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Contemporary Politics

The Legacy of Arlington National Cemetery

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Each time my dad finds himself in Washington DC, he visits the Arlington National Cemetery. As a former special operations Army aviator, he conducted countless missions and was good friends with many of the Tier-1 operators buried in these hallowed grounds. To him, it is a deeply-personal trip; many of his friends killed-in-action left behind loving wives and kids. 

I recently got to join him for one such trip. As we walked through the sprawling 600+ acres to get to Section 60, where many of the post-9/11 casualties are laid to rest, I was awed by the sheer magnitude of the cemetery. Upon an expanse of rolling hills, over 400,000 pristine gravestones stand in neat, somber rows. The cemetery dates all the way back to the Civil War, when Union soldiers were first buried in what had previously been the grounds of the Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s estate. Since then, US soldiers from all American-fought wars, 2 US presidents and even 4000 former slaves have all been buried in the grounds of Arlington. 

One thing that struck me as I walked through Section 60 is the egalitarianism of the cemetery. Generals are buried alongside privates, who may also rest next to a medal of honor recipient. Each of these men and women have something in common; they were patriots who cared deeply about their country and performed their duties with honor and bravery. For this reason, each and every person laid to rest in the Arlington National Cemetery is honored with the same, utmost respect. Indeed, on Memorial Day of each year, the Old Guard places an American flag in front of each and every grave to honor America’s fallen. 

But there is one problem plaguing Arlington National Cemetery. It is running out of room. Currently, service members who die while on active duty, retired members of the Armed Forces, prisoners of war, and recipients of the military’s highest honors are all eligible to be buried in the Grounds. Each day, there are around 25 burials, equating to over 7,000 burials a year. At this rate, the cemetery can only stay open for another 25 years, due to space constraints. After all, Arlington National Cemetery is situated against a six-lane highway, and the remaining sides are blocked by developments. This is an issue for the government, which wants to keep Arlington going for at least another 150 years.

Arlington has already enacted multiple policies to save room. They encourage cremation as a space-efficient alternative to in-ground burial. And the old practice of burying family members side by side has been modified, so that caskets are now buried together vertically. But these practices can only achieve so much. The only feasible option to slow the in-stream of burials would be to tighten the rules for who can be buried here. It is a hard decision to make, as a careful balance must be maintained between the site’s egalitarian ideals and the harsh reality of a landlocked site. 

Still, the Army’s latest proposal dictates that only service members killed in action, or recipients of the military’s highest award, the Medal of Honor, may be allowed to be buried in Arlington. Notably, this would lead to fewer burials in a whole year than what currently occurs in a single week. While it may exclude thousands of currently eligible veterans, I believe this is the right choice to make. There are over a hundred military cemeteries in the US, although Arlington is by far the most prominent. By enacting stricter policy now, we can guarantee that the generation growing up today has the chance to be buried alongside some of the nation’s most prominent military leaders and patriots. 

Arlington National Cemetery serves as a powerful reminder that freedom and opportunity for all does not come easily, but instead requires great sacrifices by a long timeline of heroic men and women. To continue this cultural significance, it is imperative that generations for centuries to come may also have the privilege to rest in the historic grounds alongside Union soldiers, former presidents, and the heroes whose graves my dad frequents.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/28/us/arlington-cemetery-veterans.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share

What Is A Presidential Election Without Drama?

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Drama around the 2020 Presidential Election has already begun almost a year in advance, but what more can be expected in this day and age. It seems that the true moderate is an extremely rare breed in today’s political climate. Extreme viewpoints are spread through social media and other press outlets, influencing average people’s opinions and views, making our country more divided than ever. The ability for Republicans and Democrats to compromise on today’s most outspoken issues and debated topics, like gun control, climate change, immigration issues, and taxes, is impossible in such a polar climate. This might be the reason that voter turnout in the United States is so low due to only the extreme viewpoints being placed on ballots.

