We Move Further from a Real Democracy

I should have written several articles about this, but the issues have piled up.  There have of course been many excellent editorials and TV commentaries on each issue, so my addition wasn’t needed, although I still believe letters to congress people have some effect.  The earlier issues were the Supreme Court’s gutting of the voter registration act, the red states almost immediate response to hamper opposition voting, and the Hastert rule, which said that only bills that had the approval of a majority of Republicans would be considered.

As an academic, the latest issue is the halting of new grant proposals in political science by the NSF.  The Congress passed and the President signed the 2013 budget which included the restriction that NSF funding in this area could only be for studies relevant to National Security, or Economics.  Oddly enough, I consider the ability to study politics to be a part of our National Security, as opposed to Turkey or Russia, where opposition academics are being tried and sentenced to long jail times without fair trials.

The total amount of NSF funding of political science is only $10 million a year in the first place.  Compare this to the amount spent on campaigns of billions of dollars, and the sophisticated and highly detailed study of voters by political parties and candidates to help them dress themselves properly with stances on issues and advertising.

The NSF restriction expires in September, with the end of the 2013 budget.  Readers can lobby their Congress persons to remove this from the 2014 budget.

I would like to point out UC Irvine presentations on this in the University Club fall Forum, which meets on Wednesdays for lunch, with the talks starting at noon.  For the following speakers, reservations at (949) 824-7960.  All are welcome, and the lunches are buffet and $15.50 for non-club members.  The talk on October 2 is by Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of the UCI Law School, and is entitled “Recent Supreme Court Decisions”.  The talk on December 11 is by Rick Hasen, Prof. of Law and Political Science, entitled “Voter Suppression and the Impact on Elections”.

About Dennis SILVERMAN

I am a retired Professor of Physics and Astronomy at U C Irvine. For a decade I have been active in learning about energy and the environment, and in lecturing and attending classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UC Irvine.
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