The DUP And Why You Should Care

The DUP And Why You Should Care

UK politics just got a whole lot messier.

If you’re anything like most Americans you’re likely aware that our international ally the United Kingdom runs their country a bit differently from our own. They are a parliamentary democracy, a form of Western liberal democracy where the party that has gained an absolute majority of seats in parliament (legislature) forms the standing government and appoints its party leader as Prime minister. Once the Prime Minister is appointed he or she creates their cabinet by selecting active Members of Parliament, usually from their own party.

You are likely also aware (at least vaguely) of the fact that the United Kingdom just recently held a general election, the results of which have been both messy and impressive. Jeremy Corbyn’s leftist Labour Party made serious gains while the conservative Tories under Prime Minister Theresa May’s leadership lost quite a few seats in parliament. This shake up has not only caused the Tories to lose their standing majority, the entire basis of May’s ability to operate as the Prime Minister, but has caused what is known as a hung parliament. In a parliamentary democracy when the parliament is referred to as “hung” it lacks any one party with an absolute majority of the seats meaning that there is no party with the position and representation to form a government. Theresa May, unfortunately, has decided on a method to counteract this problem.

In order to create enough of a majority to form a fully functional governing body Theresa May and the Tories have made the decision to form a coalition with a right wing party out of Northern Ireland called the DUP. The DUP, or Democratic Unionist Party, holds just enough seats in parliament to help push the Tories back into a governing majority. So, the question must be asked, who are the DUP, and what do they stand for?

First and foremost the Democratic Unionist Party, currently headed by Arlene Foster, is a right wing group based in Northern Ireland and founded in 1971 on Protestant fundamentalist principles. Already this should be ringing alarm bells in the minds of those who recognize that, like in the United States, the governed citizens of the United Kingdom are a plurality of religious beliefs. Any government by one particular religious group is bound to discriminate against or at least ignore those that do not fall into their rigid system of ideals. Although they have loosened this influence slightly to try and bring socially conservative Catholics into the fold, this is still rather worrying. Thankfully the DUP are not the ones forming a government, they are simply a supplement to the waning Tories, but they get much worse than just playing religious favoritism.

These heavily conservative roots have led to a variety of problematic beliefs, actions, and statements over the years by the DUP and its members. One of the most commonly cited issues with the DUP is their historically bad record on women's reproductive rights. For example on the abortion issue they are so firmly against extending abortion rights to the women of Northern Ireland that even victims of sexual assault are not allowed an exemption. What makes this worse, however, is that they only begrudgingly allow abortion in cases where the woman's life is endangered and, when a UK High Court ruled that banning abortion for rape victims went against human rights the DUP elected to mostly ignore it.

Next come their unsurprisingly archaic views on the LGBT community. A quick Google search will present you with a variety of astoundingly absurd and offensive quotes ranging from calling gays "offensive and obnoxious" to saying "you certainly don't bring a child up in a homosexual relationship. That child is far more likely to be abused or neglected." These statements are as bigoted as they are completely ignorant of fact, though the DUP's relationship to facts seems to be a bit rocky.

Their touch and go relationship with facts and information is on full display in the party's views on scientific matters. Although these things are not officially party policy climate change denial and Creationism have found a home amongst several of the party's governing members and, possibly, amongst their voting base. Just like with their rather nasty quotes on LGBT issues a Google search is well worth it for more in depth examples and breakdowns of these problematic views.

Now why exactly should you, as an American, care? It isn't our country's election, we have enough craziness going on in our own government right now as is, and the DUP are not the powerful party in this new coalition. So what exactly about this coalition is so wrong? Well, firstly by allowing the DUP representation in an empowered government coalition they are being given a stage to attempt to validate their views and policies. They are also working alongside the Tories, a party of dangerous conservatism that has allowed privateering in the National Health Service and that has worked to consistently undermine the middle and working classes. This is an unstable match, one of dangerous, mismatched ideals, and if it continues it will be the government moving to negotiate Brexit with the European Union. Without a strong, intelligent governing body that is sure of its demands and working for the benefit of the middle and working classes first and foremost the negotiations could become historically disastrous.

Cover Image Credit: getty images

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A Goodbye To Paul Ryan, I Guess

An Open Letter To Paul Ryan.

