Trump is Bad for Foreign Relations

In 2008 the air was filled with politics—even in Europe, the mere mention of being an American would flood the conversation with one topic: the election. It was the great election of hope, where Barak Obama was leading the Democrats to what ultimately became a victory, and Europeans watching on the sidelines were waiting to see if we could dig ourselves out of the mess George W. Bush created. Through all of my discussions, with teachers, locals, strangers and friends in Europe, I came to understand that they pay attention to our elections—more so than some of us Americans even—and that their opinions help shape the foreign outlook of the United States way beyond that one pivotal day in November.

Spoiler Alert: The day of the election, because of the time difference, I was holed up in my friend’s apartment in Florence forcing myself to stay awake as the results poured in. For a good part of a year I had paid close attention to the platform Obama had built, and I, like so many Americans, was ready to see this change he had promised us. Now, I wanted to see a part of history as it happened. Unfortunately, I fell asleep around 4 a.m. before any official call was made. But that morning, when Florence’s residents started stirring, it was clear who had won. I heard cheers from the streets—people who do not live in the United States and would not have a direct day to day interaction with the new President and his policies were ecstatic over the outcome—Obama had won.

George W. Bush was not our worst president, but he did bring upon the U.S. enough turmoil with our foreign relations to leave a bad taste in our mouths. Yes, history will cut him some slack based on the circumstances—9/11 was the worst attack on U.S. soil in our history, and something any president would struggle to deal with—but sending troops to Iraq and Afghanistan brought us into a new era of bipartisanship that has only gotten worse. In 2008, Dems were unhappy with Bush and wanted a new leader who lined closer with their ideals. Today, Republicans are facing the same feeling—their distaste for Obama has made Republican leaders increasingly angry and aggressive, and as America works to crawl out of the results of the recession, voters are looking for a savior.

When you compare the two elections on that scale, you can understand why Republicans want to see one of their own back in the White House. But their candidate, Donald Trump, is not the right option.

There are so many reasons we could list as to why Donald Trump is wrong for the presidency. His racist, misogynist, aggressive, hot-headed, unnerving demeanor has turned him into one of the most hated candidates the opposition has faced. But I want to look at one small part of this list: his inability to compromise, and work with foreign leaders.

We saw firsthand this week how Trump would handle a discussion with other leaders—in Monday’s debate against Hillary Clinton, Trump’s unpredictability, and lack of control, was his own undoing. With only a few light pushes from Clinton, Trump spiraled down a rabbit hole of insults and nonsensical commentary that made him look like an utter fool. It was a taste of how he would handle difficult situations in the future—his lack of experience, and his hunger for power and praise would lead America to sever ties with countries past leaders worked tirelessly to negotiate with—it would be disastrous for our foreign policy and relations across the globe.

In my travels throughout this election season, there is one question I regularly face: Why Trump? It seems that other countries are just as confused as I am about how we got here, how of all the candidates out there, Trump was the best the Republicans could produce. Sure, some countries would celebrate a Trump presidency, but for the majority of the world, seeing Trump in office could cause a lot more problems for travelers.

It’s important to see the issues and really hear what each candidate running in this election has to offer—I, myself, have already made up my mind, but I think it’s important to look at the big picture. We’re still only one part of this big world, and if our leader refuses to work fairly and justly with other countries, and throws tantrums every time he doesn’t get his way, it will be disastrous for the millions of Americans here in the country, and scattered around the world.

It’s Time to Talk About Gun Control…Again

This morning, a gunman walked up to a news crew from the local broadcast station WDBJ7 in Moneta, VA. Two members of the news team, reporter Alison Parker, 24, and cameraman Adam Ward, 27, were shot and killed at close range while interviewing Vicki Gardner of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce around 6:45 a.m. on Wednesday, August 26. Gardner was also shot and was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery. Reports say she is recovering.

The gunman, a former employee of WDBJ7, Vester Lee Flanigan, also known as Bryce Williams, shot himself on I-66 in Faquier County, according to state police. He was late reported dead from hose self-inflicted wounds.

