No need for Big Bucks to Run for Office

By Victoria Weiss

On Tuesday, April 4, Elona Vaisnys visited Eastern Connecticut State University to present “No Need for Big Bucks, Run for a State Office”. Vaisnys spoke about CEP, which is the Citizens Election Program. CEP provides public funding to run election campaigns for seats in the state legislature and for state offices. CEP is important because those who can campaign through CEP funding will have no special interests once elected into office. As residents of a state that was once known as “Corrupt-icut” this is a program we should pay attention to.

Elona

Eastern guest Elona Vaisnys explains the Citizens Election Program (CEP) to students.

Vaisnys visited Eastern to encourage students to consider running for state offices. All one needs to do to qualify for a CEP grant is to prove that they are a serious candidate. Elona explains this as going out into the community and raising funds as small as $5 per donor to prove that the potential candidate has support from the community. One great benefit of CEP grants is that an individual can run for state office without using funds from special interest groups to whom the candidate will owe a favor, contract, etc.

The money from CEP comes from the sale of abandoned property in the state of Connecticut. As a matter of fact, Connecticut is the only state with this type of successful program. CEP grants go towards campaigns to run for state governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, treasurer, comptroller, and general assembly. All current Connecticut State officers ran their election campaigns on CEP grants, and about 89% of the current Representatives and Senators ran for their seat in the Connecticut General Assembly on CEP funding.

Vaisnys enthusiastically endorses the Citizens Election Program. She raises a thought-provoking question; if CEP is available to all and 89% of those in office make use of the program, why don’t the other 11%? What do candidates have to gain from special interest group support that support through CEP cannot provide? CEP provides candidates with money to run a clean, debt-free campaign. This way, while the candidate secures their position with the state, their job will be their top priority, as opposed to repaying campaign debts to special interest groups.

Elona Vaisnys encourages students at Eastern to consider running for state office. With passion, community support, and a CEP funded campaign, running for state office is more attainable than ever. You truly do not need big bucks to run for state office. Be a challenger and give the incumbents a run for their money.

Talk on Voting Behavior – Professor Nichole Szembrot, Trinity College

Dr. Nichole Szembrot, Trinity College, will present her paper entitled “Perceptions of Special Interest Influence and Voting Behavior” on Wednesday, April 26 at 3:00 in Webb 437. 

Prof. Szembrot

Dr. Nichole Szembrot

This paper documents voters’ perceptions of interest group influence on candidates’ policy positions and the effect of perceived influence on intended voting behavior. The literature on campaign contributions has several explanations for why interest groups contribute to campaigns and how those funds translate into votes. Closing these models requires assumptions about voters’ responses, but there is little empirical evidence on the relationship between voters’ perceptions of interest group influence and their voting decisions. This paper uses an online survey conducted during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign to begin to close that gap in the literature. Subjects answer questions about their own opinions on 10 policy issues and make hypothetical choices between pairs of candidates. Then, they answer questions about the opinions of the leading candidates for president on the same set of issues. One treatment does not mention donors; another asks subjects to consider the possible influence of special interests; and a third treatment asks pairs of questions about policy preferences with and without taking donor influence into account. Respondents also rate candidates in terms of 7 personal characteristics. Controlling for candidates’ policy intentions, voters are neither more nor less likely to choose a candidate whose positions on issues were more influenced by interest groups. However, they are less likely to vote for a candidate they perceived to have received more money. When controls for personal characteristics are also included in the model, the effect of donations on vote choice disappears.

For more information contact Dr. Brendan Cunningham, Department of Economics. 

http://www.easternct.edu/cunninghambr

On Presidential Powers

By Mark Marcy

Prof Hayes Pizza Politics

UConn Professor Thomas Hayes with ECSU students Emily Margolis, Nicole Coughlin and Jared Latour

It was nice to see a full attendance at Pizza and Politics the other night for the discussion with keynote speaker, Dr. Tom Hayes. The discussion centered around the historical rising power of the presidency, the use of executive powers to circumvent the partisan divided congress, and what we can do as citizens to check the rise of authoritarianism.

To open the discussion, Dr. Hayes, outlined the historical gains in power of the presidency and how congress has allowed the president obtain these additional powers.  The power of the purse lies in the hands of the House, but presidents often present a proposed budget for the House to then push through congress.  While congress is the legislative branch, many legislative issues originate in the executive.  And, as the de facto leader of the party, the party coalesces around the president to further the presidential agenda.

