My College Entrance Essay

I was going through my computer and reading some things I had written in the past when I came across the essay I wrote to accompany my application to the University of Oregon. Being as this is the only school I ever applied to and I was actually accepted with only a 3.25 high school GPA that was right at the acceptance level, I guess this may have been what influenced them to accept me. Whatever their decision was, looking back on this brings me a nice little chuckle.

The prompt for the essay was something to the effect of “The University of Oregon’s motto is Mens Agitat Molem which means Minds Move Mountains. How will you use this to guide your education?” or something like that….

Enjoy:

My goal is not to relocate Mount Everest. It is simply to move the mountain that I like to call ‘Myself’. The main obstruction of this goal however, is a lack of a focused area of study. However, despite the fact that I know I want to study accounting, marketing, or entrepreneurship, after receiving my education through the University of Oregon, I anticipate that I will have moved my mountain forward.

In my senior year, more than ever before, I have found that it is particularly hard to make important life decisions. The next four years of life seem to be a complete mystery, yet I understand that a four year degree can open options as decisions come along.

Eugene is the place I feel I want to be to decipher my future. At present, the options I have had to study, and grow personally, have been limited. In order to succeed, I need to be around individuals who can challenge my ideas, yet help me to fine tune them.

This is where “Minds Move Mountains” comes into my plan. Without being able to surround myself with other ideals and mannerisms that differ from the ones I have been around my entire life, I cannot possibly establish my own directions.

I believe that exploring many different subjects at the University of Oregon will enable me to develop a love for one area of study. At the same time, experiencing life outside of my hometown will give me another perspective not only in what ever field I will go into, but how and where I want to live in the years that follow.

Essentially, I want to make a difference in the lives of the people who I want to live for: my future children. Looking back at all of the steps my parents have gone through in order for me to be where I am today, it shows me that the most important thing in life is not how much status you have, so much as the sacrifice we make for our children. I plan on making the most of my education through the University of Oregon and using it in the world to support my family. No matter how much sweat, tears, or blood may come out of it, in the end it will all be worth it if I can keep my family happy, and growing to ‘move mountains’ on their own.

Looking back and reflecting on this short essay now, I have to say I am proud of my 17 year-old-self for wanting to expose myself to new and challenging ideas from outside of my circle of family and friends, as well as my local community. Today’s liberal culture seems to be creating “safe spaces” in colleges and wants to keep out dissenting opinions, but that goes directly in the face of one of the main tenets of liberal ideology which is freedom of speech.

On the part where I thought I might be able to focus on one area of study….that was quite a bit naive. After being accepted to the University of Oregon I did end up focusing on one subject in Accounting, but I learned so much more about the world and life through other courses than I ever could have imagined.

I studied political science, philosophy, religion, geology, geography, oceanography, drug treatment and criminology, wilderness survival and outdoor photography, Japanese, Farsi, Chinese film, among other subjects. In fact, in addition to my Accounting degree with a minor in Economics, I am only a few courses away from an additional minor in Geology as well as another in Political Science. Thankfully, the University of Oregon will allow me to go back and complete those minors later when I have the time (and funds) to.

Advertisements

America Can Do Better than Clinton or Trump

We are exactly one week away from Election Day.

I feel bad for young people who are voting for the first time in the 2016 election though. When I first voted in 2008, Obama was running for his first term. The man was a breath of fresh air. He was not a warhawk or Democratic Party icon like Hillary Clinton; he had a great energy about him. He was not a hardened war-veteran or maverick like John McCain; he was an empathetic, cool, calculated man who believed in working together to solve our nation’s biggest problems.

This year, however, the Presidential election choices are nowhere near as respectable as in 2008. The Democrat and Republican candidates are both a damn joke. They quibble like five year-olds on the debate stage instead of talking about actual issues on the national airwaves, and they are both untrustworthy to boot. Is this the best you have to offer us America?

On the Right hand, you have Republicans propping up the orange-tinted, bigoted, misogynistic, 5-time bankrupt businessman and arsehole Donald Trump; on the Left hand, you have Democrats propping up the conniving, shady, morally and ethically bankrupt career flip-flopper Hillary Clinton.

I won’t be voting for either of these two asshats, and you cannot tell me that it is my fault by voting for a third party that either of your candidates loses. It is not my fault that your parties chose such shitty candidates and that I don’t feel comfortable voting for either of them.

