Hey folks! It’s been a while (about two months – I know you’ve been watching the weeks pass by wondering when you would hear from me again). It’s been a crazy couple of months! Andrew and I went to Orlando and New York City, found an apartment to move to in Salt Lake City, started the tedious moving process, and I graduated from Utah State University!
As my undergraduate degree neared its end, I began to have a bit of an existential crisis. I’ve been a student for 16 years and I think I’m pretty good at it. Anyways, I started reflecting on my time as a Political Science student and the most important things I learned. I think a lot of this is really applicable to the current political climate, which is why I’m sharing this in a public forum.
- Arguing on a moral basis will never, ever, ever, ever, ever get you anywhere. Morality is kind of a tricky thing because everyone’s moral compass has a slightly different ‘North.’ There are different priorities for everyone. Merriam-Webster defines morality as “beliefs about what is right behavior and what is wrong behavior.” When something is a belief it is not as black and white as you would think. The person you’re arguing with may have the complete opposite belief as you and they’re not wrong because it’s a belief. It’s not a fact. It’s not even an opinion. It’s a belief.
- The best way to analyze policies is based on justice. This lesson took a long time for me to learn. It essentially took me dissecting a hefty load of Supreme Court cases for me to realize that what I think is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ doesn’t matter at all, and that’s actually a really, really good thing. What matters is whether every individual is treated justly in the eyes of the law.
- The “big” social issues that the American public is concerned about are basically non-issues for the vast majority of us political science scholars. I’m talking about abortion and gay marriage here specifically. It would officially take a constitutional amendment (which is a notoriously difficult task to undertake) to override these decisions. They’re as permanent as something can be in our government. Politicians only talk about these issues because they know the public is still up-in-arms about all of it. They know the truth, too – it’s all a done deal.
- The Constitution is not a divine document. This isn’t to say it wasn’t divinely inspired – it very well could have been. What I’m trying to say here is that the Constitution doesn’t cover everything and that it’s okay to change it. Obviously it wasn’t perfect – we’ve changed it 27 times. Yet people treat it like it’s the tablets handed to Moses on Mount Sinai themselves. As such, it’s incredibly difficult to getting an amendment through. If you take out the Bill of Rights (the first 10 amendments) that were added on as a compromise, then there’s been one amendment every 13.5 years on average. It’s so difficult, that women still haven’t been constitutionally declared equal. It’s done through a backdoor clause of the 14th amendment.
- The American public is change-averse. And it kind of makes things really crappy for everyone. Americans hate admitting that there’s a problem (see point number 4), and it takes decades of mistreatment and discontent before they decide to do something about it. I have seen chart after chart and more graphs than I care to share about how America is falling behind other first world countries in areas like public education, higher education, infrastructure, social mobility, and healthcare. But instead of admitting that things may need to be fixed, taxes may need to be raised, and programs may need to be cut, everyone acts like it’s still the 1980’s here and ignoring the reality that 2016 is not quite as kind to America.