Thursday, December 1, 2016

Monday, October 24, 2016


Stricter campaign finance laws are necessary in order to ensure that the United States remains place where citizens have a voice no matter what their income level is. The largely unregulated Super PACs and 501c4s in politics today are corrupting the system by letting a few people with a lot of money dominate the campaign trail. Even though these nonprofits don't directly campaign for candidates, the line between issue advertisements and candidate endorsement is very hard to distinguish. The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act was a move in the right direction, preventing national parties from raising or spending "soft money" on federal campaigns. The Federal Election Commission website defines soft money as "money raised outside the limits and prohibitions of federal campaign finance law.” This ruling was intended to keep spending in check, but it is relatively easy to get around it - the video “Big Sky, Big Money” is an example of this. The secretive groups in the video feigned compliance with federal regulations, but the discovery of boxes full of candidate signatures and forged letters proved that they had communication with specific people campaigning for office. We need strict campaign finance laws to prevent this kind of corruption from happening.
On the other hand, the overall ruling of the Supreme Court in Buckley v. Valeo states that campaign spending is a form of speech protected under the First Amendment despite certain unconstitutional aspects involved. The government is unable to keep corporations or unions from spending money to support or denounce individual candidates in elections. These groups are allowed to persuade public voting through other means like ads but not direct funding to candidates. Citizens United v. FEC determined that corporate speech rights are the same as an individual’s and thus, allowed companies to unlimitedly finance campaign ads. Super PACs disclose donor information, however, while nonprofits do not. More freedom in campaign fundraising would permit candidates to focus more time meeting citizens and tending to their official duties instead of fretting over collecting enough donations. Especially in a time when media advertising is expensive and competitive, candidates need more money than before to effectively communicate with voters.

Reflection (Hinh): I am partial on the matter. I think that anonymity for donor privacy should be a right if they do not wish to disclose their financial activity, and I agree with the Supreme Court’s verdict that campaign spending is a freedom of speech. My doubts about less regulation, however, stem from the problem that the wealthy will continue to dominate the election process through their unlimited donations because most working voters already cannot contribute more than the established limits, ensuing corruption. Although the legality and specifics of campaign spending is tricky, the right balance between strict and loose regulation needs to be determined to ensure that the public has fair opportunities to support the candidate of their choice through financial means should they choose to do so but also allow candidates to receive the funding they need for a successful campaign. Ultimately in an uncorrupt democracy, it is more important for candidates to address the public’s concerns over political, economic, and social issues to appeal to voters rather than “buying” their votes.

Reflection (Kwon): I’m not sure which side I support on this issue. Although allowing people to spend money on the candidates they wish seems ideal, the PACs and 501c4s are very sketchy. I think there needs to be a balance between the two arguments. There should be limitations and restrictions, but enough to end the possibilities of unfair advantages. If we go for a stricter enforcement of campaign laws, it doesn’t allow individuals to voice their opinion and support their party as they please. However, if we wish to lessen the extent of these laws, it allows the wealthy to dominate. Overall, I believe that we should find a good “middle” where both sides have equal opportunities of winning.

Reflection (Carhuamaca): I believe we should enforce stricter finance laws, such as disclosure and contribution limits. Reforms are needed to reduce the influence of moneyed interests and inhibit corrupt practices.  Without any restrictions, the wealthy are allowed to give extreme amounts of money to campaign, which casts a huge spotlight on the wealthier candidate. Campaign finance laws are necessary to give a diverse set of candidates a fair chance at winning. In conclusion, campaign finance laws are essential in protecting democracy against the pressure of large amounts of money from institutions and from wealthy individuals.

Reflection (McNamara): I think that stricter finance laws are a necessity to preserve our democracy. The anonymity and loose regulations on Super PACs and 501c4s give a small amount of citizens disproportionate power over information and campaigns. As Big Sky, Big Money showed, there is a lot of secrecy surrounding these organizations, and I think that shows that there is some shady business going on. Even though independent groups are supposed to remain separate from candidates, there are covert communications that still take place. The line between issue ads and candidate endorsements is thin, and we need to regulate this area of politics to make sure that political offices can't be bought.

You know you love us. Xoxo, Government Girls

Sunday, October 9, 2016


Screencast 1: Nonvoting in America
How is voter turnout affected by the Motor Voter Law and the Voter ID Law?
The American government passed two laws—the Motor Voter Law and the Voter ID Law. The Motor Voter Law allowed voters to register by mail when applying for a driver's license, as a result extending the number of registered voters and proliferating voter turnout. The Voter ID Law, however, did the opposite. The law required for voters show their government-made ID at the polls. This created an institutional barrier for those who did not carry an accepted form of ID.

