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Author: stepht@duke.edu

Congressman David Price on His Life and Career as a Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives, The Washington Post

This January, Polis welcomed Congressman David Price back to Duke’s campus as a Polis Distinguished Fellow. He had previously served as the representative for NC’s… Continue Reading Congressman David Price on His Life and Career as a Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives, The Washington Post

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Professor Kristin Goss on Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, The Washington Post

Sanford Professor Kristin Goss was quoted in the Washington Post on gun reform and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, an organization advocating for stricture gun laws founded by Shannon Watts. Approximately 140 volunteers of the organization were elected to office this past midterm election. Professor Goss, citing the work and successes of Watt’s organization, says “Nothing drives me crazier than when people say 20 [children] were killed and nothing changed. That is not true.” She argues that although Congress did not pass any sweeping gun legislation, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America have been a pivotal force in the movement. Still, Watt’s is hoping for more change. When Congress did little after Sandy Hook, she realized she needed gun-sense candidates to run for office. Goss states that the organization “knew a real key to success would not just be policy change, but a change in personnel; you needed to change who was making the decision about gun policy.”

Continue Reading Professor Kristin Goss on Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, The Washington Post

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Etan Zeller Maclean (PPS ‘24): “Death in the Hands of Chance: Why Judges Cannot be Trusted to Sentence Death”

One study by two Louisiana State University professors titled “Emotional Judges and Unlucky Juveniles” exposes an almost laughable, yet dark reality of the American justice system. It looks at the correlation between the performance of judges’ favorite football teams and the harshness of their sentencing. Sure enough, they found that when a judges preferred football team lost, inmates were behind bars for longer. Oh and, surprise, they also handed harsher sentences to black defendants. My point, though, is to underline the variability of human decision regarding the death penalty. Proponents of capital punishment support taking murderers off the streets and handing just punishment to the most heinous criminals. I am not writing to oppose this. In a perfect world, this would be attainable. But this is not a perfect world, and humans are far from perfect. Instead, I believe the death penalty should be eliminated because of the inevitable fallibility of those who hand it down.

Continue Reading Etan Zeller Maclean (PPS ‘24): “Death in the Hands of Chance: Why Judges Cannot be Trusted to Sentence Death”

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Professor Nick Carnes, The Politics of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

December 23rd is the release date for Sanford Professor Nick Carnes and co-author Carrol University Professor Lilly J. Goren’s book, The Politics of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. They argue that the MCU is “a deeply political universe,” touching on all realms of government, public policy, and society. 25 leading scholars help explore various modern day political issues including civil-military relations, racial injustice, environmental catastrophe, political misinformation, and themes of diversity and representation. This is the first book to take a deep dive into the political messages within the MCU and ask the question, “What lessons are this entertainment juggernaut teaching audiences about politics, society, power, gender, and inequality?”

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Rebecca Zeltsman (PPS ’24): “Drawing the Line — The Harmful Reality of Scapegoating the Civilian”

The western world’s alienation of civilians of Russian origin will leave long-lasting effects that are incredibly harmful to individual well-being. Vladimir Putin’s ruthless invasion of Ukraine has unmistakably sparked worldwide fear of one of the most colossal humanitarian violations of our lifetime. Russia has acted barbarically and inflicted brutal force on Ukrainian civilians and cities. However, Russian-Americans that have established businesses in the U.S or athletes of Russian descent qualified to run in marathons now being stripped of their careers due to their background is far from justifiable.

Continue Reading Rebecca Zeltsman (PPS ’24): “Drawing the Line — The Harmful Reality of Scapegoating the Civilian”

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Grace Endrud (PPS ’24): “The Humanitarian Crisis of the Decade: Why Biden – and America – Stand for Ukraine”

After months of rising tensions, Vladimir Putin launched an invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. The conflict has had a staggering humanitarian toll: 2,685 civilians have been killed and another 4.1 million refugees have fled their homes. The EU crisis commissioner warned Europe to prepare for over seven million internally displaced Ukrainians; this level of displacement would make Ukraine the largest refugee crisis in recent memory. Given Jake Sullivan’s prediction the war will continue for “months,” the crisis will only escalate further.

Continue Reading Grace Endrud (PPS ’24): “The Humanitarian Crisis of the Decade: Why Biden – and America – Stand for Ukraine”

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Peter Connolly (PPS ’23): “Investing in US Semiconductor Manufacturing is our Best Weapon for Maintaining Geopolitical Leverage Over China”

Semiconductors chips are the linchpin of the global economy. These chips are not just in your iPhone and car but also operate the robotics machines and assembly lines that manufacture and distribute our everyday goods. What most Americans do not know though is how difficult and expensive they are to manufacture and how globalized the supply chain is. Most chips start their life in the lab of a U.S. tech company. The blueprints are then sent to foundries, specialized factories for semiconductor chips, before being integrated into the devices and systems that power our economy.

