Don’t Ever Be Afraid to Speak Up

Damn, I didn’t realize it has been a month since I last posted.  Sorry, but this time of year is so crazy!  There was Thanksgiving, then my birthday (I turned 29…again), and of course Christmas is upon us.  “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” exclaimed no sane person ever.

Anyways, a lot of big news has unfolded lately, and it’s been hard to keep up with it all.  If I can’t write a post about something within a few days of it making news, then I feel like I’ve missed the window of relevancy of the story–which just goes to show how fast our world moves now.  But there is one big story that has dominated the news over the last month or so.  I’m sure you all know what I’m talking about.

I understand why so many people are angry about the Michael Brown/Eric Garner Grand Jury results.  Regardless of whether you think the officers in question are guilty of murder or not, one thing is for certain:  racism is still a problem in this country.  It’s blatantly obvious that it is.  The justice system treats whites and minorities (especially blacks) very differently.  And if you are a white person (as am I, by the way) who disagrees with this, then you must live in a world where unicorns exist, and where Santa Claus is getting ready to make his once-a-year trek around the world to deliver presents to all the good little boys and little girls, in one night, guided by flying reindeer.  How magical that world must be!

White privilege exists, folks.  And as a white person, I’m accutely aware that I benefit from it every day.  I don’t feel guilty about the color of my skin because I had no hand in deciding what race I would be.  But if I choose to ignore the fact that I have certain privileges because of my race, and if I choose to ignore the fact that racism is still pervasive in our society, I would–and should–feel guilty.  As uncomfortable as it is to admit these things, I know I must.  Remaining silent only makes me part of the problem–and I want to be part of the solution.

Some white people like to believe that because the Civil Rights Act was passed 50 years ago, and because we have a mixed-race president, that means we live in a post-racial society.  But that just simply isn’t true.  And unless more white people open their eyes and see that racism is still a very big problem in this country, no progress will be made on this issue.  And I know that some white people who read this will say, “But I’m not racist at all!”  And I believe you.  I think the vast majority of white people aren’t racist–especially in the Millennial Generation.  But what many white people either refuse to acknowledge or are just plain unaware of is that just because most of us aren’t racist doesn’t change the fact that white privilege does exist in our society.  Being white is definitely an advantage.  And until the color of our skin has no bearing on the opportunities we have in life, or how we are treated by the police or the justice system, racism will remain a problem.

I fully understand that all races have a role to play in making progress on racism.  It isn’t entirely on the shoulders of the white population to address this issue–and any non-white person who thinks that it is, is living in a fantasy world also.  But when I see so many of my white friends making comments on Facebook about how the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner had nothing to do with race, and that black people have to stop playing the race card, I shake my head in disbelief.  They completely miss the point.  It’s so much deeper than the deaths of two unarmed black men at the hands of white police offiers.  And it’s so easy to say that these incidences have nothing to do with race when you live in a country whose society favors your race on every level and in every way.

If you’re a white person who disagrees that our country favors the white race, let me ask you this:  If you were black, do you think your life would be the same as it is as a white person?  Would you still have all the same opportunities and receive the same treatment as a white person would?  If you answered yes to both of those questions, you really do live in a fantasy world with unicorns.  And that remains our biggest problem regarding racism–white people don’t want to leave this fantasy world.  We are comfortable here because we are at the advantage.  But here’s the truth, my ignorant white friends:  unicorns don’t exist, but racism still very much does.  Just because you don’t experience it, and just because you, individually, aren’t racist, and just because you refuse to open your eyes wide enough to see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t real.  Racism is real, and your ignorance (whether by choice or not) only exacerbates it.

That being said, I also entirely disagree with how a lot of people have responded to the Grand Jury decisions on the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.  The looting, violent protests/rioting and threats against police are not in any way helpful to this situation.  If we want to cultivate change, this isn’t the way to go about doing it.  It is entirely counter-productive, not to mention a slap in the face to the families of these victims, whom I’m sure don’t want people to react this way (in fact, Michael Brown’s father made a video appealing to people to not react this way before the Grand Jury decision was announced).  This kind of behavior is senseless, hurtful and damaging to the progress that has been made regarding race-relations in this country.  On the same token, the reactions that some people have had about the protestors is equally as abhorrent, like saying that the protestors should “get run over” because they are standing in the street (note:  we have a First Amendment right to peacefully protest).  Also, white people sometimes riot too–and for really stupid reasons, like because their football team lost, or because of something to do with pumpkins (I’m not kidding).  Seems like there may be a double-standard in how we perceive black people protesting/rioting, and white people doing the same.

