University coasting off the acknowleged ‘narrow ridge’

I entered college planning to graduate a semester early, if possible. Three-and-a-half years later, I find myself with only a matter of days remaining until I take my last final. It is a bittersweet feeling.

However, as I depart, there are three mutually-reinforcing trends that cause me to worry about the future direction of the university.

First is a lack of intellectual rigor among students. I do not mean to say that Whitworth students are not intelligent, because they are. The problem is that, by and large, there is little to no critical discussion of controversial ideas.

Like everyone else, we espouse critical thinking and talking about difficult issues, yet we seldom do it in a genuine way. For instance, take the recent presidential campaign. While there were attempts at having generic political events, there was no real discussion among the student body at large of the major issues at stake. Unlike most schools, Whitworth has no active political clubs, the ones that used to exist having fizzled out for lack of interest. Perhaps we are just too lazy, or perhaps we are afraid of disrupting or damaging our much-touted community. But what kind of community do we really have if it must be sheltered from serious debate?

This tendency to avoid confrontation is bolstered by a second trend: relativistic political correctness, also known as tolerance. There are two issues with this trend.

First, there is an unfortunate tendency for people to be conflated with their ideas. While all people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, this deference should not be extended to their ideas or beliefs, especially in a university setting.

Having an intellectually stimulating environment requires that ideas be debated vigorously.

This requires a separation of people from their ideas; students need to be able to accept and process respectful criticism of their beliefs without having their feelings hurt. All people are equal, but all ideas and beliefs are not.

The second issue with tolerance is its one-sidedness. While we “courageously” bring up sensitive topics, they are almost inevitably examined from a single perspective. Issues of race are examined through the lens of critical race theory; gender issues are dominated by feminism; gay marriage is an issue of human rights; capitalism is greedy, socialism is beneficent; free trade is exploitative, fair trade is just; the Israelis are murdering oppressors, the Palestinians helpless victims. To be sure, there are good arguments to be made for each of these positions. But there are also very strong arguments to be made against them that students will seldom be exposed to unless they pursue them on their own initiative. Even if they do, countering the narrative on any of these issues is deemed intolerant, with dissenting students running the risk of being labeled as racists, sexists or bigoted fundamentalists. This is stifling to the intellectual health of the university.

The third trend, secularization, is perhaps the most disturbing of all. When I first arrived at Whitworth as a freshman, I naively hoped to find a Christian university that respectfully stood up for its principles. Like many, I hoped that criticism of Christianity would be allowed and alternative views examined. But I also hoped that Christian refutation would be offered. Though Christian accessories remain, orthodox Christian beliefs are increasingly abandoned as Whitworth seeks to remain relevant by following a step or two behind progressive society and secular academia. Former President of Whitworth Bill Robinson used to speak of the “narrow ridge” that the university walked between being too far to the conservative right and too much on the secular left. Considering Whitworth’s past record, and with official school recognition of gay marriage looking increasingly likely, the “narrow ridge” looks more like it was simply a stepping stone to get over to the left side of the mountain.

This is not the case for each constituent part of the university, but the overall trajectory is undeniable. Still, I am thankful for my time at Whitworth. I have been forced to truly examine and defend what I believe. In some cases, I have had to adjust my views. I sincerely hope every student gets to go through a similar process. Just a final thought: criticizing traditionally-dominant views is now the dominant view. So, if you really want to be a rebel, it’s worth giving traditional ideas a look.

Story by Maxford Nelsen Columnist

Nelsen is a senior majoring in political science. Comments can be sent to mnelsen13@my.whitworth.edu.

 

Electoral College eliminates reason behind right to vote

The Constitution of the United States is a truly remarkable document that weaved the foundation of our country. It is an essential guide for how our government ought to run, but there is one particular element that I believe we must re-evaluate: the Electoral College.

We are incredibly lucky to have the right to vote in this country and we must take advantage of that privilege.

However, I don’t think that we are utilizing our right to the fullest when some votes seem to count more than others.

As a student in Washington state, it doesn’t even matter whom I vote for. Because of King County and other counties on the west side, all 12 of our electoral votes go to the Democratic candidate. As a result, it seems as if my vote doesn’t even count.

According to George Edwards, author of the book “Why the Electoral College is Bad for America”, it discourages voter turnout because people know that their vote won’t make a difference if they’re in the minority or if they’re a state that is clearly going to go for a candidate, it won’t make a difference either and it doesn’t help the candidate to get additional votes.”

Voter turnout is extremely low in the United States; according to the George Madison University United States Election Project, it was only 61.6 percent in 2008.

Our state is so solidly democratic that candidates do not even bother to campaign here. The candidates spend nearly all of their time in swing states such as Ohio.

According to National Journal, Obama’s official campaign committee spent $72,762,477 in Ohio alone. Mitt Romney’s official committee spent $43,198,708.

These numbers do not include spending by other super political action committees (PACs). Millions of dollars were spent in other swing states as well, because candidates knew that these were the votes they would need to win.

Some people argue that the Electoral College causes the candidates to ignore the small states because they won’t have enough impact on the election. However, Edwards writes, “Not only do they ignore small states, but they ignore large states. They ignore California, they ignore Texas and they ignore New York. I mean, the three largest states are ignored. And they’re ignored because they’re not competitive. And that’s due to the Electoral College.”

We are all Americans, and therefore, every vote should be equally important. We should not support a system that encourages the candidates to focus on only a small handful of states and ignore the rest.

I am glad that this election ended with Obama taking the Electoral College as well as the popular vote, because I believe that the person who wins the popular vote should always become president.

