I'm sure you're probably tired of hearing about this topic. It seems like it never goes away and things just keep getting worse. When Donald Trump came around we all thought it was a joke, we all thought there's no way someone can be this horrible in real life, let alone become the Republican Party nominee for president. Alas, here we are.
I'm sure there are plenty of people horribly dissatisfied with the results on the other side as well. Hillary Clinton isn't perfect, far from it. Her deficiencies are glaring.
Hillary has become known as the poster child of bureaucracy, establishment politics, big money, and scandal. On the other side Donald Trump has become the poster child of bigotry, racism, idiocy, bullying, misogyny, the list can go on.
Everyone I talk to seems to be completely disillusioned when it comes to politics, and for very good reasons. Bernie Sanders, who was a very popular, progressive, candidate with a slate of fantastic ideas and a political record of integrity, toughness, and compassion, and who has been on the right side of history and issues since he first gained political office as mayor of Burlington, Vermont in 1980, has decidedly lost the Democratic Presidential nomination. To those watching the election closely saw a pattern from the Democratic National Committee of blatantly hindering Bernie Sanders and aiding Hillary Clinton. There is a bread trail in each primary state of fishy activity from the Clinton campaign and from the DNC.
Bernie Sanders' supporters are now being sought after by both the Clinton campaign and the Trump campaign, and they are rightfully split on this. Sanders had a very loyal, young, and vocal supporter base, and a large percentage of these supporters are independent voters. This means that these voters chose Sanders because he most closely aligns with what they believe in, not because he is the chosen representative of the party they are loyal to.
Donald Trump is trying to appeal to the anti-establishment strain in the supporter base and Clinton is trying to appeal to loyalty to the Democratic Party, and by saying she more closely reflects progressive ideals than Donald Trump.
Clinton supporters try to guilt Sanders supporters by saying that if they don't join them then Trump would win. The idea they peddle is a vote for anyone other than Clinton will ensure a Trump victory.
Trump supporters try to appeal by pointing out the scandal and corruption of Clinton as a way to scare Bernie supporters by saying, "Well at least he's not as corrupt as Clinton."
This struggle has put Bernie Sanders supporters in a very uncomfortable tug of war, myself included.
A lot of Bernie Sanders supporters are people who do their homework. They read up on him, figured out what he's about, compared his policies and stances to Clinton, and came out choosing him. This is how making your choice should work when you vote, not just blindly choosing the party favorite.
This is the first presidential election season and primary season that I have paid intense attention to, and I have come to the same conclusion I'm sure a lot of us have come to: This system does not work.
I don't mean just the two party system, I mean the entire thing from top to bottom. The way we make political decisions over who to elect does not work.
I'll start with the primaries:
There are two parties, the Democrats and the Republicans, each party has their candidates who run to be the presidential nominee for their party. This time around the Republicans started their primaries with more than 15 candidates. The Democrats started with only 6, the field narrowing quickly down to just two, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.
The way the primaries work for each party is that the candidates for their party must campaign to appeal to their base.
What does this mean?
As this year has shown the Republican base is primarily white, rural, uneducated, they value small government when it comes to taxes, and huge government when it comes to what you do with your body. They support war, detest immigration, and are largely Islamophobic and homophobic. (Note: This is not saying all Republicans are like this, more broad strokes on the people who voted for Trump)
.The Democratic Primaries have shown us that the Dem base is largely young, multi-ethnic, urban, supports raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations, creating cheap access for education and healthcare. They want to keep the government off and out of their bodies, they support a path to citizenship, they oppose the TPP, they believe in global warming and believe something needs to be done about it, they detest big money in politics, and they are largely accepting of different cultures and customs. (This is also very broad strokes.)
This means that during the primary candidates on each side need to appeal to that base, whether they actually believe it or not, and since the base of one party is not necessarily the general views of the average person it is what gets pandered to.
What this leads to is candidates going as far to the left or right as they can to appeal to their base while alienating the rest of the populace and then once they gain the nomination they pivot back to the center to try to appeal to everyone else, alienating and turning back on the people in their base that they had made disingenuous claims to. So for example, to appeal to Bernie Sanders supporters, Clinton said she opposed the TPP, and now it seems as if she is going back on that.
The problem this also provides is the fact there are only two choices and these two choices might not be the best two choices. This is where I'm going to start getting radical in this ever growing post.
The way we have our primaries is stupid.
The better way to make an informed decision is to have everyone, from all parties (yes including Libertarian and Green Party), on the same debate stage and to hold the primaries not between parties but between individual candidates.
