1.Take a look at the political topics on the gallup.com website. (Links to an external site.) This website has numerous articles that describe the publics’ opinion on political topics. Choose an article and describe for your classmates the topic, how public opinion is reflected by the poll, and what are the social and economic issues most likely to cause polarization for that particular topic? In discussing the public opinion poll, keep in mind the topics covered in chapter 6 such as how the public’s opinion was measured, what experiences could possibly affect our opinion, is the poll biased etc.
2.TOO MUCH DEMOCRACY?
How much direct democracy is too much? When citizens want one policy direction and government prefers another, who should prevail?
Consider recent laws and decisions about marijuana. California was the first state to allow the use of medical marijuana, after the passage of Proposition 215 in 1996. Just a few years later, however, in Gonzales v. Raich (2005), the Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. government had the authority to criminalize the use of marijuana. In 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder said the federal government would not seek to prosecute patients using marijuana medically, citing limited resources and other priorities. Perhaps emboldened by the national governmentâ€™s stance, Colorado voters approved recreational marijuana use in 2012. Since then, other states have followed. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia now have laws in place that legalize the use of marijuana to varying degrees. In a number of these cases, the decision was made by voters through initiatives and direct democracy.
Caption: In 2014, Florida voters considered a proposed amendment to the Florida constitution that would allow doctors to recommend the use of marijuana for patient use. The ballot initiative received 58 percent of the vote, just short of the 60 percent required to pass in Florida.
So where is the problem? First, while citizens of these states believe smoking or consuming marijuana should be legal, the U.S. government does not. The Controlled Substances Act (CSA), passed by Congress in 1970, declares marijuana a dangerous drug and makes its sale a prosecutable act. And despite Holderâ€™s statement, a 2013 memo by James Cole, the deputy attorney general, reminded states that marijuana use is still illegal. (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.)
But the federal government cannot enforce the CSA on its own; it relies on the statesâ€™ help. And while Congress has decided not to prosecute patients using marijuana for medical reasons, it has not waived the Justice Departmentâ€™s right to prosecute recreational use.
Direct democracy has placed the states and its citizens in an interesting position. States have a legal obligation to enforce state laws and the state constitution, yet they also must follow the laws of the United States. Citizens who use marijuana legally in their state are not using it legally in their country. This leads many to question whether direct democracy gives citizens too much power. Citizens are able, through direct democracy, to pass state laws that violate federal laws.
Is it a good idea to give citizens the power to pass laws? Or should this power be limited and subjected to checks and balances, as legislative bills are? Why or why not?
3.Student behavior is somewhat paradoxical when it comes to political participation. On one hand, students have been very active on college campuses at various times over the past half-century. In fact if you look at the beginning of several historical social movement it was begun by young people on college campuses. Many students became politically active in the 1960s as part of the civil rights movement, with some joining campus groups that promoted civil rights, while others supported groups that opposed these rights. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, college campuses were very active in opposition to the Vietnam War. More recently, in 2015, students at the University of Missouri protested against the university system president, who was accused of not taking racial issues at the university seriously. The student protests were supported by civil rights groups like the NAACP, and their efforts culminated in the presidentâ€™s resignation.
Yet at the same time, students participate by voting and joining groups at lower rates than members of other age cohorts. Several researchers have hypothesized as to why this is the case, that students can play such an important role in facilitating political change in some cases, while at the same time they are typically less active than other demographic groups.
Are there groups on campus that represent issues important to you? Are you involved? Why or why not?
* Each question is required 200 words to 250
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