Last updateMon, 10 Dec 2018 4pm


Partisanship in American Politics Causing Disunity

default article imageThe University’s Polling Institute found that few Americans feel that the nation will become more united in the coming year, in a recent poll released on Tuesday, Nov. 27.

According to the report, Republicans appear to be somewhat less negative than Democrats regarding unity of the country.

The poll found that only 20 percent of the public feels that Americans are united and are on the same wavelength on some of our most important values.

These recent results contrast with a similar poll conducted last December, which found that 72 percent of participants said the nation was divided on its core values and 23 percent said the country was united.

The decline in Americans who said that the country was united shows that one of the biggest conversations going on in U.S. politics is that of the political polarization that seems to have taken a hold throughout the country.

The poll even found that 62 percent of Americans feel that the country has become more divided.

“We just held a midterm election where record high turnout demonstrated that politics matters to people. But that doesn’t mean they are particularly optimistic about what the future might hold,” said Patrick Murray, Director of the Polling Institute. “Negative opinion of American politics has not budged at all over the past year.”

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New Jersey Legislature Addresses Virtual Payments

NJ Legislature Virtual PaymentsA bill to prohibit businesses from refusing to accept cash from customers and requiring them to pay electronically was introduced to the New Jersey Legislature, on Monday, Dec. 3.

The bill, S2785, prohibits a person from selling or offering for sale any goods or services at retail if the person requires the buyer to pay with credit or prohibits the buyer from paying with cash. 

The bill applies to any retail transaction conducted in-person, and excludes telephone, mail, or internet-based transactions.

Legislators in Trenton have noted that currencies like BitCoin, a virtual currency, and an increase in number of businesses and kiosks that is no longer accepting cash for the purchase of their products have prompted them to take action with this bill.

If the bill passes, New Jersey would be one of two U.S. states, following Massachusetts, to have such a law in place—and the first in four decades that requires businesses to accept cash.

One of the bill’s primary sponsors Assemblyman Paul Moriarty (D-Gloucester) explained that this bill is aimed at rectifying some of the inequality against those who cannot or do not have the means of being able to set up a bank account or afford to be burdened by credit card debt.

“When you start going cashless, you marginalize people who are older, poorer, [or] younger, who haven’t established credit, or people who don’t want to use credit to buy a pack of gum, which would be me,” Moriarty told NJ Advance Media on Friday, Nov. 30. “For people that want to [use credit], that’s fine, but stores should still accept legal tender, which is the U.S. dollar.”

According to the drafted bill, a civil penalty of up to $2,500 would be imposed for a first violation of the bill’s provisions, and up to $5,000 for a second violation, and any subsequent offense would be unlawful practice under the state.

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University's Polling Institute Examines Public Opinion on the Migrant Caravan

Polling Report Reveals Division AmongstPolling Report Reveals Division AmongstAmericans on Immigration Policy


Migrant Caravan 1Most Americans say that the caravan of migrants seeking asylum at the nation’s southern border poses at least a minor threat to the country, according to a recent poll published by the University’s Polling Institute on Nov. 19.

The same report found that 70 percent of Americans say that these migrants should be given the opportunity to enter the country if they meet certain requirements. Half are reluctant to believe that there are terrorists are traveling with the caravan, although 25 percent believe that those claims are true.

According to Patrick Murray, Director of the University’s Polling Institute, people in states that have a large immigrant population, including those that share a border with Mexico, tend to be the least threatened by new immigration due to having more contact with those groups.

Citizens living in states that share a border with Mexico, such as Texas, Arizona and California, were the least likely of regions to see the migrant caravan as a major threat to their safety. Meanwhile, 35 percent of people in the southeastern United States said they saw the migrant caravan as a threat, compared to just 21 percent in border states and 25 percent in the northeastern United States.

The crisis over thousands of Central American migrants trying to cross the border into the United States has yet to end, with border patrol agents using tear gas to disperse protestors allegedly throwing rocks and being arrested for trespassing.

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Jeff Sessions Resigned as Attorney General

Jeff Sessions ResignationAttorney General Jeff Sessions delivered his resignation letter to the White House at the request of the president, on Wednesday, Nov. 7.

