Politics 2 Essay, Research Paper
1. In the ongoing war between religious extremism and secular humanist atheism, labels seem to be created and tossed around with reckless abandon. The term fundamentalist is used in secular literature these days to describe virtually anyone who has a religious objection to anything. The thing that gets lost in all this labeling and name-calling is the argument that is at the core of the disagreement. The Random House Dictionary defines fundamentalism as “a Protestant movement that stresses the infallibility of the Bible in all matters of faith.” The problem with fundamentalism is that it depends upon humans. Someone has to decide what the “matters of faith” are, and someone has to establish which verses of the Bible apply to those “matters of faith.” Because not everyone agrees on these matters, we have literally hundreds of divisions among those who claim to be religious fundamentalists in there following of Jesus Christ. In the area of Christian apologetics, religious fundamentalism has done an incredible amount of damage. Human creeds, doctrines, and belief systems have biased people’s understandings of the Bible because the human systems have been laid down, and the Bible has then been forced into the human systems. The age of the earth, the existence of dinosaurs, the place of the caveman, evolution, the role of Satan, UFOs, demonology and exorcism, and the nature of God and angels are just a few examples of areas where the Bible has been forced into a human belief system by a group espousing creation and religious fundamentalism. This process has resulted in a whole series of fakes, dubious scientific models, and misguided claims. Examples include the claim to have found the missing day of Joshua, flood geology, claims of human and dinosaur tracks in the same strata, claims to have found Noah’s ark, the Shroud of Turin, etc.
Political fundamentalism is a combination of theological fundamentalism and the personal commitments of religious adherents to combat worldly vices. Manifestations of political fundamentalism include much of the activity in the temperance movement. These two types of fundamentalism melded together to combine a caricature of culturally unenlightened individuals bent on preserving tradition at the expense of progress. The political activity engaged in by fundamentalists invited comparison to other religiously motivated groups around the world. Accordingly, global fundamentalism as phenomena denotes many religiously motivated politically active groups existing in a variety of religious traditions and political systems. Fundamentalist religions make this choice because they uniformly place a high priority on doctrinal conformity, with such force that it takes higher priority than love, compassion and service. Indeed, many fundamentalists are so caught up in doctrinal seriousness, that love, service and compassion seem scarcely to even be a part of their thinking. Fundamentalist religions regard their missions with great seriousness. Many claim that the salvation of the world depends on them, and some will seriously contend that the earth will end without them. Many fundamentalists will not hesitate to intervene in the political process to ensure that society is forced to conform to the behaviors their worldview requires, if not accept that worldview. The belief that they are right, without any question, justifies, in their own minds, taking upon themselves the right to impose their point of view, by force if necessary. An example is the attempt, by some Christian fundamentalist groups to shut down, by force, abortion clinics that are operating in accordance with the law. Some have gone so far as to threaten and intimidate employees, and even murder doctors working there. Fundamentalism isn’t restricted to Christianity or Islam, the two major religions on which it has had its greatest impact, but it is found in every major religion, ranging from Judaism, to Hinduism, to Sufism, to Buddhism, to even Zoroastrianism. Another belief common to fundamentalists is that they are somehow less vulnerable to the vicissitudes of life. God will somehow protect him, because he is chosen to do God’s will. Of course if that were actually true, it would be reflected in statistical analysis. Science has studied this problem extensively and has never been able to show a correlation between fundamentalist belief and any measure of well being. To the fundamentalist who holds this view, however, it just means science is wrong. Fundamentalism often justifies hatred in the minds of its adherents. This is undoubtedly the most dangerous aspect of fundamentalism. The idea that God hates the same people you do is particularly gratifying in that it makes the indulgence in hatred not only acceptable, but somehow approved and even encouraged by God. This is seen most clearly in many fundamentalist Islamic sects, which routinely justify terrorism and murder as being “God’s will.” Of course, Islamic fundamentalism isn’t alone. There are plenty of Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist sects, which do the same.
2. In any system, which claims to be democratic, a question of its legitimacy remains. A truly democratic political system has certain characteristics, which prove its legitimacy with their existence. One essential characteristic of a legitimate democracy is that it allows people to freely make choices without government intervention. Another necessary characteristic, which legitimates government is that, every vote must count equally: one vote for every person. For this equality to occur, all people must be subject to the same laws, have equal civil rights, and is allowed to freely express their ideas. Minority rights are also crucial in a legitimate democracy. No matter how unpopular their views, all people should enjoy the freedoms of speech, press and assembly. Public policy should be made publicly, not secretly, and regularly scheduled elections should be held. Since “legitimacy” may be defined as “the feeling or opinion the people have that government is based upon morally defensible principles and that they should therefore obey it,” then there must necessarily be a connection between what the people want and what the government is doing if legitimacy is to occur.
