Loyalty in a disloyal environment

American politics is very different from the rest of the world. Compared to Norway, there are different norms of behaviour, different relations to media, and generally, it is a lot more based on your connections and leverage on other people. It seems like doing favours for each other off-record isn’t uncommon in American politics. After the election of President Donald Trump, questions have been raised around the reliability of the American Political system. Whether the media is too powerful or the perception of a good politician is based on the wrong factors.

From the film, The Ides of March, there is a quote that goes: “there’s only one thing I value in the world. That’s loyalty. Without it, you’re nothing”. I think this statement sets the tone for what type of environment there is in American politics, according to the movie at least. From what I have learned from the movie, you really won’t get far in politics if you’re not cynical. This is something we can see in the movie. When the main character loses his job due to him being too passive and honest, he goes to blackmail his former boss to get his position back. Therefore, this quote becomes as meaningful as it is. If you can in politics find someone loyal to you, and that is to be trusted, tackling issues with the media, working as a team and so on, becomes a breeze. Although loyalty is extremely valuable, it seems like you can only go so long before it breaks. However, if you really want to get to the top, you’re going to encounter a lot of disloyal people. People that if you don’t take advantage of, will take advantage of you. Methods such as black-mailing or straight up lying will therefore not be uncommon.

One of the main factors for this manipulative and dishonest environment in politics, is the press and how the media affects politics. Politicians’ main purpose is to get control of the voters. Traditionally, the voters aren’t too involved in the details of the different political opinions, but more interested in the personal traits of the front figures for the different political parties. The media is like a double-edged sword in politics. If you can keep a good relationship with the press, you will shine through as a respectful character in the papers that goes to the hands of interested Americans. The media also acts as a part of the political system that keeps politicians in check. When you want to know something about your favourite politician, who do you go to? The media. This is where the problem also lies. The media are privately owned businesses, corporate companies, that are also competing with each other to make the most money. To make the most money, you need the most attention, and to get that, you need the most dramatic, negative, unexpected news stories. In modern politics, we can see media has had a huge impact on the results of recent elections. Donald Trump is someone who was recognized as a joke when he announced he was running for president, but he used the power of media attention to ruin his opponents’ reputation. When Trump was up against Hillary Clinton for the presidency he blew cases such as Clintons E-mail scandal way out of proportion, the media capitalized on this, and made hundreds of headlines on this.  Donald Trump also used media to gain himself furthermore publicity and time in the spotlight. The media being both overly powerful, and desperate to make politicians look bad, makes them quite a dangerous component in politics.

The title of the movie; The Ides of March,is also a relevant factor to the message of the movie. You have probably heard the saying: “Beware the Ides of March”. This saying originated from William Shakespeare’s play: Julius Caesar. In this play, Julius Caesar was assassinated in the Ides of March. The Ides is a certain time of each month. Julius Caesar was assassinated by one of his closest men. The assassination was motivated by power and selfish thoughts. In many ways, these are the same motivations modern Americans politicians have to betray each other.

To conclude, the movie has a clever way to dissect the American political system. It uses loyalty as a word to describe a minor issue, that describes a larger issue, in my opinion. The loyalty in this case, is the lack of trust between members of the same team, and lack of discipline to each other. This is in itself, is a problem, but, there is also something larger to consider in this situation. The fact that you have to rely on loyalty to begin with, sets the system up for failure. The system meant to chose those who lead the country should be reliant on winning the people votes by good arguments and politics, not public image. It becomes a competition between the different parts to have the leader with the cleanest sheet, and in the end, for the voters it ends up becoming a choice between bad and worse. This is due to the cynical behaviours the corrupted system sets up for. This is the perception on politics I get from the movie, and how I interpreted it.

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Theresa May’s speech

1. Message of the speech

The message of Theresa Mays speech is to tell Britain that they need to be better, stronger and more powerful than the last generation. Theresa May therefore commands that they need to make Britain even greater for the next generation to come. She tries to unite the country by talking up this imaginary thought of “the British dream”. The British dream is never really explained well in the speech, but it comes across as Theresa Mays excuse to make Britain independent due to their superiority over the rest of Europe.

 

  1. Identify literary / linguistic devices and explain how they enhance the message

One of the main literary devices used in this speech is the language and the selection of words. Throughout almost the entire speech, Theresa May relies on upping up Britain to seem like something way more successful than what it is. By using words such as “hard work and discipline” and “inspiring” May makes Britain seem like the country for hard working people. As if Britain stands out from the rest of the world. The portrayal of this Britain is essential to her point. Therefor she also uses another literary device to emphasise this point, repetition. Theresa May uses repetition a whole lot in her speech, so much so that she might even make her speech less interesting, which may be a misuse of this literary device. She mentions “the British dream” about 10 times in the first three stanzas.