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Whenever radical change begins to take fruition, there is a lot of upheavel.  To begin, there is a “shit hit the fan” type of moment (a catalyst), followed by extensive unrest, and then eventually people begin to turn to reason and logic (as opposed to their intial emotional response to the catalyst, causing the upheavel) and things start to calm down.  Then finally–hopefully–the necessary changes are put into place.  We can see this happening right now.  The death’s of Michael Brown and Eric Garner (along with other unarmed black men by police officers) and the Grand Jury Results in these cases were the catalyst, and now we are in a period of unrest.  But we are already starting to see some reason and logic come into play.  Most importantly, people are finally starting to talk about racism as a serious issue that needs to be addressed, instead of pretending it is an issue that was solved decades ago.

Change is never easy, and when it is societal change it is accompanied by a lot of chaos and turmoil as we finally face the realities that we conveniently ignored for so long.  Despite this, change is usually a good and necessary thing.  Our nation and our world are in a state of crisis right now (something I discuss in the Millennial Crisis section), and as such we are indeed experiencing a lot of chaos and turmoil.  But trust me–this is a good thing.  We truly are progressing as a nation (and as a world), and in the process we’re experiencing some intense growing pains.  I know that’s hard to see because everything is so f-cked up right now, but this crisis is good–and unavoidable.  It was going to happen one way or another.

It’s so easy to focus on all the negative, especially when that is essentially the entire focus of the media.  But what about all that is good in the world?  Even when awful things happen, the silver lining is that we always come together to help those who were affected.  For example, remember how the world responded to tragedies like 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the Asian Tsunami, the Haitian earthquake and Superstorm Sandy?  Our compassionate and humanitarian response to these events proves that most of us are good people who genuinely care about others and are willing to do our part to help whenever and wherever we can.  And think about all the donations that are collected this time of year as so many people do what they can to help those less fortunate.  This is what gives me so much hope for the future.

When we focus on the negative, we attract more negative energy into our lives.  I know that sounds like a bunch of BS but it is so, so true.  We need to start shifting our focus onto the goodness of humanity.  Overall, most of us are kind, compassionate, accepting and generous people.  One of our biggest problems is that we oftentimes fail to speak up when we witness injustice.  And our silence is more damaging to our progress as a species than any terrible act committed by any terrible person(s).  If the number of good people far outweighs the number of bad people (which, as far as I can tell, it absolutely does), then why is there so much pain, suffering, inequality, injustice, violence and hate in the world?  In my opinion, it is because most of the good people chose to remain silent when their voices are needed most.  But if we can grow some balls and start to stand up for what we believe in; if we dare to speak the truth even though the truth hurts; if we are audacious enough to go through some temporary discomfort while we push for a more tolerant, peaceful, equal, just and loving world, then we will progress further than we could have ever imagined.

The Millennial Generation is the most diverse in history.  More than any other generation, race is meaningless to us.  We don’t care about the color of someone’s skin because we know that doesn’t matter–that it in no way defines them.  Not only are a large chunk of us mixed race, but we also grew up having friends from other races, other ethnicities, other religions, and other sexual orientations.  If there is any generation that can lead our country into a true post-racial society, it is our generation.  We need to remember that no one’s life is more or less important than any one else’s, and that injustice to one person is an injustice to everyone.  And most importantly we need to remember that our nation will be far better off if everyone had the same opportunities for success and happiness in life, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, religious beliefs or sexual orientation.  Isn’t that why we are proud to be American–because our nation stands for equality, liberty and justice for all?  It is time we truly start practicing what we preach.  It’s almost 2015 for crying out loud!

Before I end, I want to say that I am completely aware that most police officers are good, honorable people who bravely put their lives on the line everyday.  They deal with people at their worst, and they otentimes have to put up with more bullshit, more tragedy and more violence in one week than most of us will see in a lifetime.  And they sometimes have to make split-second decisions in order to potentially save their own life, or the lives of others.  Their job is dangerous, stressful and many times, thankless.  I have the utmost respect for what they do.  But it is also true that there are some police officers who abuse their power, or they use unjustifiable and excessive force.  In these cases, the police officer(s) in question shouldn’t be put above the law.  If a police officer is in the wrong, they should be held accountable.  I’m not in any way saying that the police officers in question in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner deaths were right or wrong, I’m simply pointing out that sometimes police officers have little to no justifiable reason for their actions, and this problem seems to affect black men more than any other segment of the population.  We need to fix that.  It may be more convenient to turn a blind eye to this issue, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t real.  Ignoring a problem never solves it.  That only makes it worse–as we are now witnessing.