Unfortunately, it is possible for a candidate to win the popular vote but not the Electoral College, as was the case in the 2000 election.

The Founders set up this system because they feared tyranny of the majority, as shown in Federalist Paper No. 10, but times have changed. It’s time to switch to a popular vote and have every vote count equally.

Lindsey Hubbart Staff Writer

Hubbart is a sophomore majoring in economics. Comments can be sent to lhubbart15@my.whitworth.edu.

I-1240: Creation of public charter schools

Initiative Measure No. 1240 is a prominent issue for Washington state voters this election and concerns  the creation of a public charter school system in the state. Many students on campus may have heard about this measure due to the voice of Students for Education Reform Whitworth. SFER held an informational meeting about I-1240 Oct. 14 and it has been a target issue of  meetings so far this year. Co-Chapter Leader Sergio Jara Arroyos said SFER  Whitworth was contacted by the campaign itself to inform students about I-1240. He said they took into account the connection the initiative has to education reform and the goals of SFER.

One of the main goals  of SFER  is  to  empower students as stakeholders in the education system  and  connect them with tools to advocate for change, according to its website, studentsforedreform.org.

Currently, many argue for the necessity of another public school option for students in Washington state. According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools website,  charter schools are  independent public schools that are allowed more freedom for innovation apart from  a  school district. They involve a partnership of parents, students and teachers to  improve student achievement.  Charter schools are held accountable to state and federal academic standards.

“Forty-one states have charter schools,” sophomore Jessica Bronte, financial director of SFER Whitworth, said. “Washington is one of the nine that don’t. [I-1240 has to do with] bringing charter schools to Washington, allowing 40 charter schools to be built in Washington over five years.”

SFER has been involved in the campaign in favor of passing I-1240. Jara Arroyos expressed his enjoyment over his many conversations with students and community members, whether they plan to vote yes or no on the measure.

One way SFER has campaigned is  by canvassing, which is a face-to-face approach at informing and conversing with voters about issues. SFER members visited dorms on campus as well as surrounding neighborhoods, allowing opportunities for discussion and awareness about I-1240.

According to the State of Washington voter’s pamphlet, “This measure would authorize up to forty publicly-funded charter schools open to all students, operated through approved, nonreligious, nonprofit organizations, with government oversight; and modify certain laws applicable to them as public schools.” That statement appears on the Washington state ballot.

Jara Arroyos and Bronte said that a charter school system would provide an  alternative option for students to receive a quality public education. According to the “Argument For Initiative 1240” in the voter’s pamphlet, charter schools in other states  help struggling students stay in school and succeed.

“[Charter schools can help in] neighborhoods with high at risk students so that anyone anywhere can get a good education it doesn’t matter where they live,” Jara Arroyos said.

According to seattletimes.com,  priority for the creation of charter schools would be for the purpose of serving at risk students  and  students  from low-performing schools.

Most opposition to I-1240 surrounds the concern that the creation of charter schools will take money  away from current public schools. The “Argument Against Initiative 1240” in the voter’s pamphlet says charter schools will drain millions of dollars from existing public schools.

The opposition also says charter schools will only serve a small number of students, undermine local control and are a risky gamble for the state.

Annmarie Crandall Copy Chief

Contact Annmarie Crandall at acrandall14@my.whitworth.edu

Campaigns of deception: Does deceit govern the 2012 presidential election?

During the Town Hall debates last week, Governor Mitt Romney slammed President Barack Obama for his delayed response in calling last month’s attacks on a U.S. Consulate in Libya an act of terrorism, attacks which claimed the lives of Ambassador J. Christopher Stephens and three other Americans. The only problem? Romney’s statement was false.

Candy Crowley, the moderator of the Town Hall debate, was quick to correct Romney on the inaccuracy of his statement.

While this instance of deception was called out for what it was, such misinformation is all too common in the modern American political arena.

Take for instance a recent ad that ran in Florida throughout August, in which the Romney campaign attacked Obama for “gutting” work requirements for welfare. It was one of the Romney campaign’s most successful advertisements according to Ashley O’Connor, director of advertising for the Romney campaign. It was also a lie.

“We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers,” Romney pollster Neil Newhouse said during an ABC roundtable interview, defending the validity of the ad. Even though the accuracy of the ad was in doubt, the Romney campaign continued to run it for several more weeks.

Deception is bipartisan in nature. Priorities USA Action, a Political Action Commitee that supports Obama’s bid for re-election, ran an ad featuring a former steel plant worker whose wife died of stage four cancer when he no longer had health benefits from his job. The steel mill was shut down by Bain Capital. Yet according to FactCheckOrg, a nonpartisan group, the ad fails to mention that the death occurred five years after the closure of the steel mill.

Are political campaigns more deceitful than usual in this campaign, or is this type of campaigning business as usual?

According to Mike Artime, visiting assistant professor of political science at Whitworth University, deception in politics is common.

“I think it is probably a misconception that this is a new strategy,” Artime said. “So misleading and trying to portray your opponent in a negative light is something that’s been going on since the beginning of American politics.”

What makes today unique, Artime said, are the forms of new media.

“Falsehoods spread much further now than ever before,” Artime said, explaining how ambiguity is an effective strategy for deception. “We have made it beneficial for candidates to be as vague as possible, The more specific they are, the more ammunition they give to their opponents to attack them.”

Lies, especially in the arena of political discourse, are protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Erica Salkin, assistant professor of communications at Whitworth University and scholar of Constitutional Law, explained why such deception is possible.