President Donald Trump replaced Sessions with Matthew Whitaker, Sessions’s chief of staff, as acting attorney general, who has agreed with the president’s complaints about the special counsel investigation into Russia’s election interference.

The sudden change in cabinet has been raising questions about the future of the probe led by the special counsel Robert Mueller.

Sessions’ resignation immediately moves oversight of the ongoing investigation to interim successor Whitaker, who once called for the inquiry to be dramatically scaled back.

Christopher DeRosa, Ph.D., an associate professor of history, explained that Trump’s firing of Sessions is comparable to a similar motion made by former President Richard Nixon, who had requested his own Attorney General Elliot Richardson to resign when he did not obey the president’s order to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox during the Watergate Scandal.

“Trump’s removal of Sessions is reminiscent of Richard Nixon’s attempts to evade justice during the Watergate Scandal in 1973,” said DeRosa.

“Republican operatives had broken into DNC headquarters during the 1972 election. Archibald Cox, the Special Prosecutor appointed to investigate the scandal by the Justice Department, subpoenaed Nixon’s Oval Office tapes,” he explained.

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New Jersey Approves Bond for Schools and Infrastructure in Public Question

NJ School Bonds InfrastructureA majority of New Jersey voters supported the School Projects Bond public ballot question, voting to approve the bond by more than 52 percent on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

The bond was the only question on the ballot this Election Day. The approved 500 million dollars in bonds will be used for a range of school-related initiatives such as: school security, vocational schools, county colleges and school water infrastructure.

Because the New Jersey state constitution requires that new debts obtain voter approval, the bond was placed on the public ballot.

Now that it passed, $350 million will be used to provide grants to county vocational school districts and school security projects, $50 million will go to county college projects and $100 million will go to support water infrastructure projects across the state’s more than 600 school districts.

Over the summer, the Democrat-led New Jersey State Legislature and its Democratic Governor Phil Murphy approved the bipartisan measure to get the question on the ballot.

However, there still existed disagreement over how much should be appropriated from the bonds.

Murphy halved the legislative proposal from its initial $1 billion to the current $500 million, explaining that the state already has a heavy debt load as his reason.

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Lavender Scare Plays in Pollak

default article imageThe University hosted a showing of The Lavender Scare, last Monday, Nov. 5.

The documentary was played in Pollak Theatre, and recounts the story about the tens of thousands of gay and lesbian U.S. government workers fired from the State Department in an effort to rid the federal workforce of homosexuals.

The showing was free admission and open to the public. Many students, professors and faculty, and members from the surrounding community attended the event, and were able to ask the producer and director, Josh Howard, and the historian, David Johnson, questions about the documentary.

The documentary was narrated by Glenn Close and featured the voices of T.R. Knight, Cynthia Nixon, Zachary Quinto, and David Hyde Pierce, recounting the stories of some workers who were fired during the epidemic.

“Historian David Johnson’s book, The Lavender Scare, first brought attention to the long history of government persecution of people who were believed to be lesbians and gay men,” said Katherine Parkin, Ph.D., a professor of history and gender studies who helped to secure Johnson’s attendance to the event.

She continued, “I started corresponding with the film maker, Josh Howard, in 2008, asking that as soon as the film was available, I wanted to show it at Monmouth.  I followed up each year, encouraging him and reminding him of our interest.”

Parkin explained that similar to the Red Scare over suspicions of communism in the 1950s, “gays and lesbians found themselves attacked for their style of dress, mannerisms and interests, and mere accusations.” The allegations were enough to force people to resign, rather than risk exposure of their homosexual identity.

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Assessing the 2018 Midterm Elections

default article imageThe University’s Polling Institute sponsored What Happened? Assessing the 2018 Midterm Elections, an event analyzing the election results, last Thursday, Nov. 8.

The event was hosted in the Wilson Hall Auditorium, and was open to the public. Several students, professors and faculty, and members from the surrounding community gathered to listen to Patrick Murray, Director of the University’s Polling Institute, and Clare Malone, a senior political writer and panelist at FiveThirtyEight, share their takeaways and analysis of the first national election during President Donald Trump’s presidency.

