shared affinity for borderland hang-‘em-high-type justice continues to shape internal security policies in both countries, manifest most clearly in the concept of “law-and-order style conservatism.” In Mexico, theater to a long battle with organized crime that may never truly end, the future of this genre of conservatism and justice is of crucial concern going forward.
THE MEXICAN CONTEXT Wherever crime is a permeating factor of everyday life and criminal organizations provide alternative systems of government, law and order conservatism launches into action. If major drug transactions are considered attacks on the basic order of shared society, Mexico towards the end of the 20th century was in an all-out war. True to their archetype, in 2006, the National
Action Party (PAN) responded to the threat of organized crime, declaring a “war on drugs,” and setting the stage for a Wild Western duel. The PAN made it clear that it was well aware of the struggle to come, and was willing to mobilize the entirety of the national military and police force in a conjoined front, conducting normal and special operations to totally eliminate the cartels. While this fits comfortably within the limits of the American political imagination, in order to understand whether this policy, still powerfully persistent at a time of national transition, applies to any sort of Mexican standard of conservatism, “Mexican conservatism” must be defined. Mexico’s only two PAN presidents, self-proclaimed right-wingers and moral conservatives, have shed much light on Mexican conservatism through their respective decisions while in office. While in a wider Latin American context, conservatism is tied to the organization of the Catholic Church, Mexico, until the advent of the PAN, maintained a more secular tradition. Religious themes abound in President Vicente Fox’s 2007 memoir, Revolution of Hope, yet the legacy he left after ending the longwinded rule of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) is more economic than religious. The PRI ruled in Mexico from the time of Mexican Revolution in the beginning of the 20th century until Fox’s election in 2000, which allowed it to firmly entrench
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itself in the Mexican political identity. Inevitably, the transition of executive power to the PAN meant big change for Mexico. The process of decentralization and economic deregulation that began under the Fox administration, and continued under President Felipe Calderón, was a central ambition and a proclaimed success of conservatives. Fox’s election in 2000 was certainly huge in Mexico, in terms of the democratization of the country. While PAN economic policy will certainly be a topic of debate for years to come, Mexico’s economy is growing and is now becoming a major Latin American player, and when Mexicans think of conservatism in terms of its future role in preserving the strength and fiber of Mexican political authority, most will think of President Felipe Calderón.
AN EVOLVING POLICY Of the two PAN presidents, Calderón was undoubtedly the more controversial. Even as the country moves forward, Mexicans will never forget the horror and violence of the Calderón sexenio (a word Mexicans use to describe their president’s sixyear term). His declaration of war on Mexico’s culture of organized crime, met with both praise and harsh criticism, jolted the nation and completed a process of policy reversal that had begun under Fox at the end of the PRI’s near-centenarian rule. When asked about the abruptness of force characteristic of Calderón’s administration, Dr. Leonardo Vivas of the Harvard Kennedy School told the Harvard Political Review that the former president “went to war without the right tools,” referring primarily to the nationally widespread corruption of the police force and the unqualified nature of the Mexican armed forces to deal with civilian issues of justice. Fox and Vivas both cite a peace-loving, nostalgic passivity as an integral part of Mexican society. After a century of negotiation between the PRI and various drug-trafficking organizations, Calderón’s zero-tolerance policy had inevitably stepped on the proverbial toes not only the cartels but of Mexican society in general. Of course, this culture of appeasement was precisely what Calderón was trying to confront and conquer, albeit at a heavy cost. Despite a heavy workload, Calderón did not undertake troop mobilization without an overarching strategy. In an interview with The Economist in late November 2012, Calderón outlined the authorities’ tactic of capturing and arresting suspected individuals with the goal of infiltrating and bringing to justice the “brass” of Mexico’s most ruthless paramilitary narco-trafficking organizations. However, it was precisely this policy that targeted the executive members of the drug-trafficking organizations, says Vivas, which led to the decentralization of trafficking, increased competition over trafficking routes, and subsequent growth in violent crime.
THE RETURN OF THE PRI Although it is unclear where the newly-elected Enrique Peña-Nieto will lead his country, should he choose to take the PRI in a conservative direction, he won’t use the rhetoric of the Calderón era. Instead of flooding crime areas with personnel and
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getting boots on the ground by the thousands, Peña-Nieto has already begun a reform of the police system many are branding as a “professionalization.” With an influence on the professional gathering of police intelligence, it seems as though Peña-Nieto could be moving toward a more comprehensive police model reminiscent of the Federal Judicial Police of the PRI era. Historically, the PRI has integrated leftist and conservative elements into its rhetoric and policy. Whether or not Peña-Nieto cultivates a new PRI-sponsored conservatism or takes a leaf from his PRI predecessors, he has inherited a frightful security situation that, for the immediately foreseeable future, requires a continuation of intense police mobilization on the ground. In the long term, however, he has options. The decision by Fox to endorse the PRI candidate lends Peña-Nieto a conservative ethos. Whether he uses that ethos to fix his broken law enforcement and judicial systems or lets it go to waste could determine the future of Mexican conservatism for years to come. Currently, however, the changing political environment in Mexico almost certainly means a change in joint U.S.-Mexico security policy, says Dr. Duncan Wood of the Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute. After a long six years of providing material and personnel support to Mexico, the U.S. is leaning towards an intelligence-based system of international cooperation. This fits comfortably within President Peña-Nieto’s sweeping security reforms, now that the president has begun his large-scale “professionalization” of the police force. For the time being, however, Mexico’s security situation mandates a continuation of Calderón’s policies by the new administration, says Wood.
RESTORING ORDER Whatever Peña-Nieto’s long-term goals, the return of the PRI means a more politically unified Mexico. Going forward, President Peña-Nieto has already succeeded in enacting security measures that were met with opposition under PAN leadership. On February 19, the authorization of mando único, or unified command, was endorsed by governors throughout Mexico (most of them of PRI affiliation). This measure comes at a crucial time in the conflict, when some citizens have taken matters into their own hands by forming policías comunitarias, or community police groups, in the mountains of the Mexican state of Guerrero. Implemented with support of the governors, mando único may yield positive results, but the inspiration for these vigilante groups comes from a deep-seated distrust of both federal and state government that does not bode well for the PRI. Nevertheless, the president has the support of the governors and will want to capitalize on this feeling of unity going forward, especially in calmer regions. He and his party functionaries will want to reinstitute the PRI as representative of Mexico’s most fundamental national ideals. This means embracing the morally conservative culture embedded in the mentality of Mexicans throughout the nation. The security policy of the past six years will most likely be countered by an appeal to a careful, passive conservatism. If the PRI is to have a future, it must redefine itself in terms taken from the new Mexico, by upholding basic Catholic values, banishing impunity, and restoring (then maintaining) law and order.
IS THERE A ROBERTS COURT? THE SUPREME COURT’S IDENTITY CRISIS Jenny Choi
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n June 28, 2012, the media bustled once again with news of the Supreme Court. The Court had released its longanticipated verdict on the Affordable Care Act case. But one thing was markedly different about the reporting produced that day; the phrase “Roberts Court,” in lieu of “the Supreme Court” or “SCOTUS,” presented itself as a deliberate word choice among journalists and Court reporters. The “Roberts Court” stood as a symbol of bipartisanship, an independent judiciary, and political genius on the part of Chief Justice John Roberts on June 28, 2012. Roberts had joined the four liberals on the Court, making a 5-4 decision in favor of saving the healthcare bill. Public reception made it seem as if the Roberts Court had ended its identity crisis and had finally found its own unique brand and voice. However, to expect a unified or less conservative Court in the future based on the example of the Affordable Care Act case is still quite premature. The current Supreme Court, known as one of the most conservative Courts in American history, still remains just as conservative and fractured as its case record shows. Moreover, while Roberts’ politically astute decision showed his interest in protecting the Court as an institution, there is no indication that the clear ideological divides among the four conservatives, four liberals, and one “swing” vote on the court have frayed in the interest of a more unified or unique voice that would be able to define the Roberts Era. Indeed, we have yet to figure out what the “Roberts Court” really is.
THE MOST CONSERVATIVE COURT IN DECADES Today’s Supreme Court stands as one of the most conservative in the nation’s history. The Affordable Care Act case was the first case in which Justice Roberts sided with the Court’s liberals, out of more than one hundred cases decided under his leadership. According to Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of UC Irvine School of Law, Justice Anthony Kennedy, who often acts as the “swing vote” in a court almost evenly divided into one conservative and one liberal bloc, has sided with the conservatives twice as often as with the liberals. Adam Liptak, Supreme Court correspondent at the New York Times, told the Harvard Political Review that in political scientists’ ranking of justices, four of the six most conservative justices of all time are sitting on the Court today, with Justice Kennedy, the swing vote, trailing not far behind. According to a study by Richard Posner, a judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and William Landes, a law professor at the University of Chicago, the six most conservative justices on the Court over the past 75 years have been, in order, Clarence Thomas, William Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia, John Roberts, Samuel Alito, and Warren Burger. Richard H. Fallon, a professor of constitutional law at Harvard Law School, attributed the striking conservatism of today’s Supreme Court to the historical shift in public opinion to the right. Fallon told the HPR that in the Nixon era, the Republican Party seemed to be to more interested in slowing down rather than fully stopping the expansion of government. However, in the decades since Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980, according to Fallon, American electoral politics has moved far to the right, and the Court has followed with it.
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Roberts, at age 58, is likely settling in for a long tenure at the head of the Supreme Court. In his first five years, the Court issued conservative decisions almost sixty percent of the time, including those on campaign finance, illegal immigration, and gender pay equity. There was little doubt that the Court was carving out a solidly conservative legacy for itself, until the unexpected turn of events in the healthcare case.
BEST OF BOTH WORLDS On the day the Court issued its opinion on the Affordable Care Act, Adam Winkler, a law professor at UCLA, published an article on the Huffington Post titled “The Roberts Court is Born” and the Los Angeles Times similarly reported, “Supreme Court becomes Roberts Court in year of surprises.” Almost unanimously, the media praised Roberts for his feat of avoiding the political disaster of striking down the President’s signature legislation, and at the same time abiding by his constitutional philosophy. By focusing on Congress’ taxation authority instead of the Interstate Commerce Clause, Roberts upheld the most controversial provision of the Affordable Care Act, the individual mandate. Roberts wrote from a perspective of judicial restraint, saying in his opinion, that because “the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness.” However, Roberts’ siding with the liberals was far from an act of concession. Lyle Denniston, a writer for SCOTUSblog who has been covering the Supreme Court for more than fifty years, told that HPR, “I don’t think anybody should draw from the healthcare case that he isn’t as deeply conservative as he is … His decision does really impair the ability of Congress to regulate commerce and regulate behavior of people and of consumers. I think Roberts made a great advance for conservative philosophy taking that stand.” Indeed, the decision to use the taxation clause showcased Roberts’ efforts to ensure a lack of precedent for the Interstate Commerce Clause to serve as justification for a governmental mandate. Although Roberts’ decision certainly did not signify a shift in ideology, it did showcase his commitment to upholding the legitimacy of the Court by steering it away from the popular view that justices vote according to their political ideologies instead of constitutional principles. To this effect, Roberts kept true to the statement during his confirmation process that he would pursue narrow decisions that can kindle broad coalitions among justices. Meanwhile, the healthcare case drove a significant dent in the Court’s conservative trend, leaving the public confounded on what exactly its vision of a “Roberts Court” should be.
SEARCHING FOR A PATTERN Though Roberts did set a clear example of bridging gaps through his maneuvering in the healthcare case, the Court is still far from developing a unique voice that the group of nine can collectively call its own. If the Affordable Care Act case gave any image of a more liberal Court, one must remember that there are other important aspects to take into account, such as the fact that this case carried special political weight and public relations dilemmas as the signature legislation of the President’s
The current Supreme Court is one of the most conservative in the nation’s history.
administration. And while many heralded the healthcare decisions as the triumph of the liberal media, history showcases—in light of the Founders’ desire for the Court to limit outside pressures—the incredibly miniscule amount of influence the media actually has on the justices. Denniston told the HPR that while all justices are all concerned about their public reputations, he doesn’t think “that any justice is going to pare down [his or her] perception of what is the right juridical outcome in order to avoid controversy.” It is also important to note that the Affordable Care Act case was mostly a one-man show. Roberts saved the legislation from being struck down by the independent and unilateral action of siding with the liberals alone, producing a 5-4 decision with all of the four remaining conservatives on the other side. The case eventually produced, aside from the majority opinion, two concurrences and two dissents, with Justice Ginsburg writing her own mix of a concurrence and a dissent on the side. Although this serves as proof of the complexity of the Court’s wise maneuvering of the situation, it also shows a Court divided into factions. The Affordable Care Act case serves as a reminder that the current Court is still highly inflexible and rigid along its ideological divides, and that these lines are far from porous. If the Court currently has an identity at all, it is not one shaped with equal contributions from the nine justices; rather, based on its history, it is one molded by its four conservative justices and solidified by Kennedy’s frequent association with this bloc.
LOOKING AHEAD Joshua D. Hawley, a law professor at the University of Missouri School of Law and a former clerk of Chief Justice Roberts, commented on this highly disunited characteristic of the current Court. “Chief Justice Roberts came to the court with the hope of reducing the acrimony among justices,” he explains, but the Court today stands “deeply fractured” because while it might functionally appear center-right, that’s only “because no one bloc has enough votes.” For now, those who called Roberts a “traitor” for his unexpected vote in favor of the Affordable Care Act shouldn’t worry. The current Court has a solid conservative history that will likely continue into the future unless active efforts are made to soften ideological lines and avoid 5-4 decisions that split the Court into its predictable halves. During President Obama’s first term, the Court experienced a significant change in its demographics, welcoming justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan to take the places of David Souter and John Paul Stevens, respectively. Now that the Court has settled in terms of its membership, it will start to face the challenge of building a unique voice and legacy greater than the fractured ideological positions of its justices. The Court has a number of high-profile cases set to be heard in coming months, including some in which the Court will need to discuss topics as controversial as affirmative action and gay rights. Undoubtedly, it will be a critical opportunity for the Court to start building its legacy and, potentially, unified voice.
