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Meltzner: CSU is helping politically reinform America’s heartland

A blue and green graphic depicting two people conversing with text bubbles that say "Collegian Columnists."
(Graphic Illustration by Falyn Sebastian | The Collegian)

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

American politics are one of the most pervasive elements of life in this country, impacting and regulating almost everything we do on a daily basis. And yet so much of the American political system and the policies it enacts are shrouded in a mist of industry jargon and power struggles that make it difficult for the average citizen to understand how the nation’s policies impact their everyday life.

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Bridging the divide between policymakers in the District of Columbia and the local communities of Middle America is certainly not easy, and yet a team from Colorado State University is trying to do just that.

The University was recently granted $450,000 from the Carnegie Corporation of New York to form a research team tasked with tracking “the ways that foreign and national security policies affect local communities across the nation,” according to CSU SOURCE.

This team, composed of four political science professors and researchers from the University, will create a conceptual map of the “distributive implications” of America’s foreign policy. The research will hopefully demonstrate to local communities how they fit into America’s global role.

How can someone understand how American policies impact them personally when they can’t figure out which claims are even true?”

This may seem to be another project that fits right into the system of resources tailored solely for political insiders and filled with the industry jargon I spoke of earlier, but this is not the case.

In a research report titled “Making U.S. Foreign Policy Work Better for the Middle Class,” a group of Carnegie scholars argue, “If the United States stands any chance of renewal at home, it must conceive of its role in the world differently.” This sounds like the mission statement of a group trying to bring political comprehension to the average American, and that is exactly what this country needs now more than ever.

The scholars posit that America needs to focus on supporting foreign policy agendas that support a middle class quickly approaching crisis mode. They also claim that by utilizing findings from in-depth analyses of the state economies in Colorado, Nebraska and Ohio, they can recommend policy changes that are aimed at “strengthening the middle class” and integrating U.S. foreign policy into the policies of America’s heartland.

What does all this mean? Why does it matter? Where does CSU come into play? To avoid hypocrisy by merely providing examples of more political mumbo-jumbo, let me explain why the work CSU’s Carnegie Grant team is doing is of utmost importance and deserves far more nationwide attention.

In this post-Trump, (nearly) post-COVID-19 pandemic America, it is more important than ever to provide Americans with unbiased, informative and easily understandable research that shows exactly how the policies enacted in Washington, D.C., can change life in rural, small-town America.

These past several years, the entire nation has been inundated with bipartisan sentiment fueled by warring sociopolitical factions nestled within the confines of their respective parties. So many wild claims and empty statistics have saturated the American political scene with more than the average American can handle. How can someone understand how American policies impact them personally when they can’t figure out which claims are even true?

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It’s a start to excavating Middle America from the miles of conspiracy theory, misinformation-tainted dirt it’s been covered with during the unforeseen political dysentery of the past several years.”

As a nation, we are in dire need of a change in the way we approach politics, evidenced by the way we edge closer and closer to a modern-day “Les Misérables” playing out on our streets every year. This change begins with the average Joe and the way everyday, working-class Americans are presented with political information. I have hope that CSU’s grant research team believes this as well.

CSU political science assistant professor Allison White, who is one of the professors on the team, told SOURCE, “All of us share a commitment to democratizing debates over public policy.”

This impassioned motivation coupled with the project’s goal of directly exploring the relationship between foreign and national security policies and the local communities they impact will allow the team to complete their major goals over the two-year grant period.

The team said that by December 2023, they hope to have not only collected and catalogued research regarding the aforementioned relationship but also have composed analyses focused on recommendations to foreign policy that will better inform and incorporate the needs of middle-class America.

This is one of countless steps needed to bring America’s working-class heartland back into the circle of the politically informed. It’s a start to excavating Middle America from the miles of conspiracy theory, misinformation-tainted dirt it’s been covered with during the unforeseen political dysentery of the past several years.

America is only as strong as its heartland, only as strong as the working-class citizens who help keep our country afloat. If those citizens are forced to remain in the dark — uninformed and fueled only by the anger and confusion thrust upon them by the scorched-Earth presidential campaigns of 2020 and the factual warfare of the pandemic — we risk falling into true disrepair.

Reach JD Meltzner at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @jd_meltzner.

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About the Contributor
Falyn Sebastian, Digital & Design Managing Edtior
After becoming a page designer as a sophomore, Falyn Sebastian evolved from print editor to design director and has now officially begun her new position as digital and design managing editor. Originally from the Big Island of Hawaii, she chose to attend Colorado State University to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in graphic design along with a minor in entrepreneurship. When it comes to arranging content in The Collegian's newsprint, Sebastian formats and arranges the visual media that readers love in a physical copy. After attending content and budget meetings with the editors of each desk, she manages how each week's visual content fits into the paper by clicking through Adobe InDesign. With a combination of original photos, illustrative graphics and advertisements, Sebastian organizes and delegates tasks to her talented and ever-growing design team. As a graphic design student, journalism was not a field Sebastian intended to work in during college, but she embraced the world of publication design through The Collegian. As graphic design focuses on the importance of effective communication, she realized she was truly designing for a fulfilling purpose. Student media will forever have a happy home in her heart. Working with other students who are passionate about what is happening in their community drives her to continue working on impactful design. Sebastian looks forward to what is yet to come while gaining new experience and memories with her staff.

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