The U.S. government may be considered legitimate in some aspects, and illegitimate in others. Because voting is class-biased, it may not be classified as a completely legitimate process. Although in theory the American system calls for one vote per person, the low rate of turnout results in the upper and middle classes ultimately choosing candidates for the entire nation. Class is determined by income and education, and differing levels of these two factors can help explain why class bias occurs.
Political parties in America are weak due to the anti-party, anti-organization, and anti-politics cultural prejudices of the Classical Liberals. Because in the U.S. there is no national discipline to force citizens into identifying with a political party, partisan identification tends to be an informal psychological commitment to a party. This informality allows people to be apathetic if they wish, willingly giving up their input into the political process. Though this apathy is the result of greater freedom in America than in other countries, it ultimately decreases citizens incentive to express their opinions about issues, therefore making democracy less legitimate.
Private interests distort public policy making because, when making decisions, politicians must take account of campaign contributors. An “interest” may be defined as “any involvement in anything that affects the economic, social, or emotional well-being of a person.” When interests become organized into groups, then politicians may become biased due to their influences. Consequently, those people who do not become organized into interest groups are likely to be underrepresented financially. This leads to further inequality and, therefore, greater illegitimacy in the democratic system.
The method in which election the President is fairly legitimates. The electoral college consists of representatives who we elect, who then elect the President. Because this fills the requirement of regularly scheduled elections, it is a legitimate process. The President is extremely powerful in foreign policy making; so powerful that scholars now speak of the “Imperial Presidency,” implying that the President runs foreign policy as an emperor. The President is the chief diplomat, negotiator of treaties, and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. There has been a steady growth of the President s power since World War II. This abundance of foreign Presidential power may cause one to believe that our democratic system is not legitimate. However, Presidential power in domestic affairs is limited. Therefore, though the President is very powerful in certain areas, the term “Imperial Presidency” is not applicable in all areas.
The bureaucracy is not democratic for many reasons. The key features of a bureaucracy are that they are large, specialized, run by official and fixed rules, relatively free from outside control, run on a hierarchy, and they must keep written records of everything they do. Bureaucracies focus on rules, but their members are unhappy when the rules are exposed to the public. Bureaucracies violate the requirement of a legitimate democracy that public policy must be made publicly, not secretly. To be hired in a bureaucracy, a person must take a civil service exam. People working in bureaucracies may also only be fired under extreme circumstances. This usually leads to the “Peter Principle;” that people who are competent at their jobs are promoted until they are in jobs in which they are no longer competent. Policymaking may be considered democratic to an extent. The public tends to get its way about 60% of the time. Because one of the key legitimating factors of government is a connection between what it does and what the public wants, policy making can be considered 60% legitimate. Furthermore, most of what the federal government does never reaches the public. Public opinion polls represent the small percentage of issues that people have heard about.
3. Inequality means different things to different people: whether inequality should encapsulate ethical concepts such as the desirability of a particular system of rewards or simply mean differences in income is the subject of much debate. Obviously, poverty and inequality are very closely linked for a given mean income, the more unequal the income distribution, the larger the percentage of the population living in income-poverty.
Inequality is often studied as part of broader analyses covering poverty and welfare, although these three concepts are distinct. Inequality is a broader concept than poverty in that it is defined over the whole distribution, not only the censored distribution of individuals or households below a certain poverty line. Incomes at the top and in the middle of the distribution may be just as important to us in perceiving and measuring inequality as those at the bottom, and indeed some measures of inequality are driven largely by incomes in the upper tail. Inequality is also a much narrower concept than welfare. Although both of these capture the whole distribution of a given indicator, inequality is independent of the mean of the distribution (or at least this is a desirable property of an inequality measure and instead solely concerned with the second moment, the dispersion, of the distribution
There are several channels through which inequality influences economic and social outcomes. With imperfect capital markets, citizens with low incomes and little ability to provide collateral may find their access to capital curtailed. This will hinder them moving out of poverty while at the same time distorting resource allocation within economies and thereby lowering growth rates. Economic growth prospects can also be negatively influenced by inequality through the tax system. This would be the case if from a political economy perspective inequality leads to an inefficient tax structure. Further, it is now discussed to what extent income differences between households create psychological stress for the relatively poor and are factors that explain higher morbidity, mortality and violence rates.
Today, understanding the links between inequality and the performance of an economy has become an integral part of understanding the very process of development and the effects of different policies. In sum, income and wealth distributions can no longer be seen as mere outcomes of the general equilibrium of an economy. The central processes that determine resource allocation through capital markets, through the political system, and through social circumstances are influenced by the distribution of wealth in important ways. More unequal societies tend to develop larger groups of people who are excluded from opportunities others enjoy be they a better education, access to loans, or to insurance and who therefore do not develop their full productive potentials. Both theory and empirical evidence suggest that these incomplete realizations of economic potential are not of concern only to those who care about equity per se. They also affect aggregate economic potential, and therefore aggregate output and its rate of growth.