Why do individuals neglect voting for other type of elections?
Unlike the presidential election, there is minimal media coverage on other elections such as state. Less media coverage on state elections decreases people's awareness and ends in less voters. Another reason of less voter turnout in elections is the fact that there are too many elections that an individual cannot keep track. Occasionally, voters experience ballot fatigue—when there is an excessive number of names on a political ballot and the voter feels apathetic.

Screencast 2: Rise of the American Electorate
Explain the "gender gap" thoroughly.
The gender gap is a term referred to the political patterns of women and men. The gender gap in voting for presidential candidates has been apparent in every election since 1980. Women tend to be more liberal and democratic while men are more conservative and republican, regardless of age. This is mostly because of women's strong support of Social Security services such as healthcare spending, childcare spending, education, and poverty programs.

Screencast 3: Who Participates in American Politics?
What ways can you participate in American Politics besides voting?
Other ways to involve yourself in politics are to run for office, campaign for candidates, give money to candidates, partake in protests/rallies, and join an interest group. If you want to run for office, there are only age and residency requirements. Campaigning for candidates involves making phone calls, knocking on doors, and other snazzy techniques in hope to boost the support of your favored candidate. Another easy way to help is through donating to your candidate's campaign fund. This donation would allow the candidate and his/her team buy advertisements. Participating in a rally/protest magnifies your voice and political stance. Joining an interest group is typically to target specific issues such as gun rights (NRA). Interest groups are closer to decision makers and is deemed optimal for direct connections. In conclusion, there are numerous ways to participate in politics other than voting!

Reflection Questions:

  • Why do young people tend to not vote—even though the 26th amendment expands suffrage to individuals over the age of 18?
  • What are other ways we can ease the registration process to increase voter turnout?
  • How can the American government slowly diminish distrust in government?
You know you love us.
Xoxo, Government Girls


Non-voting In America:
1. Why do you think there is a lower voter turnout in the United States compared to other industrialized nations? Explain.
At most, the United States gets a 50-60% voter turnout; this is significantly lower than every other industrialized nation in the West. There are many possible reasons as to why this happens. For example, we do not impose penalties to those that don’t vote. Some places fine people that don’t show up/vote, thus forcing their citizens to participate.

2. What are some barriers that cause the lower voter turnout in the U.S.? Explain.
Barriers such as registration, long ballots, and ballot fatigue are the main causes of this low voter turnout. If registration were to be eased or eliminated, the turnout would increase by about 9%. More people are registered to vote, but they don’t, thus causing the percent of people voting to decrease. Long ballots are a mixture of candidates, offices, and propositions; people are not interested in knowing all the issues, which allows for the decrease in turnout. Lastly, another reason is ballot fatigue. Too many ballots at once can push people into not voting because it’s too much work.

Rise Of The American Electorate:
1. What historical changes have impacted our voter turnout? Explain.
The addition of the 19th, 15th, and the 26th amendments called for the rise of the American electorate. It allowed African Americans, women, and 18-21 year olds to vote. Although this increased the population of those allowed to vote, it didn’t necessarily increase voter turnout. For example, most of the 18-21 year olds did not vote at all.

2. What are some factors that affect voting behavior? Explain.
Factors such as geography, the coattail effect, realigning elections, party affiliation, and the media affect voting behavior. For example, the solid south was a Democratic stronghold, until it shifted to a Republican stronghold. The region in which they live in greatly affect whose side they are on and who they vote for. In addition to geography, the media also affects voting behavior. The way elections and candidates are portrayed on the news or social media can change people’s votes as well as thoughts on the elections.

Who Participates In American Politics:
1. What are some characteristics of likely voters in American Politics? Explain.
Many factors such as as education level, income, and age play a large role in who participates in politics. The higher the education level or income a person has, the more likely they will be to vote in general. In addition, the older you are increases the probability of you voting.

Reflection Questions:
1. The media covers both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as "horrible" candidates. Does this explain why so many people are undecided this close to election day?

You know you love us. Xoxo, Government Girls.
(Sharon Kwon)

Friday, October 7, 2016


Why do other industrialized nations in the West have a significantly higher voter turnout rate?
Most industrialized nations get up to 90% voter turnout compared to America’s 50-60% during a good year. Their secret to their success lies in fines or punishments of non-voters, more political parties for better representation of a diverse population, and automatic or same day registration.

