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by Madeline Ramaley
Before Ted Cruz’s Town Hall in New Hampshire even began, the atmosphere in the Peterborough Town Hall was vibrant and patriotic. A giant American flag was set in the middle of the stage and large screens on either side flashed through commercials and ads endorsing Cruz. Dramatic music swelled in the background and surprisingly no one seemed to be phased by the fact the ads were addressed to “The People of Iowa.” As the political ads faded and country music began to play, the New Hampshire Speaker of the House and co-chair of Cruz’s presidential campaign, Bill O’Brien, came onstage to rally the crowd and introduce Ted Cruz. But before he did either, he led the entire audience in a pledge of allegiance. As everyone stood up and began to recite the pledge, it was very obvious that extreme patriotism and “Judeo-Christian values” were going to be a major focus of this event.
“God bless the Great State of New Hampshire!” Ted Cruz exclaimed as he strode onto the stage wearing a denim shirt tucked into his jeans, cowboy boots, and a dark leather belt. He began by praising the Republican Party for having so many “young, talented candidates” running for the presidency. He then immediately contrasted these candidates with the “crazy, socialist” contenders from the Democratic Party, which was very well received by the audience members, who cheered in agreement.
Cruz based his speech on returning to the “common sense principles” of America. He asserted that America is in a state of crisis because our Constitutional rights are being jeopardized. He claimed he wants to take America back to its “free market principles” and the “common sense principles;” he promised to do this through the application of his three main points, which he outlined very carefully. This made the speech very easy to follow and everyone in the audience was able to fully invest in what he was saying.
One of the core principles was providing jobs for the American people, which he claimed he would make his first priority as president. As he continued to speak on this subject he referenced a meme he saw recently, which I found especially interesting considering the majority of his audience were middle aged and not the sort of people one would expect to know about memes. The meme to which Cruz referred explained “Reaganomics” as starting a company out of your parents’ garage, and then decried “Obamanomics” as moving into your parents’ garage. This, of course, received great laughter from the audience. While everyone may not have understood exactly what a meme was, Cruz’s message came across clearly: he would be completely different from Obama as the second coming of Reagan.
Many times throughout the course of his speech Cruz compared the present political climate to the time before Reagan took office. He proclaimed that today’s America is very similar to that of the 1970s, and much like America then needed saving from Jimmy Carter, Cruz is the Reagan who will rescue us from Obama. In equating himself to Reagan in this giant metaphor Cruz appealed not only to voters who dislike Obama, but also to an older audience of voters who favored Reagan and strongly disliked Carter.
As his speech progressed, Cruz touched upon defending constitutional rights, notably the second and tenth amendments, adding “or as President Obama calls it, ‘the what?.’” He touched upon reserving power to the state governments, rebuilding the military, securing our borders, and repealing Common Core. His final point before turning to audience questions was the need to restore America’s international authority. He focused on the military, specifically citing the issue of women serving on the front line of the armed forces. He called it “dangerous” and “immoral,” claiming the United States has had enough with “political correctness,” especially within the military. He ended his speech by saying we needed to get away from political correctness and back to “common sense” in order to return to the “Judeo-Christian values” on which this country was founded.
Cruz then took a good portion of his questions from small children, who were seemingly planted by their parents. When asked by a child his views on improving America’s infrastructure, Cruz responded that all such decisions should be left to state governments and went even further to say that the entire Department of Education should be abolished. From here he said that the power should be given not only to the states to decide what should be taught in schools, but to local governments to decide what their specific region should teach. When asked by Emerson’s very own Ana Tenewitz on the “inequality of racial groups, the LGBTQ community, and women,” Cruz sidestepped the question and took the opportunity to discuss economic inequality again: “How do we deal with inequality? Number one, we end all the corporate welfare, all the subsidies, all the bailouts, all the mandates. But number two, we create an environment where small businesses are growing and advancing and there’s opportunity.” So, yes, while Cruz did talk about inequality, he ignored Ana’s actual question and morphed it into something he wanted to answer.
