MA of International Studies candidate. Former US State Department contractor. Policy wonk. Support my writing: https://ko-fi.com/savdwallace

The swift passage of a second stimulus package is essential to American economic recovery.

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Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

During a year in which millions of Americans face food insecurity, evictions, and periods without health insurance during a global pandemic, Congress and the White House have portrayed the passage of another stimulus package (after March’s CARES Act) as an incredibly contentious and impossible endeavor. While people are suffering because of circumstances outside of their control, our leaders have been unable to compromise on a bill that would demonstrate that they put people’s well-being ahead of accumulating political leverage.

This stalemate might seem surprising if it wasn’t representative of several political and economic trends that have permeated American policymaking for the last four decades. Most social programs are stigmatized because America’s reigning political ideology (neoliberalism) holds that the state mustn’t interfere much in the economy. The government provided largely inadequate support to people in need before the pandemic and pushed more social support functions onto nonprofits and the private sector. …


More executions occurred during the last 3 months than over the last 57 years, the ACLU reports.

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Photo by Florida Department of Corrections/Doug Smith

According to American federal death penalty statutes, it takes at least 314 people to kill one person.

In addition to the prisoner, federal law requires several different groups of people to be present at an execution. 24 designated witnesses must be in attendance, along with 40 Bureau of Prisons (BOP) staff, 50 national BOP staff with “special operations” training, as well as 200 local prison staff (i.e., contractors). The prison usually requests that US Marshals and local law enforcement attend the proceedings, although there isn’t a stipulation that a certain number of officials from those groups are represented.

When Trump announced in July that federal executions would resume at the US Penitentiary Terre Haute in Indiana, he nor the BOP announced changes to the attendee requirements in response to the Coronavirus outbreak. …


ECONOMICS

The rich are finding ways to accumulate a larger share of wealth even though the global middle class is growing.

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Photo by bongkarn thanyakij from Pexels

The narrative we have been sold about capitalism — that wealth from the top trickles down to everyone — is verifiably untrue. We have four decades of data to dispute the idea.

Simply put, capitalism can bring people out of poverty, particularly in large global markets, but cannot expand the international middle class.

Businesses look for the cheapest places around the world to situate themselves. There, they use local labor to produce goods or pay local taxes, even if that location is not where they do most of their business. They export products or services to the rest of the world, yet all the profits go to the select few that own businesses’ capital. …


And why isn’t believing others’ lived experiences enough?

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Photo by niklas_hamann on Unsplash

When I was 12 years old, I was groped and kissed without my consent by a male classmate on a school bus. Other male classmates goaded him on. I told my male soccer coach, who was the only adult on the bus, about it after it happened, and he told me that it wasn’t a big deal. He didn’t confront the classmate about it either.

A few years later, that coach ended up being fired from the school because he openly flirted with his underage, female students (he was also a Bible teacher). Big surprise.

I was embarrassed and ashamed of that bus incident. I tried to forget it happened — I didn’t tell anyone about it for years. I only told my mom a few months ago. …


Improve your language proficiency and study other cultures.

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Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

International relations (IR) is a tough field to get into. In fact, it is considered an “elitist” field by some, as most IR jobs are based in large, cosmopolitan cities. Organizations frequently recruit employees from universities with the world’s top international affairs programs, like Georgetown University and Johns Hopkins University.

However, you don’t need a fancy degree to work in this space. I graduated in 2016 with a bachelor’s from American University’s School of International Studies, one of the world’s highest-ranked IR professional schools. …


We cannot judge others’ opinions based on their use of ambiguous political terminology.

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Photo by Rosemary Ketchum from Pexels

A Facebook friend posted a meme on a black background. It said: “Liberals can’t be anti-racist.” The message puzzled me for a couple of reasons.

First, because the word “liberal” is frequently used in different contexts. Some people believe it applies to everyone on the left side of the political spectrum. Others believe that it only applies to the center-left crowd.

Second, I wasn’t sure how complicit they were implying liberals were in systems that they considered racist. …


The impetus is on citizens to ensure that elections are conducted fairly.

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Photo by Santeri Viinamäki / CC BY-SA

Over the past few months, I’ve noticed that some writers have stated that the US election system is the last fragment of American democracy. They are saying this as American elected leaders continue to sow doubts about the validity of the November election results. Some political theorists stand by these writers’ line of thinking. They believe that elections, even flawed ones, can lead to a transition to democratic leadership in authoritarian countries and backsliding democracies alike.

Elections can be a result of democratization, but they do not create more democracy. We can look at an American example to demonstrate this. In the 2016 and 2018 elections, only 61% and 53%, respectively, of voting-age Americans went to the polls. How can a government claim to be representative of all citizens if only half of them vote? …


Understanding the different phases of culture shock helped me process my emotions.

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Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

I arrived in Beijing in August 2015, confident I knew all about Chinese culture. I spoke intermediate-level Mandarin and took four Chinese politics classes to complete my East Asia area concentration for my undergrad degree. And earlier that year, I even spent a semester monitoring the Chinese Communist Party’s treatment of religious groups while interning for the US Department of State.

But I didn’t prepare myself for the…crappier…aspects of life in China. Like having to pay a fee to use a public restroom and then having no toilet paper in the stall. I had to call for a friend outside the bathroom to lend me a piece of tissue. …


Facebook is bringing millions of people online — but at the expense of their digital rights.

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Photo by Morning Brew on Unsplash

2016 was a scandalous year for Facebook. In addition to coming under fire for letting Cambridge Analytica use millions of American users’ data to customize election-related advertising, Facebook’s Free Basics application was banned in India after digital rights activists criticized the company for violating net neutrality norms. Although the ban didn’t get a lot of coverage in Western media, it was just as big of a blow to Facebook’s brand momentum as the Cambridge Analytica incident.

Facebook believes that its growth as a company is directly related to expanding Internet access in the developing world. 72% of Facebook’s current users live outside of the West, and there are about 3 billion people, mostly in the Global South, who still cannot access reliable Internet. …


Let’s worry more about politicians’ attitudes toward their health rather than about their particular health issues.

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Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

On September 1st, President Trump posted the following Tweet:

Initially, no one connected the President’s diss to any source. Some media outlets speculated that Trump was referring to excerpts from a new book, Donald Trump v. The United States, that addressed his unannounced, fall 2019 trip to Walter Reed Medical Center. …

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