This election is the grandest satire ever played upon the American people by the political elites.

Democrats complain that Russia is tampering with the election while turning a blind eye to the elections and regimes Hillary Clinton has tampered with in the past. Even if it were Russia leaking the Clinton emails, how is it Russia’s fault that the emails exist? It shows the true nature of Hillary Clinton and the people she surrounds herself with that they turn a blind eye to corrupt practices if it is Democrat insiders who are benefitting.

Wikileaks has become a tool Republicans are praising because of their vendetta on Hillary Clinton when they made the website out to be the devil reincarnated in only the recent past. Just before Wikileaks released anything about Clinton, Republicans were attacking the website for releasing information they claimed had put US lives in danger. Republicans are a significant part of the reason why Chelsea Manning is in military prison, Edward Snowden is in asylum in Russia, and Julian Assange is in hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy in England. That they now cling to the Wikileaks emails makes me laugh.

Both parties had better spend the next two years building up a new candidate to run in 2020 because Clinton will lose against any Republican that is not a racist and bigoted prick, and a bigoted racist prick will lose against any Democratic candidate.

Hillary could make history as the first woman president, and she could also make history as the first female president to lose a re-election bid. Her ego needs the presidency and she is lucky that it only came down to fighting against Trump this time or she may never have realized that dream for herself assuming she wins. Since her ego will be fed by victory and making history, why doesn’t she do what she can in four years and then retire? She knows that she will be facing an uphill battle again if she needs to run as the incumbent in 2020, so why should she waste the last year and a half to two years of her presidency campaigning when she could pass the baton to someone who is not disliked by over half the nation?

All it will honestly take for the Republicans to win is running a fiscal conservative that leans towards liberal social values to beat her in 2020. That’s what Hillary is already, which explains why some Republicans are able to vote for her even though they know they’ve spent their lives vilifying her. The Republicans will just need to point out the racists and bigots who lost them 2016 election and chastise them for what they are. If Republicans have an epiphany and suddenly supported marriage equality, higher minimum wage, and believed in separation of church and state they would crush Hillary when she runs as an incumbent.

You might be wondering why I dislike Hillary Clinton so much, and I will tell you a few things off the top of my head:

  • Voted for the Iraq war which led to Iraq becoming a failed state
  • Honduras fiasco which led to human and ecological rights activists being murdered
  • Instrumental in failed Libyan regime-change which led to Libya becoming a failed state
  • Supports a Syrian no-fly zone that will lead to civilian deaths and possible war/failed state
  • Cozy to wall street who has paid her mightily
  • Collusion with the DNC against Bernie Sanders
  • Arms deals increases to Clinton foundation donors
  • Only supports certain positions when they are politically expedient or needs votes
    • Gay marriage, higher minimum wage, BLM, anti-TPP but still pro-TPP
  • Has a public position and a private position, also known as being two-faced

Donald Trump could make history as the first Cheeto president, and just to be fair to all you Clinton supporters, I’ll make a list of what I dislike about him as well:

  • Has promoted sexual assault whether or not it was privately or for show
  • He is a misogynist, a racist, and a bigot, among other things
  • Terrible businessman
  • Tax evader and welfare queen

I won’t be voting for either of your shitty candidates Democrats and Republicans. I will be voting Gary Johnson for President, Kamala Harris for California Senate, and on many other issues, but I will not vote for either of your terrible candidates.

I will also not sit idly by for four years if Hillary is elected and accept her presidency without criticism. She is disliked for a good reason, and she is nearly losing to a life-sized cheddar cheese mold because she is a shitty candidate, as is Donald Trump. You can do better America, so do better in 2020 and give us less shitty candidates.

The Independent Case for Gary Johnson in 2016

I was a hardcore Bernie Sanders supporter but he is not in the race anymore and writing his name in or voting Jill Stein is mathematically ignorant. If you do not want Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump as President of the United States of America, Gary Johnson is the only viable candidate considering all of the options.

A few months ago I was so impassioned by Bernie Sanders’ energy I wrote a lengthy post on why I couldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump and would vote for Sanders anyway. Despite my previous reservations to write Bernie in on my ballot this year though, I have decided to vote for Gary Johnson.

Why?