“When we look at the first amendment, one of its cores has been, and likely always will be, the protection of political speech,” Salkin said. “It’s part of the reason we created it, so that we could talk about our political lives, so that people could engage in political discussion without fear of retribution from their government.”

So, when an ad for a presidential candidate airs on television, it’s more likely to influence rather than inform. According to the Washington Post, more than $2 billion will be spent in advertising money between the presidential candidates.

How can citizens defend themselves against such misinformation? Independent organizations such as Politifact.org and FactCheck.org work to check the validity of candidate’s claims.

Lucas Thayer Staff Writer

Contact Lucas Thayer at lthayer12@my.whitworth.edu

Special Issue Voter's Guide 2012: Barack Obama

I remember about four years ago, sitting in my now mother-in-law’s living room watching the news as votes were counted. I sat in tension, quietly rooting for Obama in this conservative household. The country also sat in tension, waiting and watching as Obama garnered the most votes ever gained by a presidential candidate. I hadn’t been old enough to vote in the election, but I had participated by wearing my Obama T-shirt as often as possible and by convincing everyone I could to vote for him. (I managed to convince both of my parents, my then-boyfriend and a bunch of others.)

Like many Obama supporters, I was swept up in the rhetoric. Like many Obama supporters, I’ve been disappointed. Like not-so-many, I will continue to show my support by voting for him in November.

Americans are a pessimistic bunch. We, as a general rule, like to complain. We like to seek out the worst in people. Most of us remember the Monica Lewinsky scandal, but fewer remember the good things the Clinton presidency brought us. We have a similar outlook on the current presidency. We all see the promises that Obama did not keep, but fail to see the many promises that Obama did keep.

How about the student loan reform that Obama pushed through Congress that allowed for the interest rates on student loans, which many Whitworth students rely upon to pay for school, to remain low while simultaneously saving the government $87 billion?

How about the pieces of Obamacare that, according to a June 2012 Wall Street Journal article, allowed more than 6 million young adults to have insurance coverage by joining their parents’ plans?

My point is this: It’s easy to see what Obama hasn’t done and quickly decide that he’s no good. But upon closer analysis, one will see that the things what Obama has done are quite incredible.

More than that, the next presidential election isn’t about what Obama has or hasn’t done, but about what he will do if elected. It’s about what Romney says he’ll do if he’s elected.

What we hear from Obama are clear plans regarding the economy, education and health care, among other issues. From Romney, on the other hand, we hear flip-flopping views akin to Hillary Clinton’s notorious flip-flops in the 2008 presidential campaign.

Does Romney support abortion regulation? I’m not sure, because Romney seems to change his mind every time it’s convenient. What’s Romney’s stance on cutting taxes for top wage earners? Well, that depends on if we’re looking at what he said during the Denver debate (during which he said he wouldn’t cut taxes for high earners) or if we’re looking at what he said on his website (which describes a plan for across-the-board 20% marginal rate cuts).

And when Romney’s not flip-flopping, he’s being vague. He can be so ambiguous in his political ideas that, according to a September Politico article, GOP leaders have even complained about it. Apparently, he has a plan when it comes to the economy. I’ve heard details on his running mate’s economic plan (which Romney claims he isn’t adopting), but Romney’s budget is still nowhere to be found. Apparently, Romney has a plan when it comes to health care. A quick look at his campaign website will show that his “plan” is that he “will pursue policies” to help states create their own health care systems. What policies, Mitt? What policies?

In the end, it makes more sense to elect the person who has already gained his bearings and is ready to put his plans into action than the person who can’t even decide what his plans involve.

Lindsie Trego Staff Writer

Contact Lindsie Trego at lwagner14@my.whitworth.edu

Special Issue Voter's Guide 2012: Mitt Romney

This election, the choice is clear as to which candidate can most effectively lead our country out of recession and into greater economic prosperity: Mitt Romney. When I think about the most important issue surrounding this debate, the words of James Carville come to mind, “it’s the economy, stupid.” The current state of the economy is abysmal. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate finally dropped to 7.8 percent. This is progress, as the number has remained above 8 percent, but it’s a pathetic number if we consider all the spending Obama has done to make such a minimal improvement. Also, according to the U.S. Debt Clock, our debt has surpassed $16 trillion. To put this in perspective, this is equivalent to every citizen owing $51,441. According to the Wall Street Journal, “CBO shows that over the first three years of the Obama Presidency, 2009-2011, the federal government will borrow an estimated $3.7 trillion. That is more than the entire accumulated national debt for the first 225 years of U.S. history.”

Romney’s five-point Plan for a Stronger Middle Class is exactly what we need to get the economy running again. According to Mittromney.com, he will promote energy independence, improve education and job training programs, increase trade, cut the deficit and help small businesses. Additionally, the slogan for Romney’s tax plan is “fairer, flatter, and simpler.” According to his website, he plans to lower taxes for Americans to add more security back into the job market, which would help him create 12 million jobs for Americans.

We need someone with business experience to turn our economy around, and that is exactly what Romney can provide. Even Bill Clinton described Romney’s business career as “sterling” in an interview on CNN on May 31. Between his experience at Bain Capital and the Salt Lake City Olympics, he knows how to turn a failing business around. He also knows first hand what types of policies stimulate the growth of businesses.

