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.

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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.

Has Donald Trump made Saturday Night Live great again?

Saturday Night Live is a show that is fun to hate.

“It hasn’t been funny in years.”

“That show is still on the air?”

“This is the worst cast of all time.”

Those are common criticisms often expressed among the show’s skeptics.

Which, for the most part, I think are pretty unfounded. Saturday Night Live remains far and away the premier improvisational sketch comedy show on television. That alone differentiates it from practically everything else and makes it worth watching.

It still draws the world’s leading celebrities as hosts and musicians as performers.

And the show’s weekly nature allows it to literally be up-to-the-minute as far as commenting on and satirizing today’s news.

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Oh, and it’s all live. If you can’t appreciate the difficult task of needing to write material from scratch for a 90-minute time block to entertain millions on a weekly basis while not knowing far in advance who the guest host is going to be, then you’re just not being rational. It’s a hard job and one that you would not be able to do better.

A lot of people also like to point out how today’s cast members pale in comparison to those of the past. But at the same time, we forget that Saturday Night Live serves as a launching pad for amateur comedians. The likes of Adam Sandler, Chris Farley, Chevy Chase, Jon Belushi, David Spade, Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Kristen Wiig, Jimmy Fallon and Bill Hader were nowhere near as universally popular during their actual SNL tenure. It was only after they left and starred in blockbuster films when they really became famous household names.

So all of those factors make Saturday Night Live an easy show to pick on. But the fact that it always remains in national consciousness shows that it is still as relevant as ever.

And thanks to a certain presidential candidate that provides countless amounts of material, one can make the argument that the show is as funny and influential now as it has been in a long, long time.

Saturday Night Live has a long tradition of playfully (or not so playfully) mocking our prominent politicians, especially during our presidential debates. So it was only natural that people were especially excited for the debut of the 42nd season this year, which was purposely timed to coincide with the debates.

And it hasn’t let us down.

Whether you support him or not, Donald Trump’s language, demeanor, appearance and overall behavior are asking to be ridiculed. So it came as no surprise that SNL went outside its own cast to find the perfect candidate to portray him, knowing they had one chance to get it right.

Enter Alec Baldwin.

Baldwin’s representation of Trump has been so on point that it may go down as one of the most memorable and iconic caricatures in television history.

Combine it with Emmy-winner Katy McKinnon’s portrayal of Hillary Clinton, and the cold open for every single Saturday Night Live this season has become must-see TV.

On a side note, I believe McKinnon may be the best female comic the show has ever had. She is on the cusp of greatness.

As Trump, Baldwin captures the man’s absurdities to perfection. He looks the part, he sounds the part, and he presents him as the unintelligible buffoon that he really is.

The craziest part about Baldwin’s characterization is that people in the decades ahead will probably watch these episodes and assume he’s over-embellishing the presidential candidate. When, in reality, it’s Trump who is the one who is an even bigger joke.

After Nov. 8, we will finally be rid of Donald Trump.

But we will mourn his loss on Saturday nights.

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?

I take it back. Don’t vote for Gary Johnson.

The first presidential debate may be three days old, but discussion surrounding it has not stopped.

What’s most interesting is that the chatter most prevalent in the media and among the two campaigns has nothing to do with any policy positions that came up on Monday night — but rather, a former beauty pageant contestant.

It was the final minutes of the debate, and viewers had already somehow survived 90 minutes of incessant bickering, mostly from the left side of their screen.

But that’s when Hillary Clinton laid a perfectly executed trap. And Donald Trump took the bait.

She mentioned a former Miss Universe winner, Alicia Machado, who Trump once insulted alicia-machadofor gaining weight. It was ingenious because it was a blemish against Trump that, somehow, we have never heard of before.

Of all the terrible, horrible things we’ve heard about Donald Trump over the past year and a half, his treatment of this woman was not one of them.

Instead of letting it go, Trump did what he does best — went on the defensive, and rather than calming the waters, he only proceeded to make the situation worse. And now, with the entire nation refocused on this election, we’re getting a full dose of Trump’s sexist, misogynistic tendencies. (Trump, for his part, appears to be retaliating by trying to turn the narrative to Bill Clinton’s past infidelities.)

Hillary is a lot of things to a lot of people. She’s definitely intelligent. But she’s also cunning. And honestly, I don’t think that’s the worst trait to have in a president.

For many, the debate probably validated their belief that they don’t want either candidate to be our president. And those people over the last couple of days may have taken a second look at the predominant third party candidate, Gary Johnson, the former Republican governor of New Mexico turned Independent, who’s polling at around 7 percent.

They should stop. Immediately.

And I know I endorsed the inclusion of Gary Johnson in this race, but, we shouldn’t give him credence simply because he exists as a third option. If he was a good third option, then fine. But recent history disagrees with that notion.

It’s been a rapid descent for Mr. Johnson in recent weeks, beginning with his failure to know anything about Aleppo, the city in northern Syria that’s facing the worst bombing the country has seen in its entire years-long Civil War.

And that coincides with his quirky-bordering-on-crazy behavior during interviews, like in this one last week with Bloomberg politics.

