Political Spectrum Explained


In our Modern political world, we often hear
terms like left-wing politics and right-wing politics. We often get confused and misunderstood these
terms. So, what do these terms mean and where do
they come from So hi guys this is Pratik and you are watching
eclectic – The political terms left wing and right wing
were first used in the ideological context during the French revolution of the 18th century. In the French Revolution, Left supported the
revolution, they supported overthrowing the king while the right wing supported the monarchy
means they supported the king. This idea of the left supporting change and
the right wanted to keep the status quo continues today and is key in some of their philosophy. Our modern political world is divided into
these two ideologies. On the Left, there are communist, socialist
and liberals. They all hate capitalism and the free market
economy. On the right, there are conservatives and
capitalists. They favor capitalism and free market economy. The political spectrum from left to right
looks like these Communist, socialist, Green Politics (Environmentalism),
Christian democratic, conservative and right-wing extremist. The left promotes equal society. They believe that government should play a
substantial role in people lives. Left wing governments increase regulations
and taxes on businesses. Left literally promotes a socialistic idea
of taking money from rich by imposing heavy taxes on them and giving that money to poor
people through welfare programs and many government subsidies for poor. The left also calls itself progressive because
they oppose the death penalty and support same-sex marriage and women’s right to abortion. The left also promotes the idea of open borders
and favors immigration. Now let’s talk the economics of the left
Economically left believes in the Keynesian approach. It means increasing taxes when the economy
and business is booming or making the profit and spending that money when the economy is
weak. They oppose the free market economy. The left wants the complete control of the
economy whereas some leftists want moderate control over the economy. But this approach mostly fails because increasing
taxes and more regulations on the businesses are not good for the economy. It kills the productivity of businesses. If you increase the taxes on people, they
will spend less on shopping and services and businesses won’t generate more revenue. That is the reason under leftist government
economy stagnates. In short, the economy does not witness much
growth under the leftist government. Right wing believes social inequality is inevitable. They believe that there will always be some
rich people and some poor people in society. The right believes giving free stuff and free
money under government subsidies does not help the poor. It makes poor people lazy and they remain
poor. The right believes in providing opportunities
to the poor rather than providing them with free stuff. Right wing government believes that the government
should have limited control over the lives of people and businesses. They promote personal freedom and the free
market economy. Their goal is to impose less rules on people. Right wing follows religious and traditional
values and they oppose open borders and immigration. Now what is the economics of the right wing
Economically right wing follows the classical approach. Right wing decreases regulations on businesses,
which results in more innovation. The right-wing promotes free market where
the government does not interfere much. They decrease the taxes, therefore, people
save more money and as a result, people spend more money on shopping and services, which
helps businesses in generating more revenue. That is why the economy thrives and sees growth
under the right-wing government. When America was under the leftist Democratic
Party and Barack Obama was the president. American economy did not witness much growth
but after Donald Trump came to the power American economy saw good growth. In our modern politics – Parties on the
left include labor, the greens, Democratic Party and all socialist and communist parties. While those on the right include the Republicans,
conservatives, the UK Independence party and the BJP of India. There is also one center ground where parties
like liberal democrats lie. These parties at the center hold the views
from both the right and the left.

What Is Libertarianism?


In the US, we seem to only talk about two
political parties. Don’t like taxes? Republican. Want more social programs? Democrat. But the
fact is, there are more political philosophies and affiliations than you might think. One
of these is “libertarianism”, and it has grown increasingly popular over the past few
elections. Never heard of it? That’s fine, a recent poll found that even amongst self-described
libertarians, nearly a quarter had no idea what the word meant. So what exactly is libertarianism? Well, the most well known version is the one
that grew out of the 1960s counterculture movement in the US. In short, the libertarian
philosophy says that everybody should have absolute freedom to live their lives how they
see fit, as long as they respect everybody else’s right to do the same. This generally
means that most libertarians advocate for minimalist government on the basis that it
should have no say whatsoever in the decisions a person makes about his or her life. This
is a pretty Republican leaning ideal. At the same time, libertarians stress social freedoms,
like the right to gay marriage and abortion. In a nutshell, Libertarianism appeals to people
because it combines both political worlds. That may be why the Libertarian party has
been called the third largest party by both membership and popular vote in the US. But Libertarianism is unique in it’s own
way. It tends to support what is called a “night-watchman state”, where the only
function of a government is to protect it’s citizens from being injured or defrauded.
Thus, government should only consist of a military, a police force, and a court system.
Additionally, some libertarians think agencies like the FDA are intrusive, because they try
to regulate what you can and can’t ingest. Safety laws, like seatbelt or helmet requirements,
are also considered to be violations of freedom. Libertarians also tend to lean towards drug
legalization, getting rid of welfare, and supporting gun rights. However some tenets of libertarianism have
glaring problems in the real world. One real world example of limited government and a
free market occurred in post-Communist Russia. Without government support, Russia’s roads
and banks collapsed, inflation skyrocketed, and many old and jobless people were left
helpless. Libertarianism sounds like a good idea, but
like a number of other political philosophies, it may be a bit too idealistic to actually
work. Still, if lower taxes, legalized marijuana, and the freedom to do whatever you reasonably
want sounds good in theory, it just might be the party for you. There’s a fine line between libertarianism
and anarchy in the world of political philosophy. To learn more about what anarchy is all about,
take a look at our video here. That video can also be found in the description below.
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What is the Libertarian Party?


The largest third party in the United States
today is the Libertarian Party. How long has the Libertarian Party been in
existence? What are some of the Libertarian beliefs? In June of 1972, the Libertarian Party held
its first national convention. Those in attendance chose the name “Libertarian
Party” over the “New Liberty Party” which was the second place choice. At this convention, the new party also nominated
John Hospers as its first presidential candidate. Six years later, in 1978, Dick Randolph became
the first Libertarian to win public office. He was elected to the state legislature in
Alaska. By 1980, the party had grown enough to officially
become the third largest party in the United States. In that same year, the party achieved ballot
access in all fifty states. This means that the Libertarian Party presidential
candidate appeared on the ballot in all fifty states, alongside the Republican and Democrat
candidates. The Libertarian presidential candidate also
achieved ballot access in all fifty states in 1992 and 1996. This made them the only third party in history
to achieve ballot access in all fifty states in two consecutive elections. Similar to the Democratic donkey and the Republican
elephant, the Libertarian Party has chosen an animal to serve as a mascot. In the early 1990s, a penguin was chosen to
represent the party, which became known as the Liberty Penguin. However, in 2006, the penguin was largely
replaced by the Libertarian porcupine, which is now used regularly by the Libertarian Party. The Statue of Liberty is also a regularly
used party symbol. In 1972, the Libertarians adopted an official
slogan to help promote their party. This slogan, “There ain’t no such thing
as a free lunch” was used by the party for many years, including the slogan’s abbreviation
“TANSTAAFL.” Today, the party’s official slogan is “The
Party of Principle.” In terms of their political beliefs, Libertarians
are often thought to be economically conservative while being socially liberal. This means that they support many Republican
philosophies in terms of economic matters and many Democratic philosophies in terms
of cultural matters. Ultimately, the guiding principle to Libertarian
positions is that they believe the government should have as little involvement with an
individual’s day-to-day life as possible. Economically, Libertarians believe that the
government should have a “hands off” approach to the economy. This would mean the government should not
attempt to regulate the economy, but instead let the free market, and natural competition
amongst businesses, dictate things like prices and employee wages. Libertarians also believe in free trade and
free travel between nations. They feel that governments place unnecessary
restraints on the movement of people and products. Many Libertarians also support the legalization
of what they feel are “victimless crimes”. This would include the legalization of most
drugs, prostitution, gambling, and other similar activities. They hold this belief because they feel that
the government should not restrict an individual’s personal liberty. The Libertarian stances on these issues are
amongst the most controversial that the party holds. Libertarians also believe things such as public
schools and public healthcare should not exist. Instead, they feel that the private sector
could do a better, and more efficient, job in both of these areas. Additionally, they argue that government regulation
of the environment should not be necessary. They feel that private landowners would have
a much stronger interest in maintaining the health and cleanliness of their own land. Libertarians are also strong supporters of
unrestricted free speech. They oppose the government using its authority
to censor someone who might be speaking out against the government. They defend the rights of all individuals
to express dissent, whether it be through free speech or free press. This is not every belief promoted by the Libertarian
Party as there are too many to be listed in this lesson. It should also be remembered that not every
Libertarian shares each of these beliefs. It is difficult to categorize an entire group
of people in broad terms. The party includes a wide variety of people
who have their own opinions on many of these topics. The Libertarian Party has experienced varied
success over the course of its existence. In the 1990s, there were more than forty Libertarians
holding elected office throughout the nation. However, as recently as the 2012 presidential
election, the Libertarian candidate could only be found on the ballots of thirty states. Today, the Libertarian Party is experiencing
a surge once again. The Libertarian candidate for president in
both 2012 and 2016 was Gary Johnson (Johnson received more than one million votes in the
2012 presidential election). There are 145 Libertarians currently holding
public offices throughout the United States and more than 400,000 Americans who are registered
Libertarians. There are also numerous Independents, who
claim to be Libertarians, living in states where they cannot register with the party.

