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Posts Tagged ‘theodore roosevelt’

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.

What are you worth to yourself?

In Health, Quotes on October 26, 2010 at 11:52 pm

Today is the last day of Theodore Roosevelt Week. Tomorrow is his birthday (October 27th). As such, let us remember the great man with the following quote which, I feel, best exemplifies what it means to not only be an America, but, in fact, a citizen of the world, so to speak. The world that, thus far, only exists in the realm of ideas:

I am an American; free born and free bred, where I acknowledge no man as my superior, except for his own worth, or as my inferior, except for his own demerit.

Let me alter that line for our more progressive 21st Century: “Where I acknowledge no person as my superior, except for their own worth, or as my inferior, except for their own demerit.”

I leave you to your own thought. To take out of that quote what you will.

But, what do I take out of it? I take out of it these question: What are you worth to yourself? How do you define yourself within the sphere of community?

I would be interested in hearing just how you (as in the reader) literally define yourself. What criteria do you use to judge you and those around you?

Determining one’s standing

In Health, Political, Quotes on October 25, 2010 at 10:28 pm

This is Day 6. Two more day’s until T.R.’s birthday. His 152nd birthday to be exact.

There are good men and bad men of all nationalities, creeds and colors; and if this world of ours is ever to become what we hope some day it may become, it must be by the general recognition that the man’s heart and soul, the man’s worth and actions, determine his standing.

This quote ties in well to yesterday’s in that both deal with merit. This line, however, also brings to the table the notion of equality and how we should “judge” an individuals worth by their actions, ideas and personality. This is a powerful notion well worth striving for, especially in an election year where we go about the business of deciding who to best represent our interests. We judge those candidates not only on their ideas, but on their personality, intellect and practical actions.

Or at least we should, anyways.

In case any readers were curious all of the quotes I have used come from the Theodore Roosevelt Association. They have a nice little section called “In His Own Words” which has been very helpful during these blog posts.

A Square Deal for all

In Health, Political, Quotes on October 24, 2010 at 11:58 pm

Do I sense something akin to communism (little “c”)?

Let the watchwords of all our people be the old familiar watchwords of honesty, decency, fair-dealing, and commonsense…we must treat each man on his worth and merits as a man. We must see that each is given a square deal, because he is entitled to no more and should receive no less…the welfare of each of us is dependent fundamentally upon the welfare of all of us.

Maybe, maybe not. But, the idea of an individual being appraised based solely on their merits is a fine one indeed.

Also, I changed up the featured image. I thought I’d try something new.

Theodore Roosevelt wants you to criticize the president

In Political, Quotes on October 23, 2010 at 11:59 pm

Who can possibly disagree with this?

The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else.

Well, I’m sure a fascist or Stalinist would, easy.

This quote is important to remember, especially in response to the elected officials of recent memory. We had way too much of this “don’t judge the president” business with George W. Bush and now I, as a liberal, face the same problem with our current President for whom I voted for. I think he’s fantastic, and is the only person I would ever not address by his first name, but this “yes, no wait” policy with Don’t Ask Don’t Tell really gets under my skin. To say nothing of his bailout of the auto industry.

To be concise: We should try and do our best to not keep silent for the sake of “the party”, not when “the party” is the people themselves. We cast ballots, and those ballots determine who speaks for us and who doesn’t. People can feel, as it is their right to feel whatever they want, that their voice doesn’t matter. That the majority will rule, regardless. Well, yes, the majority will always rule, but having a voice is better then no voice at all.

Or is it?

Feel free to criticize me, by the way. I’m open to reasonable and intelligent discourse anytime.

Putting women on an equal footing

In Political, Quotes on October 22, 2010 at 11:31 pm

This is why I love T.R.

“Much can be done by law towards putting women on a footing of complete and entire equal rights with man – including the right to vote, the right to hold and use property, and the right to enter any profession she desires on the same terms as the man…Women should have free access to every field of labor which they care to enter, and when their work is as valuable as that of a man it should be paid as highly.” – An Autobiography, 1913.

This was 97 years ago. Before the 19th Amendment, before the pill, before Betty Friedan. There’s a reason the man was called a Progressive.
Did you know he also wrote his B.A. thesis on women’s rights? Awesome.

A Vote is Like a Rifle

In Political, Quotes on October 21, 2010 at 11:56 pm

A vote is like a rifle; its usefulness depends upon the character of the user.

I thought this was a particularly pertinent quip considering that this year is an election year.

I would write more but I find myself in the middle of writing a speech I’m giving tomorrow on the halberd.

The Man in the Arena

In Political, Quotes on October 20, 2010 at 7:59 pm

Today is the first day of Theodore Roosevelt Week wherein I post a particularly quotable Rooseveltian gem and comment on it. This quote below is from a well-circulated speech entitled “Citizenship in a Republic.” It is one of his most famous speeches. Since I am particularly tired this evening all I will say is that this is one of my most favorite quotes of all time. Period. Enjoy.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. 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, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. – From a speech at the Sorbonne, April 23, 1910.

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.

Theodore Roosevelt Week: October 20-26

In Political on October 19, 2010 at 12:54 am

I declare that the week leading up to Theodore Roosevelt’s birthday (Oct. 26th) shall be “Theodore Roosevelt Week”. Every day during said week I shall post a quote I think particularly excellent of the man, as well as fun facts, pictures and where to find fan paraphernalia (yes, seriously — I’m even wearing a “Teddy” shirt as we speak).

What could be better during an election cycle then to look back (and up) to one of the highest ranked presidents of all time?

As George Santayana once said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” So, hopefully, we can all learn a little something from Colonel Roosevelt during the week, aye?