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The Princeton Progressive Nation


The Princeton Progressive Nation

MISSION The Princeton Progressive Nation (PPN) is a recently revived student publication at Princeton University dedicated to promoting left-leaning political dialogue on campus. The publication strives to provide liberal and progressive-minded students with a platform to give their voices a stronger presence on campus. In doing so, the PPN remains committed to supporting the journalistic efforts of students to create a culture of betterinformed, respectful political dialogue for the student body.


A lot of work goes into each of our issues, and there is plenty to be done on our online blogging website. If you’d like to learn more about how to get involved, please email


Jessica Mulligan ‘14

EDITORIAL BOARD James Merz Nellie Peyton Madhu Ramankutty Matt Strauser


The Princeton Progressive Nation encourages letters to the editor. Submit letters via email to

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Laura Harder ‘15 Stephanie Ribet ‘16


While this magazine is published by Princeton University students, Princeton University is not responsible for its contents. All views and opinions expressed are strictly those of the respective author, and not of the publication as a whole.



Website: Twitter: @PPNblog Facebook:

Eve Barnett Katrina Bushko Benjamin Chang Angie Gould Andrew Klutey Erica Turret

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HISTORY The Princeton Progressive Nation (PPN) was born in 2005, when the Progressive Review and Idealistic Nation merged into “one big liberal media conglomerate.” Since then, the PPN has not only produced several print issues per year, but has also engaged in activities around campus aimed at furthering political awareness. For the 2008 elections, PPN staffers staged a protest that came to be recognized nationally: “I Could Be John McCain’s Econ 101 Teacher.” The skit, conducted outside Frist Campus Center, included one student acting as the “teacher,” lecturing another student (“John McCain”) with elementary supply and demand curves on a whiteboard. In 2009, the PPN published an opinion piece advocating gender-neutral housing, finally bringing this issue to the attention of the University administration. At this time, most other Ivy League schools already offered gender-neutral dorm rooms to undergraduate students, but Princeton had yet to do the same. In 2011, the PPN brought the national progressive Occupy movement to Princeton with “mic checks” at J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs recruiting sessions on campus. PPN staffers and other students dressed in business attire and infiltrated the sessions to “protest the campus culture that whitewashes the crooked dealings of Wall Street as a prestigious career path.” Due to the economic recession, the publication became defunct in 2011. This year, we’re here with a momentous effort to bring it back as the only left leaning, student-run political publication on the Princeton University campus.


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The Princeton Progressive Nation EDITOR’S NOTE Dear Reader, I’m not here to tell you that we live in an orange bubble. I’m not here to tell you that young people don’t care about politics. And I’m not here to force left-wing views upon you. I am here to present a viewpoint. We’re college students. We’re the Millennials: the children of the Baby Boomers. In the media, we’re the “me” generation: self-absorbed teenagers and apathetic twentysomethings, rapidly switching between jobs and depending upon our parents for financial support. For some of us, our most vivid early memories are of sitting in our elementary school classrooms, watching the airplanes crash into the World Trade Center and Pentagon buildings on the television coverage of September 11th, 2001. We didn’t learn to “duck and cover” in school for fear of nuclear attack like our parents did; instead, we went through drills to protect ourselves from high school shootings. Yet, as a generation, we’re idealistic. We strive for personal achievement, and we hold high expectations for the quality of our future lives. However, our goal must be to stop focusing on the payoffs of the future. We’ll never overcome the myth that we’re apathetic unless we force ourselves to pay attention

to the political and social climate of right now. I’m not going to tell you to go out and vote: you’ve heard that enough. Voting is the right thing to do. Be proud of our democratic system of governance—and be grateful for it. You might say that you don’t have time to pay attention to politics; you might say that our government is out of your hands, that you just don’t care. And while the decisions of our government are often out of our control, it is our civic duty as members of a democracy to believe the opposite. And this is where idealism must come in. What I ask for is simple: learn about just one “political” issue that directly impacts you. Learn both sides of it, and form your opinion based on what you think—not what your parents think, not what a political party thinks, but what makes sense to you, according to your own knowledge. You’re allowed to change your viewpoint in a month, if you so decide. As Princeton University’s left-leaning political publication, we’re here to present several viewpoints to you. If you don’t agree, that’s fine. Disagreement creates progress, and to create progress is our goal. Now, on to the important stuff… Sincerely, Jessica Mulligan ‘14


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What can Obama do for you?

One Trillion Dollars

– this figure represents the amount of debt accrued by middle and lower income students who lack affordable options to pay back their student loans. In hitting this trilliondollar milestone, student debt has surpassed national credit card debt for the first time in American history. Fortunately, over the past four years Obama has made clear his dedication to education by implementing multiple student loan reforms in an attempt to reduce the debt taken on by students seeking higher education. These reforms are, and should continue to be, significant in the eyes of college-aged students and recent graduates who intend on voting this November. This is crucial: youth between the ages of 18 and 29 will make up approximately 21% of eligible voters in the upcoming election. While Obama intends to continue his college payment-restructuring plan, to give a wider range of

students access to higher education, Romney has sent quite a different message to American youth, telling students: “Don’t expect the government to forgive the debt that you take on.” This statement, along with others, indicates Romney’s plan to help alleviate student debt by suggesting they shop around for an affordable college before going through the application process. He believes in shaping a student’s education around his or her financial situation. He suggested to students in Youngstown, Ohio that they: “Go to [a school] that has a little lower price where you can get a good education. And hopefully you’ll find that.” With this type of support system leading our country, college students will be left to their own devices to claw themselves out of debt, in the event that they try to exceed the limitations imposed by their financial circumstance. Obama, on the other hand, is trying to remove financial status as a major limiting factor in the application process. Upon his


re-election, President Obama will continue to increase accessibility for students of all backgrounds to receive the post secondary education they desire – regardless of how much it may cost. His goal is for the United States to have the most college graduates in the world by 2020. But what has President Obama done in his first term to move toward this goal?