Saying goodbye to Paul Ryan is a troubling and confusing thing to do. He has been around for me since he joined Mitt Romney's ticket back in 2012, and was thankfully smashed by Obama and Biden, the super friend duo of Washington. I was introduced to Ryan as I was introduced to Romney; rich white people who have had a fortunate run of life, and don't seem too crazy or gray to put their name in the hat for President. Now, call me cocky but in 2012 I was certain they were not going to win. I knew Obama had the black vote, and once Romney said that unbelievable stuff about "47 percent of America" I knew we were safe. I thought that was the damage Ryan would cause, and that's all. He would be complicit to one of the rudest most out of touch things a presidential candidate would say in my lifetime. I was wrong.

No one saw Trump coming, really. If they say they do, they are lying to sound informed and interesting, don't buy it for a second. Rather than focus on Trump and his mess like the collective United States seems to do, I want to say something about Ryan, and give him my goodbye, as he has decided to retire at the ripe political age of 48. A young age, really. Especially for a congressmen. There are congress members in their 80's after all. Ryan is ending his tenure in 2019, and will not seek reelection. Goodbye Ryan, and good riddance.

I can't say I truly hate you, Pauly boy, but boy do you make me uncomfy. You are like the uncle at the cook-out saying awful stuff I can't imagine agreeing with, and getting louder with every hour that goes by. You are the one who name drops their church, slyly implying that it is just a bit more holy than the one most of the family goes to. Even worse, you aren't the racist uncle, really. Or at least not the racist uncle that wasn't invited to the cook out due to last years alcoholic outburst, but you don't denounce him either. When you work with him, you say that neutral and infuriating cop out stuff about how "he is allowed his points" while not commenting on them yourself. Sure, Pauly, Trump and yourself can have your own points. However when you say you are grateful for Trump, it will raise some eyebrows.It will break some hearts too man, really. Who is supposed to be normal in the GOP these days?

I have watched you dismantle as many things set in place to eliminate social assistance to the poor as possible. I have seen you quietly post your thoughts on neo-nazis on Facebook while Trump was refusing to damn them on television. I saw that all white intern hire too, whew. That was awkward. I watched you pass tax laws that benefit essentially only your tax bracket. I watched your bug eyes push farther and farther out of your head by Trump's bull over the past year, and I worried. I worried you were going use him to get more done, and I guess you did.

I watched Cameron resign right after Brexit and thought "Wow, they made such a bad call the leader feels unable to continue taking part of the country. Holy cow." And I never thought I would see that here. I never thought Trump was capable of admitting he was unable to do his job, and I still doubt that. I never even thought of you, Pauly, but here we are. What do you know? What is coming buddy? Why are you getting out when the getting out is good? You gonna run in 2020? I wouldn't put it past you. I don't know what will be destroyed by the tax plan you put through, but I am worried. I don't know exactly how to feel with you retiring. I am not proud of you, I honestly don't think of you much. I think you're weak, Pauly. I don't care how often you work out.

I know you are connected, and I know your day is a storm of trying to get as much of your own policy through the kindergarten playpen of racism and entitlement that is Trump. I can't seem to bring myself to see you as anything but a quiet affiliate of his, running off when his storm gets to be too much and praising his ability to say yes to the hurtful classist policies you have backed your entire career. I feel like you cuddle your free weights at night and mutter to yourself "at least we appointed a Supreme Justice." Well, you did. You denied Obama his clear Presidential right (well the senate did but you get my drift) and now you are exploiting all you can while dealing with how integrally horrid Trump is. I guess I would quit too.

I don't respect you Pauly, but I can't be too happy about you leaving. I don't know what comes after Trump, after you, after any of this. Just get the hell out of my Congress, and get ready to get smashed in the mid terms.

Go vote. If you read this far, you probably care also. Go vote. Shake Pauly harder than he is already, and stop the orange giggly fat man in the White House. Thank you.

Cover Image Credit: Gage Skidmore

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It's The End Of The Road For Paul Ryan

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is not running for reelection.

Since President Donald J. Trump's ascendancy to the Oval Office in 2017, Capitol Hill has seen a number of key Republicans resign or announce that they won't be seeking reelection in 2018 from both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Among the lot includes Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), the former Chair of the House Oversight Committee; Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), the former Chair of the House Benghazi Committee and Chaffetz's successor at the House Oversight Committee; as well Orin Hatch (R-UT), the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and the longest-serving Republican Senator in US Senate-history. Last week saw the announcement of the end of the road for another key Republican member of Congress: Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI).

