Opposites weigh in: Warren McLeod vs. David Hyde

Warren McLeod and David Hyde are rumored to hold very opposite viewpoints when it comes to politics. The Sounds wanted to test that theory by asking the two professors the same questions and comparing their answers.

Kathryn: Are you planning on voting in the upcoming elections (local and national)?

Warren McLeod: Yes I am voting.

K: Would you encourage students to vote? If so, why? If no, why not?

WM: Yes I encourage my students to vote. This is a right we all have as citizens and I feel you cannot complain if you do not participate in the process.

K: Are there any initiatives that are currently being talked about that you feel strongly about? If so, would you please name the initiative and explain your stance?

WM: Yes, Initiative 502. Legalizing marijuana. I have many reservations.
A) It calls for the state to be in charge of selling marijuana so it can be regulated and taxed. It also promises that the millions saved on enforcement could be used elsewhere. How much is this going to cost the state in startup costs? There is the cost of growing and cultivating the marijuana and then distributing it. How would the state sell it? In special stores? Didn’t we just have special stores for selling liquor? The majority of voters opted to have the state get out of the liquor business and the state sold all of its liquor stores.
B) Once it is taxed how much markup will there be? If it is legal, then anyone can grow it in their backyard as long as they do not sell it. If people can grow it at home, why would they go to a state pot store and pay the taxed-up prices? If you make it a law that you can only buy it at state stores and not grow it at home then the big promise of millions of dollars in savings from enforcement is also not true.
C) If the state is charging $200 per ounce, the drug cartels can still make a profit by selling it for $150 an ounce and there will still be an enforcement cost.
D) Marijuana is still a Class I controlled substance under federal law. If Washington passes the pot law it would be in violation of federal laws and all of the state stores would be subject to seizure by the feds. The federal government could also withhold federal highway funds (the biggest source of revenue to states from the feds). We have been told it would save millions on no longer enforcing a law against pot but there are many unexplained aspects of this initiative.

K: What do you think of the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates?

WM: I think each candidate has their own strengths and weaknesses, as do their party platforms.

K: A lot of people have said that our government has become corrupt, and that there is too much money in politics. Do you agree with that? Do you think our system has flaws? If yes, please explain.

WM: Yes I do think the system has flaws. It seems ludicrous to me that candidates spend ten and twenty times what they will make if elected on the campaign. I understand that at the presidential level it costs lots of money to get elected. Also through the process there have to be alliances made and those often times come with a price tag later in the form of favors or special interests. Even though our system is flawed I still think it the best in the world.


David Hyde. Photo by Kathryn Herron.

Kathryn: Are you planning on voting in the upcoming elections (local and national)?

David Hyde: Yes.

K: Would you encourage students to vote? If so, why? If no, why not?

DH: Yes, but I would also encourage them to do more than vote. Voting is one of the few times when we act as citizens, members of a democracy….Perhaps more important is that the notion of being active participants in a democracy is something you do more often than every two or four years. Participation means first becoming educated on the issues affecting your community, the nation and the world, then rationally analyzing that information and making smart and just decisions based on it. I want my students to be informed, thoughtful, rational, motivated, responsible, and participatory. Voting is necessary but not sufficient.

K: Are there any initiatives that are currently being talked about that you feel strongly about? If so, would you please name the initiative and explain your stance?

DH: While sometimes our votes in national elections may individually have little impact, our impact grows the more local the election. You may not pick the president, but you may well affect an Olympia ordinance or a state ballot measure. Without endorsing particular positions, I will note that there is more at stake in terms of initiatives and resolutions on Washington’s ballots this year than most. We’re actually considering the efficacy of the drug war? The notion of civil rights for gays and lesbians? The state’s tax system? The role of the public sphere and the commons in acquiring electricity? All of these are issues I’m glad to finally be able to vote on.

K: What do you think of the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates?

DH: Both Romney and Obama represent positions, and would likely enact policies, with which I strongly disagree. After much hope that Obama would be some sort of departure from the Bush Administration, he has turned out to mirror it in too many ways…prosecuting whistleblowers while ignoring the wrongdoing they expose, escalating in Afghanistan, bombing Libya without Congressional approval, rendition to countries that torture, blocking any discussion of a public option or a single payer system in the healthcare debate and creating a boon for private insurance CEO’s, signing “free trade” deals that undermine American wages while creating sweatshop conditions in poor nations, rewarding and appointing the financiers who created this economic mess, assassinating American citizens with no judicial process, continuing Bush era top marginal and capital gains tax rates, the list goes on.
Two groups want you to think Obama is more “progressive” than he is. Obama’s campaign wants you to think so, so that he can secure the liberal voting base. Romney’s campaign also wants you to think so (“Obama is a Socialist!”) so that Conservatives will not vote for him. The fact is they are both dishonest.
By any reasonable measure, Obama’s policies have been perhaps most similar to Reagan’s. That’s not progressive. Of course I wouldn’t expect Romney to be any more progressive on any of these issues. The truth is, neither major party represents those of us that are in favor of transparent government, against imperialistic wars, in favor of criminal justice reform, and support the aspirations of the poor, people of color, union workers, or the environment.
They likely differ on some social issues (abortion, gay rights,
science education) but, I’m sorry to say, that regardless of the outcome, expect four years from now for the rich to be richer, the poor poorer, and a lot more dead children in the Middle East.

K: A lot of people have said that our government has become corrupt, and that there is too much money in politics. Do you agree with that? Do you think our system has flaws? If yes, please explain.

DH: Yes. The system is corrupt. “Flaws” is an understatement. At this point, both major parties are beholden to the same moneyed interests (banks, oil companies, defense contractors) and those interests drive policy. Most notably, two issues must be resolved for any long term return to democracy or sane policy. We have to get money out of politics (from corporate campaign contributions to Super Pac attack ads) and we have to get a free press, one that isn’t owned by and driven by the interests of those same moneyed interests and wealthy corporations. I don’t know exactly how you solve either of those problems, but I know that no real chance for social progress, democracy, justice, or environmental sustainability exists when a powerful few can control the national discourse by using their wealth to determine what we hear and read and see and which politicians we are allowed to vote for. The result has been not only a political system where policy is driven by the interest of the few but also a public that has largely come to accept the limited options and the dumbing down of our national culture. None of that is to say I have no hope; we’ve faced huge problems before. But for me that hope starts with an educated and critical citizenry. That’s why I teach.