Politics and Culture review

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Political Science
Professor Rossi

Rutgers University Political Symbols Alex Kungu Politics and Culture Professor Rossi October 16, 2013 1 Political Symbols What are the merits in Political Symbolism? How does the study of myths, symbols, and the appropriation of cultural values and ideas help political elites cope with rapid social change? How does it help shape and (re)orient preferences among individuals and groups? Finally, what additional questions does political symbolism raise for researches, and what additional criteria it suggest we examine? Throughout my breif period in this class i've gained amazing insight on some of the most pressing subjects on of current political science news that has helped in more ways then I can imagine. Through this course I have been developing and perfecting the ability to think outside the box, and actually apply the readings that we discuss at every class meeting to my everyday life. One of the most interesting things I was able to learn during the classs was about Political symbols. This was the one subject, and area that I could activley apply to the events that i've seen transpire in mylife on even a deeper level than politics. Through the several readings I, and personal intake of my own knowledge I look at what political symbolism does in the United States ofAmerica, and take it even a step furthur by analyzing symbolism in general and how even specific elites use it to portray there messages specifically rapper Kanye West. I believe this is necessary because it will better help push my findings, and reasons for my deep interests in this matter, and should make for a brilliant insight in my humble opinion. People yearn for power. It's something that we want, and need in some type of level wether it's in a tiny form such as within a marriage or relationship, or in a wider form such as leadership positions in the local or national offices. Power gives people feeling of security, hubris, and comfort around others. It alllows a person to look down at someone, and to treat people however they want to. The most important aspect of Power is getting to impose your own will. The more power you have the bigger your voice, and the bigger your voice the more you can control aspects around you to one keep you in power, and two to continue to increase your power at the expense of others. One of the ways that ways people use power to keep power is through the use of symbols. These symbols can come in all shape and sizes, but they all have a certain set meaning that stands for something that most people are see as a certain set of values, or interests that they stand behind. The thing with symbols however is that they really don't have any true meaning and are simply just false ploys to gain or regain power over a particular thing. For example, let's look at two of the most prominent symbols inAmerican history, and how they came to be, the Elephant and the Donkey. As you may, or may not know the biggest political symbols among the two biggest political parties in America are the Elephant, and the Donkey. The Elephants are the symbol that the Republican party uses, while the Donkey is a symbol for the democrats. How this came to be is actually quite interesting. While running for President Democratic candidate Andrew Jackson was one of first to be given the grateful honor of being labeled a “jackass” by his opponents (Messenger). This was due to the fact that he continously dissed his opponents for a more stubborn populist approach to governing the country (Messenger). Thinking that he could actually receive some type of support with his newfound title he decided to use it as a political symbol, and ultimatley entered office after his campaign adopted a donkey on it's poster. While Democrats were probably hoping that after Jackson's campaign the Symbol would lose interest it ended up sticking to there party to present day. Years later, in an 1874 printing of Harper's Magazine, artist Thomas Nast sought to characterize Republican voters as overly skittish in the face of Democratic fear-mongering during that time, that President Grant might become some sort of autocrat if reelected. Drawing allusions from Aesop and his easily frightened elephant tale, he created a poitical image of an elephant in fear of Donkey covered in wolf skin (Messenger). Sooner than later the symbol eventually stuck with the Republicans as the Donkey did with Democrats, and that's the breif history of how the political symbols came to be. Seeing the history of the two political symbols we can clearly draw a clear conclusion that they each mean very little to the actual party, in fact the parties were pretty much forced to keep them due to there catchiness among the public, and there lack of ability to take it off. So how might one ask would is it that now a person having an elephant decal represent that they stood for laissz faire ruling, little central governement help, “family values”, less taxes for the rich, and no abortion. While a perosn presenting a Donkey decal stands for a strong central government, healthcare for all, heavy taxes for the rich, openess to people of all sexualities, and pro abotion? The honest answer to that is truly that it became like this because that's what the voters they were targeting wanted. In the land of democracy in order to keep your power, you appeal to the people who put you in power by any means necessary. I use the term by any means necessary because one thing that these democratic and republican political symbols do frequently is change there views or modify there views depending on the pulse of the American people. For example, Republicans stood pretty close to church ideologies and were staunchly opposed to gay marriage. As of recently, however the Gay movement has been on the rise, and are becoming one of the most promninent voices amongst activists groups since the Civil Rights Movements. Now a recent study by the Washington polls shows that Republican voters or Republican leading voters have a 52% support for Gay marriage, and a whopping 81% of republican supporters undder the age of 30 support gay marriage (Moeing). These parties have been known to swich sides of the fences before, in fact if you look back in history Democrats and Republicans had completley switched ideologies that 1800's (Rauchway). Republicans stood for a strong central government, while Democrats were object were for a strong a more state powered