Election Day 2016: The day of reckoning

In 2008, I was in one of the more unlikeliest of places when I learned that Barack Obama had been elected our 44th president.

I was a senior in college, at Binghamton University in central New York, and I was participating in a beer pong tournament in one of the most popular and notorious bars among students.

It was $3 pitcher night at the Rathskeller, which, in German, translates to “basement.” And it’s called that for good reason. The bar is located in the cellar of another bar.

It’s exactly what you’d expect it to look like. It’s dark, grimy, and the men’s bathroom comprises only troughs to relieve yourself in. It was a favorite among freshmen because the bar was lenient with checking IDs.

But it was there, while throwing a ping pong ball into a red Solo cup on a Tuesday night, where the emcee of the tournament informed us all that Barack Obama had officially won the 2008 presidential election. I believe I shrugged and continued on with my game.

clinton-trump-2

The next day, when visiting a professor for office hours, she talked jubilantly about how she’ll always remember where she was the moment she learned we had elected our first African-American president. When she asked where I was, I lied and said I had been sitting around a TV watching with friends.

In 2012, I was working in my third year as a journalist, covering local elections in Long Island for the majority of election night. It wasn’t until I got home, close to midnight, when I learned that Obama had defeated Mitt Romney to earn a second term. I was mildly more interested than I was four years ago.

In 2016, I am four years older, four years wiser, and infinitely more invested in who becomes the next president. The stakes are much higher than they’ve been in any of the last two elections, and like everyone else, I have been ridden with anxiety over who will win.

But at the same time, I am also appreciating the significance of the moment. You only liveelection-day-2016 through so many presidential elections in your life — and even less presidents — and we may never experience another contest that is crazier than this one. Furthermore, we quite possibly are on the verge of electing our first woman president.

I am not at a bar, and I am already home from work. I will be experiencing this election right here, at home, with my cat and all of you.

This will be an election season that we will be talking about for the rest of our lives. Its significance may fade over time, like everything does, but it will certainly never be forgotten.

One day, we may all be telling our grandkids about what it was like to live in America in 2016. And today is the culmination of that period.

So just savor it a little bit. It’s obviously a tense night, and we’re all feeling a little high-strung as we await the full results over the next few hours — but at the same time, try to appreciate the historical significance of what we are all currently experiencing.

And then tomorrow, we can focus ourselves on the day after. Because the real impact that will be felt from today’s results is how we react as a nation.

We have two options: stay divided or come together.

Which road we choose will determine how we will be remembered for generations to come.

Here’s hoping for a happy ending.

Advertisements

The Weinblog endorses…

Hillary 2016.png

Guys, we made it.

Don’t ask me how. But throughout the 18 months of painful political mudslinging, slander, smear campaigns, scandals and character assassinations; throughout the misogynistic, xenophobic, sexist, racist and bigoted rhetoric; and throughout the cesspool of conversations that took place on social media, political talk shows and possibly even at your own dinner table – despite all of these disturbances and intrusions into our daily lives that made it seem like this election would never come to an end, the biological process of time still held true.

And here we are, on Nov. 7, one day before voters head to the polls.

Sometime tomorrow night, we will know who our next president is. And hopefully, we, as a nation, can take one collective sigh of relief and move on.

But first we have to choose someone.

I strongly recommend Hillary Clinton.

*Ducks, shuts laptop, runs for cover, hides in a closet, says 12 Hail Marys, reluctantly leaves, tiptoes back, opens laptop. Nothing happens. Breathes a sigh of relief. A tomato then flies through the screen and hits me in the face.*

I know, I know. The emails. The foundation. Benghazi. The general untrustworthiness.

It’s been so easy to absorb any one of these narratives and use them to form one general conclusion – that Hillary Clinton is a corrupt, crooked, dishonest politician.

But doing so would be a lazy conclusion that her critics want you to make.

First of all, there is a reason that, despite all of these developments, Hillary Clinton is still a presidential nominee. And that is because she has been thoroughly investigated by the proper authorities, and was determined to have broken no laws.

That is the truth. People who believe otherwise are simply ignoring facts.

Anybody who has actually read into the details of Hillary Clinton’s alleged missteps know by know how strongly embellished and exaggerated they have become over time. The closer you look, the more benign they become.

Does that mean that she wasn’t careless with her private email server? Or skirting an ethical line? Sure. But you find me a person who has run for president who has lived a perfect life.

One of the reasons we know so much about Hillary Clinton is because of how public her life has been. As an activist, a wife of a two-term governor, First Lady, U.S. Senator and Secretary of State, the majority of her life has been in the public eye. And yet, the biggest scandal is her misuse of e-mails.

