My father, who has been a large influence in who I am, has worked for years in the U.S. Government (Southern District of Florida), and he taught me to respect the government (but to fight it if a bad law exists). He has impressed the system upon me: the system that we have in place is not necessarily the best one in existence, but it is the one we have, and we need to make it work. We should feel somewhat lucky that we have the ability to be voices in the system to attempt to change it for the better.|
I primarily identify myself as a thinking man's liberal, and I find the field of government and
politics rather fascinating. I choose to actually examine the issues and candidates, and how it will affect those things which I care
about, and pull the appropriate lever at the ballot box; I have no qualms voting for a Republican. As a matter of fact, I campaigned
for one in the summer of 1990. Part of why I did that had to do with what I wanted out of the campaign. My personal definition of the
word "politics" is "the art (or the science) of getting what you want." Part of how I achieve this is taking advantage of the system.
I am a Democrat (and yes, I have actually read the Democratic Party Platform), but I was once registered to vote with the Republican Party. That way I voted for who I really want in the White House, and I also voted
for the Republican I liked the least in the state primaries. God, I love politics.
Bear in mind that governments exist because we want order, and we don't want chaos. (The anarchists and choas theorists will disagree.) I learned this not only in high school history classes and college-level government courses, but also, strangely enough, when I was in a play at the University of Florida. And this was the weirdest play I've ever been in -- or seen, for that matter. I got a small role in The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade. (Yes, that's the real title, but nobody can say that as neatly and quickly as most titles are, so it's been abbreviated as Marat/Sade.) Anyway, the play is about the French Revolution, and so we were required to read and memorize the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, as written in 1789. What I remember most from it is that ignoring human rights causes problems in society and law, and publicly declaring specific human rights will remind everyone of their rights and responsibilities.
"There is no other country on Earth that is configured like ours. Every other nation is there because of race, religion, language,
ethnicity or geography. We are here only because we agreed to subscribe to the words on four pieces of paper -- The U.S. Constitution.
Unlike every other country, which sees itself as an end unto itself, we see ourselves as evolving. we're not satisfied. We're not
willing to rest on our laurels. We think we can get better. We think we've got someplace to go."
-- Ken Burns
Peruse the U.S. Founding Documents -- including the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Federalist Papers.
You can search the entire United States Code -- that's all the federal laws -- organized by title.
Plumb the depths of FindLaw's searchable database of U.S. Supreme Court opinions since 1937. The comprehensive legal resource is also browsable by year and by US Reports volume number, amongst other things.
The Federal Judicial Center is the research and education agency of the federal judicial system. It conducts and promotes orientation and continuing education and training for federal judges and court employees, develops recommendations about the operation and study of the federal courts, and conducts and promotes research on federal judicial procedures, court operations, and history.
Project Vote Smart provides factual non-partisan information on the voting records, performance evaluations, and campaign finances of elected officials. Policy wonks will have a field day here.
Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do is about a single idea -- consenting adults should not be put in jail unless they physically harm the person or property of a nonconsenting other. Author Peter McWilliams (who also wrote Life 101, which I consulted in the process of writing my essay for graduate school application) has made this book available for free online. This is a simple nugget of truth which McWilliams so eloquently champions: You should be allowed to do whatever you want with your own person and property, as long as you don't physically harm the person or property of a nonconsenting other.
Amnesty International is an international organization for human rights. Amnesty monitors abuses of these rights, including torture, unfair jailings, and "disappearances". Letter-writing campaigns by Amnesty International members have focused the world's attention on political prisoners and other victims of government-by-force.
People For the American Way has a simply stated goal: to monitor and oppose the Religious Right's political activity. Find out about the latest attacks on public education and on your freedom of expression, and how to voice your opposition to the radical right.
The American Civil Liberties Union is "a nonprofit, nonpartisan, 275,000-member public interest organization devoted exclusively to protecting the basic civil liberties of all Americans, and extending them to groups that have traditionally been denied them. In its almost seven decades in existence, the ACLU has become a national institution, and is widely recognized as the country's foremost advocate of individual rights." Because they're willing to protect the civil rights of all Americans, even those whose opinions I find offensive, I'm proud to be a card-carrying member of the ACLU.
Planned Parenthood is "dedicated to the principle that every individual has the fundamental right to choose when or whether to have children." To this end, Planned Parenthood makes birth control available, advocates education about sexuality and health, and strives to ensure that individuals have access to all forms of reproductive health care. As an environmentalist, I applaud their efforts to allow couples that having no children is a choice.
The Citizens Internet Empowerment Coalition "believe that parents, not the United States Government, are the best and most appropriate judges of what material is appropriate for themselves and their children." The CIEC was a party in the landmark case ACLU v. Reno, in which a broad coalition of organizations have challenged the constitutionality of the Communications Decency Act.