Category Archives: American Political Rants

Necessary rants to keep my sanity during these times of political craziness.

The REAL North Carolina – and My Third Tattoo

Whenever someone asks me, “Where are you from?” My response is rarely ‘the United States of America.’ More often than not, I will quickly answer ‘North Carolina’, assuming that whoever has asked will know that NC is part of the USA. This is a strange habit, though – when asked where they are from, most people will normally respond with the country, not the state or city in which they live(d). Any people who know me will also know: I often have to explain the strange behaviors United States citizens have. This is one of them.
SHORT HISTORY LESSON: When the US was formed, there was a large debate between two factions – the federalists and the anti-federalists. The federalists believed there should be a Federal government which is responsible for many things – like what you see in Canada. On the other hand, the anti-federalists believed the federal government should be kept as small as possible and regulations should be left up to the state governments with little or no federal interference. This is ultimately where the bill of rights came from – it was a compromise between the federalists and anti-federalists for how the US government would work (specifically note Amendment 10 – “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”[If you want more of a history lesson, more information can be found here.]

 

So this leads me to my point. Why do I always answer ‘North Carolina’ first? In short – the struggle between the federalists and anti-federalists has left a lasting impression on the American people (especially the South, where most of the anti-federalists were from – ask me about it if you want another history lesson). So now: first and foremost, I see myself as a North Carolina native, born and bred within driving distance of both the breathtaking Appalachian mountains (Canadians – APP-AH-LATCH-EN, not that stupid/wrong way you pronounce it!), and the awe-inspiring Outer Banks.

 

Moreover, my mother’s family, the Scott Family, was one of the first to settle in NC, and established themselves as one of the most prominent families in NC. In edition to owning huge farms in Alamance County, the Scotts established schools across NC (my name sake, Elizabeth Scott Carrington, helped raise the funds for UNC’s Nursing School, which is why there is Carrington Hall at UNC-Chapel Hill). The Scotts were also pillars in the Medical Community (my grandfather was in the first graduating class at UNC’s Dental school, and my great-grandfather delivered over 6,000 babies in his lifetime – including my childhood best friend’s mother) and devoted themselves to public service (my great-uncle Kerr Scott and his son Robert Scott both served as governors of NC). Robert (Bob) Scott was the governor who “oversaw the creation of the 16-campus University of North Carolina system” and worked heavily to make post-secondary education accessible for all in NC. The Scott family were also huge into religion – Samuel Scott and his wife Nancy Bryan Scott helped start the Hawfields Presbyterian Church in 1755, a church which is still in existence today (it is where all the Scott Family is buried). So, as you can see, my family has a ton of history in North Carolina. No wonder I recognize myself as a North Carolinian first, right?

 

Fast forward to nowadays. Seeing NC struggling as it is – our representatives have specifically refused to attend town hall meetings and have claimed the constituents who are constantly calling, trying to get the representatives to listen to the people who they are suppose to represent, are paid and are bots trying to create ‘denial of services’ for ‘real’ constituents.  Our education system is devolving, with NC’s public education failing (in 2016, in a ranking of the best High Schools in the country, NC was ranked 38th out of 51 states [because DC counts a state in this ranking, even though it is really a district]; we also have one of the lowests pay rates in the US for our teachers). Higher education is no longer easily accessible in NC – I attended university at UBC over an in-state school because I could receive a better education for less money by attending school internationally instead (which I am sure caused my great uncle, Bob Scott, to roll over in his grave). The icing on the cake: after this recent election (and years of shady politics), NC is no longer considered a democracywith our “overall electoral integrity score of 58/100 for the 2016 election, which places us alongside authoritarian states and pseudo-democracies like Cuba, Indonesia and Sierra Leone.”

All of these horrible things happening to the state my family helped create truly breaks my heart… So, over the summer, I made a choice. It became a reality to me that I would not be returning home, because – to be honest – this current North Carolina does not feel like home. But the current North Carolina is not the real North Carolina, in my opinion. The real North Carolina is the 250 years of progressive history that the Scott family helped contributed to. The real North Carolina is the one whose government representatives value its people over the representative’s party politics. The real North Carolina fights for democracy, and sets examples for the rest of the nation on how to prevent discrimination – not how to implement it (I don’t like cursing in blogs but I’mma say it – fuck HB2 and NC’s extremely unconstitutional voter ID laws.)  The real North Carolina believes in accessible, quality education for all. Because education is not a privilege of the elite, it is a necessity for a country to succeed. The real North Carolina understands this – the current North Carolina does not. 

So in September of this year, I decided to get a tattoo: my North Carolina, the real North Carolina, on my side by my heart, as a symbol of my love for the state and my hope that one day the real North Carolina will return.

IMG_3521
My tattoo: an outline of NC, with a heart around my city (Raleigh, also the capital), blue waves by the coast and mountains where the Appalachians are.

Now, to be honest, after the past few months, I really question whether the real NC can return. But I am sure of two things – James Taylor’s song ‘Carolina In My Mind’ will always remind me of home, and my tattoo will always remind me that NC once was a progressive state, and maybe, one day, we can be one again (electing Roy Cooper was a great start! Attempting to remove his ability to govern, on the other hand, not so much…)

Women’s March on Washington

Like yesterday, today was a pretty emotional day not only for myself but for many Americans. Why? Because the overwhelming amount of emotions which flooded into our hearts as we saw protesters – both American and not – around the world meet together to advocate for rights which the Trump administration has threatened to remove.

