What makes a democracy strong?

Bryn Donovan

Memo #2

13 September 2018

AP Comparative Government

 

The reading explored the five causes of democracy, modernism, cultural theories, systematic/structural theories, domestic institutions, and agency-based theories. Each theory is supported by actions be various countries, however, India remains an anomaly as it directly opposed the theory of modernization.

No democracy is perfect. The past few years there have been debates over the legitimacy of United States elections. Currently, there is a bill on the table take a more aggressive stance on Russia interference in American elections. This bill may be shot down by president Trump according to a New York Times article.

Which is more important. How a country becomes a democracy or how it fulfills the standards of democracy?

Although India did not become a democracy in one of the five ways lined out in the chapter, they are moving towards being a more accepting place. This can be seen with the legalization of gay sex. On the other hand, the United States, one of the stronger democracies, is struggling with free and fair elections. This is one of the foremost criteria for a country to be a democracy. It is clear that both countries are moving towards being fully democratic. The measure of democracy should not be how it comes about, but what it does after the fact.

 

Barnes, Julian E., and Nicholas Fandos. “Lawmakers Dismiss White House Push to Fight Election Interference as Too Weak.” The New York Times. September 12, 2018. Accessed September 13, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/12/us/politics/trump-executive-order-election-interference-senate.html?rref=collection/timestopic/Russia&action=click&contentCollection=world®ion=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=3&pgtype=collection.

Sections of Government and How They Affect Elections

Bryn Donovan

AP Comp Gov

Memo #8

 

Last nights reading addressed concepts of the legislature and what role they play in the government. Legislatures are a “body of representatives with the authority to make laws”. In the US our legislature consists of the Senate and the Congress. In other countries sometimes these are referred to as the lower chamber and upper chamber. Different electoral systems employ different variations of these systems. New Zealand for instance, allows its voters two votes each so that their party has a better chance of being represented.

The current political climate in the United States is becoming tenser as the midterms approach. The Republicans currently hold control of both the house, the Senate and the presidency. With the election approaching, the Democrats are trying to gain more control. According to CNBC, the Democrats need to gain this edge in order to have more influence on issues of health care, immigration policies, and tax reforms.

How will the upcoming elections affect the future of the US government?

Despite the highly charged environment of the current political system, it is unlikely that control of the house and senate over the next two years will matter very much. With President Trump still in office, even if the Democrats gain the house, very little progress will be made because this will merely cause more fighting between the two political parties. This increasing tension between the bicameral legislature will most likely only result in more blocked bills by both parties rather than bipartisan efforts.

 

Comparative Politics: Integrating Theories, Methods, and Cases by J.T. Dickovick and J. Eastwood p. 203

Pramuk, Jacob, and John W. Schoen. “The Most Expensive Midterm Ever Is Just Days Away – and the House Is Democrats’ to Lose.” CNBC. November 02, 2018. Accessed November 03, 2018. https://www.cnbc.com/2018/11/02/democrats-try-to-win-house-majority-in-most-expensive-midterm-election.html.

Nigeria: Half a Yellow Sun

Bryn Donovan

6 September 2018

Memo #1: Half a Yellow Sun

 

In Chapter 11, of Adichie’s Half A Yellow Sun, the depiction of the dead child’s head in the woman’s basket shows the cruel reality of the coup. Olanna is about to visit her families home when news comes that the Igbo people have been massacred and her family is dead. As she flees on the train packed with people, a woman a few feet away shows her the baby’s head in the basket.

The abuse of children in ethnic conflict is still present as children are separated from their parents at the United States Border by the Trump Administration. The children are separated to deter parents from using their children as leverage to get into the country. The effects the separation has on the children and the parents are damaging, as most of the children are younger than seven years old.

 

How does a group of people justify harming children to advance their own agendas?

The tensions between the Igbo people and the Hausa-Fulani people is a racial prejudice that was exacerbated by the multiple coups. The Igbo people fled to Biafra just as the refugees fled to the United States in search of asylum. The fear of people who are of a different religion or ethnicity than you have been used to raise people to power both in the Nigerian coups and in the 2016 US elections. The second coup took the fear of the Igbo people and turned them into a common enemy for Husan-Fulani people. In the same way, Trump used the fear of immigrants to justify separating them from their children at the border in the name of national security.

