Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Upcoming Events at Russell Library!

We are entering the final week of our Ready, Steady, Vote! program series. Be sure to join us for these events at the Richard B. Russell Building for Special Collections Libraries.

Free event parking is available in the Hull Street Deck. For more information, call (706) 542-5788.

Thursday, November 1, 2012, 6:30PM-9:00PM
Film Screening, The Candidate (1972)
Auditorium, Room 271, Richard B. Russell Building for Special Collections Libraries

Doors will open at 6:30PM for light refreshments. The program will begin at 7:00PM with brief introductions from Dr. Brian Drake, Professor of History at the University of Georgia.
Film run time: 110 minutes.

Monday, November 5, 2012, 5:30-7:00PM
Art Opening and Reception, "Doors"
Richard B. Russell Library Exhibit Gallery, 2nd Floor, Richard B. Russell Building for Special Collections Libraries

In 2011, the Russell Library commissioned acclaimed painter Art Rosenbaum to create a mural in its new gallery space. The result, titled “Doors", traces Georgia’s modern political history from 1900 through the present and depicts many of the major figures and events that shaped the state. This reception will serve as an opportunity to dedicate the finished mural, with commentary from Art Rosenbaum and Russell Library staff. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012, 12:00-2:00PM
On the Stump! Classic Campaign Speeches
from the Demosthenian Society
Richard B. Russell Library Exhibit Gallery, Richard B. Russell Building for Special Collections Libraries

Members of UGA's Demosthenian Literary Society will re-enact classic campaign speeches in the Russell Library Exhibit Gallery, atop the mighty stump inlaid in the lobby floor. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Presidential Debates: Strategy & Importance

Historically, the presidential debates have been the end of the road vehicle by which candidates nail down their positions on issues before voting begins—especially for independent voters—and attempt to solidify their claims of being the most reliable candidate to steer the nation. 

How effective are the debates though?  According to Chris Cillizza from the Washington Post, unless a definitive, overwhelming victory is secured by either candidate, the debates won’t mean much. Cillizza continued, saying, “Most people who tune in will have made their minds up about who won (and who they are going to vote for) before a word is uttered by either candidate — and, in the post-debate analysis, they’ll tune in to whatever commentary best fits that view. For the tiny sliver of undecided voters, it’s hard to imagine they will find a reason to choose either candidate.”

However, today’s town hall style presidential debate at Hofstra University, catered to the American people, will perhaps have more sway on the undecided.  A group of undecided voters selected by the Gallup Organization will have their chance to clarify pre-election qualms by asking candidates questions on foreign and domestic issues. The two candidates will then each have two minutes to respond.

This debate, commented a recent Politico article, will take place in an environment “more suitable for share-your-pain moments than aggressive attacks” where candidates will need to come off more personably, connecting with the audience and answering questions more directly. Additionally, “because candidates are free to walk about, town halls are body-language danger zones.”

Al Gore in a past debate, for example, was criticized for rolling his eyes while Bush was speaking, which translated poorly with voters.  As it is critical to convey a respectable impression, antics like Biden’s jovial laughter and frequent interruptions during last Thursday’s VP debate—behavior that was criticized as condescending and disrespectful—would not be well-received.

Obama, feeling the pressure to perform after reviews of the first presidential debate painted him as ‘lackluster’ and  ‘uninspired,’ headed for debate training camp this weekend in Williamsburg, VA. He promised his supporters a more aggressive performance in Tuesday's rematch with Romney, and will have to compensate for his slipping lead in the polls. 

Poll results by Gallup following the first debate show Romney catching up to Obama by a few points, suggesting that Romney has improved his public image, something he has struggled to polish throughout the campaign.  According to a Politico/George Washington University Battleground poll, 51% of likely voters now view Romney favorably, compared with 44% who view him unfavorably. Before the debate, the poll results showed 47% having a favorable view and 49% unfavorable.