What are some reasons for such a low voter turnout for America?
Institutional barriers like registration, long ballots, types of elections, and too many elections deter many eligible people from voting. In addition, many young people do not vote, defeating the purpose of the 26th Amendment. Many Americans believe that they lack political efficacy, are dissatisfied with candidates, or are disinterested in politics in general, so they choose to not participate in the political process.

How has voting changed since the founding of our country?
At the start of America, voting was a privilege only available to white property-owning males, but our country has come a long way in representation since then. With the addition of the 15th, 19th, and 26th Amendments, our voting population has expanded to include African Americans, women, and 18 to 21-year-olds.

What factors affect and help predict voting behavior?
Various geographical areas of the United States tend to lean towards a political party when voting, but several swing states are also the focuses of attention and resources of political candidates in order to gain valuable electoral votes. Media coverage of the election can also influence people’s votes by benefiting or harming a candidate’s likelihood of obtaining the majority of electoral votes, and demographics always play a role in predicting voting behavior due to consistent trends.

How do characteristics of likely voters influence their voting turnout?
Trends demonstrate that higher education levels, income levels, and age increase Americans’ chances of voting and are thus often indicators of voting behavior. It is also seen that white Americans vote at a higher rate than African Americans, but African Americans with the same education and income level as white voters actually have a higher voting rate.

Why do some people choose other methods of political participation instead of voting?
Because some people feel that their votes aren’t significant to the political process, they partake in other activities in which their actions would closer affect elected officials than voting would. Running for office is an option for those who want to take matters into their own hands while campaigning for or giving money to are ways to directly support a candidate. To magnify their voices, people can participate in protests or rallies or join an interest group focused on a specific type of issue. In other words, there are various ways to be active in the political scheme other than just voting.

Other questions:
- Why does America not implement similar policies like those of other industrialized nations to increase voter turnout rate?
- Do more people participate in politics through the previously mentioned various ways than voting?

You know you love us. Xoxo, Government Girls.
(Amanda Hinh)


How does the United States' voting turnout compare to the rest of the industrialized world?
The United States has significantly lower voting turnout than other industrialized nations in the west. This is partly because we have no repercussions for those who choose not to vote; they are free to stay out of politics if they choose. In other countries, there are fines and other penalties for not voting, so they get around 90% turnout, whereas even in presidential elections the United States only sees 50-60%.

What are some institutional barriers to voting?
In the past, institutional barriers to voting were linked to gender and race separation. Until the 15th and 19th amendments were passed, only white males could vote. Even after that, literacy tests prevented the whole eligible population from voting in certain states. Nowadays, the barriers are more class related. Lower class citizens who can't afford a car may not bother to get a drivers license, and are therefore prevented from voting because they lack photo identification. Additionally, some people are burned out by the constant barrage of campaigns and elections and choose to ignore them completely.

How can elections alter the voting patterns of the electorate?
The coattail effect is one way voting patterns can change due to a certain election. If an extremely popular candidate from one party wins the presidential office, lower office candidates can "ride their coattails" into a victory. An example of this is Ronald Reagan. Realigning elections can also bring people from one party to another, such as when FDR introduced the New Deal during the Great Depression and many people who hadn't previously voted Democrat stood behind his plan.

Give a historical example of a demographic switching party affiliation
African Americans historically supported the Republican party because Abe Lincoln was a Republican. However, that trend changed during the Civil Rights Movement. When Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, many African Americans switched to the Democratic party because it supported them in their fight for equality.

Why are educated white people the most likely to vote?
Educated people are the ones who understand the political process and issues on the table during elections, so they are more likely to participate than others. Additionally, white people have had the right to vote from the start, and they most likely feel the most at ease with it because they've never had that right denied to them. Our candidates are also primarily white so I feel like white people might relate to them more and support them more because of that.

What are the most hands-on, direct ways someone can participate in politics?
Campaigning for a candidate and donating money are the most direct ways a person can be involved. For example, a Republican in California does not have a chance of affecting the presidential election with their vote, because the state is overwhelmingly Democratic. However, they could donate money to a candidate of their choice, and still make their voice heard by helping that candidate campaign in places where they could actually win votes.

