The polemic surrounding the place of the mass media in the political socialization in the American society has endured the test of time. While the discussion borders on the degree of mass media influence on political developments in America, the importance of mass media in political agenda setting cannot be gainsaid.
The socializing role of the media can be premised on several factors not limited to:
The level of mass media penetration and uptake. Infiltration of the mass media determines the level of contact and influence the media outlets have on an individual (Barber 2000: 25). Anchoring on the informing role of the media, many Americans turn to the mass media to question, understand, and appreciate political figures. In an economy, where traditional voting patterns are continually challenged in favor of emerging national and global issues, mass media offer Americans an opportunity to imbibe new political ideologies. Therefore, suffice it to say, an increased uptake of the mass media results in the equal increase in political participation by the populace.
The role of the media in setting the policy agenda
In the wake of the war on terrorism, the mass media in America was instrumental in formulating the issues discussed by the President Bush. This was evident in different frames constructed by the mass media on terrorism. This phenomenon shadows the ability of mass media to percolate certain agendas to the political class.
The role of the media in highlighting the importance of the issues
When convinced that the political class is missing the point by prioritizing less cogent issues, American mass media have often drawn attention to more critical issues meriting attention of the political leaders. The recent economic meltdown, Iran’s nuclear ambitions and bilateral relations with Israel clearly manifested the tendency of the mass media to highlight potential effect of the issues on America.
Mass media role in issue framing for public evaluation
At the capture and killing of Osama Bin Laden, the American mass media reported him to have been found with loads of pornographic materials. For a man who is believed to derive impetus for heinous atrocities from religious high moral ground, this revelation is disturbing.
In the light of the above expositions, the essence of mass media as an agent of socialization has been cemented. The mass media remain the most pivotal avenue of the exchange of ideas, attitudes, philosophies, and values. From politics to fashion, Americans have often echoed their identity through mass media. Based on media framing, parents select schools for their children, business relocate to new frontiers, and political figures have had to realign their campaign strategies while targeting specific states
Why American two-party System continue to endure
The two-party political system has epitomized American politics since the formative years of the nation. Sporadically, third parties emerge with little success. The persistence of two-party dominance in America has drawn the attention of scholars who have labored to understand its driving force.
When American state was born, the founding fathers envisaged a political space dedicated to solving the problems of Americans. The thought of fragmenting the populace along party lines was sternly admonished.
The persistence of the two-party system in America has been linked to features of political structure which entangle the operation of smaller parties. Single member districts, for instance, can only elect one person. This elevates the established parties above the small ones. Consequently, only major parties have the political might to garner over 50% of the votes.
The two-party system in America has also been viewed as a distinctive mark. From the beginning, this has been the norm. Additionally, the two parties are always in agreement on the fundamental issues affecting the American society with little departures. This has led to a feeling of adequacy on the number of political parties to move America forward.
Finally, electoral system has also been identified as a bottleneck in achieving party plurality in America. Americans vote for an individual instead of a party. This includes the election of the president through the Electoral College (Jensen 1995: 41).
The influence of legislative reapportionment in American politics
Reapportionment in the American parlance refers to the balancing of representation in the House of Representatives conducted every ten years after a national census. In the process, a state can gain, lose or retain its number of districts. Reapportionment is envisaged to harmonize the population with the number of representatives. It is equally intended to achieve equitable representation in both rural and urban areas as well as the minority groups protected by the constitution of the United States
The practice has, however, been faulted for been hijacked by the majority party in the legislature to craft more representatives in its favor. They achieved this through the process of gerrymandering in which electoral districts were crafted out of sheer opportunism and wish to accumulate political might.
The danger associated with the gerrymandering process reduces the efficiency of a representative by limiting the regions of influence. This is caused by unguided crafting of districts, some of which fail to take care of the irreducible minima like regional knowledge.
The place of the US Electoral Collage in American politics
Election of the American president and the vice-president is done through the Electoral College. The college consists of state appointed electors from all the states. The procedure is enshrined in the Constitution which further determines the number of electors to be drawn from each state.
The practice has been faulted with scholars predicting its tragic end. Several arguments have been advanced against the practice. Since not all states have equal representation in the college, it has led to politicians paying much attention to selecting few states while completely ignoring states perceived to contribute little or no significance in a presidential bid. This eventually sidelines many voters whose voices would otherwise be heard.