Comparing presidential debates through history, an article by the San Francisco Chronicle says that Romney’s win in the first debate falls in line with history. “It’s much, much easier to be the challenger. In all the debate cycles since 1960 — 10 of them — the candidate of the party NOT in power came out of the debates having scored points eight times: Kennedy over Nixon, Carter over Ford, Reagan over Carter…”

Even so, this debate will be an opportunity and a risk for Romney to convince voters that he is in-step with the middle-class and the poor. While the economy and unemployment will likely continue to be a central issue in Tuesday’s debate, others have suggested that last week’s vice-presidential showdown will likely inspire a rehashing of issues such as Libya, abortion rights, and Romney’s now-infamous “47 percent” quote.

For Athenians interested in local debate action, consider joining the Russell Library for a debate watch event tonight, October 16th, starting at 8PM. Free coffee and snacks, and commentary from Professor Jamie Carson of UGA's Political Science Department. Plus, live tweeting! #RBRLelection

The Full Debate Schedule: http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/2012/10/am-alert-with-california-bill-deadline-come-and-gone-its-on-to-election.html

Post by Lori Keong, student worker/blogger, Russell Library

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Voting! (Some Reminders)

Your vote is your voice in the governance of your city, county, state and country and the 2012 Election Day is just around the corner (Tuesday, November 6, 2012). As a citizen, you declare your rights and privileges with your vote and that single vote can make a difference! The following are a few reminders/tips to help you navigate procedures at the polls...

When do I vote?
Polls are open from 7:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. on each election day. However, any voter who is waiting in line to vote at 7:00 p.m. will be allowed to vote. Peak voting hours are historically from 7:00 a.m. until 9:30 a.m., 4:30 p.m. until 7:00 pm, and during the mid-day lunch hour.

Thinking of ways to beat election day traffic at the polls? Learn more about early voting HERE.
Where do I vote?

Each voter must vote at the polling place designated for the precinct in which the voter lives - the location of your polling place is located on your precinct card. If you have misplaced your card or do not know where your precinct is located, please use this poll locator

Voting on Election Day
When you arrive at your polling place, you will complete a voter's certificate which asks for your name and residence address. You will then present the certificate and proper identification to the poll officials who will verify that you are a registered voter in that precinct by checking the voters list for that precinct. Voters are required to present identification at their polling place prior to casting their ballot. Proper identification shall consist of any one of the following:

(1) A Georgia driver's license which was properly issued by the appropriate state agency;

(2) A valid voter identification card or other valid identification card issued by a branch, department, agency, or entity of the State of Georgia, any other state, or the United States authorized by law to issue personal identification containing a photograph;

(3) A valid United States passport;

(4) A valid employee identification card containing a photograph of the elector and issued by any branch, department, agency, or entity of the United States government, this state, or any county, municipality, board, authority, or other entity of this state;

(5) A valid United States military identification card containing a photograph of the elector;

(6) a valid tribal identification card containing a photograph of the elector

A first time registrant by mail may also provide one of the following additional forms of identification: a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other government document that shows the name and address of the elector.

If the elector is a first time registrant by mail who did not provide one of the acceptable forms of ID at the time of registration this voter must show proper identification. If the elector is unable to show identification at the time of voting they may vote a provisional ballot which will be counted only if the voter presents identification within the 2 day period following the election.

If your name is found on the voter list, you will be issued a voter access card and admitted into a voting booth to cast your vote using an electronic touch screen voting unit After you cast your ballot the machine will automatically eject the voter access card and you will return the card to a poll official. Instructions on how to operate the electronic touch screen voting unit are posted at each polling place and you may ask a poll official for assistance.

All this information and more is available at the Georgia Voting Information Website. For national voting registration information OR for more information about military/overseas voting, voting as a student, or voting as a felon, visit rockthevote.org. We hope to see you all at the polls on November 6!