So here we sit in the midst of a crisis, worried sick about the future and waiting for change.  But as it says at the top of this website site, “Things do not change; We change.”  And we are changing, whether we realize it or not.  What remains to be seen is if we will ultimately change for the better or for the worse.  I believe we will change for the better, because I believe in the goodness of humanity.  We have unlimited potential, we just have to stop being afraid to tap into that potential.  Our generation has an incredible opportunity to use this crisis to advance our nation and the world in a positive and lasting way.  So let’s make sure we do that.

Open your eyes to the world around you, instead of thinking that the world revolves around you.  Try to always be thoughtful and kind.  Listen to others with compassion and empathy.  And when you witness any injustice, or suffering by another, say something.  Don’t be afraid to use your voice.  Speak up.  The absolute worse thing you can do is remain silent.  At the very least, your voice will help someone in need, and at the very most your voice could help change the world, just like Malala Yousafzai’s.  If you aren’t familiar with her story, she is a Pakistani girl who was shot in the head in 2012 because she believed that girls should have the right to an education, so some people who disagreed with her decided they would silence her for good.  Fortunately, she survived the attack, and since then she has worked tirelessly to bring attention to the issue of childhood and female education.  Her courageous efforts have rightfully earned her this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.  Please, watch her inspiring acceptance speech below.  Malala isn’t afraid to be the change she wants to see in the world..and neither should you.

“Education went from being a right to being a crime.  But when my world suddenly changed, my priorities changed, too. I had two options: One was to remain silent and wait to be killed. And the second was to speak up and then be killed. I chose the second one. I decided to speak up.”

 

 

 

 

 

Millennials and Feminism

There has been an uproar over feminism lately–and ironically it has mostly come from women.  Apparently, some young women today don’t want to be called feminists because they consider it to be a negtaive thing.  They also seem to believe that there is no need for feminism, mainly because, they think it does more harm than good.  Honestly, I’m really having a hard time comprehending this.  When did feminism become such a terrible thing?  And why are so many young women today publicly and proudly shunning feminism?  I respect that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but this just doesn’t make much sense to me.  Don’t these young women realize that without the feminist movement, our generation of women wouldn’t have the opportunities and the rights we currently enjoy?

We’re living in a much different time today than we were 40 years ago.  Millennial women aren’t like other generations of women before us, largely due to the fact that we absolutely have had more opportunities than any other generation of women.  And it was the brave and determined women (and men) of previous generations who gave us these rights and opportunities.  Their tireless fight for gender equality made it possible for us to be the most educated generation of women ever, and the first generation in which the women are more highly educated than the men.  The pay gap has also closed among men and women in the Millennial Generation, taking it to the smallest it has ever been in history.  This is a big deal, ladies, and a very, very good thing.

So now that the vast majority of Millennials are adults in their 20’s and early 30’s, the feminist torch is being passed to us.  It’s now our turn to take this movement and make it our own, and that is exactly what we need to do.  We need to give feminism a 21st century facelift.  But before I elaborate on that, I want to first dissect the reasons why there has been a recent backlash against feminism from Millennial women.

Let’s start by discussing what feminism actually is.  At its core, feminism simply is a social movement that aims to establish gender equality and to eliminate sexism.  However–and I really don’t understand why–some young women believe that feminism’s actual goal is to take rights away from men to in order to empower women, and they also believe that if you’re a feminist that automatically makes you anti-men.  Um, no.  That’s just ridiculous.  Feminism isn’t fighting against anything–it is fighting for something.  A little something called equality.  You may have heard of it.  It’s kind of the backbone of our democracy–you know, that idea that all men are created equal.  And while women may have been considered second class citizens when this famous phrase was penned in the Declaration of Independence, I think we can all agree that times have changed slightly in the 238 years since then.  So it isn’t just men that are created equal; men and women are created equal.

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Women gaining equality in no way takes away from the rights of men, and it would be anti-feminist to advocate for stripping anyone of their rights.  A more equal society is better for everyone, men included.  If you’re a woman who thinks that feminism is bad because it somehow disenfranchises men, then you’re an extremely ignorant of what feminism actually is.  And from what I’ve observed, this appears to be why so many young Millennial women are against feminism–because they have no clue what it is and why it is has been so important to the progression of our country.