Since politicians are forced to target specific states for votes, the political agenda is often reduced to state politics, concerns, and needs which sometimes largely fail to harmonize the national agenda. This situation is worsened by the identification of some states with a specific political party making it difficult for a dissenting candidate to even campaign in such states.
To maneuver this bottleneck, several suggestions have been mooted. These include proportional state allocation of electoral votes, direct voting with a majority rule, and congressional method with a focus on the districts (Jensen 1995: 56).
Proportional allocation of electoral votes would see presidential contestants each garner specific number of votes in tandem with percentages received at the ballot. Direct voting will phase out the electoral system allowing each American to cast their vote for a candidate of choice while district congressional voting roots for allocation of a single vote in every district believed to be capable of balancing electoral votes across the United States.
But even with these recommendations, it remains an uphill task for the Electoral College system to be scraped. A major challenge lies with the current representation in which mighty states like New York and California continue to wield much favor for a particular party.
Based on Austin's theory, both Nazi law and Nazi legal system were a valid law and completely legal system. Apparently, Hitler was the absolute authority of the Nazi regime, after legally passed Enabling Act, he was then be the unique person who was supreme above state, and of course above law also. The position and the function of Hitler at Nazi regime definitely felt into the definition of “sovereign.” All the laws that were enacted by Hitler set out to segregate the Jews from Germans by limitations of their living areas and the prohibition of any sexual relationship between the two races. Duties were executed by those in charge of the law for Germans to keep the "purity of blood". They were chains of command that were laid and the laws had to be by everyone. Otherwise, sanctions and other ramifications would be severe and great.
The description of the law as was claimed by Austin was riddled with a lot of controversies and it was criticized for an assortment of reasons. Argumentatively, postulations from Hart, another positivist, through his comprehensive examination of Austin’s theory in The Concept of Law (1961) underscored the indispensable weakness of "the command theory of law".
At first, Austin's viewed the law basically as "orders backed by threats". Outwardly, the criminal law may be endowed with rich and numerous examples of this concept, in addition to the Nazi law. This sharply contradicts the pronouncements that were made by Hart thus,
There are other varieties of law, notably those conferring legal powers to adjudicate or legislate (public powers) or to create or vary legal relations (private powers) which cannot, without absurdity, be construed as orders backed by threats.
Austin's theory, at present, was held that it was "narrowness of perspective" of law with few roots in established historical fact. Therefore, if based on Austin's theory only, the legitimacy and legality of Nazi law would not have been recognized or acknowledged by many people.
Legal positivism is "in". Recent years have seen the occurrence of a paroxysm in the development and purification of several ideas that were originally conceived, in particular, by Professor Hart. Law as a "social phenomenon", which is how Hart views it, involves an allusion to "the characteristics of the human condition". Within a society, there exists the need for rules to protect "persons, property and promises".
The term "rule" is not to be interpreted and viewed according to Austin's terms, namely, as "a command". By all means, the very idea that rules are phenomenal consists purely in externally observable habits or activities. Hart, disparately to Austin, was more concerned with the validation of the fact that far more substantial than commands, sovereignty, and sanctions, is the social basis and foundation of legal rules.
Hart in one of his arguments claims that a diminutive community, interdependent and bound by a collective belief and sentiments and placed in an unwavering environment, might be capable of living with a set of rules imprecise to the "primary rules of obligation" as he so described.
In contrast, this would be impossible in a larger community, on account of the very nature of the principal rules. Consequently, doubts might be apportioned as to what the established rules are all about, or as to the foundation on which those doubts are to be settled or resolved: the problem likely to be created would be one of uncertainty. Additionally, the static nature of the primary rules might bring with it other problems, for instance, a premeditated adjustment to a new state of affairs might be a tall order. A third imperfection would be on the maintenance of the law as there would be no legally instituted and a dedicated official agency authorized to find out whether or not a rule has not been followed, i.e. inefficiency.
An introduction of a secondary rule to do away with the three aforementioned defects would further compound the problem by bringing about the emergence of a non-recognizable legislative order which according to Hart, the concept of this law may be most revealingly characterized as "a union of primary and secondary rules".