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THE FUTURE OF THE CHRISTIAN RIGHT Alasdair Nicholson
he “Christian right,” a movement of predominantly evangelical Christians, has dominated the political landscape of American conservatism for decades. However, in the face of increasing national secularism, apathy, and disillusionment, the group’s future is now less than certain. Part of this may well be the usual doom mongering that often besets either side of American politics after electoral defeat. But, there is something more here than just unsubstantiated nay saying. Why should the Christian right support a Republican Party that prioritizes the economy and whose presidential candidate pointed out in his television ads on abortion that he favored exceptions to outlawing abortion altogether? As a percentage, slightly more evangelical Christians than Mormons voted for Mitt Romney (79 percent to 78 percent), but in the election’s aftermath they were castigated by commentators for failing to turn out. And yet, the majority of the movement can hardly support a Democratic Party that is louder on the issue of same-sex marriage than ever before and whose leaders remain firmly “pro-choice.” The movement risks major voter apathy unless it can find a mainstream candidate able to inspire the Christian right to once again turn out to vote. However, the group’s increasing alienation from the “mainstream” is making this ever the more difficult.
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THE CURRENT STATE OF CHRISTIAN CONSERVATISM The greatest factor currently influencing the Christian right’s future is the ongoing battle for the GOP’s “soul.” Whether the party politically shifts to the left, the right, or neither will matter considerably in terms of the movement’s ultimate fate. If the party’s focus moves to the right on social and economic issues, it appears extremely likely the Christian right could remain one of the driving forces behind the GOP. A party leadership that campaigned against abortion (with no exceptions) and reaffirmed a nation-wide ban on same-sex marriage would undoubtedly attract significant support from the Christian right. However, this would come at the expense of a loss of support from more liberal Christians, undermining the party’s electoral chances at the national level. Michael Winters, a journalist and writer for the National Catholic Reporter points out that there is a growing disconnect between older movement members who advocate “you can’t believe what scientists tell you” and younger evangelicals increasingly concerned with issues such as global warming. If the Republican Party ultimately maintains its current trajectory
(not unlikely for a conservative party), then a slow bleed of influence and interest from the Christian right will probably result. If the Republican Party moves towards the center of the political spectrum, a loss of influence for the movement is inevitable. Conversely, the shift may well benefit the GOP nationally, as it could more easily reach out to independents and conservative Democrats. Make no mistake, the Christian right need to be proactive to survive and grow, especially as the Democrats are on the offensive on social issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage and immigration. In the 2012 election campaign, it appeared to John Carr, the former Executive Director of the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development, that “Planned Parenthood was Obama’s running mate.” Typically the conservative right creates discussion around sensitive social issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage; for the Obama campaign to do so in 2012 was something of a paradigm shift. Indeed the Moral Majority organization founded in the late 1970’s (and the precursor of the current Christian right) was entirely focused on combating the “social decay” of the nation. If this new style of Democratic campaigning continues in the future, the Christian right risks losing the initiative it has so long enjoyed. In returning to the battle for the Republican Party’s “soul,” it's easy to see why there simply have not been prominent leaders to channel the high levels of emotion many members of the Christian right feel over these issues into political success. Fiscal conservatism and policy has become far more important than social issues—at least to the GOP. We need look no further than Sen. Marco Rubio’s response to President Obama’s State of the Union, in which his criticisms were only of big government and poor economic management. If the battle for the Republican Party ends with the GOP continuing to focus almost entirely on economic issues, we can expect to see not only the Christian right’s support for the party dwindle, but also the Party’s capacity to lend political authority to the Republican Party recede. While the debate on abortion remains divisive and is likely to continue to split public opinion within the United States (typically the two “sides” are divided by only a few percentage points), for the conceivable future, that is not the case for samesex marriage. While age has little impact on whether individuals are “pro-life” or “pro-choice,” same-sex marriage is supported by 53 percent of 18-44 year olds, but only 24 percent of those over 45. The age disparity indicates that same-sex marriage is a generational issue and that will, as time passes, enjoy increasing support across the nation. While conservative groups have been successful in pushing forward laws in many states outlining marriage as between a man and a woman, these can hardly be seen as permanent bans on same-sex marriage in the long term. As President Obama throws his support behind the right to marry for all couples, the Christian right risks being caught on the wrong side of an issue that will increasingly see its members in the minority; an issue that may well become even more divisive and important to Americans in the future. In the words of Reverend Albert Mohler, Jr., President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, “An increasingly secularized America understands our positions, and has rejected them.”
THE FUTURE So what is the “doomsday” scenario? What if the Republican Party shifts to the center of the political spectrum and focuses almost entirely on fiscal matters, while at the same time Americans continue to drift away from organized religion (or at least, away from its participation in politics)? In all likelihood, Evangelical Christians will become less partisan, but not less political. The very nature of devout, organized, and moralistic religions will always influence their adherents to become involved in the public domain. When a religion mandates its adherents make social changes with a moralistic framework and provides its members with a structure and outlet for those views, it is inevitable that they will attempt to influence policy. No matter what happens, the Christian right will not be completely dismembered in the immediate future, nor will it lose total relevance before the upcoming 2016 presidential elections (especially given the United States’ penchant for changing parties after two terms). Ironically, the Christian right could achieve a new lease on life with one simple policy change that is entirely unrelated to religion—immigration reform. The U.S Census Bureau recorded that, as of 2011, 16.7 percent of Americans identified as Hispanic or Latino. Gallup Poll results show that Hispanics are more likely to attend church than the average America. However, while many Latino voters are socially and economically conservative, in 2012, 71 percent of Hispanic voters chose Obama over Romney in the presidential election. Simply put, the Republican Party’s intransigence in this area has lost them millions of voters whose support they would normally enjoy. The GOP and its supporters have been portrayed as xenophobic or racist; a recent video showing Senator McCain being jeered at a town hall meeting for suggesting it would be impractical to deport the “11 million people living here legally” is just the latest example. The Christian right and the Republican establishment must shake this damaging stigma if they want to compete in the 2014 and 2016 elections. Fortunately, the party seems to have recognized this particular peril, and has put Sen. Rubio forward as a possible solution. Sen. Rubio is everything the Republican Party is not; he is young, Latino and pro-immigration reform. Nominating him to deliver the Republican response to the State of the Union was an important step forward in presenting a younger, more appealing GOP. Whether the senator will be the party’s chosen nominee for 2016 is entirely speculation. What is clear is that the next leader of the GOP will not come from among the current stock of the last two primaries. Characters such as Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, and Rick Santorum are worse than unelectable; they are polarizing at a time when the party desperately needs to be inclusive. Ultimately, the future of the Christian right will be shaped by the events of the next three years. Whether the movement utterly disintegrates under generational pressure and societal change or enjoys resurgence is up to the leaders of the Republican Party. If they decide to stand against same-sex marriage and against immigration reform, they can expect to see more of the same. However, if the movement decides to make the tough choices on social issues and can successfully invite in Hispanic Catholics, it could once again assume its traditional role of dominance in American politics.
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HUMAN RIGHTS Priyanka Menon
uman rights have their beginning in revolution. The declarations of 1776 and 1789 make this much clear. However, in an age when universal human rights are still a lofty dream for most, the merits of conservatism, of the past and tradition, deserve acknowledgement. In looking at the promotion of human rights and human rights violations, the use of tradition as a tool for achieving human rights can ground the abstract in the concrete. Sir Edmund Burke is generally regarded as the founder of modern conservatism. An eighteenth century Irish statesman, Burke was a vocal critic of the French Revolution, authoring a lengthy pamphlet that outlined the numerous failings of the uprising. In his writings, Burke advocated gradual change and the concept of “inherited rights” as opposed to violent revolution and theoretical “natural rights.” He argued that rights are passed down from generation to generation, rather than being inherently existent within individuals. Burke gave great store to the place of tradition in society, seeing a custom’s endurance through time as proof of its validity.
BURKEAN CONSERVATISM TODAY Though Burke’s work was met with much criticism at the time of its initial publication, it has managed to maintain relevance through the centuries, giving birth to many aspects of modern conservatism. Remnants of Burke’s philosophy can be seen in the writings of William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, as well as the policies of Benjamin Disraeli, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Within the current human rights community, there is a tendency to view conservative ideology, as championed by Burke, as problematic and oppositional to the goals of the movement. Graeme Reid, director of the LGBT Rights Program at Human Rights Watch, in a contribution to CNN, described tradition as a stick “to beat difference, discourage dissent, [and] keep people in line.” Indeed, throughout history, tradition has been employed in opposition of interracial marriages, desegregation, and
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equality for women. In the United States, appeals to historical practices were common rhetoric amongst pro-slavery advocates. In India, as well as numerous other countries, child-marriage is still legitimized through its role as a long-standing custom. The recently passed United Nations Human Rights Council resolution advocating the use of “traditional values” to promote human rights is widely regarded as a step towards the condoning of human rights abuses. As a result, the human rights movement has largely moved away from the utilization of traditional practices and towards claims based on the universality of rights. Due to this shift, however, Burke’s critique of the French Revolution can be applied almost verbatim to the conventional approach to human rights. Like the Revolution, the human rights movement has its roots in the abstract, in what Burke deems as “vague speculative rights” rather than “positive, recorded, hereditary titles.” And like the French Revolution, the human rights movement has fallen prey to the realities of politics and political considerations. Sixty-five years after the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document that provides little historical context for the rights listed within it, universal realization of such rights is still only an aspiration, a goal rather than reality. “All members of the human family” are granted neither the “inherent dignity” nor “equal and inalienable rights” named in the Declaration. Human rights violations, rather than human rights themselves, are universal, with abuses of the UDHR occurring in both eastern and western nations, developed and developing countries. As Burke wrote, “What is the use of discussing a man’s abstract right to food or to medicine? The question is upon the method of procuring and administering them.” Like most issues involving diverging ideologies, the solution lies in the middle, in the tempering of the theoretical with the tangible. No one, in good consciousness, can deny the poor track record conservatism has had previously with regards to human rights. The current criticisms of the UNHCR resolution are valid, insofar as they predict that the resolution has the potential to be used as a method for legitimizing human rights abuses.
However, in many, if not most, cases, appeals to traditional values and practices still stand as an effective form of realizing human rights. As Gerald Neuman, a professor at Harvard Law School and member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee says, we must adopt “different approaches to different places.” Using tradition as part of the argument for human rights allows for this tailoring of the argument to the specific situation. The utilization of practices already present within a society as a means for promoting human rights is key to ensuring both the recognition and longevity of those rights.
LOOKING BACK History shows that this strategy has seen successful. At first glance, the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. appears to be in direct opposition of the philosophy of Burke. After all, King spearheaded the movement to extend equality and the full rights of citizenship to African Americans, a group not historically granted these liberties. Burke himself would have likely been a vocal opponent of Dr. King’s cause. However, the Civil Rights Movement utilized a key aspect of Burke’s philosophy: an emphasis on tradition. Though he admonished those who opposed the Civil Rights Movement on the grounds of favoring order over justice, King repudiated claims of radicalism and extremism made against him by drawing a connection between himself and a common past. In his Letter from Birmingham Jail, one of the defining essays of the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. King justifies his use of civil disobedience by drawing parallels between his actions and those of biblical figures, early Christians, Socrates, participants of the Boston Tea Party, Abraham Lincoln, and Thomas Jefferson. By doing so, King grounds his actions in a shared tradition, thus creating a historical legitimacy for the Civil Rights Movement, the very legitimacy Burke claimed the French Revolution lacked. While King’s invocation of tradition with regards to the Civil Rights Movement did not automatically lead to its success, the rationale it provided helped draw supporters from every crosssection of American society. One of the key elements of a successful strategy for social change is the support of vocal, visible community leaders. As Rachel Vogelstein, a fellow in the Women and Foreign Policy Program at the Council on Foreign Relations, puts it, “Engaging at the local community level is the critical question. It is so important and critical to have local leaders on board.” In the 1960s, King achieved exactly that, involving communities and their leaders in his movement.
TRADITION, UNITY, AND EMPATHY In today’s world, organizations such as Tostan, an NGO that serves communities in eight African countries, emphasize tradition to foster change. Tostan’s work focuses largely on grassroots level involvement, with an emphasis placed on Tostan’s integration into the community. By incorporating local traditions, language, and communities into their work, Tostan has been able to achieve lasting, meaningful change in the communities where it has worked. As a result, the organization ensures that human rights gains that have been made survive after Tostan has left.
Vogelstein deems Tostan effective “because it takes this local approach.” In addition to legitimacy, the use of tradition also cultivates a strong sense of empathy within an audience. Empathy has long played a crucial role in the establishment of human rights. Once individuals see themselves as the victims of human rights abuses, they are drawn to action. Lynn Hunt, a professor at the University of California Los Angeles, isolates emotion as essential to the creation of human rights in her book, Inventing Human Rights, as it acts as a catalyst that brings protestors and activists to their feet. Framing issues in terms of a common practice or custom immediately establishes a similarity between the victim and the audience, a crucial connection for a human rights movement. Tradition shortens the perceived distance between the bystander and the sufferer. Both King and Tostan achieved as much with their respective work. King created empathy for the African American community by anchoring himself to the American identity, while Tostan did so through language and social practices. Part of the worry over the use of traditional values stems from a fear for the fortune of minority traditions. “By human rights, we mean the rights of the minority,” says Piotr Kobielski, fellow at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs and member of Poland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The use of a specific religious or cultural tradition naturally means its promotion, lending cause to the worry that this strategy may lead to the ostracization of minorities. However, if one truly believes in a common humanity, it is not an unbelievable leap of faith to assert that there exists a common denominator amongst all traditions, a factor that allows for reconciliation between them. As Kobielski noted, “There are the same principles everywhere. You just have to discover them and admit them.” This belief lies at the heart of Tostan’s work, as well as other human rights movements throughout history. The work of Mahatma Gandhi, leader of the Indian movement against British colonialism, stands as an example. The foundations of Gandhi’s philosophy lay in his use of non-violence, a concept that can be found in Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, and Jain philosophy. By grounding his movement in a tradition that is present across religious divides yet still painting it as an inherently Indian one, Gandhi successfully gained the backing of the numerous religious groups in Indian society. This unified support was key to the success of his movement. Ultimately, adding tradition to the debate on human rights frames questions in terms of identity. The entirety of Burke’s claims rests on his identity as an Englishman; it is from this identity that he derives his rights as a citizen. Traditions, customs, and practices that have been handed down through the generations comprise this identity. Using these traditions is essential to the realization of human rights. Activists cannot be deemed illegitimate, because they are now part of a shared identity. Abuses become harder to ignore when they are seen as an attack on one’s own identity, rather than that of a removed other. Minorities, though distinct, still share some form of identity with the majority. And while tradition may not be the silver bullet that ends all human rights violations, acknowledging its usefulness brings the world one step closer to this end.
