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Saturday, February 27, 2016

The elongated presidential campaign season

If you feel this Presidential campaign cycle is taking way too long, you are not alone. From the first candidate announcing his candidacy, which happened to be Ted Cruz, to the general election,  the official campaign season will last 596 days. This huge number looks even bigger when you consider the U.K has campaign length is 139 days, Canada is 78 days, and Japan is 12 days. This doesn't even include the unofficial season, which future candidates raise money and attack voters and staff members needed to have a strong primary. Why is our campaign season two years while other developed countries have campaign seasons have less than a year?
        This why question can't be answered in a single blog post, but understanding the history of our nation's primaries can help answer this question. In the early years of our history, Congress choose the presidential nominee. There was a shift in the mid-1800's, when party conventions, held in mid-June, took shape. But this conventions weren't like the conventions you see in our cycle. Candidates back then didn't need to have vigorous campaigns. The nomination all came dow to the convention, where selected elites came to gather to choose someone. This led to "back door deals" and "smoked filed rooms". This allowed dark horse candidates to win the nomination. In 1910, Oregon was the first state to hold a primary to elect delegates for the nomination.
         However, those votes lack decisiveness because the big vote came in the convention and delegates were known for changing their vote. However, there was a major turning point in the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago. In that convention, Hubert H. Humphrey won the nomination without winning a single state. This lead to a system where delegates per state were proportional to state's population. Also, state parries moved to more open procedures for choosing delegates rather than letting party leaders picking them in secret. This shifted the focus of the season from the convention to the state primaries. As a result, states wanted their primary to be the ear lies so it has the biggest impact There are now rules in place so every state can't vote in February.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

A powerless situation

When working, bosses own large quantities of power. They can hire, fire, cut wages, increase wages, add hours, take away hours (ect). However, employees also have some power. They can negotiate for better conditions. They can go on strike and unionize. However, Ehrenreich was powerless as an applicant employee at Walmart. In the hiring process at Walmart, there is no point where the applicant has the chance to ask for more money of benefits. This is because the process is quick, and the employers never told her she was hire until her uniform was handed to her. In addition, the applicant has to pass a drug test, which gives them the feeling of having to prove yourself. Ehrenreich explains the hiring process on page 149, "Tilts even further," towards the employer because of the drug tests and the lack of clarity. Clearly, Walmart has designed the process to get the most cheap labor in the door and working without giving them the power to negotiate their potential power. Once the employee is working, there is no turning back. If the employee wants higher wages, Walmart can easily relieve that employee of their duties, and find someone else to replace them. Ehrenreich has no power because she is easily replaceable, and isn't given any chances to use her potential power. The situation Ehrenreich was in is the same situation too many working poor Americans face.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The invisible effects of being poor

     The definition of poor, as defined by the New Oxford American dictionary, is "lacking sufficient money to live at a standard considered comfortable or normal in a society". Although lacking money presents plenty of problems that the definition addresses, one problem not addressed is the intangible effects. There is a social hierarchy along with an income hierarchy in today's society. There is a stereotype assigned to the lower class that they made bad choices because they are stupid. Thus, people who live comfortably feel they have the right to treat people lesser if they are waiters or maids. Barbara Ehrenreich documents this social hierarchy in her novel "Nickel and Dimed". On page 100, Ehrenreich describes how she used to go to a supermarket after work, but she stopped going because of the stares, which is a nonverbal way of saying, "What are you doing here?" Clearly, poor people don't have enough dignity to be in necessary public places like a supermarket. Without self-confidence to brave the ugly looks they will receive, the lower class is restricted to where they can be welcomed. The feeling of not being accepted socially is felt everyday in the life of minimum wage workers. This and a slew of other problems is felt everyday by low income workers.