I can sort of understand how women catching up to–and, in some cases, surpassing–men could be threatening to those with XY chromosomes.  After all, men want to provide for and protect their significant others and families.  That’s just their nature and has been since the dawn of humanity.  And now that women are becoming more independent and are able to provide for themselves (and their families in many cases), men probably feel emasculated by this new reality.  But I must point out that if you are a man who is threatened by women gaining equal rights, then you need to recognize that you are an extremely insecure man.  If you were a confident, secure and more evolved man you would advocate for equality (for everyone) and you would treat women with the respect and dignity they deserve.

In addition to the false belief that feminism aims to disenfranchise men, there are some women who claim that we no longer need feminism because women are already considered equal to men.  Well, there is a big difference between being considered something and what is actually the truth.  And truth is women still aren’t equal to men–we’re far from it.  We still don’t make the same amount of money as men for doing the same job and having the same level of education.  And we still don’t get promotions at the same rate as men, regardless of job performance.  And as soon as we start making babies, our prospects for a promotion plummet, as does our salary.  Speaking of babies, our reproductive systems are now more regulated than guns because apparently we can’t be trusted to make sound, responsible reproductive choices–so the government will take care of that for us.  The only area where women have surpassed men is in education.  Overall, women absolutely are not equal to men.  Have we made significant progress in the last few decades?  Absolutely–and that’s great.  But we still have a ways to go.

Another popular misconception about feminism is the belief that feminists look down upon traditional female gender roles like taking care of and nurturing others.  Again, that’s ridiculous. I love taking care of people. I’m a woman–nurturing is in my nature. Just as men still want to provide for and protect their families, women still want to care for and nurture our families. Those gender roles have not changed–although admittingly they are more blurred today because women are increasingly becoming the breadwinners of the family, while more men are staying home taking care of the family. However, our insticts are still very much the same as they always have been. So a woman can cook a nice meal for her man and still be a feminist. And a stay-at-home mom who spends her whole day taking care of her family can still be a feminist. Feminism isn’t about what you do, it’s about what you believe.

And it is worth pointing out that women have different strengths than men. Men certainly are physcially stronger than women, but various studies have suggested that women handle stress and pain better than men (could you imagine a man having to endure childbirth?).  But what sets us apart most from men–and what I believe is our greatest strength–is that we are (generally speaking) far more compassionate, caring and empathetic than men. Being a strong woman doesn’t mean you sacrifice those feminine qualities.  That would actually make you less of a woman because those feminine qualities would be diminished. Our compassion and empathy, our ability to emote and to understand human emotions at such a deep, personal level–that is truly what makes us women. And I firmly believe that the world would be a much better place if it were run by women instead of men. I imagine it would be more peaceful, tolerant, equal and–dare I say it–advanced.

What is worse than gender inequality, however, is the rampant amount of sexism and mysogyny in our society, and the backwards attitude we have regarding sexual abuse and violence against women (or anyone for that matter).  When a teenage girl is gang raped, for example, there are some who say she was “asking for it”.  In other words, it’s her fault that this happened, not her perpetrators.  Furthermore, 40 percent of sexual abuse cases go uninvestigated at colleges and univerities because…well I don’t know why.  I guess it just isn’t that big of a deal to these schools that such horrible, dehumanizing things are happening.  So why bother looking into it, right?  Rape–who gives a shit about that?  Recently a bill was introduced in Congress that would force colleges and universities to investigate cases of sexual assault on campus.  It’s pretty sad that we have to introduce legislation in order to make this happen.

Let’s take a moment to dissect the logic behind the belief that when a young woman is raped she may have been “asking for it”, either because of the clothes she was wearing or because she was drunk at a party.  So, according to this logic, if someone decides to drive his car to go visit his grandmother and is hit by a drunk driver and killed, then he was asking for it because there was a chance that it could happen?  Or if someone is walking down the street at night to go to the convenience store and is murdered during a robbery then he is asking for it because there was a chance that it could happen?  Like these two men should have known better then to drive a car to grandma’s house, or to walk two blocks to the convenience store, just like the girl should have known better than to drink at a party because there might be a young man (men) that would take advantage of her while she was drunk?  And the girl who wore a figure-hugging dress and was raped should have known better because slutty clothes automatically mean you are inviting someone to rape you.  It’s not the drunk driver’s fault, or the robber’s fault, or the rapists’ fault–it’s entirely the fault of the victims because they put themselves in a situation where there was a chance that they could get raped or killed.