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THE FUTURE OF THE GOP David Freed
n the fallout of the 2012 presidential election, the American media has continually discussed the nature of the GOP’s alleged “race” problem. The Republican Party, which lost in the election black, Hispanic, and Asian votes by 89, 47, and 51 percent, respectively, began to deliver rhetoric of reform. Apologies gave way to admissions of guilt and to pledges of turnaround in both message and policy within the GOP. Florida Senator Marco Rubio commented that, “Republicans need to work harder than ever to communicate our beliefs to [minorities],” and even Al Cardenas, the head of the American Conservative Union, was quoted in Politico as saying that the GOP “needs to realize that it’s too old and too white and too male.” Cardenas, who went on to say that the party “needs to figure out how to catch up with the demographics of the country before it’s too late,” has been part of efforts to cultivate a new party image. His message rests on the argument that because the top public faces of the GOP, including Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and John Boehner, are primarily white males, the party’s struggles among minority voter blocs can be attributed to the identities of its top representatives. However, this discussion of issues of race in the GOP is derived from the tacitly incorrect assumption that minority candidates best represent “minority issues.” It similarly incorrectly characterizes the party’s views and history with race, while ignoring the larger, more immediate problems facing the GOP: communication and accessibility.
WHO ARE THE BEST REPRESENTATIVES? Timothy Johnson is the founder and president of the Fred-
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erick Douglass Foundation, a public policy organization that, according to Johnson in an interview with the Harvard Political Review, attempts to “raise awareness about a variety of different issues that affect the black community” and assert that specific “black issues” such as unemployment, incarceration, and education, disproportionately affect the black community. Interestingly, Johnson denies that black candidates are inherently better at representing these issues than representatives of other ethnicities. More important, according to Johnson, is how a representative chooses to stand for those issues. Former Alabama congressman Artur Davis, the only AfricanAmerican congressman to vote against the Affordable Care Act, agrees. Davis, who represented a community that was sixty percent black, says that for most of the black community, the most important issues to voters deal with policy and not skin color. Davis pointed to Rep. Steve Cohen’s Memphis district as an example of a white congressman in a majority African-American district who was able to defeat black challengers. Cohen has retained his seat through numerous races, including a challenge from former black Memphis mayor Willie Herenton. Davis told the HPR that, “For the overwhelming majority of the AfricanAmerican voters there… is no special affinity for a candidate because he is black,” particularly given that recent history has shown that these voters “prefer white liberal Democrats to a more conservative black Democrats.” Republican National Hispanic Assembly Chair Alci Maldonado, whose grass-roots organization seeks to bridge the barriers between the GOP and the Hispanic-American community, expressed sentiments similar to those of Johnson and Davis. Maldonado said Hispanics largely share the same concerns as other
Americans���the economy, education, and national security—and he asserted that although diversity is important in politics, it is not the driving factor behind Latino political votes. “As long as the politician advocates and articulates these issues with clarity and sincerity,” Maldonado told the HPR, “voters will respond accordingly, irrespective of their ethnic background.”
REVISING NATIONAL STEREOTYPES To be sure, the issue for the GOP, then, is not primarily one involving the ethnic makeup of its leadership, but rather one of public perception. Maldonado recalled how the party’s long history of supporting abolition, feminism, and civil rights legislation has often been forgotten. Johnson similarly expressed that the GOP does a “terrible job” of promoting ethnic candidates and diversity within the party, even though this is an important part of the GOP’s future going forward, given that the share of Caucasians in the overall electorate has been steadily decreasing. Johnson argues that, in particular within the GOP, “There is a need for more positive promotions of black Republicans to understand that skin color does not dictate party affiliation.” Within the history of his party, Johnson has plenty to point to. The first twenty-one black congressmen were Republican, four of the first five Hispanic senators identified with the GOP, and an African-American, Michael Steele, has even chaired the Republican National Committee. The only two current Hispanic senators, Rubio and Texas Senator Ted Cruz, are also both Republican. Both Johnson and Davis discussed the stigmas associated
with being a black Republican, something that Johnson said he sees as a larger problem within the Republican Party. According to Johnson, “When you talk to blacks who say that all blacks who are Republican are in some way token, that’s where the party fails,” because such comments actually encourage a larger and undue stereotype of homogeneity within the African-American demographic overall. In the Deep South, Davis said, there is also still a history of racially tinged campaigns that has made the Republican Party unelectable to many black voters who still remember campaigns waged by Republican candidates like Barry Goldwater, who voted against the Civil Rights Act.
COMMUNICATING A MESSAGE The presence of stereotypes and stigmas afflicting both the GOP and conservative minority candidates illustrates the biggest issues within the Republican Party. According to Hispanic Leadership Network Executive Director Jennifer Korn, the GOP struggles with outreach into minority communities and with targeting specific blocs of voters with different backgrounds. Korn explains that while Democrats have few qualms about targeting specific groups, Republicans see the electorate as much more unified and “don’t do as much coalition building because they view Americans as Americans.” Korn also points to mischaracterization of the party message in the media as a problem hindering outreach efforts, particularly when it involves topics such as immigration. When extremist voices like Richard Mourdock drive the GOP’s larger message, Korn explains, they not only ignore the
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The presence of stereotypes and stigmas fighting both the GOP and conservative minority candidates illustrates two of the bigger flaws in the party’s strategy.
feelings of the majority of the party, but also open the door for political foes to exploit their comments for political gain. For example, most Republicans, according to Korn, take a fairly moderate stance on immigration, however a few loud voices in the media dominate the discussion for the Republicans, which allows Democrats to campaign on these issues and paint the party with a broad brush. Unlike Korn, Johnson blames party officials for the problems with misconceptions with the Republican Party. He cites the 2012 Republican National Convention as an example, given that the speaking lineup reflected homogeneous Caucasian faces of the party, instead of minority party officials. Johnson points out that at the Convention, the most senior black Republican in the country, Jennifer Carroll, did not have a speaking position. Johnson also noted how several other prominent black Republicans were also denied a chance to speak at the Convention and how this impacted the blacks in the election. In particular, Michael Steele and Herman Cain did not have national speaking roles, which gave the impression, according to Johnson, “that the Republican Party does not appreciate its blacks, especially those trailblazers who have sacrificed a lot.”
WHERE TO GO FROM HERE? Moving forward, Korn believes that the GOP needs to regain the focus it had during the years of President George W. Bush. Korn, who ran the Hispanic outreach for Bush, notes that while the party currently lacks direction, it need only look at the templates for success it already created. Issues of communication and accessibility that currently plague the party were not as problematic in 2004, when Bush won 44 percent of the Hispanic voting bloc. Similarly, Bush’s brother, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, routinely won a
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larger percentage of the non-Cuban Hispanic vote than current senator and Cuban-American Rubio. As such, Korn emphasizes that the GOP does in fact have the ability to compete in diverse demographic groups, and that the answer to how to do so resides not so much in policy as in effort. She prioritized redefining the GOP as more moderate and centrist in its message. Maldonado believes that much of the Hispanic demographic holds conservative values similar to those of the GOP, including those of “limited but responsible government, fewer taxes, more individual freedom, and equality of opportunity.” Although Maldonado expressed satisfaction with the efforts of the GOP, Johnson said that he has not seen enough urgency among the party about its future among African-American voters, because, in his view, “It is uncomfortable for some people to talk about black issues [even as] we have no problem talking about women’s issues.” He stresses that change will be gradual but that the focus for the future needs to go beyond two-year election cycles and towards the broader goals of developing new perceptions and discussing issues that matter to AfricanAmericans. These sentiments reflect a reconciliation of differing opinions in the GOP. While the media incorrectly blames political homogeneity for the GOP’s faults, problems with accessibility and communication resonate more loudly as the party moves forward. The problems they face are not easily solved; to improve, the party must mix policy moderation with a rededication to outreach into minority communities. Overcoming a history of racist campaigns in the South and harsh rhetoric on issues of women’s rights and immigration requires a party-wide commitment to reverting to the GOP’s roots—to Lincoln and Roosevelt, and other Republican civil rights pioneers. If this is done, the future of American politics could change quite dramatically.
THE NFL ON TRIAL
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“Football is on trial. But because I believe in the game, I will do all I can to save it.” -Teddy Roosevelt, 1905
ootball is a uniquely American sport, for the spectacle, strategy, and violent struggle of the game. Now, though, Teddy Roosevelt’s words ring truer than ever, as football finds itself on trial from those who question the safety and ethics of the National Football League and the game as a whole. In particular, a massive class-action case against the NFL and helmet maker Riddell has been filed by former players. Tthe brief claims that the league and the company knowingly hid details regarding the inadequacy of current rules and equipment to prevent football-induced head trauma. Harvard Medical School is poised to conduct a $100 million study funded by the NFL Players Association, to examine the safety of the sport. One must now ask: does America still believe in the game of football? Despite recent medical research, football continues to have an immense hold on American culture—over 100 million viewers tuned in to this year’s Super Bowl. Though it will be transformed, the essence of the game will survive.
DANGEROUS BEGINNINGS Concerns for safety on the gridiron are hardly new. At the start of the 20th century, football was just as popular as baseball, but far more dangerous. Helmetless and clad in little more than thick wool sweaters, players could only run the ball and struggled by sheer force down the field. The constant shoving, tackling, and collisions often resulted in serious injuries and 19 player fatalities in 1905. Harvard President Charles Eliot hated the sport for its “barbarous” nature. Amidst growing public uproar, President Teddy Roosevelt called coaches and representatives from Harvard, Princeton, and Yale to a conference at the White House. This intercollegiate group instituted major changes to the game,
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including the inception of the forward pass. Injuries and fatalities declined, and after further changes in the rules following the 1909 season, football began to resemble today’s sport. In the modern era, the NFL has seen one on-field fatality, due to a heart attack, and players run and tackle while encased in padding, hard plastic, and an imposing helmet. The risks, though, are serious and remain unseen to most viewers.
SAFETY TODAY: CONCUSSIONS AND CTE The NFL is beginning to pay attention, and has taken steps to address concussion safety. On the field, rule changes like penalties for head-to-head contact and a shift of the kickoff line to reduce full-speed collisions have been newly implemented. In an interview with the HPR, Dr. Stanley Herring of the NFL’s Head, Neck, and Spine Committee said, “A lot of work has been done … to address concussions in a comprehensive fashion.” Off the field, new standard procedures to diagnose a concussion and a mandatory medical second opinion are improving safety. In addition to severe concussions, however, another threat has emerged about which we know even less. Christine Baugh of Boston University is an expert on a neurodegenerative disorder known as CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy. She explained to the HPR that CTE is insidious, as it occurs due to “seemingly routine, repetitive impacts” that accumulate to pose a great danger. These hits may occur on every play of a football game for some players. When asked to comment on whether the NFL is doing enough to prevent CTE and associated brain trauma, though, Baugh acknowledges the difficulties that the condition’s newness on the medical stage presents: “We don’t have enough information yet to say what is a ‘safe’ amount of brain trauma.”
The dangers of the game are harder to detect and more serious than ever.
Yet Herring points out that while the NFL waits for scientific consensus, “it hasn’t been in neutral in the interim.” Harvard football coach Tim Murphy stresses “cultural changes” to the game as well. He recalls, “There was a time when … if you went to the trainer with a headache, you were perceived as being ‘soft’. That was the warrior mentality.” Today, he says, coaches, trainers, and the players are hypersensitive and aware of the risks related to head trauma.
STARTING YOUNG In order to have a measurable impact, rule changes will have to occur at all levels of the game, according to Baugh. In America, many children begin early, participating in programs such as Pop Warner Football when they are seven or eight years old. The youngest confirmed case of CTE was that of Nathan Stiles, a 17-year-old high school player and fatal concussion victim who was later diagnosed with the disorder. Parents are not oblivious to the risk: USA Football, a national nonprofit governing body for the sport, has seen a six percent decline in youth participation in the last year alone. USA Football faces just as difficult a crossroads as the rest of the sport. According to executive director Scott Hallenbeck, the nonprofit has been dealing with trauma-related issues through a program known as Heads Up Football. Hallenbeck described it to the HPR as “a comprehensive program designed to increase safety for youth football players while returning football to its basics, its fundamentals.” The program involves four steps, focusing on the education of coaches, parents, and players as to the risks and symptoms of concussions, as well as designating “player safety coaches” to specifically monitor games and practices.