Why Doesn’t the U.S. Have a Multi-Party Political System? | Sean Wilentz


The two party system is inevitable in America. The framers designed a constitution that they
thought would be without political parties. They didn’t like political parties. They thought political parties were divisive. They thought political parties would ruin
the commonwealth as they saw it. They didn’t like them, and yet they designed
a system in which parties very quickly arose and we’re never going to go away. And the reason is simple that in a country
as large, as diverse with so many clashing interests as the United States it’s going
to become necessary to find a focus, to find a focus for your political actions. Parties have become that focus. They very quickly became that focus. Now, the question is why don’t we have a multiparty
system? Why aren’t we more like Italy say or even
France or a European parliamentary system? Well that’s the answer is that we’re not a
parliamentary system. Because we have a system that we do and because
it’s based on the idea of first past the post, in other words the person who gets the most
amount of votes will win the election, they’re not going to have proportional representation. If you get ten percent of the votes you’re
not going to get ten percent of the power you’re going to get nothing. On that account then the pressure is very,
very strong for there to be eventually a two party system. Third parties can come in and they can have
a tremendous amount of influence in shaping the major parties, but as a great historian
once said third parties are like bees, they sting and then they die. So they make their sting, but because a third-party
will always almost inevitably help the party they’re most unlike, as you saw with say the
Nader campaign in 2000 who got elected, they have their effect but then they very quickly
disappear. So I think the two parties, it’s not so much
that I have some metaphysical or ontological love for two parties as a thing, it’s rather
that’s the way the American constitutional system works. Now, if you change the constitutional system,
of course, that would change as well, but it’s embedded in the way that our government
was set up in 1787/’88 and it continues that way to this day.

Should the U.S. Get Rid of Political Parties?


Democracy is not about policy, it’s about
process. It’s about how you achieve the results in
the policy you want. We have created a political system that rewards people with reelection by being intransigent, unwilling to to compromise because if you do compromise and you talk to people on the other side and you work with them, you’re going to get attacked by your own party in a primary. What we have now is too much power in the
political parties. In nothing else in our lives, do we say we’re going to solve our problems and do things by dividing into rival teams each out to destroy
each other. It’s an absurd proposition. One of the things in the last election that was so amazing to watch is that in both political parties, Republicans and Democrats, there were a lot of people who just didn’t like the system Especially when you talk about young people,
millennials. They’re a la carte. They don’t want to be told, “here is
the line.” “You have to take A,B,C,D, all the way through Z.” And I think all the American people are getting
there too. Who is going to make these changes? It’s not going to be the party leaders. We don’t care if you call yourself Republican
or Democrat. We want you listening to us, and we want you, more importantly, to be thinking about what’s the right thing to do not what your party wants you to do.

Understanding the Primaries: Delegates, Democracy, and America’s Nonstop Political Party


Good morning, Hank. It’s Tuesday. and I have strep throat which I rate 0/10 not recommended. so your video about the political situation in Brazil made me think about the political situation here in the United States specifically the tortuously long, Kafka-esque process through which the two major political parties in the United States determine their nominees for President. delving deeply into the whole sorted affair would take like a month so today we’re just going to look at one state: Missouri last week the people of Missouri voted in their presidential primaries and on the Republican side, Donald Trump beat Ted Cruz statewide by about .19 percent And on the democratic side, Hilary Clinton beat Bernie Sanders by a similar margin But what actually matters for becoming your party’s nominee is not how many votes
you get but how many delegates are pledged to you because the nominees are
not actually chosen by voters. They are chosen by delegates at the party’s national
conventions in July. The Republicans are meeting in Cleveland the Democrats in
Philadelphia. On the Republican side there will be 2473 of these delegates voting at the
convention and on the Democratic side there will be 4765-ish. It depends a little bit on if anybody dies. Right, so despite
only winning the statewide primary by point two percent Hilary Clinton
emerged from Missouri with 47 delegates to Bernie Sanders’ 35. In fact, she would have won more delegates
than Sanders even if she lost by .2 percent because the Missouri Democratic
Party has named 13 so-called super delegates who can support whomever they
want at the convention and most of them have endorsed Clinton. Missouri’s
super-delegates include the state’s governor Jay Nixon, Senator Claire
McCaskill, and like other prominent members of the state’s Democratic Party. Then there are the 71 delegates who actually represent Missouri’s Democratic
primary voters. By state party rule, their votes are split proportionately according to
the results, so if Clinton had gotten a hundred percent of the vote, she would have
gotten all 71 delegates, but she just barely beat Sanders, so instead she got
36 delegates to his 35. This year in Missouri there were about 8,800 democratic votes for each of these
71 pledged delegates. Which means that at the party’s convention in Philadelphia Governor Jay
Nixon will have, you know, around 8800 times more power than the
average Democratic voter in Missouri, and not to belabor the obvious or anything,
that’s not a power distribution generally associated with the word
democracy. But wait, there’s more! Over on the Republican side Donald Trump beat Ted Cruz very narrowly statewide, but emerged with 37 delegates to Cruz’s 15.
And John Kasich, who got ten percent of the vote, won no delegates at all. But it
wasn’t all bad news for Kasich, because on the same day in Ohio, he got 47
percent of the Republican vote but all of the state’s 66 delegates.That’s because the
rules of the Republican state party in Ohio dictate that whoever gets the most
votes gets all the delegates, whereas the rules created by the State party in
Missouri dictate that if no one gets 50 percent, the winner gets twelve delegates, and then
five delegates go to the winner of each of Missouri’s eight congressional
districts. Trump won the state and five of the congressional districts ergo 37
delegates. Alright, this is going to get a little complicated: bit of context for
non-Americans: there are 435 congressional districts in the United States. Each of
these districts elects a congressperson every two years who goes to Washington and
fails to pass a budget. Presumably they also do other things but the main thing is to
make sure that we don’t accidentally pass a budget. Each state gets a certain
number of congressional districts based on their population, and after the 2010
census it was determined that a smaller percentage of Americans lived in
Missouri so they lost a congressional district. While fast growing states like Arizona
and Florida gain districts but this losing a district offered the state of
Missouri an opportunity to redraw its congressional boundaries. Back in 2010 there
were six congressional districts represented by Republicans and 3
represented by Democrats. If one of those had to go, the Republicans obviously
wanted it to be a majority Democratic district which is what happened because
1- they control the state legislature and 2 – one of the democratic congress people
helped them because in that process his district became even more democratic. You know, now he’s less likely to lose his job. Today congressional districts in
Missouri are drawn mostly in a way that makes the elections within them extremely
lopsided. Like in 2014 the first congressional district of Missouri voted
73 percent to 21 percent for the Democrat. The third district meanwhile
voted 68 percent to 27 percent for the Republican, et cetera. But per Republican state party rules, no matter which
district you win you get the same five delegates. Like in Missouri’s 1st congressional district
about 34,000 republican votes were cast in the 7th district it was closer to
150,000. So just by virtue of living in the first district instead of the seventh, your
Republican primary vote is five times more powerful. In short Hank, all of this is
extremely complicated and none of it is particularly democratic, at least not in
a straightforward way we usually imagine democracy. Political
parties are weird institutions in the United States, like, they’re simultaneously
public organizations and private clubs. They make their own rules, the rules are
constantly changing, but in many cases the rules are regulated by the states.
And political parties are powerful, but only insofar as their supporters allow
them to have power. Also they don’t really have card-carrying members, but almost
every national elected figure belongs to one of them. Now some of this is a legacy from
a time when the United States was openly suspicious of what we now call voting
rights. I mean, for most of American history, most adults couldn’t vote and
political parties served partly as a check against revolution or radical
change. In fact, the nominating process has become much more democratic over time. Like as
recently as 1968 only 34 percent of Republican delegates were chosen by
primaries, and only 38 percent of Democratic delegates. And for the last 10 election cycles,
in both parties, the person with the most overall primary and caucus support has
also been the eventual nominee. But that may not be the case this year, and it
remains to be seen who will actually wield the power when the party and the
people disagree. Hank, I’ll see you on Friday.

Free Thoughts, Ep. 205: Ten Things Political Scientists Know That You Don’t (with Hans Noel)


