Monday, June 4, 2012

Church and State Revisited

A Political Essay by Jeffrey E. Poehlmann
Originally published by on February 25, 2001
[Note: the President referred to in this essay is G. W. Bush, whose administration had been actively working to direct funds to religiously affiliated organizations and away from secular organizations that had been providing similar services.]

"Religion and government will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together." -- JAMES MADISON

God has never been elected to serve in Washington, but some feel He should be there anyway. By affixing his signature to an executive order to create the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, President G.W. Bush has offered his opening statement on the debate.

Setting Priorities in Education

A Political Essay by Jeffrey E. Poehlmann
Originally published by on March 31, 1999
[Note: the fact that this essay is over a decade old and the issue is still so current speaks volumes about the lack of positive change afforded by a Congress more interested in its internal interests than those of the society it is meant to serve. The abject failure of "No Child Left Behind" and the increasing focus on testing rather than learning has only further marginalized at-risk students and created more division within the educational system.]

There is no question that the success of a society's future hinges upon the education of its children. A strong, defined and state supported educational system can be used for good or ill, for it determines the direction of future leaders. What we look toward today is not a fascist system of state defined moral lessons and approved scientific or religious thinking. Rather, we search for a way to incorporate state controls over structure and quality without impinging upon freedom of thought and diversity of opinion. In order to ensure that our educational system sets international standards and best prepares today's children to face their (and our) tomorrows, we must instill federal guidelines that hold states in accountability for the implementation of regional public school standards.

Left Wanting a Voice for the Everyman

A Political Essay by Jeffrey E. Poehlmann
Originally published by on January 1, 1999

A recent convening of "conservatives" in the Phoenix dessert on what many are calling an annual examination of their identity has left me asking myself an old question: Why do we label our politicians, ourselves, as conservative or liberal rather than humanitarian? Is not the purpose of government in this country to help and protect the citizens of this country? Surely the United States of America is beyond reproach when accused of the political infighting, power struggles and oppression of all opposition that marred monarchies and empires of centuries past or the dictatorial regimes of thoseless significant countries we relegate to the Third World. So why is it that our system has become in recent years so completely polarized in its struggle between the two dominant political parties to the point where a virtual coup has been attempted? Is it to protect the American People, as the proponents of this movement would have us believe, though the vast majority of the American People have spoken out in its opposition, or is this really just one more example (albeit a modern one) of the sort of political infighting and backstabbing that has brought down rulers through the ages? "Beware the ides of March," I say. It is time for the common man's voice to return to the seat of our leaders.

Skirting the Limits of Campaign Finance Reform

A Political Essay by Jeffrey E. Poehlmann
Originally published on on December 15, 1998

The controversy over Presidential campaign financing has officially resurfaced. A recent New York Times article(November 29, 1998) predicts candidates will have to raise at least $22 million -- approximately $50,000 per day -- over the next two years. Author Jill Abramson goes on to suggest that loopholes are being sought and utilized by most potential candidates who wish to remain competitive.
"To raise these large unrestricted (soft money) contributions from wealthy individuals, corporations and labor unions," Abramson writes, "(politicians) are exploiting the less-restrictive political donation regulations at the state level, establishing nonprofit organizations and setting up political action committees."
Such actions undeniably shift the potential for success in favor of candidates with ready access to wealthy benefactors. Without a level playing field, qualified candidates often cannot muster the media presence required to compete in the political arena. Third parties and independents cannot hope to compete financially unless they are themselves capable of funneling private funds through similar means.