The Past Four Years In 2010, Obama passed the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act to bring immediate and future relief to college students. Educationally, this Act halted federal government subsidies to the banks that provided student loans. Removing banks as middlemen and moving from private lenders to public lenders will induce savings of $67 billion dollars by 2020. Of these savings, the White House government

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website reports that $36 billion will be allocated to the Pell Grant program to afford more college opportunities to low- and middle-income students by 2013. Further, since 2008, Obama has increased the maximum Pell Grant award given per student from $4,731 to $5,550 annually and increased the number of Pell Grant recipients by 50%. Additionally, the law designates $2 billion to community colleges to create and maintain educational and training programs for Americans seeking employment. The Affordable Care Act portion of the 2010 bill extends student coverage under parents’ health insurance until the age of 26, providing additional time for students to save money to pay back loans or pay for graduate schooling. Obama demonstrated his belief in the importance of investing in education by expanding the Hope Scholarship Credit with the American Opportunity Tax Credit in 2009, which provides up to $10,000 of tax credit to families over a fouryear period. Families with household incomes of up to $180,000 can benefit from these tax credits. Furthermore, Obama extended the tax credit through the 2012 tax year with the Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2010. In 2011, he restructured the Income-Based Repayment Plan with the Pay As You Earn Act. This lowered the amount of loan payments from 15% to 10% of a student’s discretionary income. Additionally, students would be forgiven their remaining payments after 20 years instead of the original 25-year cap. Last summer, as interest rates on government-subsidized Stafford loans were threatening to double, Obama fought to leave them intact at 3.4%. This ultimately saved students thousands of dollars over

the life of the loan. He is also simplifying loan payments for some students by offering them the possibility of consolidation on the Federal Family Education Loan and the Direct Loan. Students would receive an interest rate deduction of one-half a percentage point, saving them additional money. Obama has come down with an iron fist on for-profit Universities that inadequately fulfill promises to place post-grad students into employment. Taxpayer money and federal funding no longer support for-profit Universities that fail to produce sufficient hiring rates for graduates. The standard for programs receiving 90% or more of their profit from taxpayer-supported federal funding will require hiring rates of 35% or greater. Not only will this ensure that taxpayer dollars are being used appropriately, but it will ensure that students are getting what they are paying for.

The Next Four Years

to government-subsidized bank lending and soaring interest rates. Whereas Romney has no interest in maintaining low interest rates on government subsidized loans, Obama demonstrated his support this past summer in keeping interest rates at a reasonable level (the current 3.4%). The American people can expect the same dedication over the next 4 years. In the private sector, Obama will continue to supervise success rates of forprofit universities to ensure that they adhere to job placement rates required to receive funding from the government. In addition to the existing provisions of the Income-Based Repayment Plan, for those whose debt is greater than their income after graduation, the government would pay the interest of the loan for three years. Additionally, post-graduates who work in public service jobs may be eligible for loan forgiveness after 10 years.

With so much already accomplished, sustaining these bills over the next four years will be critical for the continued wellbeing of student finances. In furthering his support of Pell Grants, Obama’s plan will increase the maximum possible award every year by the rate of inflation plus 1%. By 2019, the maximum award is projected to increase from $5,550 (today) to $6,900. Not only does this reflect a $1,350 savings, but it will also result in an additional $1000+ in interest savings per student over the life of their loan. Paul Ryan’s proposed deficit-cutting strategy is to cut $15 billion from the Pell Grant fund. Though Romney has not explicitly pledged or denounced this financial plan, he has expressed his support of private lending, suggesting a return


Obama will maintain the Affordable Care Act throughout his second term, keeping young adults under the protection of their parent’s coverage. However, one of Romney’s top goals if he were to take over the Oval Office would be to slash funding for Obama’s healthcare act. In light of Romney’s lack of support for public education, it comes as no surprise that a 2012 Millennial Values and Voter Engagement survey recently reported an increase in support for Obama to 55% amongst 18-25 year-olds. Romney’s support from this demographic reached

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only 39%. Should Romney win the presidency, the goal for the United States to amass the greatest number of college graduates by 2020 will become unattainable. In light of this, the voice of new voters between the ages of 18 and 21, 7.5% of the eligible voting population, will be crucial in the upcoming election. President Obama has made access to higher education one of his main priorities for the current generation of college age students as well as for the prospective college students of future generations. Education is power—and Obama will continue to invest in it accordingly.