With the announcement of Michael Bloomberg’s candidacy for 2020 presidential election, there is a chance that change could be created in our government, but only if he is elected. Bloomberg’s election in the real question because of his background. First, Bloomberg is a moderate candidate. He previously was the mayor of New York enlisted with the Republican Party, but he is now running as a conservative Democrat in the presidential election. Since Bloomberg is a moderate, he may not attract enough support and attention to gain the platform needed to be a serious competitor in the 2020 election. He could be overshadowed by other Democratic candidates with much more extreme opinions, but also he could reveal the unknown number of politically moderate people in American and gain massive amounts of support. Another question to be asked is if the Democrats are ready to elect a Wall Street billionaire. If they are, the competition between Trump for the Republicans and Bloomberg for the Democrats will surely unfold to be an interesting campaign period between two tycoons.

A Divided America

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Politics shouldn’t just be something that divides everyone into either right or left. When talking about politics with others, people automatically take sides with a mindset that one can only be either democratic or republican. Nowadays, many people don’t even think about what’s truly right or wrong or what values they hold true to themselves when it comes to politics. No matter what party one considers themselves a part of, everyone should remain open-minded and much aware of others’ perspectives.

Even in our current government, polarization is dividing our leaders. This negatively impacts the decisions our government makes and blurs its efficiency, which directly affects our nation’s success. As polarization is growing, we are allowing hatred to grow as well. When people take sides on politics with extremes on both the democratic and republican sides, tensions and conflicts between the parties tend to intensify. We see this through many elections, especially the 2016 presidential election, midterm elections, and the mayor/city council elections just recently. All over the internet, on television, and even on the streets, we see candidates from both political parties using rude and insulting ways to gain people’s votes. On TV and also on youtube, it’s quite rare to see ads positively promoting a candidate to gain people’s votes. Instead, the vast majority of them are all insulting to other candidates or political parties with hatred to show why people shouldn’t vote for an individual candidate without giving good reasons why citizens should vote for the particular candidate. Even though people do have very diverse opinions regarding politics, those clashing opinions should not negatively divide us.

At the end of the day, what matters in politics is what we, as US citizens, genuinely believe is right or wrong and what will be the most beneficial to our country in the long term. Now, many citizens believe that either one political party is entirely right, and the other political party is altogether wrong. Instead of analyzing and learning the facts about specific issues, many people automatically jump to the conclusion that one political party is right, while the other is wrong. This is facilitated by politically biased media platforms that many citizens naturally gravitate towards for news that may not be 100% genuine. With this mindset, people don’t know the facts about an issue. For example, if a politician is campaigning, but she/he may be giving false information, polarization leads people to disregard any of the incorrect information. The audience tends to assume that all the info is accurate solely because the politician is part of the political party they believe is the “right one.” 

As time goes by, this division is growing. This is a significant problem because this will not make our nation better. That’s precisely why we need to be more tolerant and aware of others’ opinions, take hatred off the scale, and decrease polarization, which can move our nation in a better direction.

Abortion: More than one reason – Fetal Analomy

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Often when the word abortion is brought up, people generalize this issue to careless women/girls/teenagers who simply don’t want the responsibility of a child. However, this statement is only partly true. In reality, there  are many reasons for abortion such as economic instability, fetal abnormalities, rape, abusive relationships, danger to the mother (psychological or physical), and many more. 

Fetal anomaly, an issue that often leads to termination, is regularly overlooked by pro-life supporters. Opponents of abortion often combat fetal anomaly by responding with “disabled children can still lead a wonderful life.” And this is 100% true, but it’s not all about the child. This statement obscures that emotional hardships and anguish that a mother must go through when receiving a diagnosis of fetal anomaly in an otherwise wanted pregnancy. 

It’s no lie that disabled children are expensive, with regular doctor appointments, possible surgeries, and the special help/education they will need. Many mothers in this position choose to terminate due to their economic status, but there are other reasons than just money. If this mother already has children, there are even more lives to consider when making the choice to recieve an abortion. The effect of having a disabled child in the family can teach meaningful lessons such as responsibility, but it can also have negative repercussions. What if the non-disabled child requires more attention than can be provided by already busy and preoccupied parents? In the long run, children in these situations can ultimately be in a worse off place than before. 