Prof Hayes Pizza Politics 2

The Pizza and Politics crowd

As the evening wore on, it became clear that Dr. Hayes was not enamored with this current administration, questioned the capabilities of President Trump, and implied that the current administration is led by Steve Bannon and Steve Miller, advisors to the president.  While this is a harsh view of the administration, I must agree that this seems to be the case.  A few examples of instances where an administration that rises from outside government was uninformed about the nuances in the working of government (such as, the first Muslim nation ban), as well as a few examples of a president that didn’t know the basic’s like; the nuclear triad (among others).  Dr. Hayes suggested that the most powerful way, we as citizens, can voice our concerns about this rising authoritarianism, is to VOTE (as well as peacefully protest).

The audience had well thought out informed questions indicative of a group of polisci majors having a chat session.  It was awesome!

Professors Vasillopulos and Mendoza-Botelho discuss War and Peace at UConn

By Philip Hoeps

UConn CLIR 1

Professors Vasillopulos and Mendoza-Botelho with their hosts Cathy Cementina and Steve Kenton

Over the past two weeks two of our Professors Martín Mendoza-Botelho and Chris Vasillopulos, held talks on the topics of peace and war, respectively, at UConn, for the Center for Learning in Retirement (CLIR). These talks were derived from their courses in Fall 2016, Theories of War and the Politics of Peace.

Professor Vasillopulos’ session focused on the implications of war. Are the costs of war, both monetary and humanitarian, worth any potential accomplishments? He approached this question by analyzing the gains and tolls of both World Wars, as well as other modern conflicts. He also examined the aspects of human nature that can lead us to enter into wars or continue wars that had effectively already been decided.

UConn CLIR 2

Professor Mendoza-Botelho with participants Blanche Boucher (Secretary of CLIR), Joan Buck and Ann Kouatly.

Professor Mendoza-Botelho’s session began with a discussion of the systematic study of peace, in what is a relatively new field of study which came about largely to analyze the tentative peace that was maintained throughout the cold war in response to nuclear threat. The notion of peace can be largely narrowed down to two main categories, positive (harmonious) peace, in which there is a high level of well-being and social justice; and negative peace which is merely the absence of war. In this regard, Professor Mendoza-Botelho pointed out the well-known fact that the US has been at war for 222 of its 239 years since independence, despite this, the overwhelming majority of Nobel Peace Prize recipients were Americans (around one-fourth), an obvious disparity.

We wanted to thank CLIR event coordinators Steve Kenton and Cathy Cementina for inviting our Professors to speak at UConn, and if you have any questions, feel free to stop by during their office hours, and keep an eye out for these courses when they run again!

Polisci student Alexandra Cross is the 2016 student recipient of the Ella T. Grasso Distinguished Service Award

By Alaina Torromeo

Pic Alex Grasso Award

Proud recipient Alex poses with her mom.

On March 30, 2016 Polisci student Alexandra Cross received the Ella T. Grasso Distinguished Service Award at an Awards Ceremony held in the Student Center Theater. Alex received the award for her hard work and dedication with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered + community (LGBT+) on campus. Alex Safe Zone Trained faculty and staff, helped run the Pride Alliance Organization, worked with the American Association of University Professors against an unfair contract suggested by the Board of Regents in Connecticut, and most importantly, helped create the new Pride Center that will open this summer.

When asked about how she felt to receive the award Alex stated, “I have never felt so appreciated on campus before. Much of the work that I have done was behind the scenes and without too much recognition.” In regards to how this award will influence her future Alex said, “It will stand as a very real reminder that the work I do, and that the work everyone does in the name of equity, is worthwhile and important.”

Congratulations Alex, keep up the good work!

Eastern College Democrats sponsor a voter registration drive

By Adam Michael Murphy
ECSU College Democrats President

voter registrationElection season is upon on! Eastern College Democrats held two voter registration drives in the past few weeks encouraging people to vote in the primary on April 26th. A total of over 90 voter registration forms were filled out and collected throughout the weeks! The registration drives received great feedback from the community and it was wonderful to see so many people want to become engaged in this election. This election is more important than ever for students and other members of Eastern’s campus to get involved and learn about the candidates, who they want to vote for in the general election. In recent elections, the primary here in CT never received this much fervor and anticipation because our primary is later in the process, but this year the primary is receiving a lot of enthusiasm.

            These events went along with the mission of the club to promote civic engagement and raise awareness of political issues on Eastern’s campus. A few other events sponsored by College Democrats this year were Dominoes for Democracy, and hearing from local elected officials about issues facing our state. College Democrats even collaborated with the Conservative and Libertarian club this past semester to hold a Bipartisan Bake sale where we simultaneously help a straw poll for students to pick a candidate they would like to support. Similar events can be expected to be seen next semester as the general election for president get closer in an attempt to raise the political awareness students have for important issues.