WHY BOTH CANDIDATES ARE WRONG ON CHINA: Rethinking the Relationship with America’s Biggest Trade Partner

BY ANGIE GOULD Photo credits: education-college/pell-grants/federal-pellgrants-and-stafford-loans.shtml

The United States-China diplomatic relationship has achieved an elevated profile in recent months due to the approach of (possible) leadership changes in both countries. In the United States presidential election, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama have centered much of the foreign policy debate on China, proposing moderately different ideas on how to best deal with the world’s second largest economy. Romney espouses a hard-line stance: declaring China a “currency manipulator,” possibly enacting tariffs, and strengthening the US navy in the Pacific. He


does not shy from calling China a “cheater” and is critical of Beijing’s intentions in the South China Sea. Obama takes a similar but more restrained approach, advocating a continuation of his “Asia pivot” policy, which calls for a modest projection of military power and increased diplomacy in the Pacific. He has recently demonstrated a willingness to bend to populist anti-China sentiment by filing a trade complaint with the WTO regarding subsidization of Chinese exports. News that the House Intelligence Committee believes Chinese telecom companies ZHE and Huawei

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to be national security risks will only add fuel to the fire, making an already difficult relationship only harder moving forward. Regardless of the results of the American election, the mirroring Chinese leadership transition promises to be a huge obstacle for the victor’s administration, which will have to establish fresh ties with a new governing body in Beijing while addressing a multitude of preexisting issues. The most pressing problems are the recent displays of aggression in the South China Sea, which culminated this fall in a standoff with Japan over the Senkakus/Diaoyu islands, and the current prospect of a Chinese “hard landing,” which has dampened economic prospects for the near future. A number of long-term constraints accentuate these current problems: a rising undercurrent of nationalist sentiment, changing economic conditions, and social unrest all jeopardize regional stability and risk conflict. Washington and Beijing should move to work together on addressing these problems, recognizing that the current approach hasn’t done the job for what could be each nation’s most valuable relationship. The next administration must start by presenting a stronger case for embracing individual freedom and human rights, framing the discussion in terms of China’s long-term interests. Washington needs to convince Beijing that a strong, established, and free middle class, protected economically and socially, works in both U.S. and Chinese interests: strengthening Beijing’s steps towards long-term stability, boosting domestic demand, and opening a massive market for global suppliers. If not, the prospect of an unhealthy China will threaten the entire international economy: with almost 10% of the world’s

economic output and 20% of the world’s population, China’s problems are global issues, and promise to have significant repercussions across the world. The current US-Chinese relationship, unfortunately, is toxic. Beijing suspects that the Obama administration’s recent “Asia pivot” is working directly against its interests, denying the country a leadership role that it feels it deserves. Leaders in Washington have answered by lecturing China on their human rights violations, trade practices, and religious persecution, framing the discussion in what Beijing deems a patronizing and condescending tone. Calling to mind past conflicts where policies of appeasement have failed, “China-bashers” thrive off a populist fear of America’s greatest economic competitor, but take a tone that will forever doom the relationship. Take, for instance, Henry Kissinger—arguably the “founder” of the modern U.S.China relationship—who has called recent campaign remarks on China “deplorable.” Unfortunately, there is little hope for change in the near term: the current political climate in the United States only seems to encourage leaders to lecture Beijing on good governance, which to date has only offended Chinese diplomats and proven counterproductive. The next administration in Washington should work to reframe the relationship as constructive rather than condescending and their long-term interests as shared rather than opposed.

Economic Constraints on a Long-Term Relationship A new attitude will be critical as China faces a growing list of problems in the coming years, internal issues that many emerging nations have faced before. One popular


comparison to the current economic climate is 1980s Japan, where heavy government investment in the economy spurred a huge increase in GDP per capita (from $9,308 in 1980 to $25,124 in 1991 according to the World Bank) and bolstered Japanese technology companies. U.S. producers feared for their economic future as brands like Toyota, Sony, and Toshiba took over market share in traditionally American markets, subsidized by an undervalued currency and active government policy. Politicians in the United States railed against these trade practices, which they saw as unfair, and pondered a more protectionist stance, mirroring current political discourse on China. As the 1990s arrived, however, Japan’s overborrowing, overinvestment, and overspending came full circle, resulting in an asset pricing bubble that eventually burst. The Bank of Japan saw inflationary signs but by the time it raised interest rates, it was too late and the economy stalled. High government debt restrained attempts to fight the downturn, a result of attempts during the nation’s meteoric rise to redistribute income. As the population “grayed,” the system became overburdened and the government struggled to meet its commitments, preventing it from adequately addressing the recessionary conditions that characterized much of the 1990s for Japan. China is in a similar position now. Consumption makes up only 34% of GDP (it makes up over 70% of U.S. GDP), suggesting a reliance on unsustainable contributions from exports and investment. China has tried to avoid Japan’s experiences by increasing real wages and expanding welfare programs, a path that promises to be mired in difficulty. Take, for instance, the nation’s rural health-insurance employment program, which The

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A five year graph of the U.S. dollar to Chinese yuan: reflects the weakening yuan since the beginning of the current recession Economist estimates to have provided coverage to 240 million new people in the last decade. The change, while comparatively small in a nation of 1.4 billion, is almost as large as the total population of the United States. Obviously there will be a struggle to support the burden of health payments for several hundred million people, especially in the face of the country’s one-child policy: while there are currently five workers per retiree in China, that number is projected to fall to two in the next twenty years. Leaders in Beijing should study the many attempts at welfare in Europe and America and select a policy that will be sustainable under unfavorable long-term circumstances. If not, they will face an increasingly difficult fiscal and economic situation that will complicate long-term political ambitions and broader regional stability.

