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August 16, 2004 - Image 5

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2004-08-16

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VIEWPOINT
WHAT IS A LIBERAL?
BY MANISH KAPADIA
Over the last four months, the
concerted right-wing machine has
gone on an all out attack on Sena-
tor John Kerry. With Vice-Presi-
dent Cheney leading the way, they
have labeled him as a "tax and
spend left-wing elitist liberal." The
National Journal ranked John Ker-
ry's Congressional voting record
as the most liberal in 2003. Most
Republicans use this as their basis
of attack. While the use of this tac-
tic by the Republicans comes as no
surprise, I find most interesting
the evolution of the connotations
to the word 'liberal.'
Many of the great pioneers and
revolutions throughout our Ameri-
can history have come as a result
of liberals. Martin Luther King Jr.
used his idealistic rhetoric to bring
civil rights and equality to the
mainstream. FDR paved the way
for liberal policies such as unem-
ployment insurance and social
security. Lyndon Johnson's lib-
eral stance on health care enabled
Medicare to become law. These are
just a few of the many examples
that help put a positive spin on the
term 'liberal.'
However, thanks to Newt Gin-
grich, Rush Limbaugh, FOX News
and other luminaries, Republicans
have used an all out marketing ploy
to encourage a negative spin on the
term. With the help of media out-
lets such as radio and television,
such figures have made liberals out
as elitists, weak on defense, over-
taxers and over-spenders. Liberals
have been described as "pro Big-
Government" and "atheists." The
latter can provide profound con-
sequences as the vast majority of
Americans associate themselves
and would like their politicians to
be apart of a religious sector.
As the Republicans work to
change this term, a closer examina-

Th Mi I hi d In y - i - inviUs, iict19 '+ -

Teh s rganifacy - monday, AUgUSTf11,2a4 -
The sacrificial lamb

I

tion shows that such associations
are blatantly wrong. First, the idea
that liberals are "pro Big-Govern-
ment" and over spenders can be
refuted with examples from mod-
ern day politics. President Clinton
reduced the size of the government
and curbed spending in order to
create the largest budget surplus in
American history. President Bush,
on the other hand, has increased
spending and the size of the fed-
eral government with his additions
to Homeland Security and Faith-
Based Initiatives, thus resulting in
a dramatic shift from a surplus to a
500 billion dollar deficit. President
Clinton proved to be quite strong
on defense, as he increased alloca-
tion to the military in his budget.
Over the years, Republicans have
viewed spending measures as ways
to deter this countries principle of
free enterprise. On the contrary, lib-
erals understand that our countries'
rock solid foundation was based
on a market system. But they also
understand the interconnectedness
and interdependence among all of
us and therefore supplemented the
market system with programs that
enhance our society's goal in creat-
ing equal opportunity.
I find the tactics used by the
Republicans as childish and offen-
sive. Their name calling of Senator
Kerry as a "left-wing liberal" is
counterproductive in modern day
political discourse, as it oversim-
plifies complex positions on rather
complicated subjects. It deters
any potential of debate on real
challenges and problems America
faces today. I would urge Sena-
tor Kerry to embrace the term.
He should remind Americans that
many of the great pioneers in our
history have had liberal ideas that
still have profound impact on our
society.
Kapadia is a University alum as well as
aformer Daily columnist and editor

SUHAEL MOMIN AN-Ai

7IVE SPIN

You have to give incredulity: how couldthe GOP not find one
the Illinois GOP truly viable candidate in one of the nation's
leadership credit for largeststates?
being courageous ThebiggestproblemforKeyeswillnotbe
- if not very intelli- Obama, but Keyes himself Wielding a doc-
gent. After candidate torate from Harvard, hehas ahistory oftak-
JackRyanwasforced ingextremepositionsdrivenbydeep-seated
to withdraw from the intellectual convictions with little popular
Illinoissenatorialrace support. He will undoubtedly suffer from
following embarrass- his tendency to make bizarre comments
ing sexual allegations, Illinois' Republicans and espouse alienating ideology. Recently,
were faced with a thoroughly unenviable Keyes declared that senators should not be
dilemma: finding a poor sap to challenge elected by popular referendum, as stipu-
rising Democratichotshot andvirtual Sena- lated in the 17th Amendment to the United
tor-elect Barack Obama. Unable to entice a States Constitution, but rather nominated
viable candidate - or even a willing fool by state legislatures, as originally planned.
- in a state with over 20 electoral votes, a In academic circles, such debate might be
majormetropolitanareaandadiversesocio- accepted, but it may well be unprecedented
economic dynamic, the Illinois Republican for a candidate to expressconcerns over the
State Central Committee reached out to propriety of his own candidacy. In the past,
Alan Keyes, a failed presidential and sena- Keyes has stated that the income tax -the
toial candidate from Maryland. cornerstone of federal and state-level gov-
This will be Keyes' third unsuccessful ernmentrevenue -is equivalenttoslavery,
run for the Senate, this time from a state and argued that abortion, even in cases of
to which he has no connections and thus rape and incest, is worse than slavery. He
where he has nothing at stake. After Keyes opposes all gun laws and seeksto dismantle
loseshewill merelyleave forhisrealhome theUnited StatesDepartmentofEducation.
in Maryland, leaving the sorry memory of He even opposes secularism, arguing the
his candidacy hundreds of miles behind. separtion of church and state has no legal
For the Illinois Republican Party, however, basis in the Constitution.
the Keyes candidacy will have long lasting Keyes will be further plagued by his
negativerepercussions. AlreadytheGOPis absurd hypocrisy. In 2000, he chastised
on the defensive about recruiting an African then-First Lady Hillary Clinton for seeking
American candidate to run against Obama; an open Senate seat in New York: "I deeply
The Economist has slammed the Party, resent the destruction of federalism repre-
arguing that, "Illinois Republicans are not sented by Hillary Clinton's willingness to
just guilty of tokenism. They are guilty of go into a state she doesn't even live in and
last-minute scraping-the-bottom-of-the- pretend to represent people there. So I cer-
barrel tokenism." Many have expressed tainly wouldn't imitate it."If JohnKerry is