Other questions -
Is Donald Trump's involvement in this election causing many Republicans to switch parties?
Does the amount of money a candidate spends on campaigning have a consistent positive correlation winning? (aka if you spend more money/have more money donated do you win)

Sunday, October 2, 2016


As I expected, my result from the two political typology tests was a solid liberal. I always knew I was liberal when I found myself to support views like same-sex marriage. First, I suspect my hispanic ethnicity is a prime element of my political view due to Democrats' view on immigration and welfare policies. Second, I grew up in a Catholic family though I never confirmed my faith nor participated in the weekly outings to church. It is rest assured that Catholics tend to vote Democratic rather than Republican. I would not say my family's beliefs extremely impacted mine, since I oppose Catholic views on abortion and contraceptives. Therefore, I concluded that Catholicism did not influence my political stance.

When it comes to gun control, I possess a liberal outlook. DeFilippis and Hughes in "The Myth Behind Defensive Gun Ownership" report fatal stories of gun use and research bias simultaneously revealing the danger behind gun ownership. I don't vehemently oppose gun ownership yet I believe there should be stricter gun control lawssuch as precise background checks on each individual purchasing a firearm. In conclusion, I stand by the reasoning that more gun control would lessen the chance of civilian gun violence.


The political typology quizzes that I took claimed that I was a “strong liberal.” I found this surprising because I didn’t expect to be so far on the left side of the scale.

My family is mainly Democratic, which may explain why I share some of the same beliefs as them. At a young age, my grandma would always emphasize the importance of politics and would explain her reasoning to me. Although I never really listened to her speeches, they obviously had some sort of impact on my thoughts. In addition to this, my family consists mostly of all females, a.k.a. Democrats. I find it odd that simply having an extra X chromosome in the USA means you are more likely to vote Democrat, but what do I know?

Even though the tests state that I’m a “strong” liberal, I can’t help but believe that I’m a little bit in between. Topics such as abortion and gun control are very iffy for me. I can’t seem to choose one side to agree with. For example, I lean towards pro-choice, but I also understand where people who believe in pro-life come from. I think that women should have the ability to control their own bodies, but should not take abortion for granted; it should be a last resort. I’m not sure if this has to do with the fact that my family never really talks about controversial topics or because I’m a female, but overall I do agree that I have a few liberal beliefs.
You know you love us. Xoxo, Government Girls.
Sharon Kwon

Saturday, October 1, 2016


When I took the political typology quiz, I was labeled as a "young outsider", which is in between the two dominant political parties, but still slightly to the right. I was not surprised by where I ended up, and I think it accurately reflects the opposing political socialization that I am impacted by in my life.

My family is Catholic, a historically Democratic group, but my parents are strong social conservatives and Republicans. Because of this, I receive very different messages on issues such as abortion and gay marriage from my young, Californian environment than I do at home, and it's hard to distinguish which one I think is "right". I used to side with my parents in their steadfast conservative positions, but in more recent years I've reevaluated and shifted more to the left. For example, I do not have a problem with gay marriage; I think people can love who they want to love as long as they aren't harming anybody. I also have a more liberal view of international affairs, and believe that diplomacy is preferential when trying to solve global issues, rather than resorting to military force. Finally, I take a liberal stance on gun control. As the article "The Myth Behind Defensive Gun Ownership" shows, even well-meaning gun owners can cause tragic deaths with their weapons. Although stricter gun control laws would infringe on individual rights, they are necessary in order to protect public safety. There are many households, such as my own, that do not have guns and are still safe and secure, and I think people who use guns for recreation should find hobbies that don't involve killing machines. Overall, guns are something we as a society should live without, because they have taken away too many people's abilities to live at all. My opinions on these three issues come from my upbringing and being taught by my parents and my church to love my neighbor and be peaceful even when others are not.

Despite my liberal leanings, there are some areas in which I still feel conservative, such as the economy. A lower class is inevitable in a capitalist society, and while people should not be deprived of their basic needs, I don't think free college or other programs to make everybody financially equal are beneficial nor realistic. A fundamental part of American culture is our opportunity for upward mobility, and the chance to rise from humble beginnings and achieve the "American dream". Inequality creates something to strive for because everyone wants to get to the top, and people feel motivated to work hard in order to reach it.

Lastly, abortion and immigration are fuzzy areas for me, ones where I truly feel like a "young outsider". On abortion - I don't think it is right because of my religious beliefs, but I also know that I cannot judge other people's ability to raise a child based on my limited experiences and worldview, so I am torn between pro-life and pro-choice. I'm also torn on immigration because I know there are suffering people who need help in the world, but I'm not sure the United States can afford to give it to them right now.