Overall, the decision to terminate a pregnancy belongs to one person and one person only. The mother. As it is her body, she should have the right to do whatever she pleases/has to do. When the word abortion is mentioned, it is important to not immediately jump to the “careless woman” scenario, and instead recognize that you may have no idea what has happened or who is involved. 

https://www.bpas.org/get-involved/campaigns/briefings/fetal-anomaly/

https://savethestorks.com/2017/05/real-reasons-women-abortions/

The Modern Constitution

in Contemporary Politics/Political Issues by

Imagine a roomful of politicians with disparate beliefs, tasked with creating a document to govern an entirely new country. In 1787, America’s founding fathers faced this seemingly impossible challenge. Countless debates, numerous committees, and five months later, the newly formed United States of America had the Constitution, the guiding document for our nation and the supreme law of the land. In the process of creating the Constitution, every word was deliberately calculated—the founders sought to create a document that protected America from humanity’s worst impulses. Yet, when reading the Constitution, perhaps the most notable aspect of its prose is its lack of specificity in many places. The preamble includes phrases such as “general welfare,”  an assertion of “establish[ing] justice,” and a declaration of “secur[ing] the Blessings of Liberty for ourselves and our Posterity,”   Furthermore, the Bill of Rights enumerated a list of rights without specifying the extent (or lack thereof) of those rights. Many cite this vagueness as a flaw. Counterintuitively, the ambiguity of the Constitution actually serves as its greatest strength—allowing for each generation to adapt it to its needs, as the Founders intended. Thus, the Founders effectively created a “living” Constitution through their use of ambiguous diction.

Nearly a quarter of a millennium later, our Constitution feels as if it’s being stretched nearly to its limits. On the left, many call for radical changes to our political system—including “abolishing the Senate” and electoral college. Meanwhile, on the right, the so-called “Constitutional Conservatives” are seeking to exploit Article V of the Constitution to trigger a Constitutional Convention, which would theoretically allow the quick implementation of “an amendment to the Constitution requiring Congress to balance its budget” and potentially other new amendments. As a matter of fact, 28 out of the needed 34 states have already called for a convention. Some, such as The Atlantic’s Jeremi Suri, suggest scaling-back the role of the Presidency to adapt to today’s multifaceted challenges. In this age of uncertainty for the viability and sustainability of our Constitution, Americans should not forget that the United States has been built upon the premise of our Constitution—and impulsively abandoning it to find quick fixes to a few of today’s political issues would be unthinkably short-sighted.

First, the Constitution must be established as deliberately written vaguely in order to ensure that the Constitution would be able to fit the needs of each generation. Second, historical rulings and evolving interpretations of the Constitution must be shown to support a living Constitution. Third, the US must identify how the Constitution can be interpreted today to address the challenges of the 21st Century.

The first aspect I will examine is the Constitution’s intentional ambiguity. The first—and perhaps most compelling—piece of evidence supporting the Constitution’s deliberate vagueness is the ongoing lively debate concerning its meaning. From Supreme Court Justices to politicians to lawyer to citizens, nearly every person has some way of interpreting the Constitution—and the range of interpretations are a testament to its ambiguity. For instance, Ruth Bader Ginsburg practices a philosophy that embraces the Constitution as a “living” document—one which adapts with the needs of the society. Others, most prominently the late Justice Scalia, practice textualism or originalism—which interpret the Constitution in modern-day as it would have been interpreted in the 1700s. In fact, Scalia called the Constitution is “dead, dead, dead” — refuting the notion of a living Constitution. Beyond just the disparity in philosophies, word choices like “general,” “well-regulated,” “liberty,” and “justice” are intentionally not clearly defined—leaving its meaning up to interpretation.  