One of Romney’s strengths is his ability to reach across the aisle and work with the other side. As our government becomes increasingly divided, this is more important than ever. In the debate on Oct. 16, Romney said, “I had the great experience…of being elected in a state where my legislature was 87 percent Democrat, and that meant I figured out from day one I had to…work across the aisle to get anything done.” He met weekly with members of both parties during his term. Obama has shown no interest in following suit. For example, Obama drove the health care bill through Congress without a single Republican vote.

In an interview on CNN in 2009, Obama said that if he did not turn the economy around in three years, his presidency would be a “one-term proposition.” We must make sure that happens. It’s time for a change in the White House; we simply cannot afford another four more years of President Obama. The Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan ticket is the clear choice in the 2012 election.

Lindsey Hubbart Staff Writer

Contact Lindsey Hubbart at lhubbart15@my.whitworth.edu

National debt proves to be economically perilous

Everyone knows that the average college student owes about $23,000 by graduation. Less well-known is the fact that if the national debt was evenly divided among America’s 314 million citizens, each would owe more than $51,000, well over the average person’s yearly salary. Last month, the Treasury Department announced that the national debt surpassed $16 trillion for the first time in history. This is not just an arbitrary number, it is one that has direct implications for our economic future. A good way to measure the debt is to compare it to the country’s GDP, or its economic output in one year. If the debt gets too high compared to what the economy produces, it can become overwhelming. Members of the European Union attempt (though often to no avail) to keep their total debt below 60 percent of their GDP. The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board points out “that most economists consider the general boundary between safety and crisis” to be debt that is greater than 90 percent of GDP. According to the Congressional budget Office, U.S. debt will surpass 70 percent of GDP by the end of the year and, at current rates, will be around 100 percent in just a few years. Put simply, the greater the debt, the greater the chance of defaulting on our loans in a situation similar to what Greece has been experiencing.  President Obama has overseen a tremendous increase in government spending during the last four years. Each year of Obama’s term has seen the government spend over one trillion dollars more than it takes in. Julie Cradshaw of Moneynews points out that President Bush increased the debt by two trillion over eight years (a lot of money by any account), but that Obama has increased the debt by $5.3 trillion in only four years. Obama claims that the expenditure is needed to keep the economy going. However, David Malpass, president of Encima Global and former Chief Economist of Bear Stearns, points out that the Obama administration “has implemented more fiscal stimulus and monetary intervention than ever before, yet real [gross domestic product] has slowed from 2.4 percent in 2010 to 2 percent in 2011, and to only 1.6 percent in the first half of 2012.”

This irresponsible spending has not only failed to produce a recovery, but is actively hampering long-term economic prospects. Just last year, Standard and Poor’s, one of three major credit rating agencies, downgraded the safety of U.S. debt for the first time in history. That sent the message that it is increasingly risky to loan money to the U.S. and made it more difficult for the U.S. to take on additional debt. In their report, S&P pointed out that “elected officials remain wary of tackling the structural issues required to effectively address the rising U.S. public debt burden.”

Just last month, Moody’s, one of the other major credit rating agencies, warned “that it likely would downgrade the U.S. AAA credit rating if government officials don’t deal with the nation’s debt problems,” according to Jim Puzzanghera of the LA Times. For his part, Obama seems content to oppose any serious attempt at reducing government spending and to attack Republicans for wanting to reform entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare. While deluding voters with promises of “free” programs and no changes in entitlement benefits may be good politics, the facts show that substantive reforms are needed now to avoid a more catastrophic outcome later. The Wall Street Journal admits that Republicans’ reforms may be significant, “but that’s because they’re commensurate with the magnitude of the fiscal problem.”

In a hearing before the House Budget Committee last February, an enlightening exchange took place between Obama’s Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner and Rep. Paul Ryan, Romney’s running mate. Speaking for the administration, Geithner stated that “we’re not coming before you to say we have a definitive solution to our long-term problem. What we do know is we don’t like yours.”

Ignoring the debt will not make it go away. Instead of taking serious action to get spending under control, Obama plays on peoples’ fears of cuts now to distract them from the future train wreck. Republicans, on the other hand, have the serious proposals and ideas to begin getting the debt under control and to get the economy turned around.

Story by Maxford Nelsen Columnist

Nelsen is a senior majoring in political science. Comments can be sent to mnelsen13@my.whitworth.edu.

Lecturer describes the effects of love in politics

Christ’s love can have monumental effects in politics, an evangelist and peacemaker shared Monday, Oct. 1. Michael Cassidy is a political activist, author and founder of African Enterprise, an evangelical reconciliation ministry that has been crucial in healing post-apartheid South Africa. By following God’s will and listening to his urging, African Enterprise was formed, Cassidy said.

AE has been reaching Africa through leadership training, evangelism, reconciliation and community development in Africa for 50 years, according to africanenterprise.org.

The nature of the ministry was influenced through Cassidy’s experiences in America during the civil rights movement, as well as the extreme segregation in South Africa during apartheid, Cassidy said.

Cassidy came to embrace the messages of Martin Luther King, Jr. as well as the messages of evangelist of Billy Graham, he said.

“I came to the conclusion that the love ethic has huge political implications,” Cassidy said.

With that in mind, Cassidy began his movement to evangelize Africa and promote change through godly leadership. AE went to different political groups during the apartheid struggle and prayed with politicians from the far left and far right, Cassidy said.

Ninety South African politicians over six different weekends experienced a retreat at AE where they shared their autobiographies, told their visions for the new South Africa and heard the enemy humanized, Cassidy said.

“It’s a very powerful thing when you hear someone’s story,” Cassidy said. “You have to understand who they are and why they think the way they do.”

