By Mark Marcy
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.
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!
By James Dignoti
In late February the Eastern Conservative/ Libertarian Club attended the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor Maryland
just outside of Washington DC. Having also attended the conference last year there are some similarities and differences between the two conferences for several different reasons. The highlight of this trip by far was being able to see President Trump and Vice President Pence speak. We also got to see several other good conservative speakers and had the chance to meet some of the speakers.
As far as differences between last year’s conference and the conference this year was that this year felt more like a victory rally for conservatives while last year there were several Republican Presidential Candidates still competing for the nomination, this year, there was much more unity within the party having won.
The Trump speech was by far the highlight of the Conference. He came out to a strong ovation by the crowd. The speech however, felt more like a rally than a speech from the President. President Trump was very engaged with the crowd and in his speech highlighted what he is going to do in his Presidency. President Trump addressed several policy areas including immigration and the Middle East. President Trump also addressed the media and how the media has treated him.
Besides the speeches by both Trump and Pence, there were also several other great speakers worth noting. One really good panel discussion was a discussion of the Constitution with Senator Ted Cruz and Radio Host Mark Levin. They discussed the importance of protecting the Constitution. There was also a very good discussion about Women and Politics with Trump’s Campaign manager Kelly Anne Conway and Mercedes Schlapp. Furthermore, there were several other panel discussions and speeches concerning several different issues including, Abortion, Defense and The Second Amendment.
The conference also had an anti-establishment feel and a new Republican feel to it. There were very few establishment speakers at the conference this year and the Majority of the Speakers supported Trump during the General Election. This overall was a great week and our club is fortunate to have the opportunity to attend this conference every year. We are also grateful to our Advisor, Professor Vasillopulos for attending this conference with us every year. It is very beneficial to our Political Education and we are able to meet many amazing people at this conference every year.
By Philip Hoeps
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.
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!
By Alaina Torromeo
On April 7-9 three of Eastern’s Polisci students Alexandra Cross, Sabreena Croteau, and Erin Drouin presented their research at the 30th Annual National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) at the University of North Carolina Asheville. Eastern had 11 students accepted, a prestigious honor considering that the selection process was so competitive, with over 4,000 submissions. According to the conference “…the work of the students accepted to present at this conference demonstrated a unique contribution to their field of study.”
Alex’s paper (mentor Dr. Martín Mendoza-Botelho) “Straightening Out the Russian Mold: How Russian Nationalism Intersects with Homophobia,” focused on how the government of this country has entangled homophobia and nationalism. Sabreena (mentor Dr. Caitlin Carenen History) presented her Honors Thesis, “Influence and Interference: U.S. Foreign Policy towards Saudi Arabia 1956-1971.” Her work examines the beginnings of the U.S.-Saudi alliance, looking to uncover how the U.S. government felt about the relationship and how the American populace felt about it. Erin’s research (mentor Dr. Nicole Krassas) “From Tradition to Twitter: An Analysis of Traditional Media and Social Media Coverage of Sexual Assault on College Campuses” explores the use of modern media in contentious issues.
Eastern Professor Carlos Escoto, who attended the Conference with this group commented that “…the ability of Eastern students to learn from the work of other students from across the country is informative.” He remarked that there is something invigorating about the ability for students to participate in a conference of this size and to interact with other student scholars. Research and scholarly activity are seen as desirable skills by employers and graduate schools and presenting your research at a national conference is seen as a culminating activity.
