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Posts Tagged ‘republicans’

You can’t spell “marriage” without “mar”.

In Health, Justice, Political on December 17, 2010 at 4:53 pm

An article on Huffington Post writes that House Republicans just voted down the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act of 2010. Almost everything you need to know about the bill is in the title. The major “problem” Republicans had with the bill (even those who initially supported it) is that it uses taxpayer money for abortion. Yep, once again a largely male congress is trying to legislate against a women’s uterus. The disappointing thing? (Other then the bills defeat?) Desmond Tutu and Mary Robinson (the former president of Ireland) both wrote Op-Ed columns supporting America’s finally speaking out against such marriages. Wow. Once again I am OH SO PROUD to be an American.

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Guest Column: What to do in the aftermath of the Midterm Election

In Guest Columns, Political, UAF on November 8, 2010 at 6:58 pm

“So, what SHOULD we be doing now?”
James Shewmake
Guest Columnist

Midterm Election season is over and gone are the campaign ads and annoying robocalls, at least for now. What this election really meant and how it will shape the nation remains to be seen and there is plenty of speculation and attempts at precognition out there amongst the professional pundits, so I will spare you my analysis. The real question that comes to my mind in the wake of this topsy-turvy anything goes election cycle is “So, what SHOULD we be doing now?”

For many people, the answer is simple. They will slip back into the shadows, content that they have won the day for/against such and such ideology. Others are already looking to the next election, trying to figure out what went wrong and what was done right, and what moves are needed for the future. And yet others will continue to sit out of the whole process, convinced that neither party represents their interests. In my time of working behind the scenes in party politics, this is the most frustrating mindset to encounter. There’s no denying that both parties have their flaws, but in my experience the greatest flaw of the party system is one that is so easily fixed. It’s called “participation”. You see, any organization, be it political party, local church, Boy Scout troop, or book club, is only as good as the people who participate in it.

So if you want to make an impact on Alaskan or American politics, get involved! It’s a great way to be informed about what’s going on, who the candidates and elected officials are and what they really stand for, and to ensure that the two party system works effectively. If you are a student at UA-Fairbanks, there are groups for both college Republicans and Democrats, as well as regional party affiliates to the state party organizations. I won’t lie, it’s not always easy or rewarding, but in my opinion it beats sitting on the sidelines. To quote Theodore Roosevelt, “It is not the critic who counts… The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings…” So I encourage young people to take up the fight, be the change you want to see in the world, and contribute to the political discussion in the state, because it’s your future too.

Disclosure: James Shewmake is the Vice President of the Alaska Young Democrats and student leader of the UAF Campus Democrats club. He has been active in party politics since 2002.

2 DEMS, 1 SENATE

In Political on October 28, 2010 at 10:44 pm

I am going to come right out and say it: I am going to be more opinionated in this post than I usually allow myself to get.

Has anyone caught the latest poll on Alaska’s senatorial race? If not, go here. If those of you would prefer something other then the Huffington Post, then by all means go here.

For those out of the loop: The Hays Research Group published a poll that was first picked up (if I am not mistaken) by Jeanne Devon, aka “AKMuckraker” over at her Mudflats blog.

The essentials of the poll are this: Scott McAdams (D) is at 29%, Joe Miller (R) is at 23% and Some Mysertious Write-in Candidate is at 34%. Oh, and 13% of those polled were undecided. That’s still a lot of undecided voters.

It’s been interesting to watch the Huffington Post’s Pollster page change it’s color code for Alaska. It had bounced back and forth between light red (Lean Rep.) and a sort of malarial yellow (Toss Up). Now it’s at beige (Leaning Ind.). I’ll confess, for someone who likes bright alternating colors it’s kind of cool.

For someone who likes seeing things change right before his eyes, it is even cooler. Which leads me to another point: No one knows what the fuck is going to happen in Alaska on November 2. If a lot of Democrats and Independents vote their conscience, McAdams definitely has a shot. A real, actual “OMG ‘2 Dems 1 Senate'” shot. If some Democrats and most independents get frightened about Joe Miller (and who simultaneously buy into the notion that Murkowski is Alaska’s only hope) and vote “Write-in”, then it’s going to be a toss-up between shades of red.

Believe me when I say (or don’t) that Murkowski and Miller are not that far apart politically. Yes, Miller talked an extremist game before the primary but Miller is simply pure gold: valuable to whoever controls him and as equally malleable. His back-and-forth wavering has been well documented.

Murkowski, IMO, is perhaps more willing to think for herself, and can, but will she? She’s cowtowed to the GOP during her term-and-a-half and is rated as a Hard Core Conservative on ontheissues.org. (Scroll to the bottom of the page).

