A philosopher is running for president
Could Jerome Segal lead the country toward the utopia of our American dreams?
- Jerome Segal is a philosopher and social activist from Maryland who's just joined the 2020 presidential race as a third-party candidate.
- He doesn't hope to win, necessarily, but instead to ignite a political renaissance in the country.
- Philosophers have a good idea of what a utopian society should look like, but should we elect one as president?
Jerome Segal, a philosopher and social activist from Maryland, is running for president in 2020.
Segal, 75, will be running as a third-party candidate in the election for the Bread and Roses national party he founded, which was certified in January of last year. So far, he and his party are certified to appear on the Maryland ballot for the presidential election and they are trying to become qualified in more states.
Segal earned his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Michigan and has worked as a political activist and academic philosopher. He also authored several books including "Graceful Simplicity" (2003) and "Agency, Illusion, and Well-Being" (2008). Besides working as an academic philosopher, Segal has experience working as a policy analyst in the United States Agency for International Development, as a peace activist concerned with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and founder of the Jewish Peace Lobby, and as a research scholar at the University of Maryland's Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy. This isn't Segal's first time in the political ring either. He challenged Sen. Ben Cardin for Maryland's Senate seat last year in the state's democratic primary.
Segal isn't entertaining any genuine hopes of becoming president. The point of his run for presidency is his belief that third parties should have a larger role, and for the public to have more ideological choices, in national elections.
"This is really about ideas and about adding something to the current political discourse that is lacking," Segal said to the Washington Post.
Understanding his platform
So what exactly is Segal adding to the political discourse? Overall, he wants Americans to have more free time to spend on what really gives life meaning. He advocates for economic goals that achieve a simple life and modest income and lifestyle; all citizens should have a legal right to employment and paid vacation. And he even wants to shorten the work week.
"Domestically, the heart of [the campaign] is that we have a fundamentally different answer as to what the American dream is," Segal says. "Our version of the American dream is not to get rich, it isn't to make it to the top. It is to be very secure in your income and to have increasingly more leisure time to do other things in life… Out of that we think there will be utopian transitions in other areas."
What Segal is seeking, rather than the office of the presidency, is to help catalyze an American political renaissance that focuses on deep, cultural changes rather than short-term solutions. For him this entails, in part, a reconstruction of the American dream to mean something more simple and relaxed.
"This is an extraordinarily wealthy society, and we have missed our potential," Segal said to the Washington Post. "We are a society that is anxious and competitive, and there is a resistance to equal opportunity. . . . Our vision is of a society that has more winners."
While his domestic platform is prioritizing economic security, wealth redistribution, and education, on foreign policy Segal contrasts more starkly with the mainstream democratic party. Similar to his Senate campaign, in 2020 his stance on United States involvement in the Middle East will be a focal point.
As a longtime critic of Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories, Segal has said that he would support United States official recognition of those territories along with a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem.
What is the Bread and Roses party?
Segal's budding Bread and Roses party is, according to its website, an "electoral party for both New Socialists and Non-Socialists, a party with a strong utopian and international orientation, one in pursuit of a new American dream."
The name for the Bread and Roses party derives from the 1912 labor strike by women immigrant textile workers in Lawrence, Masschusettes. Bread represents the value of "plain living" in order to do what matters most in life, liberated from obsessive consumption. The roses element is open for interpretation according to the party website. It means beauty for all, as well as the right for lives that provide more than just the basic needs. Roses are a symbol of the right of human life to achieve meaning and richness.
Although the Bread and Roses party's goals parallel those of socialism and are central to the party's vision, it rejects a strict socialist label as an expression of its acceptance of "new ideas with respect to public policy" and to underline that it is not "wedded to big government," as is stated on the party's homepage.
Is it wise to elect a philosopher as president?
U.S. presidents have occupied professions as diverse as peanut farmer (Carter), oil executive (the Bushes), newspaper editor (Harding), and movie actor (Reagan). And, lest we forget, the Ukraine elected a comedian to be president. It doesn't seem all that far-fetched that the U.S. could one day elect a philosopher.
But would it be a good idea? After all, philosophers devote themselves to imagining how a utopian society would function by understanding what systems of government best harmonize with social values and civilian behavior. And in Book 5 of Plato's "Republic", Socrates says, "Until philosophers rule as kings in their cities … cities will have no rest from evils…"
Then again, philosopher kings have not had such a good reputation historically. To be fair, the previous problems might have had more to do with the "king" part of the equation.
Political philosopher Jay Geyer makes the case in the Daily Nous that philosophers are uniquely qualified to make a difference in politics by melding the deep partisan divide that threatens American democracy. This is because they've acquired a particular set of skills, including the ability to comprehend dense and lengthy documents, the analytical qualities to engage with abstract problems and come up with creative solutions, and the ability to take into consideration opposing viewpoints.
It might just be worth a shot.
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The results of this study showed depressive symptoms being highest in adolescence, declining in early adulthood and then climbing back up again into one's early 30s.
- A 2020 Michigan State University study examined the link between teen social networks and the levels of depression later in life.