However, to evaluate Scalia’s philosophy on his own terms, perhaps the best people to consult would be the Founders themselves. Thomas Jefferson proposed that the Constitution be redrafted with each generation to ensure that it suited the needs of the changing society. Moreover, Alexander Hamilton, Jefferson’s famous rival, also argued when referencing the Constitution that he never expects to see “perfect work from imperfect man.” That being said, other Founders argued for a more “dead” Constitution; James Madison, for instance, claimed, “The important distinction so well understood in America, between a Constitution established by the people and unalterable by the government, and a law established by the government and alterable by the government, seems to have been little understood and less observed in any other country.” Evidently, even the Founders struggled with how the Constitution should be interpreted. Yet, the unavoidable fact that the Constitution was written in such abstract terms—“well-regulated,” “general welfare,” and “establish justice” (to name a few)—implies that the Founders did indeed intend for the Constitution’s meaning to evolve to face the issues facing each generation.  

Secondly, I will consider the changing historical interpretations of the Constitution within our body politic. History—quite irrefutably—seems to support the interpretation of a living Constitution. For, in the original draft of the Constitution, African-Americans were considered “”three fifths of” white people. From an Originalist perspective, the Constitution supports the degradation of non-white people. However, through the lens of a living Constitution, Americans can recognize—and work to account for—the dark chapters of its history without remaining inextricably connected to overtly racist policies. A recent Pew Research poll found that 50% of Americans believe that the Supreme Court should interpret the Constitution’s meaning in light of its current meaning, while only 45% argued that it should be interpreted as it was originally written. For our Constitution to remain non-racist and viable, we must consider it in the context of modern society and contemporary issues.

Simultaneously, we must accredit the Constitution—identified in The Atlantic’s “How American Politics Went Insane” as the “DNA” of our country—with the success of America. The US is the wealthiest country in the history of the world, in no small part due to our Constitution.  As Ruth Bader Ginsburg recognizes, America has “the oldest written constitution still in force in the world.” The Constitution has immortalized America’s central values—forcing Americans to compromise to compromise so that “the few could not oppress the many, and the many could not oppress the few.” The Atlantic’s “How American Politics Went Insane” also supports this interpretation, arguing that the vagueness of the Constitution catalyzed the creation of vessels such as “state and national party committees, county party chairs, congressional subcommittees, leadership pacs, convention delegates, bundlers, and countless more” in order to execute the vision of the Constitution. To continue the scientific analogy, these “middlemen” were “RNA” to the Constitution’s DNA. Certainly, as arguably the oldest democracy in the world, America has its Constitution to thank for its comparatively unwavering adherence to democratic principles. Yet, the Constitution was designed to create gridlock if politicians “refuse to compromise.” In President George Washington’s farewell address, he warned against such partisanship, well-aware of the risk of devastating political gridlock as a result of such partisanship. Today, the tribalism that plagues contemporary politics—combined with attempts to subvert democratic processes to maintain power—threaten the sanctity of the Constitution. Essentially, these middlemen have began subverting—not supporting—the Constitution. In other words, the “RNA” that once helped realize the Constitution’s vision has grown defective—largely from this notion of Originalism. Textualists—both legislators and judges—often use the antiquated meanings of the Constitution to prevent progressive policies from passing. Even in seminal cases such as Brown v. Board of Education, court precedent was less emphasized in the decision than social science revelations. Decisions like that one underscore the vitality of using a living Constitution to account for the flaws of—as Hamilton famously said—“imperfect men.”           Finally, I will consider how the Constitution’s values have shaped the success of the US. Our Constitution has guided the US to a position of great power and wealth; coupled with a shrewd interpretation of the Constitution, that power and wealth can help lead the world towards solutions to challenges of the 21st Century. However, rather than just discarding the Constitution that has guided our nation for almost 250 years, we must put to rest the notion that the Constitution must be interpreted as the Founders intended—their intent was to ensure wealthy white men exclusively controlled the government.  If you believe that our government should function that way, then you absolutely can preach the necessity of Originalism. However, if you do not believe that only white men should control the government, then you—to some degree—believe in a living Constitution. Interpreting the Constitution as living certainly offers solutions to today’s most pressing issues: promoting the general welfare for “our Posterity” likely means ensuring the general survival of our species—mandating immediate action against climate change (a recent IPCC report suggests we have 12 years to act on climate change before it threatens millions of lives). Establishing justice probably implies executing a criminal justice system that does not disproportionately attack one race, as ours currently does (for instance, African-Americans represented just over 10% of illicit drug use, yet also represented over a third of all drug arrests).  Through a living interpretation of our Constitution—built on its deliberate vagueness—it certainly is equipped to face the challenges of the 21st Century.