Observers in Beijing say that the expansion of welfare is likely to be accompanied by a rise in real wages, a process that looks to have already begun. Most economists agree that the Chinese yuan is undervalued, and even Beijing has shown a recent reluctance to keep its value pegged so low (as of October 12th the yuan was trading against the US dollar at its highest level since China began trading on the domestic exchange market 18 years ago). The muted reaction of Beijing to the recent economic slowdown, compared to the 4-trillion-yuan spending program it enacted in 2008, reflects these inflationary concerns and a Hayekian concern for malinvestment. As the government shifts its economic policy accordingly, real wages will increase relative to other emerging markets, causing China’s huge trade surplus to balance out. Of course, this balancing effect will be


felt across all of China’s trade relationships, allowing for a natural change that U.S. politicians have been trying to force for years. The next administration in Washington should therefore moderate its stance on economic issues. Pushing China to make changes that are already happening will accomplish nothing. Instead, the United States should shift its focus to social issues, noneconomic factors that will not only constrain China’s development in the coming years, but define it as well. Unfortunately, the Japanese example fails to capture this crucial dimension of China’s social outlook in several aspects. First, investment in technology and research powered Japan’s economic growth, as opposed to China’s, which has mostly been in industry and infrastructure. Second, China has exhibited a far more ambitious foreign policy than

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Japan, which was dramatically restricted in the post-WWII global order established in the wake of its 1945 surrender. Chinese diplomacy, driven by an aggressive push of nationalism in recent years, promises to have a huge impact on the country’s global role in the future. Third, the Chinese have been plagued by a wide array of human rights and social issues that could jeopardize their lofty economic and political plans for the 21st century. Finding a nation that faced similar noneconomic circumstances could be instructive and prescriptive for leaders in Beijing and Washington.

Social Constraints on a Long-Term Relationship In fact, the history of the United States demonstrates the social situation of China with surprising accuracy. At the turn of the century, the United States was a booming but unstable industrial power with a keen interest on taking a leadership role on the world level. It had just assumed the role of the world’s most dominant economic power, but many problems still faced Theodore Roosevelt’s administration. Rampant government corruption, abysmally low wages, and a laissez faire approach to regulation had led to huge income disparities. Human rights problems—including persistent civil rights violations, an imbalance of gender rights, and poor working conditions—promoted tension, division, and instability in a rapidly growing American nation. European leaders showed some reluctance to hand power over to Roosevelt, who was—at the time—seen as an unproven and volatile personality. Chinese leaders that find themselves in a similar position now with America should examine how the United States improved their own fortunes in a similar position

to become the world’s predominant superpower. To begin, the 1900s brought a strong wave of reform, which worked to strengthen and protect human rights, improve working and living conditions, and enshrine the individual’s political voice. The “muckrakers” pushed through reforms breaking up domineering monopolies and confronting the corrupt party machines that had characterized 19th century American politics, proposing difficult but necessary solutions to the problems of modernization. As China experiences the same transition, it should note that in the United States, human rights reforms preceded the creation of welfare programs. Entitlements weren’t passed on a significant level until 1930s Great Depression legislation, after the United States had spent almost 200 years fortifying individual liberties and rights. The second welfare wave—under Johnson in the 1960s—was accompanied by a huge step forward in civil rights. America has based the framework for its independence, its governance, and its future on human rights; its policy regarding China should be no different. It still has a lot of work to do on that front. Government censors in China limit information and free speech on a daily basis. Critics and dissidents are locked away or silenced. It would be foolish to assume this doesn’t jeopardize balance and stability: according to a European Union-funded report by the Europe China Research and Advice Network, incidents of unrest increased from 8,700 in 1993 to 87,000 in 2005 (when the Ministry of Public Security stopped publishing the statistic). The Tibetan riots of 2008 and the recent Foxconn riots both illustrate discontent among neglected minorities, and the destruction of Japanese businesses over the Senkakus/Diaoyu


Islands reflect signs of social angst. Beijing must be convinced that this instability will continue as long as the average citizen is denied free speech, property rights, and the right to a fair trial. Washington needs to establish the connection between advances in human rights and long-term economic growth to make the case that government works for its people, not against it. If not, progressively larger societal movements threaten to rock Chinese society to the point of catastrophe.

Tibetan protesters burning a Chinese flag in 2008: signs of backlash from China’s human rights policy

Addressing the Future of the U.S./China Relationship Current attempts to make the U.S./ China relationship more cooperative have been hampered by a fear of China’s political rise, which has been suggested to be detrimental to U.S. interests. Skeptics should consider that one hundred years ago, reluctant European leaders ended up ceding sovereignty of the Americas to President Roosevelt and his Corollary to the Monroe

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Doctrine. Did they even have a choice? Most historical observers would probably agree that with the United States’ industrial strength at the time, political growth was somewhat inevitable. The country’s increased external focus was a natural extension of its growing nationalist sentiment and its “manifest destiny,” which had been halted at the Pacific during the middle of the 19th century. As American voters subsequently looked outwards, they began to elect leaders with activist foreign policies that cemented the nation’s superpower status: both Roosevelts, Wilson, Kennedy, and Reagan. China is now seeing similar levels of nationalism and growth. Should the U.S. allow them to grow as Europe allowed 100 years ago? Proposing to cede any power to China certainly won’t be popular in America. There will always be a sizeable “anti-China” vote that paints the success of a Chinese state as distinctly counter to American strategic interests and sees any increase in cooperation as “appeasement.” The Economist dismantles this claim by using the “poster child” for appeasement’s failures: 20th century Germany. Taking an unconventional point of view, this argument suggests that the violent nationalist explosion of the 1930s and 1940s was not enabled by the enactment of an appeasement policy, but rather the failure to enact one sooner; that by resisting the steady growth of German nationalism in the 19th century, Great Britain—the dominant world power at the time— created a build up of tension that proved disastrous down the road. Working to avoid a similar explosion with China should be an important long-term interest for the U.S., especially in the face of current economic pressures. Rather

