Table of Contents
Clashing Views on Political Issues, Nineteenth Edition
Unit: Democracy and the American Political Process
- Issue: Should Americans Believe in a Unique American “Mission”?
YES: Wilfred M. McClay, from “The Founding of Nations,” First Things (March 2006)
NO: Howard Zinn, from “The Power and the Glory: Myths of American Exceptionalism,” Boston Review (Summer 2005)
Humanities Professor Wilfred M. McClay argues that America’s “myth,” its founding narrative, helps to sustain and hold together a diverse people. Historian Howard Zinn is convinced that America’s myth of “exceptionalism” has served as a justification for lawlessness, brutality, and imperialism.
- Issue: Does the Tea Party Represent a Revival of America’s Revolutionary Ideals?
YES: Dick Armey and Matt Kibbe, from Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto (HarperCollins, 2010)
NO: Jill Lepore, from The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party’s Revolution and the Battle over American History (Princeton University Press, 2010)
FreedomWorks Founder Dick Armey and FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe believe that the Tea Party movement is a reawakening of the spirit of the American Revolution. Harvard University Professor of American history Jill Lepore believes that the modern Tea Party movement is antihistorical, anti-intellectual, and antipluralist.
- Issue: Is Bigger Government Better Government?
YES: Jeff Madrick, from The Case for Big Government (Princeton University Press, 2008)
NO: David Boaz, from “The Return of Big Government,” Cato Policy Report (January/February 2009)
Humanities Professor Jeff Madrick surveys the numerous government interventions in the economy since the end of World War II and concludes that they have been essential to America’s growth and well-being. Executive Vice President of the Cato Institue David Boaz traces America’s libertarian traditions and reminds readers that there are times where government’s best course of action is simply deciding to do nothing.
- Issue: Is America Approaching Equality within Society?
YES: Barack Obama, from “Remarks at the ‘Let Freedom Ring’ Ceremony Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom,” speech delivered at Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC (August 28, 2013)
NO: Joseph E. Stiglitz, from “Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%,” Vanity Fair (May 2011)
U.S. President Barack Obama honors Martin Luther King, Jr. by discussing how King’s dreams have begun to be realized and continue to fuel the actions and directions of many Americans. Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz examines growing economic discrepancies in the United States and how these disparities impact even the most fundamental aspects of American society.
Unit: The Institutions of Government
- Issue: Does the President Have Unilateral War Powers?
YES: John C. Yoo, from The President’s Constitutional Authority to Conduct Military Operations Against Terrorists and Nations Supporting Them: Memorandum Opinion for the Deputy Counsel to the President (September 25, 2001)
NO: Barack Obama, from “The Future of Our Fight Against Terrorism,” remarks of President Barack Obama—as prepared for delivery at National Defense University (May 23, 2013)
John C. Yoo, a Law Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, argues that the language of the Constitution, long-accepted precedents, and the practical need for speedy action in emergencies all support broad executive power during war. American President Barack Obama examines how he has made concerted efforts during his time in the White House to expand consultations with Congress in order to provide the best opportunity for the United States to be successful in fighting terrorism.
- Issue: Should the Courts Seek the “Original Meaning” of the Constitution?
YES: Antonin Scalia, from “Constitutional Interpretation,” Remarks at Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (March 14, 2005)
NO: Stephen Breyer, from Active Liberty: Interpreting Our Democratic Constitution (Knopf/Vintage, 2005)
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia rejects the notion of a “living Constitution,” arguing that the judges must try to understand what the framers meant at the time. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer contends that in finding the meaning of the Constitution, judges cannot neglect to consider the probable consequences of different interpretations.
- Issue: Is Congress a Dysfunctional Institution?
YES: Ezra Klein, from “What Happens When Congress Fails to Do Its Job,” Newsweek (March 27, 2010)
NO: William Mo Cowan, from “Cowan Farewell Address,” remarks before U.S. Senate (June 26, 2013)
Columnist Ezra Klein contends that institutional deadlock and partisan rancor have paralyzed Congress, causing it to lose power to the president and the bureaucracy. Former Massachusetts Senator Mo Cowan describes how he has come to view the work of Congress—along with fellow members—after fulfilling the remainder of John Kerry term upon the nomination of Governor Deval Patrick.
- Issue: Do Whistleblowers Help Government?