Let’s be very clear about something:  NO ONE ever asks to get raped.  And NO ONE ever asks to be sexually abused.  When a woman wears something that shows off her figure, that is not an excuse for men to sexually objectify or abuse her.  There is NEVER, EVER any reasonable excuse for a man raping or sexually abusing a woman.  And the fact that we teach woman to not wear certain clothes to work, or out for a night on the town, because that may lead to sexual abuse or violence, and that we tell young women that they are asking to be raped because they were drunk or wearing “slutty” clothes, instead of teaching young men that there is never any excuse for sexually abusing, objectifying and/or raping a woman is fucking ludicrous, and it speaks volumes to the ridiculously high level of misogyny in our society.

Guys and gals, if you’re not entirely sure what constitutes rape, read this handy little chart below. It explains what rape is in a very straightforward way so that even the simplest of us will understand.

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I, like probably every woman, knows what it is like to be sexually objectified.  Every time I go out for a run–despite the fact that I am super sweaty and disgusting–I endure some form of verbal sexual assault.  And if I go out with friends and I’m wearing clothes that highlight my figure, the level of sexual objectification is usually worse.  I’m a strong, secure woman so I can handle it, but it is still humiliating and dehumanizing.  It really does make you feel like less of a person.  It is ok to tell a woman–in a very genuine, respectful way–that she looks nice.  Don’t, however, cat-call or whistle at her and say inappropriate, gross shit that will make her feel like shit. Complimenting someone else is fine, but again, there is a right way and a wrong way to do this.  Be respectful and sincere in your compliments. Build a woman’s confidence instead of making her feel like a possession that you are entitled to have.  And please, guys, understand that when women wear “sexy” clothes, we (usually) aren’t doing it for your attention.  Personally, I never do.  I work very hard to be fit and healthy, so when I go out I wear clothes that show off my body because I am proud of it, and because it makes me feel good about myself.  I don’t do it for male attention–I do it for myself.  As do most women.

Of course, some men are also victims of sexual abuse and violence, and this is, unfortunately, all too often overlooked.  And it is also true that some men are victims of verbal and physical abuse.  Feminism is just as much about fighting for their rights as it is the rights of women.  Someone who truly believes in gender equality would never say it is more acceptable for men to be victims of violence and/or abuse than it is women.  But the truth is that sexual abuse and violence against women is more frequent and more extreme than it is against men.

I was watching NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” one time, and a male comic made a joke about the different worries men and women have when they go out on a date with someone from an online dating service.  He said men worry that the woman he meets isn’t going to look like the woman in her profile picture, whereas women worry that they’ll be murdered.  The audience laughed, but I failed to find the joke funny.  I’m not Sean Penn or Tommy Lee Jones–I have a good sense of humor–but I couldn’t laugh at this joke because what he said was true.   And that’s really sad.  A woman shouldn’t have to worry about her safety when she goes out on a date, but the reality is, women do have to worry about it.  And God forbid she wears something that shows off her body (which women tend to do when we go out on dates because we want to look and feel good), because then she is inviting her date to rape her, right?  Isn’t that what we preach.

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To reiterate, at its core feminism is about fighting for gender equality and to eliminate sexism and misogyny.  So to all you young ladies who say you aren’t feminists, let me ask you a few questions.  Do you believe that women should have equal rights and opportunities to men?  Do you believe that sexism, in all forms, is wrong?  Do you believe our reproductive choices should not be dictated by the government?  Do you believe that we–as women–have an obligation to fight for gender equality and an end to sexism so that our daughters will never know what it feels like to get paid less for doing to the same job as their male co-workers, will never know what it feels like to get passed up for a promotion that they rightly deserve because they have a vagina that might birth a baby or two one day, will never know what it feels like to be sexually objectified (or worse, raped) because they decided to wear shorts on a hot summer day?  If you answered yes to all of those questions then I’m sorry to break it to you ladies, but you are feminists.  It’s ok.  That’s not a bad thing.  Embrace it!

Now more than ever, young women absolutely need to embrace feminism, and as I stated at the beginning of this post, we need to update it.  Feminism should still be about fighting for gender equality and an end to sexism–because we are clearly still battling for both of those things–but we need to take the fight global.  Millennials are the first truly global generation, and sadly we live in a world where most women are treated far less equally than we are here in the United States.  Hundreds of millions of girls around the world don’t even receive an education.  This is partially due to poverty, but in most cases it is because it is believed in their respective countries or cultures that women are not worthy of an education.  Women are also raped and sexually abused at higher rates and in much more brutal and gruesome ways, like what has unfortunately been happening in India recently.  Our world will never get better and will never progress unless women are given equal opportunities to men and are treated with the same respect and dignity as men.  By denying women equal rights, we are severely holding our world back.