Trevor Burrus: Welcome to Free Thoughts. I’m Trevor Burrus. Joining me today is Hans Noel, the associate
professor at Georgetown University. He is the author of “Political Ideologies
and Political Parties in America” from Cambridge University Press. He has also authored many articles, one of
which is the subject of today’s episode, “10 Things Political Scientists Know That You
Don’t”, and Hans actually informed me that he is turning that into a book, which [00:00:30]
makes me very excited because I have recommended this article many times to many people because
I think it is very important that people realize this, so welcome to Free Thoughts, Hans. Hans Noel: Thanks, thanks for having me. Trevor Burrus: What prompted you to write
the “10 Things” article? Hans Noel: I was approached by the editor
of the journal that it’s in, North Forum, they were doing a special issue on things
that political scientists could learn from practitioners and so forth, which is a great
issue. I go, “That’s really great,” and they said,
“Oh, do you want to contribute something to that?” It’s [00:01:00] really good, but I’m a political
scientist, so I don’t know what we can learn from them. I know things that maybe others don’t always
know that we could teach the other way, and so that led to that conversation. I said, “Let’s put this piece together,” and
it has been very well received. I know a lot of people use it and assign it
in classes. It’s getting a little bit older now, which
is why I’d like to update it with the book, but I just sort of felt like there’s a lot
that political scientists can and should learn from people who are actually doing politics,
[00:01:30] but there is a lot of commentary about people doing politics from people who
are doing politics that is a little bit ignorant of the things that social scientists have,
at this point, figured out. Trevor Burrus: In the interview article you
write, “People would probably be better off if they knew more than they do about a lot
of things. Politics might, however, be the last thing
on that list.” That seems a strange thing to say. What do you mean by that? Hans Noel: For me, and for you, and presumably
for a lot of the listeners now, politics is really important because we’re really interested
in it. [00:02:00] We have other things that are interesting
in our lives, so I’m spending the year now in Florence, Italy, as we mentioned a minute
ago, and there’s all these great arts, and architecture, and history here, none of which
really has anything to do with politics. You can, and should, be able to live a very
full life without being that involved in politics. As I go on to say in the piece, as much as
we’d like to think you’ll be able to live a lively and happy life [00:02:30] without
involvement in politics, we think that people have a responsibility to know about politics
or at least to know about it if they are going to participate in politics. We may as well figure out what it is that
the experts on politics has, to this point, managed to learn. Trevor Burrus: That might be the case that
people are disappointed in that, though. Some of the things that the experts know might
disappoint some people. Hans Noel: I think that’s definitely true,
and unlike in most other disciplines, we think if this isn’t how it works, maybe we should
be able to [00:03:00] change it. That’s probably legit in some cases, but it
would be useful to have a better understanding of what we think we already know before we
start going around saying, “Oh, I don’t like how our system works, and we ought to be different
and it ought to be changed, it’s not common sense, those eggheads in Washington don’t
know what they’re doing.” Maybe they don’t, but if we knew better what
they think that they do know, we’d be better off. Trevor Burrus: Let’s start at the beginning
of the list. The number one thing is, ” [00:03:30] It’s
the fundamental, Stupid.” What is that “thing” that you know? Hans Noel: That’s a riff on a line from the
Clinton campaign in ’92 … the Bill Clinton campaign, which their mantra for their campaign
was “It’s the Economy, Stupid,” meaning let’s keep our focus on the economy because the
economy is the thing that we think people are going to vote on, and that’s going to
cause them to vote for Clinton, which in fact is what happened. That phenomena, that strategy that Clinton
[00:04:00] had in that campaign generalizes. We think in general that the thing that drives
most election results is how happy our people … in particular, how happy are they with
the big things that the government is responsible for, like the state of the economy. When the economy is doing well, incumbents
tend to get re-elected. When the economy is doing poorly, incumbents
tend to get booted out. Of course, when the economy is doing so-so,
then you tend to get really close elections, which is what we’ve had in the last couple
of presidential elections in the United States. In that sense, you don’t need to know anything
else [00:04:30] about Clinton versus Trump, or whatever else was going on in 2016. The state of the economy was that you’d expect
when the incumbent party, the Democrats, who have been in power for two terms, to have
a hard time winning. In fact, Clinton outperformed that expectation
by a couple of points, but you sort of expect that that would be a year when the Republicans
would probably win. That tends to be what happens. So, we really want to over-interpret every
election and to all the different nuances of [00:05:00] what happened, and there’s nothing
wrong with that because the other subject also probably matters, but a baseline is when
things are going well people return the incumbent to office, and when they’re not going to so
well they like to throw them out and replace them with someone else. Trevor Burrus: Does that mean that campaigning
doesn’t matter, or at least doesn’t matter as much as people might think it does? Hans Noel: Probably not. I mean, campaigning definitely matters in
some ways, and there’s two broad things that campaigns are doing. One is they’re mobilizing voters and they’re
getting them to the polls and so forth, and what we basically [00:05:30] have seen is
that in most good elections both parties do a pretty good job of that. It’s a little like saying, “Does advertising
not matter because the market share between Coke and Pepsi hasn’t changed very much.” Well, but if one of them stopped advertising,
things might be different. There’s a little bit of that that’s going
on. The other thing that campaigns do is they
can focus and shape the conversation around the state of the economy. Bill Clinton said, “It’s the Economy, [00:06:00]
Stupid. Let’s talk about the economy, let’s talk about
the fundamentals and push it in that direction.” He could have done something different, and
then that might have had some other effects into the direction. Things matter on the margins, and if elections
are going to be very close, then all kinds of other things that are in the campaign probably
matter. In 2016, the election came down to fewer than
100,000 votes in three or four states. Those people are going to be affected by the
campaign. The magnitude of the campaign effects might
be small, [00:06:30] but if the race is close, then it can still matter. So, we really want to think campaigns don’t
matter at all, but they matter in the context of a sort of baseline that is set by its fundamentals:
how popular is the president, how is the economy doing, and so forth. Trevor Burrus: It seems that if they both
stop … if they agree to stop campaigning, which of course is this huge pie in sky, all
these political ads. I mean political scientists say this is almost
wasted money. A lot of people think they have huge effects,
and people spend [00:07:00] hundreds of millions of dollars on ads, and it sometimes seems
like a destructive equilibrium, which is if everyone stands up at the concert … if one
person stands up at the concert, then everyone has to stand up. But, if everyone could just agree to sit down,
then we can be relaxing, and then if someone brings a box and everyone else will bring
a box, eventually you can have the entire crowd standing on 200 boxes because no one
can agree to just, “Okay, let’s take away all the boxes and just stand on the floor.” It seems kind of destructive sometimes. Hans Noel: [00:07:30] Maybe it is, but one
thing that’s important is … empirically we find this pattern that the economy has
this effect and the fundamentalists and generalists of the things like foreign policy have this
affect. We only observe it in a world in which there
are campaigns. It might be that if there were no campaigns
at all, then things wouldn’t work out this way. The other thing about campaigns is that we
talk a lot about how there’s like all these ads that it seems annoying and destructive. Again, to people like us who pay a lot of
attention to politics and maybe don’t need advertisements [00:08:00] to know what’s going
on with politics, it seems like it’s a distraction. One thing that we know is that the more ad
campaigns that exist, the more that whole phenomena plays out, the more informed people
are about politics. It might be that while the campaign is not
necessary to someone who wins, it does actually inform people a bit about who is running and
what they stand for, what direction they are, and that may not necessarily be a bad thing. Given that the cost of campaigning isn’t … it
seems like a lot and we talk about [00:08:30] a lot of money, but it’s nothing like the
cost of campaigning for a consumer product or something. It may not be such a bad thing that people
have a high attention to campaign. You might worry about the tone, or what if
it could be more positive and all of that, but now it seems like we’re on a level of
fine-tuning something, like, “Oh, if only some people would just be nicer,” while I’m
sure that would be nice, I’m not necessarily … if I were work with you on reforming the
[00:09:00] political system, that’s one thing in a way, which put politics as different
than some other disciplines. Like, in chemistry this is how it works, but
in political science and other social sciences, learning about it we can actually change what
we do and we could actually see things in different directions. If I were working on doing that, I think getting
rid of campaigns wouldn’t be high on my list of reforms that I’d be interested in [00:09:23]. Trevor Burrus: Number two, “The will of the
people is incredibly hard to put your finger on.” Hans Noel: The [00:09:30] issue that I’m getting
at here is that it’s … we like to think about like, “I took a poll, and the poll says
this is what people believe and what they’ve said.” Most people are not that interested in politics,
and therefore they don’t actually have well-defined opinions about things. It maybe makes more sense to say people just
don’t have an opinion on something, rather than saying that 60% support something and
40% disapprove. If you ask people, if you call them up and
say, “Hey, [00:10:00] what do you think about the death penalty? Or, do you approve of the job that the president
is doing as President?,” they’re going to give you an answer, but it’s not a well thought
out answer. It’s not their fault, like I said before,
people have more important things to do with their lives than to know about politics. But, they will give us an answer and the reason
why that’s important is because maybe a different context where an election was say, to come
up, well then there would be a campaign and there would be a conversation and that might
change people’s minds about things. So, we do a survey and we say, “Oh, you know,
60% of [00:10:30] people approve of the job the president’s doing,” or, “Right now Donald
Trump’s approval ratings are really low.” Okay, that something that tells us that he’s
not going to win re-election. Oh, but what’s going to happen when the campaign
turns around and he starts trying to sell some people on himself? Then, they might change their minds. It’s not that you can’t ask surveys, or can’t
do these things, but you want to realize that the public opinion of people are very responsive
to things. Particularly responsive to partisan [00:11:00]
messages, so what Republics are telling people Republican voters are going to believe, and
what Democrats are telling people, Democratic voters are going to believe. Given that that’s the sort of dynamic, we
shouldn’t sort of imagine that public opinion is this independent force in the world that
I’ve tapped it by asking this question, and now I know what the people want. Well, they want what they’ve been told they’re
supposed to want because they’re only answering the survey questions and the survey questions
are asked in an information environment [00:11:30] that was shaped by partisan politicians who
are trying to shape that information. Trevor Burrus: Yeah, this issue comes up … I
do a lot of work on campaign and finance policy, and it comes up a lot. What I see is kind of an implicit premise
that is often unstated when people criticize spending money in elections as they often
say, “Oh, the Koch brothers,” or “George Soros are distorting the will of the people,” or,
“They are distorting American democracy,” and it seems like the implicit premise there
is that there is some sort [00:12:00] of real political opinion will of the people almost
Rousseauian and when someone comes in and spends money to speak to the electorate, sometimes
that’s distorting, but I don’t even know what that would mean. Hans Noel: I think that’s right. It’s sort of nonsensical to talk about there
being this pure thing that could be distorted. You could still say, “I’m concerned that too
much money from these people is going to create an information environment that’s going to
steer things this direction, or that direction,” and what we’d like to do is have a [00:12:30]
conversation that includes … let everyone have a voice, or whatever, you can worry about
that. That’s very different than saying, “We just
can’t people spending money. We just need to get at their pure thing.” There is no purer thing, so then we’ve got
to be thinking about are we getting a diversity of voices that are affecting the information
environment? Are the facts that are in the information
environment true? Those kinds of things. It’s a very different question when, “Well,
I just need to know what people really think.” Trevor Burrus: [00:13:00] Number three … that
leads into number three, which is, “The will of the people, not only is it hard to put
your finger on, it may not even exist.” Hans Noel: Yeah, this is an interesting finding
that’s been known on political science for a long time, and economics for a long time,
that as we tend to think about we’ll just aggregate our people’s preferences, do we
want to change our immigration policy to where we make it more difficult for immigrants to
enter the country, and let’s see what everyone thinks. Let’s lay aside the question that they maybe
haven’t even thought [00:13:30] about the issue already. Let’s figure out what they mostly think, let’s
inform them, whatever … and then they want this policy. Oh, so now we know what they think. The thing is, if the dimensions of policy
that exist are in any way more complicated than just there’s one question; yes or no,
which of course they are, on all issues, then it’s quite possible that a majority might
prefer some Policy A to Policy B, but B is preferred to Policy [00:14:00] C, and the
C is preferred to Policy A. This can get a little technical, and I don’t
want to get too deep into it here, but the idea behind this was at the era it was an