than building a future relationship on tension and brinkmanship, the United States should seek to frame it in a cooperative light. The downside is small: due to China’s prodigious size and growing industrial strength, a rise is somewhat inevitable. It has been a traditional center of culture in Asia and there is no reason to expect that it won’t be again: a nation so massive is bound to play some role in global politics. How the United States reacts to China’s unavoidable rise will dictate whether it occurs in accordance with their own long-term interests or not. Unfortunately, the current U.S./China relationship is far too ineffective to allow for a mutually beneficial long-term relationship, a reality the United States doesn’t seem to realize. Earlier this year, Gallup polled 63% of U.S. adults as saying that relations with China were “friendly” and 13% as saying the U.S. and China were allies. By comparison, similar polling data released in October by the Pew Research Center found that only 40% of the Chinese public believes the U.S./ China relationship to be cooperative (a decrease from nearly 70% in 2010), and that 26% sees the relationship as “hostile” (vs. 8% in 2010). This recent decay of trust, if allowed to continue, will have huge implications for the future of the relationship, a problem unlikely to be altered by the coming presidential election. Proposals of both candidates force an escalation of tension and fail to address China’s destabilizing human rights problems in a constructive manner. The Obama administration has said that it would continue its “Asia pivot” strategy if reelected, a policy that has been criticized as underfunded and insincere due to shrinking fiscal capabilities. Furthermore, although the

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administration’s policy of avoiding human rights issues to deal with economic or environmental policy is commendable for its pragmatism, it has trivialized the social issues and allowed for the growth of a more aggressive Chinese foreign policy. A Mitt Romney presidency, on the other hand, offers a confrontational stance, vowing to “crack down” on Chinese trade practices and oppose it with greater naval force in the Pacific, effectively doubling down on the “deplorable” China rhetoric made on the campaign trail. China wants to be considered an equal on the world stage, and will continue to be offended by U.S. policy that conveys a strong sense of superiority. With its size and industrial might, China is bound to eventually satisfy its desire for political importance, through legitimate means or force. The United States needs to ensure that China is ready for this role. Leaders in Washington should start by seeking a way to convince Beijing of the value of individual freedom and human rights, which may be easier than it sounds. The same Pew Research Center poll released in October that reflected an offended Chinese public also showed that 74% of respondents admired free market values and 52% favored U.S. democratic ideals. After all, they have no reason to have a problem with these values: in the three decades since China turned to “freer” enterprise, its GDP per capita has increased from around $300 to $4354 (an increase of over 1400%). Washington only needs to point out how tremendously China has benefitted from a partial embrace of these individualist ideals and question why it has resisted further implementation. An improved diplomatic relationship would pay big dividends to

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the United States in the long run as well, primarily by avoiding an increase in defense commitments under long-term budgetary constraints. Although national security has generally received carte blanche from American voters in the last decade, the approaching fiscal cliff in December shows that even the Department of Defense may face future cuts. And why shouldn’t it? With domestic spending under incredible long-term pressure, the $600 billion national security bill should be subjected to similar scrutiny. Obviously, maintaining a strong military at all times is vital, but the government should consider how to promote a foreign policy that will require deployment of that force less and less. The United States should also recognize that shouldering the security burden in an increasingly multipolar world is impractical, and that as other countries profit more from the global economy, they should be expected to contribute to ensuring its stability. To continue insisting on the dominance of American moral values in a patronizing tone reflects an outdated vision of world dominance, and ignores the massive strides made by emerging markets in the last century. The United States shouldn’t resist this change: it is an encouraging result of the leadership the U.S. has exhibited over the past century. Leaders in Washington should instead work to ensure that this new, multipolar era of world affairs is more stable and secure than the last, not by adding to America’s responsibilities, but by ensuring that more nations can take part in the defense of shared global interests.

WHY WOMEN SHOULD VOTE DEMOCRATIC When it comes to the progress of American women, this is the election of a generation. One of the most glaring distinctions between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama is their ideological split on women’s issues, and these issues alone are reason enough to vote for President Obama. The first law that President Obama signed once in office was the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. This strong anti gender-discrimination legislation aims to ensure equitable treatment and compensation in the workplace by restructuring the system for filing gender discrimination lawsuits. In 2012, supporting legislation that advocates equal pay for women should be a no-brainer. Today, more women graduate from college and complete graduate programs than men do, so it is mind-boggling that any member of Congress could adamantly oppose an equal pay law. Yet this is exactly what the Republican vice presidential candidate did. Paul Ryan voted against the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009, and by doing so, he disrespected the women in America who work incredibly hard and at many times even outperform their male counterparts.

Reproductive rights are another essential issue in this election: the Republican ticket supports outlawing abortion, and vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan does not support exceptions even for rape or incest. The Republican Party today has become incredibly antiabortion and anti-birth control in its rhetoric, even going so far as to

BY ANDREW KLUTEY Photo credits: flag-of-the-peoples-republic-of-china/ USDCNY:CUR/chart/ popup?id=4452569)

In this struggling recovery, women are concerned about the state of the American economy--and rightfully so. Rising health care costs are an impediment to economic recovery and pose hardships for all people, regardless of gender, around the country. For years insurance companies got away with charging women higher premiums than men, as if being a woman was a pre-existing condition. Thanks to Obamacare, this practice is now against the law. Obamacare represents a resounding victory for women’s health. Insurance companies can no longer discriminate based on gender and must provide free preventative care for services such as mammograms. Early detection makes all the difference for a disease like breast cancer, which affects one in eight women in the United States. Obamacare gives women access to these life-saving procedures, which many could not otherwise afford. Thanks to President Obama, women now have increased access to birth control, more choices when it comes to healthcare, and the guarantee that no one can be denied care based on any type of preexisting condition. Republicans condemn Obamacare as an encroachment on individual rights, but they do not offer any viable solutions of their own for improving women’s health.

