Political Knowledge?

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by pkelly6, Jan 5, 2012.

  1. pkelly6

    pkelly6 Member

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    Some recent posts got me to wondering... how much should our mids/hopefuls concern themselves with the political landscape? The job at graduation is to serve the USA. But does it help to know what's going on particularly if there is no personal interest? Phrased differently... if mid/hopeful didn't care what was going on in Iowa, does he/she really need to brush up on it? Does having knowledge help with interviews/admissions/success at academy?
     
  2. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    I preface this with "I was a government major" in college....


    As an officer in the military, you are apolitical. I can't think of a single political conversation during my time in the wardroom, and if there was, it was uneventful. I've had a number of political conversations in the privacy of my own stateroom, but that's what happens with government majors.

    Having said that.....

    and as a government major.....

    my quotation on my page of Tide Rips (the Coast Guard Academy's yearbook) was William Livingston....

    "Let us abhor Superstition and Bigotry, which are the Parents of Sloth and Slavery. Let us make War upon Ignorance and Barbarity of Manners. Let us invite the Arts and Sciences to reside amongst us. Let us encourage every thing which tends to exalt and embellish our Characters. And in fine, let the Love of our Country be manifested by that which is the only true Manifestation of it, a patriotic Soul and a public Spirit."

    Livingston thought you should have a patriotic soul and a public spirit...and I agree. That public spirit would likely include an understanding of the politics around you.
     
  3. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    Knowing about politics would be of no particular advantage. Knowing civics, government, consitituion, etc. should be helpful... although I can't say how much. Hope you understand the difference (don't mean to seem condescending, but some people might not understand).
     
  4. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    If you're asking about knowledge needed in terms of applying -- i.e., for MOC interview -- basic front page headlines knowledge is enough. I've heard of some MOC committees asking general questions about our involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. Whether it's "fair" or not, they may do it. However, from what I've heard, they're more along the lines of one's opinion about serving under difficult circumstances vs. a quiz on world politics.

    Once you're at USNA, in my day at least, plebes had to read two articles from the front page of the Washington Post every morning (and one sports article). The idea was to "force" us to become familiar with world events. Not sure that requirement still exists but I expect there is some version of it still today.

    Regardless, you will start to become aware of world events b/c they do impact your life. I used to joke that my life was run by CNN b/c if something blew up (literally or figuratively) my life would be crazy for weeks or months or years on end. Thus, most military officers are reasonably aware of what's going on in the world.

    In terms of US politics, obviously, military personnel must remain apolitical. People have their views; some people may share them w/certain colleagues in private. I generally found that we didn't talk much about politics.
     
  5. pkelly6

    pkelly6 Member

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    Thanks for the insights. BTW, it's my daughter that's interested in academy life; I'm simply trying to educate myself. Again, appreciate everyone who took the time to respond.
     
  6. Hurricane12

    Hurricane12 USNA 2012

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    What LITS said.

    usna1985, the requirement is still there. Over plebe summer its usually national/international/sports and then sometimes it changes a little during the ac year dependent on training staff. My company always hits news articles and general political/world affairs knowledge pretty hard, others don't.
     
  7. Whistle Pig

    Whistle Pig Banned

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    There are 3 issues (at least) here:

    1.Should students be politically aware as they pursue this process? Of course. It's called current affairs and general education. That said, many Mids are totally ignorant and naive. Asking this question is equally naive, seems to me.

    2. Should candidates play politics in the appointment and nomination process? Only as appropriate. As one professor at USNA noted to me once, "EVERYTHING is political." Of course he's correct.

    3. Is USN political? (Or Camelot-like meritocracy.) Here's an interesting read that will allow a far different POV than LITS and Hurricane. "Joe Rochefort's War." Fascinating insight to a fascinating Navy man and his career (a "mustang") of the man who was the key player in perhaps the single most important military battle in the history of the USA. He never made flag rank.
     
  8. Packer

    Packer Member

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    And how would you propose someone to alleviate the naivete if not to ask questions and become educated?
     
  9. time2

    time2 Member

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    It nevers hurts to be prepared for potential questions a candidate might get asked during their MOC interview. Some knowledge of current geo-political issues would be a good place to start.
     