4. Despite the end of the Cold War and the faltering beginnings of the peace process in the Middle East, terrorism still remains a serious threat to many countries, not surprisingly, given that the underlying causes of the bitter ethnic and religious struggles which caused the rise in terrorism pre date the Cold War, and most of these conflicts remain unresolved.
While the former Soviet Union sponsored terrorism on an opportunistic basis, the idea that all terrorism during the Cold War was drawn up by the KGB is clearly over simplification. The overthrow of the communist dictatorships did remove an important cluster of state sponsored terrorism. However, one of the main attractions of terrorism is that it is a low cost, low liability and potentially high yield weapon. The end of the Cold War has, however, had a decidedly negative affect on Terrorism. The removal of the communist one party rule has unleashed bitter and long suppressed ethnic conflicts.
In Western Europe it is the historic separatists and republicans in Northern Ireland. The IRA, Irish Republican Army and the Loyalist Protestants in Northern Ireland have been fighting a drawn out guerilla war since Ireland was granted freedom from British Rule. Recently the IRA, Sinn Fein and British officials met a t a peace conference that led to a cease-fire and, hopefully, peace in Northern Ireland. However many historians feel that it may be impossible to keep peace in the area. This is a fragile peace and it must be guarded like a delicate glass vase, because one crack can lead to the vase crumbling. In the former Soviet Europe and the former Eastern Bloc countries, the removal of Communist rule has taken the lid off of many simmering ethnic rivalries and hatreds. The most horrific example of this can be seen in Bosnia. This war seems no closer to ending.
Over the past few years the United States have become more vulnerable to
Terrorist attacks. There have been newspaper headlines that described the World Trade Center bombing, the Unabomber’s arrest, and the bombings in Oklahoma City and Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta. Though investigators didn’t find evidence that an explosion caused the crash of TWA Flight 800 was a bomb, the airline security has risen drastically. While the lawmakers debate which steps to take to prevent any future attacks, many Americans wonder what they may have to sacrifice to stop or at least lower terrorist attacks. Are air travelers going to be willing to wait longer in lines at the airport so they can use the high sensitive equipment to check for explosives? Are they willing to pay extra prices for the airline tickets so the new equipment can be bought? Are Americans willing to sacrifice their freedom of movements as well as privacy? Most of this is domestic terrorism.
The PLO was set up in 1964 by an Arab League decision in response to growing signs of Palestinian unrest. The Palestinians desired to reclaim the lands occupied by Israel, which they felt belonged to them, as said in the Bible. In 1964 the Arab states created the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). While it was supposed to represent the Palestinians, in reality it represented the views of President Nasser of Egypt, who guided the formation of the PLO. Its first leader made wild and irresponsible threats to drive Israelis into the sea, and had little support among Palestinians for he was seen as a puppet of the Egyptians. In the 1960s Palestinian students began to form their own organizations independent of control by Arab governments (although the Syrians, Libyans, and Iraqis continued to fund and control particular groups). Yasser Arafat founded an independent Palestinian-run party called Fatah. He is said to have the backing, for most of the recent past, of about 80% of the Palestinian people. The position of the Arab governments was that a PLO under Arab League supervision would be the best way of satisfying the demands made by an emerging Palestinian national consciousness. Also, it was felt that through such an organization Arab governments could control Palestinian political activities.
5. There are many ways that our ideas are shaped and influenced as we grow up. This process by which we develop certain ways of thinking is called political socialization. There are three main influences, which change and shape the family, mass media, the formal education, and us being. The family definitely has the greatest impact on us as we grow. This is primarily because ever since the beginning of childhood we are exposed to the ideas of our parents. Their ideas are the ideas that young children learn, and soon begin to form these ideas are their own. The saying that “You never get a second chance to make a first impression” holds true here in that this is what first the child is exposed to, and it is hard to get people to change from their original ideas of politics, or anything for that matter. In 1965 Jennings and Niemi selected a sample of high school seniors throughout the country and found that 58.9% of them had chosen the same party as their parents. Another influence on how people are shaped is the Mass Media. Today more and more people are spending more and more time watching television. The average grade school student spends more time watching TV than he or she does at school. Some has called the media the new parent . However, the programs that would influence political opinion the most, such as the news, are rarely watched by the youth of today.
The final major influence of people political socialization is their formal education or school. Countries have historically had government classes in their schools to “preach” the goodness of their particular type of government. For example, American children have been taught the virtues of capitalism and democracy for years. In Germany, during the Nazi era, children were taught how murders could be justified in certain situations.
There are certain types of ways used to measure the public’s opinion once they have been formed. There are usually samples that are performed instead of complete polls because it can save a lot of time. Scientific sampling is polling random people to form the general opinion of many people. In closing, it is evident by reading above that people today are influenced by the Mass Media, schools, and probably most importantly, families.