I know that my future environment will help me sort out my feelings on all these issues, and play a big part in solidifying or altering my political ideology. I'm curious to see how how my religion, gender, location, and level of education will intersect and form more complete opinions as an adult.
You know you love us. Xoxo, government girls.
(Claire McNamara)

Friday, September 30, 2016


Apparently I am a solid liberal and centralist.

I'm not sure if I considered myself as either of those, but let's look at my political socialization to see what influences I've had growing up. My ethnicity does not appear to play a role in my ideology but my economic class and gender do. In my household, political discussion was and is often kept to a minimum. It just isn't a common or prominent topic in my family. When I was younger, I was aware that my stepdad was a Republican, and that is the only real political recollection I have from my family. From church, I've been exposed to more conservative Republican ideals because of current controversial issues concerning abortion and gay marriage. Despite the influence of my church coupled with that of my stepdad, I surprisingly lean towards the Democratic party.

I am no expert on politics - in fact, I'll admit that I know very little - but my opinions on abortion, gay marriage, taxes, environmental protocol, etc. seem to align with those of Democrats. I believe in equality, whether that includes pro-choice, unrestricted marriage laws, or more. In addition, I stand by the push for stricter gun control. While I do acknowledge what the Second Amendment says literally, I interpret that single sentence featured in the Constitution as permission to keep and bear arms should the need arise in time of unexpected war or revolution for the benefit and protection of the country and its values. The article "The Myth Behind Defensive Gun Ownership" highlights one of the many dangers of not having stricter gun regulations. I do not disagree that not allowing people to own a gun can infringe on an individual's rights, but it is more important for the public safety to ensure that gun owners meet the requirements to safely own a firearm.

My results from the political ideology quizzes surprised me because I never felt that my views were so extreme or definite. Perhaps I prefer more liberal ideals because of my age and exposure to trends dominating social media, or perhaps they stem from what I learn in school. Whatever the case may be, it's easy to agree that there isn't one single factor that defines my views, and I think that it's important in this day and age to maintain our individuality by respecting others' opinions but not conforming to them.

You know you love us. Xoxo, Government Girls.
Amanda Hinh

Monday, September 12, 2016


In the episode "A More Perfect Union", Peter Sagal travels across the United States to consult with those who believe in states’ rights and those who believe in a strong central government. Sagal encounters a medical marijuana dispensary owner in Oakland, California. Although legal in California, the federal ban on medical marijuana ceases to lift; therefore the Oakland owner fears for his life as he could be subject to the death penalty at any moment. Subsequently, Sagal stops at a historical epitome of federalist power, the Hoover Dam. Here, Peter Sagal interviews Cort Ancman, who briefly explains how it was solely the federal government who possessed the power to build the dam. A centralist approach of determining the constitutionality of the Hoover dam would be the Commerce Clause. The dam not only ensures control of flooding and irrigation but also the generation of hydroelectric power to neighboring states, which remains expanding Nevada's economy.

Reflection: This video presents the conflicting principles between state and federal rights, similarly to what we learned in Gooru. State and federal rights have sparked controversy well throughout American history. A notable case that outlined a feud over state/federal rights was McCulloch v. Maryland. The case established the supremacy of the national government over state. Moreover, the Court held that Congress had implied powers under the elastic clause.

 You know you love us. Xoxo, Government Girls.
(Jenn Carhuamaca)

Sunday, September 11, 2016


In Constitution U.S.A (A More Perfect Union), Peter Sagal rides around the United States in order to interpret the argument on Federalism. He speaks to people who believe in a centralist approach and some who believe in a decentralist approach.

While in Montana, Sagal talks to Gary Marbad, a “very outspoken gun rights advocate”; he claims that federal firearms regulations are taking away his constitutional rights. Rather than focusing on the second amendment, Marbad is targeting the commerce clause. He claims that the federal government has gotten too much power over the years and that it’s “time to roll it back” to the states because the states have a much better relationship with the people. Similarly, in Northern California, the debate on whether selling medical marijuana is legal or not, is taking place. Steve DeAngelo, Harborside's co-founder and executive director, has created a sleek, scientific apothecary to show that cannabis can be professionally distributed and used for health purposes. According to California’s state laws, growing and selling cannabis is perfectly legal; however, under federal laws (United States), the same act is a crime punishable by death. This reflects back into last week’s lesson on federalism. It shows decentralist beliefs of a weaker government and how much the two (decentralism and centralism) differ. They don’t want the government to be involved in their rights and favor local power instead of national power.

