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Tutor profile: Jasmine V.

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Jasmine V.
Junior at Virginia Commonwealth University
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Questions

Subject: Political Science

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Question:

How will voting behavior influence changes in the US retirement system in the upcoming presidential elections?

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Jasmine V.
Answer:

The most important factor for many individuals regarding social security involves retirement and how to prepare for a comfortable future after employment. This then causes individuals to act with rational self-interest when determining what age to retire. As medical treatments improve in the U.S., the current working-age population will live longer than the current retired population, with this trend continuing for later generations. The easiest way to maximize retirement income, it is logical to retire at an older age under the assumption of a longer life span. For example, if an individual begins receiving benefits at 62 and lives to 100, they will receive less money than retiring at 66 and living to 100. Under this assumption, raising the retirement age would be less controversial as the maximum income will still be received. Alternatively, some individuals' life spans are shorter based on health complications, as well as some people’s income being too low to supply a liveable wage during retirement. In the first instance of health complications, the earlier withdrawal of retirement would maximize overall income; this then makes raising the retirement age harmful. In the situation where income is low, the most beneficial action is to retire later in life, in order to secure the ability to live comfortably, regardless of how long they would live. In this situation, the rational choice is to work as long as possible to ensure survival, not in order to maximize overall retirement income. The solution popularized by the Republican Party, other than complete privatization of social security, involves raising the retirement age. Overall it is more likely for republican candidates to get elected that do not support complete privatization, as this is an irrational choice for voters who depend on it. With the perspective of removing social security, the candidate could potentially become the last choice or the worse of unwanted options. As mentioned above, this solution is positive for some, but for others, it seems irrational. With these two general plans becoming a part of party platforms, the voter is then going to elect the candidate with the better outcome for them. Following the rational choice theory, younger generations would be more likely to elect a conservative-leaning candidate because a higher retirement age would ensure more money during retirement as life expectancy is longer. Individuals with disabilities that shorten life spans and those with lower incomes are more likely to vote for a liberal-leaning candidate because a higher tax would ensure they had more money while in retirement. Essentially, surface-level policy preferences show a conservative strategy that is based on raising funds individually, therefore following the self-interest model, whereas the liberal policy uses group mentality to raise the money resources in social security for everyone. An empirical analysis of the Republican party shows this rational choice concept is lacking in implementation. The perspectives from the Republican party regarding social security reflect differences between traditional conservatism and Trumpism. In the 2008 presidential race, Republican candidate John McCain pushed for private investment, and stated payroll taxes were a potential solution to social security funding. McCain also pushed a narrative that each generation should be paying for their own retirement and not receive aid from those still working. The concept of putting in place actual changes were altered with the emergence of Donald Trump as the party leader. During his 2016 campaign, Trump stated he would not cut funding to social security but would boost the infrastructure with a booming economy. Trump is the current president, meaning he has the capability to implement this policy. Even with campaign promises of not cutting social security, budget proposals show a redistribution of money from social security to things such as border security. The differences between McCain’s openness to payroll taxes and Trump’s policy of silently cutting funding shows a change within the Republican party. The actions by Trump reflect a lack of compromise, which is often further highlighted by his narrative of fake news and “do nothing democrats.” Still, many individuals follow this narrative based on Trump’s appeal to those who dislike political systems and his charismatic nature. This fosters feelings of unity within the Republican Party, which is not seen within the Democratic Party. The proposal brought by the Democratic Party involves raising or removing the payroll tax cap and/or raising the percentage taxed by social security. The issue that arises with this solution is a debate that has occurred for decades and often pushes economic conservatives away: raising taxes. An empirical analysis of campaign promises in 21st-century presidential elections show that there is a divide in the Democratic Party regarding social security as a whole, but retirement remains fairly neutral. In the 2016 primary season, Bernie Sanders, the progressive frontrunner, spoke of changing the tax system pushing the top one percent of the wealthy to pay into social security. In the 2020 primaries, Sanders published a plan raising the payroll taxable income from $132,900 to $250,000. The moderate perspective of Hilary Clinton in 2016 also discussed raising the cap, and Clinton stated she would not raise the retirement age based on a lower life expectancy for minorities. This is an important statement put forth by Clinton, as a majority of minority groups generally vote Democratic in elections. Under Joe Biden’s moderate campaign in 2020, he plans to prevent privatization and install protections for those who wish to retire earlier but mentions nothing about raising payroll tax caps. With the similarities in both progressive and moderate plans, the Democratic Party could create a unified plan, but polarization and tensions within the party complicate this matter. The most liberal groups of the party rallied behind Sanders in the 2020 primary season and his ultimate loss to Biden prompted many progressives making claims on social media that they will no longer be voting. Those who favor Sanders often consider themselves democratic socialists and often have a distrust of current political structures in the U.S. based on inequalities believed to be created by conservatives and moderates. If the claim of not voting is true, the Democratic Party will lose crucial votes needed to beat the incumbent Republican president. Additionally, any policy changes of social security will most likely follow conservative ideals, especially if both chambers of Congress are to have a Republican majority after the 2020 election.

Subject: International Studies

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Question:

Explain the differences between the international relations theories of Classical Realism and Classical Liberalism.

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Jasmine V.
Answer:

Emerging strongly in the Cold War Era, Realism was the dominant perspective until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Realist theory focuses on relative gains, meaning the goal of countries is to always "win" against another, and a lack of cooperation. Within Classical Realism, power is the end goal, with material goods being the means of power. For example, the material good of money or a military makes one nation stronger and "better" relative to the other. Realism explains the conflict between states well but fails to explain cooperation. Classical Liberalism focuses on cooperation and absolute gains, meaning the influence of cultural and social consequences are related. to decision making in international politics. The basics of Liberalism are the need for security, trade, and peace laeding alliances to prevent conflict. Liberalism explains the development of internal organizations such as the United Nations but fails to explain states acting in self-interest.

Subject: US History

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Question:

How did the Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt from 1901-1909 change foreign and domestic policy?

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Jasmine V.
Answer:

The leadership displayed by Theodore Roosevelt during his presidency is reflective of two distinct ideologies: Big Stick Diplomacy in foreign relations and Progressivism in domestic relations. Big Stick Diplomacy was characterized by multiple expansions in military power. President Roosevelt expanded both the manpower of the US military, as well as the size of the Navy. Roosevelt famously established the "Great White Fleet;" which was sent around the globe, in order to inform the world that the US was now a great naval power. The massive military expansions have been a continued trend, as the military has grown in both size and. technology. Domestically, Roosevelt put forth concepts of Progressivism that brought along new protections for consumers. Roosevelt supported and pushed legislation that broke up monopolies and pushed for regulation of the food industries, creating the FDA during his second term. The trend of protecting consumers has continued since Roosevelt's presidency, as the FDA is still an important agency responsible for recalls and approval of new drugs.

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