At the end of the 2015 Fall semester, several faculty, staff and students rose to the “Krassas Challenge” to run some laps as part of Eastern’s annual poverty awareness marathon. Professor Charlie Chatterton runs the marathon in 1.2 mile laps around campus and those of us lesser athletes run as much as we can. Starting at 7 a.m., I was joined by senior Sabreena Croteau and sophomore Alexander Eitland. A little bit later in the morning, sophomore Emily Becher joined the group. Only Sabreena lapped me and she was gracious enough not to mock me, however several dedicated long distance runners lapped me multiple times! By 8:15, as I was leaving the run to get ready for class at 9, Professor Mendoza-Botelho arrived to “pick up the torch” for the political science program. It was a beautiful morning for a run! Also, senior Sarah Howard, who was unable to run, dropped off a donation of canned goods to support the cause as did department secretary Brenda Schiavetti who brought an awesome 40 cans to go to the food pantry! If I have missed anyone who participated today, my apologies. Thanks to everyone who did participate and please remember the point of today’s event. As we move through our lives, we should stop to remember that approximately 15% of the U.S. population, over 46 million people, lives below the poverty line. Poverty affects children in the U.S. the most. 21% of children in the United States live below the poverty line. Have you thought about the impact that poverty has on people from inadequate housing, food insecurity, inadequate health care and inadequate transportation (just to name a few)? Aside from moral consideration, as political scientists poverty is an important subject to consider as poverty relief drives a fair amount of government policy and political rhetoric in this country and around the world.
By Quanece Williams
Cuba is a country that is stigmatized with being a communist country, in which the rights of citizens are suppressed. However, apart from that, it is a country that is often overlooked when learning about world history. Thus, the presentation of Cuban Educator Ariel Dacal Díaz was extremely informative. Diaz not only discussed the advantages and the shortcomings of the country as a whole, he also analyzed the bilateral relations between Cuba and the United States.
Díaz’s history of the country was vital and ranged from topics including the social system, the economic system, sports, political participation, democratization, and bilateral Cuba-U.S. relations. Cuba’s social system is particularly interesting because although the country is primarily poor, education and health care are free and universal. Furthermore, both are offered to every citizen from birth to death. Diaz declared this one of the country’s greatest attributes because according to him, “in many countries health care, housing, and education are commercializing but it should be a human right”.
The complex economic system was then analyzed and a timeline was provided to explain the current system that is implemented today. He shared that in 1959, Cuba had 80% of its market dominated by the U.S. and then in 1989, 85% of Cuba’s market was connected to the economy of the Soviet Union, which would eventually dissolve, leaving the country economically crippled. This significantly shaped their economic system, as illustrated in the policy that is currently implemented in regard to foreign investment, which establishes the limits (30%) of foreign capital investment.
An entertaining part of his presentation was when Diaz went into depth on the role of sports in their society. He stated that the country decided that sports are not a commodity, although the country is small and poor. He was also excited to share that the country placed 5th in the Olympics in 1992. The countries economy is intrinsically linked to the sports world because equipment was often not provided so athletes used their teammates as weights. Additionally, the poor economy is also the motivation for sports players to leave the country in search for a contract that will provide the most benefits, which further exacerbates the economic status of the country.
Political participation, one of the tenets of democracy, was another salient issue Diaz examined. He stated that the MLK Center seeks to educate the polity and outlined the requirements for participation as followed: (1) that persons want to participate (2) that people can participate (3) that people know how to participate. In addition, he shared that the Cuban culture is now dependent upon the government because of communism. Diaz also shared his notion of democracy and stated that it needs to be grassroots and comprehensible. Other tenets for democracy outlined by Diaz are the acknowledgment of another person’s rights and that democracy will not occur with just one person. Additionally, he shared that democracy must alter the perception of liberty and quoted “I am free if you are free”, highlighting that one individuals liberty is conditioned on another’s liberty (a valuable lesson for the U.S. to learn especially with the views on minorities).
The last issue important issue that was discussed was the U.S., as Cuba’s largest neighbor, exerting dominance in their country. He introduced the analogy of the levee that was intended to provide support in New Orleans with Katrina, and questioned how strong the country was to withstand the flood of the United States.
Overall, the presentation was useful because it provided me with information about the country that I was unfamiliar with. I was unaware that an embassy was opened in D.C., as well as Havana and still believed that the relationship between both countries was tenuous. However, after attending the presentation I realize as Diaz stated, “Cuba is not a paradise but Cuba is not hell”.