governement with little help from the governement. These ideolgies switched from some time between 1872 and 1936 highlighted by Franklin Roosevelt a Democratic incumbent who when president presented the New Deal which was a bunch expanded Federal power which covered a wide range of things in hopes to jumpstart a staggering economy. These changes in ideologies are important because they show the fact what these political symbols really stand for is power. The symbols that they use are literally only meant to give nothing more, but a false little hope of what they stand for. Truth be told both of the parties know that whtever ideolgies they have very little of them will ever be sucedded, in the world of democracy with it's checks and balances parrties have know direct way of accomplishing everything they want to do or even most of the stuff they want to do unless they are able to take over certain phases multiple positions of power such as the executive and legislative branch which is impossible to do without changing or opening your views. The problem with doing this is that it creates friction with your support system, this could potentially lead to your supporters not voting or even worse switching parties which would continue to the stalemate. So what were left with is power hunger politicians fighting to keep the power they have, not the people, not the well-being of government, just retaining there power. The worst part about it is they use the poor people who put there faith in the meanings of there political symbols, and do nothing to help them. America the great, strikes again. This leads us to the one of the other main politcal symbols inAmerica, which is theAmerican ideology. My parents were born in Kenya, a country in Eastern Africa which thou was in a lot better shape then its counterparts around it was still in less than ideal shape. They pushed through school, and hard times with the goals of getting to America where they could become anything they wanted. In Kenya the school system was based on rankings, so if you weren't in the top 10 in your class you weren't considered as an exceptional student. My mother and father were both determined people, my mother by the guidance of her older sister, and her drive to not be like some of her younger sisters who failed in school, and my father pushed by being risen in a single mother home, and being the oldest sibling in a family of 4 brothers and one sister was determined to get out of Kenya so he could help his family. They suceeded, but that was only half the battle they both were denied a combined 7 times when trying to get a Visa to come to the USA, and when they finally did raising money to afford a ticket to get here was a mission in itself. However, they did acquire eough toAmerica and when they got here they started from as bottom as low as you can possibly imagine. My father lived in something that would resemble a walk-in closet, and worked as a security guard at a bank while attending Quincy Community College studying nurses. My mother was also studying nursing at Quincy Community College while working as security guard in parking lot, and a part time model with some of the acquaintes she met while coming down toAmerica. To Cut a long story short my parents made it to America by the grace of God, and they worked as hard as they could possibly be. I never grew up in luxury, but I never grew up hungry either. They graduated became licensed nurses saved up enough to money to start there own nursing agency which is know located in Boston and Philadelphia is one of the biggest nursing agencies in the East coast. My parents story is great to tell, and fits theAmerican symbol of “America is the land opportunitiy” , and “When you come toAmerica anything is possible”. However these stories are very rare in hard to come by, and for the most part highly unlikley. The symbol thatAmerica is the home of oppurtunites is not a fully correct statement. Yes, you are allowed to reach whatever goals, but it's truly very unlikley that the harder you work will mean that you'll find you way to the top. There are 400 Billionares inAmerica , three dozen of them who are worth 10 billion or more. The average American makes about $35,672. About 183,000 men which is three quarters of 1% of the adult population makes 1 million. It would take an average person 400 lifetimes (28,033 years) to earn just 1 billion (Mantsios 148-155). There's Plenty of money out there to have, the problem is the people who have it are not that interested in spreading the wealth. The gap between Rich and the poor increases yearly, and the gap between the middle class and the rich is at an all time high as well. What theAmerican Slogan failed to state was that thoughAmerican is the land of oppurtunity it's also the land of the selfish. One thing allAmericans have is a mindset to compete, to be the best that you can be because of the simple reason that it's possible. People are brought up on a crooked mindset that doesn't allows them to see the clarity within the society that they live in. Truth be told most of the time you can already determine a kids path based on where there parents stand more times, then not. Studies show that barley 1 in 5 men surpass the economic status of there father. Therefore meaning that the rich kids will most likley stay rich, the poor kids will stay poor, and the people stuck in the middle will just continue to sit in the middle (Mantsios 148-155). Yet for some reason people continue to buy into the concept that inAmerica anything is possible, Why? Because America sells the pitch anytime it can.America is known for showing off the rags to riches stories as much as they can. They want to show the rapper who started as an illegal drug dealer who got his life together, and now is prominent busniess owner, and innovator. They want to talk about the all-pro athlete who grew up in section 8's so but used his talents to become a multi-millonaire. One thing they won't talk about are the majority of the kids who grew up in there area who are still there, and are either living in poverty, incarcerated, or worst dead. You'll never hear the media give a story of a guy who went from riches to riches, reason? Because it doesn't give any hope to the people who are fighting towards theAmerican dream. What theAmerican symbol doesn't tell us the truth,and that's lead to rising gap between classes. Class divisions arise from differences between those who open and control corpora
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