Who’s Responsible for Solving the Opioid Crisis?

in Contemporary Politics/Political Issues by

The opioid crisis unequivocally threatens the general welfare of the United States of America. In 2016, the opioid crisis single handedly caused more American fatalities than the entire Vietnam War. Regardless of whether the Constitution is interpreted through an originalist lens or as a living document, both readings seem to support the notion that Congress is delegated the powers to “lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts, and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common defense and general Welfare of the United States. When viewed through the definition of welfare—“the health, happiness, and fortunes of a person or group,” it becomes abundantly clear that the opioid crisis is violating the general welfare of thousands of American citizens. When tens of thousands of Americans are dying annually from an opioid epidemic that is only worsening, Congress must adhere to the Constitution and provide for the general welfare of the American people.

Admittedly, there is no overt enumerated power that explicitly gives the federal government power to remedy a drug crisis, yet, even so, the Constitutional support remains particularly compelling for as to why the federal government has a Constitutional mandate to help remedy the Opioid crisis. The general welfare clause seems especially noteworthy when coupled with the Supremacy clause, which states “this Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land.” Put simply, the Opioid Crisis is threatening the literal, physical (and thereby general) welfare of Americans. Therefore, Congress (supported with the Supremacy Clause’s power over state laws) carries the burden of solving the Opioid Crisis. Moreover, given the alarming number of pharmaceuticals that are imported internationally or between states, the Commerce Clause further delegates the federal government power in fixing the Opioid Crisis. The Commerce Clause explicitly gives Congress the power “to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.” Barring the antiquated Indian Tribes phrase, the Opioid Crisis pertains to both interstate trade and trade between foreign nations. Pharmaceutical companies distribute opioids between states, and numerous amounts of synthetic opioids (which are quickly gaining popularity) come from countries such as China. Thus, the Commerce Clause also gives the federal government an obligation to remedy the ongoing opioid crisis.

Yet some, such as Real Clear Health’s Earl Baker, argue that the states are complicit in fixing the Opioid Crisis. Baker, in his article “The States Need to Step Up to Opioid Crisis,” calls for concurrent coordination between the state and federal government to remedy the Opioid epidemic. From Real Clear Health, an expert source for health-related issues, Baker explains how the states are not being vigilant enough in fighting the Opioid Crisis. He acknowledges that there must be coordination between the state and federal governments but seemingly suggests the states ought to orchestrate both the preventative and treatment efforts. In today’s world of intertwined, cooperative federalism, suggesting that the state government works alongside the federal one is far from an unreasonable or radical proposal. However, the real issue in Baker’s analysis lies in the fact that he largely places the responsibility of solving the Opioid crisis on the state governments and local communities. For instance, he unapologetically argues, “It’s time for the states to step up in the critical fight against opioids with more than just rhetoric.” In doing so, Baker misguidedly places the responsibility of a solution on the states. Sure, the states do in fact have a better idea of their communities’ specific needs. But the states cannot raise the funds necessary to solve their respective crises in a politically viable manner. The Federal Government must, at the very least, designate categorical grants to the states in order to ensure that states can afford to enact meaningful, reactive, and preventative reforms.

However, as previously mentioned, a reasonable reading of the Constitution implies that the Federal Government should be more involved in solving the Opioid crisis than just granting funds. Congress, to effectively fulfill their Constitutional duty of promoting general welfare, must put aside petty partisanship to legislate solving the Opioid epidemic with the interdisciplinary, multifaceted solutions it demands. They must consider the roles of pharmaceutical companies, doctors, foreign powers, and the black market in creating and exacerbating the Opioid Crisis. There simply is no quick and easy fix to such a widespread, devastating crisis.