economist working at Rand in the 50’s, it’s kind of interesting in the question of, so,
we keep talking about our international competition, and the Cold War, and we keep thinking that’s
just to understand if we’re rational and they’re rational, and everybody else understanding
what happens when you kind of get things up, so you’re going to get off on this question
of like, “Can we aggregate [00:14:30] up people’s preferences into something that’s sort of
coherent and rational?” What they said, “Well, we don’t want it to
be a democracy, so what should a democracy have?” And, a democracy, so like, one person doesn’t
decide everything, that would be a dictatorship, and if everybody wants something, well they
should get it. He’s laid out a handful of things that he
thought you might expect a democracy to have, and in the end is, you can’t do that. Trevor Burrus: Right. Hans Noel: Something that we think is important
for democracy is at least clausibly going to fall apart. The thing that’s most likely to fail is we
think that a democracy should work [00:15:00] no matter what people want. We should have any possible set of preferences,
and we just set them in to go that those preferences are all kind of mushy and they could go in
all different directions. Any possible set of preferences should be
acceptable, we have to be able to aggregate them up. The truth is, any aggregating system that
we have, whether it be majority rule, or some other super majority … anything we do might
possibility give us some sort of perverse outcome where the whole country [00:15:30]
votes for Donald Trump, but in fact, somebody else the whole country would prefer, but the
system didn’t allow them to make that choice and we never observed that. That’s possible. It’s a mathematical fact. I’m sorry, go ahead. Trevor Burrus: We saw that in 1912, right? We saw that in 1912, kind of, with Woodrow
Wilson. Hans Noel: Yeah, I think that 1912 is probably
the most clear example. The Republican party in 1912 was represented
by Taft, who was probably the least progressive [00:16:00] of the major counting candidates
progressive, being of particular dimensions. It’s not quite the same as progressively meeting
today, but at any rate, Taft. Then he was challenged by Theodore Roosevelt,
who had been a Republican president in the past, and he wants to run again, and he’s
probably the most progressive again, in the historical context. So, it splits the Republican party and then
they face off against Woodrow Wilson and the Democrats, and Wilson wins, but it is quite
possible that had Taft or Roosevelt [00:16:30] by themselves been the candidate, that either
one of them would have beat Wilson. If you look at the votes across the country,
in most states the Roosevelt vote and the Taft vote add up together to about what Taft
had gotten previously, so we match. That’s like the Republicans literally are
splitting their vote, and there were more Taft and Roosevelt votes together than there
were for Wilson. So, maybe we got the wrong president. One thing to say is, “Oh, well we got the
wrong president because the Republic [00:17:00] party was split, and we shouldn’t have let
them be split.” But, that’s not completely the answer because
well, how do they not split? Should they have nominated Taft? Should they have nominated Roosevelt? Which one was better? Well, they faced off within the party and
we got one answer, but it’s hard to know. I think the end result is, whatever you do
in a collective action, you can’t be too confident that it really is what the people wanted. It just depends on the system that you use. It depends on the rule that we had in the
application, and there’s not [00:17:30] anything wrong or right about those rules, but different
rules give you different outcomes. If that’s the case, if different rules give
you different outcomes, then it’s very hard to be very confident about any particular
outcome because a different set of rules that are just as reasonable would have given you
a different one. Trevor Burrus: Which leads nicely to number
four, “There is no such thing as a mandate.” I’m sure probably Woodrow Wilson might have
said something like … giving his inaugural speech in 1912, they don’t have a mandate
from the people, but that seems [00:18:00] probably a stretch. Hans Noel: Yeah, at least what we think of
as a mandate is … the people have said that I should be the president, or people have
said this policy platform is the one that we should implement, if given all of the squishiness
about what people want, and the problems with aggregation, it’s hard to believe that is
ever the case. Instead, what happens with mandates is it
becomes a rhetorical argument that politicians use to convince you that you should go along
with this. I think maybe we shouldn’t trust it very much,
but more, again, political scientists have studied [00:18:30] this directly and said,
“What happens when people say that they have a mandate?” We found that they try to create this narrative. There’s a nice book by Julia Azari that argues
that presidents use the mandate argument, in some cases, exactly when they need it the
most because their political support is the weakest, and instead they don’t have an overwhelming
majority, they have majority everywhere else. So, they have to use that rhetorical argument
to justify what they’re trying to do. If [00:19:00] they weren’t using the word
“mandate language,” that might be because they didn’t need to because their party has
control of everything so they can just implement policy. Trevor Burrus: Like Roosevelt would in the
30’s, or Reagan in ’84. Not having to say you have a mandate because
you won by such a huge amount that it wasn’t really necessary to build it up. Hans Noel: That’s right, yeah. And, you don’t have to make an argument to
the other party in congress that you should be listening to because the other party in
congress is a minority already, and your party is there doing what you want. The key there [00:19:30] is that the notion
of a mandate, we should think of it as a rhetorical strategy and not as some kind of true, “Well
he won, so whatever he wants to do we gotta do.” That’s a rhetorical strategy. What we do with that as a citizen, then they’re
like, “Well if you like what the President wants to do, you probably want to say, ‘All
right, he should do it.’ That’s how our system works, and if you don’t
like it, then you’re going to be ‘Ah, there’s no mandate.'” It doesn’t really tell us what much to do,
but we should be thinking about it as a rhetorical strategy rather than some sort of right of
the leadership [00:20:00] because they were represented by a majority through some particular
system. Trevor Burrus: Number five … is it “Duverger
[phonetic doo vurg er] or [phonetic doo verg er]?” Hans Noel: It’s going to be [phonetic doo
ver jay]. It’s French. Trevor Burrus: Duverger, okay well that was
number three. “Duverger, it’s the law.” Hans Noel: The Duverger’s Law is the one of
the few things that I think political scientists would be willing to call “a law.” It’s probably not fair to do that. We don’t have laws in the same way that we
have Newton’s Laws of Physics, or anything like that. [00:20:30] We don’t have those kinds of laws
in social sciences. Duverger’s Law has been called the [“addonist”
inaudible 00:20:35]. In fact, it doesn’t really hold up perfectly
empirically, but it’s still an important one. The idea behind this is, “Why is it that we
only have two parties in the United States?” The answer that Duverger would propose is,
“In the United States we have first past the post-election rules, and so when you have,
that is to say in order to win a seat in congress, you just get the most votes in the congressional
district, and then you’d get it.” [00:21:00] Places that have that kind of system
tend toward fewer parties, and maybe especially even to two parties. The reason is that say you’re running for
office … well, let’s talk about the presidency, which is a similar thing. Say you’re running for office for the presidency,
and you’ve got Clinton running, you’ve got Trump running, and you’re like, “I don’t like
them, I want a third party choice.” But, now you go to vote and you’re going to
go vote between Clinton or Trump, but no, you don’t like either of them, you’d rather
a third party choice. As much as you might like Jill Stein or Gary
Johnson, you gotta be pretty confident they’re not going to win [00:21:30] because you can
see the polling and you can see that it’s unlikely that they’re going to win. Meanwhile, you probably have an opinion between
Trump and Clinton, so why vote for the third party candidate when you have an opinion over
the two people who are most likely to win and you could affect the outcome in that direction. Duverger doesn’t tell you what to do, it isn’t
saying that’s right or wrong, it’s saying that both people are going to think that way. If they’re going to think that way and on
both politicians, therefore are going to think that way, so then really steeled politicians
are not going to run as third party candidates. [00:22:00] This is the smart thing that both
Trump and Sanders did, for instance. Both of them were outsiders and neither of
them said, “I’m going to run as a third party independent candidate,” because that wasn’t
going to work. They said, “I’m going to run and capture one
of the party nominations because that’s what’s going to be a ticket to winning.” If that’s what’s going to happen, you’re going
to reduce yourself down to two parties. People who complain in the United States who
say, “I wish I had a third party choice,” I think there’s a legitimate sense that maybe
that would be a good thing. I won’t take a side one way or the other on
that. But, people who complain about that tend to
think, ” [00:22:30] We just need to let these third parties flourish, and we should stop
saying nasty things about Jill Stein,” or whatever, if they’re running, “We should be
nice about the third party,” in that they’ll win votes. The system is not geared toward having that. If you want to have a viable third and fourth
party, as we do have in many countries around the world, you need a different system. Probably a system that is proportional in
some way, a proportional representation system where instead the way that you would get [00:23:00]
seats in the legislature is by what proportion of the vote you get. If you get 20% of the vote, you get 20% of
the seats. Then, you don’t lose anything and there’s
no harm in voting for a minor party, because you can still help them get a little bit. It also matters that some countries have a
parliamentary system rather than a presidential system. Presidential system is sort of like a single-member
district on steroids, like the presidency is a single seat and you have to win it, whereas
in a parliamentary system like in Great Britain or in Canada, where they [00:23:30] do have
slightly more viable minor parties that still tends towards two large parties, but you tend
to have more viable third parties. Thereto, though, you can send them to parliament
and they can make a coalition government and something in parliament, whereas in our system
a third party would just be an appendage that would have to rely with one of the new parties,
and they would not be able to succeed at trying to influence the executive, or it’s a problematic
system where you’re choosing your executive, you’re choosing your Prime Minister from the
legislature, [00:24:00] and the legislature is selecting them. Having a voice in the legislature is enough. Those dynamics, again, the rules that we have
affect the outcome there, and if you really want a third party then we ought to be changing
institutions. Until you do, the metaphor I like is … it’s
a little bit like saying, “I really wish we had better public transit in my city, so let
me go down to this corner where the train ought to be there, and wait for the train
to come.” Until you build the transit, there’s no point
in going and waiting for the train. [00:24:30] You want to change the institution
first and then you can vote for your third party. Trevor Burrus: Occasionally third parties
in America, as you said, it’s not a perfect model and a perfect law, but occasionally
third parties like Ross Perot in ’92, who a lot of people decided that they weren’t
throwing their vote away with him getting 20% of the vote, and then 1860 is another
example of third parties. It happens. Is there any sort of theory about why at these
times [00:25:00] third parties might be more successful, because a lot of people thought
it might have been this year, or this last election, with distaste for Republicans and
Democrats, and it ended up not being a very big third party year. Hans Noel: Yeah, I think when you have a clear
division within an existing coalition, that’s going to happen. Again, in 1912 we talked about earlier, the
Republicans basically nominated two people and so some Republicans thought this was the
right person, and some thought that was the right person. Much depends in this Duverger logic. Much depends [00:25:30] on who we collectively
think are the top two candidates. Trump and Clinton are the representatives
of the two major parties, so they’re the two that everyone should vote for. But, if everyone believed that the race was
really a Johnson versus Stein race, then everyone should switch and vote the other way. There are going to be times when the political
alignments and shifts and so forth are such that the parties are torn apart a little bit,
and there are some uncertainties about the direction, and then that’s [00:26:00] going
to lead us to these kind of unusual places. 1860 is a perfect example of that where you’ve
got slavery as a key issue in politics that both parties have been trying to avoid, and
then the Republican party now has an element that is going to talk about it so you have
divides within the North and the South, and meanwhile you already have the existing divisions
over the tariff and other things that were divided in the parties. That kind of creates these pockets and it’s
not clear at who your partner is supposed to be, [00:26:30] so then the voting plays
out. If you kept voting, if they voted and you
saw the outcome and then you got to vote the next day and you kept doing that, which is
a little bit like what Poland does, you might eventually get to a place where, “Oh, now
we’ve all figured it out, and we’re going to vote this way.” It may take a while to get to that new equilibrium
with its clear two parties. There is always a pressure towards two parties
in the system, but there is also a pressure towards tearing this apart, because we all
want what we think is right. [00:27:00] My policy preferences, they do
not match up with any party. I disagree with this party on this thing,
and I disagree with that party on that thing. That’s what politics is about. It’s about coordinating with people, but we
don’t like that. We want to be able to say, “I want my own
choice.” The metaphor that I like here is about going
to buy ice cream. You know, you go for ice cream in the United
States and you’ve got your 31 flavors and there’s a million flavors, different things,
and sometimes people say things like, “If I have 31 choices of ice cream, why can’t
I have [00:27:30] at least three choices for politics?” I can see why people might think that. The difference is, if we go to the ice cream
place and I want chocolate and you want vanilla, and someone else wants rocky road, well, that’s
what we’ll get. Each of us gets what we want, and we get to