Ever since Politico's Tim Albert's reports that in interviews with “three dozen people who know the speaker — fellow lawmakers, congressional and administration aides, conservative intellectuals and Republican lobbyists — not a single person believed Ryan will stay in Congress past 2018.” In March of 2018, Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV), who isn't known to be all that close to Ryan, let a rumor leak to the press corp that the Speaker was on his way out. Speaker Ryan has continuously and publicly dismissed these claims as nothing but rumors and "rank speculation" until now.

When Ryan took over the post of Speaker following John Boehner's (R-OH) retirement in late-2015, his ascendency was meant to usher in a new era of Republican politics, unified behind the Obamacare repeal and replace increased tax cuts, and dismantling the welfare state established by the Democratic Administration. Instead, Ryan ended up with a president who has no interest in his agenda, or in the many cases such as immigration, trade, and entitlement reform, has no interest or concern for the party's agenda.

At the start of Trump's presidency, Congressional Republicans put forth an ambitious agenda, having gained control over both chambers of Congress as well as the White House. They sought to repeal and replace Obamacare, implement a major budget deal and enact significant tax cuts.

Unfortunately for Republicans, the crusade that is the Obamacare repeal failed. They managed to pass tax cuts, but Republican members of Congress are already worried the bill won’t be popular enough in November to provide them with the edge to help them win elections in 2018. Meanwhile, Trump, who doesn’t seem interested in talking taxes nearly as much as his colleagues on Capitol Hil, is stuck on the one policy issue that was never truly been at the forefront of modern American politics and seemingly will only deepen party divides: immigration.

From what he has stated, if it were up to Paul Ryan to lead the direction of the Republicans, the party would steer clear of the topic of immigration, as it would do little but divide the two parties and in-turn make other, more important pieces of legislation even harder to achieve bipartisan agreement on.

From "build the wall" to "bad hombres," Trump's radical stance on immigration played a big part in getting him elected in the first place. Consequently, Congressional Republicans have had no choice but to follow suit, as this seemed to be the direction conservative Americans, their constituents, wished to head. Immigration, however, is among Ryan’s biggest political vulnerabilities in the "Trump-approach" to Republican politics. His own views often said to have been shaped by his mentor Jack Kemp (a pro-immigration New York Republican whom Ryan worked for early in his career and with whom he remained close until Kemp’s death in 2009), are in stark contrast to the hardliner views enforced by the President.

While failing to meet his as well as his party's set agenda as Speaker of the House, Ryan has also been met with incredibly strong criticism by the far-right for his apparent hesitation when it comes to Trump's radical immigration policies.

In July of 2016, long before confirmed reports of Ryan's resignation came to light, known white supremacist contender for Ryan's seat, Paul Nehlen (R), showed up at the Speaker's personal home in Janesville, Wisconsin, with a convoy of four mothers who had lost their children "at the hands of immigrants." Nehlen is seeking Ryan's seat in the upcoming elections as well.

Additionally, Breitbart News, the far-right media outlet formerly run by Trump's former adviser Steve Bannon, has gone on the assault in regards to Ryan. Breitbart articles, since Ryan took over the speakership, have stated that Ryan is no different from a “mass amnesty” Democrat. “Speaker Paul Ryan goes silent as Refugee program claims victims at Ohio,” and “GOP Rep: Paul Ryan’s immigration policy not ‘in best interest of America." They have accused Ryan of having an “expansionist immigration agenda.”

Since Trump first ascended to the Presidency, Ryan has just managed to keep the Republican Party afloat. Trump threatened to shut down the government over Republican leaders’ latest policy push: the spending bill, which was largely considered to be the last major agenda-based policy fight of the 2018 Congressional year. As the party vies to push forward with its agenda, the President seems intent on picking at old wounds: the failed attempt to resolve the "immigration crisis" in Congress.

With Democrats determined to win back the majority in the House of Representatives in the midterm election cycle, the only way for Republicans to retain their power is through unity, something the President doesn't seem too interested in. Given this, alongside 25 House Republicans and three of their Senators, it's only logical that Speaker of the House Paul D. Ryan is ready to depart from Capitol Hill.

Cover Image Credit: Gage Skidmore on Flickr via Creative Commons

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