FINAL MINUTES Christine Baugh mused at the end of the interview that she “still loves to watch football. Now though, I grapple with why. Rather than being enthralled by the hits, now I cringe a little.” Any discussion of safety is merely a part of the “interplay between science and culture” that characterizes the sport. America will continue to watch its favorite game, but it should “grapple with why” we love the game so much, as well. Coach Murphy has an answer: “It’s a sport where you have lots of different skill sets and body types that have to mesh perfectly together … it never seems to get old.” Over 100 years ago, Teddy Roosevelt and a few Ivy League coaches saved football by remaking the game. Football finds itself on trial once again, and the charges are serious as ever: brain damage, physical and emotional trauma, equipment that does not protect the way it should. Each tackle and block is a risk, but football can never be wholly safe. Carl Eller, president of the Retired Players’ Association and player advocate, crystallized the dual objectives of those promoting a safer football game. “Player safety is paramount,” he stated, while adding, “We [the RPA] are so interested in the survival of the game, the essence of the game.” Consensus is building around the fact that the violence of football cannot take precedence over safety. “We will do, and the league will do, whatever is necessary to protect the players,” Eller proclaimed. Yet, Eller’s passion both for the game and safety demonstrates how football will continue. Contact rules can be reformed, and some may criticize these changes, but America will continue to believe in its game. Like a come-frombehind Sunday victory, the comeback will be worth a watch.
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A WAY FORWARD Progress at Last on Immigration Jay Alver
efore his election in 2008, Barack Obama promised the Latino community that he would produce a plan for comprehensive immigration reform within his first year. The fallout from a divisive health care debate and the stinging 2010 midterm elections effectively derailed any plans Obama may have had to engage with another controversial policy topic. Depending on who was asking, Obama’s failure to pass immigration reform may have been the “biggest disappointment” of his first term. Yet in 2013, the political battlefield has shifted considerably. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a young star for the conservative wing of the party, is the principal spokesman for a bipartisan Senate immigration reform group. Rep. Eric Cantor, the number-two Republican in the House, came out in favor of the DREAM Act in a speech at the right-leaning think tank American Enterprise Institute. Yet just several years ago, these policy positions would have earned the label “amnesty” from the party.
THE DEMOGRAPHICS OF NEW AMERICA Ambassador Karen Hughes, former counsel to the president and undersecretary of state for public diplomacy under President George W. Bush, argues that the 2012 election represented a sea change on immigration for conservatives. “The tone that we set was so unwelcoming that it hurt us not only with His-
panic voters, but with other voters who should be, by conservative philosophy, Republicans, like Asian-American voters,” Hughes told the HPR, noting that among the most surprising results of the 2012 election was a sharp drop in Asian-American support for the GOP. In her view, this seems to confirm the notion that even legal immigrants were turned off by an immigration approach based on the idea of “self-deportation.” Republicans began to wonder if “George Bush understood something [they] didn’t” when it came to immigration. Latinos have become the largest minority group in the country, having surpassed the black population sometime in the last decade. Relative birth rates and legal immigration are only poised to increase their share of the American population over the next few decades, even if undocumented immigrants never achieve citizenship. In light of these new political realities, John Murray, former Deputy Chief of Staff to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, expressed regret that the Republican Party has allowed itself to be painted as anti-immigrant. “I think, actually, many of the things that are at the core of the conservative belief system are aligned with these communities: the ability to come here and earn your own success, start a business, build a community,” he revealed in an interview with the HPR. He recognized that, given current population trends, GOP strongholds like Texas with strong immigrant communities could flip in the next decade or so. For Murray, the choice is clear: “present a compelling reason for them to support
“We have to make a choice: are we going to present a compelling reason for them [Latinos] to support conservative ideas and Republican candidates, or are we going to turn them off with sometimes outdated ideas about immigration?”
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Latinos have become the largest minority group in the country.
Republican candidates, or … turn them off with outdated ideas about immigration.”
AN EMERGING ALLIANCE For people like Rubio and Cantor, the choice is obvious; engaging honestly in a debate to reform immigration policy is the key to saving the Republican Party from demographic oblivion. The question, then, becomes whether or not Republicans will have a partner at the negotiating table. Emilio Estefan, a Cuban-American music producer who, with his wife Gloria, has worked with presidents from both political parties on Latino issues, says the Hispanic community would respond positively. The political strength of the Hispanic community is orders of magnitude greater than it was when President Reagan attempted to reform immigration 30 years ago. Estefan believes that, after failing to deliver immigration reform in his first term, pressure from Latino groups forced Obama’s hand. If both sides are willing to cooperate, an agreement can be reached. But Estefan warns that it must be comprehensive. Issues like improving border security and work visas should be addressed now, before the moment escapes. A broken immigration system “is like a cancer,” Estefan explained. “You can’t just excise the latest problem, you must cure the source.” A band-aid solution is exactly what the more recalcitrant Republicans fear will happen if immigration reform is taken up this year. People like Sen. Pete Sessions, who called Rubio’s support of the Senate immigration framework “naïve,” are worried that after millions of immigrants are given a path to citizenship, no preventative action will be taken to address future illegal immigration. Some of these members of Congress “represent districts where they feel overrun by the presence of many illegal immigrants, so they see pressure on their hospitals and schools,” notes Ambassador Hughes. Many of the skeptics, especially
those from border states, doubt that the new laws will be adequately enforced. For them, border security is an a priori issue. And given concerns about drug and human trafficking, these fears are not wholly unfounded.
A CONSERVATIVE CAUSE The question of immigration reform extends beyond illegal immigration from Mexico, of course. Murray recounted a trip he and Rep. Cantor had taken to Silicon Valley, where technology entrepreneurs appeared eager for skilled labor. The executives they spoke with discussed the economic benefits of allowing foreigners trained in American institutions to remain in this country, citing the multiplier effect skilled workers had on the company’s ability to hire more Americans. Reforms addressing these business needs, as well as proposals like guest-worker visas, are well within the mainstream of conservative economic thought. Even former presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who was lambasted for his harsh position on illegal immigration, was in favor of a system granting qualified foreign graduates of American universities permanent residency in order to foster economic growth. Entering the policy debate on immigration would allow Republicans the opportunity to put forward innovative proposals like this that would both further business growth and help rehabilitate the party’s “anti-immigrant” public image. Despite the hesitance of a few holdouts, momentum seems to be building behind some action on immigration reform in the 113th Congress. Many people on both sides of the aisle seem genuinely interested in the Senate framework, and even those who don’t are beginning to accept that the current course is unsustainable. After 30 years of fits and starts, the GOP seems ready to discuss serious reform.
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THE DIGITAL ECONOMY THE FUTURE OF THE BUSINESS OF THE INTERNET Tom Silver
n April 22, 1993, the launch of the first graphical Web browser signaled the birth of the commercial Web and by the late ‘90s, investors felt the Internet was old enough to learn to walk. A few cautious investments in Webbased startups, however, soon transitioned into impulsive speculation. Investors poured millions of dollars into companies with no revenue, and the Dot-Com Bubble burst soon after. Investors today cite this historic crash as proof the Internet cannot operate independently of traditional economics. As the advertising industry tries to adapt to the online market, however, economists are learning that the conventional revenue models cannot be readily applied. While experts disagree about the future of the commercial Web, there is consensus that the business of tomorrow’s Internet will be drastically different from that of today. Targeted ads, intent casting, and other innovative monetization strategies promise to revolutionize the economy of the World Wide Web.
CLICK HERE FOR A NEW PARADIGM In contrast to the diversity of content on the Internet, online revenue strategies are surprisingly homogeneous. Many startups continue to operate under the assumption that viewership directly translates into value. Wharton Professor Eric K. Clemons tells the HPR, “If you look at what has made money on the net, there's a very limited number of business models.” By far, the most popular source of revenue for Web-based companies is
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advertisements. Google alone displays nearly 25 billion separate ads every day. Historically, advertisements on the superhighway have served the same purpose as billboards on a regular highway, in aiming to reach a broad audience. Though these general banner ads remain prolific, many experts predict they will sharply decline in the coming years. Author Jeff Jarvis, an Internet consultant for publications such as the New York Times, recognizes that “Mass ads don't really work.” Instead, Jarvis argues, Web companies should focus on developing relationships with their consumers. The more a website knows about its users' preferences, the more effectively it can advertise. Companies like Google and Facebook have become well known for their ad targeting, where they choose ads according to the search history and personal information of each user. “With targeting, there's the opportunity to bring back value to advertising,” Jarvis claims. Other experts are much less enthusiastic about targeted ads. Author Doc Searls, alumnus fellow of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard, expects targeting to evoke a visceral reaction among consumers. When ads clearly correspond to recent Internet searches, Searls feels that “the advertiser has no manners and no morals here.” Searls would gladly pay to experience Facebook without their constant ads; he would even pay to choose the type of product that his Facebook advertises. He articulates the latter option in his book The Intention Economy. Searls described his thesis to the HPR: “This is called intent casting … For example, if I want a stroller for twins from
The unwritten rulebook with which investors appraise Internet companies will likely be obsolete within the next decade.
Boston Commons, and I'm willing to spend $200, I can advertise that fact and businesses can come to me.” The intent casting model would be a dramatic shift, but Searls is confident that it would improve the efficiency and morality of the commercial Web economy.
FINDING FUTURE REVENUE Intent casting is one of the many emerging alternative business models for Web-based companies. In his research at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, Jarvis has surveyed how sites with limited viewership have started to monetize. He notes that some blogs are holding events in the real world, such as block parties, conferences, and flea markets. The Brooklynbased Brownstoner.com, for example, began to host a flea market to help promote the blog. Now, the flea market (the Brooklyn Flea), a huge success, has become the focus, while the blog promotes the event. Jarvis admits, “There are no magic bullets that will recreate the old business models that we had before, but I am optimistic that we will find sustainable models … because I think there's a demand for it.” Yet many millions of blogs are still struggling to monetize. Blogger and veteran online advertiser Len Kendall hopes to provide an option for these bloggers through his young startup Cent Up. With the qualifying detail that half the proceeds go to a charity of the blogger's choosing, Cent Up might be described as an iTunes for blogs. Rather than establishing a “paywall” and forcing users to purchase monthly subscriptions, readers can purchase blog posts individually for only pennies at a time. Kendall believes a “tipping point” is approaching “where people become more comfortable paying for certain types of content.”
FIREWALLS TO THE FUTURE While evolving monetization strategies promise to make the Web economy more efficient, two large obstacles stand in the
way of fiscal stability. The first lies in the fact that most Internet businesses offer their actual services or “products” for free. Jarvis notes, “Information is the most valuable thing that can come from media, but information is also not easily commodified. Once you know it ... you can't take that away from somebody.” The ease with which individuals can access and share information online creates crippling problems for content-driven industries such as journalism. Considering this issue, Professor Clemons argues that the Federal Communications Commission should “ban the theft of content,” preventing sites like Google News from aggregating millions of small-scale sources. Such regulations would likely provoke an outcry from Internet freedom activists, but alternative solutions remain limited. The second roadblock in the path to economic efficiency is the lack of competition in certain domains. The Google search engine, which handles around one billion queries daily, has become an inseparable feature of the Web, and no other service compares. Professor Clemons asserts, “The market is not competitive, and … the ability [of Google] to extract money greatly exceeds the value that Google creates.” Given its size and influence, Clemons sees Google as “an essential facility,” and recommends that it be regulated as such. He notes search is “one of the very few industries where there's no pressure on prices.” But Clemons' view of Google does not necessarily reflect the majority of Internet economists; Jarvis's 2009 book, What Would Google Do?, thoroughly praises Google's business models. Nineteen years into the life of the Internet, we now know a little more about the natural laws of online commerce than we did when the Dot-Com bubble burst. We have learned that having more users does not imply more value, banner ads are ineffective as a sole source of revenue, and content is difficult to claim as property. But we have only begun to scratch the tip of the economic iceberg. Whether the Internet will have Jeff Jarvis' targeted ads, Doc Searls' intent casting, Len Kendall's Cent Up, or Professor Clemons' regulations, all we know right now about the Internet of tomorrow is it will be a Web woven in gold.
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A NEW WAY TO COUNT GOP-LED ELECTORAL COLLEGE REFORM Matthew Weinstein
ince the Anti-Federalist papers of 1787-88, politicians have criticized one of the quirkiest Constitutional provisions, the Electoral College. Following President Obama’s 2012 victory, Republicans in five states continued this tradition by proposing a new method to allocate their state’s electoral votes. Instead of “winner take all,” where the winner of a state’s popular vote receives all its electoral votes, some Republican state legislatures have considered allocating electoral votes to the popular vote winner in each congressional district of the state. While this approach has some merit, the timing, closely following Governor Romney’s defeat, has fueled skepticism and charges of gamesmanship that will derail any reform.
LEVERAGING GOP’S STATE ADVANTAGE Although Republicans lost at the national level, they emerged from the 2012 elections as the strongest party at the state level. Republicans retained control of both the governorship and legislature in 24 states. These states award 275 electoral votes, or 51 percent of all 538 electors. By contrast, Democrats control all government branches in only 13 states with 156 electoral votes. This disparity influences the politics of electoral reform. Article II, Section I, Clause II of the Constitution empowers state legislatures to determine how to allocate their states’ electoral votes. As Ron Kaufman, a senior Romney campaign adviser noted to the HPR, “First of all, you have to remember, this is a
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state decision, not a national decision. Each state should decide for itself how best it would like to allocate its electoral votes.” While 48 states follow the “winner take all” method, Maine and Nebraska use a different approach. These states allocate one electoral vote to the winner of the popular vote in each federal congressional district, plus two electoral votes to the overall state popular vote winner. These reforms force candidates to expand campaigns beyond a few urban centers.
