People, on all sides of the aisle, generally treat politics like sports — when a person’s favorite team is up to bat, it doesn’t matter whether that team is better or worse than the opposition, it just matters that it’s their team. Herein lies the problem, and the topic for this month’s column.
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The Constitution makes clear that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This seems pretty straightforward. However, I’ve noticed a trend among commentators calling for a greater role for religion in regard to the state. Often, the precise role they feel religion should play is very vague; specific policies are usually not called for. Nonetheless, it is a troubling trend.
The revolutions of thought that led to our nation’s founding had their roots in the turmoil of religious wars in Europe. Several factors led to the conflicts that plagued the continent, obviously, but it’s no stretch to say that religion was one of them. Out of this tumult, modern thought was born, which in time inspired our founders to break away from the tyranny of the Crown. They structured the new nation largely on the principles of modern philosophy, especially on the thought of men like John Locke, among others.
For instance, for over a decade the United States has waged a “War on Terror,” and this war has ostensibly provided the federal government justification for warrantless wiretapping, sweeping phone surveillance programs, and the execution of American citizens without trial, not to mention the actual wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In order to justify such policies, the War on Terror has got to be pretty important. So, who is it being fought against? Terrorists, presumably. But what’s a terrorist?
The fairgrounds offer a spacious and scenic location for the festival, providing ample room for festival-goers to set up their tents and RVs and camp out for the weekend. Many retirees enjoy spending their leisure time traveling to such events all across the Northeastern US. But the fun isn’t limited to a specific age group — young people are encouraged to attend and discover the music as well.
During the course of his service, Fred was stationed in Saudi Arabia. He arrived prior to the first Gulf War, helping to build a camp from which stealth bombers would restock and take off on missions. “We were the first in and then last out,” he recalled. He said that the bombers would take off in the middle of the night, their engines so powerful that the ground would rumble. Luckily, he worked night shift at the time, so they didn’t interrupt his sleep.
Daniel was sent to serve in Germany. The first two years he worked as a personnel clerk for Army Security Agency, a precursor to the NSA. This involved studying the North Vietnamese language. His daily duties included processing soldiers, both those returning from and being deployed to Vietnam. During this time, American deaths in the war reached their apex, and pressure was on to start pulling back. The ASA program was dissolved by President Nixon in the winter of 1969. During the last two years of his service, Daniel worked within the US Army mortuary system, which involved assisting morticians and funeral directors, processing the remains of the fallen, and occasionally holding funerals (though typically this was done back in the States).
In my last column, in March, I discussed the reasons why it’s a good idea to follow politics. This month, I’ll describe three ways to successfully instigate change. This is by no means a comprehensive list of what you can do to alter government, but it’s certainly a good place to start, especially if you’ve got a busy life and can’t devote all of your time to staging a political revolution.
On Thursday, April 24, contenders for the 115th Pennsylvania House of Representatives District Republican primary race squared off during a debate at East Stroudsburg University’s Beers Lecture Hall. The debate was sponsored by ESU’s political science department, the College Republicans, and the American Democracy Project. The event began with a brief explanation of the format by Dr. Jeffrey Weber, chair of ESU’s political science department. Dr. Weber hosted the debate alongside assistant professor Dr. Adam McGlynn, American Democracy Project coordinator.
Frequently, my friends tell me they have no interest in politics, and I typically don’t belabor the point. Frankly, I don’t blame them for their disinterest. Corruption, endless scandals, torrents of wasted money — it’s enough to discourage even the most committed political idealist. It’s easy to succumb to the mindset that there’s nothing we do can to change the system, so we shouldn’t bother trying. But I still believe that change is possible, that we can and should care — not in spite of governmental failure, but because of it. I’ll explain why.
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