Do We Have A Well-Informed Electorate

Do We Have A Well-Informed Electorate

A well-informed electorate is the best defense of our democracy.
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Thomas Jefferson is best known as the third President of the United States and the author of the Declaration of Independence. On his gravestone, he marks his three greatest achievements as being author of the Declaration of Independence, being author of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom and being the Father of the University of Virginia.

Notably, he didn’t put down that he was President of the United States -- something that’s hard to wrap your head around if you haven’t extensively studied Jefferson. Why did he choose to put he was the founder of the University of Virginia? It’s rooted in an essential part of democracy Jefferson admittedly believed the country needed to preserve: the concept of a well-informed electorate. Jefferson thought an educated populace was the best defense of liberty and democracy in the nation he helped cultivate. So, he made the University of Virginia free.

A well-informed electorate is an essential, no -- a prerequisite -- to democracy. Do we actually have a well-informed electorate? It’s debatable.

We’ve actually started to make a mockery over the issue of whether one of the most essential requirements for a proper democracy even exists. For example, back when Obamacare was in the process of being implemented, Jimmy Kimmel went to the streets, asking people their opinions about the Affordable Care Act and Obamacare. We laughed when people had drastically different opinions about the same policy that is known by two names. Our laughter was an impulse. It barely sparked worry within anyone.

I don’t believe the Jimmy Kimmel video -- and others like it -- is an exception. In 2009, the European Journal of Communication surveyed citizens of Britain, Denmark, the US and Finland to answer questions on international affairs. Only 58 percent of Americans could identify the Taliban, even though we’ve lead the charge in Afghanistan. The Danes? Sixty-eight percent. The British? Seventy-five percent. And the Finns? Seventy-six percent. This isn’t an exception -- it’s a trend, and there are a slew of polls to prove that.

So whose fault is it that Americans don’t know what they probably should?

You could blame the news broadcasters. The vast majority of the American public wants to see human interest stories, not substantive ones. It worth noting though, that these networks that report these stories are somewhat obliged to do so -- after all, if they really did an entirely substantive newscast, they’d lose ratings and revenue, and ultimately go broke after their viewers turn to the network reporting what Americans actually want to see.

You could blame the complex nature of American government and politics. The electoral college, the power structure of the Senate and House and the concept of delegates is confusing. It can discourage people to learn more.

You could blame our education system. We have one of the highest levels of income inequality in the developed world, which limits access of adequate education for the very poor. We also have a relatively huge immigrant population that doesn’t speak English well and a large disappearance of dual-language programs despite this. It’s here that I personally believe the problem of an under-informed electorate lies.

Thomas Jefferson was an advocate of decentralized education, meaning the education system is largely run by states. It’s here that many education advocates begin to disagree on his education stance, due to recent statistics and revelations we’ve only been able to obtain in the modern age. As time goes on, it's been proven that a more centralized managed circula usually results in a stronger civic culture and rate of common knowledge. Others argue the federal government having more circula control may be good in theory, but nearly impossible to execute, especially without actually hurting some of the more successful school districts - a reasonable concern. Either way, it's clear that not knowing much about the world wasn’t as damaging as it was before we became so globalized.

The world is too interconnected, now, to not understand how a military coup in Turkey and a presidential nominee who perpetuates bigotry affects America and its place in the world. Our Congress now deals with foreign policy at a much higher rate than even 50 years ago. It’s problematic for different groups and areas of the country to have different levels of information. It can often lead politicians to make choices based on the pressure they receive from people who are under-informed, rather than the advice of experts of researchers.

This isn’t to say the American people are stupid. They’re just under-informed. A lot of people know this. Whether they care to admit it or not – we see it in the support of a presidential candidate promising things that will never become actually policy, in the lack of understanding in the differing experiences of American different cultures and races have and in the lack of information in what exactly is happening in Syria. No matter who you are -- Jefferson, myself, a Senator or a student -- it’s hard to argue this trend isn’t an imminent danger to our democracy.

Cover Image Credit: Huffington Post

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College As Told By Junie B. Jones

A tribute to the beloved author Barbara Parks.
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The Junie B. Jones series was a big part of my childhood. They were the first chapter books I ever read. On car trips, my mother would entertain my sister and me by purchasing a new Junie B. Jones book and reading it to us. My favorite part about the books then, and still, are how funny they are. Junie B. takes things very literally, and her (mis)adventures are hilarious. A lot of children's authors tend to write for children and parents in their books to keep the attention of both parties. Barbara Park, the author of the Junie B. Jones series, did just that. This is why many things Junie B. said in Kindergarten could be applied to her experiences in college, as shown here.

When Junie B. introduces herself hundreds of times during orientation week:

“My name is Junie B. Jones. The B stands for Beatrice. Except I don't like Beatrice. I just like B and that's all." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 1)

When she goes to her first college career fair:

"Yeah, only guess what? I never even heard of that dumb word careers before. And so I won't know what the heck we're talking about." (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 2)

When she thinks people in class are gossiping about her:

“They whispered to each other for a real long time. Also, they kept looking at me. And they wouldn't even stop." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When someone asks her about the library:

“It's where the books are. And guess what? Books are my very favorite things in the whole world!" (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 27)

When she doesn't know what she's eating at the caf:

“I peeked inside the bread. I stared and stared for a real long time. 'Cause I didn't actually recognize the meat, that's why. Finally, I ate it anyway. It was tasty...whatever it was." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When she gets bored during class:

“I drew a sausage patty on my arm. Only that wasn't even an assignment." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 18)

When she considers dropping out:

“Maybe someday I will just be the Boss of Cookies instead!" (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 76)

