It May Not Work in Politics
Representative Charles Rangel was, in 2010, found guilty of violating congressional ethics. He was charged with 11 counts of flouting congressional rules relating to his fundraising efforts for a New York higher educational institute as well as his personal finances. During a congressional hearing, it was discovered that Rangel used his formal letterhead and members of his congressional staff to raise money from CEOs and corporate charities to fund a private wing in the college, which is named after him.
It was also discovered that he housed political committees in rent-controlled apartments that he owns, which is against the New York City rules. It was also discovered that the rent he pays for the four apartments in question is below the market rates as per the New York City rent guidelines. Furthermore, the congressional hearing noted that the Congressman had failed to pay taxes on a home he owns in the Dominican Republic. The Committee also heard that Rangel had been using a parking garage belonging to Congress to store his Mercedes-Benz for several years without paying any fee. Lastly, the public official flouted the asset disclosure policy by failing to declare hundreds of thousands in private financial assets. All these improprieties occurred while he was chairing the Ways and Means Committee that has oversight over tax regulations in Congress (Kane, 2010).
A sanction of censure was prevailed upon the Congressman stripping him of any chair positions he held in various Congress committees as well as a public reprimand. He was also mandated to pay all the taxes for his property and income that were previously unpaid (Chan, 2008). In my opinion, the charges and the penalties were fair because he was violating the trust that Americans had placed on him as an elected member of Congress. Furthermore, his punishment will serve as a lesson to other elected leaders who might be violating ethical standards in their line of work. Considering his long and illustrious political career, the harshness of the sentence was profound and it enables the American citizens to trust in the system once again.
Third Party Candidates
The biggest political hurdle to third party presidential candidates in America is the two party system that has become a mainstay in the country’s politics. The system has become a tradition since the time that the American constitution was drafted and accepted by the populace. Majority of the population is so accustomed to having two presidential candidates to choose from that the third party candidate seems alien to them. The two-party system has been indoctrinated into American culture that most citizens view third party candidates as unconstitutional or un-American.
Another political hurdle for third party presidential candidates is the structure of the elections in the country. America has a ‘winner takes all’ type of election as opposed to parliamentary elections found in other countries. Congress and state legislature representatives are elected in districts where the person with the most votes wins. Only one party’s candidate can win in every district. The situation incentivizes the political competitors to pull together and form two competing parties to maximize their chance of winning. Other election features also inhibit the success of third party candidates. The features include giving candidates from the two main parties access to the ballot, the electoral college, and government financing of presidential campaigns (Taylor, 2012).
If a third party were to win the elections then the two-party system would become obsolete. The Republican and Democratic Parties would be pushed to the electoral periphery as more parties that are Independent emerge from the woodwork. The two parties will also lose a huge number of their members as more of them move into different camps that are well suited for their political ambitions as well as their political ideologies.
Federal and State Authority
A major current issue facing the United States today is the disproportionate incarceration of young male blacks. African American youth constitute nearly 1 million of the total population of prisoners in American prisons. Many researchers believe that the disproportionate incarceration is primarily due to the war on drugs that began in the early 80s (Cox, 2015).
What is surprising to many is that African Americans are six times more likely to be incarcerated compared to whites even when government findings have revealed that whites are more likely to engage in drug related activities than black people. Furthermore, more whites engage in violent crimes compared to blacks. However, prison statistics show that black non-violent offenders spend roughly the same amount of time in jail as white violent offenders.
Federal and State authorities are mandated to handle the disparity and to ensure that the rights of the blacks are upheld. However, it has been brought to light that these authorities are the same ones propagating the issue. Racial profiling is common among federal and state authorities and it is the sole reason behind the mass incarceration of African American citizens. The authorities are also prone to police misconduct, which often leads to police brutality against people of color (Green, 2012).
The U.S. Constitution does not constrain Federal and State responses to the issue. For instance, the constitution guarantees the right of every citizen from arbitrary and unwarranted search and seizure procedures. However, the authorities flout the Fourth Amendment by utilizing racial profiling to arbitrarily search and arrest black citizens.
Chan, S. (2008, Aug 1). House tables censure resolution on Rangel. The New York Times. Retrieved on 18/3/2016 from http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/01/washington/01rangel.html
Cox, R. (2015, Jan 16). Where do we go from here? Mass incarceration and the struggle for civil rights. The Economic Policy Institute. Retrieved on 18/3/2016 from http://www.epi.org/publication/where-do-we-go-from-here-mass-incarceration-and-the-struggle-for-civil-rights/
Green, A.P. (2012). What have we done? Mass incarceration and the targeting of Albany’s black males by Federal, state, and local authorities.
Kane, P. (2010, Nov 16). Charlie Rangel found guilty of 11 ethics violations. The Washington Post. Retrieved on 18/3/2016 from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/16/AR2010111604000.html
Taylor, G. (2012, Nov 6). Third-party candidacies: Rarely successful, often influential. The Washington Times. Retrieved on 18/3/2016 from http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/nov/6/third-party-candidacies-rarely-successful-often-in/?page=all