take it home. Politics isn’t like that because we only get
to have one president, and we all have to share. So, it’d be a little bit like at the end of
the day after everyone’s gone to buy ice cream, we tally it up and we found out which ice
cream sold the most, and then we all have to eat the same ice cream. It’d be a terrible business [00:28:00] model,
right? That’s why we don’t do that for businesses,
but politics is literally … in some ways politics is that set of things that we don’t
get to be that way about. We all have to have one immigration policy. We all have to have one tax policy. Even to the extent that we would say, “Well,
different states can do different things.” Right? That solves that problem. We all have to either live in a world where
every state can set its taxes, or they can’t. And then each state gets to do what it does. So, [00:28:30] you have to agree on and you’ll
have to coordinate in some way. That changes your logic completely. Now it’s not which ice cream flavor is the
one that I want the most, it’s of the ice cream flavors that lots of people want, which
one do I want the most? That changes your thinking about it, and therefore
drives you to different logic when you’re voting and building parties and everything. Trevor Burrus: You put it very clearly in
the essay, “Perhaps the most important to draw from Duverger’s Law is that voting is
not about expressing your opinion, [00:29:00] it is about coordinating with other voters,
and your institutions determine how you must coordinate.” That says it all right there. Hans Noel: Exactly. Trevor Burrus: That gets us into parties,
which is number six, where you attack the fantasy of it seems every election, especially
presidential elections that someone is going to come into Washington and just sit down
and put aside partisanship, and just make good decisions for the country. Candidates like to say [00:29:30] they’ll
do this, they like to be outsider candidates that say that they will do this. Why don’t they do that? Hans Noel: We saw that just this week. There’s this conversation about whether or
not Donald Trump is an independent or not. It eventually came around to, “Oh, I see this
potential for a third party in Donald Trump,” and journalists love this, they really do. But, it’s a little bit of a strange idea that
what matters … just do good policy. The reason is, we [00:30:00] disagree on stuff,
we really do. Those disagreements would be easier to set
aside … if we are talking about ice cream, something where we all can just go our own
way, but on a set of things that involve politics, we don’t agree about those things. Even on the question of let’s let people decide. So, should we have a minimum wage? Or, should we let businesses go their own
way? … and sort of buy their own ice cream in terms [00:30:30] of that. That’s a policy decision about they want to
live in a world with minimum wage or not, or if you want to let people define what they
think marriage is on their own? Or, are we going to impose that as a system? Different people have different census about
this is something we have to impose to have a social sective order, and these are things
that we don’t. I don’t think that anybody thinks there should
be literally nothing that we have. Okay, we all at the very least follow the
traffic laws, and drive on the right side and not be able to rob, and steal, [00:31:00]
and harm one another. So, what are the things that we have to … and
we disagree. If we’re going to disagree, we may as well
disagree in a way that’s sort of about systematic, the thing that parties do is that they encourage
people to set aside internal disagreements. Again, the ice cream metaphor is a question
of … there’s your fruit-based ice creams, and then there’s your chocolate-directioned
ice creams, and maybe you don’t like either of those, and you’re really frustrated. At the very [00:31:30] least, you could say,
“I’m going to go in this direction, and maybe I really would rather have Oreo something,
and instead I’m going to end up with a double chocolate fudge, but at least they’re both
in the chocolate direction, and I can sort out that compromise there.” What parties do is they force groups to form
compromises in smaller levels, and then they go together and say, “Set aside some of our
disagreements for the goal of trying to capture government and implement the things that [00:32:00]
we do agree on.” That’s how the system is going to work. Both as a normative thing, it’s okay fine,
so let’s accept parties and expect them to do that. Even independent of that, that’s what people
are going to do. So, you need to get rid of parties and get
rid of this stuff, people are going to coordinate like that. The nice thing about parties is it makes it
very transparent, and you know which coalition you’re buying yourself into and which one
you’re supporting and which one you’re opposing. Trevor Burrus: You have a quote from Schattschneider
from the 40’s, “Democracy is unthinkable.” [00:32:30] Say, in terms of parties, which
we always also hear when you study the founding era that everyone was sort of lamenting the
fact that the parties arose, but it seems that they’re necessary. Hans Noel: The interesting thing, in modern
democracy anyway, and you can have a small scale town hall-type democracy of 20 people
maybe, but any kind of modern democracy requires that. The interesting thing about the founders is
yes, the modern founders said they were, didn’t like the parties, Washington in his farewell
address is concerned about factions, Madison’s [00:33:00] worried about factions, and the
Federalist papers Jefferson said if he could only go to Heaven with a party, he’d rather
not do it. And yet, within a few elections, they were
building parties. Trevor Burrus: Oh yeah, they were at each
other’s throats. Yes. Hans Noel: They were going out and organizing,
they were saying, “We need to win this election, so who do I need to win, who are my allies,
who are not?” Even if you didn’t want to have parties, people
are going to do it. So, we might as well, from a perspective of
trying to organize and understand our [00:33:30] politics, we have to accept that we have them
and then maybe try to steer them in useful directions, because people out of one side
of their mouth say, “Parties are terrible,” and then the other side of their mouth, actually
start to organize them. I’d much rather it be transparent that that’s
what they’re doing. Trevor Burrus: I imagine that Jefferson and
Hamilton, as leaders of their respective parties, probably would have said something like, “Well
the only reason I am doing this is because Hamilton is organizing his party,” or vice
versa, which ultimately we shouldn’t [00:34:00] be doing this, but when you have people on
the other side who are organizing, you have to do it. Maybe we can get past it someday, and not
thinking that, “Nope, we’re never going to get past that.” Hans Noel: It kind of touches back to this
idea of if only … Trevor Burrus: If only they would stop, that’s
the thing- Hans Noel: If only they would stop- Trevor Burrus: Yes. Hans Noel: The other side is doing it, I’m
only doing it because they’re doing it. I think a lot of the founders had this idea
that we talked about a little bit earlier, about there really is some public will, [00:34:30]
and I am on the side of what’s in the interest, and then their interest in special interests- Trevor Burrus: They’re a faction. There are special interests. Hans Noel: They’re a faction, they’re special
interests, but I am not. I think that’s where a lot of it grows. Like sort of just re-appreciate that that’s
not really how things work. Then, the naïveté of trying to get rid of
parties becomes seen as exactly that naïveté. Trevor Burrus: I studied the Founding Era
a lot, because I do constitutional law here as one of the things, and you look at opinions
[00:35:00] about public opinion, which to me are some of the most fascinating opinions
around. Not so much your own opinion, but a person’s
opinion about how other people form their opinions. Those are usually incredibly biased and partisan
to … they’re just being manipulated by their party, whereas my party is not manipulating
anyone. They are being manipulated by their donors,
well, we’re not being manipulated at all. Of course, you see that throughout all of
American history. Hans Noel: Yes. Trevor Burrus: That’s a good way to [00:35:30]
go into number seven, which is, “How most independents are closet partisans.” We talk about independents all the time as
this great, rare thing out there with people who just dispassionately look at the issues
and have a voting record that goes back and forth between parties, but that’s kind of
a myth, isn’t it? Hans Noel: Yeah, I’m sure that there are some
people who are like that, who really is paying a lot of attention and thinking through all
of the issues, and building on several of the points that we’ve [00:36:00] mentioned
already; if people don’t have the will to find opinions, and if they also don’t pay
attention a little bit, and they need the ques to help figure out what they’re thinking,
and if politics is organized by elite sense of parties, then when you go to vote, it’s
probably not the case that you’re carefully evaluating the two choices. You kind of are leaning in one direction,
or another. One of the things that we’ve found is while
it is in the case that more and more people today claim to be independent than used to
be. Though if you ask, if you are you a Democrat
or Republican, or [00:36:30] you’re independent, it’s, “Oh, I’m an independent.” But, the increase in people who are independent
is mostly amongst people who still, when they go to vote, vote consistently for their party
and not for the other. It’s not something that’s very sensible
to say, well this huge group of voters out there that are up for grabs, because most
of them actually aren’t. One of the interesting things about this,
I don’t want to diminish the importance of independence, because there is a change there,
and it must mean something. There’s a really great book by Samara Klar
and Yanna Krupnikov, it’s just [00:37:00] out a couple of years ago, on the subject
of independent voters. What one of the things that they find is that
people are more likely to say that they are independent when you remind them that politics
can be contentious and some people in politics are nasty, and hostile, and jerks. Part of it is, people are just like, “People
are mean and they argue with each other, and I just want a sensible common sense compromise,
that’s what I would like to have,” and so then that’s what they say [00:37:30] that’s
what they want, and they say that they’re independent. Of course, what most of us, when we want a
sensible compromise, what we really want is we want the other side, that’s crazy, to compromise. There’s some research on this too, there’s
a nice piece by Laurel Harbridge and Neil Malhotra, I think, that shines where they
asked people, “What do you want in terms of a compromise?” and, what they mostly boiled
it down to is they’d like the other side to stop being so intransigent and to [00:38:00]
come over to where they are for us. Trevor Burrus: Yes. Hans Noel: So, that’s common sense. People would think that way, and if so, it’s
sort of not surprising. But, as a consequence, it’s not reasonable
to say, “Most people are independent,” most people have chosen sides, and what they believe
is going to be shaped by what side they’re on, so really what we have is this contest
between the two sides and therefore it very much matters what the leaders of those two
sides decide what the battle lines are going to be about. Trevor Burrus: That’s the common sense phrase,
which aggravates [00:38:30] me to no end, sort of always betrays that. We see common sense solutions to “x”, which
of course is considered crazy by the other side. Hans Noel: Right. Trevor Burrus: The other interesting thing
about independents is the idea of someone who is super interested in politics, but does
not have partisan allegiances. It’s kind of … someone who is really independent
probably doesn’t care about politics at all, correct? Hans Noel: Yeah, you think that. Again, [00:39:00] there are surely some people
like that. Anybody who is like that, or really cares
about politics but they’re kind of “above the fray,” they might be the person who’s
listening to this podcast. For the most part, no, people like that tend
to take sides. Even if you don’t think that you’re taking
sides, odds are you probably are still tend to find one side to be more persuasive than
the other, and therefore you’re going to lean in that direction. Even if you think you’re arriving at an independent
decision every time. Trevor Burrus: Number eight is a provocative
[00:39:30] sentence, especially for this town and Washington D.C. where I am, that “Special
interests are a political fiction.” Hans Noel: Yeah, I think it’s built on the
topics that we’ve just been discussing over the last couple of items here, in that we
like to think there’s some right thing that’s common sense, or is the general in everyone’s
interest, and then there’s these special interests that are there trying to undermine things. The problem is like, “What’s a special interest?” A special interest is any interest that is
mainly shared by a particular group and not everyone. We have [00:40:00] diverse society, and there’s
almost nothing that we all want exactly the same. Even the things that we broadly all want,
we’re still going to have one of them accomplished in slightly different ways. So what is the special interest? The special interests are business leaders,
that’s a special interest, and labor groups, they’re a special interest. They disagree on things, so they both have
their interests. Pro-Life and Pro-Choice activists are going
to be that, just about anything that you can imagine is going to be a particular group,
and that’s everybody. A reasonable approximation of what a special
interest is, [00:40:30] is it’s the interest of anybody whose not me because what they
want is not what’s in the common good. Of course, whatever I want is in the common
good. Again, we’re echoing this notion about common
sense principles and compromise. This is what the founders understood as a
problem. The founders said, “We’ve got all these different
groups, these different factions, we can’t expect them all to agree, we can’t expect
people not to have their difference, so we’ll just try to have a system that prevents them
from organizing.” [00:41:00] Political parties do more organizing
than Madison imagined would happen in when he was riding his federal stint, but that
landscape of people who want different things is sort of how political scientists approach
things. We come to this and say, “There’s a lot of
different interests, and how are we going to aggregate them, the other parties, what’s
their ideology, what sort of structure is this?” But we approach this question initially as
there’s lots of diversity in what people want, and we don’t tend to imagine that there exists
some kind of general interest [00:41:30] that if only we could just set aside our biases,
we could arrive at a good policy. We recognize that just about every policy
affect help some people, and maybe doesn’t help some other people, and that’s what political
conflict is about. Trevor Burrus: Yeah, you’re right that the
most important distinction is not between special and general interests, but between
organized interests and unorganized interests. Hans Noel: Exactly, yes. When you think about some broad groups that
