On May 26, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders officially kicked off his 2016 presidential bid in Burlington with a fiery speech that implored progressives to help him create “a political revolution” that will transform the United States “economically, politically and environmentally.”
“This country faces more serious problems today than at any time since the Great Depression,” Sanders told a crowd of 5,000 at Waterfront Park. “If you include the planetary crisis of climate change, it may well be that the challenges we face now are more dire than any time in our modern history.”
Sanders, 73, vowed to elevate issues like income inequality, climate change and campaign finance in the presidential campaign. He said that the “grotesque” level of money and power that the nation’s billionaires currently enjoy is “immoral, bad economics and unsustainable.”
While Sanders was praised by a string of onstage supporters, including environmental activist Bill McKibben, several leading Vermont Democrats, including Sen. Patrick Leahy, Gov. Peter Shumlin and former Gov. Howard Dean, were notably absent from the event. All three have thrown their support behind Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
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It has been a busy past few weeks for the Democratic Party, as the apparent coronation of Hillary Clinton is in jeopardy of becoming a list of serious contenders for the Democratic Presidential nominee spot. Chief among those who have already made an announcement is Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), but it also appears that former Virginia Senator Jim Webb is seriously considering a run for the White House as well.
Speculation has it that there are others still waiting to announce, with one of those being current Vice-President Joe Biden, who many think is the big pink elephant in the room. Speculation continues as well on whether Martin O’Malley, former Maryland Governor, will enter the race. O’Malley has a press conference scheduled for May 30. The summer before the actual primary, it is clearly “heating” up as the 2016 White House race gets underway.
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As the march of technology increases apace with each passing year, it seems that the ultimate cost of such unparalleled progress is the toll it takes on the masses of people it leaves behind.
More and more, we seem to be witnessing growing numbers of Americans – all of whom are potential voters, empowered to lend their voice to serious political, economic, and cultural decisions – who are simply being overwhelmed and overawed by the rapid increase of change. And one of the areas in which we are witnessing the most graphic decline is in the area of education.
Grades Are Dropping: What Can Be Done?
The fact of the matter is that being able to have access to education (primary, collegiate, and vocational) is more important in the 21st century than it has ever been at any time in the past. Not only are the grades of American students dropping year after year, but their motivation to do well for themselves in a high paying career is also fast disappearing. In short, the American dream may well be coming to an end as we look helplessly on.
Is Traditional Schooling On Its Way Out In America?
This is precisely why virtual education options, such as online GED programs or collegiate degrees, deserves to be considered as a viable option to traditional, “brick and mortar” schooling. Even as this article goes to press, schools in Kansas are making news, thanks to the decision of the school board in that state to close even more of them due to lack of funding.
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On Tuesday, Florida’s House Criminal Justice Committee considered a bill, HB 287, to ban kratom, a drug made from the leaves of Mitragyna speciosa, which is a tree native to Southeast Asia. The proposed legislation would make kratom a Schedule I drug like heroin or LSD. The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 divides drugs into five categories or “schedules” depending on how easy they are to abuse, how safe they are, and whether or not they are currently used as medicine.
Schedule I drugs, the most severe category, are defined as having no accepted medical use in the United States and a high potential for abuse. As a Schedule I drug, possessing, selling or possessing kratom with the intention of selling it would become third-degree felonies.
The House Criminal Justice Committee voted 13 – 0 to review the bill under Committee Substitute (CS) as per Rule 7.19(c) on March 25, 2015.
Rep. Kristin Jacobs, a Democrat, had introduced the bill on January 15, 2015. Doing so fulfilled a promise she had made during her campaign. The freshman representative had unsuccessfully tried to have kratom banned the previous year towards the end of her stint as a Broward County commissioner. Kratom is currently not scheduled at all under the Controlled Substances Act, and it has never been monitored through any national surveys of drug abuse. As a result, it’s not clear how many people in the U.S. use kratom, much less what percentage of those users overdose on it or have suffered other ill effects from using it.
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The Republicans are making significant inroads and are poised to regain control of the House, the State, and the White House. To hold off the Republican charge, the Democrats need new candidates to excite the populace, generate votes, and remain in power. To do this they’re depending on several new up and coming dynamic politicians, including several women and minorities, to find the next generation of leaders.
While Democratic candidates like conspiracy theorist Jeff Boss, performance artist Vermin Supreme, and former football coach Robby Wells are simply seeking a few minutes of fame, the hopes of the party’s future rest with presidential candidates like Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley, Jim Webb, and others who have all begun to do the groundwork to prepare for a chance of becoming serious presidential candidates.
Martin O’Malley is a political veteran. He’s been Governor of Maryland from 2007 until 2015 and was Baltimore’s mayor from 1999 until he became governor in 2007. He has already created a team and started a political action committee.
Former Secretary of the Navy and Virginia’s Senator from 2007–2013 Jim Webb thinks he has what it takes to draw new people into the Democratic tent and help to lead the party forward. He has already created an exploratory committee to research his chances of success in the 2016 election. He is most well known for wearing elevator shoes to increase his perceived height and for wearing his sons army combat boots during his 2006 senate campaign.
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The Factual Overview
There is a proposal by President Obama that will offer two years of community college tuition at no cost to the student. The actual price of a community college would be lowered to a zero amount due. This plan does include the following:
- Tuition-free classes for students going to school at least half time
- Required GPA of two point five average grade average or higher
- Required to make level and steady progress toward a degree or a transfer to a four year facility
- A student is guaranteed to receive two free years of courses at a community college if they maintain the above requirements.
This free college tuition proposal presents a good opportunity for approximately 40 percent of students that choose community college. This is a broad and wide range of individuals that would receive the opportunity to obtain an education and then obtain good employment. This includes the following groups:
- Young high school graduates
- Older and misplaced workers
- Single parents
When the student graduates they will receive many exceptional opportunities. They will be fully prepared for the new economy. This could be accomplished without the burden of a large debt.
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The Democratic Party has a long history of supporting education and the federal government’s responsibility to make it the best possible. In 1862 President Abraham Lincoln (then a Republican but would now be considered a Democrat) passed the Morrill Act which empowered the federal government to donate land for colleges to states and territories.
Democratic president Andrew Johnson approved the creation of a Department of Education as part of the federal government in 1867. The Democratic platform in 1920 called for removing illiteracy, teaching citizenship, and raising teacher’s salaries through federal assistance.
Throughout the 20th century Democrats proposed numerous bills calling for better federal education legislation. They included calls for supplemental federal education aid for communities that the war effort negatively affected.
Democrats also supported emergency education aid during the depression of the 1930s and school construction in the 1950s to educate the Baby Boomers. During the Cold War, democrats supported the National Defense Education Act. They also proposed legislation to provide equal educational opportunity for all Americans regardless of race.
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