MIXED REACTIONS TO GOP PROPOSALS Given Maine and Nebraska’s established practices, Republican legislatures were surprised by the national outcry against similar electoral vote reforms. Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin legislatures all recently considered district-based allocation systems. Instead of heralding the GOP plan as a way to increase voter turnout and participation, New York Times columnist Charles Blow lambasted the proposal as a “devilish plan.” Many analysts perceived the move to district-based allocation as a thinly veiled Republican attempt to capitalize on favorably gerrymandered congressional districts. The timing, on the heels of Romney’s loss, supports this criticism. Bob Shrum, senior adviser to John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign, described the plan to the HPR as “transparently undemocratic,” noting that had all 50 states adopted Virginia’s proposed reforms for the 2012 election, Romney would have won the Electoral College by a 16-vote margin, despite losing the national popular vote by four percent. Notwithstanding Democrats’ objections, GOP reforms could lead to more engaging presidential campaigns. These reforms retain the country’s federalist structure, while pushing candidates to expend time and money reaching voters in a larger number of states. For example, in 2012, 21 states contained at least one district where the two leading candidates finished within seven percent of each other. However, following their respective party conventions, candidates Obama and Romney confined their campaign appearances to just ten key swing states. In addition, the reforms would lower the financial and logistical hurdles required to manage statewide campaigns, The increased accessibility to winning electoral votes would promote viable third party candidates, thus expanding voter choice. More broadly, the GOP’s Electoral College proposals are just the latest example of partisan post-election reform efforts.
Following the controversial 2000 presidential election, scholars and politicians developed the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. This compact, passed by eight states, binds participating states to allocate electoral votes to the candidate that wins the national popular vote. The compact takes effect once states comprising a majority of the Electoral College votes adopt it. A vocal supporter of the compact is 1988 Democratic Presidential nominee Michael Dukakis, who told the HPR, “I think the Electoral College should have been abolished 150 years ago. It’s got no place in the political system these days … The thing is just crazy.” However, the compact has failed to gain bipartisan support. Seven of the eight states that adopted the compact currently have unified Democratic state governments and none have supported a Republican in the Electoral College since 1988. The 2012 vote suggests that recent gerrymandering has given Republicans an advantage. Democrats opposed to GOP reforms note Republicans won a 33-seat majority in the House of Representatives last November, despite losing the overall popular vote for representatives by 1.3 percent. However, Democrat claims of Republican-favored gerrymandering may be exaggerated, since Democrats generally find overwhelming support in concentrated urban environments. In the 2012 presidential election, the 27 congressional districts with the widest percentage disparity between the two candidates all voted for President Obama. Of course, had different rules prevailed in 2012, the candidates would have adjusted their campaign strategies. Nevertheless, Republican leaders must face the perception that many voters believe Republicans are seeking to manipulate the Electoral College system.
WHY THE GOP SHOULD ABANDON ELECTORAL REFORM In January, Virginia Republicans allowed their reform proposal to die in committee. Republicans in other states would be wise to follow suit. The current push for district-based allocation could harm the GOP in three ways. First, independent voters may turn from Republicans who appear to manipulate the Electoral College. Supporting this view, Shrum predicted to the HPR, “People like [Ohio Governor John] Kasich, [Michigan Governor Rick] Snyder, and [Wisconsin Governor] Scott Walker are going to have enough trouble anyway without this issue dragging through the midterms.” The five legislatures that most actively considered district-allocation are in swing states, where alienation of independents could cause Republicans to lose seats in both state and federal races. Second, Republicans should be wary of exploiting their current advantage in state legislatures. Dominant majorities can quickly fade. While 24 states currently have Republican con-
A map of the USA, colored according to 2012 presidential . election results by congressional district. .
trolled governments, a mere four years ago, Republicans controlled only nine state governments. As Kaufman noted to the HPR, “For years and years, Democratic legislatures passed bills to do this [type of reform] and now Republicans are looking at it. Both parties have looked at this from the day we started our republic.” If Democrats regain power to gerrymander more state congressional districts, the GOP would be hurt by its own reforms. Third, so long as gerrymandered districts persist, districtbased allocation creates a higher risk the Electoral College will elect a president who did not win the national popular vote. Since 1952, only George W. Bush in 2000 won the Electoral College but lost the popular vote. However, during this 60 year period, nationwide district-allocation would have elected the national popular vote loser three times: Nixon in 1960, Bush in 2000, and Romney in 2012. This method would have also produced a tie in 1976. Both Democrats and Republicans support Electoral College reform. Each side professes lofty goals: to increase voter participation by expanding the areas where candidates campaign, and decrease the gap between the will of the people and the results of the Electoral College. However, despite common goals, current reform attempts are likely to fail, due to lack of bipartisan support. Like the creation of the original Electoral College, successful reform attempts must aim for long-term national progress through compromise, rather than short-term partisan gain. Voters are genuinely frustrated with tight national elections that hinge upon the preferences of a minority of voters in a handful of swing states, while most voters are reduced to electoral spectators. Democrats and Republicans must look beyond the next four years and develop a plan to better express the will of the voters they claim to represent.
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DEFUSING IRAN HOW THE U.S. IS WINNING CHINA’S COOPERATION ON THE IRANIAN NUCLEAR ISSUE Elsa Kania
ino-U.S. strategic interactions have played a critical role throughout the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program. In particular, China’s continued economic engagement with Iran, despite increasingly stringent U.S. sanctions, has led to tension. Yet the Obama administration’s characterization of its relationship with China on this issue remains predominantly positive. Speaking at Harvard last November, U.S. National Security Advisor Thomas E. Donilon’s claimed that the Chinese “have been a very good partner with respect to our Iranian policy,” noting that they “oppose the Iranian acquisition of nuclear weapons” just as the U.S. does. Indeed, despite a foreign minister’s insistence that it is “maintain[ing] normal energy and trade and economic cooperation” with Iran, China may in fact be reevaluating its approach to Iran in response to U.S. pressure. China has a checkered history of involvement with the Iranian nuclear program. According to former International Atomic Energy Association Deputy Director General Olli Heinonen, China helped Iran develop its nuclear program through the 1990s and did not fulfill its responsibilities to report deliveries of reactors and enrichment systems to the IAEA. To this day, Chinese firms continue to be implicated in exporting relevant nuclear materials and missile technologies to Iran, as in a recently revealed smuggling operation through which Iran sought to buy magnets required for its centrifuges. In cases like these, it is “difficult to judge,” according to Heinonen, whether “the [Chinese] government just closes its eyes or the system is inefficient.” Regardless, existing export controls and oversight measures have been insufficient.
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FEELING THE PRESSURE U.S. engagement with China over the last several years on the issue of Iran has produced promising results. Ambassador Nicholas Burns, formerly responsible for negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program at the State Department, noted that since 2005, China’s position has “evolved … in a more positive direction.” With the Iran nuclear standoff heightening, building international consensus on this issue has become a high priority for the Obama administration. President Obama has sought to strengthen the “pressure track” in order to increase the viability of the stalled “negotiating track,” as recounted by Ambassador Jeffrey Bader, former director for East Asian affairs on the National Security Council. Chinese cooperation was essential to building this pressure. In President Obama’s initial 2009 meeting with President Hu at the United Nations General Assembly, “the principal topic of discussion” was Iran, viewed as a security issue for both nations. The Obama administration’s diplomatic efforts have particularly focused on shifting the lens through which China perceives the costs and benefits of supporting Iran. Indeed, according to Donilon, “a joint concern about security in the Persian Gulf [and] a joint concern about the price of oil” has been integral to SinoU.S. cooperation under the Obama administration. In what was described at the time as a “special mission” to Beijing shortly after Obama’s visit in fall 2009, Ambassador Bader and fellow National Security Council official Dennis Ross sought to make China see the Iranian nuclear issue as a “major threat to interna-
Chinese President Hu Jintao and President Obama holding a joint press conference.
tional peace and stability,” given regional considerations. Shortly thereafter, China agreed to a U.S.-drafted statement condemning Iran to be presented to the IAEA board. China even supported Resolution 1929 in the Security Council, which imposed stronger sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program.
THE POLITICS OF OIL Sino-Iranian relations have always been inextricably linked to energy security, a key element of China’s continued economic growth and thus political stability. In 2009, China became the world’s largest consumer of energy and second only to the United States as an importer of oil. The majority of China’s crude oil imports come from the Middle East, but there have been increasing efforts to diversify suppliers. Iran has consistently met approximately 10 percent of China’s crude oil needs, but, with sanctions tightening, this share has decreased. In this respect, China’s national oil companies (NOCs) must be assessed as powerful actors with their own interests at stake. Sinopec is able to acquire oil from Iran at lower prices, a fact amplified by their monopoly on the Iranian market. Yet the decision calculus of the NOCs has become more complex, taking into account further considerations of long-term interests and opportunities. In some cases, these companies have forgone opportunities to buy Iranian oil at discounted prices in the hopes of pursuing investments in U.S. markets instead. Former CIA energy analyst Erica Downs believes that “the appeal of the U.S. market can be a source of leverage,” specifically since NOCs are increasingly sensitive to the role of public and Congressional opinion in determining whether investments are approved. The recent investment trends underscore the success of American diplomatic efforts. Chinese companies have recently been hesitant to sign long-term contracts in Iran. The China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) repeatedly delayed beginning work in Iran’s South Pars gas field—despite warnings
that an Iranian company would take its place—and now appears to have withdrawn entirely. Here too, do diplomatic and commercial elements intertwine. According to Ambassador Bader, at the time of the passage of Resolution 1929, the Obama administration emphasized in private conversations with top Chinese officials that “the single most important thing is no new energy investments.” Since then, Bader notes that the Chinese have cooperated, and the U.S. has largely refrained from imposing sanctions on major existing investments.
A DIPLOMATIC VICTORY As the trajectory of the Iranian nuclear crisis reaches a turning point, China’s role will continue to be decisive, as it has the unique potential to use its existing economic leverage and diplomatic ties to influence the regime’s behavior. China’s response to international pressures may also reveal China’s willingness to become a more cooperative, multilateral player on the international stage. Ultimately, the Obama administration has been uniquely successful in sustaining previously unprecedented levels of SinoU.S. cooperation on Iran through a nuanced and dynamic strategy, characterized by Bader as a “mixture of carrots and sticks.” The implicit economic incentives offered by opportunities to invest in U.S. markets have been particularly effective. Additionally, the use of pressure in the form of countersanctions has been deliberately confined to “signals” of primarily symbolic and limited economic impact, yet the boundaries set—as against new energy investments in Iran—have been sufficiently credible to be observed. As a result of the convergence between these efforts and its own strategic calculus, China has engaged cooperatively in both economic pressures and diplomatic efforts. China seems destined to become an ever more crucial player in U.S. efforts to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions, without whose support little progress can be made on the issue.
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CORRUPTION, COURTS, AND CLERICS THE POLITICAL FACTIONS OF PAKISTAN Matthew Disler
r. Tahirul Qadri, a Sufi cleric who had spent the past seven years in Canada after resigning from the Pakistani National Assembly, suddenly reappeared on the national scene in December at a rally of hundreds of thousands of his supporters in Lahore. After marching to Islamabad and speaking to a crowd of more than 50,000, calling for improvements in democracy, an end to corruption, and electoral reform, the government granted Dr. Qadri a voice in the election-planning process. He has repeatedly met with leading politicians since then, and submitted a petition to the Supreme Court requesting a reconstitution of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). The Court, led by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, summarily dismissed it. The judiciary has been playing an increasingly public role in politics as of late. Almost immediately after Qadri arrived in Islamabad, the Supreme Court ordered the arrest of the prime minister, Raja Pervez Ashraf of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), on corruption charges. In June, the court had ousted the former prime minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, following a conviction of contempt. The tensions between these actors—the Supreme Court, the PPP, and Dr. Qadri—underscore Pakistan’s current challenges as March approaches, when the first civilian-led elections since 1977 will be held. Now, both the judiciary and military’s historically influential role in politics could become more overt, especially via anti-corruption campaigns. Corruption has become a political tool, and accusations of malfeasance do less to address the problem of graft and more to weaken rival political parties.
THE TALE OF RAJA RENTAL Corruption pervades Pakistani politics and society. “Democracy in Pakistan means money, might, and manipulation. Nothing else,” stated Dr. Qadri in an interview with the HPR. According to Transparency International, over half the population reported paying a bribe in 2010, which is almost certainly an underestimate. Nearly three-quarters feel that the government’s efforts to fight corruption are ineffective. Among the guilty culprits are the police, the civil service, political parties, and the legislature, while the military is perceived in a more positive light. Daily challenges such as petroleum and electricity shortages reveal more deep-seated issues. The courts have, in some sense, cracked down on corruption,
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but their focus has been limited to just the PPP, while largely ignoring the opposition party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). This imbalance in the accusations originated in 2007, when President Pervez Musharraf passed the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), which “lifted all of the charges of corruption on the PPP, and … did not extend to those regarding the PML-N,” explained Dr. Carol Christine Fair of Georgetown University, to the HPR. The agreement had two major effects. First, it allowed the leader of the PPP, Benazir Bhutto, to return to Pakistan from exile without fear of indictment or conviction over corruption charges. Moreover, it contributed significantly to an alliance between the PML-N and Chief Justice Chaudhry, whom Musharraf had suspended. The country was quickly falling into discord, due to a lawyer’s movement after the suspension of the Chief Justice. Then, in 2009, the head of the army, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, mediated an agreement by which Chaudhry would be reinstated, to which the PPP reluctantly agreed. Thus formed a haphazard, partial tripartite alliance, consisting of the military, the judiciary, and the PML-N. “It was the PML-N’s agitation in conjunction with the army chief that brought [Chaudhry] back to the bench,” says Fair. “Ever since his reinstatement, he would rabble-rouse on issues of corruption ... [usually] when the army had an alternative to the PPP.” The judiciary’s friendly relationship with the military and the opposition led it to prosecute the PPP. Of course, many of the PPP politicians who faced the courts were actually corrupt. Mr. Ashraf’s nickname, “Raja Rental,” refers to the alleged bribes he received while Minister for Water and Power. Another contender for Prime Minister, Makhdoom Shahabuddin, received an arrest warrant after he became embroiled in a scandal involving illegal imports of ephedrine. However, the fact that the allegations are overwhelmingly tilted against the PPP implies that the judiciary has ulterior motives.
THE CANADIAN CLERIC Tahirul Qadri’s marches and protests have occurred amidst this environment of mutual distrust and competition. “In the Constitution of Pakistan, Article 38 … were definitely promises, but none of these promises have been fulfilled. The people who are ruling, they have always been corrupt,” he says. In particular, Article 38 guarantees provisions for the social and economic wellbeing of the populace. Qadri insists that his movement is
Millions gathered at the Tower of Pakistan under the slogan “Save State, not Politics.”