To conclude the Town Hall, Cruz asked the audience to “commit to lift this country up to continue this awakening and spirit of revival” and to bring America “back from the abyss.” Cruz was able to sway the Evangelical voters in Iowa with his Evangelical values, and it was made clear in his Town Hall that he planned to continue using this tactic throughout his campaign.
Whether you agree with Cruz’s policies or not, you can’t discount his intelligence. He is an extraordinarily convincing speaker, knows policy and the Constitution incredibly well, and was able to answer every question (though perhaps not directly) with knowledge and insight. His Town Hall was certainly interesting, “with liberty and justice for all.”
by Bailey Bouchard
It’s Friday night, and where are the CPLA students? At a John Kasich rally in New Hampshire. Primary weekend had come and twelve of us decided to go up and see what was going on.
Kasich’s one hundredth town hall opened with a speech from former Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel and, though most of us didn’t know who he was, others seemed very excited. Attendees were invigorated and captivated by Kasich’s ideas and plans for the future. The room was packed and people seemed in awe of Kasich as he answered their questions.
The setup was rather awkward. Chairs and cameras surrounded a small platform and Kasich was spinning around in order to make eye contact with everyone. It looked a bit silly, which was not helping Kasich’s image as he talked about throwing snowballs at the press that morning.
The Ohio governor discussed topics including college affordability, drug reform programs, veteran aid, and his desire to connect with voters. Regarding the first, he encouraged high school students to take as courses for college credit available to them and/or to attend community college for a few years. To that end he said students and their families should look past a college’s reputation and standing and focus on what they can afford. He even compared Bernie Sanders’ views on education to ice cream, saying that we may as well make Ben and Jerry’s free.
“I have lots of democratic friends” Kasich said in an obvious effort to stand out as a moderate among the Republican candidates. He could have pushed away the conservative voters he needs to win the republican nomination, but according to results in New Hampshire he did not. Kasich came in second with 15.8 percent of the vote, beating former leaders Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, though still falling behind winner Donald Trump by 19.5 percent. This boost was great publicity for Kasich and hopefully won him some donations, as his funds are limited after devoting so much to New Hampshire.
by Alexandra Howard
This past January, I attended the Cross Cultural Communication Conference in Bangkok, Thailand along with faculty from Zayed University (UAE), Blanquerna-Ramon Llull University (Barcelona), Bournemouth University (UK), and Chulalongkorn University (Thailand). Although we only represented five countries, those who presented at the conference came from all over the world. It was an incredibly diverse group of extremely intelligent people. The participants presented research on topics stretching from international public relations and social media campaigns to American politics and the presidential candidates.
One presentation that stood out argued the possible connection between conservative beliefs and aggressive behavior. The speaker outlined in detail the numerous levels of aggressive behavior and the subsets of conservative beliefs, such as sexual conservatism. He offered a number of diagrams and maps depicting the various ways to connect these beliefs and actions; one showed the trend of progression from conservative beliefs to verbal aggression and on to aggressive actions and behaviors. Perhaps most interesting about his research, however, was the dialogue it prompted during the lunch following his presentation.
The talk had many thinking of the somewhat radical language and behaviors associated with Donald Trump and his supporters. All throughout lunch other participants went up to the speaker one by one and anxiously asked if he really thought that Trump had a chance of winning the US presidency. Those living abroad were not exceedingly comforted by his answer; although he was skeptical of Trump’s ability to actually win, he thought it was entirely possible for him to secure the Republican nomination. Many were shocked by his certainty, but the professor simply stated that Trump appealed to the anger and frustration that so many conservative Americans have felt for the past eight years. Regardless of this, the conference participants continued to debate Trump’s odds and what his victory would mean for the USA and the international community. People wanted to know how they would be impacted and how their country’s relationship with the US would change if Trump really did have a shot at the White House.
