First Brexit, Now Poexit

First Brexit, Now Poexit

In light of recent controversial legal reforms, Poland has two options: face the consequences, or get out.
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Poland may soon follow Britain's footsteps in departing the European Union. The premise for a possible Poexit surfaced after the nation had received sanctions from the European Commission (the EU's main administrative entity) due to recent controversial judicial reforms that occurred in the land.

The European Commission has stated the rightwing government's proposed legal reforms would introduce a "clear risk of a serious breach in the rule of law". Frans Timmermans, vice president of the European Commission, also voiced his concern over Poland's legal route. Timmermans stated the 13 laws embraced by the legal system over the past two years had made it so the Polish government "can systematically politically interfere with the composition, powers, the administration and the functioning" of the judiciary.

Despite the European Commission's sanctions, Polish Newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza claims the ruling party views these dealings as an "opportunity to spread dissatisfaction with the EU among Poles," and is "calling the European Commission's bluff." Poland's leadership is allowed to have their opinion, nevertheless, many state a Poexit would be catastrophic for the nation. As a result of Poland's actions, the country may face Article 7 of the Union Treaty, an article that would impose a consequence severe in political nature: Poland would be effectively stripped of its voting rights. Even Rzeczpospolita, a Polish Newspaper that often displayed its favor of the current government, has stated the present state of affairs is a fast car "speeding towards a wall for months now and has finally spectacularly crashed into it," and further stated that invoking Article 7 against Warsaw is "the first stone that could start an avalanche of catastrophic consequences" for Poland.

According to German Newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, "after Brexit, a Poexit could be the final consequence." The newspaper further stated that "if the majority in Poland no longer wants to abide by the law, then the country has to leave the EU. After Brexit, the EU could soon experience its next big tragedy. The country is likely to be as divided as the British before the Brexit decision."

Another German Newspaper Die Welt chimed in and labeled the European Commission's potential activation of Article 7 as the "nuclear option." Die Welt further stated that "never before has the strongest weapon in the EU's treaty been activated. If this happens, it will become painfully clear that the EU is, in fact, almost defenseless if a member state persistently refuses to obey." Lawyer Thomas Giegerich also relayed his opinion to Die Welt, claiming that "If Poland had not already been an EU member, it would not have been accepted at the moment."

In support of Poexit is Hungary, which stated it would veto any efforts of the EU to halt Poland from voting in Brussels. Balazs Hidveghi, press chief of Hungary's ruling Fidesz party, relayed a message to Magyar Hirlap Newspaper that the European Commission's action against Poland is "proof of Brussels' efforts to punish the countries that oppose the settlement of migrants in Europe and the mandatory resettlement quota scheme." Hidveghi also firmly stated that "Hungary rejects the EU's way of using legal procedures for exerting political pressure."

So the question remains: will Poland's government face the consequences it has brought onto itself? Or will pressure from the European Union soon prompt a Poexit? For now, the world will have to wait in see. However, one thing is for certain: the possibility of a Poexit is becoming more and more of a reality by the second.

Cover Image Credit: Politico

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'As A Woman,' I Don't Need To Fit Your Preconceived Political Assumptions About Women

I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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It is quite possible to say that the United States has never seen such a time of divisiveness, partisanship, and extreme animosity of those on different sides of the political spectrum. Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are saturated with posts of political opinions and are matched with comments that express not only disagreement but too often, words of hatred. Many who cannot understand others' political beliefs rarely even respect them.

As a female, Republican, college student, I feel I receive the most confusion from others regarding my political opinions. Whenever I post or write something supporting a conservative or expressing my right-leaning beliefs and I see a comment has been left, I almost always know what words their comment will begin with. Or in conversation, if I make my beliefs known and someone begins to respond, I can practically hear the words before they leave their mouth.

"As a woman…"

This initial phrase is often followed by a question, generally surrounding how I could publicly support a Republican candidate or maintain conservative beliefs. "As a woman, how can you support Donald Trump?" or "As a woman, how can you support pro-life policies?" and, my personal favorite, "As a woman, how did you not want Hillary for president?"

Although I understand their sentiment, I cannot respect it. Yes, being a woman is a part of who I am, but it in no way determines who I am. My sex has not and will not adjudicate my goals, my passions, or my work. It will not influence the way in which I think or the way in which I express those thoughts. Further, your mention of my sex as the primary logic for condemning such expressions will not change my adherence to defending what I share. Nor should it.

To conduct your questioning of my politics by inferring that my sex should influence my ideology is not only offensive, it's sexist.