What this would look like:
Say you have 5 Republican candidates, 5 Dem candidates, 5 Libertarian candidates, and 5 Green Party candidates (with some kind of limit per party so it doesn't become 15 Republicans vs 2 Green Party), they will all be on the same stage of a debate, all talking about the same issues and arguing the validity of each viewpoint. The way we currently have it is to have a stage full of people generally agreeing with each other and then throwing petty insults about penis size and haircuts to distract from the fact that they all generally believe the same things.
This would help to actually see different viewpoints and have candidates discuss issues they likely wouldn't have to deal with in a debate with only their own party candidates on the stage.
From the debates come the primary elections, instead of voting for either a Repub candidate or a Dem candidate you would have the choice of all of the candidates. With four parties to choose from that are all given the same level platform to campaign from. It's likely that different candidates from different parties will win different states that would normally be firmly states for a certain party.
Here's where it gets more interesting:
The way the candidates for president will be chosen will be the two candidates who win the most states, not delegates, not super delegates, simply states, will be the two candidates for president. It is possible that there could be two Republican candidates or two Democratic candidates, or Green Party or Libertarian. But this would mean that the two people who the country voted for the most would go up against each other, these would be the candidates who most closely reflect the ideals and cultures of the voters, instead of just one group of people.
I am not naive, I know that if this were to ever happen it's a whiles away from now. But I feel this is a better alternative to what we currently have and would lead to a more honest political process where we could elect politicians truly is a democratic way where your vote would actually matter.
As for this years election, back to my point about the tug of war for Bernie supporters, (sorry this post has really gotten away from me and if you are still reading then kudos you deserve a cookie!)
We are currently left with two candidates who are just objectively bad. That's not just me saying this, according to CNN both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have astonishingly bad favorable ratings, with Trump registering at 57% unfavorable to Clinton with 52%.
But here's the thing: There ARE other choices!
I know third parties have gotten a lot of slack for ruining the elections for one party or the other, but we also haven't had a third party ticket in a presidential debate recently.
The Commission of Presidential Debates requires that candidates must poll at 15% in order to be included in the debates. So far Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson comes closest to this number polling at 11% and Green Party candidate Jill Stein is polling at 6%.
Normally a lack of funding and media exposure would hinder these third party candidates making it impossible for them to reach the 15% but now with the use of social media, as Bernie Sanders has done, they have the ability to build a grassroots organization to raise awareness of themselves potentially being able to reach the 15%.
The only chance these candidates have is to be on the debate stages. If both of these candidates reach the 15% we will be able to break the two party system and give this country an actual choice of who it wants to lead.
This is why it is crucial that we educate ourselves about these candidates. Do your homework, read articles about them, visit their websites, read their stances on the issues, If you like them, spread the word about them, maybe donate a bit of cash, share the articles with friends, with family. Sign petitions to get them on ballots and on debate stages, get involved!
The system is broken but it's not unfixable. If we make the effort and do the work we can change the system and fix it for the better.
I'm going to include links to the websites of both Jill Stein and Gary Johnson (the names are hyperlinked, yay Bryan knows how to internet!), as well the political quiz ISideWith, which is a useful tool to see where each candidate stands in relation to yourself, as well as details about candidates tax plans,
ISideWith: Political Quiz
Jill Stein: Green Party Candidate - A Green New Deal
Gary Johnson: Libertarian Candidate - "Make America Sane Again"
Don't let people guilt you for voting with your conscious. Vote for who you believe is the best person to lead this country, unless you think that person is Donald Trump, because then you'd be wrong.
Again, if you've stuck with me through this whole post then I greatly commend you, I don't think I meant to write this much but alas here we are. Proof of a complete reading of this article may entitle you to one beer, or hug, or high five from yours truly.
Ok, a few disclaimers here before I start this:
1. I am a liberal.
2. I am capable of looking objectively at both sides and have calm rational discussion.
3. I am a politcal nerd.
Here we go.
Ok so we have just had our second GOP debate. As a liberal I watch these debates to become well informed on the opinions of those I generally disagree with. I feel it is important to understand where someone else is coming from before you start with an angry tirade. When you pay attention to the debates of a party you don't agree with you're also better able to argue, because you know what they said, and what they stand for.
Something a lot of people don't understand about people on the other side politically is the idea of good and bad. "How could Scott Walker brag about busting unions?" "How could Obama feel good about creating Obamacare?" Simply put, what's good for one side is most often bad for the other side. This is why we are so divided as a country, no one can agree on a common good.