are maybe thinking policy doesn’t help, and it’s [00:42:00] not helpful for those groups,
so, I think this is a classic example of this is the unemployed. There is a large group of people who perhaps
face difficult just because they are losing their jobs, but that group changes from year
to year. Some people, first are unemployed now, and
they’re not later, and so policies that might help the unemployed and help reduce the unemployment
level, or whatever else, are hard to do because that group isn’t going to organize it in the
same way that say, a religious group is going to organize whether this group always identifies
that [00:42:30] way, and they’re going to move, or a racial ethnic group is going to
say, “We have particular interests, and we know who we are.” So, organization is important. Again, cutting back to political parties,
there is a certain way, which this whole essay could have been about the importance of political
parties in one way or another, because one of the things the parties is they help to
mobilize and organize otherwise potentially unorganized groups, and pay attention to policies
that might sort of bring a bunch of small diffuse groups … bring them together, [00:43:00]
and form a majority coalition. Without somebody doing that, the interests
of certain groups are going to be under-represented. Trevor Burrus: Number nine, I think grows
from this too, “The grass does not grow by itself,” which is the question of what is
a real grassroots movement versus what is an AstroTurf, and I think this question is
very tied to things we’ve discussed where a lot of people … they think the other side
is somehow faking their political coalition, or it’s somehow created by dastardly and special
interests who are manipulating [00:43:30] public opinions. All these things we’ve already discussed,
whereas my grassroots movement is real and natural. Why is it that this whole attitude is mistaken? Hans Noel: I think that’s exactly what I meant. I wrote this essay right as the Tea Party
was becoming a major movement, and so a lot of people were saying that “The Tea Party
isn’t really this movement, it’s just the Koch brothers, or the so and so is fueling
this,” and no one really has these grievances. The thing is, you could point to organizers,
you could point to groups who are doing things to [00:44:00] mobilize the Tea Party Activists,
you could point to Fox News running news stories that were clearly having the effect of mobilizing
people and making them think of themselves as part of a movement. So then you’re like, “Oh, that’s what’s happening.” But, that’s always the case. Every movement is like that. The Civil Rights Movement had leaders who
were mobilizing and the like. I think, again, it’s sort of unfortunate that
we want to imagine that people just wake up one morning and say, “I’m frustrated, and
I’m just going to walk down the street, and if I’m [00:44:30] lucky, maybe when I get
to the town square, there will be other people who are also frustrated, and we’ll have a
protest.” All protest is going to get organized in some
way. Now, you’ve got the flip side where you have
the town hall meetings where people are showing up and it was before to people showing up
at the town hall meetings … it was liberals who were saying the only people who are coming
are being dragged there by some nefarious funding organization. Now, it’s “No, no, Soros is paying these protestors
to go these [00:45:00] groups.” Nobody is pulling out a checkbook and paying
protestors to show up at these things, but someone is mobilizing them. They’re saying, “Hey look, there’s going to
be this town hall meeting, you’ve got to go down there and talk, and we need you to come
and we need to have a larger voice.” So, again, that’s the dynamic of grassroots
popular politics requires that kind of seating. The difference is, if there was nothing [00:45:30]
to mobilize, or no public opinion to get down there, then people wouldn’t respond, you’d
say, “Oh, we have to go down there and protest against this policy that’s going to raise
marginal tax rates on the wealthiest people; I’m the Koch brothers, and I don’t want that
to happen.” No one is going to show up, unless there is
some interest. That’s not the message that they have, they
sell the message in some other direction and if you don’t like that message, then that’s
a concern. But your concern is not just with the Soros
or [00:46:00] the Koch brothers, it’s also with the other voters who brought that message
and then went and were mobilized by it. Trevor Burrus: Number ten, is all these things
that political scientists know. Number ten is, “We do not know what you think
you know,” which is the things that a lot of myths that people believe about politics. Hans Noel: Yeah, and a big part of what was
behind my mind as I was writing this essay, and then I’m thinking about in general on
this, is some of the things that we say, including some of the things that we’ve said in the
last hour that we’ve been talking, [00:46:30] people are like, “Oh well, that’s obvious.” Of course, the mandate is just a rhetorical
thing, and that’s obvious. A part of that is, yeah, it’s obvious now
that we laid it out and we had some people went out and found examples and so forth,
but the exact opposite could have seemed obvious to you, too. That’s part of what social science is about,
is taking some things, some of which seem obvious, and sorting it out and figuring it
out. Is this really what’s going on, or is it not? There’s a lot of “seems obvious” things that
we don’t think are true. [00:47:00] One of the really common ones that
political scientists get upset a lot about is this idea that gerrymandering is what’s
responsible for polarization. I think there probably is some kind of gerrymandering
… that the way in which districts are drawn does have consequences, but among their consequences
is probably not that you have increased polarization. It’s not like you draw lots of safe Republican
districts, and lots of safe Democratic districts. If you think about it a little bit, it actually
doesn’t make sense that gerrymandering would do this because if I was a partisan person,
[00:47:30] I wouldn’t want to draw districts that would be good for both parties, I want
to make them good for my party, and not good for the other party. Then of course the other party is going to
be pushed back the other direction, and you’re going to end up with changes. We don’t think that gerrymandering is why
polarization, and of course one way that we know that is not true is that if were the
case, that changing and drawing districts is what is causing things to become more polarized,
then you’d see polarization in the house that we draw districts. Well, we wouldn’t see polarization in the
senate, because those districts are states and have [00:48:00] been the same since the
beginning. In fact, you do see polarization in the senate,
so that suggests that polarization is about something more than just Gerrymandering districts. People all around think the way to solve polarization
is to get rid of gerrymandering districts, and like I say, there might be other consequences
of gerrymandering that we’re concerned about, but that is not probably one of them. We have this, “What exactly is the story of
polarization?” That, I don’t know. I have a bunch of theories about what might
be driving things, but we try to disabuse people [00:48:30] of some things that we think
that they do now, but the real tricky thing, and the real point of this last item in the
list is, there’s a lot of stuff that we don’t know, and it might be that it really matters. How much affects does the economy have versus
a campaign? I don’t know exactly what the numbers are,
but this is why we keep doing research and we keep trying to find good answers. Trevor Burrus: Maybe the most common belief,
I don’t know if this is true, but belief about congress in Washington D.C. is that everyone
is sort of purchased by their ” [00:49:00] special interests,” and money just buys the
votes of your average congressman. Even this widely-accepted truism, which I’m
sure most people think that political scientists can easily prove, is not easily provable. Hans Noel: Yeah, one obvious alternative explanation
is it’s not so much that I want certain outcomes, so I’m going to bribe you, well I’m going
to give money to the kind of candidate who I think is going to do the things that I want. So then, [00:49:30] the pharmaceutical industry
gives money to a candidate, and then that candidate does good things for the pharmaceutical
industry, or maybe it’s because what that guy would have done, anyway. There probably is some influence of money. We think most of it is actually more about
access than bribing. So, it’s not like if I give this donation
from this interest group, or this pack, then I’m going to do whatever that pack wants. Honestly, you could just go somewhere else,
if that was the case, right? You could say, “Okay, fine. I know you’re voting that for that thing,
it’s going to be bad for my constituents, [00:50:00] I can find resources someplace
else on that one thing.” What’s more likely is the pharmaceutical industry,
or whatever the pack is, now they get some access. They get to come talk and influence things. That might have some consequences, but it’s
much more indirect. Trevor Burrus: Yeah. Hans Noel: It’s more about signaling … of
course, politicians are like, “I don’t know what the right policy is. I’ve got a bunch of different things. This group has a lot of money, and a lot of
organized, and they say this is a good idea, well maybe I’ll listen to that.” It may not even be a bad idea to have that
ability for different groups to organize [00:50:30] and try to impress folks. We talk about lobbying as if it’s some kind
of nafarious vote-buying kind of thing, but a logic on lobbying is just here’s some people
who know a lot about something, they’re going to camp out in the lobby and try to tell us
stuff. Yeah, that’s at least not obviously a problem. So, how big of it if one of the consequences
… I think money does have some pretty serious affects on politics, but it’s very tricky
to figure out exactly what it is. Trevor Burrus: It would be a strange way to
try and change the world. I often [00:51:00] make an analogy, let’s
say there was a billionaire who was a flat-earther, who was trying to change the world and make
sure that we could have better policies for a flat earth, it would be a weird strategy
to find politicians who do not currently believe in the flat earth position and give them enough
money until they believe it, as opposed to finding people who believe in flat earth and
then giving them money to try and get them elected. Hans Noel: Yeah, that’s a much more reasonable
strategy. Part of it becomes you don’t even need to
[00:51:30] do that because what political parties are doing is they’re recruiting people
who believe in a whole host of ideological things, and if flat earth becomes part of
what it means to be one of the parties, then you’re going to bring along people who are
educated in that information environment and so you end up with flat earth sort of bonus
from supporting that ideology. If flat earth were to be that thing. Yeah, I think that exactly makes more sense,
but we’ve both described a way now in which money could influence outcomes, [00:52:00]
it’s just more complicated and so it makes sense for her to think about how does that
work. Then, what kind of policies should we implement? If it’s the case that the way in which money
influences outcomes, isn’t by buying people of straight, but is by steering and shaping
things. Then, one thing that I would imagine is the
more in which that money goes through central organizations like political parties, where
they have to balance off lots and lots of interests, that’s better, whereas [00:52:30]
the money is going straight at people and then they can mobilize a flat earth person
and just get flat earth people on the party’s platform. We should have camping finance regulations
that don’t undermine parties, but undermine individual contributions for example. That’s one plausible thing, if that’s the
case. There’s some research that suggests that that’s
what you ought to do. There’s a book by Ray La Raja and Brian Schaffner
that makes that … I don’t know if that’s right, and I’ve talked to lots of really smart
people in campaign finance who don’t think that’s true, I don’t know, [00:53:00] and
that’s exactly the point. We’re not quite sure about exactly how it
is that money influences outcomes. Trevor Burrus: When we look at our politics,
and I’m not sure if it’s opinions about politics, or opinions about Washington, D.C. have ever
been lower than they are today, shared by both sides, and we have Donald Trump, much
to everyone’s surprise, and polarization and all these things. One lesson I think people can learn from your
excellent essay, and I’m excited about the forthcoming book, is we might be expecting
too much from politics. If [00:53:30] we don’t accept it as sort of
a nitty-gritty, “This is how we hash out compromises and make deals,” then we might actually have
a difficulty using politics for what it is, which is a way of trying to get people with
many different interests and attitudes to live together cooperatively, rather than combatively. Hans Noel: That’s a fair reading. We do have a large expectation. We want things to work, and the same goes
beyond politics. “Why is this traffic this [00:54:00] way,”
or “Why do these roads steer in this direction,” and, “Why can’t we have a better more effective
way of getting to the beach,” and all these other things we just think that somebody -they-
did it wrong. The difference is in politics it’s actually
a place where we are able to influence and get involved in outcomes. It’s not just being angry at the system, we
could actually participate in it. So, yeah, it would make a lot more sense to
appreciate that what we could expect out of it won’t [00:54:30] be a policy that makes
you happy, or that makes me happy, but it’s going to be something that’s going to be from
an algorithm of the various forces that were allowed in to the system. Trevor Burrus: I think that’s a good ending,
unless there’s something that you think I missed. Hans Noel: One final thought I’d make for
people who are going to be steered towards this article is that a lot of people read
it, I think it’s a good piece, I’m glad to have written it, I am writing a book link
version, and part of the reason I’m writing a book link version [00:55:00] is because
there’s been a lot of demand for it, but also because some of the stuff that’s in the piece
… social science has marched on, and we have a better understanding of things, and
I would say things slightly differently here. Which isn’t going to say I can give you
all the caveats here, but that’s part of the point about social science, it’s that we keep
learning, we keep building on things. Yet, there are some sort of enduring things,
you don’t need to be up on the latest research to know what’s going on. The important thing is that you have access
to a political science journal, and the important thing is that you have access to your sophomore
[00:55:30] in political science lecture notes in a lot of ways, because there are some enduring
things to be found there. If you find out in the article that I wrote,
that’s great, but you can also get that from your own education. Trevor Burrus: Thanks for listening. This episode of Free Thoughts was produced
by Tess Terrible and Evan Banks. To learn more, visit us on the web at www.libertarianism.org.