That is a foundation, but still is not enough. One can love individuals but that love must also go further into structures in order to bring social and political change, Cassidy said. Justice is love built into structures, he said.

Godly governance can result in major transformations of entire countries, according to AE’s website.

On April 27, 1994, elections were held in South Africa that marked the end of apartheid. Ten days prior, a prayer rally had been called because a surge of hostility between political parties threatened the lives of a million people, Cassidy said.

The Jesus Peace Rally was called in order to pray for a peaceful way forward through the first democratic elections, he said. Twenty-five thousand people attended the rally. Several of the main politicians from the various parties met in a VIP lounge of the stadium where the rally was held and came to an agreement about a way forward, he said.

Two days after the rally, those leaders announced that they would cooperate, thus avoiding an outbreak of violence, Cassidy said. The election was held over three days, and there were virtually no reports of violence anywhere in the country. It was a miracle, he said.

The United States needs love in its structures just as much as South Africa does, Cassidy said. He said he feels America needs an assembly of Christian leaders and visionaries across the nation who will speak to the social issues.

“I would love to see an American political system that has prayer as part of the system of government. I understand realistically today, that is hard,” sophomore Rachel Gerig said.

AE trains leaders by equipping pastors and citizens to think biblically and live out their faith in their place of work and influence, according to ,a href="http://africanenterprise.org/">africanenterprise.org.

Some of AE’s ideas and principles directly relate to Whitworth’s mission to “Honor God, follow Christ, and serve humanity.”

“Cassidy’s model of leadership meshes well with Whitworth’s inclusive and ecumenical approach,” said Gordon Jackson, professor of communication studies.

Gerig said students can demonstrate leadership at Whitworth even in small ways. She suggested talking to ASWU senators or participating in class as ways to do so. Sometimes, leadership starts simply with friendship, she said.

Cassidy encouraged students to seek God’s plan for their life and enter into it. God is faithful, he said.

“Whatever it is he has for you, He wants to lead you into it,” Cassidy said. “If I look back on 58 years of Christian experience, my testimony is to the faithfulness of God. He has stood by me.”

Kendra Stubbs Staff Writer   

Contact Kendra Stubbs at kstubbs15@my.whitworth.edu.

Too early in the election to rule out a win for Romney

Recently, a Huffington Post article written by Cenk Uygur claimed that the election is practically over and the voters have already decided that President Barack Obama will serve another term. He cites that the latest five polls have all shown Obama to have at least a five-point lead. Also, Romney is currently losing Ohio, which is significant because no one in the last 11 elections has won without winning Ohio. However, I do not believe that the results of this election are set in stone yet. While Romney certainly has some work to do, he still stands a strong chance at winning this election. According to Dick Morris, former political advisor to Bill Clinton, much of the polling data is skewed in such a way to favor Obama. All polls are weighted to accurately represent the voting population, and usually the weights are determined based on the previous election’s results. Comparing previous elections to the last election, Morris writes, “blacks, for example, usually cast only 11% of the vote, but, in 2008, they made up 14% of the vote. Latinos increased their share of the vote by 1.5% and college kids almost doubled their vote share.” However, polls don’t show nearly the same enthusiasm for these groups this time around, but the polls are still weighted this way. Since these groups tend to favor Obama, the polls most likely overstate his margin.

Even though Obama is leading in the polls, Morris notes that he is usually ahead with less than 50 percent of the electorate. He writes that this is a positive sign for Romney because undecided voters tend to vote against the incumbent. For example, Morris notes that when Jimmy Carter was running for re-election, polls showed him winning with less than 50 percent of the vote, but those who were undecided ended up voting for Reagan, costing Carter the election.

Another indication that Romney still stands a chance is the Electoral College predictions from political scientists Kenneth Bickers and Michael Berry of the University of Colorado. They have used the same model since 1980 to predict the outcome every election. Their model predicts a win for Romney, with 325 electoral votes and 52.9 percent of the popular vote.

Finally, we have only had one debate so far, which ended favorably for Romney. In an article titled “Romney lands punches against subdued Obama”, Justin Sink and Amie Parnes of The Hill write, “Mitt Romney dominated the critical first presidential debate Wednesday night.” Even liberals, such as Chris Matthews, a news anchor on MSNBC, accused Obama of being too submissive. Although the debates are unlikely to sway voters who have firmly made up their minds, they can definitely have an impact on undecided voters. It is very important for both candidates to influence this group of voters, since the election will likely be very close.

We will continue to watch the election play itself out before Nov. 5. Romney definitely has an uphill battle to fight on his way to the White House, but it is too early to rule out a win.

Lindsey Hubbart Columnist

Hubbart is a sophomore majoring in economics. Comments can be sent to lhubbart15@my.whitworth.edu.

Taxmaggedon possesses power to devastate the U.S.

If  Congress and President Obama don’t come together before the end of this year, Americans could face another grave setback to our economic recovery: the largest tax increase in U.S. history.

As of Jan. 1, 2013, the Bush tax cuts are set to expire and five of the 18 tax increases from Obamacare will kick in. All together, this will produce a $494 billion tax increase. Because of its potentially devastating effects, the increase has been coined “Taxmageddon.”

Congress has the ability to prevent this from happening, but they continue to put it off as the election approaches.

Our generation, which consists of roughly 7.6 million taxpayers, will certainly feel negative effects. According to the Heritage Foundation fact sheet titled “How Will Taxmageddon Impact You?”, on average, millennials will see a tax increase of $1,099.

