Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Political Issues, Expanded / Edition 19 available in Paperback
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Table of Contents
UNIT: Democracy and the American Political Process
Issue: Should Americans Believe in a Unique American "Mission"?
YES: Wilfred M. McClay, from "The Founding of Nations," First Things, 2006
NO: Howard Zinn, from "The Power and the Glory: Myths of American Exceptionalism," Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal, 2005
Humanities Professor Wilfred M. McClay argues that America’s “myth,” its founding narrative, helps to sustain and hold together a diverse people. Historian Howard Zinn is convinced that America’s myth of “exceptionalism” has served as a justification for lawlessness, brutality, and imperialism.
Issue: Does the Tea Party Represent a Revival of America's Revolutionary Ideals?
YES: Dick Armey and Matt Kibbe, from "Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto," HarpersCollins Publishers, 2010
NO: Jill Lepore, from "The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party's Revolution and the Battle over American History," Princeton University Press, 2010
FreedomWorks Founder Dick Armey and FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe believe that the Tea Party movement is a reawakening of the spirit of the American Revolution. Harvard University Professor of American history Jill Lepore believes that the modern Tea Party movement is anti-historical, anti-intellectual, and anti-pluralist.
Issue: Is Bigger Government Better Government?
YES: Jeff Madrick, from "The Case for Big Government," Princeton University Press, 2008
NO: David Boaz, from "The Return of Big Government," Cato Policy Report, 2009
Humanities Professor Jeff Madrick surveys the numerous government interventions in the economy since the end of World War II and concludes that they have been essential to America’s growth and well-being. Executive Vice President of the Cato Institution David Boaz traces America's libertarian traditions and reminds readers that there are times where government's best course of action is simply deciding to do nothing.
Issue: Is America Approaching Equality within Society?
YES: Barack Obama, from "Remarks at the ‘Let Freedom Ring’ Ceremony Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom," Speech or Remarks, 2013
NO: Joseph E. Stiglitz, from "Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%," Vanity Fair, 2011
U.S. President Barack Obama honors Martin Luther King, Jr. discussing how King's dreams have begun to be realized and continue to fuel the actions and directions of many Americans. Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz examines growing economic discrepancies in the United States and how these disparities impact even the most fundamental aspects of American society.
UNIT: The Institutions of Government
Issue: Does the President Have Unilateral War Powers?
YES: John C. Yoo, from "The President's Constitutional Authority to Conduct Military Operations Against Terrorists and Nations Supporting Them: Memorandum Opinion for the Deputy Counsel to the President," Memorandum Opinion for the Deputy Counsel to the President, 2001
NO: Barack Obama, from "The Future of Our Fight Against Terrorism," Speech or Remarks, 2013
John C. Yoo, a Law Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, argues that the language of the Constitution, long-accepted precedents, and the practical need for speedy action in emergencies all support broad executive power during war. American President Barack Obama examines how he has made concerted efforts during his time in the White House to expand consultations with Congress in order to provide the best opportunity for the United States to be successful in fighting terrorism.
Issue: Should the Courts Seek the "Original Meaning" of the Constitution?
YES: Antonin Scalia, from "Constitutional Interpretation," Speech delivered at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 2005
NO: Stephen Breyer, from "Active Liberty: Interpreting Our Democratic Constitution," Random House Inc., 2005
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia rejects the notion of a “living Constitution,” arguing that the judges must try to understand what the Framers meant at the time. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer contends that in finding the meaning of the Constitution, judges cannot neglect to consider the probable consequences of different interpretations.
Issue: Is Congress a Dysfunctional Institution?
YES: Ezra Klein, from "What Happens When Congress Fails to Do Its Job?" Newsweek, 2010
NO: William Mo Cowan, from "Cowan Farewell Address," U.S. Senate, 2013
Columnist Ezra Klein contends that institutional deadlock and partisan rancor have paralyzed Congress, causing it to lose power to the president and the bureaucracy. Former Massachusetts Senator Mo Cowan describes how he has come to view the work of Congress along with fellow membersafter fulfilling the remainder of John Kerry term upon the nomination of Governor Deval Patrick.
Issue: Do Whistleblowers Help Government?
YES: Maggie Severns, from "What Really Drives a Whistleblower Like Edward Snowden?" Mother Jones, 2013
NO: Frederick A. Elliston, from "Anonymity and Whistleblowing," Journal of Business Ethics, 1982
Columnist Maggie Severns uses an interview with University of Maryland’s Political Psychology Professor C. Frederick Alford to show how whistleblowers aim to make government more effective and efficient through their actions. Academic Frederick A. Elliston points out that due to the anonymous nature of whistleblowing many individuals can file false claims out of their own self-interest as opposed to those of society at large.