As the Editorial Board of The New York Times say in “An Opioid Crisis Foretold,” legislators would be wise to treat the Opioid epidemic as a “complex, multidimensional problem.” The article uses historical events—ranging from China’s Opium Wars to the AIDS crisis—to evaluate how America should proceed in dealing with its newest drug epidemic. Comparing today’s Opioid Crisis with the fairly recent AIDS crisis, the Editorial Board recommends that Congress funds “prevention, treatment, support services, and research.”  Further supporting the Constitutional interpretation that the federal government must play a hand in solving the Opioid Crisis, the article calls for “stronger leadership” from the federal government.  Thus far, almost all of the funding designated to the Opioid Crisis has been spent on reactionary treatment services.  Although adequate funding for treatment is incredibly important, the already worsening Opioid Crisis seems likely to only become more devastating if Congress does not attack its root causes.  

Failing to respond to the deaths of thousands of Americans annually—a clear violation of the public’s general welfare—is an abdication of Congress’s Constitutionally-outlined duties. The federal government, working alongside state and local governments, must take charge in preventing the growth of the Opioid crisis, treating its victims, and funding research to best understand the causes and effects of this devastating epidemic.

Graphic Design by Jackson Edwards

www.realclearhealth.com/articles/2018/08/23/the_states_need_to_step_up_to_opioid_crisis_110820.html

www.nytimes.com/2018/04/21/opinion/an-opioid-crisis-foretold.html?rref=collection%2Fsection

 

Thoughts on the Trump Op-Ed

in Contemporary Politics/Political Issues by

The past couple of months have been a blow to the Trump administration. From Michael Cohen’s pleading guilty to federal fraud charges, implicating Trump in many of the Russian collusion claims made by the Mueller investigation, to Trump himself being criticized for fist bumping while entering a 9/11 memorial service, it would be safe to say President Trump has angered a significant portion of the American population. However, one of the most controversial topics concerning the Trump administration is the release of an Op-Ed by the New York Times containing an anonymous letter written by somebody in the Trump administration. In this letter, the anonymous writer admitted to covertly undermining Trump’s actions from inside his administration in order to curb Trump’s “misguided impulses until he is out of office”. The anonymous writer further stated that he is in agreement with the goals of the Republican Party, but believes that Trump is a “petty” leader. The writer of the op-ed reveals that even the members of Trump’s cabinet, who are often perceived as unreliable, actively try to slow the agenda of our even more unreliable president. In comparison to all of the other revelations against Trump, the release of the Op-Ed has the most damaging consequences due to the fact that a member of his own administration is defaming him. The Op-Ed has obviously caused unrest in the Trump administration, with Kellyanne Conway leading a manhunt for the author. How can we trust a president that is stopped by cabinet members that he chose? How can the American public trust an administration whose goal is the subversion of the president? With the upcoming election in November, I hope that more Democratic members are elected to Congress in order to provide more checks on our misguided president.

Since his election, Trump has been praised by members of his party for taking action. However, is this action safe for our country? Only time can tell.

Graphic Design by Jackson Edwards
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/05/opinion/trump-white-house-anonymous-resistance.html

The Psychological Horrors of Family Separation

in Contemporary Politics/Political Issues by

It has been 53 days since July 26th, the date on which separated families at the border were supposed to be reunited. So, why are we still talking about it?  

Despite the myriad of promises from the Trump White House about reuniting these families, many still remain apart, wondering if they will see their loved ones ever again.

The backlash sparked by the Trump administration’s “Zero Tolerance Policy” and the forced parting of parents and children garnered national attention and outrage. It seemed that wherever you looked, you couldn’t help but see some mention of children being put into cages, screaming and crying for their parents. Horrific reports of abuse and mistreatment in detention centers and harrowing depictions of children forced to defend themselves in courts of law emerged as the summer went on. But, as time dragged on and the sensationalism of the story disappeared, so did the outrage.

The articles and anger can still be found, but they are few and far between. Without the considerable weight of the American public, I wonder if the current administration will make good on its promise to reunite all families.

Even if all those separated are returned to each other, the consequences of the current administration’s actions will live long beyond the policy and anger it sparked. Videos of children who no longer trust their parents, believing they gave them up and sent them away to the detention centers, have gone viral. But those feelings can’t last long, right?