This will come as a blow, since the average U.S. income is only $23,917. Other age groups will see even larger increases. The overall percentage increase varies by legislative district. A report by William W. Beach of the Heritage Foundation shows that Spokane can expect a 5.1 percent increase.

Not only will money be taken out of our paychecks, but employment will slow down. In order for businesses to plan for next year, they need to know how much they will be taxed. The longer Congress waits to act, the more uncertainty.

Businesses dislike uncertainty, and if they believe that they will have to pay more in taxes, they will definitely cut back on spending. This will severely hinder our already slow job creation rate.

In conjunction with this massive tax increase, spending cuts are looming across the board.  These cuts were agreed upon in the Budget Control Act of 2011, and will also take effect Jan. 1.

The combination of tax increases and cuts has the real possibility to force our economy back into recession. I absolutely believe that we need spending cuts.

However, we need to be smart about how we cut; we cannot just cut everything equally. We must closely examine every spending commitment we have and truly ask ourselves what can be cut. It will not be easy, but it is necessary for the health of our economy.

What can be done about this? Congress and President Obama need to move past partisan politics and work together to reach a compromise.

Steps must be taken to reduce the deficit, but we need to analyze everything thoroughly, and not just implement cuts on everything and significantly raise taxes. We can by no means afford this ‘fiscal cliff’.

Lindsey Hubbart Columnist

Hubbart is a sophomore majoring in economics. Comments can be sent to lhubbart15@my.whitworth.edu.

Same-sex marriage has societal benefits

With just a few days left to register to vote for the upcoming November elections, and only weeks left before Referendum 74 hits state ballots, the issue of marriage equality has become a common debate. However, the arguments against R74 have proven invalid.

On the supporting side, we hear cries for social justice. On the opposing side, we hear pleas for the well-being of children and the maintenance of moral tradition.

Regarding the welfare of children in same-sex families, conservatives enjoy touting the findings of the recent “New Family Structures” survey, which claimed that children of parents who engage in same-sex relationships often suffer long-term psychological consequences.

If protecting children is not reason for restricting loving, committed couples from getting married, then what is? However, experts argue that this study and others like it are methodologically flawed.

For example, Debra Umberson, University of Texas social science professor and a colleague of the primary author of the research, went so far as to call the study an “irresponsible and reckless representation of social science research.” Anecdotal evidence from children of same-sex couples shows us that these children can be just as happy and healthy as those from traditional households.

This is where we come to moral and faith-based arguments. The American Family Association, a self-proclaimed “pro-family organization,” captures a common argument against same-sex marriage in its statement that, “The homosexual movement’s promotion of same-sex marriage undermines the God-ordained institution of marriage and family.”

But this type of religion-based argument doesn’t work in the pluralistic U.S. culture, where the law has no place in determining individual citizens’ choices to, or not to, follow ideals of any given faith.

In other words, the law should not restrict marriage based on religious definitions for the same reasons that denial of the Messiah shouldn’t be taught in public schools.

The same statement from the AFA also claims that Christians must oppose marriage equality because, “The scripture declares that homosexuality is unnatural and sinful.” Later in their argument, they state that same-sex marriage will “lead to the normalization of even more deviant behavior.”

Arguments of sin, along the same lines of the traditional marriage argument, should be excused due to their basis in religion. This is especially true when many progressive denominations condone same-sex marriage.

Even with plurality of the population’s beliefs regarding homosexuality, those who oppose equality would have us hold conservative religious beliefs above all else. But do we really want the law involved in deciding which religion’s ideals we must follow?

We must retain the sweet American freedom which allows us to practice the ideals of whatever faith one believes in, including no faith at all.

By allowing religion to govern on this issue, we open ourselves up to further  legislation based on religious definitions, whether those definitions be Protestant, Catholic, Muslim, Buddhist or otherwise.

To preserve the spirit of the Constitution, which advocates for unrestricted choice of religion, we must reject faith-based arguments when considering issues of the law.

We must separate faith from government through our vote.

Without proof showing that same-sex marriage harms children, and without faith as a foundation to stand on, there’s no reason not to approve marriage equality in Washington and throughout the United States.

Lindsie Trego

Trego is a junior majoring in journalism and mass communication and English. Comments can be sent to lwagner14@my.whitworth.edu.

Same-sex marriage not an issue of equal rights

Although abortion used to be the most prominent social issue, gay marriage has taken over, sharply dividing the nation. Some, including Julian Bond, head of the NAACP, have likened efforts to legalize gay marriage to the black civil rights movement of the 1960s. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Democratic National Committee Chair, called gay marriage “the civil rights issue of our generation.”  Closer examination, however, reveals that the real question goes far beyond civil rights. In order to be a civil rights violation, discrimination must take place.

On the surface, prohibiting gay marriage appears to be a civil rights violation. However, the first thing to note is that there is no absolute right to marriage, let alone to marry the person whom you love. In an article for the Gospel Coalition, Voddie Baucham, Pastor of Grace Family Baptist Church in Spring, Texas, points out that “people who are already married, 12-year-olds, and people who are too closely related are just a few categories of people routinely and/or categorically denied the right to marry.” None of these restrictions are viewed as civil rights violations.