“nonviolent” and “democratic,” aiming to restore “democracy, human rights…and the rule of law” to Pakistan. Qadri is well-versed in the public sphere. A former public official, leader of a small political party, cleric, and founder of Minhaj-ul-Quran International—an international nongovernmental organization that promotes a “moderate vision of Islam and Sufism, working for peace and integration.” He published a fatwa against terrorism in 2010. However, Dr. Qadri’s movement is unique in several respects. The first is his sudden, meteoric rise from the political shadows to the center of Pakistani public life, and the speed with which he was able to assemble large crowds. Critical to his success are his remarkably deep pockets: though Minhaj-ul-Quran has remained reticent about its funds, advertisements have appeared on billboards and televisions throughout the country. While some members of the media and foreign observers, including Dr. Fair, suspect that Qadri has some backing from the military, the cleric provides a different explanation: people “knew that they had been deprived of all these fundamental rights … they wanted change. They wanted electoral reform. They wanted their share of democracy as promised to them.” His true strength lies in his ability to simultaneously inspire protesters while influencing the political elite. Members of the legislature have met with him numerous times, which culminated in an agreement that involved reforms in the formation of a caretaker government before elections, a reshaping of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), and heightened inspection of candidates. The military has generally remained silent, despite Qadri’s repeated praises. On the other hand, his relationship with the judiciary has been much more hostile since he presented his petition to the Supreme Court. According to Dr. Qadri, nothing was discussed in the proceedings except the potential effect of his dual Canadian-Pakistani citizenship status on his loyalty. Qadri explained to the HPR how the interaction unfolded: “I took a picture out of my pocket, and I said to the Chief Justice, ‘Once you had a oath
of allegiance to the constitution of Pakistan, and an oath of allegiance to democracy … then you took an allegiance and loyalty oath to the dictator Pervez Musharraf. And is this your picture? Please, tell me … If you are taking two oaths, one on constitution, one on dictatorship … what would you say is your loyalty—divided or [not]? ... How can you doubt my loyalty?’”
A RED HERRING Thus has Dr. Qadri proven to be a somewhat destabilizing force in the buildup to an immensely important election. Through the lens of exposing widespread, egregious corruption and poor governance, he has drawn attention to party interactions as well as the political power of the judiciary. He has also emphasized the military’s independence from the courts and the legislatures, especially as a result of the army’s remarkable refusal to demonstrate any overt response. According to Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States and a member of the PPP, the government is making progress against corruption. She praised the establishment of the Election Commission, whose “first action was to throw out one of our [PPP] candidates, in a bi-election.” She explained to the HPR that the PPP has to “accept their decision and verdicts” with the understanding that these sorts of institutions “will buttress future democracies.” In theory, by giving citizens a greater say in the democratic process, corruption will decrease. Interestingly, this reference to public participation aligns with the principles of Qadri. But overcoming corruption is not necessarily a silver bullet for Pakistan. According to Dr. Fair, the “absolutely anemic democratic institutions” are to blame, with a history that goes back to the partition of Pakistan and India in 1947. According to this view, corruption is merely a symptom of more structural challenges. Yet the factions of Pakistan have chosen this specific ill as its bogeyman, transforming it into a means to other political ends.
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The Reactionaries of Cairo Examining Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, two years after the uprising Rachael Hanna
hen Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s now infamous 2010 remarks were widely published in January, the world questioned whether he still believed that Israelis were the “descendants of apes and pigs.” A more pertinent question, though, may be whether these statements represented the beliefs of the organization that helped bring Morsi to power. For if these are in fact the views of a well-established and extensive organization with members in every level of government, they may be cause for even greater alarm. In Arabic this organization is known as Hizb al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun, but across the world it is known as the Muslim Brotherhood. Established in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna, the Brotherhood was initially conceived to overthrow the Egyptian monarchy and create an Islamic theocracy. Its ideology is violent jihad—Islamic holy war against the enemies of Allah, including all non-believers of Islam. The Brotherhood ultimately wanted to unify the Middle East under one Islamic caliphate, committing and sponsoring terrorist acts throughout the 20th century in pursuit of this objective. Among these acts was a failed assassination attempt on then-Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser, giving rise to the terrorist group Hamas in Palestine, and influencing the leaders of al-
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Qaeda, including Osama bin Laden and his top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri.
A BROTHERHOOD RISING Though illegal under President Mubarak, the Brotherhood became increasingly political in the 1990s and 2000s, with many members winning seats in Parliament over the years, including 88 in 2005. By this time, frustration with Mubarak’s reign was growing, but, as stated by George Washington University professor Nathan Brown in an interview with the HPR, “while disillusionment with the Egyptian regime was widespread, most opposition was inchoate. The Brotherhood was Egypt’s leading opposition movement, a tightly disciplined opposition organization with hundreds of thousands of followers.” The 2011 Egyptian Revolution brought the Muslim Brotherhood fully back into the public arena, and as the most populous and organized political group in Egypt, it quickly harnessed significant support from the revolution. However, many of the youth and liberals, who began the protests, felt the Brotherhood took over the revolution and began pushing
for Islamic law rather than democracy. This accusation does not seem to be unfounded. Vice Chairman of the Egyptian Democratic Academy and co-founder of the April 6th Movement, Esraa Abdelfattah, explained to the HPR that, to win political support, the Brotherhood “always talks by the voice of Islam … They also receive great amounts of illegal money from Qatar and the Gulf. They use this money to give the poor, illiterate people goats, rice, sugar, and health services. Money and religion…give them more voters.” With a poverty rate of 25.2 percent and an illiteracy rate of 28 percent according to Egypt’s 2010-2011 financial report, those in need of simple services represent a significant base of political support for the Brotherhood. In the 2012 presidential elections, this base came through; the Brotherhood’s political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), nominated Mohamed Morsi as their candidate, who subsequently won the election. In Egypt and around the world, this was seen as a victory for Islamists over secularists, but University of Washington professor Ellis Goldberg has a different view of the situation: “The notion that the Brotherhood is religious and the opposition is secular is misleading— everyone in Egypt is religious. Egyptians are concerned … with authoritarianism. The Mubarak era was about stagnation; it was impossible to challenge Mubarak politically. The question now is, can the Brotherhood, an organization that is internally authoritarian and not transparent, lead this society to be democratic and transparent?” he told the HPR.
THE CONSERVATIVE CHAMELEONS Morsi appeared to answer this question with a resounding ‘no’ following his election, as members of the Brotherhood flooded the Egyptian government. He defied Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court by reinstating the heavily Islamist parliament after it was disbanded earlier in the year. Going further, he issued a decree granting himself broad executive powers and, in mid-November, suspended judicial authority over his actions. These abuses of power certainly support professor Goldberg’s concerns. Right at this time, however, Morsi became an important broker in the ceasefire agreement between Israel and Palestine after attacks broke out between the two in September. This was a major moment for Morsi and the Brotherhood, which has been known to support Hamas and oppose the recognition of Israel as a state. Professor Brown stated, “Hamas speaks of the Brotherhood as ‘the mother movement’ and ideological ties are strong. The Brotherhood does not favor a two-state solution, but I think it accepted Morsi’s role [in the ceasefire agreement].” Should Morsi continue to support peace between Israel and Palestine, while maintaining the backing of the Brotherhood, it would be an encouraging sign that the group can play a positive and influential political force in the peace process. However, Morsi’s and the Brotherhood’s actions at home leave little hope that Egypt will become a stable democracy. Just weeks after the ceasefire agreement, at Morsi’s insistence, Islamists in the Egyptian Parliament hastily drafted and pushed through a constitution that strongly complies
with Sharia Law. All liberal and Coptic members of Parliament withdrew from the vote in protest. Though the constitution was ratified by a national vote, less than 33 percent of the voting population participated, with many protesting against it, including the National Salvation Front, or NSF, and the Coptic community. There have been numerous claims of voter fraud, but Morsi’s administration has declined to investigate any of them. Despite widespread fears that Egypt is becoming more Islamic, Professor Brown does not see a major legal difference, stating, “Since 1980, the constitution has proclaimed that ‘the principles of the Islamic Sharia’ are ‘the main source of legislation’. The Brotherhood’s interpretation of that phrase is a bit more demanding that of the Mubarak regime, but it seeks to implement it through the democratic process.” While this may be true, Egypt’s opposition prefers an essentially secular democracy that is with equality across gender and religious lines. According to Brown, the Brotherhood “has its own set of positions that are not predicated on gender equality but represent what might be seen as a more paternalistic vision. It has some resonance among large parts of Egyptian society.” Still, this “paternalistic vision” is not acceptable to many Egyptians and is a major point of contention for the opposition. Abdelfattah said, “The constitution does not give women the same rights as men if a woman is [legally or financially] responsible for her family. It does not explicitly allow a woman’s name to be on district voting lists.” Only Egyptian citizens can run for political office, but citizenship is not clearly defined in the constitution. Morsi has stated that women are citizens in Egypt, but if this statement is not put into law, it can easily be disregarded. She also explained that the Brotherhood has aligned the electoral districts to promote the FJP and to disadvantage smaller parties; “The Brotherhood controls the elections and they are running them without international monitoring.” Furthermore, with Sharia Law as the ultimate source of legislative authority, three articles in particular become particularly concerning for secularists, women, practitioners of minority religions, and defenders of free speech: Article 10: The State is keen to preserve the genuine character of the Egyptian family, its cohesion and stability, and to protect its moral values, all as regulated by law. Article 12: The State shall safeguard the cultural and linguistic constituents of society, and foster the Arabization of education, science and knowledge. Article 44: Insult or abuse of all religious messengers and prophets shall be prohibited. These articles authorize government control of family life, moral values, and education based on the principles of Sharia Law, and no one is allowed to speak against Islam. Additionally, Amnesty International is concerned the constitution “may impact … the rights of women, and may be used as a justification to uphold legislation which currently discriminates against women in respect of marriage, divorce and family life.”
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NO ROOM FOR COMPROMISE Egypt’s opposition movement, led by the NSF, has demanded serious changes to the constitution to represent the rights of minorities and women and to guarantee a secular state. The people of Egypt do not want to be repressed again, and yet, Abdelfattah believes this is exactly what is happening: “The Brotherhood wants to have full control of the country. They didn’t want anyone to participate with them in ruling this country. I don’t think their ideology is compatible with democracy.” Indeed, Professor Brown also noted, “In the eyes of its critics, the Brotherhood is grasping for political power”, but he went on to say that “in the eyes of its supporters, the Brotherhood stands out for having leadership that is not personally ambitious and that seeks the good of society in accordance with prevailing conservative religious values.” In evaluating whether or not the Brotherhood is a moderate political force, it should be noted that a significant portion of Egypt’s population adheres to Sharia Law in their private lives. After decades of discrimination against women and minorities, “moderate” through an Egyptian lens may mean striking a balance between ultraconservative views and the principles of democracy. In any case, however, the Brotherhood does not have the right to suppress the opposition simply for expressing its relatively liberal views. The opposition wants to have a serious dialogue with Morsi and the Brotherhood to reform the constitution, but so far, Morsi has refused. Abdelfattah relayed, “I have
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not seen anything to suggest that he will make any compromises. And it is not just Morsi. I don’t believe that the Muslim brotherhood will work with the opposition at all.” Since the Constitution passed in December, protests against Morsi’s administration have grown, many involving violent clashes between police and demonstrators. This is evidence that, as Professor Goldberg said, “The revolution is not over. Egyptians have not bought into the idea that elections will guarantee democracy.” As someone in the streets of Egypt, participating in and leading these protests, Abdelfattah confirmed Professor Goldberg’s statement and expressed her concern that, “If Morsi does not compromise, the unrest will continue. There will be instability, the elections will be more difficult, and the people will be in the streets all the time.” But rather than listening to the voices in the streets, Morsi and the Brotherhood have opted for suppression. “The people are coming to demonstrations against the Brotherhood, and they are using the same tools as Mubarak to target and kill them, tear gas and violence. It is against freedom and against human rights,” Abdelfattah insisted. The people are asking why Mubarak is in jail for killing protestors, while Morsi does not face punishment for the same. If the Brotherhood is to be considered a moderate political force in Egypt, its leaders must understand that competition and debate are integral parts of democracy. Such competition can only happen if the political field is not skewed in favor of the FJP, and as Professor Brown explained, “The problem in Egypt is that political actors have not agreed on the basic rules of the political game. I think that is a very worrying sign.” While he believes that the Brotherhood has been “heavy-handed” with the opposition, he doubts that a different outcome would have resulted otherwise. The Brotherhood is undoubtedly the most organized and populous political group in Egypt. They fully control the executive and legislative branches of the government and have suppressed the independence of the judiciary. On an individual level, as Professor Goldberg stated, “the government has ignored serious acts of criminal violence,” neglecting basic property rights and individual freedoms. Thus far, Morsi’s and the Brotherhood’s actions have made the prospects of true democracy in Egypt look grim. There is nothing moderate about gender and religious discrimination. There is nothing moderate about monopolizing the political process. And there is nothing moderate about a government killing its own people when they are demanding democratic change. The Brotherhood may no longer want to create an Islamic caliphate, but they are not a moderate political force, and the people of Egypt deserve better. If the Brotherhood is to be legitimate in the eyes of all its citizens, it needs to recognize that it has a fundamental responsibility to deliver Egyptians out of dictatorship and into democracy by working with the other political groups striving toward this goal.
WHY PROMISED LAND DOESN’T DELIVER Cory Pletan
s the first widely-released feature film to dramatize the natural gas boom in small-town America, Promised Land is one of the most interesting and relevant films to be released in the past year. Co-written by Matt Damon and John Krasinski and directed by Good Will Hunting’s Gus Van Sant, the film is superficially a well-acted drama with an environmentalist agenda. However, to portray Promised Land this simply would do it a disservice, since it attempts to transcend mere propaganda. Despite its only partial success at the box office, Promised Land raises important issues about the benefits and drawbacks of oil and natural gas development in rural America.