The views of American voters can be placed on a spectrum ranging from far-Left to the far-Right and I am going to summarize the spectrum simply and briefly only considering the major parties involved in this election. On the far-Left you have the Green party and Progressives, who dislike the Democratic Party because they are not liberal enough. This is where Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein are. I consider myself to be in this general area on many issues. Moving to the right is the Democratic Party, which occupies the largest portion of the Left side of the political spectrum. In the center you have Libertarians as well as many other independent voters. On the Right side of the center, you have the Republican party. There are two general views among Republicans: “compassionate” conservatives and the Tea-Party conservatives who are what could be considered more far-Right than the general conservative viewpoint. If we were to put the distribution of voters on a line it would look similar to a double-bell curve.

There are essentially four options in this election for President: Jill Stein on the far-Left, Hillary Clinton on the Left, Gary Johnson in the center, and Donald Trump on the Right but leaning on the very far-Right. I will not vote Clinton or Trump, so that leaves Stein and Johnson.

Jill Stein may be more aligned with Bernie Sanders’ views, but she cannot pull votes from all areas of the political spectrum and stands zero chance to win. She sits on the far-left end of the double-bell curve which is the American political spectrum. Gary Johnson is pulling voters in from his chief base of Libertarians and Independent voters in addition to the Democratic and Republican parties. His base is scattered across the political spectrum, whereas Jill Stein’s voters are all stuck solely on the far-left side. Gary Johnson is polling at 9.2% nationally compared to Jill Stein’s 2.7% according to RealClearPolitics.com at the time I am writing this post (9/14/16). With two months to go, Jill Stein has about the same chance of winning the election as a toaster.

On top of this, Jill Stein has only ever been a candidate for a major elected office and has never held a job in major public office. She has run for five state-level elections losing four times, and has never broken the 25% mark in share of votes in any election she has competed in. The single election she has won was a 16-way contest for SEVEN seats and she won her position with under 600 votes. This win netted her a spot as a town hall representative for Lexington, Massachusetts, which I can’t imagine to be comparable to running a city, state, or nation.

Jill Stein has no experience dealing with the amount and range of responsibilities Johnson has had to deal with as a two-term Governor in the history New Mexico. Stein is not even on the ballot in all fifty states to boot which should show enough about her lack of political organization. We are not voting only in protest as independent voters, we are still voting towards our future and a leader of this country, and Gary Johnson is the only candidate outside the two parties who has a chance and relevant government experience to govern this country.

I have heard that I shouldn’t try convincing Stein supporters to vote for Johnson based on math because it is the same argument Clinton supporters have used to get Berners to vote for her. However, it is not quite the same argument and is an argument Clinton was using to bolster support for the two-party system in saying that we must vote for her to avoid Trump. Clinton assumed she could rally Sanders voters because she thought they agreed with her on enough issues to suck it up and “vote blue”. She underestimated how much Sanders voters despised her past and history of hawkish policies and corruption and many Berners still aren’t voting for her.

My argument is one that acknowledges all four parties impacting this election. Even if you don’t agree with Johnson on most issues, Jill Stein has no mathematical chance to win and your support could still help a candidate who has a chance to win and who does not support war and does support some key liberal social issues. The argument I am making is an attempt to put the largest independent party into the presidency to break the two-party system garnering the help of one of the much smaller independent parties and progressive voters.

We Berners and Progressives do not belong in the Democratic Party as was clearly evidenced in the collusion against Bernie’s revolution by the DNC. We are not the Libertarians’ base either. We want to topple the two parties. Our best chance to do that this election is with Gary Johnson. Stein supporters say they want to break the system, but they are only working to keep the two-party system from breaking, and Stein and the Green will do the same again in four more years.

Though I do agree with the Green party’s political views more than the Libertarian party’s views, they do not stand a chance in November. If you want to cast a vote for her as a protest it is your right, but if you won’t vote for Gary Johnson because he doesn’t support all of your issues you will continue to perpetuate the current system our country suffers under. We do not get everything we want when we vote for public offices but we can at least attempt to elect someone who is not a war-hawk, supports equal rights, abortion, legalization of marijuana, and is not a racist in Gary Johnson.

If the Democrats hadn’t flipped Bernie the bird and denied the populist wave he was riding we might not be worried about finding someone else to vote for, but they did and Johnson is the only candidate on the ballot in all fifty states that stands a chance. Vote Johnson and help break the two-party system, or fragment the independent vote and get more of the same.