Oh, and this idea that a candidate needs experience to be in the senate suffers from one gigantic flaw: How can you gain senate experience unless you actually work in the senate? Was Lisa Murkowski experienced in the senate when her father, former Governor Frank Murkowski, appointed her to replace him? No. Did Frank Murkowski himself have senate experience prior to being in the senate? No.

No one is born knowing how to do any job, and to think otherwise is a failure to think at all.

So, you know, go vote…and do your civic duty.

What Japanese history can tell us about Alaskan politics

In Alaskana, Political on October 19, 2010 at 8:27 pm

Alaskan politics has always been a little special. A little out of the ordinary.

Alaskan Republicans like their dinner with a side of socialism, and Democrats enjoy their Second Amendment rights almost as much as they love the thought of drilling in ANWR. Of course, there are plenty of those who fall on the outside of this dichotomous assumption. The individuals who display “Joe was right” stickers, or others, like my friends in the Good Daze band, who hold rallies in support of renewable energy. There is a place in Alaska for everyone. From the most liberal of bloggers to the most conservative of militia members.

A cursory survey of Japanese history shows it to be equally unique in its own right, yet painfully similar in the aggregate:

  1. Citizen soldiers. Japan has been a nation of warrior-farmers; individuals as likely to pick up the plowshares as the rifle. The same is true of Alaska where the homestead and the hunter have often gone hand-in-hand. The earliest migration to Alaska after the Gold Rush was of displaced Midwestern farmers during the Great Depression. For Japan (up until the Sword Collection Edict of Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the late 16th Century), any farmer could be a warrior. All it took to make a warrior was a sword.
  2. Homegrown spirituality. Local religious practices often win out over foreign dogmatism. While Japan battled with and/or assimilated various aspects of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Christianity into its own spirituality (a sort of Buddhist-Shinto hybrid), the same is true of Alaska. A 2009 Gallup Poll showed Alaska to be the 5th most irreligious state in the country. You will always find enclaves of the extremely religious (for example: North Pole and Mt. Hiei), but the majority of the population is incredibly anti-religious, or at best believes in a sort of “religion of the masses” (see: Pure Land Buddhism).
  3. Isolated, yet hungry. Japan, like Alaska, is isolated. While both have thrived economically, each has had to rely on the importation of goods (at one point or another) in order to expand and survive. For Japan it has been guns, lead, sugar and gold. For Alaska, it has been fruits, textiles, and the majority of our manufactured goods. Japan, I will confess, has long been the more sustainable of the two. Where is Alaska’s own Nikon, Subaru, or Kawasaki? We have what little oil remains under the North Slope. But what will become of Alaska when the pipeline runs dry?
  4. Divine personalities. Each state, both Japan and Alaska, has its own “divine” political body. For Japan, it has long been the Imperial family. For Alaska, the names Begich, Murkowski, Young and until recently, Stevens, had their own divine nature to them. Alaskans have viewed many of these individuals with great respect, enough to enable one (Don Young) to remain in his Congressional seat for 37 years, and another (Ted Stevens) to retain his for 41 years.
  5. Politically fragmented. Despite the long-reign of the Imperial family, Japan has had a fragmented political system. Japan had the Warring States period while Alaska has begun experiencing its “Warring Senate” period. Japan had no centralized authority (the emperor being merely a figure-head) for several centuries. It took the force of several well-resolved individuals to end the unrest and insure stability.Now, Alaska is facing its own period of unrest with the question of “Who will speak for us in the Senate?” being the most prominent. Alaskans are torn between three different candidates. Candidates who have almost split Alaska into political thirds. An anachronistic rephrasing of that question would be “Who will be Alaska’s Tokugawa?” Unlike Japan, Alaska is (hopefully) in the midst of a bloodless transition that will not (I assume) take hundreds of years to accomplish. However, for those who are aware of the recent Drop Zone incident, who knows?
  6. Emigration-by-proxy. Japan has had millions of its citizens emigrate to other shores. 15,000 moved to Siam alone during the feudal era, to say nothing of those that later went to Cambodia, the Philippines, Brazil and even the United States. Alaska currently suffers from its own emigration-by-way of a “brain-drain”, with many of its graduates seeking jobs and a better education in other states. Alaska is perfect for northern studies and the sciences, but not much else at the present.

What does this mean for Alaska and it’s political structure?

In my opinion, Alaska is in need of fresh political blood, term-limits and more then two dominant parties. Some of you, who’ve read my earlier blog on Lisa Murkowski’s write-in campaign know how I feel: it’s a terrible idea. But, what isn’t so bad about her running is that it proves a third-party candidate is viable. It’s been a long time since someone other then a party Democrat or Republican has done so well in an election. Or at least in the run up to an election. Alaska needs an Alaskan candidate who actually gets the state. At the risk of sounding like an Alaskan Exceptionalist, this state is unique and needs an equally unique individual to help ensure it’s survival and hopeful prosperity.