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ignore the facts of science. Republican Missouri senatorial candidate Todd Akin argued that women have a biological mechanism that can shut out pregnancy in cases of “legitimate rape.” This is a ludicrous statement, but coincides with a strongly male-chauvinistic Republican party that fights to curtail abortion rights and access to birth control in America and would even overturn Roe V. Wade. Our government needs to move on from the battles of the 1970s and focus on matters pertaining to the interest of the country, rather than on private decisions between women and their doctors.

Women make up half of the country’s population, yet the media often refers to them as an “interest group.” No candidate can win without half of the electorate, and women must remember the leverage that they have on the outcome of every election. As a consistent supporter of women’s rights who has a proven record on these issues, President Obama is the only choice for women for the next four years. We shouldn’t still be fighting the battles over equal pay, health care, and reproductive rights, but the Republican Party is threatening our immense progress in these areas. The landmark victories of our mothers and grandmothers could be snatched away on the first day of a Romney presidency. Americans need four more years of Obama to ensure a lifetime of gender equality. BY ERICA TURRET

Photo credits: the-equal-pay-argument/ mo.html map/libya.gif

The Libyan Dilemma The situation in Libya is dire. Since anti-government protests started in February of 2011, sparked by the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions, Libya has been a country teetering on the brink of anarchy. In the wake of the assassination of Muammar Ghaddafi in October of last year, Libya has been continually struggling with the challenge of transitioning to a functional democratic government. The recent attack on the Libyan consulate in Benghazi that killed four Americans is a sobering reminder that the major underlying issues that plague the country have yet to be resolved.

MO Senatorial Candidate Todd Akin

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The attacks on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi were not entirely surprising. It was initially assumed that they were sparked by a poorly made YouTube film entitled, “The Real Life of Mohammad,” written and produced by Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, an Egyptian Coptic Christian and U.S. resident. The

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Libyan protestors

13-minute clip depicts gross Islamophobia and horrendous factual errors about Islam and the Prophet. After uncomfortably sitting through such an abhorrent video, I started to wonder why anyone would kill an innocent person over this. The production quality alone made me cringe and want to disregard it as unmeritorious. Although it could have been true that this clip was enough to spark violence throughout the Middle East, it seemed likely that there was another motive behind the killing of four American consulate workers, including Ambassador John Christopher Stevens, on September 11th. In the days leading up to the attack, the terrorist group Al-Qaeda had

been actively engaged in the Libyan conflict. On September 8th, AlQaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri appealed to Libyans in an Internet video, asking them to avenge the death of his Libyan deputy, Abu Yahya al-Libi. Al-Libi had been killed in a drone strike only months before. According to the initial press release, the consulate was the location of the protests provoked by the anti-Islamic video. These protests became chaotic, and led to innocent American deaths. However, new details released on October 9th by the State Department retracted the claim of protest outside the consulate; instead, they provided a detailed timeline of a preconceived terrorist attack on the government office.

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The attack in Benghazi began at around 9:40 PM. Loud noises, gunfire, and explosions were heard near the front gate of the consulate in Benghazi; large groups of armed men entered the compound while the alarm sounded. Foreign Service officials contacted the embassy in Tripoli, Washington officials, Libyan authorities, and a U.S. quick reaction force. Ambassador Stevens and computer specialist Sean Smith locked themselves inside a safe room that was equipped with medical supplies and water. The other Foreign Service officers locked themselves in another section of the same building. Two officers in another building of the compound barricaded themselves in, so that the attackers could not reach

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them. The attackers overran the building where Stevens and Smith were located, and set it on fire. By the time local reinforcements arrived, Smith was dead and Stevens was missing. Reinforcements from Tripoli arrived after some agents escaped from the compound, and shortly thereafter, mortar fire killed two security personnel. Eventually, the annex was secured and the Americans were evacuated by plane. Ambassador Stevens was taken to a Libyan hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 2:00 AM.

Ambassador John Christopher Stevens, who was tragically killed in the U.S. consulate attacks

President Barack Obama gave a response the following morning that was solemn and stern. In his opening statement, Obama made it clear that the United States would not tolerate religiously motivated violence, warning, “We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done.” In addition, he emphasized that the United States had respected all faiths since its founding and that there was “no justification for this senseless violence.” He spoke of the work of Ambassador Stevens in Libya and closed by saying that the legacy of the four fallen Americans continues. Overall, the speech was professional and predictable: I expected nothing less given the lack of concrete evidence. At this time, the State

Department had not had time to thoroughly investigate the murders, and therefore believed that they were a result of the protests. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton took a slightly different approach in her address: she more vehemently criticized the attacks, repeatedly saying, “there is no justification for this” and stressed that the religious display of violence was not appropriate. Furthermore, Secretary Clinton speculated that the protestors outside the consulate had imitated the Egyptian protests at the embassy in Cairo just one day prior. Unlike Obama, Clinton distinctly said, “this was an attack by a small and savage group, not the people or government of Libya.” Whether or not Clinton knew that the attack was not just a protest gone awry, we can’t be sure. Clinton was careful, however, in her address, to avoid the implication that the attacks reflected the attitudes of the general Libyan population towards America, reminding the American people that, “Libyans stood and fought to defend our post... they helped to carry Chris’ body to a hospital.” With these facts out in the open, it seemed more and more likely that the murder of four American citizens in Benghazi was the result of a terrorist attack. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, however, took this opportunity to play politics. Instead of offering his condolences to the families of the deceased, he released a statement criticizing Obama’s address: “I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi. It’s disgraceful that the Obama Administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.” Not only did