UNIT: Social Change and Public Policy
Issue: Does Affirmative Action Advance Racial Equality?
YES: Anthony P. Carnevale and Jeff Strohl, from "Separate & Unequal: How Higher Education Reinforces the Intergenerational Reproduction of White Racial Privilege," Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, 2013
NO: Dan Slater, from "Does Affirmative Action Do What It Should?" The New York Times, 2013
Policy researchers Anthony P. Carnevale and Jeff Strohl show there are still wide racial and ethnic discrepancies present in education in the United States and how more direct efforts by government to achieve equality will be needed to level the playing field. Commentator Dan Slater presents information related to the mismatch theory which suggests that affirmative action can harm those it’s supposed to help by placing them at schools in which they fall below the median level of ability.
Issue: Should Abortion Be Restricted?
YES: Marco Rubio, from "Why Abortion Is Bad for America," Human Life Review, 2012
NO: Wendy Davis, from "Filibuster of the Texas State Senate," Speech or Remarks, 2013
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio discusses why abortion harms American society from multiple angles, including moral, economic, and political, during a speech at the Susan B. Anthony List Campaign for Life Gala. Texas Representative Wendy Davis presents her case for why Texas Governor Rick Perry should not sign a new abortion measure that has been deemed the most restrictive state-level effort anywhere in the United States.
Issue: Should the United States Be More Restrictive of Gun Ownership?
YES: Barack Obama and Joe Biden, from "Gun Control," Speech or Remarks, 2013
NO: Jeffrey Goldberg, from "The Case for More Guns (and More Gun Control)," The Atlantic, 2012
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, speaking in the wake of the Newtown shooting, discuss why America needs to take a more proactive stance in limiting control to guns to prevent further mass shootings. Columnist Jeffrey Goldberg presents an argument that Americans own plenty of guns to protect themselves but will only be able to prevent mass shootings if they are more readily able to carry them at all times.
Issue: Will the Affordable Care Act Successfully Transform the American Health Care System?
YES: Kathleen Sebelius, from "Address to the National Conference of State Legislatures Health Summit," U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2013
NO: Jason Fodeman, from "The New Health Law: Bad for Doctors, Awful for Patients," Galen Institute, 2011
Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, speaking to the National Conference of State Legislatures, discusses current problems with health care in the United States and how the Affordable Care Act will succeed in curbing these concerns once implemented. Jason Fodeman, a doctor, writes from the perspective of a medical professional on how the Affordable Care Act will lead to negative impacts for medical professionals and how ultimately patients will suffer within the new system.
Issue: Is Same-Sex Marriage Close to Being Legalized Across the United States?
YES: Theodore B. Olson, from "The Conservative Case for Gay Marriage: Why Same-Sex Marriage Is an American Value," Newsweek, 2010
NO: Antonin Scalia, from "Dissenting Opinion in United States v. Windsor," Supreme Court of the United States, 2013
Attorney Theodore B. Olson argues that the right of homosexual people to marry, is the logical extension of the equality proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence and guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia argues that same-sex marriage should remain a state issue and that the Court’s ruling in United States v. Windsor would wrongly invalidate state efforts to limit lawful marriage to opposite-sex couples.
Issue: Do Corporations Have the Same Free Speech Rights as Persons?
YES: Anthony Kennedy, from "Opinion of the Court," United States Supreme Court, 2010
NO: John Paul Stevens, from "Dissenting Opinion," United States Supreme Court, 2010
Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, for the majority, hold the view that corporations have all the rights and privileges of citizens under the Constitution, so their free speech rights are not to be violated. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens insists that corporations are not citizens under the Constitution, so Congress may restrict their political speech prior to an election.
Issue: Should "Recreational" Drugs Be Legalized?
YES: Bryan Stevenson, from "Drug Policy, Criminal Justice, and Mass Imprisonment," Global Commission on Drug Policy, 2011
NO: Charles D. Stimson, from "Legalizing Marijuana: Why Citizens Should Just Say No," Legal Memorandum, 2010
Law professor Bryan Stevenson focuses on how the criminalization of drugs has led to mass imprisonment with negative consequences for law enforcement. Charles D. Stimson, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, explains that marijuana is not safe and makes more sense than the prohibition of alcohol did in the early 1900s. Further, he demonstrates that the economic benefits would not outweigh the societal costs.