The bottom line is that Donald Trump is not a decent man. His greatest concerns are his own best interests and he does not care about the American people. He lacks any awareness on the most basic issues of governing and has shown no interest in educating himself. He is easily rattled by even the smallest slight directed towards him, and his history of denigration towards women, immigrants, veterans and disabled people make him someone who has no right to represent our country.

That we even came this close to handing this man the most powerful and important job in the world is nothing short of terrifying.

Simply put, a vote for Donald Trump sets our country backwards.

It promotes divisiveness over unity.

And it undermines the values in which this country was built on; that of inclusiveness, progress, and that men and women of all faiths and backgrounds are treated equally.

Let’s be on the right side of history tomorrow.

Let’s put the first women in the White House.

The worst part of this election is how nasty it’s made us

With six days to go until the election, we can at least distract ourselves this one night with Game 7 of the World Series.

As a sports fan, it’s what you live for. One game to take it all. This game will be recorded in history books until the end of time. It’s where sports heroes are made and legacies are forged. Just sit back and enjoy.

Now back to the election! Yay!

I found myself in an unexpected political debate earlier today while I was getting lunch with a coworker. I say ‘unexpected’ because it was a colleague who I hadn’t really even heard express any political opinion since I’ve known him.

But today he was voicing his deep vitriol for Hillary Clinton, and as someone who fully intends to vote for her, I found myself on the defense.

If nothing else, I pride myself in not being ignorant. Even if it’s not something I want to know, I try to make sure I  have a base knowledge of all the facts of the pertinent political story lines. And thus, the argument basically became us having a back-and-forth arguing which candidate is worse.

elephant-v-donkey

Shockingly enough, the world did not stop spinning on its axis. After a few minutes, we both stopped and agreed that it’s a sad state in America when, one week before the election, we are basing our political arguments on who is less bad.

And it’s an offshoot of the negativity that’s surrounded the 2016 election. Rather than discussing which candidate can inspire and help more people, and how they can change America for the better, it’s become a debate about which one comes with the least amount of baggage.

I’m proud to report that our lunch then went about its usual course, and we gladly continued our days after that without thinking any less of each other. Which is how political arguments should be.

No matter what happens in this election, we’ve already shown the worst of ourselves. The divisiveness and bitterness that has spread like a disease throughout our country is completely out in the open. There’s no hiding from it anymore.

In other words, we have very little to be proud of after Nov. 8.

It doesn’t mean we’re a lost cause. But it certainly means that there is some healing that needs to take place. And weirdly enough, my cordial argument with my colleague today gave me hope that it can happen. Because it proved to me that two people with differing beliefs can have a disagreement and still coexist quite peacefully.

A lot of people are going to be unhappy after the vote. But this talk of refusing to accept the result, or of starting of a revolution — it needs to stop. We need to move on and do it as a united force.

I’m not going to say I’m confident it will happen. But I know we are at least capable of it.

Maybe one day we will all learn to put country over party. Like Bill Weld, the Libertarian vice presidential candidate, who during an interview with Rachel Maddow on Tuesday essentially advised people to vote for Hillary Clinton because, in his opinion, Donald Trump is not an option.

Perhaps we can follow Bill Weld’s lead and weld together as one.

#BillWeldPun

Of the course the media is being biased. But they really have no choice

Ever since Donald Trump’s precipitous dive in the polls resulting from the leaked video of him making lewd comments about women to former NBC personality Billy Bush, the disgruntled Republican nominee has been making the same claims over and over again at his rallies.

“It’s a rigged election.”

“There’s a media conspiracy against him.”

The cries from Trump have become so incessant that even President Obama told him today to “stop whining.” 

To that end, the first claim is pure poppycock. Disregarding the fact that the election hasn’t even happened yet, there are few more closely regulated processes in our country than voting.

Trump media.jpg

Voter fraud is so rare that it’s almost nonexistent. But because Donald Trump keeps warning his followers that it’s a near certainty to happen, he’s essentially deputizing his supporters to police polling stations on Nov. 8 using intimidation tactics and any other means to prevent people from voting for Hillary Clinton — particularly those in the inner cities.

In other words, if the election is indeed rigged, it will be in his favor.

Now to his second point about the media being biased. He’s much less wrong about this one.

And don’t get me wrong. As a former journalist, I have plenty of faith in today’s media, even if they do tend to over-sensationalize and spend too much time harping on the “hot item of the day,” whatever it may be, rather than informing viewers of the things that they really need to know.