“We had high youth turnout. Now, again, it trailed turnout among older voters but it was still higher than it had ever been,” said Murray.

An estimated 113 million voters turned out Tuesday. A new record for a non-presidential year and 30 million more than 2014. “The fact that over a 110 million people came out to vote suggests that they might be sick of politics but they know what matters,” he continued.

Murray and Malone also discussed how Republicans failed to win state-wide races for national office in New Jersey, but can win statewide for governor and vice versa in other states such as Tennessee.

“We are seeing people becoming entrenched in their political views and that determining, you know, voting straight down the ticket. Ohio being the exception. A Democratic senator winning and a Republican winning the governorship,” Malone said.

She continued and said that Democrats have, what she calls, “an efficiency problem of their votes,” noting that many Democratic voters are clustered in cities. “They’re not in parts of states that will help them flip elections or flip seats,” said Malone.

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Are “Stand Your Ground” Laws Equal Ground?

default article imageA grand jury in Dallas County, Alabama, listened to testimony from Jacqueline Dixon, who had been held on a $100,000 bond awaiting the review after shooting her estranged husband in self-defense, on Oct. 11.

Dixon will no longer have to stand trial for the killing.

The shooting took place on July 31, outside of Dixon’s home in Selma, Alabama. “At the time of the shooting, she did feel like her life was in danger.

According to his report, Selma Police Chief Spencer Collier stated that police officers were dispatched around 8:30 a.m. and upon arrival; Carl Omar Dixon unresponsive in the front yard, and he was pronounced dead on the scene.

“In that type of situation, she should have a right to defend herself and defend her family,” Dixon’s attorney Richard Rice says in a statement to The Appeal, a criminal justice news outlet.

In 2016, Jacqueline requested an order of protection against Carl Omar, which was granted by a Dallas County judge. She also received full custody of the couple’s two children. According to court records, Jacqueline requested the order after Omar punched her in the face multiple times and swore at her repeatedly.

Since 2006, Alabama has had a “stand your ground” law in place.

Under state law, while a person can’t use deadly force if he himself is the aggressor, he no longer has to a “duty to retreat” if the other person is: About to use unlawful deadly physical force; A burglar about to use physical force; Engaged in kidnapping, assault, robbery, or rape; Unlawfully and forcefully entering a home or car, or attempting to remove a person against their will; Breaking into a nuclear power plant.

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Top New Jersey Lawmakers Delay Vote to Legalize Marijuana in the State

NJ Marijuana VoteState Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) and state Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex), scrapped a plan to vote on a bill to legalize recreational marijuana in New Jersey, on Oct. 29.

The two top lawmakers in the New Jersey state Legislature said that the reason for the delay is because they remain at odds with Governor Phil Murphy over what the law should say.

Sweeney and Coughlin also stressed that “very few” points of contention are left to work out with the Murphy administration, and remain optimistic that they could reach an agreement and vote to pass the bill before the end of the year.

There has been push for the legalization of marijuana in New Jersey. Murphy made the issue of legalizing recreational marijuana a central part of his platform when he was running for Governor in 2017.

One of his main reasons is to help raise tax revenue and to help eradicate the black market for weed within the state.

A Rutgers-Eagleton poll released on Oct. 30 shows that not only do residents in the state want legal marijuana, they also believe that low-level marijuana convictions should be cleared and that legalization would be good for the economy.

“As marijuana legalization approaches reality in the state, New Jerseyans are fully on board,” said Ashley Koning, Director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers.

“Support has built up slowly in the past five decades, with this being the first time a majority has ever sided with legalization,” she explained.

The University’s Polling Institute from earlier this year also found similar results, showing that 60 percent of New Jersey residents support legalization.

Kenneth Mitchell, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Political Science and Sociology, and an associate professor of political science, also explained that making marijuana legal for recreational use within the state could help the state save money in regards to the conviction of crimes involving marijuana.

 For instance, taxes would no longer be going to prisons, and police officers would no longer be spending as much time or effort to catch people in non-violent acts involving the potentially legal drug.

