US Campaign Finance: Anything Goes?

Campaign finance in the wake of Citizens United Photo: donkeyhotey flickr

Forget social media, these elections are all about super-PACs (Political Action Committees). Empowered by a recent Supreme Court ruling, these new advocacy groups are pouring unprecedented amounts of money into political campaigns. Theirability to fill both TV and radio with ads makes them a force to be reckoned with. What is this doing to America’s democracy? A small number of wealthy individuals account for the vast majority of super-PAC contributions and loopholes are exploited to provide anonymity for donors. This may make US politicians more dependent onshadowy groups of donors, further distancing them from the electorate.

by Jesper Åkesson

The Bogus Debate on America’s Debt

The US and world economies continue to struggle. Image: ScottThroughout the 2012 US election campaign, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama have each tried to style themselves as a competent steward of the US economy, and to brand the other as fiscally irresponsible. However, as is often the case with election debates, history and context are forgotten or dismissed entirely, and long-unaddressed, fundamental underlying issues are clothed in the deceptive gowns of illusory, short-term rhetoric. This is exactly what has happened in the central debate on America’s debt and the US government’s deficit.

By Scott Sutherland

The Absent Voter

Encouraging Americans living abroad to vote is an important issue at election time. Photo: CDC, flickrFor U.S. citizens of the electorate living abroad, election season can feel strangely alienating. Americans living in Sweden will not be “going to the polls”, instead participation in active citizenship will come via the Post, in the form of an absentee ballot. For these absentee voters, feeling disconnected is relative to the weight of the events occurring back home – whether it is your hometown’s baseball team winning the World Series with no one to share your joy, or an intense presidential race.

by Talib Jabbar

Paul Ryan: A Disciple of Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand and Paul Ryan Photos: David Seaton, John Boehner FlickrRight now Paul Ryan spends his time out on the campaign trail together with Mitt Romney in pursuit of the presidency, but his nomination came at the expense of having to disavow his all-time favourite author and philosopher. It was just seven years ago he was an unknown Congressional Representative from small town Wisconsin. While attending a Washington D.C gathering organized by the ‘Atlas Society’ he once said “The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand“.

By Niklas Hjelm Smith

The Man Who Would be President

Gaining Mittmentum? Photo, Pat Williams Flickr. Edit, Scott

Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney recently caused controversy in the United States after a video was released of him essentially writing off 47% of his electorate. David Brooks, a popular American political commentator referred to Mr Romney as one of the least popular conservative candidates in American history. Nevertheless, the “Conservative” brand has become known for having the audacity to try to reveal what may be home-truths to those who may not wish to hear them. Romney’s awareness that 47% of Americans would never vote for him, for example, could even be described as having a certain realist approach. 

By Josh Fraser

Obama cares – but will the Supreme Court let him?

Many call the Affordable Care Act (ACA), often referred to as Obamacare, the most important achievement of Barack Obama’s presidency. However, since it was enacted in 2010, several legal cases have been filed against the law, and it has now been brought to the Supreme Court of the United States. In late June, in the midst of the presidential race, the court will issue a final ruling on the constitutional legality of Obamacare.

By: Rasmus Kjulin

Occupy Wall Street Calls for End to Corporate Personhood

Occupy Wall Street protesters. Photo: S51438.wikimedia commonA little over four months has passed since protesters began gathering in Zuccotti Park, New York in a movement now known globally as Occupy Wall Street (OWS). What began as just a few hundred people gathered in a park in lower Manhattan protesting against political disenfranchisement and social and economic inequality has spread to over a hundred cities across the United States and to over a thousand cities worldwide. Opponents say this is a group of left-wing liberal extremists seeking to divide the United States through class warfare. Advocates say they are expressing their rights to free assembly and free speech against institutions they feel are corrupt and have failed them. Despite having no clear leadership and lacking a clearly articulated agenda, this amorphous group is gaining support and changing the tone of political discourse in America. One of the issues OWS has been most vocal about is the corruption they see in America’s political system and how it is responsible for the growing wealth disparity in the United States.

Obama’s Guantanamo

Barack Obama at his desk. Photo: White House (Pete Souza)During his presidential campaign Barack Obama was a harsh critic of the Guantanamo Bay detention center. An indeed, in January 2009, he signed an executive order for the closure of Guantanamo by January 2010. However, this did not happen and the latest development, following the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2012 that was passed recently, makes for an increasingly complicated situation.

The NDAA is that bill authorizes funding for the United States Departement of Defense. But in the massive text of the NDAA for 2012 a few provisions concerning the handling of suspected terrorists have been inserted. The act states that a person who is a part of, or supports, forces engaged in hostilities against the U.S. can be detained under the law of war without trial until the end of the hostilities.

Even though military detentions without trial has been used frequently by the U.S. this last decade, the act still represents a turning point. While the legality of the Bush administrations use of military detentions could have been questioned in the past, the NDAA codifies the practice into U.S. law.

Occupation Movement Grows Bigger

OCCUPY WALL STREET CAMP ON OCTOBER 29.PHOTO: DAVID SHANKBONE. WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

More than two months have passed since activists started demonstrating against social and economic inequalities in Zucotti Park, Wall Street, New York. Now the so called Occupy Wall Street movement has grown and become known globally. Critics say that the movement must have a concrete agenda in order to be taken seriously. Yet the occupiers do not show any signs of leaving their tents.