On Jan. 13, Lai Ching-te of the Democratic Progressive Party won the Taiwanese presidential election, with citizens rebuking the more conciliatory tone of the Kuomintang regarding relations with the People’s Republic of China.
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Although we live in one of the most peaceful times in human history, we are likely the most engaged generation in the politics of our world. Student responses to the war in Ukraine and in Israel and Gaza prove just that. However, what I find disheartening is that students often only mobilize around whatever is currently most shocking and highlighted in the news. Seldom do I see people talking about the quieter issues. Now, this isn’t a slight upon college students. We are all exceptionally busy with exams, papers, extracurricular activities and the like, but I would like to encourage students to take an interest in the events that are unfortunately placed far behind the front page.
As I am sure we can all agree, many current legislators have an endless supply of stubbornness. The problem is that stubbornness can derail negotiation if used improperly and easily lead to a collapse into extremism. What is most unfortunate is that while the extremes lean heavily into these characteristics, those in the center are often far too timid to get into the rough and tumble of political debate.
The first thought you may have about this article is that the title leans on cliche. I would agree with you. But unfortunately, this cliche — that even the smallest can make fundamental change — must be repeated in our present day. It seems too often that students forget how important their voices can be. Indeed, we have a great privilege to be attending one of the greatest educational institutions in the world, and we have an obligation to act on that. I’m sure your professors have told you so numerous times over. Today, I want to illustrate a historical example of this cliche to show that it is absolutely true.
Free trade has defined the direction of Western economic diplomacy since the mid-1980s, integrating Western economies, strengthening the transition toward economic specialization and, seldom discussed, benefitting non-economic diplomatic relations between states. In this article, I am not hoping to change readers’ minds on free trade’s economic costs and benefits. Instead, I aim to expand the scope of the discussion to the impacts free trade has on other areas.
At the present moment, trust in traditional institutions is dwindling in the United States. According to a Pew Research poll last July, 54% of Americans hold an unfavorable view of the Supreme Court — the lowest ever since Pew started tracking in 1987. Nonetheless, this disapproval for the Court is not a universally held belief. The same poll indicates that there is a clear gap of approval between Republicans and Democrats. Approximately 68% of Republicans hold favorable views of the Court, while only 24% of Democrats do. This strikes at the core of the issue that has plagued the Supreme Court in recent history: politicization.