 

Michelle Brané, and Margo Schlanger. “Analysis | This Is What’s Really Happening to Kids at the Border.” The Washington Post. May 30, 2018. September 07, 2018. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2018/05/30/this-is-whats-really-happening-to-kids-at-the-border/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.09bcd141a6

Trade in North and South America

Bryn Donovan

25 September 2018

AP Comp Gov

Memo #4

For the last several decades, Mexico has been working towards becoming a better democracy to support its citizens. The ousting of the PRI (Industrial Revolution Party) removed lots of corruption from the government. There are also more checks and balances that have been put in place by the legislative and judiciary branches that check the power of the president. Mexico’s massive strides forward have been due to bilateral trade deals, mostly between the United States and Mexico. The forming of NAFTA also allowed the Mexican economy to stabilize, which stopped the economic crisis in 1982. According to “Mexico Makes It” by Shannon O’Neill, the way for Mexico to continue to improve is through economic stability and trade deals with the United States.

On 27 August 2018, the President of the United States met with the Mexican President to discuss a new trade deal dubbed the “United States-Mexico Trade Agreement”. President Trump is threatening to leave Canada out of the deal because of tariffs that Canada has imposed on US goods. The New York Times quotes Trump saying that NAFTA has “bad connotations” and that he will negotiate with Canada if they will do it fairly.

Will economic stability be the quickest way for Mexico to become a world power?

The economic theory states that economic modernization is the key to modern states. O’Neill specifically mentions that “a democratic and safe Mexico would attract billions of dollars in foreign investment” (O’Neill 26). By increasing revenue into the country, Mexico can use this to decrease the amount of violence, improve public services, and help the middle class continue to grow. Mexico’s geopolitical identity is not set in stone, and with a stable economy, could challenge giants such as China, India, and the United States in the global economy.

O’Neill, Shannon. “Mexico Makes It.” 2013

Swanson, Ana, Katie Rogers, and Alan Rappeport. “Trump Reaches Revised Trade Deal With Mexico, Threatening to Leave Out Canada.” The New York Times. August 27, 2018. Accessed September 26, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/27/us/politics/us-mexico-nafta-deal.html.

North Korean Economics

Bryn Donovan

AP Comp Gov

Memo #6

18 October 2018

 

North Korea and South Korea are countries that started with similar wealth and resources in 1950 and ended up in vastly different economic situations and political structures 60 years later. According to Why Nations Fail by Acemoglu and Robinson, South Korea’s GDP in 2013 was $33,200 and North Korea’s was only $1,800 in 2011. South Koreas economic success can be attributed to its capitalist tendencies. The country has very strict rules about how involved the government can be in companies, with the hope that this will keep the businesses in the economy stable. North Korea has a very different system, where all the imports and exports are monitored by the government.

According to the Korean Times, South Korea has the seventh highest tax rate in the among economically advanced countries at 25%. Many Koreans are worried that this high tax rate will reduce the competitive potential of companies and that a lower tax rate will allow Korea to become even more progressive. North Korea on the other hand, has gone the opposite direction and claims to be the only tax-free country in the world. They do however have a sales tax of 15% on everything.

What can North Korea do to improve its economy?

North Korea and South Korea are models of how different governments affect the economy. The communism of North Korea clearly limits how successful the economy can be international because they have no free market. South Korea, on the other hand, practices a more liberal economy, or laissez-faire. If North Korea were to loosen regulations and allow corporations and business to emerge their economy would most likely mirror that of South Korea. However, this outcome is unlikely while Kim Jung-Un is the dictator.

 

 

Dickovick, J. Tyler, and Johnathan Eastwood. Comparative Politics: Integrating Theories, Methods, and Cases. Second edition. Pages 114-117

Kyung-min, Lee. “Korea’s Corporate Tax Rate 7th Highest in OCED.” Koreatimes. October 18, 2018. Accessed October 19, 2018. http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/biz/2018/10/488_257242.html.