UNIT: America and the World
Issue: Do We Need to Curb Global Warming?
YES: Gregg Easterbrook, from "Case Closed: The Debate About Global Warming Is Over," Issues in Governance Studies, 2006
NO: Larry Bell, from "Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax," 2011
Editor Gregg Easterbrook argues that global warming, causing deleterious changes in the human condition, is a near certainty for the next few generations. Professor Larry Bell insists that the climate models predicting global warming are speculative at best, and in some cases based upon manipulated data.
Issue: Should Homeland Security Focus More on Cyber Crime Moving Forward?
YES: Rick "Ozzie" Nelson and Rob Wise, from "Homeland Security at a Crossroads: Evolving DHS to Meet the Next Generation of Threats," Center for Strategic & International Studies Commentary, 2013
NO: Stephen Flynn, from "Recalibrating Homeland Security: Mobilizing American Society to Prepare for Disaster," Foreign Affairs, 2011
Rick Nelson, former Director of the CSIS Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Program, argues that threats have fundamentally changed over the past decade and that only by better preparing for new waves of attack can we ultimately remain protected. Professor Stephen Flynn believes that national security measures should be focused more on instilling the faith of the American public and being as transparent as logistically possible rather than concentrating on any given area.
Issue: Is Warrantless Wiretapping Ever Justified to Protect National Security?
YES: Andrew C. McCarthy, from "How to 'Connect the Dots'," National Review, 2006
NO: Al Gore, from "Restoring the Rule of Law," 2006
Former Federal Prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy supports the National Security Agency program of surveillance without a warrant as an effective means of protecting national security that employs the inherent power of the president to protect the country against subversion. Former Vice President Al Gore views the warrantless wiretapping of American citizens as a brazen violation of the Constitution and of specific acts of Congress that have spelled out the circumstances under which a president may receive judicial permission to wiretap or otherwise invade the privacy of citizens.
Issue: Are Entitlement Programs Creating a Culture of Dependency?
YES: Nicholas Eberstadt, from "The Rise of Entitlements in Modern America, 1960-2010," A Nation of Takers: America’s Entitlement Epidemic, 2012
NO: William A. Galston, from "Have We Become ‘A Nation of Takers’?" A Nation of Takers: America’s Entitlement Epidemic, 2012
Social scientist Nicholas Eberstadt argues that the increase in entitlement programs is unprecedented in American history and has created a large dependency class that has lost the will to work. Political theorist William A. Galston sees the growth of American entitlement programs as an appropriate response to the needs of an aging population and rising costs of higher education and medicine; he sees them not as evidence of dependency but of “interdependence.”
Issue: Should the United States Launch a Preemptive Strike Against Iran?
YES: Matthew Kroenig, from "Time to Attack Iran," Foreign Affairs, 2012
NO: Colin H. Kahl, from "Not Time to Attack Iran," Foreign Affairs, 2012
Defense Department Adviser Matthew Kroenig believes that the United States should launch a preemptive attack on Iran because a policy of deterrence would allow Iran to develop powerful nuclear weapons that would endanger the United States and its allies. Defense Department Adviser Colin H. Kahl believes that striking Iran now would not prevent future aggression, and it is undesirable as long as economic and diplomatic means to prevent Iran’s nuclear armament still hold the possibility of success.
Issue: Should Corporations Be Awarded Religious Freedoms?
YES: Patricia Miller, from "How the Catholic Church Masterminded the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby Debacle," Salon, 2014
NO: Ruth Bader Ginsberg, from "Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby Stores," United States Supreme Court, 2014
Patricia Miller argues that religious institutions have gone to great measures to help corporations have legal protections in order to promote religious causes. Ruth Bader Ginsberg argues that the Constitution’s protection of religious liberty has been seen as a personal right, and any efforts to extend the right to corporations could come with unforeseen consequences society is not fully prepared for.
Issue: Should Businesses Be Able to Deny Services Based on a Customer's Sexuality?
YES: Conor Friedersdorf, from "Should Christian Bakers Be Allowed to Refuse Wedding Cakes to Gays?" The Atlantic, 2014
NO: Louise Melling, from "Will We Sanction Discrimination?: Can ‘Heterosexuals Only’ Be Among the Signs of Today?" UCLA Law Review, 2013
Conor Friedersdorf argues that while he doesn't want the state coercing anyone to bake cakes, people with hateful views towards gays should be subject to shame and, more importantly, persuasion. Louise Mulling puts today’s debate about religious exemptions in historical context and addresses the most common arguments proffered in defense of the religious objector.