Posts Tagged ‘politics’

A lot has been written about the 20 year anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It marks the beginning of the end for Soviet communism and the “end of history”. As glorious as this occasion is I can’t help but think about how it is thought of in places that don’t hail capitalism as the purveyor of all good. Maybe this is because I wasn’t around for very much of the Cold War and have only been an independently-functioning human being for about twenty-four years, but regardless of those facts, the fall of the Berlin Wall is as much a celebration of reunified Germany as it is the triumph of capitalism over communism.

I am thinking about what the non-capitalists think of the fall of the Wall. What about other countries, like Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba? None of these places have a love affair with capitalism like The West does. Is today just another day, like Independence Day must be everywhere outside of the U.S.?

I suppose this is all rhetorical and arcane but, as much as I am enthralled by the anniversary of this important day in history, my mind wanders to “The Other” and where their minds are…


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Where to go from here

Yesterday a law allowing same-sex marriage was repealed in Maine. This was a replay of California last year and the defeat is equally as stinging for those of us who believe in equality for all. While the same-sex marriage law in Maine doesn’t affect me directly, in that neither am I gay or from Maine, I am personally hurt by its repeal. Maine voters have taken away an entire groups right, not only to marry who they please, but to reap the economic benefits that are incorporated into marriage laws.

Now that the voting is over and this campaign in Maine has come to a close for 2009 the question of “where do we go from here?” lingers. Obviously, there needs to be a recalibration strategy. The gay rights movement has seen progress granted by courts overturned by popular referendum. Personally, I believe civil rights should never be up for referendum. How one person chooses to live their private life has no bearing whatsoever on the populace at-large. The fourteenth amendment to the US Constitution guarantees equal protection under the law therefore, when equality is denied, the battle becomes one of constitutional proportions. The issue of same-sex marriage should be left up to courts who interpret law objectively, not popular opinion which is heavily influenced by money and demagoguery.

In the aftermath of defeat in Maine and California the gay rights movement should more heavily embrace the strategy of the NAACP from the 1920’s -1950’s. Over that time the NAACP essentially waged proxy wars on the “separate but equal” ruling first introduced in Plessy v. Ferguson. They brought cases to state Supreme Court’s and overturned “separate but equal” on a piecemeal basis. While the gay rights movement have been undertaking this strategy as of late they should focus solely on this and stop trying to convince the populace to support them. Eventually they can establish enough precedent to bring the issue of same-sex marriage to the United States Supreme Court, as did the NAACP with Brown v. Board of Education.

This may sound as if I am saying ‘wait it out’. Do not misunderstand, I am a full supporter of ‘if not now, when?’ but in reality, the proxy wars fought on state-level Supreme Courts are a tested strategy. There has been progress on this front and with a Democratic Congress and White House, chances of national laws being repealed (The Defense of Marriage Act) and new ones being passed is all the more likely.

Keep up the good fight friends.

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Today the Czech Republic ratified the Lisbon Treaty, a key treaty that will streamline European Union bureaucratic decision-making and establish an EU President and foreign policy chief. The President role is meant to give the EU a diplomatic voice so it can establish itself in equal standing to the United States and the foreign policy chief will oversee EU development aid within its own borders and extending to (and beyond) the European Neighborhood zone.

The treaty was originally derailed in a 2008 vote in Ireland and was threatened to be derailed again this time around by the Czech Republic. The treaty needed to be ratified by all 27 EU member states to be enacted.

The necessity of the Lisbon Treaty is only reinforced by the fact that a member state with little international influence can derail the entire ratification process. While the voice of every member state is important, the overall functionality of the EU is crucial to success. The passage of the treaty ensures that  decisions can be made without having to bend to every caveat of every member state. What the Lisbon Treaty aims to achieve can be found in the decision-making process of the U.S. House of Representatives. An unfortunate side-effect of the streamlining is that decision-making is less equitable. This trade-off will surely be examined as the treaty comes into action.

As of right now (pre-Lisbon Treaty), the EU sphere of influence is limited to Western Europe, Eastern Europe (where it is contested with by Russia), and North Africa (contested with by the Arab world). With the Lisbon Treaty the EU has the chance to gain a foothold in other areas of the world where European countries, in the recent past, have been overpowered by American influence.

I will not go into the socio-political implications of EU influence and their quest to counter American hegemony. Yes, the EU is a neo-liberal economic entity, as is the United States (and increasingly, so is China), but, despite that critical perspective, the EU stands to gain internationally from passage of the Lisbon Treaty.

I wonder how Euroskeptics will respond to its passage though. Clearly, many EU member states fear the homogenization of culture. Will the Lisbon Treaty embolden critics? The public response should be very interesting to note, that’s for sure.

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