A History of the Republican Party


The Republican Party is one of the two main
political parties in the United States. How long has the Republican Party been around? Who are some of the most notable Republican
presidents? In the early 1850s, the United States had
two main political parties, the Whigs and the Democrats. The Whigs were experiencing turmoil over the
issue of slavery and began to fall apart. In 1854, many of the former Whigs, along with
members of the Free Soil Party and some anti-slavery Democrats, joined together to create a new
anti-slavery party. This new party came to be known as the Republican
Party, and they held their first party convention on July 6, 1854 in Jackson, Michigan. The party’s first slogan reflected its anti-slavery
ideology, “free soil, free labor, free men.” It quickly became one of the two dominant
parties in America, alongside the Democrats. Following the 1858 elections, enough Republicans
had been elected in the House of Representatives to give the party a majority for the first
time. In 1860, the Republicans nominated Abraham
Lincoln for president. Lincoln won this election, making him the
first Republican to hold the office of president. Lincoln successfully guided the United States
through the Civil War and is remembered today as one of the nation’s greatest presidents. Following the Civil War, eleven of the next
fourteen presidents were Republicans. Republicans of that era supported the gold
standard, high wages for employees, high profits for businesses, and the annexation of Hawaii. During the late 1800s, under the leadership
of President William McKinley, Republicans firmly became known as the party of “big
business” (this meant that they supported, and were supported by, large corporations
and the wealthy owners who ran those businesses). However, Theodore Roosevelt’s “trust busting”
(breaking up large monopolies) brought more small business owners to the party as well. In 1874, political cartoonist Thomas Nast
drew an elephant to represent the Republican Party for the first time. Since then, the elephant has become a well-known
mascot of the party. This replaced the bald eagle, which was the
original symbol of the party. In 1876, a newspaper article referred to the
Republican Party as “the grand old party”. This term became a popular nickname for the
Republican Party, and to this day, many people will refer to it as the “GOP” (Grand Old
Party). The party even uses the GOP abbreviation as
their modern official logo. In the 1920s, Republican success continued
with the elections of Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover. All three of these won the presidency with
large victories. The 1920s is often thought of as the high
mark of Republican popularity. Throughout the first 78 years of its existence,
the Republican Party not only dominated the presidency, but also controlled Congress as
well. From 1854 through 1932, Republicans held the
majority in the Senate for sixty-two of those years. During that same timeframe, Republicans held
the majority in the House of Representatives for fifty-two years. Republican fortunes began to change in 1929,
following the stock market crash and the initial stages of the Great Depression. In 1932, with the election of Democrat Franklin
Roosevelt, Republicans lost the presidency, along with the majority in both houses of
Congress. In the latter half of the 20th Century, Republicans
once again experienced success with the election of Presidents Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon,
and Ronald Reagan. In the 1972 election, Nixon won 49 of 50 states. Reagan also won 49 of 50 states in his 1984
reelection campaign. Today, Ronald Reagan is so highly regarded
amongst Republicans that nearly all Republican presidential candidates attempt to draw comparisons
to him. In Congress, after being the minority party
for most of the previous 61 years, Republicans managed to reclaim the majority in both houses
in 1994. Republican candidates campaigned under the
“Contract with America”, which detailed what they would do if elected. This victory became known as the Republican
Revolution. The Republican Party is still a powerful force
in American politics today. Across the nation, there are many governors,
mayors, representatives, and senators who are members of the Republican Party. There are also approximately 55 million Americans
who are registered Republicans.