It disregards my other qualifications and renders them worthless. It disregards my work as a student of political science. It disregards my hours of research dedicated to writing about politics. It disregards my creativity as an author and my knowledge of the subjects I choose to discuss. It disregards the fundamental human right I possess to form my own opinion and my Constitutional right to express that opinion freely with others. And most notably, it disregards that I am an individual. An individual capable of forming my own opinions and being brave enough to share those with the world at the risk of receiving backlash and criticism. All I ask is for respect of that bravery and respect for my qualifications.

Words are powerful. They can be used to inspire, unite, and revolutionize. Yet, they can be abused, and too comfortably are. Opening a dialogue of political debate by confining me to my gender restricts the productivity of that debate from the start. Those simple but potent words overlook my identity and label me as a stereotype destined to fit into a mold. They indicate that in our debate, you cannot look past my sex. That you will not be receptive to what I have to say if it doesn't fit into what I should be saying, "as a woman."

That is the issue with politics today. The media and our politicians, those who are meant to encourage and protect democracy, divide us into these stereotypes. We are too often told that because we are female, because we are young adults, because we are a minority, because we are middle-aged males without college degrees, that we are meant to vote and to feel one way, and any other way is misguided. Before a conversation has begun, we are divided against our will. Too many of us fail to inform ourselves of the issues and construct opinions that are entirely our own, unencumbered by what the mainstream tells us we are meant to believe.

We, as a people, have become limited to these classifications. Are we not more than a demographic?

As a student of political science, seeking to enter a workforce dominated by men, yes, I am a woman, but foremost I am a scholar, I am a leader, and I am autonomous. I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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You're Not Too Smart To Be A Teacher

What, do they want dumb people teaching their kids?

Elli
Elli
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One of the most common and paradoxical things I've been told about my plans for the future is "Oh, but you're too smart to be a teacher!" The people who say it always mean well (it's generally my friends, or family, or other teachers), but it's always hurt just a little bit. It's as if I'm being told, "You're wasting your potential," or, "You should be doing more," or, "Being a teacher is not enough."

Why, though? Isn't teaching one of the most idealistic careers? Teachers have the ability to change the world for their students. Good teachers can inspire a love of learning in their class that can last a lifetime. For every genius that history remembers in science or art or mathematics or writing or anything else, I can guarantee that there are a couple of very good teachers in the shadows.

So why this stigma about smart people going into education? Is it not enough to inspire the next generation, give them the tools to reach greatness? Where is the line for how smart is too smart? Does every smart person need to go find the cure for cancer, or translate ancient books, or become president? What if all I want to do is teach children? Is that so much of a crime?

The problem isn't that I'm too smart for teaching. In fact, if I press people about this question, and ask if they're implying teachers should be dumb, they tend to backpedal and say that of course teachers should be smart because children can't learn if the person teaching them doesn't know what they're talking about. The problem is that I am too smart to be a teacher, personally, because I could be far more successful somewhere else.

The thing is, a lot of this stigma is a very well-meant "I don't think you'll be very successful as a teacher." Your friends and family tell you this because they want you to be able to support yourself. Your teachers tell you this because they know it's at times a really difficult job that doesn't pay well. Sure, if you're in life for the money, teaching may not be very rewarding for you. Everyone knows that a teacher's salary is pretty low. Financially successful people aren't teachers. However, they are lawyers. They are politicians. They are scientists and artists and doctors and anyone else who is really good at something and focused on it in their career. Smart people can make good money, and often that's at the heart of your friends and family's well-meaning doubts.

So there's the problem. Teachers can't be successful, can they? This is less about the impacting the world and more about impacting yourself. Your family is worried about you, that you won't be able to get by (which, if we're being honest, isn't TOO much of a concern, if you're savvy with money). They think that you could be more successful doing something else.

I'd like to challenge this idea that the only way you can be successful in life is to have a six-figure paycheck.

You see, success today generally means having money, fame, power, a nice house, a good car, no debt, etc. More generally, though, success is just the accomplishment of your goals. So what success is to you is really based on what your goals are in life. If your goals are to get as much money as you can, then they're right: you will not get success as a teacher. But if your goals are to impact the world, inspire the next generation, and create change, then there are few other careers where you can succeed quite so meaningfully.

In today's world, controlled by greed and money, we need smart teachers. We need smart people who feel a passion for something other than money. We need smart people who want to help others and recognize that one of the best ways to do that is to give the next generation the tools it needs to make a better world. We need people who look at this world's definition of success and reject it, people who decide to make their own definition.

I am smart, and I want to be a teacher. I am smart, and I want to use that to help others. My definition of success is being a light in the lives of my future students, giving them a love of learning and a safe environment in which to learn. My dream is to change the world by inspiring others and giving them the tools they need to make the world a better place. My goal is to give the next generation a chance to do amazing things.

I challenge you to make your own definition of success. At the end of the day, this is only my definition of success. What matters is that you can answer this question: what's yours?

Elli
Elli

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