Junior marketing student Adrian Pacheco believes that marijuana should be legal at this point, noting that the use of marijuana is not comparable to the use of other drugs such as cocaine. He also stated that New Jersey already taxes weed for medicinal use, so there is no reason not to tax weed for recreational use as well.

Joseph Patten, Ph.D., an associate professor of political science agreed with Mitchell in terms of decriminalizing weed. He also mentioned the idea of there being a middle ground in place of a bill that would completely legalized recreational use of marijuana.

He proposed paying a fine for using recreational marijuana rather than going to prison, as is often the current case.

Mitchell continued, and noted that just because marijuana would become legal in the state, not everyone in the state is going to start smoking marijuana recreationally.

He also mentioned how the culture behind doing drugs wouldn’t change; parents would probably still teach their children drug safety. “Do you know a parent who does not smoke pot and would answer yes to the question, ‘Do you want your kids to smoke pot,” he asked.

Mitchell stated that he would be surprised if it doesn’t pass, and that prohibiting something only encourages children to “rebel.”

More states have legalized both the medicinal and recreational uses of marijuana, since Colorado did so back in 2014, with only nine states and Washington, D.C. to have legalized it completely. New Jersey’s proposed tax rate on the sales of marijuana would be the lowest in the country.

New Jersey towns have already opposed such a bill The Freehold Township Committee unanimously voted earlier last month to ban marijuana sales, both medicinal and recreational, causing potential trouble to a statewide bill passing.


Democratic Victories in New Jersey

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Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) won a third time and Democratic candidate Mikie Sherrill flipped the Republican-leaning 11th Congressional District in the General Election on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Despite his best efforts, Republican Senate candidate Robert Hugin, former executive chair of Celgene, a biopharmaceutical company, could not separate himself from President Donald Trump, a factor which Patrick Murray, Director of the University’s Polling Institute, noted in a report of the race this month.

The Senate race was closer than what would be expected in the predominately Democratic state of New Jersey. Hugin spent nearly $27.5 on TV ads against Menendez over the 2017 trial on charges against the incumbent Senator.

Poll results from Stockton, Quinnipiac, Rutgers-Eagleton, and the University’s polling institute all showed Menendez with a double-digit advantage leading up to the General Election. In his analysis, Murray explains that Menendez’s lead was largely due to the state’s disapproval of Trump, who has 55 percent disapproval rate, according to the report.

“If these poll results hold, the first person Bob Menendez should thank in his election night victory speech is Donald Trump,” Murray says in the published poll.

Trump eventually endorsed Hugin on Election Day, and after contributing $200,000 to help the president get elected and hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republican committees that supported the president’s agenda in 2016, Hugin had a difficult time distinguishing himself from the administration.

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Khashoggi: U.S. and Saudi Relations

default article imageJamal Khashoggi, a dissenter and columnist for The Washington Post, was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, on Oct. 2

Khashoggi’s murder has provoked scrutiny of the kingdom’s pursuit of critics and the ethics of U.S. relations with the Saudi royal family. The effort to silence Saudi critics has stretched decades, but Crown Prince Mohamad bin Salman has pursued the practice.

When speaking about Khashoggi’s apparent murder by Saudi agents, Michael Phillips-Anderson, Ph.D., an associate professor of communication, said, “At this point it is still alleged. The evidence of the Turkish investigation seems to point conclusively towards the royal family. When you have a country that is solely a monarchy, there’s the idea that the members of that government can behave with impunity,” stated Phillips-Anderson.

Saliba Sarsar, Ph.D., professor of political science, believes that like most countries in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia is “authoritarian” in nature and “does not tolerate opposition.” Bin Salman’s crackdown on corruption in early 2018, consisted of detaining members of the Saudi royal family in the Ritz Carlton, where 17 detainees were hospitalized for physical abuse is one example of the king’s disapproval of opposition.

Sarsar acknowledges the precedent for speculating that bin Salman might be responsible; however, he expressed the importance of not assigning guilt without due process.

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The Outlook
Jules L. Plangere Jr. Center for Communication
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Room 260, 2nd floor

The Outlook
Monmouth University
400 Cedar Ave, West Long Branch, New Jersey

Phone: (732) 571-3481 | Fax: (732) 263-5151