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Friday, April 24th

Applying Gauthier's Social Contract Theory to Libertarianism

David Truesdale, Winthrop University

While Libertarianism is often portrayed in modern American politics as a form of radical conservatism that minimizes the influence of government as radically as possible – as seen through the Tea Party – this research will contend that it need not necessarily fall under the umbrella of conservatism. The question at hand is something along the lines of the following: what is the theory of Libertarianism? To address this question, the research aims to present a brief history of Libertarianism in American politics, specifically discuss the Libertarian theories proposed by Robert Nozick and Jan Narveson, and present the new idea for how Libertarian theory ought to be specifically understood through the lens of David Gauthier’s Morals by Agreement – a contractarian philosophy that replaces Hobbes’s Leviathan and Locke’s God as enforcers of the social contract with individual reason, arguing that one chooses to engage in the social contract because it is individually beneficial. Specifically, the goal is to discuss how Gauthier’s view of the social contract may allow for a broader discussion on what Libertarianism is. Furthermore, the hope is to apply these understandings of Libertarianism to a specific issue and ask where they are in these conversations – are they not involved, not loud enough, or simply ignored?

The Impact of Mainstream Media on Public Opinion and Policy Decisions: Coverage of the Israeli—Palestinian Conflict

Aisha Muhammad

The focus of this research will be on media influence, specifically regarding coverage of events surrounding the Israeli—Palestinian conflict. This thesis examines the influences of mainstream media regarding this issue in the United States, and briefly compares it to mainstream media influence in the United Kingdom. It explores the impact that the frequency of the coverage has on viewers, the general public, and, eventually, policy decisions. This thesis also scrutinizes and measures the kind of language and words used by popular television news channels concerning the conflict. Misinformation, misrepresentation, and sensationalism are common factors of mainstream media. This thesis analyzes how and why news channels cover stories differently and the impact or lack of impact it has on viewers. The Israeli—Palestinian conflict has been a popular issue in the news since the mid-1900s, but this thesis focuses on more recent coverage over the last 15 years of the conflict. This thesis will then study how the rate and type of coverage have impacted public opinion and support or opposition to government decisions regarding Israel and Palestine.

The New Kid on the Block: How the Dominican Republic Intimidated Lyndon B. Johnson into His Biggest Mistake

Tiffany Owens, Winthrop University

Faculty Mentor: Gregory S. Crider, Ph.D.

In 1965, just two years into Johnson’s presidency, the Dominican Republican government led by Juan Bosch found itself in a civil war with the Dominican Revolutionary Party. Johnson’s decision to send American troops to the Dominican Republic is one of his most regretful choices of his presidency, but he indicated on record that he would do it again if he had to. This paper contends that Johnson had personal and economic motives for intervening in the Dominican Republic but used the guise of protecting the United States and the West from communism. It also argues that Johnson was intimidated by the small island country just as he was by Cuba, and that he feared that the rest of Latin America was beginning to contend in the world power arena. The paper then analyzes voice memos and transcripts from the National Security Archives and the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library, along with telephone conversations between President Johnson, the Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, and the U.S. Ambassador in the Dominican Republic. These voice memos and phone conversations provide insight into Johnson’s motives. The use of official memoranda between Johnson and his administration pertaining to activity in the Dominican Republic is deployed to compare the confidence of Johnson on paper compared to reality.

Understanding Insurgencies and Democracy in Hong Kong

Ann Carroll, Winthrop University

Faculty Mentor: Ginger Williams, Ph.D.

Since the turnover from British colonialism in Hong Kong to Chinese colonialism in 1997, Hong Kongers continue to lack personal influence over what rules govern their region. Deemed a special administrative region, Hong Kong’s government operates directly under China through the “One Country, Two Systems” rule. Thus, under Beijing’s ruling, Hong Kong and China are the same country, but China operates as a communist country and Hong Kong operates as a hybrid regime. Under British colonialism, citizens of Hong Kong began protesting for more political and economic freedom through political insurgencies that flourished under Chinese rule. Despite these protests, Beijing’s firm grasp on Hong Kong’s governmental system remains inflexible to change. This article empirically shows the historical precedents that led to the Umbrella Movement by analyzing the work of historians, political scientists, and journalists. This combination of disciplines yields the best results to address why democracy has not been implemented in Hong Kong and why hope for a democratic Hong Kong remains dismal. The research question is: Why have political insurgencies not brought democracy to Hong Kong? Through an examination of the majority student-led protests, Beijing’s dismissal of democracy, the use of media, insurgencies in Taiwan and the Special Administrative Region of Macau, and the future of Hong Kong; democracy will remain a foreign concept. As a result of Hong Kong’s long history of colonialism under Britain and China, citizens of Hong Kong continue to fight more for an independent political and economic system instead of a democratic society.

United States Assimilation

Victoria Everest, Winthrop University

Almost all citizens of the United States, at one point in their ancestry, were immigrants. Immigrants looking to become citizens of the United States strive to become a part of America’s society. This process is called assimilation. The process of assimilation has looked different for different groups of immigrants throughout American history. The difference between the Irish and Mexican assimilation experiences is interesting and complex. You must consider many factors in order to answer the question: What are the most important factors that determine how fast an immigrant group assimilates into American culture? One discipline is not enough to fully understand the processes. Historians will look at the historical context of each group’s immigration story. Geographers look at when certain people moved and where they moved. They also look at when individuals move out of ethnic neighborhoods and into more white areas in the United States. Sociologists look at the relationships formed, both with individuals from the same group and with individuals from different groups. A combination of the three disciplines uncovers five main issues. These issues are the location of immigrants over time, relationships between immigrants and Americans, the changing immigration laws and policies, the question of race, and how their culture intertwined in the culture of the United States. The most important factors that determine how fast an immigrant population assimilates into American culture are race, United States laws and policies, and relationships formed in the United States.

“What’s Yours Is Mine If I Pull Hard Enough”: Neo-Colonialism in Africa By China

Sauliha Mitchell, Winthrop University

Faculty Mentor: Christopher Van Aller, Ph.D., and Adolphus Belk, Ph.D.

This research looks at whether China is engaged in neo-colonialism in Africa. China seems to be attempting to take advantage of a power vacuum created by the withdrawal of western powers inside of Africa. This is not something that has occurred out of nowhere. China has constantly engaged in activities over the years that reveal a pattern of exploitation rather than mutually beneficial economic development.