But the final nail in the coffin may have come on Wednesday, when, during a Town Hall-style interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, he was unable to come up with an answer when asked to name one single world leader that he respects. It was, in his own words, “an Aleppo moment.”

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Maybe the problem is that we should stop expecting our presidential candidates to be perfect. I mean, if you think about it, how many world leaders around the world are there right now who are universally liked?

When you’re in the public eye, people are going to look for reasons not to like you. Most of the time, they find them.

Trust me, I wish we had a leader who kept his cool every day on the job. Who was respected in the international community. Who was well-spoken. And who kept his campaign promises and who could represent our country with the proper amount of dignity.

If only that existed.

Oh wait. It does.

His name is Barack Obama.

Debate 2016: the day after — also known as: “What the heck did I just watch?”

The first 25 minutes of Monday night’s first presidential debate began like everyone thought it would.

Hillary Clinton did her best to appear calm and composed, emblematic of her claim that she has the proper demeanor and steadiness to be our nation’s Commander in Chief.

Donald Trump, meanwhile, came out like an attack dog. He immediately released his major talking points — deriding Hillary as an ineffective career politician whose decisions on trade have severely affected the economy — in his typical loud and abrasive manner. And like in the Primaries, he showed little interest in adhering to traditional debate decorum.

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Hillary, showing no desire to get into a shouting match with her opponent, let most of his insults slide.

All the while, moderator Lester Holt stayed quiet.

For those 25 minutes, it legitimately appeared that Donald Trump might bully his way into the White House.

And then the rest of the debate happened.

Unlike the Primary debates, Trump was allotted more time to respond to questions, and therefore had to follow through with his answers. He couldn’t rely on his many sparring partners to finish his dirty work for him.

And unlike the Primaries, he was squaring off against some one who actually knew what they were doing.

As a result, America got a full dose of what Donald Trump is really like. His ignorance on practically every subject pertinent to being president was in the spotlight. He blabbered incoherently into the night, was fact-checked on multiple occasions by Holt, and repeatedly came off as a petulant child.

Polls and analysis show that Hillary won the debate handily, and thus her numbers are likely to go up. But we are just 12 days away from the next debate, and Trump has implied he may “hit harder” when the times comes.

In other words, we’ve got a long way to go.

I only hope that Americans did truly watch and actually get to see with their own eyes what these candidates are really like. Because there’s nothing worse than the person who stubbornly dismisses both candidates and ignores a golden opportunity to learn who they are.

Because if you watched the debate, and you actually care about this country, then there shouldn’t be much of a question of who you should vote for.

But then again, Trump is such a bad candidate that, in some people’s eyes, he probably brought Hillary Clinton down with him by virtue of being on the same debate stage with him.

Oh well. At least we made it through the first one.

If you feel a little disenchanted by the whole process and need a little pick-me-up, then enjoy Buzzfeed’s compiling of Trump debate quotes purposely designed to look like inspirational quotes.

It’s where you’ll see amazing material like this:

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You are welcome.

 

Donald Trump is running for president. I … I … quit.

As if the batch of Republican candidates running for president wasn’t enough of a punch line already, it sure as hell is now.

Mr. Donald Trump, the Donald himself, wants to lead our country.

Arguably one of the most unlikable Americans — who says something offensive every time he opens his mouth — apparently thinks he can earn enough national support to be voted into the White House.

Yesterday was truly a sad day for democracy.

It’s proof that absolutely anybody can just decide one day that they want to be president, and then be viewed as a realistic Donald Trumpcandidate. Most people will look at this and laugh. They’ll call it a joke. Satirical news shows are going to have an absolute field day.

But the truth of the matter is that Donald Trump is legitimately in the race. He will be on a ballot, and may even participate in a debate. He will be campaigning state-by-state. He certainly won’t get enough votes to even come close to the presidency, but he’ll get some. People are stupid.

For the rest of his life, Donald Trump can say he was a presidential candidate. It will always be listed on his Wikipedia page.

God help us.

The worst part is that his presence gives more credence to the other “joke” candidates in the field, like Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum. Compared to Trump, they all seem like real contenders.

I don’t even know how you could drop off after Donald Trump? Is George Zimmerman going to launch a campaign next? Where’s Donald Sterling at?

Even those who don’t hate Trump from real life, or in his TV show, probably have lost a lot of money in one of his casinos before. There’s seriously nothing to like about this guy.

To me, the entertainment value Trump will provide over the next few months is not worth the stain it will cause in the credibility of the presidential office.

In fact, this is the final straw. Let’s just not have a president after Obama. Because the mere infinitesimal chance that Donald Trump gets elected is enough reason to just disband the government entirely.

Screw it. Let’s dissolve the Senate and House, clear the Pentagon, bring home our military from overseas, condemn the White House and shut down the whole government.

Donald Trump as president is a worse situation than even George Orwell could have ever imagined.

Totalitarian governments common in fantasy fiction dystopian novels suddenly seem like a good idea.

Heck, I’d rather have the all-seeing eye of Sauron supervise our nation.

Because a future world in which Donald Trump is a presidential candidate is one that Frodo Baggins probably wouldn’t have even tried to save.