…and don’t accuse me of being paid by the Johnson campaign because I wish I was getting paid to write this.

Millennial Dating Angst

I am tired of dating. Not for a lack of dates, but because I am simply tired of looking for dates. However, since I just turned 28 and am not getting younger I can’t just stop dating if I want to find my future wife.

Hopefully I don’t sound too depressing, I’m just trying to be real. I’ve learned a lot about myself as a person and how to be respectful to women from every dating experience I’ve had but boy howdy am I jaded by the dating scene.

I have lived in LA for two years and seriously dated two women, and have been on dates with many, many more since I moved here. I’ve been on dating apps off and on. Swiping; looking at group photos trying to figure out which person is the one with the profile; perusing profiles of people who may not even be real (in existence or mindset); sending the first message hundreds of times; being asked to add random women on Skype so I can give them money (get out of here with that bullshit); uninstalling dating apps after a good date; reinstalling them when good dates don’t pan out or when relationships end; et cetera. It’s gotten old.

You’re probably wondering why I don’t just go out in public and meet someone. Well, I’ve been shy my whole life and am an introvert until I am comfortable to open up to someone. I also have a tendency to trip on my verbiage when I’m nervous, and talking to girls that I haven’t met can turn my sentences into word salad.

When I moved to LA I didn’t know a single person my age within an hour’s distance, so going out with friends wasn’t an option initially, and drinking alone at a bar and trying to find a date is not my idea of having a good time. Hence my reliance on online dating. Compared to dating in Portland I will say at least there are a lot more women in Los Angeles, because when I lived in Oregon using dating apps only led to a handful of dates in the same period of time as I have lived in LA.

In terms of starting a conversation, the risk for online dating is fairly low. If a woman does not respond, it doesn’t phase me and it is easy to move on. I do not understand why so many guys have to be assholes when rejected online, I really don’t.

Nobody owes you a response, and women get hundreds and hundreds of messages a day on these apps, so give them a break. If she didn’t respond before, you are not going to get her to reply by being a dick instead, and you’re only showing her she should steer clear of your potential bullshit down the road. If a woman does not respond to your first message chill out and give her time, and if she never responds to more: get the message. If she does respond, don’t be a dick.

There is a pretty funny double-standard in online dating regarding the first message. Often times if you read a profile a woman will say “If you only say Hey, Hi, or something unoriginal I won’t message back” yet in the vast majority of times I have been messaged first, it was with a simple “Hi” and I didn’t care at all that it wasn’t a deep introductory message. I find this kind of hilarious, but this is anecdotal.

After you talk for a while you might have a date, but a promising first date and a good time with someone means nothing if there isn’t chemistry. Even if there is chemistry, dates that seem to go great may not lead to a second date or a serious relationship. Such is life. Don’t be a dick if she says no to a second date and move on.

Good things come to those who wait, and I get that because rushing into relationships usually doesn’t work out. The reality is that when you rush into a relationship you are both looking for the same thing at the time you found each other: most likely companionship and an escape from single life. You may get what you need at the time. You won’t find out that you are not compatible for weeks or months later though. If you don’t try at all you’ll never know what could happen. You won’t learn anything about yourself or what you are looking for if you don’t date.

Overall, I don’t believe in the concept of one true love or being meant for someone. Nobody is meant for anyone. Maybe at the place you are at in your life at the time you met your soulmate they were the perfect person for you, but if you had moved across the world before you met your true love you are with now (if you are with someone), you would find a different soulmate in that place eventually. If I still lived in Oregon maybe I would be with someone, maybe I wouldn’t. Love is real, but the concept of one true love for a person is an illusion.

That’s enough millennial dating angst for one day. As with anything posted online, a future date of mine could see this angst as a dealbreaker, but frankly I don’t really give a damn. I would rather be real with my thoughts and share them. End rant.

The Story of Azzurri (the dog, not the Italian soccer team)

You are supposed to do things you love on your birthday, right? Well… I love my dog and writing, and it is my birthday, so today I will tell you the story of my dog Azzurri.

It was the winter of 2005 and I had not applied to college yet for the fall of 2006. I was uninspired and only wanted to go to one school: the University of Oregon in Eugene. So, I sent in my application with a somewhere around 500-letter essay on the phrase “Mens Agitat Molem,” which is Latin for “Minds move mountains,” and also the University of Oregon motto.