AN UNINFORMED DEPICTION OF RURAL AMERICA Promised Land takes place in a small town in rural Pennsylvania, where Steve Butler (Damon) works as a “landman” for Global Crosspower Solutions, a large natural gas company. Butler’s job is simple: to convince area landowners to lease their mineral rights to Global so that natural gas can be extracted from shale formations deep underground using a controversial process known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”
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At the start of the movie, Butler arrives in the unnamed town to convince citizens to sign over their mineral rights to Global. He is joined by the cynical Sue Thomason (Frances McDormand), a fellow employee of Global who works with him to secure the mineral contracts. Butler is very successful at his job, using his own rural upbringing to integrate himself into the town and forge common bonds with landowners. As a small town resident, I took issue with the film’s onedimensional depiction of the residents, many of whom are depicted as simple, flannel-clad country bumpkins, in order to frame the conflict as one between innocent landowners and a greedy corporation. Almost every resident, with the exception of an elderly schoolteacher with a degree from MIT, is either too naïve and uninformed or too proud to deal intelligently with Butler and Thomason. In order to drive the story home, the writers conveniently forgot that in 21st century America almost everyone, regardless of residence, has access to newspapers, television, or the Internet. In reality, landowners know perfectly well why “landmen” are interested in their property, and landowners would not be so easily swayed by eloquent speeches and vague promises. The writers’ decision to portray the townspeople this way was meant to be noble, but the end result is shallow and reeks of urban condescension, turning these potentially likeable characters into caricatures of the inhabitants of rural America. The major twist in the movie comes at the arrival of Dustin Noble (Krasinski), an environmental activist working for a small organization called Athena. Noble is one of the more likeable and nuanced characters in the movie, and his mission is to convince the townspeople not to approve Global’s mineral leases by teaching them about the grievous environmental damage caused by fracking. He initially appears to have the best of intentions as he sets out to protect the townspeople from experiencing the harm that befell his own family due to fracking. Noble arrives just as Butler is in the midst of getting the bulk of his leases signed, and Damon’s character is understandably furious at Noble for interfering with his own efforts to “save” the town. To Butler, his job is a crusade to save small-town America from the decay that is the result of diminishing economic opportunities offered by small family farms. By interfering with that mission, Noble is preventing Butler from leading the town into the “promised land.” Nevertheless, Butler’s reactions seem overthe-top and out of character throughout the course of the movie.
A HARD-TO-BELIEVE PLOT TWIST Noble is so effective at undermining Butler’s efforts that Krasinski’s character all but defeats Global’s chances at leasing the town’s mineral rights. Butler is ready to give up when he receives a package from Global that reveals that the bulk of Noble’s evidence was fabricated. This completely discredits Noble, and once again, the townspeople change their minds and decide to sign their contracts with Global. Butler has one last conversation with Noble before he leaves town, and it is here that we discover the lengths the greedy gas company is willing to go to secure their leases. Noble reveals
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that he is an employee of Global seeking to undermine the credibility of environmental groups by using false information and lies. This is supposed to incite shock and outrage towards Global Crosspower Solutions, but the whole thing feels more like a cheap shot at energy companies; it is much too far-fetched—even for real life. After exposing Noble’s lies, Butler is on the verge of securing the town’s final vote on the mineral leases when he starts to have second thoughts about fracking and the rightness of his cause. He ultimately decides to warn the town against signing the leases with Global to protect their farms and way of life. Though this is an entirely predictable development, what did surprise me was how little I cared, particularly because Butler’s change of heart at the end of the film is never really made clear beyond some vague second-thoughts about the possibility that fracking might harm the area’s environmental resources. Indeed, throughout the movie, the environmental argument against fracking is never fully developed. In the end, Butler loses his job, and it is implied that the townspeople voted against allowing Global to drill on their property. For anyone familiar with a situation like this one, however, it is not an entirely feel good moment. The loss of the natural gas money means that the town and its surrounding farms will continue their slow decay.
AN UNSATISFYING ENDING Acknowledging uncertainty is ultimately what sets Promised Land apart from other agenda films. It was commendable for the writers to include some of hydraulic fracturing’s benefits because the issues surrounding it are not as simple as many environmental groups would like to think. No scientific study has conclusively proven that fracking adversely harms the environment or seeps into groundwater, which is why Promised Land tries so hard to portray the natural gas company, not fracking, as the villain. In the end, Promised Land is a confused film because everything from its agenda to its characters and setting is never fully developed properly. Fracking is not perfect. In addition to its questionable effects on the environment, areas with heavy oil and gas development experience a variety of other issues, such as housing shortages, increased crime, infrastructure overload, and rapid population growth. However, the huge influx of economic activity also has its benefits, creating new roads, schools, hospitals, parks, and infrastructure. Many places, such as western North Dakota, where I live, have experienced an economic rebirth that created new industries and thousands of jobs. Promised Land is a missed opportunity. The filmmakers chose to focus on fracking itself, which is a losing proposition in my opinion because new oil and gas drilling is going to happen whether they like it or not. Instead, they might have more effectively focused on the social and economic problems of oil and gas development in rural America, which are much more important and relevant to people all over the United States during this burgeoning energy revolution.
DEVIL IN THE DETAILS HOW ZERO DARK THIRTY MISSES THE MORAL MARK Taonga Leslie
athryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty is not a war story in the traditional sense. There are no speeches to rally the troops, and, in fact, there are no troops to rally. Instead of examining the ethics or ideals behind our war on terror, the film gives us a detailed look at the strategies and intelligence that led to the death of Osama bin Laden. This approach makes for fascinating storytelling, but ironically, the climactic Navy SEAL invasion of bin Laden’s compound plays out more like a high-tech robbery than an administration of justice. Zero Dark Thirty’s publicity team has characterized the film as “The Greatest Manhunt in History,” yet as the story unfolds, it is clear that the greatness here is not meant in a moral sense. The film rushes from detail to detail with an analytic precision, never stopping to address the broader ethics of the characters’ actions. What emerges is a procedural, in the truest sense of the word; the film speaks volumes about how bin Laden was killed, but fails to say why. Maya, the CIA agent who leads the hunt for bin Laden, best embodies the film’s procedural approach to storytelling. Ever since graduating high school, Maya has single-mindedly devoted herself to tracking down Osama bin Laden. She is so obsessed with her mission that we don’t learn much about Maya, outside of her work. She resists overtures of friendship, and perhaps
more disturbingly, she does not hesitate to torture in order to get the answers she wants. Kathryn Bigelow holds Maya up as a hero because of her perseverance, pragmatism, and potentially dangerous tunnel vision. For the viewer, she is a symbol of the American military’s relentless power, even as she sacrifices her morals to reach her goals. Through Bigelow’s portrayal of Maya, we get to the main problem of the film: it sets up a false dichotomy between power and morality when the two are, in reality, intimately connected. Examples from psychology undermine the suggestion that we must choose between the two. Kurt Gray, a cognitive philosopher at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, has found that subjects who were asked to think of themselves as moral agents are physically better at lifting weights than those who weren’t. In a similar study involving weight lifting, Gray found significant strength differences between subjects who were asked to donate money to charity, and those who were given money to keep for themselves. It may not seem surprising that moral conviction translates into physical strength, but Gray’s results cast some doubt on Bigelow’s portrayal of CIA officials whose moral indifference seems to propel their mission forward. Because the film presents a misleading dichotomy between morality and power, we may understand it as a chronicle of
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The film sets up a false dichotomy between power and morality when the two are, in reality, intimately connected.
how far our nation has drifted from its moral foundations. We might, for example, turn to the bureaucratization of the American war machine for an explanation. The division of labor, the focus and obedience of its individuals, and the creation of ever more intricate hierarchies are not just components of modern state bureaucracies—they extend to the military too. Sandy Koll, a philosopher at Johns Hopkins University, argues that bureaucracy naturally suppresses morality. In the endless drive to establish predictable procedures, bureaucracies grind down charismatic individuals, and they fail to account for the unpredictable. Bigelow documents in painful detail the resistance that Maya must overcome, as she realizes that her superiors are more interested in following procedure than in securing larger objectives. George, Maya’s boss, proves more interested in padding his résumé with easy, unimportant targets than providing Maya with the resources she needs. Just as Maya ignores the broader significance of her actions in favor of the details securing her goal, the CIA bureaucracy forgets its broader mandate by focusing too narrowly on its procedures and customs. Koll argues that we can create a more moral bureaucracy by releasing the rigid rules that govern behavior and by allowing more room for innovation. Finally, the film provides, at least for a fleeting instant, the possibility that we can do things differently. In the background of a CIA lunch break, we overhear newly minted President Obama giving a television conference and saying in no uncertain terms that the United States does not torture. He describes the new stance as “part and parcel of an effort to regain America’s moral stature in the world.” The protagonists pay little attention to Obama’s proclamation, but it shines as a sign of hope in the otherwise bleak moral universe of the film. As the war’s death toll continued to climb, Obama turned to an authority based on morals instead of force. In doing so, Obama demonstrated that morality not only strengthens us as actors, but also attracts allies to join our cause. Chris Winship, Diker-Tishman Professor of Sociology at Harvard, argues that people and nations may be attracted to col-
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laborate through the sheer force of attraction to moral authority known as moral power. We naturally gravitate toward people we believe to be guided by a moral mission. Moral power explains how in Boston, an alliance of inner-city ministers, the Ten Point Coalition, successfully took on the issue of gang-related youth violence and homicide. Previously, police had attempted to stepup enforcement against gangs, but they had faced allegations of racial profiling from minority communities. The Ten Point ministers shared the police’s interest in increased enforcement, but they also served as watchdogs to ensure this enforcement was done fairly and without bias. The ministers were able to rally the community to trust and collaborate with the police, and together they secured an eighty percent decline in Boston’s homicide rate during the 1990s. The success of the Ten Point coalition can be used as a template for the United States in our broader mission of bringing the perpetrators of terror to justice. By convincing the world that the United States does not sink to torture or targeting civilians, we will undermine our enemies and build our alliances. To do this, we must show that we are ready to recommit to the difficult process of moral self-examination. Zero Dark Thirty has already attracted plenty of criticism for its ambivalent attitude towards on torture, but so far, these attacks have only played into the procedural nature of the film. Rather than taking on the moral issue of whether torture is justified in and of itself, critics have instead focused on questioning whether or not torture was critical to hunting down Osama bin Laden. The tacit agreement of such arguments is that if torture were a crucial tool for gaining this intelligence, it would somehow be justified. We need to take a step back from questions of utility, and question the meaning of our actions beyond whether they serve our immediate goals. Bigelow’s film has started the conversation by showing us “how” the manhunt operated, but the discussion will not be complete until we ask ourselves “why.” Only then will can we truly claim that we have achieved the greatness to which Zero Dark Thirty aspires.
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the art of remembering Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie at the American Repertory Theatre Sarah Stein Lubrano
emory takes a lot of poetic license,” Tennessee Williams wrote in the stage directions of his most famous “memory play,” The Glass Menagerie. “It omits some details; others are exaggerated, according to the emotional value of the articles it touches, for memory is seated predominantly in the heart.” When The Glass Menagerie was first performed in 1944, Williams struggled to best convey these aspects of memory. At first he prescribed projected images on the walls of the house; later he took them out after he decided they detracted from the strength of Laurette Taylor’s performance. At publishing, he included copious notes in the introduction about the theme of memory. The music, he felt, was also crucial: “When you look at a piece of spun glass you think about two things: how beautiful it is and how easily it can be broken. Both of these should be woven in to the recurring tune…” In his new adaptation of Williams’ classic at the American Repertory Theater (ART), Director John Tiffany has taken the same themes of memory, beauty, and ruin, but largely ignored the playwright’s exacting stage directions, replacing them with his own vision in largely successful ways. The Glass Menagerie shows the struggles of the Wingfield family through the memory of Tom Wingfield, a young man restless to leave his job at a shoe factory and travel the world. He is supporting his mother, Amanda, and disabled sister, Laura, as well as his father, “a telephone man in love with long distance” who left the family years ago. Tom struggles with his restlessness as his mother tries to find a suitable husband for Laura. At last a potential suitor arrives, symbolically—in Tom’s remembrance—the “long delayed but always expected something that we live for.” Tiffany had Cherry Jones set in mind as Amanda Wingfield before he proposed directing The Glass Menagerie to the ART. The play and actress are a winning combination. Jones never misses a beat of humor nor slips for a moment from her role as an adoring, meddling mother, anxiously plotting her children’s futures while she muses about her past as a Southern belle. She draws the biggest laughs from the audience when she arrives
on stage in the last scene in an old-fashioned nineteenth century dress, and yet remains three-dimensional in her eccentric revelry. The same authenticity characterizes Celia Keenan-Bolger’s performance as Laura, the shy, crippled daughter of the family. Keenan-Bolger undergoes a particularly impressive transformation in her scene with her “gentleman caller,” played by Brian J. Smith. As the scene unfolds she reveals her character’s untapped inner life, bringing playfulness and humor that is all the more joyous after her equally-convincing meekness during the rest of the show. Smith plays his part as a very American optimist without any unnecessary irony, letting the part speak for itself. Yet it is Zachary Quinto, who plays the family son, Tom (a fictionalized Tennessee Williams, of course) who brought the most buzz to the production. His celebrity precedes him from television roles in American Horror Story, Asylum, Heroes, 24, and Six Feet Under, as well as his reprisal as Spock in the upcoming sequel Star Trek into Darkness. His Tom is dark and on-edge, as well as bitingly funny. Quinto is at his best in scenes where this sarcasm is full-blooded, especially in his interactions with Jones. Occasionally Quinto’s physicality slips from Tom’s restless movement and one sees a hint of—presumably—his own demeanor. He seems to have not quite bought into the same reality as the other actors. This irregularity might be a statement about the artistic Tom’s withdrawal from his family and his boring job. Or it could be a directorial choice related to Tom’s role as “the narrator of the play, and also a character in it.” Yet Quinto’s work needs clarity between different mental states. Jones, Bolger, and Smith are so invested in their accents, their physicality, and what their character wants in each scene that Quinto’s self-conscious, abstract brooding almost seems disconnected from the very interesting conflict of the plot. What is needed are clearer distinctions between his struggle as the narrator to cope emotionally with the story he is telling and his struggle as Tom-of-the-past with his familial and existential angst. The stage directions of the play write that the narrator “takes whatever license with dramatic convention as is conve-
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BOOKS & ARTS
nient to his purposes,” but all purposes need clarity and good acting entails it. Tiffany also abandons the use of gramophone music for a soundtrack by Nico Muhly. This works beautifully, often as an insight into representation of the characters’ inner states. Movement, directed by the choreographer Steven Hoggett, is also central in this production. There are several moments too striking to spoil in a review, but even less surprising ones add poetry and grace. Jones and Keenan-Bolger set the table with sweeping, abstract hand movements; Keenan-Bolger warily reaches down several times into the black liquid that surrounds the stage, which reflects light like the glass she collects. It’s an illuminating gesture, almost as if she is testing the edges of her small world. The small, intimate set almost seems to floats in the liquid. It is designed by Bob Crowley, who also designed the costumes. His other striking touch is a fire escape that appears to recede infinitely upward, cleverly adding space to an otherwise intentionally claustrophobic set. Most of the play takes place in this darker, older, world that reads very much as the memory it is. Then, in the last section of
the play, both costumes and set are modified with brighter colors and even Chinese lanterns to welcome the gentleman caller. The elements look out of place, jarring either because they are from too long ago or because they are strikingly modern. The switch, though almost ugly, is an effective image of the struggle that all the characters undergo with time itself. They are not really at home in either the present or the past, but they try to bring both into their trying lives. It is this battle with time that allows The Glass Menagerie to remain meaningful and relatable production after production. “For time,” Tom notes at the end of the play “is the longest distance between two places.“ Pain and longing necessarily follow. How can individuals and families bear the sorrows and scars of the past and the uncertainty of the future? Amanda’s attempts to create a version of her genteel past for her children, Tom’s plans to run away, the gentleman caller’s self-improving optimism, and even Laura’s strange glass menagerie are all attempts to answer this question, and to live on in a uncertain, memory-plagued world. The theme might be trite in the hands of another playwright, but doesn’t age in Williams’ lyrical treatment.