- This study used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, specifically targeting social network data. The results showed depressive symptoms being highest in adolescence and declining in early adulthood, then climbing back up again into one's early 30s.
- There are several ways you can attempt to stay active and socially connected while battling depression, according to experts.
The study suggested that teenagers who have a smaller social circle showed higher rated of depression later on in life.
Credit: asiandelight/Shutterstock<p><a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-09/msu-tsn093020.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">A 2020 Michigan State University study</a> examined the link between teen social networks and the levels of depression later in life. The results of this study suggested teens who have a larger number of friends in adolescent years may be less likely to suffer from depression later in life. These findings were especially prominent in women.</p><p>This study used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, specifically targeting social network data. This data asks students to select up to 5 male and 5 female friends and indicate how often they felt depressive symptoms. </p><p>MSU Sociology Assistant Professor Molly Copeland and lead author Christina Kamis (Sociology doctoral candidate at Duke University) published the study in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior in September. </p><p><strong>Female teenagers may struggle more with depression during their teen years but show fewer depressive symptoms later in life.</strong> </p><p>For female adolescents, popularity can lead to increased depression during their teen years. However, this ultimately may lead to lasting benefits of fewer depressive symptoms later in life. "Adolescence (is) a sensitive period of early life when structural facets of social relationships can have lasting mental health consequences," Copeland wrote, adding that "compared to boys, girls face additional risks from how others view their social position in adolescence."</p><p>Throughout this study, men showed no association between popularity and depressive symptoms, however, they did show benefits from naming more friends. As for why this is, Copeland has a theory: perhaps the expectations on young girls (compared to young boys) as well as the roles that lead to popularity can create a kind of stress and strain felt more prominently by girls than boys. </p><p>While this does create more difficult teen years for young girls, the stress and strain may lead to giving these girls a psychological skillset that benefits them later in life, allowing them to deal with stressful situations more easily.</p><p>The study also suggested that teenagers who have a smaller social circle showed higher rates of depression later on in life. </p><p><strong>Results from both men and women followed a U-shaped trajectory of depressive symptoms.</strong></p><p>The results showed depressive symptoms being highest in adolescence and declining in early adulthood, then climbing back up again into one's early 30s. This was particularly more noticeable in women, who showed a steeper decline in symptoms between the ages of 18-26, followed by a more rapid increase in symptoms in their early 30s. </p>
How to stay social while battling depression<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQ1MjA3MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNDMyNDY1N30.e1ULIJ5QYXh4H1SGUPUTJqYBCnX2XWp6InjPRr-2Bdw/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C22%2C0%2C22&height=700" id="832fd" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="b360bb24fb8d6025680bfffb52fd5982" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="depression support group illustration" />
Attending support groups, planning activities with family or even just a weekly phone call to a friend can help alleviate depression.
Credit: Mascha Tace/Shutterstock<p>Although maintaining relationships can help you cope, it can also be one of the most difficult things to do when you're experiencing depression.</p><p>As Dr. Jennifer L. Payne (an assistant professor/co-director of the Women's Mood Disorders Center at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore) <a href="https://www.everydayhealth.com/hs/major-depression/staying-socially-active-with-depression/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">tells Everyday Health</a>: "One of the common symptoms of depression is social isolation." </p><p>Payne goes on to explain that you can "soak up some energy" by simply being around other people, moving around, and staying active.</p><p><strong>Creating a daily schedule and planning activities ensures action. </strong></p><p>While it may be easy to turn down last-minute plans, it's more difficult to cancel plans you've already committed to with friends and family. While it's important not to overwhelm yourself with a packed schedule, creating a minimal daily schedule that involves seeing friends and family or doing activities that you've previously enjoyed can ensure you stay active and often makes you feel more accomplished at the end of each day. </p><p><strong>Support groups and social networking with people who understand. </strong></p><p>While depression can very easily make you feel isolated and alone, surrounding yourself with others who may be struggling with depression as well can help in multiple ways. You will have peer support from people who relate to how you're feeling plus the added benefit of being around people, which can raise your spirits. </p><p><strong>Keeping a journal (and setting goals) can help you feel accomplished. </strong></p><p>Keep a thought journal and detail certain daily or weekly goals (such as a plan to call a friend on Monday or to visit your local coffee shop for a change of scenery on Thursday). These small, achievable goals not only get you out of the house and/or interacting with others, but they also provide a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction once they are complete. </p><p><strong>Random acts of kindness, such as volunteering, will make you feel good. </strong></p><p><a href="https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/kindness-benefits-james-doty?utm_term=Autofeed&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Twitter#Echobox=1596517476" target="_self">Being kind is good for your health</a> in many different ways. Doing something nice for others can boost your serotonin levels. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for feelings of satisfaction and well-being. Similar to exercise, kindness, and altruism can also release endorphins, creating a <a href="https://www.quietrev.com/6-science-backed-ways-being-kind-is-good-for-your-health/#:~:text=Kindness%20releases%20feel%2Dgood%20hormones&text=Doing%20nice%20things%20for%20others,as%20a%20%E2%80%9Chelper's%20high.%E2%80%9D" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">temporary sense of euphoria</a> that can help combat depressive symptoms. </p>