Charles Nelson, a pediatric professor at the Harvard Medical School, has done extensive research on the effects of long term separation on children’s brains. Citing research based off a 2000 study done in Romania, Nelson and his colleagues found disturbing differences in the brains of children separated from their families compared to the brains of those who had not been separated.

Children separated from their families at a young age had “much less white….and gray matter,” the fibers that transmit information throughout our bodies, as well as the brain-cells that process and solve problems. Nelson compares the brain to a lightbulb saying: “it’s as though there was a dimmer that had reduced [their brains] from a 100-watt bulb to 30 watts.” These children scored lower on IQ tests, and seemed unable to react to stress. Simply put, our brain cells do not regrow and repair the damaged areas in the same way that the rest of our body does.

Why does the brain begin to malfunction? Contact is incredibly important to us as humans–we literally need to touch and have skin-to-skin contact with other humans in order grow and thrive. The sense of safety and comfort that comes from our families supports this, allowing us to grow emotionally, physically, and mentally. Children separated from a young age lose this sense of security, and their brain develops differently. According to Lisa Fortuna, the medical director for child and adolescent psychiatry at Boston Medical Center, “the part of the brain that sorts things into safe or dangerous does not work…things that are not threatening seem threatening.

These consequences are seen not only in the immigration populations in the US, but also in children separated from their parents due to divorce, foster care, death, or any other extreme scenario that forces family separation. According to Susan Hois, a Child Developmental Specialist, family separation causes slower development of linguistic abilities and higher anxiety and depression rates. The loss of control and general feeling of helplessness makes children more likely to act in ways detrimental to both themselves and others. PTSD is also more likely to form in children who have been separated from their parents–the younger the child and the longer the separation, the more likely an extreme reaction.

It has been 53 days since all the families were supposed to be reunited. The longer that the current administration waits to reunite families, the more likely the mental strain on these innocent children. The long term effects of these actions will have a profound impact on our society, especially concerning we have created a generation that has grown up with these traumatic memories. The Trump administration has ensured a legacy that will long outlive their time in the White House–the psychological effects produced by the separations will take a lifetime to undo, if not more.

 

Why I’m Supporting Lizzie Pannill Fletcher For U.S. Congress

in Contemporary Politics/Miscellaneous by

The other day, while at a Lizzie Fletcher campaign event, I heard someone ask a very interesting question: “What makes Houston different?” It’s a question I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about—and the answer to that is ultimately what convinced me to support Lizzie Fletcher for Congress.  I believe, ultimately, Houston’s people distinguish it from just about any other place in the world. Our people, in many ways, are largely divided. Politically, socially, and linguistically, Houston’s community is a heterogeneous blend of cultures. Yet this is true of a lot of places. However, what sets Houston apart is how these differences enrich and strengthen our community. We’re approaching the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Harvey, but its effects still linger: as we continue to recover from the storm, I still feel that sense of unity—despite our differences—remains pervasive in Houston. Harvey highlighted the mindset of a Houstonian pretty directly; it’s one that treats people with dignity regardless of the color of their skin, how they vote, or what language they speak. That attitude makes Houston different.  And this election is different.

This election is about more than voting Republican or Democrat. This election is about more than signaling a referendum on President Trump. This election is about Houston, our city, and the values it wants to convey to the rest of the country—because Houston has a storied history of leading the country. Our unparalleled doctors and nurses in the medical center lead America’s medical community. Our ingenious scientists at NASA lead the world in space exploration. Our city, made up of people from all different backgrounds, leads the country in diversity. We deserve a leader who can reflect the needs and values of our city instead of those of a political party. We deserve a leader who can bring Houston’s spirit of leadership to Washington DC. We deserve a leader who is not afraid to vote to protect our children from being shot at their schools. We deserve a leader who is willing to listen to the scientists who warn a that worse version of Hurricane Harvey could hit Houston if we do not address global warming. We deserve a leader that’s for Houston.

Instead, we have a representative who shows us again and again that he stands with his party before his city. Representative Culberson voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act—choosing to stand with his party instead of the thousands of Houstonians who rely on that bill for quality healthcare. Culberson’s record raises important questions. Why does our representative vote nearly 100% of the time with a President who our district voted against? Why does the elected official of the most diverse city in America have an F from the American Civil Liberties Union but an A from the NRA? Congressman Culberson has consistently used his seat in Congress to benefit his party instead of his constituency. It’s time to elect a congresswoman that will serve Houstonnot a political party.