How can individuals and families bear the sorrows and scars of the past and the uncertainty of the future?
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INTERVIEW: DAVID KEENE with Matthew Disler One of the solutions proposed in regards to reducing gun violence has been a ban on semiautomatic or large-capacity-magazine weapons. Generally speaking, your organization has stood against banning these weapons while citing the need for self-defense. How do you explain that?
David Keene is the president of the National Rifleman’s Association. He is the former chairman of the American Conservative Union.
The National Rifleman’s Association has placed a significant amount of blame for gun violence on what Vice President Wayne Pierre has called “a callous, corrupt, and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence.” Since many of the same video games and movies popular in the U.S. are also popular in Europe, where there are much lower rates of gun violence than in the U.S, what do you think accounts for this difference? It’s due to cultural difference, largely. Nevertheless, the kinds of people that can be influenced by these entertainments are the same here as in Europe, which we have seen in the example of individuals perpetrating the same kinds of mass violence that we saw at Newtown in places like Norway or Great Britain. These individuals tend to be severely mentally ill, and whether or not they have been picked up by the system before or after they engage in violence is not really the relevant point, as they are people with serious problems. That is, most people can enjoy these games without impact whatsoever. But there are some who are on the edge for whom they do have an effect. If we want to get to the source of the problem, the kinds of mass shootings that took place in Newtown are invariably not perpetrated by criminals; they are perpetrated by people who are severely mentally ill. We dismantled our mental health care system in this country, so that in every state in the union there are more severely mentally ill people in our prisons than there are in all of our public and private hospitals. We are going to have to put that system back together; we are going to have to discover ways in which you can deal with these people.
It is about more than self-defense. The Supreme Court in the D.C. v. Heller decision said that while the Second Amendment could be subject to reasonable restrictions just like the First Amendment, one of the things you can not do is ban a firearm that is widely owned and commonly used for legal purposes. There are over four million AR15s, the leading so-called assault weapon, in private hands in this country. These are the guns most used in training and most used in competition. They are the guns most used for hunting as well as for home protection. Unless the Supreme Court changes its decision, I would suspect any ban would be ruled unconstitutional. Such bans are simply feel-good measures. They are bans based on cosmetics. The current legislation that Senator Diane Feinstein of California is proposing bans 157 different firearms. You know where they came up with those? They literally went through gun catalogs and said, “These ones should be banned,” and, “These ones shouldn’t.” The point is, Feinstein wants to ban a rifle that has a pistol grip but not the same rifle that does not have a pistol grip—a difference that is purely cosmetic. The question is, if somebody faces you with a semi-automatic rifle, do you care if it has a pistol grip or not? The answer is, you don’t.
Since your organization lobbied Congress to restrict funding for gun violence research within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), funding for such research has dropped 96 percent. Was this your association’s intention? We did not ban research. What we did was we created an appropriations rider that prevents such funds from being used for lobbying or promulgating gun control, because this is not research. The CDC was using its funding as advocacy money for gun control. There is plenty of research that is going on and that has already taken place regarding gun control, but the point is that such funding cannot be used for lobbying, which government officials are not supposed to do anyway as employees of the government. This interview has been edited and condensed.
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INTERVIEW: SEN. RICHARD LUGAR with Colin Diersing that are critical to contain. This has been a major occupation for me that has led to travel to Russia and all over the world to meet with people who want to bring about better conditions for peace and security.
In what direction do you think U.S. non-proliferation policy should be headed? For the moment, I think that arms control is less likely to be achieved by treaties than by concerted action by the United States. In particular, the U.S. needs to work with other nations to negotiate with the governments of Iran and North Korea to ensure that they do not continue to enrich destructive materials for use in nuclear weapons. In addition, we are going to have to carefully monitor what is occurring in Syria with regards to chemical weapons. When I was in Russia last August, I proposed that the leadership in our two countries—both of which have been heavily involved in chemical weapons conventions—think carefully about what we need to do about the situation in Syria. Those private talks will continue, as they must.
What do you consider the biggest threat to U.S. national security? Senator Richard Lugar represented Indiana from 1977 to 2013 as a United States Senator. He served as chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations from 1985-1987 and from 2003-2007. Senator Lugar left the Senate this past January after losing a primary election. He plans to accept positions at Georgetown University, Indiana University, and the German Marshall fund.
What do you consider your greatest legacy in the Senate? I believe my greatest accomplishment is my work on nonproliferation, which began with my cooperation with Sam Nunn, a former Democratic senator from Georgia. In 1986, we decided to take appointees of President Reagan to Geneva, Switzerland with the hope that we would create the first arms control agreement with the Soviet Union. Bit by bit over the next twenty years, greater safety resulted for our country, for the Russians, and for the rest of the world. The program has since grown to include other weapons of mass destruction
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I believe that the war on terrorism, which inherently involves a war against those who are involved with Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups abroad, is an ongoing process that requires extraordinary intelligence information and cooperation with intelligence agencies wherever possible. Likewise, we need to find much more sophisticated means of eliminating the threats from such perpetrators of terrorism. Recently, drone strikes have been used in this regard, simply because we cannot send regiments of American troops to every country where terrorists reside. Therefore, it is of critical importance that we become able to strike more quickly and with fewer costs to other countries and to ourselves. Though I don’t want to confuse issues, recently we have seen the ability of countries to hack foreign messages and institutions as a new threat. In particular, I have been following the case concerning China, which alleges that the Chinese government has been involved to some extent in hacking the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. Quite apart from the supposition that banks have been in harms way, this is a very serious dilemma, given the U.S.’s reliance on computers for national security and, in fact, our whole system of communications.
You mentioned drone strikes as a tool for fighting terrorism. Are you concerned about international fallout from strikes where mistakes have been made? Of course I’m concerned whenever innocent lives are taken and when conventional wars bring about death or disruption for innocent people. This is of great concern. However, the drone strikes appear, at least to me, to be more likely to lead to fewer casualties overall. The problem of the war on terrorism, which is a war of great dimensions, is that we have the need, and the ability, to eliminate those who are going to be terror threats to the United States. I hope that our drone strike situation becomes as efficient as possible, but I suspect a certain amount of casualties are inevitable.
You’ve talked a lot recently about your concerns regarding partisanship in Washington, of which the filibustering of Senator Chuck Hagel’s confirmation as Secretary of Defense is a salient example. Does this worry you? In my judgment, if Chuck Hagel had been a Democrat, he might not have had such problems in his confirmation hearings. The objections that were raised about him really go back to arguments that pre-date the last election. One issue he faced was the problem that, on many occasions, he worked with Democrats and with the administration and with people outside of a very narrow partisan realm. For many Republicans, this means Chuck Hagel’s voting record is somewhat unsatisfactory. This is a real and broader dilemma that plays out in confirmation hearings and sequester debates and more. Related to this issue of partisanship is the issue of campaign money—the need for which contributes to greater caution on the part of individual members of the House or Senate, particularly in terms of their voting records on key debates. Money affects how far out front in negotiations politicians want to be as leaders and in terms of offering new suggestions and compromises that allow us to negotiate some of the most difficult issues that face our country.
Having been challenged by a member of your own party. Do you think the Republican party
has moved too far to the right? Has it lost its way? I won’t characterize the whole party, but I will say that essentially the problem is not so much right or left but rather specific national groups who have agendas and, in a day when there is unlimited campaign contributions or possibilities, the question is almost taken out of the judgement of the parties and becomes much more a contest in terms of the public relations or the ability of these groups to get their message out. This is a different type of political organization, which I don’t think is very healthy.
How would you prefer to counteract that aversion to compromise or leadership that stems from big money? Well, we have to elect members with strong courage of their conviction who are able and willing to speak to the public with such strength that they overcome all the byplay going on underneath. I don’t think that this is impossible, but it does call for some new leaders to come forward who are able to call out not only some of the problems facing the country and the people who are the enemies, but also to construct new programs that make since. And these folks are going to have to have the financial and organizational backing as well as the political skills.
After such a long career in the Senate, you must have had a variety of offers for retirement plans. What drew you to academia? I’ve always enjoyed visiting with students. After I had served for eight years as mayor of Indianapolis, Dr. Gene Sease of Indiana Central, now called the University of Indianapolis, who was a good friend, invited me to teach. He knew that I was running for the U.S. Senate that year but said “you can teach two courses in the morning but then campaign in the afternoon and evening.” So I did that for the entire calendar year of 1976 and it was a wonderful experience and I carried this on as a Senator. We had interns from colleges in our office continuously all year round, which gave me an opportunity to visit with the students and ask what they were observing. This interview has been edited and condensed.
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GIVING UP THE BOW TIE: NAVIGATING OUR MORAL OBLIGATIONS Neil Patel
In his hallmark philosophical essay, “Famine, Affluence, and Morality,” Peter Singer outlines a moral imperative to fight disparity. He argues, “If we can prevent something bad without sacrificing anything of comparable significance, we ought to do it; absolute poverty is bad; there is some poverty we can prevent without sacrificing anything of comparable moral significance; therefore we ought to prevent some absolute poverty.” While philosophers have argued against Singer’s philosophical argument, I believe that most of our discomfort with his basic conclusion lies in the judgment it places on how we choose to live our daily lives, particularly at a place like Harvard. Harvard becomes hypocritical. On one hand, many of its students have committed themselves to bettering the world in some way, and millions of dollars of research are spent to find ways to improve life in underprivileged communities. On the other hand, its students enjoy the high life. At spring formals, we dress in bow ties and evening gowns, eating decadent pastries and imported cheeses. As we dance the night away to a live band, the ice sculpture melts away in vain. Many of my peers would agree that while we have worked hard to achieve what we have, most of those accomplishments would not have been possible without some measure of serendipity and those who helped us along the way. When my parents first immigrated to the United States in the early 1980s, I doubt they even imagined that their son would go to Harvard. Some would call it the epitome of the American Dream. Nevertheless, my time here has been fraught by a subtle feeling of guilt. If the stars had not aligned as they did, I could have found myself in a completely different place under a completely different set of circumstances. As I dressed up for Eliot Fête last year, I thought about how my grandfather probably never owned a bow tie. My grandfather spent his life in
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rural India. He was a diligent student and entertained the idea of becoming a barrister in British India, but he found another calling. He joined Gandhi’s Quit India Movement and rode on horseback between villages preaching for Indian independence. He managed to evade a British warrant for his arrest and spent the rest of his life raising his family in rural India. I never got to know my grandfather because he passed away while I was young of suspected mild heart attack. Without any nearby hospitals or health services, his passing was just the way things were and continue to be in many places in the world. The subtle guilt was the same feeling I felt while working on a public health project in South Africa my sophomore year of college. I visited Nelson Mandela’s prison cell on Robben Island off the coast of Cape Town. As I stared into the small cell in which Mandela had spent 18 years of his imprisonment, the magnitude of the struggle Mandela faced was brought to life. I could not help but wonder why so much in life must be determined by something as random as the circumstances of one’s birth. Do our serendipitous fortunes and the existence of disparity require us to give up our bow ties, evening gowns, and ice sculptures? In the strictest interpretation of Singer’s argument, probably yes. But such a requirement is not always practical or in accordance with our own desires and goals as we navigate and plan our academic, social, and professional lives. Through the myriad of problem sets, papers, applications, and internships, those hopes, dreams, and goals slowly become marred; navigating questions of morality becomes that much more difficult. At the very least, however, we are obligated to approach life with a degree of circumspection and show deference to the world around us. May that circumspection humbly kindle an inner inspiration.
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