When her friends invite her to the lake for Labor Day:

“GOOD NEWS! I CAN COME TO THE LAKE WITH YOU, I BELIEVE!" (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 17)

When her professor never enters grades on time:

“I rolled my eyes way up to the sky." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 38)

When her friends won't stop poking her on Facebook:


“Do not poke me one more time, and I mean it." (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 7)

When she finds out she got a bad test grade:

“Then my eyes got a little bit wet. I wasn't crying, though." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 17)

When she isn't allowed to have a pet on campus but really wants one:

“FISH STICK! I NAMED HIM FISH STICK BECAUSE HE'S A FISH STICK, OF COURSE!" (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 59)

When she has to walk across campus in the dark:

“There's no such thing as monsters. There's no such thing as monsters." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 12)

When her boyfriend breaks her heart:

“I am a bachelorette. A bachelorette is when your boyfriend named Ricardo dumps you at recess. Only I wasn't actually expecting that terrible trouble." (Junie B. Jones Is (almost) a Flower Girl, p. 1)

When she paints her first canvas:


"And painting is the funnest thing I love!" (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 61)

When her sorority takes stacked pictures:

“The biggie kids stand in the back. And the shortie kids stand in the front. I am a shortie kid. Only that is nothing to be ashamed of." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 7)

When she's had enough of the caf's food:

“Want to bake a lemon pie? A lemon pie would be fun, don't you think?" (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed p. 34)

When she forgets about an exam:

“Speechless is when your mouth can't speech." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 54)

When she finds out she has enough credits to graduate:

“A DIPLOMA! A DIPLOMA! I WILL LOVE A DIPLOMA!" (Junie B. Jones is a Graduation Girl p. 6)

When she gets home from college:

"IT'S ME! IT'S JUNIE B. JONES! I'M HOME FROM MY SCHOOL!" (Junie B. Jones and some Sneaky Peaky Spying p. 20)

Cover Image Credit: OrderOfBooks

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Everything You Need To Know About The New Abortion Ban In Several States

DISCLAIMER: the following does not include any of my personal beliefs/opinions.

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Abortion has and will always be a controversial and very sensitive topic for all genders. The following article delves into the details about the Alabama abortion ban that was signed to be a law which, if it passes, will be in effect January 2020 and briefly touches on the Georgia Heartbeat Bill.

Roe v. Wade (1973)

In 1973, Roe v. Wade 410 was passed in the U.S. by the Supreme Court. In short, this ruled that the Due Process Clause along with the 14th Amendment in the Constitution would work to give pregnant women the choice to choose whether or not they wanted an abortion AND should coincide with the government's personal agenda to protect the health of all who is involved. What I mean by this is that the Supreme Court decided during the second trimester of a pregnancy, abortions would be allowed. But, if it is the third trimester, abortion is to be prohibited unless the health of the mother is in danger. This law catapulted the abortion debate which is still going on today.


Abortion vs. Alabama

Alabama's governor, Kay Ivey, signed off on a bill that will basically ban all abortions, including rape, incest, any abnormality, and if the mother's life is in danger on May 14, 2019 after acquiring approval from 25 Senators . This could be a problem considering that it very much contradicts Roe v. Wade (1973). To Ivey, the bill is a reflection of the values in which the citizens of Alabama believe: all life is precious and a gift from God.


Governor of the State of Alabama, Kay Ivey (pictured above). home.bt.com

The governor of Georgia also signed a bill to ban abortion after detecting the slightest heartbeat which is approximately around the six-week pregnancy period (around the time most women discover that they are pregnant). Another important take on this is that despite the rift and debate that is going on between Democrats and Republicans, most Republicans believe that Roe v. Wade will be overturned. This is looking more like a possibility considering most of the Supreme Court consists of people who support the Republican party. In short, the main idea is to ban abortion in all of the United States, not just in some states like it is currently. In regards to Alabama, the bill still has not been enacted into a law and could possibly encounter delay in the Supreme Court because, after all, this is a very debated topic. For now, abortion is still legal until January 2020 or when it becomes a law.

Conditions of the Abortion Law

The conditions of the abortion law explicitly states that abortion during any stage of a pregnancy is prohibited and if any medical professional aids in the practice/procedure of an abortion, they will face up to 99 years in prison. If an attempt is made to perform an abortion procedure, an individual can be sentenced to 10 years in prison. Women who successfully get an abortion or attempt to will be prosecuted as well. However, only those who provide another with an abortion will be punished in Alabama, not the one receiving the service.

No form of abortion is allowed including: rape, incest, life-threatening abnormality, or putting the life of the mother in danger.


Alabama expected to approve controversial abortion bill www.youtube.com


Two Sides to the Debate

Although most Republicans support the law, the Democratic party has combatted the notion of it. Many opponents of the ban state that the restriction can put the lives of many in danger and affects women of color and those who are living in poverty heavily. ACLU and the Center for Reproductive Rights have also declared that they will sue. Many young people have also reached out to social media websites such as Twitter and Instagram to voice their opinions:

Tweets from individuals who are anti-abortion ban www.wnd.com

Many celebrities have also stated their opinions on the matter. Rihanna stated in one of her Instagram posts, "Take a look," referring to a picture of 25 Senators in Alabama who approved the abortion bill, "These are the idiots making decisions for WOMEN in America. Governor Kay Ivey...SHAME ON YOU!!!"

Although both sides clearly have their opinions on the debate of pro-life/pro-choice, one thing we all can agree on is that this will be a long process that can make or break the lives of a lot of people in our nation.

Until next time,

Salsa.

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