Lizzie Fletcher will serve Houston before her party. It’s all in her catchphrase: “We need a little more Houston in Washington D.C.”

The Constitutional Argument for Sanctuary Cities

in Contemporary Politics/Political Issues by

Imagine you have two undocumented immigrants who enter the country and settle down in a certain city. One of them, a 27 old male named Joseph, illegally entered the country seeking a no skill needed minimum wage job to support himself and his family back home. Unable to find a secure job in his hometown, he emigrated to the states in hopes of finding a stable source of income. The other is a 24 year old female named Jane who came to the US illegally in an effort to escape government corruption in her home country. Anyways, last week, Joseph was pulled over for a traffic violation and was brought into the local police station because he did not have a valid driver’s license. He was identified in the federal database and ICE was alerted. Also that week, Jane was arrested for theft and was similarly identified in the federal database; ICE was alerted. Under federal law, both these people should be detained and deported back to their home countries. However, it’s entirely unjust that a man who was charged with a harmless traffic violation receives the same penalty as the woman who committed a felony. Some cities today back this idea, calling themselves sanctuary cities, and choose to only honor federal immigration law to a certain degree. While the federal government and the Trump administration seems to target these sanctuary cities because they interfere with the larger scheme of mass deportation, municipal governments in these cities choose to not help with the enforcement of federal law.

This presents us with a conflict of interests. On one hand, the federal government is strictly pushing for the defunding of these sanctuary cities, while select municipal governments fight for their right to be free of federal control. So who should have the final say?

The constitution declares that the power ultimately falls to the state — or a city — under the 10th amendment. Author Ilya Somin of The Washington Post supports this claim in his article, “Trump Can’t Stop the Sanctuary Movement,” stating that regardless of the federal government’s pressure on a municipal government, the city is free to carry on with their plans (without facing consequences from the federal government). He cites a Supreme Court case, New York v. United States, to show that rulings have been made saying that it is illegal for federal governments to take control of state governments in order to execute their will. He continues to suggest that, although Trump’s threats of defunding of sanctuary cities may seem looming, they are in fact much more harmless because the federal government does not have the ability to simply cut off funding because they disagree with a state’s views.

His claims appear to be generally unbiased and well-supported, but lean more toward support of the state’s ability to execute their will over the requests of the federal government. He acknowledges the argument toward federal powers having the final say over the matter, but argues against it with constitutional support and relevant court rulings.

Furthermore, although Somin’s argument is structured around the theoretical inability of the federal government to interfere with state affairs, another article published by The New York Times examines a specific case: Trump’s attempted interference in the sanctuary city movement. Author Peter Markowitz discusses the Justice Department’s lawsuit against California, which is centered against 3 California laws that basically outline their sanctuary laws. He says the case is based off a similar case in which Arizona changed their legislation to one that did not require state police to aid federal efforts to enforce immigration laws. The lawsuit against California mirrors that lawsuit; if Arizona is not allowed to interfere in federal immigration enforcement, California shouldn’t either. He argues that California is not impeding federal enforcement of immigration laws, but simply taking themselves out of the equation, which he believes to be absolutely legal.

The choice to integrate sanctuary laws into state or municipal legislation falls outside the realm of the federal government. Pursuant to the 10th amendment, any power not enumerated to the federal government becomes the power of the state. Although immigration overall is a federal power, the federal government should be only able to use their resources to enforce its policies, not those of the individual states. The resources of the state should be utilized in enforcing the law of the state, rather than being at the hands of the federal government. If we allow for the federal government to interfere with matters that are clearly under the jurisdiction of the state, what will stop them from expanding their power from restrictions on sanctuary cities to a multitude of federal interests?  

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/09/opinion/trump-california-sanctuary-movement.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2016/11/26/federalism-the-constitution-and-sanctuary-cities/?utm_term=.a23e9144eb4b

 

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