US Politics and Government (oh my)
I am beginning this blog at 10:57 p.m. because I have a paper due tomorrow at 5:00 which, despite having all day, I have not begun. At least, I tell myself, this particular form of procrastination is productive.
We learned this week about power in US politics; what is it, who has it, and who should have it. We also learned about the founding of the US, specifically the drafting of the Constitution, and civil liberties and civil rights. It is difficult to be learning about the US government at a time like this, when our system seems to be devolving more and more into fascism every day. We read an excerpt from Robert Dahl’s book “Who Governs,” which was written in 1961. It was certainly an interesting and valuable read, but I do wonder how relevant his thoughts are today, when they are based on the assumption that legality and constitutionality, decorum and democracy, are highly valued in political culture. In our current state, we cannot pretend to value these things while a major question this election cycle is whether or not our President will allow for a peaceful transfer of power, should he lose in November. Politics in the US have never been simple or straightforward, but at this particular moment in history, trying to make sense of them feels utterly impossible. Every question has a thousand answers, which each raise a thousand more questions. Imagine a hydra with a hundred heads, where each head has a hundred heads of its own, and each of those heads has a hundred more heads, and every single one of the heads is screaming. You have just visualized my brain at this very moment.
Back to my paper. I need to relate a current event to something we have learned about so far. It is meant to be short; no longer than one page single-spaced. I think I’m going to write it about some emails that recently came to light, which show how the pesticide industry has influenced the US position in health talks concerning international guidelines on combating drug resistance. During these talks, the US insisted, in opposition to the other countries present as well as, you know, science, that the guidelines omit any mention of fungicides. This pro-fungicide sentiment has been traced fairly directly to CropLife America, a national trade association that represents various actors in the pesticide industry. When the US puts the profits of the pesticide industry over the health and safety of its people, it calls into question the legitimacy of our democracy, where supposedly the people have the power. Who is the government really responsible and accountable to? Who truly holds the power in our society? It also raises questions about our civil rights and liberties. Here, notions of positive and negative liberty come into play. Is it the government’s role to guarantee our health and safety? How far does that role extend, and when does it actually begin to encroach upon the rights of others? Can we have both liberty and guarantees to health and safety? I could go on for hours. And so, you see, a hydra is born.
It is now 12:23 a.m. Oops. The article I read about this paper topic used the word “antimicrobial” no less than TEN times. Seeing a science word this many times triggered a fight or flight response in my brain, so unfortunately I will be unable to work on my paper tonight. I leave the entirety of this herculean task for tomorrow.