North Korea Sales Tax Rate – VAT  2014-2018 | Data | Chart | Calendar.” North Korea Sales Tax Rate – VAT | 2014-2018 | Data | Chart | Calendar. Accessed October 19, 2018. https://tradingeconomics.com/north-korea/sales-tax-rate.

Legitimacy in the government

Bryn Donovan

Memo #2

13 September 2018

AP Comparative Government

 

The reading explored the five causes of democracy, modernism, cultural theories, systematic/structural theories, domestic institutions, and agency-based theories. Each theory is supported by actions be various countries, however, India remains an anomaly as it directly opposed the theory of modernization.

No democracy is perfect. The past few years there have been debates over the legitimacy of United States elections. Currently, there is a bill on the table take a more aggressive stance on Russia interference in American elections. This bill may be shot down by president Trump according to a New York Times article.

Which is more important. How a country becomes a democracy or how it fulfills the standards of democracy?

Although India did not become a democracy in one of the five ways lined out in the chapter, they are moving towards being a more accepting place. This can be seen with the legalization of gay sex. On the other hand, the United States, one of the stronger democracies, is struggling with free and fair elections. This is one of the foremost criteria for a country to be a democracy. It is clear that both countries are moving towards being fully democratic. The measure of democracy should not be how it comes about, but what it does after the fact.

 

Barnes, Julian E., and Nicholas Fandos. “Lawmakers Dismiss White House Push to Fight Election Interference as Too Weak.” The New York Times. September 12, 2018. Accessed September 13, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/12/us/politics/trump-executive-order-election-interference-senate.html?rref=collection/timestopic/Russia&action=click&contentCollection=world®ion=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=3&pgtype=collection.

Quotas: Good or bad?

Bryn Donovan

AP Comp Gov

Memo #13

In Comparative Politics: Classic and Contemporary Readings, the topic of Gender and Ethnicity and their relation to each other. The reading poses the question: Should government positions include man, women, rich, poor, masters, and slaves? Historically, most of society has been patriarchal and white in most developed worlds specifically in the west. Quotas are often in a place that set percentages as to what minimum percentage needs to be held for minority groups. In Argentina, the quota is 30% of political parties need to be women. Women usually receive quotas while ethnic groups get reserved seats. The difference is that reserved seats are a fixed percentage that has to be filled by election. There are patterns that show that more women vote in leftwing parties then in rightwing parties, and ethnic minorities tend to cluster into political parties.

Are quotas reverse discrimination?

Elizabeth Warren has been in the news a lot recently because of her 2020 presidential campaign. Omitting her political opinions, part of her campaign is that she is both a woman and an ethnic minority as a Native American. CNN published an article about Trump’s comments where he called her Pocohantas to mock her because he didn’t believe she was Native American. The idea that quotas could be reverse discrimination is not true because since white men were the majority of politics for so long and other qualified peoples were denied positions based solely on the fact that they were female or not white makes the quotas necessary. This minority aspect is something that Warren can play off of in her campaign by appealing to the people who feel silenced because of aspects they can’t control.

 

Dickovick, J. Tyler, and Johnathan Eastwood. Comparative Politics: Classic and Contemporary Politics. Oxford University Press p. 255-264

 

Krieg, Gregory. “Here’s the Deal with Elizabeth Warren’s Native American Heritage.” CNN. October 15, 2018. Accessed January 28, 2019. https://www.cnn.com/2016/06/29/politics/elizabeth-warren-native-american-pocahontas/index.html.

Democracy: Germany vs USA

Bryn Donovan

AP Comp Gov

Memo #10

15 November 2018

 

The German political system is a parliamentary democracy. The year this article was written was low voter turnout with only 70% of the population voting, although compared to the USA this is a high number. Despite the high voter turn out, only 49% of Germans trust the government. German political parties are seen more as “client-based” systems rather than being united under a “universal vision”. Despite a variety of parties, German parties are seen as oligarchical or being led by a small group of people. The German system is cast in a very negative light through the entire article and diminishes their accomplishments of welfare, educational systems, and environmentalism.

In Germany recently there has been a rise in activism from the Alternative for Germany party. According to Independent, last year the party won 94 seats in parliament and more recently held a demonstration in Munich after a person seeking asylum was involved in a stabbing. The video accompanying the article vaguely resembles the Charlottesville incident with the KKK, and the description also coincides with that incident.