From what I experienced in my short time in Bangkok I found Thai culture to be remarkable. The people were some of the kindest I have ever met and their visual culture was simply beautiful to behold. The close cultural ties with Buddhism created an incredibly vibrant and calming atmosphere that was present in everything I saw. After spending just three days in the city and experiencing a culture and part of the world that most Americans will never see, I find myself all the more intrigued to see who will become the next US president. I want to experience as much of the world as possible and I deeply hope that whoever enters the White House next will respect and honor the rest of the world and all of its people.
by Zivah Solomon
The CPLA trip to Washington, D.C. in October was full of incredible meetings, discussions, selfies and oh so many Uber rides. But there was one moment that some (arguably, me) considered one of the most exciting moments of the entire trip.
Following the ten-hour overnight Amtrak ride from Boston to D.C., one of the excursions on the group’s first full day in the District was visiting both the House and Senate Galleries on Capitol Hill. After impromptu visits to obtain the gallery passes in the Longworth Building (where the most recent Benghazi hearing was taking place), we ventured into the rounds of security for the Senate Chambers. After becoming experts in efficiently passing through security clearance- I even considered requesting it as self directed academic minor- we made it to the doors of the Senate. Entering a Congressional Gallery as someone who is politically inclined is the equivalent of standing right in front of the Hollywood red carpet- expressly prohibited and without record (besides this article).
We sat ourselves quietly and proceeded to observe the less than a handful of senators chatting and sitting on the Senate floors. Some of us took out our helpful gallery maps and tried to see if any of our favorite senators were present while others sat quietly, whispering occasionally. There was discussion of how incredible it would be see senators from our respective home states, who we admired, and who we reviled.
One of the clerks was calling various names for a vote. Whenever she called a name we recognized our eyes would shoot toward the doors, but barely anyone walked in. C-SPAN and political publications do not lie about the emptiness of Congressional chambers on a daily basis. There were maybe twenty people in the Senate Chamber, including clerks and pages.
Suddenly, on the opposite side of the Chamber, two pages opened the doors and in walked Senator Bernie Sanders looking particularly rushed and harried. After about five minutes of quiet and patient observation, nearly everyone in the Senate Gallery was whispering excitedly. Not ten seconds following, in came Senator John McCain, former Republican presidential candidate and famous user of the word “maverick.” He proceeded to call out to Sanders, and then they fist bumped and hugged in the middle of the Senate Chamber. Is this what democracy looks like? I can only hope this what democracy looks like.
by Nichelle Lyster
During the CPLA trip to Washington, D.C., we spent some time observing a bill debate concerning the streamlining of the U.S. mining permit system in the House of Representatives Chambers. Two representatives, one from Colorado and one from California, argued the bill. Both had strong arguments for why the bill should or should not pass, and watching the spectacle prompted for me yet another realization of the dire importance of effective communication. I tended to agree with the argument of the Californian representative, but he was unable to clearly or effectively describe his reasoning.
Why aren’t communication skills more highly valued in all professions?
Communication literacy in politics and campaign rhetoric need more attention. The people writing, reading, and debating bills and educating the public all have something to gain from taking the art of communication seriously. Often, after I am asked my major, I am met with another question: “What does that mean, to study Communication?” I usually answer that it depends entirely on the area you apply it to, but the common thread is that there is an entire aspect of human engagement that is highly underestimated and understudied.
Emerson’s involvement and dedication to bridging communication and politics is amazingly refreshing. Meeting with Emerson Alumni and the students enrolled in the program in D.C. inspired me to continue to my pursuit and advocacy for closer attention to communication. It was wonderful to get a closer look at the Congressional process and remember that those writing and voting on bills that directly effect our lives were once students as well. I hope that the students of Emerson and other colleges who inherit the positions of decision making will be more aware of the importance of the stories we tell and way in which we tell them.
by Rahul Thayil
On the second day of our trip to Washington, the CPLA representatives and Bird Street students went to the Saudi Arabian Embassy, located on New Hampshire Avenue. We were greeted warmly and seated in a large conference room to watch an introductory video that discussed the pre-9/11 interactions between the USA and Saudi Arabia and the development and continued friendship between the two countries at present.