Post by Lori Keong, student worker/blogger, Russell Library

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Thoughts on Watergate

My name is Krishna Patel and I anticipate earning my degree in international affairs and journalism from UGA by May 2013. I recently began working at the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, and I am already hooked. The majority of my time has been spent looking through the seemingly infinite collection of documents from U.S. Senator Herman Talmadge. The collection is expansive, particularly the hundreds of boxes with constituent correspondence, dubbed the “Flexys.” Among these are thousands of letters to the Senator during his years in Washington ranging from complaints to accolades reflecting Talmadge’s work in Congress. Already a respected politician in Georgia, he earned national recognition for his work on the Senate Watergate Committee investigating one of the most infamous periods of American history.

Constituent opinions were extremely diverse in terms of Watergate—many deemed themselves a “silent majority” who supported the President while another group vehemently urged impeachment. The scandal erupted in June 1972 when five men were arrested while trying to plant a bug the Democratic National Convention offices at the Watergate Hotel and Office Complex. The White House denied all involvement and Nixon won the upcoming November election in one of the largest landslide victories in history—he had the support of every state but Massachusetts and Washington D.C.

By January 1973, events were getting heated. Two former Nixon aides were convicted of conspiracy, burglary, and wiretapping. In May, the Senate Watergate Committee began its hearings. Senator Talmadge later joked that he was given a place on the investigative team because he was one of the handful of senators that did not aspire to the Presidency. At first Talmadge claimed the hearings failed to reveal anything of importance; in fact, he was curious as to why television stations were airing the proceedings from gavel to gavel each day. This was until the testimony of John Dean—former counsel to President Richard Nixon who revealed the names of all of those involved in the cover up. The six-hour testimony and subsequent interrogations kept citizens nationwide glued to their TV screens. Throughout the entire investigation and its aftermath, Talmadge received thousands of letters from constituents, some eloquently worded and written in an elegant cursive script, some hastily written on the back of a hotel postcard, and others typed and signed by groups of pro-or anti-Nixon Georgians. One constituent’s letter read, “Be damned forever those who contributed to the impeachment of our President Nixon.” Another admired Senator Talmadge’s work on the Watergate Committee: “More power to you as you seek to influence any who may be needing to see the light.” These letters, newspaper clippings, and other highly relevant historic materials are organized and available at the Russell Library.

The Watergate scandal unfolded against the backdrop of a grave energy crisis and economic shocks both at home and abroad as the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973 had sent gasoline prices skyrocketing. Due to the impending domestic issues, many Georgians were concerned that the time and money spent on Watergate investigations were better allocated to simply making milk and other groceries more affordable. Many of Talmadge’s constituents encouraged him to spend his energies legislating rather than “hounding President Nixon.” Constituents complained of being “sick to death” of hearing about the case and preferred that Nixon be free to pursue foreign policy and energy legislation.

Another major issue was the role of the media. News outlets were highly involved in the entire Watergate affair—in fact, two Washington Post journalists were responsible for breaking the story. Moreover, all of the events were televised so that Americans could watch the Senate hearings regarding wiretapping and the role of Nixon in the cover-up. Based on my reading, reactions to the media coverage were mainly negative in the constituent correspondence. Georgians thought the media were unjustly incriminating the president and impugning him before evidence was sufficiently gathered.

The events and the corresponding historical significance of Watergate are reflected in the carefully preserved documents that make up the Herman E. Talmadge Collection at the Russell Library. They are reminiscent of an era when constituents as young as high school students took the time to write letters to their representatives. The Flexys illustrate an era when letters were stamped and posted rather than nameless online petitions and they represent an era rich in political strife, patriotism, and a changing identity for Americans. The Watergate affair marked the end to a generation that unwaveringly trusted in our country’s president and opened the floodgates to doubts and groups of fact checkers that are playing an important role in today’s election cycle. The letters contained in the Flexys represent Americans who had resounding faith in their elected officials rather than today’s suspicious breed that demands minutia like birth certificates or tax returns of its politicians. It is fascinating to sift through these documents seeped in emotions and the drama of the period—see for yourself, at the Richard B. Russell Library.

Post by Krishna Patel, student worker/blogger, Russell Library