Who Writes the Rules? – Rules, Part 3 – Extra Politics – #6


When looking at rules in a dynamic system It’s important to note three things first who to the rules govern second who writes the rules third who enforces those rules For tabletop games the rules govern the players they’re written by the game designer and they’re enforced by the players sitting at the table for console games the Rules govern the players they’re written by the designers and are enforced by the computer So what about the rules in politics the rules that affect citizens most directly are written by Congress? Veto checked by the President and then enforced by the courts State and local laws follow similar paths and this system works quite well as it separates the rules Enforcement from the rules writing and it doesn’t allow the citizens to directly rewrite our own rules at whim The rules that affect our politicians though are another matter all-together Let’s start with Congress at the start of every session the House and the Senate get to write their own rules And they are in charge of enforcing those rules upon themselves That might be raising some red flags in your head and for good reason. It’s not a very good system But so saith the Constitution and thus here we are The structure of our political game allows a chamber of Congress to create for themselves Whatever rules they want if they wished they could create a rule declaring that members of the opposing party Must wear bunny ears around the clock It would be silly but they could do it thankfully social norms have thus far? Prevented the most extreme abuses from happening and stopped Congress from going full Calvinball But those norms are getting chipped away at an alarming rate the Senate filibuster is all but gone debate has sometimes been limited to as few as 90 seconds and Legislators are frequently not given enough time to even read a bill before having to vote on it It’s getting pretty shameful out there and the executive branch is even worse The executive branch actually gets to write the rules that govern the FBI Which is the only investigative body that can effectively investigate the executive branch add to that the president’s essentially unlimited power of federal pardons and direct control of our nation’s intelligence agencies and you can see why Structurally, we have all sorts of rules related problems built into our system Even political parties have this problem. There is no mention of political parties in our Constitution And while there is good evidence suggesting that men the founding fathers didn’t want them in our political system We do have them now and they wield tremendous power. Sorry, Hamilton I know you tried the rules governing the internal workings of political parties are wholly written and Enforced by the party itself and the two parties have developed their own sets of rules and dependently This is why you see features like super-delegates in the Democratic Party rules but not so much in the GOP and as you might imagine Allowing these groups to self govern their internal actions has some pretty serious consequences Of course you might reasonably assume that at least when they interact with the rest of the government these groups run into
all of those checks and balances that Keep things from getting out of hand right, and they do Sort of see the rules for how Congress the President and political parties interact when the rest of government comes from the Constitution Or were passed by Congress veto checked by the President and then are enforced by the courts Rules for the courts are mostly defined by the Constitution and previous court rulings and those rules governing the courts are enforced either by Congress through Impeachment or are internally enforced which obviously could have its problems But so far it’s worked out pretty well because the courts have historically been a much more distributed and diverse body than Congress So yay that’s working. The courts will save us good job boys You framed the heck out of that Constitution way to go except here’s the thing in theory Our government is made up of three competing branches which have all sorts of checks and balances against each other That’s the way it was designed to be but in practice we don’t have three competing branches of government We actually have two competing political parties spread out amongst those branches of government and that makes enforcement of the rules unpredictable and very inconsistent for example it’s generally accepted that the high frequency of Investigations into the Clinton presidency was purely a result of partisan politics performed by a GOP held Congress because once President Bush was elected and the White House switched to GOP hands that zeal for investigation suddenly vanished the standards of congressional rule enforcement plummeted and Unfortunately the courts which have often been the final arbiter of rules in our system have become increasingly Partisan as well from elected state judges to the Supreme Court This problem is getting worse not better And this has led us to a reality where when the branches of government are split between parties over enforcement of rules Renders the government unable to act when it needs to and when one party controls all the branches of government Enforcement virtually disappears and that is when the real shenanigans start. So you might hear all of this and ask Why does this matter to you? Well our government system of checks and balances between three co-equal branches is falling apart and that’s gonna have some dire Consequences for all of us if we allow our political parties to act entirely in their own best interest We are doomed to an American system where the social norms of good governance no longer exist, though We do live in a majority rule system the checks and the balances built into that system were designed to protect the minority But those checks are dissolving. I don’t want to do the slippery slope thing But in a very extreme case We could reach a point where members of the minority party are made targets of the state Now that sort of thing has not happened in America before but it has happened in other countries. It’s not science fiction So what can we do about that actually more than you think see politics is a lot like a spectator sport You might not know this but in sports spectators are active participants in the rules writing and enforcement process You want to know why hockey eliminated the two line pass or why basketball adopted the three-point shot or why football? Decided to more tightly enforce existing Rules on illegal hits all of those patches to the rules were not made because the underlying games were broken They were made to make the game better for spectators in democracies We have the built-in ability to make change with our votes, but it doesn’t stop there Thankfully we have the ability to apply pressure all year long not just during voting season We have a well-protected set of freedoms that allow us the ability to apply pressure to our rules writers and our enforcers around the clock We can lobby our officials we can protest we can raise awareness of bad and unenforced rules We can do it all by here’s the tough part and you’ve heard me say it before if you want to make the game better You have to be willing to call fouls on your own team And that’s really hard to do in an environment as partisan As ours has become I know but if we do that and support the social norms that keep our whole system in check It’ll pay great dividends in the long run for everybody. We’ll see you next time

A Passion for Politics


>>OLIVER YOUNG: One of the first weeks I had
on campus here, I had a meeting with my advisor, Bryan Marshall, the chair of the poli-sci
department, and I asked him what would be a good way to get involved on campus. I’m looking to interact with students who
are interested in politics and policy and he recommended the Janus Forum. And I went into one of those first meetings,
back in 2015, and there was a rich discussion on the current state of affairs in American
politics and foreign affairs, and what was so great about that experience was the club,
the Janus Forum itself, in talking about those issues works really hard to check their biases
at the door so that we have a constructive dialogue. So, the steering committee for the weekly
meetings would come up with the topics for the forums. So someone would present a topic idea, and
everybody would vote on it. My idea was this past spring, where we had
former senator from New Hampshire, Kelly Ayotte, Ezra Klein, the founder of Vox, and then Jonathan
Swan, who’s a reporter at Axios, the big scoop guy. It was about intra-party wars and the future
of the political parties, and subjectively and objectively I think it was the best forum
that we’ve had in my time here, and it was my idea to have this topic. But I will say that my most, my favorite experience
in the Janus Forum might have been meeting James Carville, the “Ragin’ Cajun” and campaign
manager for Bill Clinton. He was a really funny guy. That forum was hilarious. He would sort of get up and fix his socks
on stage while one of the other panelists, Alex Castellanos, who is a Republican communication
strategist, was talking, and he got the crowd rip-roaring, clapping, and laughing. He was really great, and in the meeting afterwards
he teased me about not wearing a tie. Just a very accessible human being and very
funny and very genuine and very much wanted to support kids chasing their passions in
politics. And through that I heard that other students
had done this program called Inside Washington, where students from all sorts of backgrounds,
from all different majors, were encouraged to apply to a spring semester or summer term
trip to Washington, DC to meet with speakers and then also to have an internship that would
apply for credit. And I was interested in studying abroad until
I found this trip, I found this opportunity, and I applied, and I was there for the inauguration
of the Trump administration, I was there for the first 100 days last year, last spring. It was transformative for me. I found that the students that I met in my
group will be some of my longtime friends going forward. I met people that have had a profound impact
on me just personally The best part about Inside Washington I found
was, regardless of your politics, regardless of your political affiliation, no matter who
you meet they’re going to have an impact on you. They’re going to tell you something that you
didn’t pick up previously, they’re going to give you advice that you wouldn’t have thought
of previously. I found that my commitment to making this
country a better place was rooted in that Inside Washington experience. Every day was fascinating, every day was a
new day, there was always something to look forward to, to bring to work, to have a conversation
with. My internship was with a lobbying firm, small
firm with just a few members, a few partners and a couple other interns, and I got to know
them very well. I got to know all of their stories very well,
and every day was a new day to talk about something. I focused a lot on various policy initiatives
that we’re trying to get through Congress, and I would go to committee hearings, I would
watch them online, I would transcribe these hearings, I would write up memos about what
was going on. I did an email of the meeting of the week. I would say something like, “Hey, there’s
these two committee hearings on this proposed legislation, and I want a transcription of
this one and just a memo on this one.” I think there’s very much an “American dreamness”
to the Inside Washington program that you get while you’re there. The students, everybody goes in really nervous
about their place, and feeling inadequate, and feeling like, “Man, there are people that
are better, stronger, better connected than I am,” but Inside Washington leveled the playing
field for everybody. Everybody left feeling like they had a shot
at really making change and having a positive, productive career in the realm of politics
that helped their passions and didn’t deter them. People felt inspired when they left, that
they can do great things with that education they had while they were there and the connections
they built and the relationships that were really grown because of everyone’s commitment
to their jobs, their work, and the people around them.