Obviously, it is unrealistic to expect cultural and religious attitudes to do a complete turnaround in one generation’s time.  But we, as a generation, can certainly make important progress, and this is a serious issue that has significant implications for the future of the world because, without a doubt, women gaining equality will greatly benefit the world and everyone in it.  And it is for this reason that men should be just as invested in the feminist movement as women.  You don’t have to be a women to be a feminist, just like you don’t have to be gay to advocate for same-sex marriage.  If it weren’t for straight people (who make up the vast majority of our population) all the recent wins for marriage equality wouldn’t be a reality.   In just the past few years, state after state has passed marriage equality laws, or struck down laws that would ban same-sex marriage, largely because of the increasing number of straight people advocating for equality of marriage.  However, while women make up a slight majority of the population, we aren’t the dominant sex.  This is why we need men to step up and make their voices heard on this issue as well.

Again, our generation needs to make feminism a priority, because the more we hold women back the more we are holding our country and our world back.  So come on guys, stand with us ladies!  One day some of you will have daughters.  Wouldn’t you want them to have every opportunity to happiness and success in life that your son has?  And wouldn’t you want them to never have to experience any degree of sexism and misogyny?  If you answered yes to both questions, guess what–you’re feminists.  And we need your support and your voices.  In fact, I would say that men are more important to the progression of the feminist movement than women.  Without the support of men, women wouldn’t have made it this far, and we won’t go much further unless more men join the movement.

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A significant part of the reason why there has been a recent backlash against feminism is because many women simply aren’t willing to put up with continued gender inequality and sexism, thus prompting those who disagree with them to speak up.  And they are–very loudly.  Whenever things begin to change, those who want to maintain the status quo are scared that they are losing that battle.  So they become desperate and radical.  But the simple fact that we are having such a robust conversation about this issue is encouraging.  It’s a conversation we need to continue having.  And from what I can tell, it is young Millennial women (and men) who are largely pushing this conversation.

I hope to have a daughter one day, and I hope she that lives in a different world.  I hope her world is full of more opportunity, more respect for others, more peace and more love.  If women continue to be held back, that won’t happen.  But Millennials can make a big difference starting now.  We can begin a new era by putting increased emphasis on the ideals of feminism, both at home and abroad.  If we are successful, humanity will truly begin to soar.  And who would argue against that?

 

It Wasn’t Just the Youth Turnout That Was Abysmal…

Wow, this is really, really pathetic.  Just 36.4 percent of eligible voters cast a ballet in this year’s mid-term election, the lowest percentage in 72 years!  The last time voter turnout was this low was just after the start of WWII–which is understandable considering our nation just entered a World War after getting blindsided at Pearl Harbor.  Turnout in mid-term elections is always lower than in general elections, but 36.4 percent!  That is just shameful.

As this article at Think Progress points out, new strict voter ID laws and other methods of voter suppression played a minor role in the lower turnout, but certainly no where near enough to justify only a little more than one-third of Americans casting a ballot.  Do we even deserve our democracy?   A few posts ago I talked about how hypocritical we are to criticize our elected officials for not doing their jobs when many Americans don’t vote.  Well, this is a perfect example of that.  So, essentially, only one-third of Americans take their most important job as citizens of a democracy seriously.

Election Day is the one day when all the power goes back to the people.  And one week ago, 64 percent of Americans–and nearly 80 percent of young Americans–chose not to take advantage of that.  Well, if our Congress continues to be ineffective and incompetant (and I’m willing to bet the farm that they will), then we got what we deserve.

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2014 Mid-Terms: Youth Turnout is Abysmal–Again!

So another mid-term election is in the books and young people, once again, largely did not participate.  Early estimates show that only about 21 percent of those aged 29 and younger voted, and that age group made up only 12 percent of the electorate.  On the other hand, Americans aged 60 and over made up 40 percent of the electorate.  So is it any surprise that the Republican party crushed the Democrats?