On the other hand, Peter Sagal visits places that show the positive aspects of federal control. He visits a high school in Little Rock, Arkansas; during the battle of segregation versus integration, it was the federal government that dramatically stepped in to make a difference. The governor sent the national guard to prevent nine African American students from entering the school. However, Dwight D. Eisenhower used his authority to override the mission; he made it so that the guards now had to protect the kids and escort them to class everyday. This contradicts some beliefs that the federal government should not be allowed to have so much power. If it weren’t for their increasing authority, they would not have been able to take this action and start the change of segregation.

You know you love us. Xoxo, Government Girls
(Sharon Kwon)

Saturday, September 10, 2016


In PBS’ Constitution USA, “A More Perfect Union” highlights the perpetual conflict between states’ rights and federal power of the government. A prime example of this controversial topic focuses on the legality of marijuana. The owner of the medical marijuana facility featured in the episode could face the death penalty under federal law but according to the state of California, medical marijuana is legal. This extremity is absurd and demonstrates a major weakness in the government; if the national government contradicts states’, then where does that leave American citizens? In many cases, state laws are more important in protecting individuals’ rights than federal law. (reflection) However, the supremacy clause, mentioned in this week’s lesson, addresses the issue of conflicting legislation, concluding that ultimately federal law trumps state laws. This popularly debated issue is a result of centralism vs. decentralism. Due to different interpretations of the Constitution, polar approaches to enforcing legislation and exercising governmental power for the American people create a division in our politics. The Founding Fathers may not have devised the perfect system for governing the United States, but we as a nation, nevertheless, are continuing to thrive and dispute this problem.

You know you love us. Xoxo, Government Girls.
(Amanda Hinh)


The video we watched in class taught me that states' rights are important to a variety of people for a variety of reasons. Although legalizing marijuana and gun rights are commonly viewed as causes on opposite sides of party lines, activists for both believe that the federal government should have less regulatory power over their businesses. I was shocked that the man who operated a medical marijuana dispensary in Oakland was eligible for the death penalty under federal law (which I think is a huge exaggeration of the severity of his crime). A more conservative example is Gary from Montana, who thinks the government is infringing on his right to sell guns within state lines.
As we learned in this week's lesson, issues between state and federal powers have existed from the founding of our country. On one side is centralism, in which the federal government has the majority of the power and states only receive rights surrendered by the national government. On the other side are decentralists, who believe that the 10th Amendment grants broad power to the states, and view the Constitution as a strict construction document. These opposing viewpoints transcend time periods and political parties and are the root of many of America's ongoing debates.
You know you love us. Xoxo, government girls.
(Claire McNamara)

Monday, September 5, 2016

Principles of the Constitution_McNamara

One of the principles of the Constitution we learned about this week was checks and balances, so I created this chart showing the checks that the "branches" of our federal government have on each other. Checks and balances are important because they prevent any one person from becoming too powerful and ruling over the entire government. This was particularly important to the Founding Fathers because they had seen what could happen when the government got too much control, and did not want that to repeat in their new country.
You know you love us. Xoxo, Government Girls
(Claire McNamara)

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Principles of the Constitution_Hinh

The U.S. Constitution 101

Reflection: The Founding Fathers were a group of intellectual men with a vision for the future of our nation. They created a solid foundation for a young America but understood and anticipated the alterations that would need to be made to accommodate for changing times. The development of a limited government with checks and balances is such a vital contribution to the success of our government by preventing too much power from falling into any one set of hands, and their ability to devise a system to overcome that obstacle is admirable. It’s remarkable that their founding principles still withstand today, and the Constitution testifies for the unity and durability of our country.

Click here to find a brief overview of everything you need to know about our Constitution.

You know you love us. Xoxo, Government Girls.
(Amanda Hinh)

Friday, September 2, 2016

Principles of the Constitution in a Nutshell_Carhuamaca

 Principles of the Constitution
To view this drawing in a different tab, click here.
Reflection: My drawing displays the numerous principles of the Constitution we have studied in Gooru screencasts the past two days.