What I find oftentimes from watching these debates and arguing with my more conservative friends is that liberals and conservatives just generally think differently. It isn't that one is bad and the other is good it's that they each have a different set of priorities in what's important. Conservatives tend to focus on business, wealth, military: basically the big picture of economic efficiency and power. Liberals, on the other hand, tend to focus on the people, understanding that it's the people that make all these things happen. They focus on civil liberties, pay equality, education: the things that effect the day to day lives of Americans.
Now, unlike most people who hold a firm political ideology, I believe it is crucial to have both sides. If it were all up to liberals like me workers would be $30 dollars an hour, and there would be a million social departments of government working to help every aspect of life, costing just way too much money. On the other hand, a government ran strictly by conservatives would have no labor laws, no weekends, the country would become a sweatshop nightmare and we'd be at war with everyone always (maybe I exaggerate a little.)
So, it's important to have a balance here.
Now about the debates, here's something I have an issue with: The debates are too easy. After watching this CNN debate and the previous Fox debate I've noticed that the moderators don't ask any hard questions. They ask simply what the candidates want to answer. So therefore they are asking GOP questions about the military, abortion, gay marriage, business, strictly conservative issues.
I feel in order to have a full few of who these candidates are we need to ask them tough questions. Let's ask the GOP how they would deal with income inequality, police brutality, education, student loan debt, etc. And lets ask the Democrats questions about the military, war, business, etc. Unless we know how we might disagree with a candidate we can't make a full, informed decision.
I want to ask every single candidate: "What do you believe is the purpose of education?"
This is an issue every candidate should answer. This answer would inform their ideas about education reform, higher education debt, teacher unions, high stakes testing, etc. All issues that, as a future teacher, are very important to me.
But I digress.
The reason I am inundating you with all of this political mumbo jumbo is simply this: It is important.
You might feel discouraged, jaded, and overall pissed off about the situation of American politics, but unless you take the time to get informed, and do everything you can do, then nothing is going to change. Be curious! Question things! If you feel you don't know enough about an issue, research it! Make up your own mind!
As long as we are still a democracy the general public will always have more powers than the wealthy powers that be. The Koch Brothers can flood the wallets of whatever candidates they want, but if you take the time to look closely at candidates you'll be able to see through the shroud of money.
A democracy only works when everyone takes part and when everyone is informed enough to make an educated decision. Democracy will end when the people stop paying attention.
You will notice I didn't mention the religious fundamentalism of certain conservatives and that is simply because religious extremists have absolutely no place in politics.
So here's the nerdy lesson of the day: Pay attention. Listen. Read. Nerds will save the world.
As many of you are probably aware, dating sucks, especially online dating. Online dating is shallow, potentially dangerous, boring, and most of all stupid.
The type of people you typically see on online dating are always just kinda lame.
The first type - Frat Stars: For both frats and sororities, you will see basically the same things.
- Aviator sunglasses
- Flags for their fraternity/sorority
- Pictures of parties
- Duckie face/Flexing picks
The problem with the frat stars: If you're not in Greek Life they sort of overheat out of confusion, "How did you go to college then?" Will likely come up as a question.
On the Bright Side: This is not to say that people in Greek Life are stupid, however while one is in a house their greater intelligence tends to be overruled by the hive mind of their house. Many of my friends were a part of Greek Life and once you get them outside of their circle they can actually be very intelligent and interesting people, sometimes.
The second type- Gym Rat:
- First picture is always some variation of a flexing picture
- Be ready to talk A LOT about fitness and healthy eating
- Lots of energy - And they will tell you always accompanied with a ;)
The problem with gym rats: For the gym rat fitness comes before everything, that includes spending time with you. They will judge you for your eating habits, or whine about not being able to eat what you're eating. They are self conscious always monitoring the growth or toning of their body.
On The Bright Side: Go to the gym with a gym rat and you will not regret it. Working out regularly is the best way to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and increase energy. Health is fun!
The third type- The Partier:
- All of their pictures take place within a bar or a party
- Their eyes will not be fully open in any of the pictures
- "What do you mean you've never tried molly?"
- On their profile the words: "Live fast, die young!"
The problem with the partier: "Hobbies? You mean like what bars do I like?" Every story they tell will include being intoxicated. They talk about legalizing marijuana but continuously forget to vote.
On The Bright Side: For short bursts the partier can be lots of fun., you will meet lots of interesting people, and probably create some interesting memories of your own.
The fourth type - The Normal
- Really boring pictures
- A bio that reads "I like hanging out with friends and watching Netflix." And not much else.
- Extremely boring conversation
- They are completely convinced that they're just "not like other guys/girls"
The problem with the normal: THEY'RE BORING AS FUCK! The Normal is never specifically passionate about anything, inadvertently leading them to have nothing vital to say. Unfortunately the world of online dating is about 70% Normals.