It should be noted that not all Millennials are part of the youth vote.  The oldest of us (including yours truly–boo!) are now in the next age bracket.  But the whole of the youth vote (18-to-29-year-olds) is still all Millennial, and as usual we chose to sit out for this mid-term election.  Why?  Well, according to a 2010 CIRCLE study, the biggest reason why Millennials don’t vote is because it conflicts with their work schedule or because they were “Too busy.”  Really!!!  You’re too busy for democracy?  Well maybe you’d rather live under an authoritarian dictatorship, because then you wouldn’t have to worry about making time to vote!  The next biggest reason was because many just weren’t interested, and they didn’t feel that their vote would count.  If you have been reading my blog, you know that this attitude absolutely infuriates me.

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Here’s the deal kids:  Politicians won’t listen to us and won’t pay attention to the issues that are important to us and/or affect us if we don’t vote!  If you want politicians to do more about student loan debt, vote!  If you want politicians to do more about job creation–specifically jobs for younger people–vote!  If you want politicians to do something about climate change, vote!  If you want politicians to do something about our nation’s long-term debt crisis, VOTE!!!!!!!!!!!  Do you get the point?

Politicians listen to the people who vote because they are the people who threaten their jobs.  If younger people make up 12 percent of the voting electorate and older people make up 40 percent of the voting electorate, who do you think is going to win the politicians’ attention?  It’s not rocket science, people!

I hate to sound patronizing or critical, but I just don’t understand why so many young people won’t vote.  I promise you, if our generation votes in higher numbers, politicians will pay more attention to us.  I don’t give a rat’s ass who you vote for–Democrat, Republican, Independent, Green Party, or if you write in your own damn name–just vote!!!

The next election is November 8, 2016.  Tell all your friends to get out and vote.  Let’s make this next election the one where our generation finally stands up and makes our voices heard!

Election Day 2014

Today, all the power goes back to the American people as we decide on 36 Senators, 36 state governors and all 435 members of the House of Representatives.  Per usual, our generation isn’t expected to have a strong showing, but I hope that if you are a reader of this blog that you will vote today, or have already voted today.  And please, tell your friends to vote too!  This isn’t just our right, it’s our duty.  And it is a right/duty that many brave Americans fought for us to have.  Don’t be slackers–GET OUT AND VOTE!!!

 

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Our Nation’s Fiscal Nightmare

One of the most pressing issues facing the United States is our country’s long-term fiscal outlook.  To put it bluntly:  it’s really, really bad.  Like, it’s completely unsustainable bad.  If we want to save our country, we need to fix our fiscal problems–and quickly.  Time is of the essence with this issue.  The longer we wait, the further we go into debt and the harder it will be to get our country back on track.

To put things into perspective, as of right now, interest costs on the federal debt are projected to exceed ALL federal revenue by 2067.  That means that all the money our government collects from taxes won’t be enough to pay for just the interest on the debt.  So there will be no money for anything else–defense, social programs, healthcare, infrastructure, education, etc.  All money will to to paying the interest on our debt, and we won’t even have enough money to cover that!  Just take a look at the chart below from the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.

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As you can see, if interest rates are 2 percent higher than they are today then this scenario will happen in 2046.  This is scary.  And clearly it proves that we need to move on this issue quickly.  The unfortunate reality for our generation is that we are going to have to make to pretty drastic changes in the way we live if we care about getting our nation’s finances in order.  We will need to cut spending in many places (and overall just spend money more wisely–sorry liberals), and we are going to have to raise revenue as well (in other words, we are going to have to raise taxes…sorry conservatives).  We can’t just do one or the other.   And most importantly we need to make drastic reforms to healthcare spending and Social Security, as they will continue to grow and crowd out other budget items.  They are the big parts of the budget that make up most of our nation’s annual spending, so it only makes sense to put most of the focus on them.

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I’m not an economist, but I am a fairly intelligent woman–and a pretty well-educated woman–so when I look at the facts surrounding our nation’s long-term fiscal outlook, I know that we can’t sustain it.  Our nation will literally go bankrupt.  But I also know that if have the courage to make some dramatic but necessary changes, then we can get our country on a the path to fiscal sustainability once again.  This is going to be a HUGE part of our generation’s legacy, and as I noted earlier, the longer we wait to act on this issue, the harder it will be to correct it–as proven by the frightening chart below.