But anyone whose been trained as a journalist understands the importance and responsibility of remaining impartial and reporting news objectively.

Does bias tend to creep in? Sure. But that’s just human nature.

The singular question that journalists have been facing this election cycle, however, is how do you fairly report on Donald Trump? The man breaks from all conventional political decorum, disrespects the media, and lies through his teeth.

I hate to say this, but there is a reason why Trump’s primary supporters lack college parrishdegrees. Meanwhile, The overwhelming majority of journalists — especially those on major networks — likely went to multiple schools of high repute, and thus are informed enough to understand the severe implications of a Donald Trump presidency.

And if that’s the case, then it is not only a moral obligation for journalists to call out Trump when he lies, or to dig into his questionable past — but a necessity.

By treating Donald Trump like a normal presidential candidate — which he is anything but — the media would become an accomplice to his political malfeasance.

So if you think the media is out to get you, Donald, then you’re right. But it’s because you feed them ammunition with your revolting behavior. Deal with it.

It cannot be overstated how dangerous Trump’s allegations against the media are, given the anger he’s stoked among his supporters.

If you don’t believe me, just look at the fallout from the Arizona Republic’s first endorsement of a Democratic candidate in the paper’s 125-year history.

After weeks of receiving death threats, the newspaper’s president and publisher, Mi-Ai Parrish, wrote an eloquent, humanizing response to their opponents, using the names of colleagues and family members to convey that they, too, are people who each have their own American experience, and that they simply made the choice out of their best interests for our country.

And yet, we make them out to be the bad guys?

Debate #2: We’ve hit rock bottom.

After what was probably the most humiliating weekend for a presidential campaign in the history of American politics, Donald Trump entered Sunday night’s debate a dead man walking.

You’ve all seen and heard his vulgar and shameful comments from 11 years ago, in a video brought to our attention by the Washington Post. Comments that Trump has ludicrously shrugged off as “locker room banter” — despite the fact that this was not in a locker room, but in a bus surrounded by a television crew while wearing a microphone.

I’d be a hypocrite if said I’ve never objectified women while talking with my friends in private. But I have never — never — heard any one use the language that Trump did in that video. That is not locker room banter. Those are the words of a sick and disgusting man.

Republican politicians have defected en masse from supporting Trump. Robert De Niro wants to kick his ass. And his excuse of “locker room banter” was so weak that even former NFL players have come out against it. 

And that was all before Sunday night. To say his campaign was on the fritz is a massive understatement. He was like a defeated character in a Mortal Kombat battle; dazed, on his last legs and waiting for Hillary Clinton to “Finish him” with a final blow.

Clinton Trump Debate 2.jpg

Democrats tuned in, frothing at the mouth, waiting for it to happen. But it never came.

Instead, Clinton stuck to her initial game plan from the first debate of letting Donald Trump do all the damage to himself. She stayed calm and composed, while Trump sunk to new lows, bringing up her husband’s past indiscretions, and telling his political opponent that if he were president, he’d throw her in jail — a threat that undermines the whole basis of Democracy — all the while lurking menacingly behind her.

All in all, it was a said night for America.

Not many people will look at Hillary Clinton and feel suddenly struck by hope and inspiration. I fully understand that. But Donald Trump will only succeed by convincing us that our country is weak and pathetic, and that we need him to save it. His words conjure nothing but despair and hopelessness.

Why in the world do we need to be subjected to this?

Thankfully, cooler heads have prevailed 24 hours later — as practically every media outlet has declared Clinton the winner of the debate, and are not giving Trump credit for simply being better than his miserable performance in the first debate. A new poll also has Clinton up 11 points.

If one positive emerged from Sunday night’s spectacle, it was not from any of the candidates or the moderators Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz (who did a nice job), but from an undecided voter in a red sweater vest who asked the nominees a question about energy.

His name is Kenneth Bone. And he is our new folk hero.

Sure, it’s a stretch to say that the entertainment provided by one folksy-looking, unfortunately-named man  was enough to cancel out the tumult of the debate, but we will take anything at this point.

#ImWithBone

Trump’s failure to pay his taxes should enrage every law-abiding American (it probably won’t)

Thirty-six more days until Election Day. Breathe, people. We’re almost there.

As the reality of Donald Trump possibly stealing this election from Hillary Clinton has become more and more plausible over the last several weeks, it’s pretty evident that media outlets have tried their best to one-up each other to produce the story that destroys Donald Trump.

Any reasonable person understands that a Trump presidency could have a devastating impact on our nation and our global standing.