YES: Maggie Severns, from “What Really Drives a Whistleblower Like Edward Snowden?” Mother Jones (June 13, 2013)
NO: Frederick A. Elliston, from “Anonymity and Whistleblowing,” Journal of Business Ethics (August 1982)
Columnist Maggie Severns uses an interview with University of Maryland’s Political Psychology Professor C. Frederick Alford to show how whistleblowers aim to make government more effective and efficient through their actions. Academic Frederick A. Elliston points out that due to the anonymous nature of whistleblowing many individuals can file false claims out of their own self-interest as opposed to those of society at large.
Unit: Social Change and Public Policy
- Issue: Does Affirmative Action Advance Racial Equality?
YES: Anthony P. Carnevale and Jeff Strohl, from “Separate & Unequal: How Higher Education Reinforces the Intergenerational Reproduction of White Racial Privilege,” Georgetown University Public Policy Institute Center on Education and the Workforce (July 2013)
NO: Dan Slater, from “Does Affirmative Action Do What It Should?” The New York Times (March 16, 2013)
Policy researchers Anthony P. Carnevale and Jeff Strohl show there are still wide racial and ethnic discrepancies present in education in the United States and how more direct efforts by government to achieve equality will be needed to level the playing field. Commentator Dan Slater presents information related to the mismatch theory which suggests that affirmative action can harm those it’s supposed to help by placing them at schools in which they fall below the median level of ability.
- Issue: Should Abortion Be Restricted?
YES: Marco Rubio, from “Why Abortion Is Bad for America,” The Human Life Review (Winter 2012)
NO: Wendy Davis, from “Filibuster of the Texas State Senate,” speech delivered at the Texas State Senate (June 25, 2013)
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio discusses why abortion harms American society from multiple angles, including moral, economic, and political, during a speech at the Susan B. Anthony List Campaign for Life Gala. Texas Representative Wendy Davis presents her case for why Texas Governor Rick Perry should not sign a new abortion measure that has been deemed the most restrictive state-level efforts anywhere in the United States.
- Issue: Should the United States Be More Restrictive of Gun Ownership?
YES: Barack Obama and Joe Biden, from “Gun Control,” remarks delivered at South Court Auditorium, The White House, Washington, DC (January 16, 2013)
NO: Jeffrey Goldberg, from “The Case for More Guns (and More Gun Control),” The Atlantic Magazine (December 2012)
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, speaking in the wake of the Newtown shooting, discuss why American needs to take a more proactive stance in limiting control to guns to prevent further mass shootings. Columnist Jeffrey Goldberg presents an argument that Americans own plenty of guns to protect themselves but will only be able to prevent mass shootings if they are more readily able to carry them at all times.
- Issue: Will the Affordable Care Act Successfully Transform the American Health Care System?
YES: Kathleen Sebelius, from “Address to the National Conference of State Legislatures Health Summit” (August 12, 2013)
NO: Jason Fodeman, from “The New Health Law: Bad for Doctors, Awful for Patients,” Galen Institute (April 7, 2011)
Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, speaking to the National Conference of State Legislatures, discusses current problems with health care in the United States and how the Affordable Care Act will succeed in curbing these concerns once implemented. Jason Fodeman, a Doctor, writes from the perspective of a medical professional on how the Affordable Care Act will lead to negative impacts for medical professionals and how ultimately patients will suffer within the new system.
- Issue: Is Same-Sex Marriage Close to Being Legalized Across the United States?
YES: Theodore B. Olson, from “The Conservative Case for Gay Marriage: Why Same-Sex Marriage Is an American Value,” Newsweek (January 8, 2010)
NO: Antonin Scalia, from “Dissenting Opinion in United States v. Windsor,” Supreme Court of the United States, 570 U.S. (June 26, 2013)
Attorney Theodore B. Olson argues that the right of homosexual people to marry, is the logical extension of the equality proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence and guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia argues that same-sex marriage should remain a state issue and that the Court’s ruling in United States v. Windsor would wrongly invalidate state efforts to limit lawful marriage to opposite-sex couples.
- Issue: Do Corporations Have the Same Free Speech Rights as Persons?
YES: Anthony Kennedy, from Opinion of the Court in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010)
NO: John Paul Stevens, from Dissenting Opinion in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010)
Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, for the majority, hold the view that corporations have all the rights and privileges of citizens under the Constitution, so their free speech rights are not to be violated. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens insists that corporations are not citizens under the Constitution, so Congress may restrict their political speech prior to an election.