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Poll after poll shows that most Americans are very worried about our nation’s astronomical level of debt–and rightly so.  But then again, poll after poll shows that most Americans don’t want to make the necessary changes to fix this problem (i.e. they don’t want spending cuts, and they don’t want to pay more taxes, and they don’t want any changes to their Social Security or Medicare, etc.).  At some point, we are going to have to bite the bullet and do a bunch of stuff we don’t want to do in order to save our country from bankruptcy.  So will Millennials have to cajones to step up and take one for team USA?  I sure hope so, because if we don’t, our nation will be FUCKED!!!

Election Day is Just Around the Corner

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while.  It has been a crazy few weeks for me.  Some good things but also some bad things.  But hey, that’s life, right?

Anyways, Election Day is just around the corner and many states are approaching the deadline to register to vote.  Some states’ deadlines have already passed, so I hope that if you live in one of those states you already registered.  I talk about the importance of voting a lot, but until more young people vote, I’m going to keep yammering on and on about it.

Let me ask everyone a question:  Do you think our elected officials are doing their jobs effectively?  I would bet that most people would answer that question with a big, resounding NO!  And I would agree with you.  They are elected to office to lead our country.  Their jobs includes running our government, drafting and passing laws, upholding the law, protecting our country and its citizens, keeping our economy healthy and strong, etc.  And they are supposed to do this with the best interest of the American people in mind.  Our current class of elected officials does a pretty poor job of all of this.  And we’ve all suffered as a result.

But…what about our job as citizens?  In a democracy/republic, the citizens shouldn’t be complacent by-standers who constantly bitch and complain about how ineffective and incompetant their government is.  They have to be informed of the issues and understand how they actually affect our lives and the lives of others, and they also have to participate in the political process.  There are several ways of doing this–writing/emailing/calling your congressional representatives, attending town hall meetings, joining political campaigns, signing petitions, even protesting.  But the most important way of being involved in the political process is by voting.  So, I ask you:  are we, the citizens, doing our job better than our political leaders?  I think not.  Only a little more than 50 percent of the country votes, and most Americans have very little knowledge of the important issues (which is partially due to our mass media who does an absolutely atrocious job of reporting real news and real facts).  So we can’t really be mad about politicians not doing their jobs when we don’t do ours either.  Unless you are ok with being a giant hypocrite.

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The most important thing, however, is that young people start voting in much higher numbers.  This is so crucial to getting our leaders to pay attention to the issues that affect us.  Unfortunately, in mid-term elections, only about 20 percent of young people vote.  Older people on the other hand vote at a rate that is more than triple this.  So who do you think our leaders are going to listen to:  young people who don’t vote and thus don’t threaten their jobs; or older people who do vote and do threaten their jobs?  It’s no wonder our government spends 4 times more money on seniors as it does on youth.  The government won’t pay attention to us until we start making them, and the easiest and most effective way of doing that is by threatening to kick their good-for-nothing butts out of office.  And the easiest and most effective way of doing that is by VOTING!!!

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So please people, get out and vote next month.  Honestly, do your job!  Voting isn’t just our right and it isn’t just a priviledge that we are fortunate to have, it is our duty as citizens of a democracy.  Educate yourselves on the issues, learn where your candidates stand on the issues, and vote for who you think will best represent you and our country in office.  I know that many times the choices are poor all around, but just vote for who is the lesser of the two evils (and if they both equally suck, flip a coin–I’m totally serious).  The important thing is that we start taking our job as citizens of a democracy seriously again.  If our democracy suffers, ultimately it is our fault.  Because we have a government of the people, by the people and for the people, so when “the people” give up, the democracy is doomed.  Please don’t give up.  Fight for our democracy and fight for our future.  Vote on November 4th.

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Baltimore Orioles: 2014 A.L. East Champions!

So, I need to do a little hometown sports bragging here.  My beloved O’s clinched the American League East division last night by beating their division rivals, the Toronto Blue Jays, by a final score of 8-2.  I was there, in person, soaking it all in.  It was the first time the Orioles had clinched their division at home in 45 years.  It was unreal.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard Camden Yards get that loud.  The fans were incredible, and it was wonderful to see the players come back out to the field, after dousing their clubhouse with beer and champagne, to celebrate with the fans.  Below are a couple of videos of the victory and the celebration that followed.

If you’re not an Orioles fan, I’m sorry for this.  But I’m just so excited!  The last time the O’s won the World Series was in 1983–I was just under a year old.  I’ve watched the Baltimore Ravens win two Superbowls (which was awesome), but I haven’t seen my O’s win a World Series–at least not that I can remember.  I have a feeling that this may be our year.  And man, will I be one happy woman if we take home the title.  Let’s go O’s!!!

 

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