Hope you enjoyed this snazzy sketch of the principles of the Constitution! Stay tuned for next week!
You Know you love us. Xoxo, Government Girls
(Jenn Carhuamaca)

Thursday, September 1, 2016

We The People_Kwon

 Separation of Powers
The idea of separation of powers was created by a political and social philosopher named Montesquieu. This was formed in order to avoid tyranny and concentration of power in one set of hands; it separated the government into three different branches - legislative, judicial, and executive. The legislative branch is made up of the House of Representatives as well as the Senate. While this branch creates the laws for the nation, the executive branch enforces those laws. It consists of the President and all other Executive Agencies such as the State Department, Defense Department, and etc.). Lastly, the judicial branch, which includes the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, and the District courts, interprets the laws in order to see if they are constitutional or not. No one branch is dependent on the other, which brings us to the checks and balances system.

 Checks and Balances
Image result for checks and balances clipart
The checks and balances system was placed in addition to the separation of powers to limit the amount of authority a certain group has. The system claims that each of the three branches have the ability to “check” the powers of the others. For example, while the president can check the congress, the Congress can also check the President. This also goes for the Judicial Branch; Congress can check the Judicial Branch (and vice versa) while the Judicial Branch can check the President. This was used to avoid what the founders feared - dictatorship.

      Limited Government
A limited government is a government that is bound to certain rules and principles of a constitution. Many limitations were put in place, such as the Bill of Rights, free elections, and more. The anti-federalists, people who feared a strong national government and control in the hands of the elite, stressed the need for the Bill of Rights. This document limited the power of the national government through amendments. Furthermore, free elections were created so that the people would have the ability to vote out those who abused their power.

           Judicial Review
Because of the founders’ fear of absolute control in one person’s hands, they created the concept of judicial review; this means that the courts have the power to rule on the constitutionality of any action of the Congress or the President. We needed a way to determine whether a lawsuit was constitutional or not. This was established by the court cases of Marbury vs. Madison in 1803, when Adams appointed the Midnight Judges.

    Changing the Constitution
There are two ways of changing the Constitution- informally and formally. Informal amendments mean that the Constitution doesn’t necessarily change the actual language of the document; we merely modify the meaning. We are able to do this through court decisions. For example, Plessy vs. Ferguson ruled that African Americans were not considered people and that separate facilities were equal. However, in the Brown vs. Board case, it was said that separate facilities were indeed unequal. When the government formally changes the Constitution, it means that they revise the written language. The federalist system was created to balance the states and the national government. In addition, it was said that ⅔ of Congress needs to propose on an amendment and that ¾ of the states must agree for it to pass.

These cartoons represent the different topics I learned in this lesson. Under every picture, I explain the principles of the constitution.
You know you love us. Xoxo, Government Girls
(Sharon Kwon)

Friday, August 19, 2016

Where Does Clinton Stand?

Hillary Clinton, the current Democratic presidential nominee, has been dedicated to involving herself in politics for many years. From her opinions on taxes to immigration, the Government Girls will provide an unbiased look at her political views and the current key issues.

Clinton claims she will increase taxes on the wealthy and cut taxes for the middle-class. She promises to close corporate tax loopholes and make sure millionaires and billionaires can’t pay lower rates than middle-class families. In addition, she wishes to give tax relief to working families who are struggling with costs from college to healthcare. Hillary Clinton states that she will reform the healthcare policies by reducing the cost of the Affordable Care Act, which requires all Americans to have health insurance. She also plans to restrict drug companies from charging excessive prices, slow the growth of out-of-pocket costs, and provide a new credit to those facing high health expenses.

As oil and gas companies flourish, environmentalists grow concerned for the future well-being of the earth. Hillary responds with a proposal to stop tax giveaways to big oil and gas companies. Furthermore, she intends to make significant investments in clean energy. Her plan to have a half a billion solar panels by the year 2020 will generate enough renewable electricity to power every home in America in the next 10 years. In a similar manner, Clinton plans to ask Congress to make investment in roads, bridges, railways, airports, and water systems.

Many are worried about the national security of America and the war on terrorism. In previous years, while she was the Senator of State, Clinton broke trade agreements with South Korea and Columbia. Furthermore, she agreed to allow the use of armed forces in Iran if the government’s belief that they are making nuclear weapons was confirmed. Hillary Clinton wishes to stand up to aggressors around the globe and defeat worldwide terrorism by dismantling the terror networks that supply terrorists and by toughening our security at home.