Therefore, it’s hard to blame the media for going extra hard at Trump. By not doing so, they are an accomplice to our country’s inevitable downfall.

First it was the Newsweek story about how Donald Trump’s web of relationships and business dealings (both good and bad — but mostly bad) with foreign leaders through the Trump Organization would make it nearly impossible for him to make foreign policy decisions as president without there being a significant conflict of interest.

Yet, nobody seemed to care.

trump-taxes

Then there was the Washington Post story about how Trump is guilty of self-dealing, often using his charitable foundation as a piggy bank to pay off business expenditures.

Somehow, people still didn’t care.

But on Saturday, the New York Times may have hit the motherlode. After months and months of scrutiny over why Trump has not released his tax returns, the publication was anonymously sent a excerpt of his tax records from 1995, which indicate that he could have avoided paying federal income tax for nearly two decades.

We know it’s true because the campaign has yet to deny the report, and the Republican spin machine has already begun. Trump himself said on Monday that he “brilliantly” used tax codes for his benefit.

A day earlier, Trump surrogates said this revelation shows how intelligent Trump is, and that it validates why he should be elected because he’s the only one who is knowledgeable enough to fix our broken tax codes.

But, in truth, this should anger every single American citizen because it relates directly to what is wrong with our country’s economic policies and why people feel it’s designed to favor the wealthy.

Hint: because it is.

If Donald Trump wants to cheat the system as a businessman — fine. But that should disqualify him for president.

It is every American’s civic duty to pay their taxes. We all do it. We all complain about it.

But in our hatred for taxation, we forget that this it is our tax money that gets distributed throughout our country to benefit the people and institutions that need it most — the poor, our schools, our military, our infrastructure. By not paying federal income taxes for almost 20 years, Trump has not done anything for any of those things.

And that is just unacceptable for someone who is now trying convince us that he is the only one who can fix our country — when we now know that he embodies everything that is wrong with it.

Mark Cuban said it best five years ago. Get rich — get disgustingly rich, if you can — but pay your damn taxes. It’s your patriotic duty.

Donald Trump is no patriot and cares about nothing unless it serves his own personal interests.

If you haven’t realized that by now, then I don’t know what to tell you.

The New York primary — finally, the attention we’ve desperately wanted

With New York being so late in the primary calendar, it’s pretty rare that both parties’ races have yet to determined by the time we head to the polls.

Usually, at least one party — if not both — have a runaway candidate at this point. And it means that by the time the New York primary hits, our votes are more symbolic than consequential.

Not this year, baby.

Screw Iowa. Forget New Hampshire. And don’t even dare put us in the same breath as Michigan.

For once, New York is in the spotlight. We get the attention we have desperately sought for so long. People are forced to care about New York. And it’s about damn time.

NY Primary.jpg

Hmm, maybe Ted Cruz wasn’t wrong when he was talking about “New York values” all those weeks ago.

But it is true that New York’s vote is more magnified than usual. As I write this, polls close in two minutes, and news networks have already declared Donald Trump a victor, while claiming the Democratic race is too early to call. Although, pre-primary polls had shown Hillary to be way ahead.

Being a blue state with double the amount of Democratic voters than Republican, New York will almost certainly vote for whomever the Democratic candidate is in November. But it brings me such joy that we get to go down in history as yet another state whose Republican voters overwhelmingly selected Donald Trump.

The same dude who held a campaign rally last week to tout his xenophobic, anti-Mexican views on the same street in Long Island where a Latino man was murdered in a hate crime in 2008.

In all seriousness though, New York Republicans are pretty nuts. They voted for Carl Paladino as a gubernatorial candidate in 2010, and that guy might be crazier than Trump.

What people do tend to forget about New York, though, is it’s a pretty big freaking state. New York City makes up just five of the state’s 62 counties.

But let’s be real. Just like how New York receives a disproportionate amount of attention compared to other U.S. states, New York City is basically considered the epicenter of the state.

So much so that most of the candidates have basically been competing over who is more “New York” — to embarrassing results.

Hillary Clinton can’t swipe a MetroCard; Bernie Sanders still thinks you pay for the Subway with tokens; and nothing represents the average New Yorker’s plight of living in a minuscule, rodent-infested, overpriced studio apartment than Donald Trump’s $4 billion net worth.

And you may be wondering who I am endorsing. After all, this is a prominent New York-based publication, and I am a very vocal figure here in this great state.

Oh, you’re not wondering at all?

In fact, you stopped reading after the first paragraph?

Cool.