  10. Whistle Pig

    Whistle Pig Banned

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    Any number of things:

    1. Read newspapers with great, growing discernment. The more you read, the more you'll know and realize that which is mere opining vs. mere factual.

    2. Watch the news (and more than ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN). Same applies as in #1, especially w/ mainstream. They are increasingly in entertainment biz vs. journalism.

    3. Talk to your teachers and others who should be interested in the goings on in the world. Probe how they've come to their perspectives.

    4. Occasionally read USNWR, Time type things but don't quote them too much. They tend to have their POV and be very shallow, imo.

    5. Read the Wall Street Journal. It's way beyond financials.

    6. Identify key syndicated columnists, commentators, and authors who are really bright, insightful ... I like Sowell, Krauthammer, Will, Gaffney, etc.

    7. Read good books.

    8. Be discerning in recognizing the POV, i.e. where your informant "stands" be they left wing, conservative, in-between. Initially you won't be much able to tell the difference. Soon you will.

    9. ID some on-line sources you appreciate and read them regularly. And read the opposign POVs. Think and make up your own mind.

    10. Always recognize that you see the world thru you own glasses. They are yours alone to search for truth.

    11. Find reliable older mentors, people who can be trusted and will bring maturity and experience to youthful enthusiasm and naivete. And lean on them, milk them for all they'll give you. And remember, even these are not God. God is god.

    Of course we should ask questions, but asking the question which is essentially "should I ask questions" is well, questionable. And at least naive. And if it's asked by one older than 10 or 12? Likely different term for that status.:confused::eek::rolleyes:
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2012
  11. Packer

    Packer Member

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    I knew you would have an answer and it would be thorough!:wink::thumb:
     
  12. pkelly6

    pkelly6 Member

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    Should a kid be concerned with current events? Yes. Are they? Not always. Really, how many mids would read articles if not required? IMHO becoming innately curious comes only when you are able to grasp the bigger picture. To some, that occurs later than others. My 17 yo's interest barely goes beyond a headline or two. I wondered how this might play into her possible future.

    I'll just retreat back into my hole now. Thanks for putting me in my place WhistlePig.
     
  13. Packer

    Packer Member

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    Many 17 year olds could care less about current political events. They figure why spend my time worrying about it as I can change it anyway ( I see their point but don't agree). My son seems to always know this stuff and he certainly doesn't read the paper (must be on that phone). He is always anxious to debate and frequently has information I was unaware of (I hate to lose!). In his nomination interviews some current event stuff with regards to Iraq and Afghanistan were touched on but no depth.

    I wouldn't crawl into any hole. Take the good, ignore the bad and point out the occaisional occaisional uncalled for crass comment.:thumb:
     
  14. Whistle Pig

    Whistle Pig Banned

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    Don't worry, you've plenty of company, especially me. That's where me and my kind constantly seek to come into the light from ... :thumb:

    As I noted, many, maybe "most" Mids are virtually completely ignornant of world affairs. And that's one of the purposes in having Mids give a briefing to their Co. mates each morning as plebes. To begin to learn about the world's goings-on ... and to learn how to learn. Those already in that mode, even in a minor way, are ahead of the game.
     
  15. TheChicagoan

    TheChicagoan Member

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    Yea - all of the above. As well as: Maybe get involved in your local political organization?
    And btw - my favorite site for up-to-date political news is politico, maybe check that out.

    -TheChicagoan
     
  16. subvet

    subvet Member

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    sent you a PM
     
  17. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    If you're active duty.... not a great idea.


    I've had trouble with Politico's slant....they're not always objective.
     
  18. LTSackett

    LTSackett Member

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    A matter of perspective

    Most people are concerned with things that will affect them. Mids read articles initially because not reading will subject them to penalties. Later on (closer to commissioning) it will occur to them that they're quite likely to be affected by world events, deployed to not-so-nice places because of what the U.S. policy is or what actions other countries take.
     
  19. Rojo17

    Rojo17 Member

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    Source

    Personally, I use a station called France 24. It's from France, but not in any way favorable to French news/happenings/etc. It gives the latest news from around the world in a brief, 10 minute clip. Here's the link if anyone wants to take a look.
    http://www.france24.com/en/
     

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