In this type of speech, personal pronouns should be used to the fullest extent, as words such as you or I, can really help directing the message of her speech, and making it more powerful. Theresa May uses a few personal pronouns, but in my opinion, not enough. In certain parts of the speech, she uses the word “us”. This word seems like an attempt to identify as one of the British people. In a time of major disagreement in the UK, it doesn’t seem like a bad idea to try to unite the country through their positive attributes. Although the thought behind this literary device was good, the execution was not. It should in my opinion have been used more frequently and earlier in the speech.

The “I have a dream” speech

  1. The message of the speech?

The main focus of the speech are the rights of African Americans. Martin Luther King Jr, talks about the rights black people are lacking, and how this hasn’t changed much for the last hundred years. Dr. King uses this speech to convince the American people of the inequality in

their country. Luther talks about his dream, a dream about equality for his children. The speech paints all American children to be alike, and this is a strong point for the message of the speech. Which is equality for all Americans.
2. What do you learn about can Americans’ history, and what are King’s dreams for the future?

When listening to the speech, one is quickly reminded of the suffering African Americans have suffered throughout history, both in the form of slavery up until 1865 as well as the segregation enforced at the time of the speech.

As Dr. King continues into the speech, his message is clear; he wishes for a wide neck. Very cool nation that will not treat any race as second-class citizens.

 

3. Do you think the poem is relevant for African Americans today? Or for people outside the USA?

I believe that Martin Luther King’s speech still represents a lot of central values regarding the currently ongoing battle for racial equality. Not only does it reinforce the idea that every American citizen will, one day, be viewed as equals, but it inspires to hope and change. I think that it is quite important for a movement to be able to associate themselves with strong leaders for them to be successful. Simultaneously I also think that the speech can very much inspire to positive change outside US. borders as I think that love and kinship are universal ideals, appreciated across all societies

 

The 13th amendment

Today we saw a film about the 13th amendment in our English class. The movie is obviously about the 13 amendment, which basically states that the act of slavery is illegal, unless it is directed towards prisoners in the United States. When the amendment was written, in 1865, slavery wasn’t unusual in America, in fact 1/3 of the population the southern America, were black slaves. When all of these slaves were freed, it caused a massive economic crisis in America. The south was not as involved in industrialization as northern parts of America, mainly due to the fact that there was no need for it. Slaves were used to pick cotton, which was then sold to the north, to manufacture clothing and such to then be sold back to the south.

The main problem with the 13th amendment, was that it created an incentive for cops to imprison African-Americans, so that they then could go back to being slaves, it was basically a loophole in the amendment. From watching the documentary, “the 13th amendment” I learned that this grew to become one of Americas biggest problems, which is still ongoing today. America has about 5% of the world’s population, whilst they have about 25% of the worlds prisoners. There are private prisons, as CCA, cooperating with a known company known as ALEC, standing for American Legislation Exchange Council. ALEC is basically a republican’s cookbook on how to make legislations. There have even been instances where republicans have copied and pasted word for word, what ALEC had written for them. The problem with this is that ALEC, bases their opinions on what companies wants to make deals with them. They are partnered with many huge American companies, such as “State farm” and was formerly even partnered with Wal-Mart. ALEC make laws that benefit these companies, to make them more money.

Another big surprise I got from the movie, was the fact that prisoners today, can be forced to work for a company making deals with the owners of these private prisons. CCA had deals with companies such as “Victorias Secrets”, to get cheap workingpower. The film also highlights what lead to this situation, what lead to the massive hate towards African-Americans, and why there are so many of them in prison. Obviously, there are many factors playing a role when talking about the hate against the coloured man, but one of the bigger ones, was media. Social-media spread terms as “super-predator” portraying African-Americans as rapist and murderers. The fact that they moved over from using all coloured people as slaves to just imprisoning them and then making them into slaves instead, made it even worse in the bigger picture. It set a stop to the black families, and the sons of the existing families had to grow up fatherless, which definitely had a negative impact on them.

Overall I think the film was good, there was a lot of information, so it would be almost impossible to touch on every topic in a minor blog-post, but these were the most shocking and impactful for me.

The Trump Shutdown

There is currently an ongoing shutdown in the U.S. where 800 000 federal workers are currently working without getting paid. This shutdown has occurred during negotiation of budget-points of the 2019 spending bill. On August 23. The senate approved a spending bill for Fiscal year 2019 on just about 850 billion dollars.

December the 11th there was a meeting between Trump and Democratic Congressional leaders, in which they discuss the most important spending points for their 2019 budget. Donald Trump demanded that 5 billion dollars would go towards the wall between the U.S. and Mexico. To that the Democrats completely disagreed, saying that it would be an inefficient way to spend money on border protection. The Democrats instead offered to spend 1,3 billion dollars on border control and protection, as this was in their words; a more efficient way of investing in border protection.

