Critical Junctures are Rare

As my PI Iris Hui put it, ‘From a PoliSci perspective, critical junctures rarely happen in the course of history.’

I’m a believer in this “rare critical juncture” theory. And I believe the theory not only applies to the field of political science, it also applies to our individual lives.

My dad and I had an argument on ‘significant moments in one’s life’ during the last summer break when I was back home. While I believe in the causal relationships among all the life events we encounter, and the continuity of each individual’s fate, my dad is a firm believer in opportunities and significant moments. I’m not going to expand on our discussion (/argument/fight) this time, but let me rephrase what Iris had to tell.

As a PoliSci professor, Iris has conducted a lot of research on American politics, especially around the West Coast. Some of you might have heard of California Proposition 187. According to the Wikipedia page,

California Proposition 187 (also known as the Save Our State (SOS) initiative) was a 1994 ballot initiative to establish a state-run citizenship screening system and prohibit illegal aliens from using non-emergency health care, public education, and other services in the State of California. Voters passed the proposed law at a referendum in November 1994. The law was challenged in a legal suit and found unconstitutional by a federal district court. In 1999, Governor Gray Davis halted state appeals of this ruling.

The mainstream considers this California Proposition 187 to be the turning point for GOP, losing California since then. However, according to Iris, many data analysis of public opinions etc shows that GOP’s losing California had been a continuous trend long before California Prop 187, and this Proposition has become the ‘critical juncture’ for many people only because they are scrutinizing too close to the picture; had the looked at the panorama of the picture, they would’ve realized the continuous trend.

Well said, I thought.


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