HOT TOPICS CAFÉ HAS BAD POLITICS OR GOOD GOVERNMENT BEEN TRUMPED?

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1 HOT TOPICS CAFÉ HAS BAD POLITICS OR GOOD GOVERNMENT BEEN TRUMPED? October 21, 2015

2 AGENDA 4:00 p.m. Welcome and Introduction Dr. Jeff Downard, The NAU Department of Philosophy 4:15 p.m. Community Discussion Dr. Jeff Downard, The NAU Department of Philosophy 1) Has money tainted politics so much that candidates who can self-fund automatically seem desirable? 2) Has the media-driven cult of celebrity and anti-washington rhetoric unduly deflected attention from matters of public policy and governance? 3) What sort of campaign conduct should we expect from political candidates? 4) What is the value of a democratic system where people can vote to represent their personal interests? Has money in politics made it impossible for the non-wealthy to have a candidate that represents their interests? 5:20 p.m. Closing Questions and Recap of Discussion SPECIAL THANKS TO OUR PARTNERS, SUPPORTERS AND VENUE HOSTS!

3 1) Has money tainted politics so much that candidates who can self-fund automatically seem desirable? This summer the New York Times conducted a poll to measure the attitudes U.S. citizens have about money in politics. Regardless of political affiliation, 84% of Americans said that money has too much influence on our politics, while only 5% said money s influence is too little. 85% 13% 78% 19% of Americans interviewd also said the political money system needs either (i) fundamental change, or (ii) should be completely overhauled. claimed minor or no changes should be made. favor limiting outside-group money used to advertise in political campaigns. believe there should be no spending limitations. Money and Speech 54% 41% of Americans do not believe that the First Amendment to the Constitution justifies unlimited donations to political candidates under the auspices of free speech. of Americans believe the First Amendment properly protects monetary donations as speech. McCutcheon Rulings What is the McCutcheon vs. the Federal Election Commission case? The Washington Post reports: shaun McCutcheon is a conservative businessman from Alabama who likes to give money to political candidates and committees. He has dished out thousands of dollars last election cycle. He says he would have given more, if not for the law that says an individual can only donate a certain total amount each cycle to candidates and certain political committees. McCutcheon and the Republican National Committee believe the law is a violation of the First Amendment; The Federal Election Commission and those in favor of financial restrictions on campaigns believe the law is necessary to fight corruption. Under the current law, during the cycle, individuals can give a total of $123,200 to candidates, national party committees and some political committees.

4 2) Has the media-driven cult of celebrity and anti-washington rhetoric unduly deflected attention from matters of public policy and governance? U.S. politics has seen many popular candidate archetypes during campaigning young idealists, or the grandfatherly, ideological veterans but Donald Trump is arguably someone we have never seen during the presidential campaigns says The Guardian. He is a fabulously wealthy reality television host with belligerent social media presence which has made him extremely popular even before the campaigns began. Geoffrey Kabaservice, historian and author of Rule and Ruin, states that: Trump is not really a Republican, he s a populist he s anti-establishment and anti-politics he doesn t pretend to be a man of the people yet he is speaking for them and they find him to be an appropriate tribune. Walter Shapiro, columnist who has covered numerous presidential elections, points out that Trump fits the image of a man on horse-back a business leader or a general who will make things all right and cut through all the crap in Washington. Perhaps, then, Trump appeals to the cynicism many U.S. citizens have towards modern politics. 3) What sort of campaign conduct should we expect from political candidates? Candidates conduct during their campaigns can give insight into the ethical principles they bring to the table. Their ethics can be seen through the following areas of campaigning: Fundraising How do they ask for contributions and who do they solicit? Do they acknowledge their donors? Are they using the money responsibly? Communication Have the candidates been truthful in describing their qualifications? Have they misrepresented their group? How have they treated their competition? How do they behave on various social platforms?

5 How have candidates behaved? Below is an example of behavior from Donald Trump. Donald Trump criticized Fox News debate host Megyn Kelly after she questioned his inappropriate language he used towards women, calling them fat pigs and dogs during her show and over twitter. He commented that she was a lightweight who is highly overrated. He claims she is not a quality journalist and that her questioning of me, despite all of the polls saying I won the debate, was very unfair. He was later disinvited from the RedState Gathering, a conservative forum. 4) What is the value of a democratic system where people can vote to represent their personal interests? The United States is referred to as a democratic republic: Democracy Republic a system where citizens meet to discuss policies and then make decisions through a vote of majority rule. a system where the interests of the people are represented by more knowledgeable citizens who are responsible to those who elected them. However, Americans have become cynical about politics. It is widely believed that those who are elected represent a wealthy elite, not ordinary constituents. Some claim the United States has effectively become an Oligarchy Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But we believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened. --Martin Glinens, Princeton University, and Benjamin Page, Northwestern University Furthermore, Michelle Obama said that if you want to have influence in the American political process, you will need to write a big, fat check Write the biggest, fattest check that you can possibly write. Most U.S. citizens can only write a fat check in the low hundreds for a political campaign, some cannot spare any money towards the effort. Has money in politics made it impossible for the non-wealthy to have a candidate that represents their interests? A local example of U.S. citizens facing challenges exercising their right to run for public office is of Arizona resident Lester Skip Maul, who is currently living on a houseboat on Lake Powell. He has also filed for the 2016 presidential election. Maul has no committee members, no money and no experience says the Arizona Daily Sun but he feels he is just as qualified to run: Watching the debates is almost surreal to me I sit here and watch my TV and think, Are these really the people that our people want to lead this country? Are the people really supporting this? Maul has been carefully studying national and foreign affairs; he has written an e-book, Roughneck describing 20 years of oil and gas drilling all over the world that shape his political beliefs on energy. Some of his political agenda includes removing the U.S. from the Middle East (because we do not need to depend on the region for gas), and overhaul the Affordable Care Act to make it more affordable. Maul is only one of 1,200 people who have filed for the 2016 presidential election thus far.

6 NOTES: NAU s Philosophy in the Public Interest is non partisan and does not endorse any position with respect to the issues we discuss. Philosophy in the Public Interest is a neutral convener for civil discourse. Contact us: nau.edu/ppi SOURCES cs-is-a-problem-but-just-how-big https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2013/10/08/supreme-court-takes-up-the-sequel -to-citizens-united/ ics -feud-with-megyn-kelly -attacking-megyn-kelly 8e-4ee6-50b2-9da2-09caf48ddd10.html 619

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