- Issue: Should “Recreational” Drugs Be Legalized?
YES: Bryan Stevenson, from “Drug Policy, Criminal Justice, and Mass Imprisonment,” paper presented to the Global Commission on Drug Policies (January 2011)
NO: Charles D. Stimson, from “Legalizing Marijuana: Why Citizens Should Just Say No,” Heritage Foundation Legal Memorandum (September 13, 2010)
Law professor Bryan Stevenson focuses on how the criminalization of drugs has led to mass imprisonment with negative consequences for law enforcement. Charles D. Stimson, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, explains that marijuana is not safe and makes more sense than the prohibition of alcohol did in the early 1900s. Further, he demonstrates that the economic benefits would not outweigh the societal costs.
Unit: America and the World
- Issue: Do We Need to Curb Global Warming?
YES: Gregg Easterbrook, from “Case Closed: The Debate About Global Warming Is Over,” Issues in Governance Studies (June 2006)
NO: Larry Bell, from Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax (Greenleaf Book Group, 2011)
Editor Gregg Easterbrook argues that global warming, causing deleterious changes in the human condition, is a near certainty for the next few generations. Professor Larry Bell insists that the climate models predicting global warming are speculative at best, and in some cases based upon manipulated data.
- Issue: Should Homeland Security Focus More on Cyber Crime Moving Forward?
YES: Rick “Ozzie” Nelson and Rob Wise, from “Homeland Security at a Crossroads: Evolving DHS to Meet the Next Generation of Threats,” Center for Strategic and International Studies Commentary (February 1, 2013)
NO: Stephen Flynn, from “Recalibrating Homeland Security: Mobilizing American Society to Prepare for Disaster,” Foreign Affairs (May/June 2011)
Rick Nelson, former Director of the CSIS Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Program, argues that threats have fundamentally changed over the past decade and that only by better preparing for new waves of attack can we ultimately remain protected. Professor Stephen Flynn believes that national security measures should be focused more on instilling the faith of the American public and being as transparent as logistically possible rather than concentrating on any given area.
- Issue: Is Warrantless Wiretapping Ever Justified to Protect National Security?
YES: Andrew C. McCarthy, from “How to ‘Connect the Dots’,” National Review (January 30, 2006)
NO: Al Gore, from “Restoring the Rule of Law,” from a speech presented to the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy and the Liberty Coalition (January 15, 2006)
Former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy supports the National Security Agency program of surveillance without a warrant as an effective means of protecting national security that employs the inherent power of the president to protect the country against subversion. Former vice president Al Gore views the warrantless wiretapping of American citizens as a brazen violation of the Constitution and of specific acts of Congress that have spelled out the circumstances under which a president may receive judicial permission to wiretap or otherwise invade the privacy of citizens.
- Issue: Are Entitlement Programs Creating a Culture of Dependency?
YES: Nicholas Eberstadt, from “The Rise of Entitlements in Modern America, 1960–2010,” in A Nation of Takers: America’s Entitlement Epidemic (Templeton Press, October 2012)
NO: William A. Galston, from “Have We Become ‘A Nation of Takers’?,” in A Nation of Takers: America’s Entitlement Epidemic (Templeton Press, October 2012)
Social scientist Nicholas Eberstadt argues that the increase in entitlement programs is unprecedented in American history and has created a large dependency class that has lost the will to work. Political theorist William A. Galston sees the growth of American entitlement programs as an appropriate response to the needs of an aging population and rising costs of higher education and medicine; he sees them not as evidence of dependency but of “interdependence.”
- Issue: Should the United States Launch a Preemptive Strike Against Iran?
YES: Matthew Kroenig, from “Time to Attack Iran,” Foreign Affairs (January/February 2012)
NO: Colin H. Kahl, from “Not Time to Attack Iran,” Foreign Affairs (March/April 2012)
Defense Department Adviser Matthew Kroenig believes that the United States should launch a preemptive attack on Iran because a policy of deterrence would allow Iran to develop powerful nuclear weapons that would endanger the United States and its allies. Defense Department Adviser Colin H. Kahl believes that striking Iran now would not prevent future aggression, and it is undesirable as long as economic and diplomatic means to prevent Iran’s nuclear armament still hold the possibility of success.