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Romney fail to convey sympathy to his own countryman, but he also failed to recognize the three other deaths. Was Romney misinformed about the situation? If so, how could he criticize the president’s management? It is true that President Obama could have been a little more inflamed in his statement to the world. However, given the unclear circumstances, the path that he took was best. It is better to not be presumptuous in the beginning of an investigation and to later emphatically condemn the attacks than to ardently condemn them in the beginning, without complete knowledge of the situation, and have to embarrassingly retract offensive statements later. The “Statement on Developments in Egypt and Libya” cast a dark shadow over the Romney campaign when it came to the handling of sensitive issues. Senator John Kerry (D-MA), a respected American foreign policy expert and Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, thought that the presidential candidate was out of line. “Gov. Romney’s comments are about as inappropriate as anything I have ever seen at this kind of a moment,” he told the Associated Press. The biggest problem was not that Romney’s statement was disrespectful of the President; rather, it was his relative lack of compassion directed towards the victims and their families. If Mitt Romney had wanted to impress voters with his criticism of the President, he could have at least been more honorable and paid homage to our fallen countrymen. Since his initial speech regarding the murder of four American consulate workers in Libya, the President has corrected his statement to reflect the evidence: that the event of September 11th 2012 was, in fact, a preconceived terrorist

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attack. We have yet to see what the President will choose as his next course of action, but for now, we can be certain that Obama will take every precaution to ensure that he is well-informed before doing anything rash. We can also be assured that he is professional enough to make sure that honoring American heroes takes priority over playing politics. BY KATRINA BUSHKO Photo credits: Everyone%20Else/pages-15/Libyans-killUS-Ambassador-because-the-place-is-stilla-dirt-hole-Scrape-TV-The-World-on-yourside-2012-09-12.html

The LGBT struggle is a reason to vote for President Obama this election, especially if you don’t care about politics. “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” - Martin Luther King We are cognitively wired to fail to see injustice. The just-world fallacy, for one, is the well-studied phenomenon of our natural psychological tendency to assume that people deserve their fates. When we see a businessperson walk by a homeless man on the street, for example, we are likely to believe that the businessperson must have worked harder, despite not knowing the details of either person’s life. Was the homeless man’s job outsourced? Was the businessperson born into a wealthy family and sent to the best schools money could buy? We

don’t know, but we assume the answer. The same goes for other disadvantaged groups; uninformed, we assume that everyone has had a fair shot, and from this assumption we might see LGBT advocacy as a bit overblown. You can fight this bias by becoming informed. LGBT persons are regarded by the legal and political systems of our society as second-class citizens. It is permissible to discriminate based on sexual orientation in thirty-nine states, and impermissible to marry the person you love in forty-four, if that person happens to have the same number of X chromosomes

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as you. Landlords can deny you housing because they don’t like who you love, companies can refuse to hire you even when you’re overqualified for the job, and with a few federal exceptions, parties have general license to treat you differently just because you’re gay. Culturally, too, the oppression suffered by LGBT individuals is undeniable. Gay youth are three to four times more likely to attempt suicide, 2011 was a record year for hate crimes against LGBT individuals, according to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, and over 90% of LGBT youth report being bullied. Adult social cruelty is both widespread and difficult

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to quantify. The statistics, however, do not nearly communicate the actuality of the circumstances, just as reading a book on war will never compare with actually going through it. Mothers and fathers have died in hospitals while their children and life-long partners were denied visitation rights. Human beings have been beaten to death for no reason other than being gay. Brilliant people have been driven to kill themselves because of the sheer amount of hurt directed at them. LGBT people – between four and ten percent of the US population, depending on how one estimates demographics – are firefighters, politicians, teachers, and come from every other walk of life. Chances are, some of your friends are LGBT. You grab late meal at Frist with them, pull all-nighters to finish problem sets with them, and carry them home from the Street when they’re too drunk to walk. To you, “LGBT” is an attribute like “green-eyed”: distinguishing, in a technical sense, but not in a fundamental way. And yet, LGBT people are regarded by the legal, political, and cultural systems of our society as fundamentally different, fundamentally inferior, and fundamentally “other.” As college students, most of us live lives which are, frankly, morally boring. We live comfortable lives. This election, however, is a real chance to help shape the character of the society into which you will emerge as an adult. And the difference between the presidential candidates is extremely stark.

The progress under Obama has been extraordinary.

You’re probably aware of the largest changes. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, a military policy prohibiting homosexuals from serving openly, was ended on September 20, 2011. The President stated his personal support for same-sex marriage in May, and for the first time ever, marriage equality was incorporated into the Democratic platform in September. There have also been, however, many other changes. Just within government, Obama appointed more openly LGBT officials than any other president in US history, extended federal equal-opportunity policies to include sexual orientation, and ordered that benefits for married federal employees be extended to same-sex couples. More generally, Obama has mandated visitation and decisionmaking rights for LGBT couples in hospitals accepting Medicare and Medicaid, extended protection of unpaid leave for family reasons to same-sex couples, and allowed immigration officials to use samesex relationships as a grounds for deferring deportation. Finally, on an international scale, he ended the ban on HIV/AIDS-positive people entering the US, established LGBT