A few months later as I went along with life as usual, a letter came in the mail. I had gotten into my dream school, the only one to which I had applied. It may not have been Harvard, Yale, or any other prestigious Ivy League university, but it was my dream school nonetheless.

The day I was accepted I was already fortuitously going to the Nike Employee store. A store built in my hometown of Beaverton next to the Nike World Headquarters. A store that is there solely because of the legacy of Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman who created Nike at my future school. How fitting!

Naturally I did the only thing a future Duck should do: tell all my friends I got in and go buy Ducks gear of course.

Before that day, I had never spent $300 on a pair of shoes. However, when a green and yellow pair of University of Oregon-themed shoes with orange embroidered duck feet shone their beautiful green and yellow aura to me at the Nike Employee store, I knew I had to have them.

Fast forward a little bit to freshman year, I enrolled in an entry-level Accounting class and needed to find a seat. The whole class was almost full and I spotted a few empty seats scattered across the lecture room. One seat was next to a guy who looked Persian, so I walked up to him, asked him if the seat was open (it was), and then if he was Persian (he was). We have been friends ever since.

Sophomore year, my friend from accounting was looking for a roommate to get an apartment with near campus the next year. We ended up getting a place right by Dough Co. on 14th street at the Hilyard House. Things went great junior year and we lived together for his senior year in the same building but in a different unit.

During that year, he dated a girl who had a dog named Bella, and I would dogsit for her while they went out. I am a homebody and not much of a partier, so Bella was my little pal. I had never had a dog before and she was so adorable it just made you happy to have her around. Well, her owner and my roommate broke up, so I wasn’t dogsitting her anymore, but I had a random idea: ask for the breeder’s email and see if I can adopt a dog from the same parents.

As luck would have it, after I emailed the guy he let me know that Bella’s parents were having another litter of puppies. I jumped on the opportunity to reserve one. It was not a traditional breeder, it was just a guy who had a Papillon female and a Maltese male and they were having their second and final litter.

A few weeks or so went by without any updates, and I was starting to get worried the breeder forgot about me, but on Memorial Day of 2010, Azzurri was born and I got an email to let me know I would be getting a puppy from the litter. They sent pictures of the puppies and asked which one I would like to have. Azzurri stood out because of his big blue puppy eyes. All the puppies were adorable, but he was the one I fell in love with before even meeting him.

The school year ended; my roommate moved out; the World Cup happened. And then it was time to get the dog.

Azzurri was in Paso Robles, California, and I was in Eugene, Oregon. I didn’t have a car, and I couldn’t rent a car at a good price because of my age. So, I gave a friend $100 to borrow their car for the trip and headed to California to get Azzurri.

On the drive down after I hit the California border all I ate was In-N-Out. One in Redding, one in San Jose, and then I think the one in Redding again on the way back. Mmmm, double-doubles animal style…but I digress. I left drove almost continuously for 12 hours. By the time I got to Paso Robles it was past midnight and I was tired, so I spent the night in the Jeep at the Walmart I was picking Azzurri up at in the morning. It was uncomfortable and cold, but I didn’t care.

In the morning I woke up quite a bit earlier than the time the guy was supposed to meet me. Having nothing to do, I decided to drive around and see what Paso Robles was like. It was absolutely beautiful. A quiet town with lots of rural areas and farms, a welcome change from the scenery of Eugene.

After wasting enough time and gas, I headed back to the Walmart to wait. Shortly after I got there, my phone rang. It was the breeder and he was at Walmart! I found him in the parking lot, paid him $300 for the dog plus $50 extra just because, and then I laid eyes on Azzurri for the first time.

He was so incredibly tiny and adorable. His fur was so fluffy and soft and his eyes were even bluer in person. Since the day I saw him the first time, he has been my baby boy. I had never loved something so much before I picked him up with my hands for the first time.

After saying thank you and goodbye to the breeder I got back on my way. The drive back took about three hours longer because I had to make a lot of stops to make sure Azzurri could take care of his bathroom breaks. Though we also stopped so I could stuff my face with In-N-Out at least once.

When I got back to Oregon, I finally let my parents know I got a dog despite them saying I shouldn’t.