Second, the ability to marry extends equally to both heterosexuals and homosexuals. A heterosexual male has the right to marry a female, not another male. A homosexual male is in the exact same position. Thus, permitting gay marriage does not equalize rights, but creates new rights specifically for homosexuals.  The real issue is not whether homosexuals are being discriminated against under current law, but whether the definition of marriage itself should be changed to extend new rights to homosexual couples. As Baucham points out, “homosexuals have never been denied the right to marry. They simply haven’t had the right to redefine marriage.” The 2009 Iowa Supreme Court Case Varnum v. Brien provides an excellent example. In this case, the Court overturned Iowa’s definition of marriage as between one man and one woman, although the Court admitted that Iowa’s “marriage statute does not expressly prohibit gay and lesbian persons from marrying; it does, however, require that if they marry, it must be to someone of the opposite sex.” This view does not rectify civil discrimination, it overturns the definition of marriage.

Admittedly, it is possible for same-sex couples to be denied certain privileges because they are not married. However, many states, including Washington, have allowed for civil unions. Supporters of same-sex marriage contend this is not enough and want Washingtonians to approve Referendum 74 this November, which would legalize gay marriage in the state.  However, approving the Referendum “would offer gay couples no additional state right or benefits beyond what they now have under the domestic-partnership law, other than the right to marry,” according to Lornet Turnbull of the Seattle Times.  James Skillen of the Center for Public Justice explains that “the question behind marriage, in other words, is a structural one that precedes lawmaking.” According to an article by Skillen, only after we determine the definition of marriage “can civil rights considerations emerge about how citizens should be treated fairly with respect to marriage.” The real question, then, is: what is marriage? This question transcends the law’s ability to solve. It is a question that pertains to the nature and purpose of humanity itself. In the end, this is a moral and religious issue, and it is to these sources that we must turn for the answer.

Story by Maxford Nelsen Columnist

Nelsen is a senior majoring in political science. Comments can be sent to mnelsen13@my.whitworth.edu.

Republican Party platform misinterpreted

Whenever I turn on the news, I repeatedly hear about the Republican Party waging a so-called “war on women.” I always have to wonder: can we fairly and accurately call this a war? Let’s start with the fairness of this statement. We have a responsibility to classify something as what it is, and last time I checked, I did not see any Republicans attacking women with guns. To even suggest that this is a war is completely ridiculous.When we come to the accuracy of this statement, the debate becomes much more controversial. Some liberals use the idea that Republicans want to ban contraception as an argument to prove this “war on women.” Sure, some extremists may call for the banning of contraception, but the vast majority of conservatives recognize how ridiculous and impractical that is. According to the Republican Party platform, the party will “support the ability of all organizations to provide, purchase or enroll in health care coverage consistent with their religious, moral or ethical convictions without discrimination or penalty.”

This means that if an institution morally opposes providing contraception as part of its health care package, it has that choice. The party does not plan to ban contraception. Religious institutions are the most likely to opt out of providing contraception to their employees. The First Amendment grants these institutions freedom of religion.

Therefore, the government must allow them to practice their religion as they desire, including not forcing them to provide something against their values. Many people accuse Republicans of waging this “war on women” because Republicans generally oppose abortion. The party will “assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed.”

How does the protection of a life wage war against women?

Of course, certain situations exist in which I believe a woman should have the right to choose, such as rape or incest. But otherwise, when a woman has a conscious choice in the matter, she must respect the life of the unborn child, because it is a precious life. I believe that we need to rid ourselves of the phrase “war on women” because it does not accurately describe what the Republican Party is doing.

If you do not think that Republicans support women’s rights, you can simply say that; it’s unnecessary to say Republicans are waging a war. As a woman, I do not believe that the Republican Party will infringe upon my rights in any way.

Lindsey Hubbart Columnist

Hubbart is a sophomore majoring in economics. Comments can be sent to lhubbart15@my.whitworth.edu.

The government should condemn violence, not freedom of speech

What started as an attack on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, Sept. 11, has led to a series of violent protests against the United States that has spread across the Muslim world with alarming speed. The attack on the consulate killed four Americans, one of which was  Chris Stevens,U.S. Ambassador to Libya. Supposedly, the source of the protest is a trailer for a film titled “The Innocence of Muslims,” a privately produced, low-budget production which criticizes Mohammed and Islam. The trailer has been available on YouTube since July, but only gained widespread attention in the wake of the consulate attack. While the film itself may be distasteful, the ensuing attacks and violent protests are unreasonable, disproportionate, and need to be strongly condemned. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration has been tepid in its response. First, instead of standing up for free speech and denouncing the violence, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo issued a statement “condemning continuous efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims.” It has since been established that the Embassy acted on its own without the approval of the State Department.

However, for well over a week, the administration insisted that the attack was simply a spontaneous act of an enraged mob. While calling for an end to the violence, Obama himself appeared to normalize the protests and bloodshed by referring to it as the “natural” result of the “outrage over the video.” While administration officials have paid some lip service to free speech, the focus has been on condemning the trailer and filmmaker. For instance, the administration pressured Google to remove the film from YouTube, which it refused to do. According to Anne Gearan of the Washington Post, the administration even purchased TV ads  in Pakistan in which Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton denounce and apologize for the film.

Bret Stephens points out in the Wall Street Journal that the administration did not bend over backwards to condemn the Broadway musical, “The Book of Mormon,” which was highly offensive to Mormons. Clinton even attended the play. But then again, Mormons were not torching Broadway in protest.

While “The Innocence of Muslims” is certainly offensive, the real tragedy is not that some people were offended, but that many innocent people have been killed and injured because of the intentionally violent response. Despite the administration’s refusal to admit it until recently, the consulate attack appeared from the beginning to have been a carefully plotted terrorist assault to mark the anniversary of 9/11, having nothing to do with the film.