In defense of President Obama’s executive actions, Hillary intends on introducing a comprehensive immigration reform to grant full and equal citizenship within her first one hundred days in office. She encourages the end of family detention, the closing of private immigrant detention centers, and wishes to help more eligible people become naturalized. Overall, she focuses on enforcing immigration laws and aims to do everything possible to protect all families.

These are the political views and concerns of the 2016 presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, written and reported by the Government Girls. See you next time! (For information on her opponent, Donald Trump, please read “Trump’s Policies #Exposed")

You know you love us. Xoxo, Government Girls
(Sharon Kwon and Jenn Carhuamaca)

Trump's Policies #Exposed

Donald Trump's public persona, composed of shocking accusations and unfiltered comments, has earned him enthusiastic supporters, and possibly even more enthusiastic opponents. There is no question that he is an outsider in the political world running an unconventional campaign, but other accusations about his character and beliefs are a little more fuzzy. What are his thoughts on gun control? Women's rights? Is he serious about Mexico paying for a border wall? Government Girls investigate.

Donald Trump believes that the key to stopping mass shootings can be found elsewhere than creating stricter gun control. On his website, he claims that "study after study has shown that very few criminals are stupid enough to try and pass a background check" and that perpetrators of violent crimes get their guns from family members or otherwise avoid legally purchasing their own firearms. However, it is important to point out that both the Orlando shooter and the Denver theater shooter obtained their guns legally, so there are some large holes in Trump's statements. Trump himself owns guns and holds a concealed carry permit, and he is all for keeping them legal, including semi automatic rifles. According to Trump, guns are even more integral to American life than drivers licenses - he states that driving "is a privilege, not a right" in contrast with "concealed carry, which is a right, not a privilege". So how does he think we can stop the gun violence in our country? His answers are better mental health support systems and and strictly punishing violent criminals. Rather than keep guns off the street completely, Trump wants to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill and those with previous criminal histories.

One consistency in Donald Trump's campaign is his dedication to mental health services. In addition to being part of his plan to lower gun violence, mental health is a vital part of his planned overhaul of the Veterans Administration. His proposals include "addressing [veterans'] invisible wounds" rather than merely focusing on their physical ailments. Trump also wants to incentivize hiring veterans, and boosting hiring within the VA itself. Trump also mentions on his website that he would push for better support for female veterans, including permanently staffed OBGYNs at the VA, but completely leaves out any mention of abortion or other women's health issues. In interviews he has stated that he is pro life, despite being pro choice in the past.

Trump's immigration remarks and policies are some of his most inflammatory and controversial. When he first announced his presidential bid, Trump made overarching comments about Mexicans being criminals and rapists, which were very ill received, and has an infamous plan to erect a border wall that Mexico will fund. He is serious about the wall. As Trump states on his website, he believes that the United States has leverage over Mexico because of our trade and our visas, and we can use that leverage to force the country to fund the wall Trump wants to build.

Time after time, Trump has shown us that he is a man of ambition. A key aspect of his vision is a stronger domestic economy, whatever the cost, to “Make America Great Again.” His plan to create a level playing field for workers and businesses, producing jobs here and not overseas, is winning over the hearts of many working Americans, and to rally even more support for his campaign, Trump is also proposing a dramatic tax reform that includes lowering of almost all taxes in order to win global competition and elevate America in the economic world. Limiting regulation to only those necessary, according to Trump, will provide a higher budget for other reforms that are more important and need focus on. When it comes to trade, Donald believes in negotiation of many trade relations to reduce deficit and increase domestic production and application of tariffs and duties to violating countries. He also supports the improvement of infrastructure, creating safer surroundings, and exclusion of childcare cost from Americans’ income.

All of the anticipated economic improvements, however, could be detrimental to the environment. Trump wants to withdraw from international programs focused on slowing global warming in order to save Americans’ money on energy. He says he is "committed to clean air and water, without increasing the cost of electricity" but does not include any actual plans on how he can make that happen. In addition, his support of the Keystone Pipeline demonstrates his belief that money reigns over the health of our ecosystems. A Keystone controversy has divided the country in recent years, with many concerned about the potential increase in greenhouse gas emissions and contamination of groundwater. Although his goal to cancel the revolutionary international Paris Climate Agreement and rescind the Climate Action Plan and the Waters may anger environmentalists, he wants to ultimately withdraw from any more “unnecessary” expenses, deemed so by Trump himself, rebuilding America into the glorious nation it once was.
You know you love us. Xoxo, Government Girls.
(Amanda Hinh and Claire McNamara)