6:45 a.m.–Most of us were waking up at that hour, preparing for our days and catching the morning report from our local news stations. Local news stations like WDBJ7, who sent out their crews to cover the latest topics for the morning broadcast. But for these two young reporters, their day was already half over. I’m sure they were expecting a typical day—show up to work, do a simple piece with the Chamber of Commerce, cover a few other small reports, sign off and head home to go about their days. Newsweek reported that Ward had a job interview after his shift, a step up to the career he was still just starting. These two had so much to look forward to, so much left to give to this world. And in an instant, all that was gone.

These types of stories have become far too frequent in the web of today’s news. Without delving into the subtopics of race, poverty, etc. that also seem to haunt shootings, the story is always the same: the victims’ lives are cut short because the gunman decided the only way to be heard was to open fire. We’ve seen this happen countless times—in schools, in theaters, in places we once thought were safe. Ten years ago, it was unheard of to have your bags checked before entering a movie theater to enjoy a film. Now, kids smuggling in candy to the theater is the least of their worries.

But where do we draw the line? At what point will we acknowledge that gun control in this country is the problem?

In the wake of the most recent shooting, I took to Twitter to see what discussions arose from this tragedy. First, the sheer professionalism of the WDBJ7 staff shined through—with tweets remembering their colleagues, coupled with the live broadcast focused on the slain reporters’ lives and careers, the station kept their focus on the positive, while still providing updates on the hunt for the shooter. My heart broke watching the anchors talk about their colleagues, who they interacted with only hours before. You could sense that as soon as their job was done for the day, the only thing left to do was step off camera and cry. And for the loved ones of the victims—a boyfriend, a fiancée, parents, siblings, friends—their lives will never be the same.

As the day progressed, the back and forth about gun laws started to pick up. Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton called for gun reform, tweeting: “Heartbroken and angry. We must act to stop gun violence, and we cannot wait any longer. Praying for the victims’ families in Virginia.” Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe echoed these sentiments, saying it’s time again to address laws against gun violence.

I feel that each time a shooting occurs (something that is far more frequent now than in the past), the same arguments come out. The anti-gun side argues for stricter laws, while the pro-gun advocates say that we just need to prevent killers from getting their hands on guns. But what constitutes a ‘killer’? How can we prevent ‘killers’ from getting their hands on guns when many are not yet killers? Isn’t the soul purpose for a gun is to kill? What other practical use does it have? The reality isn’t some liberal conspiracy to take away your guns—it’s that our current system isn’t working, and it’s time for change.

I will admit that if I was in charge, there would be extremely strict requirements over gun ownership. In fact, I’d like to see a world where civilians had no need for guns, but I also know that that scenario would never happen—in a government base off balance, there is always room for compromise, even with the issues you feel strongest about. That’s why gun control needs to remain at the top of our list, because the current system just isn’t working. How many more innocent lives must we lose before we make a lasting change?

Just Another Typical Thursday

2016 Republican Candidates from Thursday, August 6 debate.

2016 Republican Candidates from Thursday, August 6 debate.

The world woke up today in a haze. It seems like over the past 12 hours, we’ve experienced this emotional roller coaster–our night was chock filled with ups and owns as we watched America’s top 10 contenders debate over who will be Hillary’s runner up the Republican candidate in the 2016 presidential election, and swiftly changed over to Comedy Central to bid farewell to our beloved Jon Stewart.

Let’ start with the debate, and oh what a debate it was! Trump vs. Bush, Christie vs. Paul, FOX vs. Trump, the verbal punches were coming from every angle. But what did we get out of the debate? Here’s my take away:

– The Republicans are STILL bitter about New Jersey’s Governor, Chris Christie, hugging Obama. Answering a question on NSA spying, Christie cited his experience with the Patriot Act post-9/11 as to why these surveillances can aid against future attacks. Senator Rand Paul, who has criticized this overall program, calling it a violation of the Fourth Amendment, was quick to jump in to defend himself, turning the conversation into one of the more entertaining back and forths of the night, ending ultimately with Paul delivering a mic drop to Christie: “I don’t trust President Obama with our records. I know you gave him a big hug, and if you want to give him a big hug again, go right ahead.”