Yet despite the intentionality of the violence, the tendency has been to blame free expression or ideas instead of the choice of some Muslims to respond violently. According to Neil Munro of the Daily Caller, the governments of Egypt, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and Sudan have all called for the U.S. to ban speech that is critical of Islam.

However, as Jeremy Havardi of The Commentator pointed out, removing responsibility from Islamic rioters “effectively views them as savages from which little better can be expected. Such a view panders to the Islamist grievance culture rather than demanding that Muslims, like everyone else, behave better.”

Freedom of speech and peaceful protest are not only legal rights in the U.S. Constitution, they are intrinsic human rights. Instead of renouncing and apologizing for these basic freedoms, the United States needs to stand against Islamic extremists seeking to silence their foes through violence and intimidation. Story by Maxford Nelsen Columnist

Nelsen is a senior majoring in political science. Comments can be sent to mnelsen13@my.whitworth.edu.

Corporate profits prove to be conducive to economic growth

Politics aside, political conventions can be rather amusing. People have the capacity to say some pretty outrageous things, and conventions seem to function as a breeding ground for bizarre comments. The Democratic National Convention, which took place at the beginning of the month, was no exception. The main function of the convention was to officially nominate incumbent president Barack Obama as the Democratic Party’s nominee for president.

Posing as an anti-business zealot, radio host Peter Schiff interviewed a number of delegates at the convention about corporate profits. In a video posted on YouTube, Schiff speaks with seven delegates who call for an outright ban on corporate profitability. Six more express support for a federal cap on how much money corporations can earn. Bear in mind these are not “Occupy” protesters, but leaders of the Democratic Party.

Despite the enthusiasm of these delegates in favor of corporate poverty, there is no economy without profit. For whatever reason, it has become popular to despise the wealthy and successful. There seems to be a false assumption that the economy is a zero-sum game, or that the rich are only rich because the poor are poor.

Basically, there are two ways a company can use profit. First, it could use the money to expand, which provides goods or services to more people, causes the company to spend more in other areas in the economy, and allows the company to hire more staff and create new jobs.

Second, if the company chooses to save the money, that money is made available to other businesses in the form of loans or investments, allowing them to expand their operations or develop new products.

One way or another, that profit is not only good for the individual company, but for the economy overall.

If the company isn’t turning a profit, how can it afford to hire new employees and create new jobs? Without profit, the company can’t afford the investment necessary to design that new phone, that new car or that new anything.

The very potential to make money is what drives people to work hard. It is certainly easy to criticize supposed greed in people wealthier than ourselves. But let’s face it: no one would go to work if there wasn’t a paycheck involved, and if the company isn’t making any money, neither are you. Without profit, there is no motivation for innovation or hard work, and economic growth collapses.

Of course, if the government is taking corporate profits and giving them to us, that’s a pretty sweet deal, right? Don’t we deserve it? Absolutely not. Companies make money because they sell things that people want. They have earned the right to their profits because consumers benefit from their products or services and voluntarily choose to spend money on them.

Advocates of forcibly taking earned profit from companies or individuals and giving it away to those who have not earned it need to examine themselves before saying anything about greed.

Greed aside, it is simply immoral for the government to determine how much success is allowed. People may like government intervention when it benefits us (think the minimum wage), but how would you like it if the government set a limit on how much you could earn?

With the economy already in shambles, banning profit is the last thing we need. The fact that Democratic convention-goers thought this was a good idea is almost comical, if it weren’t so serious.

Max Nelsen Columnist

Nelsen  is a senior majoring in political science. Comments can be sent to mnelsen13@my.whitworth.edu.

Political correctness pushed to the limit

If I were to say the phrase “peanut butter sandwich,” what would be the first thing that you think of? Maybe something along the lines of “jelly,” or “bread.” I highly doubt that “racist” would come to mind. However, that is exactly what one principal from an elementary school in Portland thought when he heard that a teacher at his school used a peanut butter sandwich as a classroom example. In his opinion, the sandwich apparently alludes to white privilege, since not all cultures eat peanut butter sandwiches. This is an example of political correctness gone way too far.

Political correctness became a widespread phenomenon in the 1980s, when scholars wanted to ensure that no cultural or social groups were excluded or marginalized through language commonly used.

Political correctness definitely has its place in society. The terms that are now considered appropriate to use when referring to people of other races, such as African-American, are much kinder than derogatory terms used in the past.

However, political correctness can be taken too far when it begins to severely hinder free speech. One example I found particularly troublesome involved Juan Williams, an expert who was fired from National Public Radio after some controversial statements, in which he expressed that he feels somewhat nervous when he sees a Muslim on an airplane.

In an article written the day after his termination, Williams stated, “To say the least this is a chilling assault on free speech. The critical importance of honest journalism and a free flowing, respectful national conversation needs to be had in our country. But it is being buried as collateral damage in a war whose battles include political correctness and ideological orthodoxy.” I absolutely agree with this.

Since our founding, Americans have always believed that free speech is necessary for liberty. I believe that we need to continue to honor and uphold that value because it is an essential part of the Bill of Rights. We cannot stifle free speech because a certain word or phrase has the potential to offend someone.

Of course, we should be cautious enough with our words that we are not being blatently offensive to others. However, we cannot become so obsessed with political correctness that we are left with nothing else to say. I don’t know about you, but I want to live in a society where I can talk about peanut butter sandwiches or express an honest feeling without being called a racist or some other derogatory term.

Lindsey Hubbart Columnist

Hubbart  is a sophomore majoring in economics. Comments can be sent to lhubbart15@my.whitworth.edu.