Now that the New Hampshire primary is officially over, you’re probably thinking the candidates no longer care about us here at Dartmouth. Well, you’re wrong. Candidates would never come to an area just to secure voters and then immediately forget about them once they’ve secured the vote. That would be morally wrong, and we all know politicians are morally upright people. Since these politicians will be back soon, I thought I might give them some ideas for new campaign slogans:
Puddles: The snow sculpture this year is more like performance art about the destruction of the environment.
Laundry: With midterms here, it’s starting to pile up.
Flitzes: No time like semi season to get your flirt on.
Preemptive Homework: Winter (Carnival) is coming
Avoiding Eye Contact/Not Talking about Politics
If you aren’t a member of at least ten to fifteen GroupMe’s, you probably don’t go here. If you haven’t heard of GroupMe, then please let me know what rock you’ve been living under. I’d like to join you to escape from homework and midterms and responsibilities.
Anyway, for whatever reason, GroupMe has become an absolute necessity on this campus. It’s even a verb. Forget texts or blitz: If someone needs to spread important information, it’s coming through GroupMe.
But for some reason, you just can’t trust college students with a heart-shaped button that allows them to like other people’s messages. Things become strangely political as people fight to get the most “hearts” on their message. Add the function that allows you to change the name and avatar for a group into the mix and you end up with nonsensical messages to groups with entertaining but irrelevant names. I guess that’s how I ended up in a GroupMe called “Daughters of Satan” plotting doomsday, a crucible reenactment and a feminist uprising. Go figure.
Even though most GroupMe’s seem to be lawless wastelands, there are some unspoken rules that generally govern our messages. Before GroupMeing out next time, you should probably do yourself a favor and look these over. Think of this as a sort of GroupMe code, or maybe just GroupMe guidelines: Continue reading
College is a time when people’s political views separate from those of their parents. They branch out, experiment with new ideologies and authors and eventually form ideas of their own. A person who comes into college a conservative may leave an ardent left-winger, but someone who enters as a moderate liberal may end up a conservative. So how will college treat your views? See where you were when you entered and follow the flowchart to determine your ideological destiny.
The Conversation this week features government professors Joseph Bafumi, whose interests include electoral behavior and public opinion, and Brendan Nyhan, who researches political misconceptions and scandal.
Dartbeat: Based on the speech, what do you think the most contentious policies will be in President Barack Obama’s second term?
Joseph Bafumi: New taxes, entitlement reform, additional spending projects in education and infrastructure and possibly some of the social issues.
Brendan Nyhan: Immigration and guns are the most controversial social policy issues, aside from budget and taxes.
JB: The Republicans are probably looking at the last election and thinking they’ve got to do something about immigration — move a little bit to the left on that — and on guns. There may be Republicans who are waiting a little bit before taking really hard stances against traditional gun control. They may be waiting for memories of [the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting] to subside, for example. The public opinion we’ve seen is so in favor of gun control, they’re probably looking to stall the issue, so it’s hard to know how we’ll deal with that one. But I think we might actually get immigration reform because in the last election House Republicans realized they’ve got to do something to woo Latino voters.
Dartbeat: How effective do you think this year’s State of the Union will be?
BN: It depends how you define ‘effective.’ The ultimate constituency for these things, as far as policy objectives, is Congress. There certainly are Republicans who were concerned with the immigration issue, but we’re already starting to see these signs of polarization over the issue since the speech. It’s important to remember there are lots of issues where it seemed like something was about to happen, and then Congress slow-rolled it until it died.
Dartbeat: But you said that we would likely see something about immigration now.
JB: My guess is I think it’s fair to say Latino voters were key to Obama’s victory — and of course there’s some disagreement about that — but they voted for him in numbers greater than they voted for him in 2008. With Republicans running away from immigration issues, Latino voters were turned off. And that may have been why they didn’t do as well in 2012 as they would have liked to, at least at the presidential level. So I think if they could hammer out some sort of compromise, I could imagine some kind of comprehensive immigration reform passing, whereas I’m not sure there’ll be comprehensive gun control reform.
Dartbeat: Why are you doubtful about gun control reform?
JB: There’s still a lot of Republicans who don’t want it — they’re just not very vocal right now, because public opinion is trending in the direction of gun control. So I think that’s going to be a harder issue. Gun control hurts Democrats a lot, and that’s one of the reasons they’ve been very careful with the issue up until very recent times. A lot of Democrats who come from red states are concerned that in 2014 if they are too aggressive on gun control, they’re going to lose their seats — their Senate seats particularly — so I think the politics of gun control are more difficult than the politics of immigration reform.
Dartbeat: When I was watching the speech I noticed that the ending of the speech was the most rhetorically powerful. A lot of it seemed — in the hour lead-up until he got to that point — pretty straightforward for a State of the Union but then toward the end the part about gun control became pretty powerful.
JB: I thought so too. Very rhetorically powerful, and probably the strongest effort Obama made to swing public opinion in his favor and against House Republicans. He presents himself as a guy just asking them to take a vote, making Republicans look like people who won’t even bring legislation to the floor. There hasn’t been enough time while the issue is in the forefront of public discourse to know that Republicans are stalling, but the rhetoric and the political strategy I think was very powerful.
Dartbeat: Does picking a single policy like gun control that already has this momentum of public opinion behind it increase the president’s public opinion ratings as a whole?
JB: I think he would hope that it would, I don’t know if it did.
