Tutor profile: Alex R.
Subject: World History
Why do we talk so much about Europe in World History? What about all the other places in the world?
This is a fantastic question. The honest, hard answer is that there is not enough time. It's important to know how we got to where we are today first before we delve deeper into the lake of history. We have to skim the surface of what we can see in front of us before we dive down deep below. The better or worse, Europe played an integral part in almost every current country or civilization in existence today whether it be through colonizing the New World and introducing new products and pathogens to the world market, colonizing Africa and following slave trade and extraction of resources, or the colonization of Southeast-Asia for spices and labor. The Europeans left their footprint on the foundations of many countries today and impacted how we all live our lives today. Dozens of countries celebrate their Independence every year from the British alone! All history of everyone on this blue marble of Earth is important. And just because the World History class you are taught today doesn't go into depth on Mansa Musa or many of the Pharohs of Egypt doesn't mean they are any less important. The people in charge of determining who and what you are taught about determined that it's better for you to know the events that directly influenced how most of our world is run today than for you to learn a cursory course of every continent. The latter would be a much more interesting and culturally enriching topic if you were to ask me.
Subject: US History
Was the American Civil War inevitable?
This is a difficult question to answer as a Historian. The question of inevitability, or it something is going to happen for sure, is a tough concept to ponder. Nothing is ever guaranteed to ever happen. Look at the United States and the Soviet Union for example. Though we had many proxy wars with them, we never went to war directly with the USSR. If you asked a parent in the 1960s who lived through the Korean War and was currently going through the Vietnam War who had a child that did bomb raid drills in school, they might have told you that war was inevitable. But we never did go to war with the Soviets. But, back to the topic of the Civil War. In fact, the Civil War was stalled many times by the work a famous congressman: Henry Clay. He stopped the pot from boiling over on three separate occasions (with some help from a few other congressman, too). He was important for the creation of the Missouri Compromise in 1820, the Compromise in 1833, and the Compromise of 1850 as well. He tried his hardest to keep the United States from falling apart. While people tend to debate the cause of the Civil War, historians pretty much agree that the main cause of the Civil War and the driving force behind succession was Slavery. At one point, some could argue, the external pressure from other countries in the world abolishing slavery could force the United States to do the same even if the Civil War was avoided in the 1860s. Who knows what would have happened then! Nothing is ever 100% guaranteed in history. It's a far better exercise to think instead why they happened when they did and to try to figure out what caused events to happen in the first place!
Passing a bill seems so easy when you watch the School House Rock video. If it is so easy, how come we don't have more bills becoming laws?
The typical answer found in most classrooms and School House Rock videos will tell you is that a Bill becomes a law when it passes both houses (or chambers) of our Federal Government's Legislative branch and finally signed by the President of the United States. There are lots of reasons why a bill won't get passed even though the forward process can be simple. Some bills are just presented at the wrong time. The status quo, or the current way things are done or looked at, has to be just right for a bill to get moved down the assembly line. A bill that allowed women to open a bank account and vote would never pass in 1850, but something like that in 2018 seems normal to us. The bill has to be presented in a time period and state of affairs that best allows for that law to get traction on the course. A good example of this is the sudden increase in legislatures all of a sudden "caring" about child abuse in the last few decades. There is not a lot of evidence showing a push for child-abuse reform in the middle and early parts of the 20th century; now, in America, there is quite a bit of protection for children. Child Protective Services only opened their doors in 1974! Bills also have to have support of a lot of different people. It's not as simple as 50% + 1. The politicians have to see how their constituents, or people who voted for them in the first place, think about the bill. The politician might want the bill passed, but if the people they represent hate the bill, then the politician could lose their job in the future. They might vote against the bill to save their own job (which isn't necessarily a bad thing). Bills have to have support of the people, the politicians, the president, countless lobbyists, and the court system. There are many ways for many different actors in the process to stall out a bill until the status quo changes to an unsavory environment, which is a whole other discussion. A politician can filibuster, or continue to talk so that the bill gets delayed. A committee that a bill is assigned to can not discuss the bill. The President might have no intention of signing the bill so it might be a waste of time to pursue it anyway! Some bills are also proposed as political stunts and the politician has no intention of pushing it through anyway. The fact of the matter is, the massive beast of the American law-making process is not simple and every bill goes down its own unique path. There's a lot to learn about how a bill becomes a law.
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