According to Hart, the most significant secondary rule is the "rule of recognition". This rule spells out some features such as possession, which by an unsubstantiated rule is a decisive indication that the established rule is legal and not merely a rule of custom, morality, or religion. As Hart says:
Hart therefore viewed Nazi law as a law because it satisfied the prerequisites of the "rule of recognition". Enabling Act evidently postulated that Hitler would get hold of the jurisdiction, legislative and executive power. By passing the act at German Parliament with a prodigious support from the members of Parliament, it suggested that Hitler was an exceptional law-maker who was acknowledged by officials and citizens alike. As such, all the law Hitler made, notwithstanding how evil it was and what kind of form it was, it was the "law" and people had to obey it. This is attributable to the fact that the source and procedures followed in making of laws were initially accepted by the people in this communal setting. Hence, it was now certain that Nazi law was law. Hart stated the two conditions that need to be satisfied, that is whether it was to be a valid law or whether a legal system was to exist,
There are therefore two minimum conditions necessary and sufficient for the existence of a legal system. On the one hand, those rules of behavior which are valid according to the system's ultimate criteria of validity must be generally obeyed, and, on the other hand, its rules of recognition specifying the criteria of legal validity and its rules of change and adjudication must be effectively accepted as common public standards of official behavior by its officials.
The former of these conditions encompasses a general practical compliance by the people to the rules of the community whose validity originates from the rule of acknowledgement. It is necessary to perceive that Hart is not advocating for the need to "accept" the primary rules or the rules of recognition by the members of the society. Instead, the officials barely need to espouse an "internal point of view", which comes as the second condition. The officials are obliged to only comply with those secondary rules, and they must mutually "accept" them. This point is particularly to the acceptance of the "rules of recognition", the given collective standards for creating and enunciating judicial verdicts. Therefore, when a German arbitrator at "People Court" asserted that no court of justice may probe into the style and fashion by which Hitler came up with law, he was demonstrative of the acceptance of the rule with particular reference to recognition as it denoted authority and power that Hitler wielded and exercised. Therefore, law as was enacted by the ruinous Nazi regime was certainly a valid law since it satisfied all the necessary requirements that were believed by Hart hence it was valid and was within the legal system that was in existence.
A different school of thought holds that the natural law theory defines law as the only laws that fit into a particular code of morals can genuinely be referred to as law. They maintained that Nazi law therefore did not qualify to be law since "it was too evil to be law".
Lon Fuller (1902-78) principally is concomitant with his secular position of natural law arguing that it has an "inner morality", and that a legal establishment is the deliberate "enterprise of subjecting human conduct to the governance of rules" which is regarded as below. Fuller adopted approach to natural law. The eight ways of making law are manifested in his eight desiderata; "eight kinds of legal excellence toward which a system of rules may strive" embodied in the "inner morality of law". It is an embodiment of what he calls "a morality of aspiration and not of duty. Its primary appeal must be a sense of trusteeship and to the pride of the craftsman".
Succinctly put, law has an "internal morality" according to Fuller. He argues that a legal system is the purposive human "enterprise of subjecting human conduct to the guidance and control of general rules". That a legal system is bound to obey certain procedural standards regardless of what it is intended for. If disregarded it only leads to an exercise of state coercion. He recounts the hard-luck story of King Res, and the eight ways he failed to make law, perfectly befits Hitler. These are the routes to failure.
The first and the most obvious lies in a failure to achieve rules at all so that every issue must be decided on an ad hoc basis. The other routes are: 2) a failure to publicize, or at least to make available to the affected party, the rules he is expected to observe; 3) the abuse of retroactive legislation, which cannot itself guide action, but undercuts the integrity of rules prospective in effect, since it puts them under the threat of retrospective change; 4) a failure to make rules understandable; 5) the enactment of contradictory rules or 6) rules that require conduct beyond the powers of the affected party; 7) introducing such frequent changes in the rules that the subject cannot orient his action by them; and, finally, 8) a failure to achieve congruence between the rules as announced and their actual administration.
As a refusal to regard Hitler’s "law", it is debatable that conformity with Fuller's "internal morality" doesn’t warrant a just order; the legal system in apartheid South Africa probably conformed to all the eight principles even though it subjectively defined race.
The natural law theory is not preferred here because it has the same validity everywhere, and does not depend on our approval of it or not. With it, there is the commonplaceness of conflicts.
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