The Day After: the people have spoken.

For many, the situation that America finds itself in right now was once an unfathomable thought.

After the unorthodox campaign Donald Trump had run, full of race-baiting and xenophobia while feeding off people’s fears and anger, the idea that he would be elected president was simply unthinkable.

Even when he became one of two candidates remaining. Still, there was no way.

And yet, here were are on, on Nov. 9, and Donald Trump is the president elect.

I said this would be a memorable election for the remainder of our lives. But I didn’t believe it would be for this reason.

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What we saw on Tuesday night was a revolution. This was a fervent repudiation of the establishment by working class white Americans. It was a rejection of the political elites, globalism, and a major blow to the legacy of Barack Obama.

And it continues a trend of a populist surge across western Democracies worldwide. First Brexit, now Trumpism, and countries like Germany and France may be next in their own upcoming elections.

But it has happened. And now we must deal with it.

I was anxious going into last night. As the results filtered in, my anxiety grew by the hour. Once Florida turned red and other swing states were not looking promising, I knew in my heart that it was over, and drifted into an uneasy sleep. The next morning, I reluctantly checked the results on my phone, my worst fears confirmed.

I then read through status after status of my Facebook friends who were basically standing on the ledge, as they voiced with disgust about how their lives will never be the same.

I then took a half-hour walk before leaving for work to do some soul searching. And that’s when it hit me: this country cannot be ruled by one man. It is still about us. If you’re unhappy with the result, then express it by being the best human that you can be. Respect and love for one another is, and always will be, the antidote to fear-mongering and hate.

As a straight, white male, I can’t really look at my friends who are gay, or female, or in the minority, and tell them that everything is going to be OK. And I saw that people were sharing this emotional reaction by CNN commentator Van Jones that basically expressed that very sentiment.

I know so many of us are shell-shocked. But what I can tell you with confidence is that we can make it through whatever comes next if we stick together.

Throughout this election, I preached all along that we must come together at the end, in anticipation of a Hillary Clinton win. So what kind of person would I be if I didn’t live up to my own words when the result didn’t go the way that I wanted it to?

As Hillary Clinton beautifully said during her concession speech, we owe it to the sanctity and posterity of our country to give Donald Trump an open mind. Let him prove to us that he can do the job.

And if he can’t — well, this is the age of activism. We’ll let him know. Our president and congress may belong to one party, but we, the people, will be the watchdog.

It was a day of reckoning, indeed, for America. We have sent shock waves throughout the entire world.

But this is still our country.

And I still believe in us.

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.

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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.

The Weinblog endorses…

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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.

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.

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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?

A love letter to America

Dear Americans,

We are better than this.

Too often, the vehicle that is our country’s driving force towards democracy — our elections — is the very same one that stalls us against one another.

It is the cornerstone of what makes us a free and sovereign nation, and yet, can also showcase the very worst in all of us.

While it’s far from uncommon for an election that determines a nation’s highest leader to become a bitter, partisan affair, this year, it’s sunk to new levels.

And it’s brought us to a place where we should never be.

We used to respect one another. We didn’t always agree, but we were at least willing to listen, understand each other’s viewpoint and attempt to find a common ground.

It’s the fundamental principle our nation was built on. Compromise.

We rose from oppression. We were ruled by a monarchy that didn’t give us a say. So we designed our government in a way that allows us to keep each other in check. Did it slow the legislative process? Yes. But it was supposed to. And it forced lawmakers and people of all ideologies to sit down at the table together to find a solution.

Somewhere along the way, we lost that. And it’s been happening for decades. But rather then confront the problem, we’ve turned a blind eye and pretended it wasn’t there.

Now we are dealing with the consequences of our own willful ignorance.

The rampant xenophobia, sexism and racism that has entered mainstream political discourse like never before has given the entire a world a glimpse into what our country has become. Our problems and shortcomings have been put under a spotlight. And there is no where to hide.

Rather than working to solve these issues, too many people are seizing the opportunity to blame and decry those who they believe are responsible for this mess.

As a result, it’s created a toxic political atmosphere and made us more divisive than ever.

We once cared about setting an example for the world. But instead we’ve become an ominous warning of what can happen when we  put ourselves ahead of each other. When we let fear dominate over hope. When we disregard ideas simply because they’re not how we want them to be.

This election season has been painful to digest. It’s agonizing to see people who harbored decades-old contempt suddenly feel emboldened to make their hate known.

As much as I’ve tried for the past year to shrug it off as an aberration that will normalize itself after Election Day, I’ve finally come to the realization that we cannot.

We must confront this. And it’s with this dispirited sense of acceptance that I have hope.

Because on November 9, we have the unique opportunity to shape where we go from here. We can continue the division along two separate paths, or we can come together and stand united like we have so many times before.

This is within our capabilities.

It won’t be easy. But if we strive to do it, then we can.

I will place my vote on Election Day. And whatever happens happens.

But I will control the one thing that is within my power: to be the best version of me that I possibly can. And to care and respect the people that I see every day.

Are you with me?

Sincerely,

The Weinblog.

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.

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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.

Houston, we have a problem

This year’s election may have seemed like the calm before the storm, with an eclectic band of misfits set to be put to the ballot next year for president.

In fact, Tuesday felt like the least electiony Election Day ever. It’s supposed to be the day where we exercise democracy and bring about political change — for better or worse. But the day came and went, and absolutely nothing feels different. We were deprived of drama. A day that should be the Super Bowl of politics ended up being quite boring.

Except in Houston, that is.

The city overwhelmingly rejected a bill that would have provided legal protection for discrimination against 15 classes of people, including gays and transgenders. Sounds pretty bad, right? It only gets worse when you learn why it failed.

HEROThe bill, the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, was passed earlier this year by the City Council, but then was put to a referendum after its opponents successfully fought it in court.

The goal of the legislation was to prohibit bias against certain classes of people regarding employment, city contracting and business services. The bill was pushed hard by Houston’s governor, Annise Parker, who is a lesbian.

So why exactly did this bill fail by a wide margin of 61 to 39 percent? Who could be possibly be against discrimination of gays and transgenders?

It’s because opponents of it ran a successful marketing campaign making people believe that if it was passed, some men — specifically sexual predators and pedophiles — would walk into a women’s bathroom, claiming they were gender confused, and target young girls.

Even television ads depicted this radical idea as a fact; saying that if you voted in favor of this law, you are endangering young girls. Heck, the legislation in Houston became known as “The Bathroom Bill.” And it’s absurd.

In any and all circumstances, rape and child molestation are indisputably illegal. So any belief that this law might have brought about a spike in such crimes is ridiculous.

And who was one of the people spewing this nonsense? Former Houston Astros star Lance Berkman. Let’s all hate him forever. Sound good?

“This was a campaign of fear mongering and deliberate lies,” said Parker after the bill failed. “This isn’t misinformation. This is a calculated campaign of lies designed to demonize a little understood minority.”

I honestly wish people would just come out and be honest; that they didn’t want this bill to pass because they don’t believe gay people and transgenders should have equal rights. At least that way, they’re being forthright with their dissent. But to mask it behind some ludicrous idea that were protecting people by voting it down is disingenuous at best.

One can only hope that the next generation will not be so obtuse.