Current Conversation:  Reforming Political Discourse

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Subtopic 7: Immigration (March 2018)

Leading Questions: Are current immigration laws and deportation practices just? Is so, why? If not, why not and what changes should be made? Is there a way for Christians and Christian churches to respond to undocumented immigrants that will avoid harm to both undocumented immigrants and citizens?

Conversation Partners: 

  • Matthew Soerens, U. S. Director of Church Mobilization, World Relief 
  • Robert McFarland, Associate Professor of Law, Jones School of Law, Faulkner University 

Closing Comments: The Role of Money and Special Interests in Politics

If you would like to comment on the February topic as a whole, please do so below.

Summary Response to Dr. Kimberly Conger on ‘Money In Politics’

First of all, I have to say how impressed I have been about the level of discussion in these posts.

In a day when everything can be and is reduced to not only a 10-second soundbite but a 140-word tweet, which pretty much distills the most complicated issues into pure adrenaline for supporters of any position to hate the other side even more, these responses and give-and-take have been refreshing and welcome.

I am not going to even try to deal with or debate Dr. Conger based on reams of academic research because I am not qualified to do so. What I have been trying to do, and hope everyone who reads these posts will take away from it, is that actually working in the political sphere is way different than studying it from any appreciable distance either physically or professionally.

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Influence, Access, and Representation

It always behooves people with money and power to pull their conflicts out of the public’s eye.  They have a much better chance at being able satisfy their private need if other citizens’ needs do not have to be taken into account.  This is the crux of the problem with money and special interests, and why it cannot be solved simply with disclosure or with increased voter participation.

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Response to 'Money, Special Interests, and Political Equality'

There is much to agree with Kim Conger from her first post on ‘Money, Special Interests and Political Equality’.

As long as it comes from a voluntary attitude within a Christian mindset, that is, as opposed to using the coercive power and nature of our civil representative democratic form of government to force change or impinge on other people’s freedoms of expression, speech, political alignment with others and freedom of the press to express those views, we might have lots of common ground to share.

She is right to be concerned about all of our citizens being able to participate equally in our democratic republic. It is always surprising to folks outside of the government or political realm when they find out that perhaps 35% of all adults eligible to vote in any election are not registered to vote for whatever reason.

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Response to "Money in Politics"

This is not about a single contribution causing a member of congress to change their mind, it’s about a pervasive system that requires money and resources in order to get access to representation.  The rules of the game are set up to encourage politicians to anticipate what donors will like and to only pay attention to those people who have already contributed to their campaigns or others from their party.  This is the real challenge of money in politics.

 

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Money, Special Interests, and Political Equality

Political equality is threatened when citizens who desire to make their voice heard in government cannot because they have been crowded out by organizations and businesses whose resources so dwarf the average voter as to make them invisible. Having resources that allow you to catch decision-makers attention is not necessarily bad; using those resources to make sure that no one else gets heard is.

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Money in Politics

There is a narrative that has long existed in the media and the world outside of the halls of government that goes like this:

‘Money pollutes politics. It makes elected officials do thing they otherwise would not ever do. Therefore, we should legislate all money out of our campaigns nationwide’.

The only problem with this narrative is that is just isn’t true.

Money does not change any elected officials mind or political philosophy. Money follows political philosophy. Not the other way around.

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Subtopic 6: The Role of Money and Special Interests in Politics (February 2018)

Leading Questions: How have money and special interests influenced politics, for good or for ill? What is your position on the Citizens United decision of the Supreme Court? Should the role of lobbyists for special interests be restricted? Should there be stricter conflict of interest rules? What are the implications of your position for President Trump’s “negotiating a deal” approach to politics?

Conversation Partners: 

  • Kimberly Conger, Assistant Professor of Political Science & Public Administration, University of Cincinnati 
  • Frank Hill, Director, The Institute for the Public Trust, Raleigh, NC 

Closing Comments: Party Politics and Beyond

If you would like to comment on the January topic as a whole, please do so below. 

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