a flip-flopper, Keyes is an acrobat extror-
dinaire.
From the viewpoint of national observ-
ers and Illinois Democrats, the GOP could
not have made a better choice. Journalists
and pundits, hungry for another ridicu-
lous pronouncement, will continually fol-
low Keyes, and Democrats will rejoice
as Obama figuratively skewers Keyes in
November. Illinois Republicans, unfortu-
nately, will be all but abandoned by their
party. Barring aphenomenal development,
it is certain that Obama will win; he cur-
rently leads Keyes by 40 percent. Even
though many Republicans would have
willingly crossed party lines and voted for
Obama anyway, many now see no other
option: their party has failed in providing
them a true contender. The incompetence
of Illinois' GOP leaders - their inabil-
ity to find an in-state nominee or even
an electable out-of-state candidate - has
essentially left state Republicans without
representation in November's contest.
Some have calledit asoap opera, others a
parody, some atravesty. Even though GOP
leaders in Illinois were faced with a daunt-
ing challenge, their performance has been
dismal. The simplistic candidate search
-based on matching a commanding, well-
spoken African American Democrat with a
commanding,well-spokenAfricanAmeri-
can Republican - has discredited Illinois
Republicans, abandoned mainstream con-
servatives and turned a senatorial election
into a spectacle.
Momin can be reached at
smomin@umich.edu

For the sake of a high score
BONNIE KELLMAN A BT F--Ex

SAM BUTLER nTi SO
Our ecIorno"as VA rw fS- ±o+ Sure
+ufe.A a orner where the corner lds.
1BE AR
CANYk N
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As if it weren't
feared and hated
enough already,
the SAT is about to
become even worse.
In an effort to more
accurately measure
students' achieve-
ment, the College
Entrance Examina-
tion Board will unveil a new, supposedly
improved SAT this spring. The new exam
will do away with the infamous analo-
gies and replace quantitative comparisons
with questions from algebra II. It will also
include a new writing section, which will
require students to write a persuasive essay
as well as answer questions on grammar. In
order to accommodate these changes, the
length of this three-hour test will grow by
45 minutes.
Needlessnto say, the difficulty level of the
SAT will increase dramatically. And dur-
ing a time when students' scores can deter-
mine so much of their future, the pressure
to perform well can become overwhelming.
Quite understandably, high school students
across the country have already started
pouring money into test preparation com-
panies in a desperate attempt to discover the
secret to earning that sacred new score, a
perfect 2400. According to the Detroit Free
Press, the Princeton Review, a company
that charges upwardseof$1000 per class, has
already seen different aspects of itsbusiness
double.
It shouldn't be like this. In an ideal world,
the SAT would be a sort of I.Q. test that

systematically selects the most qualified
students from all social classes and back-
grounds to attend the nation's top univer-
sities. Once there, they would be trained
to enter the ruling class, creating a true
American meritocracy. In fact, during the
1940s, former Harvard President James
Conant originally began to administer the
SAT on a large scale in orderto do just that.
His goal was to prevent the United States
from becoming an aristocratic society by
using higher education to replace the white,
Protestant ruling classwith a group of natu-
rally talented individuals. And the process
of selecting these deserving students would
begin with the SAT.
Butnow,insuburbancommunitieswhere
parents recognize the SAT as their children's
ticket to the upper-middle class, things have
begunto spiral out of control. Students and
parents alike are willing to do whatever it
takes to earn a high score. As the competi-
tion becomes more and more fierce, it's no
longer so unusual to see students begin to
prepare as early as middle school. And with
the help of Kaplan and Princeton Review,
good scores are being bought and sold for
outrageously high prices. Natural talent and
ability have taken a backseat to how much
time and money one has to study.
There's nothing wrong with preparing
well for an important exam. There is some-
thing wrong, however, with the fact that
only a certain type of person has the time
and resources to do so. The students who
can't afford to sacrifice $1000 for a class
or spend an entire summer studying rather
than working are left dreadfully unpre-

pared. It is these underprivileged students
who will have a disadvantage while apply-
ing to college - a disadvantage that could
very wellcontinueto followthemiftheyare
not accepted to a good university, creating
a vicious cycle for them and their children.
Ironically, Conant's plan to overthrow the
American aristocracy is now creating one.
Luckily, it's still possible to earn a high
score without the help of a test prep compa-
ny. ItookPrincetonReview coursesforboth
the SATI andII and know from experience
that their students are not privy to any secret
knowledge. During class, I kept expecting
a grandiose revelation that would make the
course worth my while, like a subliminal
message hidden in the test pages that only
Princeton Review students knew how to
recognize. Needless to say, I was woefully
disappointed.
That's not to say that Princeton
Review classes don't work. They do.
They improved my score by hundreds
of points, but only because the environ-
ment of a formal classroom forced me to
work hard. It motivated me to actually
study the vocabulary words, drill myself
on analogies and complete practice test
after practice test, until I finally got it
right. Technically, a highly motivated
student could achieve the same thing by
buying an SAT practice book for $20 and
studying hard. Technically, an American
meritocracy is still possible. It's just not
very likely.
Kellman can be reached at
bonkell@usmich.edu

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