He started out living with me in my apartment but when we had to go home after summer term for a few weeks he had to live at my parents’ house. He started out living in the garage in his kennel, and then my dad suggested we put him in the laundry room. He stayed in the laundry room for a while, and we got a baby-gate so he could see us while in the laundry room. Azzurri has some serious hops though, and ever since he figured out he could jump the gate, he’s been a free-roaming house dog.

Fast forward six years… Azzurri has given me more love and happiness than I ever could have hoped for. He unfortunately developed a tumor and has cancer as of this year, but he is still happy and my little baby boy. His attitude is always uplifting and he is the best dog I ever could have asked for.

I love you Azzurri!

Continuing Bernie Sanders’ Progressive Revolution

This weekend progressives were given two middle fingers by the Democratic establishment and the Democratic National Committee. The first was with the selection of moderate Tim Kaine as Hillary Clinton’s pick for Vice President. The second was the confirmation of many Bernie supporters’ theories found in WikiLeaks’ release of DNC emails which implicate the DNC in actively trying to squash Bernie Sanders’ candidacy.

Following the release of the DNC emails, progressives can at least be joyous that Debbie Wasserman-Schultz has beeen exposed and has subsequently resigned from her position as the Democratic party’s leader, but we do not have much to be joyous of in the grand scheme of things. Our voices are being squashed by those who run the “Democratic” party. We did not fail Bernie, the system failed us. Bernie Sanders has lit a fire in the hearts of progressives in his quest to win the presidency, but his mission is not accomplished yet.

If we as progressives want a real political revolution then we are going to have to move into new areas and compete for districts and Senate seats we do not have representation in. If we want real representation then we have to make changes to the electoral map for it to occur. We can’t sit in the cities where the majority think like us and convince the nation our values are the best path for the nation.

Don’t be confused though, this idea is not a call to convert people to think like us, it is a call to get more progressive representation in our government by changing the demographic layout of our country. If we are lucky, we can change the attitudes of our neighbors in the process. If Bernie can gain the support of large swaths of the conservatives in his mostly rural state of Vermont, then we can do it elsewhere in the country.

What is the progressive agenda and what are progressive values? The progressive agenda is interested in putting money into the nation’s infrastructure, taking away tax breaks from corporations who don’t deserve them, regulating Wall Street fairly, providing single-payer healthcare to our citizens, avoiding harmful trade deals, and avoiding regime-change in other countries, to name a few things. Progressives value helping our citizens out because the people are what make the country function, and we believe that if the people of our country are taken care of (within reason) we will all benefit collectively both economically and socially.

Many Democrats say they believe in the same agenda and values but their true nature shows in their voting records. There is a large portion of the Democratic party and independent voters that prefer progressive beliefs over the Democratic establishment’s ideas. This is why we as progressives need to capitalize on the rise of Bernie Sanders’ political movement and spread our ideas across the nation. The seeds have been sown for the progressive revolution, but we need to tend to them to make our ideas come to fruition in our political system.

Establishment Democrats don’t want a revolution, they mostly just detest the social positions and bigotry presented by the Republicans. Left-wing voters don’t seem to have the balls to come through with a political revolution like the Tea Party did with the Republican party. They are too logical and rational to a fault and will always fall in line, even with flawed candidates because they are too scared to be blamed if their candidate is not elected. Democrats and the DNC know the electoral math favors their opinions with the status quo as is, so they don’t have to change their platform.

There has been a wave since the rise of Bernie Sanders of progressives trying to defeat establishment Democrats in primary contests, but that is only due to Bernie having the chutzpah to stand up to the establishment and give us a voice. Progressives want a revolution because we are tired of only voting for candidates who are socially acceptable yet go against our beliefs on most everything else: Wall Street reform, regime change, trade partnerships, etc… We are also tired of voting for Democrats who profess support for these ideas to capture voters, but never come through with help for these causes. We need to do Bernie Sanders justice for giving us the voice to believe it is possible for a political revolution to occur and make it happen.

Bernie was right to call for a primary challenger for Obama when he ran for the 2012 election, but nobody agreed because they were too scared to look weak as a party. The Democratic party has catered too much to the right and needs to focus on true progressive values if it ever wants to be the party of the people, and while I love Obama and voted for him both times, he has been more of a centrist than he advertised himself as.

We, progressives who vote, need to stand up for our values, and cover more of the electoral map so that we don’t have to capitulate and give up so much potential progress at the negotiation table just to get a small amount of progress gradually.