Continue Reading Peter Connolly (PPS ’23): “Investing in US Semiconductor Manufacturing is our Best Weapon for Maintaining Geopolitical Leverage Over China”

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Aziz Abdullaev (PPS ’23): “The World is Accepting the Uyghur Genocide”

Roughly every tenth Uyghur was forced into concentration camps by Chinese authorities without any trial or on baseless accusations. In camps, Uyghurs are beaten, raped, tortured, and punished for speaking their native language and exercising religion. Children of detainees are placed in state orphanages where, again, they are punished for speaking their language and are brainwashed with fear and aggression.

Continue Reading Aziz Abdullaev (PPS ’23): “The World is Accepting the Uyghur Genocide”

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Evelyn Shi (PPS ‘24): “To Avoid War with China, The U.S. Should Make Its Support for Taiwan Clear”

Rising tension between Taiwan and China poses the biggest threat to Asia’s geopolitical stability this year. The Biden administration must navigate this fragile relationship carefully to avoid the disastrous risk of a full-out war between the U.S. and China. Yet the U.S.’ current approach — being purposefully vague about its support for Taiwan — is ineffective against an increasingly aggressive China. Instead, Washington should make it clear that it would defend Taiwan from a Chinese invasion while reminding Beijing that the U.S. does not support Taiwanese independence. Biden must walk a fine line between these two interests.

Continue Reading Evelyn Shi (PPS ‘24): “To Avoid War with China, The U.S. Should Make Its Support for Taiwan Clear”

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Kennedy Jones (PPS ‘24): “A New Blue Wave — Expanding Rural Political Engagement”

Imagine you’re an Ohioan trying to decide who to vote for in an important election. One candidate says “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” — an important industry in your state and the whole Appalachian region. To that, the other candidate responds — “These are amazing people. And it’s not going to happen.” You might remember that the first candidate was Hillary Clinton during the 2016 Presidential Election, and the second Donald Trump.

Continue Reading Kennedy Jones (PPS ‘24): “A New Blue Wave — Expanding Rural Political Engagement”

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Andrew Touma (PPS ‘24): “Medical Debtors Got Some Help — But More Needs to be Done”

Three of the nation’s largest credit bureaus announced changes to how medical debt will impact credit scores. Starting in July, unpaid medical collections will not impact one’s credit score until a full year has passed, up from the previous standard of six months. Additionally, medical debts under $500 will not appear on credit reports starting in 2023. While significant, the new benchmark can be reversed at any instant, meaning it is up to policymakers to enshrine these new standards into law.

Continue Reading Andrew Touma (PPS ‘24): “Medical Debtors Got Some Help — But More Needs to be Done”

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Amiya Mehrotra (PPS ‘24): “Florida is Solving a Problem That Doesn’t Exist”

On March 28, 2022, Governor Ron DeSantis signed Florida House Bill 1557, also known as the “Don’t Say Gay Bill.” This piece of legislation represents the latest example of politicians using the guise of parental rights in education to further their conservative political agendas.

Continue Reading Amiya Mehrotra (PPS ‘24): “Florida is Solving a Problem That Doesn’t Exist”

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Meredith Sims (PPS ‘25): We Need to Re-Emphasize the Importance of Teachers Over Infrastructure

American education is suffering from an overemphasis on school facilities over teacher pay. As the United States falls further behind in world education rankings, this issue has become even more pressing, and we must save our historically strong education system. Throughout the country, there are a variety of massive ongoing and future building campaigns, coupled with limited teacher pay increases. I’ve witnessed the detrimental effects of this trend in my own community, as large bonds have failed to address the lack of a teacher pay increase for over 6 years, prompting teachers to quit and students to suffer.

Continue Reading Meredith Sims (PPS ‘25): We Need to Re-Emphasize the Importance of Teachers Over Infrastructure

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Juliana Shank (PPS ’24): Medicaid Expansion is the “North Carolina Solution” Politicians Seek

For eight years, political wrangling in North Carolina over healthcare coverage has left too many of our residents vulnerable. The state is one of twelve to have not yet implemented Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, which would give coverage to nearly 600,000 additional residents who are currently without health insurance.

Continue Reading Juliana Shank (PPS ’24): Medicaid Expansion is the “North Carolina Solution” Politicians Seek

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Naima Turbes (PPS ’24): What Does it Mean to Really be Pro-Life?