We also had the opportunity to speak to a key embassy official concerning the intercommunication and synergy between the two nations. He delved into culture, religion, and the interwoven pasts of these two countries. Later, five of us were dressed Saudi Arabian clothing, varying from traditional dress to modern garments, to further demonstrate the culture and sophistication of Saudi Arabian society.
Overall, we had a positive experience at the Saudi Arabian embassy with little hassle, and were given a unique view of Saudi Arabia from the perspective of its diplomatic representation.
by Dylan Walton, CPLA Secretary
During our recent excursion to Washington, D.C., the Communications, Politics, and Law Association visited the highly revered Newseum Institute. There were many thought provoking and inspiring exhibits, and two in particular resonated with both the historian and the activist in me; The “1965: Civil Rights at 50” and the “Make Some Noise: Students and the Civil Rights Movement.” Both exhibits highlighted the historic significance of the challenges and successes of the late twentieth century Civil Rights Movement.
The “1965: Civil Rights at 50” exhibit featured a series of stories and displays centered on some of the most widely covered and influential moments at the peak of the Civil Rights Movement in 1965. The exhibit spotlighted notable moments of photojournalism, displaying some of the iconic photos that captured the the entire nation’s attention. The Newseum covered it all, with views of the Million Man March and images of the traumatizing brutality endured by John Lewis and his comrades on “Bloody Sunday.”
Similarly notable was the exhibit on the involvement, influence, and impact of student protesters on the movement, especially in regards to the media coverage of it. Images of African-American and white students staging non-violent protests, and still being abused by authorities for non-compliance, were stamped on the public consciousness.
However, what I found most remarkable and moving about these displays was not just the brilliant showcasing of the efforts of civil rights leaders like Malcolm X and Bayard Rustin, but also the parallels seen between the activism of the past and the evolution of the Black Lives Matters movement. Showing the drive of young black Americans striving and fighting for their right to be treated as citizens struck a chord in me. The realization that the pleas of activists in the ’60s – their demands for fairer housing regulations, protection of voting rights, and an end to police brutality – were so eerily similar to the present cries of the struggling black community stung to my core.
As I turned to leave the displays that connected the historic path of our predecessors to the road advocates across the nation are paving for change, I saw an interactive display where visitors of the Newseum Institute answered the question “Have the protests in Ferguson made a difference?” by placing a marker on a board in either a Yes or No column. The markers showed that a majority thought that “No,” the protests had not made a difference. In a way, I understand this response; not enough major pieces of legislation or concrete action have been accomplished since the movement began, so it is reasonable to say that not much of a difference has been made. However, I placed my marker on the “Yes” column. I believe that the early protesters of the Black Lives Matters movement and in Ferguson profoundly changed the trajectory of US political culture. The discussions sparked across the nation shifted public consciousness. Looking back at our history, I saw how important it was for our ancestors to “Make Some Noise,” and I learned that speaking out always makes a difference.
by Robynn Singer-Baefsky
The Mansion on O Street is a hidden treasure in the middle of the historical Dupont Circle district of Washington, D.C. This peculiar house has over one hundred rooms, seventy secret doors, and is filled to the brim with memorabilia. It was the perfect spot for the Emerson networking event for Emerson students currently enrolled in the Washington, D.C. internship program, CPLA alumni, Emerson faculty, and those of us who visited Washington with CPLA in October.
President Lee Pelton spoke at the event and addressed Emerson’s recent accomplishments, including its new ranking as the number-one journalism school in the U.S. He opened up the room for questions (though time was not necessarily permitting), and nodded and smiled when he was immediately asked about the Boston Globe article discussing the future of the Colonial Theatre. It seemed the question was staged, considering his decision to field questions and the nature of his response; he wanted to address the matter to people who would spread his message to others in the Emerson Mafia.
During the networking part of the evening, people split off into groups to speak about their ambitions and interests and make professional connections. It was a fun and interesting (albeit slightly overwhelming) place to meet people with similar interests, or who had graduated Emerson with the same degree that I am working for.
The networking event was an eye-opening chance to see what an Emerson education and hard work can do. The alumni in attendance epitomize the opportunities Emerson offers, and what doors open simply by being a graduate of the college.