How will we do it though?

Progressive values tend to be focused in concentrated areas across and incredibly vast nation (San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, etc.), but this concentration is leading to less representation in politics for progressive ideas. It may be nice that people are congregating to bastions of liberalism but when you focus your population in small areas you will see the same results: conservatives control a large portion of the country and the laws we pass because liberals and progressives don’t exist as much in small rural areas. Your representative may support your ideas, but because of how our country is divided electorally, their voice is being drowned out by the Republican party and those in the Democratic party who are more moderate or centrist.

Attitudes are more progressive and liberal in cities compared to rural areas. This is not to say that conservatives do not exist in cities, but statistics show that population centers are more left-minded than rural areas. In 2012 when Jeff Merkley ran in Oregon, nearly every county voted for the Republican candidate but Multnomah county carried Merkley over the top to victory late in the night in what was a close race until Portland and it’s suburban sprawl were officially counted.

Why is this? I do not think it is simply because of more diversity in the cities, especially since I came from the Portland area, where seemingly everyone is white and the diversity is substantially lacking. I think it is because when you are living closer to people and are more aware of the situations your neighbors are living in, you are more concerned with those around you than when you are more isolated and only tend to see people in a similar walk of life as yourself.

If progressives want to change the country then they need to become the neighbors and friends of conservatives, not a distant fellow citizen whom they will never see or agree with.

The reason liberalism is failing and we are seeing the rise of Trump is because a large portion of the nation holds onto conservative beliefs and liberals are not doing anything to understand them and why they believe their values are better for the nation. They want their voices heard, whether or not their beliefs are right, productive, or founded in fact or reality. You cannot change the opinions of a large portion of the country simply by telling them they are wrong and that they should accept your ideas. You have to show them through your own lifestyle that there is nothing wrong with the values you have and things you believe in.

If we use Missouri as a case study from the 2012 election we can see that Romney won with 1.48 million votes to Obama’s 1.22 million, a difference of only 260,000 votes. Romney won with roughly 54% of the vote to Obama’s 44%, but Obama only won a total of four counties out of 114 total counties in the state. A further look at the electoral results from the 2012 election shows that 46 of these counties were decided by under 2,000 votes. 12 of these counties were decided by less than 1,000 votes, and 5 counties were decided by a difference of just 500 votes.

According to Roy Blunt, a state senator for Missouri, Missouri is also home to around 100,000 individual farms, which is apparently the second-most in the nation. I submit to progressive-minded people that those across the nation with farming backgrounds should venture out of the urban areas to farm in the rural areas of places like Missouri in droves. Make a living doing something you already know in a place where people do not think like you.

17xcue

If progressive-minded urban farmers are committed to their eco-friendly values, maybe they can move to areas where people don’t think like them and fundamentally change farming in these areas in addition to the attitudes of their neighbors in the process. Urban farming has already caught steam and popularity in cities, so I don’t think we need to worry about an exodus of urban farmers to rural areas causing urban farming to end.

 

Long story short: progressives need to move into these areas where only 500-1000 votes could swing whole counties.

Bernie Sanders lit the fire, now we have to tend to it and make his vision for America happen. Conservatives love to say that us Bernie supporters want free stuff, when in reality we want to work hard and be rewarded for our hard work. Let’s show conservatives how hard we can work and let’s put a progressive in the White House in 2020.

The Two-Party System is Crap

The two-party system we operate under in the United States of America is complete and utter crap.

The two-party system has lead to stagnation of actual change in America. When one party takes power, they must reign back the changes the other party has made in order to advance their own party ideals, often at the expense of the other party’s progress which may have taken years of fighting. This leads to a drastic back and forth over policies and an overall slowing of change, if any change really happens at all. Republicans want no new taxes; Democrats want a strong social safety net. The two bicker back and forth to try to find middle ground (often they don’t), and we the American people suffer because of it as we are forced into deadlock.

We could take a lesson from other countries in how we operate our political parties though and such rigid standstill may not be an issue holding us back. In many countries, they operate with three or more political parties. Some will form a majority coalition with other parties to win an election and work together based on shared interests. This allows individual parties to stand for their own ideals as best they can while still working for shared common goals in their majority coalition.