Last week, the Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt signed a bill that makes performing an abortion a felony, punishable by up to ten years in prison. Oklahoma joins states like Texas, Florida, Idaho, and Wyoming in a recent movement aimed to criminalize abortion in the United States — a movement markedly different from one aimed to protect life.

Continue Reading Naima Turbes (PPS ’24): What Does it Mean to Really be Pro-Life?

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Zak Barasch: A Path to End Gerrymandering

Every decade, after the census is taken, states redraw their district lines in a process known as redistricting. The process is intended to make voting fairer by evening out district populations. However, this process can be used to manipulate elections and disenfranchise voters in a process known as gerrymandering.

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Polis Steering Committee Members and Faculty Discuss the Dobbs v. Jackson Ruling on Midterm Elections

Professor Kerry Haynie, Professor Asher Hildebrand and Professor Mac McCorkle discuss the significance of the Dobbs v. Jackson ruling on the upcoming North Carolina midterm… Continue Reading Polis Steering Committee Members and Faculty Discuss the Dobbs v. Jackson Ruling on Midterm Elections

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Professor Asher Hildebrand and Deondra Rose on the impact of Roe vs Wade news on voting turnout, Duke Today & NC Policy Watch

Associate Professor’s Asher Hildebrand and Deondra Rose were interviewed by Duke Today and NC Policy Watch on the ramifications of the U.S. Supreme court’s potential… Continue Reading Professor Asher Hildebrand and Deondra Rose on the impact of Roe vs Wade news on voting turnout, Duke Today & NC Policy Watch

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2022 SGM Health Symposium: Transgender Policies, Care Practices, and Wellbeing, 3/21/2022-3/22/2022

“We need to continue to advocate strongly for the most vulnerable in our community,” said Admiral Rachel Levine, U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health, during opening… Continue Reading 2022 SGM Health Symposium: Transgender Policies, Care Practices, and Wellbeing, 3/21/2022-3/22/2022

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Event Recap: Leveling Up Leadership: Building Diverse Leaders Today for Tomorrow featuring John Rice, 3/16/2022

John Rice, the Founder and CEO of Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT) joined the Sanford School of Public Policy, Polis: Center for Politics, and the… Continue Reading Event Recap: Leveling Up Leadership: Building Diverse Leaders Today for Tomorrow featuring John Rice, 3/16/2022

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Professor Kristin Goss on firearm records and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), USA Today

Professor Kristin Goss was quoted multiple times in a fact-check on a statement from Gun Owners of America in USA Today on the number of… Continue Reading Professor Kristin Goss on firearm records and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), USA Today

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When a Hotel Housekeeper Won a Seat on the City Council

“I am Carmen Castillo: hotel worker, representative, union member, city councilwoman. That’s me, and I want to continue being like that for the rest of my life.” This is how Carmen Castillo begins telling her extraordinary political story.

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An Election in India is Raising Interest in North Carolina

With a crucial national election looming in India, and with Indian citizens able to vote from abroad for the first time in history, on April 2 Duke students from India provided their insights into the upcoming election.

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Can Comedy Reconcile Political Difference? A ‘Daily Show’ Writer Weighs In

Becoming a lawyer was not a proactive choice for Zhubin Parang, but rather a default option after graduating from college. “Law was possibly the most safe profession that I could think of at the time that did not require knowing math,” he said. That might help explain why after practicing corporate law for four years, Parang decided to quit his job and pursue a career in comedy. But, as he said in a talk this month to POLIS and Sanford School of Public Policy students, it also explains why he’s comfortable doing comedy with a political edge.

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When Democracy Declines: Panel Explores the Challenges to Sustaining Freedom

Mike Abramowitz, president of Freedom House, and Sanford School Dean Judith Kelley shared a timely message in a Feb. 25 panel discussion: Democracy is “not a one-way street,” and democratic nations can fall back into authoritarianism.

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U.S. Rep. Scott Peters on Whether the New Democratic Majority Can Unify the Country

Duke University boasts seven alums currently serving in the U.S. Congress. On February 18, Duke University welcomed its third of the 2018-2019 academic year: Scott Peters ’80, who spoke to Duke students at the Sanford School of Public Policy.

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Ex-Clinton Spokesman Issues Caution: “We As a People Don’t Like One Another”

Mo Elleithee, former spokesman for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and later for the Democratic National Committee, has no interest in partisan politics. During a talk last week at Duke, Elleithee explained why.

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Different Perspectives, Similar Messages on Gun Violence and Regulation

After the 2018 mass shooting in his Pittsburgh neighborhood of Squirrel Hill at the Tree of Life synagogue, where his parents were married and his closest friends regularly attended services, junior David Frisch began planning a campus panel discussion on how to reduce gun violence.

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