On the Bright Side: Well I guess no big surprises?
The Fifth type - The Nerd
- Neil DeGrasse Tyson is their hero
- They spend more time talking about their interests in their bios than focusing on taking attractive pictures
- They are passionate about something whether it be comics, sci-fi, books, writing, movies, science, politics
- Will always be awkward at first
The problem with The Nerd: Nerds can be upset when someone isn't passionate about the same things as them. If you don't like intellectual conversations about the implications of Superman killing General Zod, they might not be for you.
On the Bright Side: Nerds are awesome! Once you get them talking about something their passionate about you will get some great conversation and have a lot of fun being able to let go of your desperate search for being cool and let your nerd flag fly!
What I'm trying to say here in this post that became a lot longer than I originally planned, is date nerds! Blondes might have more fun, but nerds will discuss their favorite books and their favorite Doctors and be interesting, and funny, and uninhibited by societal pressures to be cool! Because being cool is stupid.
Finding the rare nerd on any online dating site will make this whole traumatic ordeal finally worth it.
Let us all strive to date interesting people, and try ourselves to give up this useless quest for being cool and become awesome instead!
A random memory I've been thinking about today:
When I was in 5th grade I went on my first cruise with my family, since I was young I got to be admitted in the kids club of the cruise. I was stoked. I was all prepared for wowing these kids. I had my walkman and a brand new cd I had bought before the trip "Will Smith's Greatest Hits!" I went everywhere on this cruise with this cd. I bobbed my head to the sick beats, always wearing my headphones, never having any idea what was going on around me, but hey, I was cool!
By the time my dad sat me down one night to tell me that I was making an idiot of myself trying to be cool and was quite off-putting ignoring everyone and everything around me, it was already the third day of the five day trip.
I quickly found it was too late, I had already proved to the group of kids that I was "too cool" and all of the kids felt too intimidated by my coolness to hang out with me.
It was a waste of a potentially awesome time.
Also on this same trip I went with my brother to the teenage club where, for the first time, I saw girls dancing with other girls. It was my belief in my 10 year old mind that every girl who danced with another girl must be a lesbian so I went around behind my brother in the club quietly going, "Lesbian, lesbian, lesbian, why are there so many lesbians?"
I know that last part seems random and has nothing to do with being cool, but as you could clearly see I was an awesome 10 year old.
Uncoolness Lesson of The Day: Don't let your desire to be cool ruin a good time. Sometimes having fun means being uncool, but having fun is cooler.
For a long time in my life I worried about what I could do to become "cool." When I was little I would never definitively say which boy band was my favorite, I would just bounce from Backstreet Boys to 'Nsync depending on who I was with at the time (it was really quite pathetic, we all know that Backstreet Boys were better!)
This desire to be cool drove me to buy clothes for the logos, listen to popular music, follow consensus opinions, all in all, it made me LAME. There is nothing lamer in this world than someone obsessed with being cool.
Even in high school when I had already started to function on my own path of less travelled stuff I was still obsessed with being someone people liked, someone people thought were cool, or at least funny. I coasted through high school, making jokes and flunking classes, but fuck it, I was funny! It wasn't until my senior of high school that I started to give up on my persona of being the guy who doesn't care about anything. I joined the high school lit mag, Southwinds as an editor, and for once I took something seriously, it was uncool, and it felt FANTASTIC!
After high school I went to school at Columbia College Chicago and started there in their film department where I felt a heavy drag on my soul by the egomaniac sycophants of the department, two years in I transferred to where I truly belonged, the Fiction Writing department!
I spent two years in the department, having a blast, When you're in a department full of nerds and geeks and ironic hipsters you start to be confused about what is cool and what isn't. Smoking was cool, but I didn't smoke. Psychedelics were cool, but I didn't do drugs. Wearing clothes from thrift shops were cool, but I was too poor to afford even that, so I didn't wear clothes from thrift shops. I began to stick out like a sore thumb.
To top it all off I didn't listen to the hipster bands everyone around me was listening to, I tried their music, I really did, just meh. I was a blister of uncool.
By the time I graduated college I came to accept this simple fact: Bryan Crumpley was not born to be cool, Bryan Crumpley was born to be a fucking platypus in a top hat.
After all, what's cool isn't what people tell you is cool, what's cool is what you're passionate about. I love music, reading, writing, I still listen to Backstreet Boys, I listen to Taylor Swift (#noregrets), I love Dr. Who, I love Harry Potter, I love sci-fi, I love dancing and singing in public, I like smiling and making people laugh. These are the things that are important, not some trivial thing that people tell you is cool.
The first lesson of being uncool: YOU are what makes something cool.