In America we do not see coalitions form between the two parties. With two parties, it wouldn’t be possible. Instead, we see large divisions within each party which make it hard to even define what each party believes. In fact there aren’t even just two parties, it’s just that no party except the Republicans and Democrats receive any airtime which exacerbates the problem and deadlock. The only time you’ll ever see a candidate from either of the residual parties get attention is when you get to the presidential cycle and voters are not happy with the Republicans or Democrats; they are forced to look elsewhere (i.e. Jill Stein, Gary Johnson, Ralph Nader, Ross Perot).

Deadlock is dangerous for our democracy as we have seen over the last eight years. Republicans vowed to oppose Obama based simply on the fact he is a Democrat, and Democrats have been stopped in the House and Senate from passing many pieces of legislation by endless different tactics in that time-frame. Examples of this can be seen in the systematic blocking of Obama appointees to various positions, including the recently opened Supreme Court vacancy Merrick Garland awaits a confirmation hearing for. When Republicans try to advance their ideas Democrats stand in the way as best they can as well, and it would be unfair to insinuate otherwise. Both parties are guilty for the deadlock.

If we break up the two main parties however, this type of gridlock and political bickering would not be as effective because we would have other parties to keep us in check, rather than both parties throwing temper tantrums and still garnering the largest amounts of voters. The Republican party has tried to throw an eight-year temper tantrum and they have seen their party weaken. With more diversity in our political system and the realization that members of parties could jettison to a similarly positioned faction, the American people and political environment would benefit from a three-party or four-party system which is more representative of the nation’s views.

Three parties would not be enough to truly represent the American people though. If Progressives and Democrats split and formed a coalition, it would leave a broken Republican party with what seems to be a civil war brewing inside the “Grand Old Party”. A split of the Republican party could see interesting areas of overlapping policy ideas between the anti-establishment voters that have flocked to Sanders and Trump, while the moderate wing of the Democratic party and Hillary Clinton would have overlapping interests in certain economic and foreign affairs with the Republican party. The views of the people would be represented more accurately with more political parties and diversity of opinions.

If we were to see a Republican, Tea Party, Democrat, and Progressive faction each working for their own policy positions we would get more accomplished. The division in the main parties exists because neither truly represents all of those within their ranks. Instead of spending so much time infighting over the vast differences in ideals under each of the two parties, we would release the tension and allow each of the parties to bring their ideas to the table for discussion. If smaller parties seek out each of their own agendas, policy discussions wouldn’t be based simply on toeing the party line and capitulation to the majority. The individual parties could come to the table to negotiate with their own perspectives to help find a compromise and independent voters wouldn’t have to blindly accept proposals of only Democrats and Republicans.

According to Reuters, the independent voting block in this country sits at around 42% of the country while Democrats and Republicans hover around 29% and 26%, respectively. Independent voters will only flock to the Democratic or Republican agenda until they recognize the power of  the independent voting block on their own.

Bernie Sanders as an Independent within the Democratic party has the majority of voters under 45, and as the voters get younger the support is even higher. If the Democratic party truly wishes to advance their agenda and increase the party’s size they should actually attempt to win over the generation of voters that will give birth to the next generation of voters: young voters. They are not winning these voters currently as evidenced by Bernie Sanders’ rise in the Democratic party and his supporters’ unwillingness to vote for Hillary and the establishment. Working on a coalition of liberalism and progressivism could lead to a majority that would defeat the Republican party and any subdivisions within as their party fractures.

I could stand behind a coalition of the Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren progressive faction of the Democratic party and Hillary Clinton’s center-based faction. That coalition would not be defeated in our current political climate and could siphon conservative voters who disagree with the Republicans as well as many independent voters who agree with the social agenda of the Democratic party.

That being said, I could not stand behind a solely moderate and center-focused Democratic party. I am an independent voter. I shouldn’t have to vote for Democrats just because we as a nation don’t have the balls to be willing to change the gridlock provided by a two-party system. I am not a Democrat. I look at the issues and select the candidate I believe agrees with my views. Just because Democrats agree with me on social issues does not mean I have to vote for Democrats who I disagree with on foreign and economic issues.

There are many reasons why this system will not work in the U.S. including our electoral college rules and the general worry of breaking up the parties, but we do not need to accept this antiquated political system. We can do better as a country and we should demand better. We should not accept the status quo as fate. We as Americans need parties which better represent the people, and the two-party system does not offer that.