BN: No. It doesn’t. And even the boost that gun control legislation has had in the polls is likely to be temporary. There was a blip after [the Columbine High School shooting] as well but it dissipated. At the time there was an effort to pass gun control, and it failed. So there’s a pretty short window of attention and public support. The other bottom line is we’re headed into a midterm election with a constituency that’s going to be less supportive of immigration than the general electorate that we just saw. The other thing is that in the House, [Speaker of the House] John Boehner [R-Ohio] had to allow a fiscal cliff deal to go through that they didn’t like. They had to let a deal pass that a majority of Republicans in the House voted against. They don’t want to do that again. Even if an immigration proposal or a gun control proposal exists that could get a majority of votes in the house, the House majority has to decide to allow it to go to the floor. Most of the time, the House majority won’t let things go to the floor that their focus opposes. It will be interesting if they let one of these things get to the floor — it’s going to split their caucus in two.
Dartbeat: Do you think anything Obama said about the economy will have significance in the next year?
JB: I’m not sure. I think [Americans are] becoming increasingly disenchanted with these created fiscal crises that come about — what is this, the fifth or sixth one? It looks to me that Republicans have lost the fiscal wars up until now, so that works in Obama’s favor, but there’s also this sentiment out there that tires of all the politicians because they just can’t come up with a compromise deal.
BN: To the extent that no one seems to be feeling enough pressure to do a deal on the budget cuts, the sequester—to that extent the speech failed. The thought that the sequester could go into effect was politically unthinkable as of a few months ago, but now a lot of people say that it will.
Dartbeat: Do you think it will happen?
BN: It seems that way, but the situation is that everyone will extract the best bargain if they say they’ll let it happen.
JB: Yeah. In that game, Obama’s fared a little better than Republicans, and he’s still talking the talk, but we’ll only know for sure at the time. All of us suffer from the two sides not being able to come up with some sort of compromise deal. I’m not talking about kicking the can down the road, I’m talking about something that’s long-term and comprehensive. And we haven’t gotten anything like that, though we’ve come close if you believe what some of us have read or heard about the negotiations between Boehner and Obama. Things fall apart and now it looks like there’s even more entrenchment. It looks like Obama’s moving more in a leftward direction, and Boehner’s catering to the more conservative elements of the House Republican caucus. It looks like the gap has widened since Obama has increased the taxes on the rich.
Dartbeat: Does that mean that none of these initiatives from the speech will likely come to a vote?
JB: It’s really hard to say. I think that if the stock market doesn’t crash, if nothing really forces their hand, they’re just going to keep playing the game of chicken, until they’re forced to do something because something severe happens.
BN: It’s hard to say what gets brought to a vote. Being the opposing party under divided government is tricky. You’re caught between the pressure to make some deals, keep the lights on in government and maybe take issues off the table that you’re uncomfortable with. At the same time, you don’t want to keep giving the president political victories. They can bottle up most of Obama’s second term agenda. Most presidents have a tough time with their second term agenda. We tend to see the most legislative action when a new party takes control of the presidency.
Dartbeat: So what should we be looking for as we follow presidential and congressional politics in the next year?
JB: Look for some areas where they will find compromise agreement, like immigration reform, some areas where they will stall like fiscal policy issues or gun control, look for continued posturing and it won’t be long before they’re both thinking, ‘We have an election coming up soon, so let’s just see what happens then.’
In his fourth State of the Union address last Tuesday, President Barack Obama asked Congress to focus investment in areas including education, alternative energy research, infrastructure and manufacturing as a route to long-term economic improvement. He also focused on renewed attention to climate change, voting reform and nuclear disarmament. The impassioned rhetoric of the speech’s closing moments revealed the President’s (or his speechwriters’) personal stake in the gun control effort.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who delivered the GOP response to the address, on the other hand, chose to focus on his parched throat while I spent much of the address focusing on Vice President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House John Boehner as they focused on staying alert.
I thought it was really important that the president mentioned the Violence Against Women Act. And I thought it was very interesting that some women in the House and the Senate didn’t stand up and clap for equal pay for equal work. —Bridget-Kate McNulty ’16
I’m just getting to the part about climate policy and a push for climate change which is a really big deal for me, and I think what he’s saying is really good. I hope that he puts it at the top of his policy agenda, but I get the feeling that it’s just going to be a lot of rhetoric. —Michael Berger ’14
I thought it was a standard State of the Union. It wasn’t good, it wasn’t bad, nothing was particularly jumping out as awesome or deplorable. It was just the president addressing people about stuff that we already knew. —Christian Opperman ’13
I was happy to hear some actual action items. When it came to issues like the economy, especially helping homeowners and investing in infrastructure, I think we’re starting to hear a few new proposals. And I was also happy to hear him take a very strong stance toward gun control and passing common sense measures. I think it’s very important that we push Congress to let these bills get to a vote. Relating to the fact that we can’t prevent every gun crime, we can at least take steps to lower the total. —Mason Cole ’13
It was totally unremarkable. Quite frankly, I wasn’t impressed, I wasn’t disappointed, I thought it was fine. —Christina Gill ’16
President Obama outlined a series of realistic initiatives that can make life easier for many Americans. I strongly support his ideas on reforms to fix our broken immigration system, our schools and ensure that our safety net is strong into the future. We also need to take a strong look at our voting system to ensure that every eligible American can cast a ballot without prior intimidation or unreasonable wait times. I am also very excited that he chose to embrace a vote on common sense measures to make our country safer by getting dangerous weapons of war off our streets and to ensure that every gun purchase was preceded by a background check. —Logan Brog ’16
I thought that President Obama addressed a lot of issues that weren’t brought up in his inaugural address, which I thought was good. I think it was definitely controversial and both sides had a lot of opinions, which I think is the point of it. —Elizabeth Wilkins ’16
Full video: The New York Times
Full transcript: The Washington Post
News analysis: The Chicago Tribune
Marco Rubio’s infamous sip
Fox News on SOTU: Fox News
SNL on Fox News on SOTU: Huffington Post