– Social Issues, specifically Women’s Health and trending topic #BlackLivesMatter, were not worth the candidates’ time. These topics weren’t addressed until the final 20 minutes of the debate, and we barely touched the surface. Maybe those conversations are set aside for a later date, but with the recent (like 48 hours earlier) blocking of the Republican’s attempt to defund Planned Parenthood, you would think that this would be the time to talk about it. They did address abortions though, which is always what I love to see–ten white men trying to tell me what’s best for my body. Deep sigh.

– Ted Cruz is terrifying. Most of his actual debate was read right off of a cue card, but it was his closing statements that really stuck with me. In short, he’d reverse everything that the Obama administration achieved. He’d  take his own religious beliefs to the table, go to war with Planned Parenthood, and rescind the Iran deal he so avidly opposes. Of course, after the bell told him to shut up, he had to throw in that his father fled from Cuba. Just FYI.

– Ohio Governor John Kasich actually did well. One of the lesser-known candidates in the pool, he was thrown a question about same sex marriage, and how he would address the issue to his children. Ask this to any of the other guys there, and they’d throw in statements about how homosexuality is against the Bible, and blah blah blah, but Kasich was very poignant. His general acceptance of same sex marriage might give him a boost over the other candidates down the line. Maybe?

– Scott Walker and Marco Rubio debate well. You forget that some of these clowns can actually make a point without jumping down each other’s throats.

– Jeb Bush and Donald Trump go head to head. Over the past few weeks, Bush, who was as surprised as many of us about Trump throwing his name into the hat, has called Trump a “Buffoon” and an “Asshole,” but denied such allegations when confronted during the debate. The best moment to me was when Trump addressed Bush’s statements, causing Bush to step back for a moment just to smile.

Bush Thoughts:

Bush Thoughts: “Why wasn’t I invited to his wedding?!”

– FOX News doesn’t even want Trump to be President. For the other nine candidates, the focus was on the issues, but each time it was Trump’s turn to speak, FOX superstar Megyn Kelly (I think she won the debate) threw facts on top of the questions to show viewers just how awful Trump is. In the first three minutes, she pointed out his misogynistic tendencies–“You’ve called women fat pigs, dogs, slobs, disgusting animals,” she said to Trump. His response: “Only Rosie O’Donnell.” THAT was by far the worst comment of the night. It had nothing to do with the election, nothing to do with the issues. It was Trump, once again putting himself front and center and showing the world that yes, he is in fact a horrible person. If elected, he’d guarantee to make his own personal problems his main concern, starting with insulting the women he dislikes. Is that really what we want? Absolutely not. (Side note: Rosie, you did not deserve that low blow. Keep your head up, the majority knows that that statement was rude, crude, and absolutely wrong.).

Relationship Goals.

Relationship Goals.

Luckily, after two hours of watching Cleveland burn, we were granted with part two of evening–the finale of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. I don’t have much to say as of yet, but it was the high note I needed to wash the taste of GOP morons out of my mouth before bed. My thoughts:

– It was all about the crew. I loved that Jon, who for the last 16 years has been the face of The Daily Show, made his last night about the people who helped make the show great. Really heartwarming, and made me want to quit my job and stand outside of the studio with my resume.

– Stephen Colbert. In typical Colbert fashion, his entire speech was touching, with a dash of hilarity. The whole Lord of the Rings analogy had nerds like me cry consecutive happy/sad tears, but after his bit about Frodo (Jon) leading the way, he said what we all needed to say: Thank you, Jon. Colbert wouldn’t have his job without Jon Stewart. Steve Carrell, John Oliver, so many great comedians went on to amazing things because The Daily Show gave them a chance. (Sorry, I need to wipe my eyes again).

– Jon Stewart changed the news. Yes, The Daily Show was meant to be satire, but it turned into a reliable and entertaining phenomenon, which, through the years of jokes, gave us insight into the truth. And it gave us a personality that made us come back night after night. So thank you, Jon Stewart, for 16 glorious years. I can’t wait to see what you do next.

BONUS ROUND: In case you missed it, my girl Kimmy K. gave us a gift last night. This glorious selfie that says ‘Yes, I support Hillary.”

Kim breaks the Internet, again. (Hi Kanye!)

Kim breaks the Internet, again. (Hi Kanye!)