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discrimination internationally as a goal of US agencies, and co-sponsored the first United Nations resolution specifically directed towards LGBT rights. Each of these measures deserves an article on its own. Whether he’s creating a National Resource Center for LGBT seniors, or recording an “It Gets Better” video for LGBT youth, it’s clear that our president cares. The regression under Romney would be equally dramatic. Romney has declared his clear support for a ban on gay marriage, opposes federal employment protections, and even supports allowing states to ban civil unions, which would roll back progress to the previous century. In short, Romney opposes, or has opposed, practically everything Obama has done for LGBT rights. Romney once said to an LGBT woman, during his work as governor, “I didn’t know you had families.” As a Massachusetts governor, he dissolved the state’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian youth,

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blocked an anti-bullying guide’s release because it contained reference to bisexuality and transgendered individuals, and testified against marriage equality in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. If his actions as governor are any sign, a Romney presidency would be a massive regression.

Go out and vote! It’s true that politics, at times, can seem petty and meaningless. Entire news cycles are dominated by a single gaffe, headlines about political gridlock appear much more often than those about accomplishments, and politicians sometimes only make the news for cheating on their wives or making racist or sexist remarks. Even when the conversation does seem to be substantive, much of it can seem distant, almost irrelevant, to the average denizen of the Orange Bubble. Politics often seems like

just another reality show – another realm of information that doesn’t ever seem entirely “real” – competing for attention with Honey Boo Boo, the latest episode of Glee, or that problem set due tomorrow that hasn’t really been started. Politics does not usually touch most of our sheltered lives even as much as homework does. However, the issue of LGBT equality really does affect our lives, whether we acknowledge it or not, because it’s not a process conducted in government which impacts society. It’s something that permeates all human life – one person loving another – yet has become subject to discrimination by government, by employers, and by individuals. It is not an inherently political act to love somebody. That’s a private matter between two people. It’s only because we make it so, that it becomes part of the same category as debt ceilings and agency

rulemaking, back-room horse-trading and off-budget earmarking. In a way, then, this is your reason to vote, precisely if you don’t normally care about politics. Because, with your help, one day it won’t really be a political issue anymore, the same way that slavery and women’s suffrage are no longer “political” in the sense of being debated and run on. They are, after all, issues on which we take our modern views for granted. For our modern society, they have become moral certainties. And so should LGBT equality. BY BENJAMIN CHANG Photo credits: hopkins-nurses-to-learn-lgbt-culturalcompetency/ hopkins-nurses-to-learn-lgbt-culturalcompetency/


Obamacare It’s here – finally. Election Day is just around the corner, and as we look forward to another Obama victory, we simultaneously look back to reflect on the President’s accomplishments. These include eliminating Osama Bin Laden as a terrorist threat, ending the Iraq War, and perhaps most notably, passing the most comprehensive piece of healthcare reform since Medicare and Medicaid. As a result, millions of Americans now have access to health insurance—something every citizen undeniably needs and deserves as a basic right.

But this is not news—and, while the overarching implications of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, affectionately known as Obamacare, are appreciated and understood, it is important to consider how this legislation actually affects us as Princeton students. After all, Princetonians are afforded certain resources and opportunities unavailable to most Americans; as a result, we may think that Obamacare will not improve our lives. But, that is not true. In fact, multiple provisions of the new healthcare law will substantively benefit us and impact our lives as college students.

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• Young adults can remain on their parents’ health insurance plan until the age of 26. For Princetonians intimidated by the prospect of finding their own health insurance: don’t despair! Under Obamacare, we can continue to be listed as “dependents” on our parents’ plan for years after we graduate, regardless of whether or not we attend graduate school, live at home, or get married.

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• Women and men can receive unprecedented preventative care for free. For Princeton students who want to keep the economic costs of healthcare low by proactively addressing potential dangers: under Obamacare, women have access to well-woman visits, FDA-approved contraception, HIV screenings, and many additional health services. In addition, both men and women can receive general preventative care such as cholesterol, blood pressure, and cancer screenings along with flu shots and other immunizations for free.

insurance exchanges, in which we can directly compare similar plans offered by myriad insurers to understand and choose between variations in services and price.

• Insurers will no longer be able to deny anyone coverage, or charge varying rates based on pre-existing health conditions. Some Princetonians may worry that their history of serious illnesses—even minor issues of acne and asthma—will prevent them from finding coverage. However, under Obamacare, insurance companies must offer coverage to all interested consumers, regardless of preexisting conditions, and cannot change rates based on health status or gender.

• Online insurance marketplaces will take effect in 2014, allowing consumers to shop – literally – on the Internet for • Insurers must spend at insurance plans. least 80% of the money they For Princetonians who prefer to receive on direct healthcare remain informed when making benefits. decisions: Obamacare creates a regulated market for online health

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For those Princeton students concerned about how their money is being used: under Obamacare, health providers must allocate at least 80% of their budget to medical care and improvements in service quality. If more than 20% is spent on overhead costs—such as advertising, salaries, and bonuses—then companies must provide consumer rebates. ________________ The prospect of graduation, jobhunting, and full-fledged adulthood is undeniably scary. But thanks to Obamacare, we can confidently erase “health insurance” from our list of worries. President Obama’s guarantee that all of us Princetonians will be able to find and afford quality insurance ensures that we can enjoy our time at “the best old place of all” in good health for the next few years and beyond. BY EVE BARNETT Photo credit:

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The Princeton Progressive Nation, October/November 2012  

Princeton University's only student-run, left-leaning political publication presents "Election 2012"!

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