One of the less fulfilling parts about being abroad is that I’ve had few opportunities to engage in American politics. I absolutely love being in Korea, but as a political studies major, born Washingtonian, and all-around politics junkie, sometimes I feel pretty withdrawn from my passion here. While I’ve done my best to engage in the international politics side of things and follow American policymaking from Korea*, it’s much harder to gauge the political sentiment towards candidates and policies when your many miles and timezones away.
Honestly, when I think about my impending return to the USA, I’m a little apprehensive about the culture shock and the whole process of figuring out what’s next. Sure, I’m excited to see my family and friends, but America, as exceptional as it can be, just seems a little bit less exciting than living as an expat. However, since Rep. Eric Cantor’s loss the other night, my view is changing.
When I saw the notification on my twitter account, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing; such was the reaction of every pundit. To quote the DNC fundraising email I received shortly after the loss:
“Eric. Freaking. Cantor.”
For those outside of politics, I equate Cantor’s loss to CalTech’s basketball team, a team that lost every game for 21-years straight, making it to the Final Four. As has been reported on extensively, Cantor raised over five million dollars for the campaign while his opponent Dave Brat, a Economics professor from tiny Randolph-Macon College, spent $200,000. Folks, the House Majority Leader just got primaried in a big way. Even Nate Silver over at FiveThirtyEight didn’t call this one.
So, in some ways, now feels like the perfect time to be preparing to head back to the States. Although Cantor’s loss means an all but indefinite hold on comprehensive immigration reform and is perhaps a sign that the Tea Party is rising again, it’s a reminder that there’s a lot of policy on the line this election season. No time to wait in the wings.
*I still haven’t fully accepted the routine of receiving the POLITICO Playbook at night.
After four years of wonderful friends, fantastic professors, caring administrators, and a ton of new/fun/challenging experiences, on May 18 I graduated from Pitzer. Like others in the Class of 2013, I moved home to pursue job opportunities in DC.
So much for job searching. Last friday, I received notification from the Institute of International Education that I had been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to South Korea to teach English for 2013-2014!
I leave the U.S. the first week of July, so I plan to spend the next month catching up with friends, savoring DC, and mentally preparing myself for the experience ahead. Just as I did during my study abroad experience in China, I plan to blog and capture as much of my year as possible right here. I’ll categorize the posts under a Fulbright or South Korea label, so they’re easy to find.
Many thanks to the friends, family, colleagues, and social media peoples who have offered support over the past few years. Being a college graduate is better than I expected.
I think the SAT is a pretty horrible metric. With the rise of the test prep industry and income inequality, more and more the SAT has become a laughable way to decide if students are intelligent or prepared enough to attend various institutions.
Recently, Claremont McKenna College’s lawyers released their independent investigation of the admission, or SAT, scandal. As a Pitzer College student, I have taken a number of courses at CMC and work with a number of their students, so one of my editors at the Claremont Port Side asked me to give my take, a Pitzer perspective, on the issue.
Something I touch on in the piece is that especially for small liberal arts colleges the SAT is a terrible criteria to use for admission. In small community driven institutions, a holistic admission process is key to ensure a diversity of students –not simply in the racial sense, but also making sure there are enough athletes, artists, activists, and researchers on campus. Assuming that institutions use the Common Application and a supplement, the amount of information that admission officers have access to should be more than enough to decide whether or not to admit an applicant. SATs should be irrelvent.
At this point, SATs are just one more bragging right for prestigious colleges, not a measure of the quality of the student body.
You can read my entire piece, “The Scandal from Across the Street,” on the Claremont Port Side website.
I also rather like the research done by FairTest, the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, if you’re interested in more about SAT/ACT use.
All of this recent talk about the Supreme Court and Obamacare has reminded me of my experience at the Supreme Court.
In Fall of 2010, I took “Introduction to Constitutional Law: Civil Liberties,” at Claremont McKenna College with Professor Ralph Rossum. While I had always been somewhat interested in the Supreme Court of the United States, or SCOTUS, I had never spent so much time intensely focusing on its procedure and casework.
After listening to quite a few hours of oral arguments, reading a number of amicus curiae briefs, and even doing a “moot court” session in the class, I felt that it was time for me to actually see an argument. I’ve been the court before, as have many who grew up in the DC area with an interest in politics, but I had never seen it in session. So, I decided to wake up early and check it out.
I won’t go into tons of details about waiting around to get in, but I’ll say this: It’s cold, and it feels like forever.
When I finally got into the courtroom, seated towards the back, the arguments had already begun. Seeing the courtroom full of people and in session is quite different from viewing it on other days; a sort of tension exists in the room, and it becomes much more solemn (that is, except for when Scalia acts the comic).
Beyond the high ceilings, the lawyers, and the imposing number of legal minds in the room, the most striking thing I found was the posture of the Justices. While the room and the name of SCOTUS creates an air of pomp and circumstance, the Justices themselves do not.
You see, the chairs that the Justices sit in lean back very far. So far, in fact, that for a few moments I thought Clarence Thomas was going to fall out of his seat. While leaning back in the squeaky chairs, many of the Justices seemed bored to death, rubbing their eyes, covering their faces, and twiddling their thumbs.
Did I mention that those chairs lean really far back?
Although I’m sure that the Justices were closely paying attention to the arguments, especially based on the questions they asked of the lawyers, it wouldn’t make for good TV.
So while I would love to have video to capture the reactions of boredom that I saw in that chamber, it now makes a lot of sense why the arguments aren’t televised. Claim all you want that it’s protect the institution from being a spectacle, but this might be another reason. It could have just been a really boring case, but it certainly wouldn’t play well to the public.