December the 20th, Democrats declared a final bill, where no investments was made to Trumps wall. Trump was really not pleased by this and publicly stated that to avoid a shutdown, they would have to put 5,7 billion dollars into his wall. On December 23. Trump and his administration signalled that the bill would be accepted by Trump if 2,5 billion was invested in his wall. The Democrats has steadily denied Trumps offers, stating that there are solutions far more effective for the issue that the wall is solving. Even the conservative heritage foundation has picked the Democrats side on the conflict, saying that investments in technology and border patrol would be far more effective to detect and stop illegal border crossings.

The latest updates on the issue is about Trump declaring a national emergency. This would be seen as a drastic abuse of presidential powers by critics and it would be one of the most outrages decisions made in American politics for many years. If Trump declares a national emergency he could bypass congress and obtain what he wants for his wall via military powers.

 

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First Impressions; Of Mice and Men

My first impressions on the book; “Of Mice and Men”, are rather positive. It has a great atmosphere with good variety between the characters. The book is a short novel, focused on the struggles all around America during the Great Depression, the time of the books publishing. So far, the book has been quite compelling, probably mainly by the great characters. George Milton and Lennie Small are the two main characters in the story. They are very diverse, but still complement each other as a duo, at least for the beginning of the story. Another reason as to why I find the story to be so entertaining is because of the many different routes I can see the story ending up taking. Most likely, it won’t end bad, but I couldn’t tell you, which I really like.

Lennie is the bigger guy of the two, whilst George is the smaller, skinnier one. Even though Lennie is the bigger one, he is far from the chief of the two. Lennie seems rather distracted by something, at all times, and fails to pay any attention to those communicating with him. Lennie seems to lack quite a bit of social skills. Therefore, George, is the bossier person of the two. George, despite being tiny and weak, is way more intellectual than Lennie. George seems like he would have been perfectly fine on his own. In fact, he even mentions that he could be living a luxurious life, if it wasn’t for the fact that he has to take care of Lennie. Well, he doesn’t have to, but he wants to, because the two travellers, do care for each other’s wellbeing.

Of Mice and Men was published in 1937, which gives a lot more to the backstory of the book. In these times in America, the Great Depression hit. During the Great Depression, things weren’t really any great. A few years prior, in 1929, the stock markets had crashed and economically, things went downhill drastically fast from 1930 and onwards. As the book came out in 1937, although two years before people claimed the great depression to be over, it was no unusual theme for authors to write about at that time. John Steinbeck, the author of this book, hit the nail spot on for many Americans. He managed to really highlight the problems in their country, many claimed. As this were times where everyone was struggling to find jobs. The country of dreams and opportunity, turned to the country of nightmares and poverty. At the worst points of the great depression, over 15 million Americans were out of work, and about half of the bank formerly operating in the country, had failed.

 

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Obamacare and the impact it has made

Obamacare was established in 2009, one year after the election of the democratic president, Barack Obama. Obamacare was meant to be an affordable alternative to healthcare. Throughout history, healthcare had been a big discussion between the democratic and republican party. Roosevelt was the first president who even had a slight thought of healthcare in the US. This idea, obviously, it didn’t very well. That was until Obama came to office. The democratic wave was stronger than ever; gay marriage became legal in every American state, America had their first African-American president and for the most part, the people were happy with how their country was being led. Which all led to Obamacare getting passed.

During Obamas time in office, democrats and republicans separated more for each day that went by. Republicans became furious with all of Obama’s actions. Even though Obama was re-elected in 2012, the republicans was growing rapidly. Whenever a president sits 2 periods, the people get tired of not seeing change in certain parts of their society. Those who studied American politics, predicted a very right winged republican for the presidency in 2016. The mid-term elections during Obama’s time in office, was some of the most one-sided mid-terms for generations. It was obvious that healthcare played a big part when it came to the increase of republicans at this time.

Somehow, Obamacare still lives on today. It was attempted a veto during Obamas time in office, where the republicans almost managed to achieve a 2/3 majority in the house, which they needed to get Obamacare retracted. As Obama’s 8-year limit as president was reached, there now only needed to be a 51% majority to take down Obamacare. At this point, Obamacare was assumed to be withdrawn straight away, but, for some reason, many republicans had switched sides on the issue, Obamacare was set to stay for even longer. Some speculate that the election of Donald Trump, might have caused the conflict within the republican party. Or perhaps, the results of Obamacare, and the very slight increase in taxing, swayed some of the republican’s opinions.

Whether or not Obamacare is to stay for 10 years, or 10 weeks, it has grown to be essential for many American citizens, which even Trump should recognize. One of the including factors of Obamacare, is that women should not be charged more than men. Or that children should be able to remain under their parent’s insurance, until they are 26 years old. Obviously, only these two factors are amazing for so many people. It is getting hard to deny that Obamacare has made a great impact on American, and even if it gets withdrawn, it has still enlightened the American people about how the healthcare laws should or could be.

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