Is the German political system or the American political system more democratic?

The main difference between the two systems are the parties. The US’s two main parties are very broad and have to satisfy 50% of the population. On the other hand Germanys, political parties seem more specific and therefore there are more of them. Specialized groups can be seen as more democratic because they give difference sects of people more voice. However, the dual party system forces the parties to change with the mood of the people, and answer more to their members. While both systems are democratic it is impossible to say which is more.

 

 

News Source: Hamish McRae @TheIndyBusiness. “‘These Are the Warning Signs of a New Global Crisis’.” The Independent. October 10, 2018. Accessed November 16, 2018. https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/imf-growth-forecasts-warning-global-economic-crisis-a8577646.html.

 

Reading Source: Nivola, Piere S. “In Defense of Partisan Politics.” p. 125- 129

Iranian Government

Bryn Donovan

12 January 2018

AP Comp Gov

Memo #11

In Comparative Politics: Integrating Theories, Methods, and Cases, Iran is examed to look at what led the country to the Islamic Revolution in 1979. In 1795, Iran was under Sharia Law and was ruled by a monarchy. After leaders such as Mohammad Reza Shan tried to make the country more western in the industrial and cultural sense, there was a backlash that put Mosaddeq in power as Prime Minister. His main goal was to nationalize Iran’s oil. Mexico had been trying to do this as well, as a way to stabilize its economy. Mossadeq’s regime brought the country away from western values and ultimately led to the White Revolution in 1963. The revolution gave women the right to vote and got rid of some of the clerics that were in power. Clerics are an important part of the government and have the power to reject the president, veto laws, and appoint parliament. The Islamic Revolution ultimately brought a more conservative regime into power and restored the strong religious ties in the government.

Why did Iran become more conservative while other countries become more liberal with revolution?

Comparing Iran to Mexico, they have similar resources, namely oil, and one political party in charge for a long time. While Mexico changed their government and became more progressive, Iran became a more conservative government. This is most likely due to the close ties with the Shi’a religion. Iran was supported by the United States at different times, and when Jimmy Carter began pushing for human rights, this took even more support away from the Shah before the White Revolution. Currently, tensions are high between Iran and the USA because, in September, rockets were fired by militias near the embassy buildings. The White House asked the Pentagon to look into a military strike back.

Consumerism

Bryn Donovan

5 October 2018

AP Comp Gov

Memo #5

 

Government involvement in economics has had negative effects on the development of free trade according to Milton Friedman in Comparative Politics. The regulated distribution of goods and services by the government serves only to increase prices. Adam Smith’s invisible hand of the market, according to Friedman, is the only way to have a free and fair economy. He used the example of American airlines which now sell cheaper tickets because of the deregulation they have received. China, on the other hand, has people in charge of the distribution of materials. This is much more restrictive than the United States Department of Commerce, which mostly deals with regulations on the standards of goods being sold. The setting of prices by the government does not work, and this is supported by the results of The Marshall Plan in 1950. The debate of rapid change or gradual change proves that each situation is individual, and the countries like China have a long way to go towards the free economy.

The Chinese government swings between regulated communism and free-market practices. Currently, according to The New York Times, the government is pushing for fewer private business, which would have negative effects on the global economy by raising the price of Chinese goods. The Times claims that this swing back to the government is in response to Trump’s trade war threats.

In a consumerist world, how can countries like China improve their economy to be as successful as the United States?

If China were to adopt Adam Smith economics, its economy would most likely rise to compete with the United States. Due to the lower prices of good because of deregulation, businesses would have more competition to drive the economy. The same results that happened with the US Airline could be repeated in China if the government stepped back from the economy.

 

Sources:

Dickopvick, J. Tyler, and Johnathan Eastwood. Comparative Politics: Classic and Contemporary Readings. Oxford University Press, 2017.

Yuan, Li. “Private Businesses Built Modern China. Now the Government Is Pushing Back.” The New York Times. October 03, 2018. Accessed October 05, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/03/business/china-economy-private-enterprise.html.