 

Originally I had intended to travel to Washington DC and stand with my fellow ‘Nasty Women’ today, but as any readers of my blog will know – life does not go as I originally plan most of the time. So instead, in a bit of a spur-of-the-moment decision, my close friend and I ended up at the Vancouver edition of the march. And let me say now – I’m 100% surprised I wasn’t balling within 5min (I nearly was; I had to fight back tears all day).

 

Why would I cry at a protest shrouded in controversy around the globe for ‘lacking inclusion’ – whether it be of pro-life individuals in the US, or of Black Lives Matter individuals in Vancouver? Because it isn’t about the organizers. It’s about the hundreds of thousands (most likely millions) of people around the globe who care so deeply about the rights my fellow Americans and I risk losing that they showed up in droves to support our Resistance. Because it proves that hatred and fear are not the rules of the day; it shows that many – not only in my nation but world wide – are standing together to support one another in our darkest of days. Because I know that if my rights are taken away, there are hundreds of thousands of people who will help in the fight to get them back – just like I will if this new administration attempts to remove rights from any black, muslim, LGBTQ+, disabled, or underprivileged people. Because humanity has not been lost, like I have been fearing since the election, but rather it has been pushed under a rug by spiteful rhetoric and now it is kicking and screaming to be set free once again. Because by every account it is clear that more people have shown up today for this display of camaraderie than they did yesterday to watch the malevolent leader be sworn in. Because no matter how terrible I feel, no matter how scared I am, I know there are people out there who will support me as I will with them.

 

To be honest, all I’ve wanted to do all day is go home and hug my loving dog, who unfortunately is only in my heart and memories anymore. And it is days like today that I remember how much that really truly sucks. But seeing the support that these marches have shown – that make it suck just a little bit less.

 

I’ll end with three of my favorite signs today:

Our security lies in our fight for the rights of all.

 

We know most of you didn’t want this!

 

And my ultimate favorite:

When he comes for the women, I am a woman.

When he comes for the Muslims, I am a Muslim.

When he comes for the Mexicans, Soy Mexicano.

When he comes for the refugees, I am a refugee.

When he comes for the environment, I am the trees and the mountains.

 

January 20th, 2017

On this dark day in American history, I struggle like many of my fellow citizens.

It hurts – truly hurts – to know that my country has chosen a man so morally deplorable; a man caught on tape bragging about sexually assaulting women, as if it is his right to have any woman he wants simply because he is rich; a man who has bragged that he settled a lawsuit for fraud for less than what the plaintiffs should have gotten; a man so against my values I can’t even hear him speak without cringing.

It devastates me that this man has now gained the title of ‘leader of the free world’ when he has infringed on so many people’s rights throughout his life.

It terrifies me that I could lose not only my access to healthcare – potentially losing either my livelihood from medical bills or my life from a treatable illness which I cannot afford to treat – but also my right to do with my body as I wish.

It saddens me to think that so many Americans may (and most likely will) lose so many of our rights in this short period of time, rights that will take much longer than four years to gain back.

It shocks me that nearly 63 million Americans actively chose to vote for a man they knew would limit the rights of their fellow citizens.

It crushes me that our system has been set up so that a man who did not gain the majority of the vote could still become the leader of our nation – despite having over two million less votes than his opposition.

It astonishes me that such a vital election had the lowest voter turnout in 20years, with about 45% of the American people ignoring their right to vote – a right that thousands have fought and died for.

It horrifies me that this new leader almost immediately erased civil rights, climate change, and LGBT rights from the ‘issues’ that the whitehouse.gov website addresses, disregarding the lives lost in the quest for our country to address these vital topics.

It pains me that all the progress we have made will be destroyed, sending our country back to dark days when only white men were truly given the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

And it angers me that there has been so little push back, that there are so many people have apathetically decreed ‘well it is only four years’ or ‘he’ll be impeached so its fine,’ with some people even going so far as to say that an assassination of Trump would be better than a Hillary presidency.
I’m scared. I’m honestly freaking terrified. I don’t know what to think, I don’t know what to feel. I don’t feel safe in the country I once loved and supported with all my heart. Now? Every new update I see about my nation sends a stabbing pain through my heart, causing fiery balls of salty water to well in my eyes which threaten to go speeding down my face for hours on end. How could a country once so great give in to such fear and hatred? How can my rights be removed because others in my nations think theirs are more important? How do I continue to call myself American when I feel anything but that?
I am lost. I am in pain. I am bewildered, feeling as if I have been forsaken by my homeland. And I remember – I’m a white woman from a middle class family – if I feel this terrible, how do those at higher risk for discrimination feel? Do they want to curl in a ball and weep as badly as I do? What will happen to them, if this country of ours has already started stripping my rights away and it’s barely been twelve hours? How can I help them, if I cannot even protect my own rights?
But most of all, I’m truly heartbroken. I said it on election day, and I will say it again – this is not my America. This is not the country I know and loved. This is a country I no longer recognize. Trump will never be my president. I will fight with the Resistance. I will never give in to the fear and hatred that this man wants my nation to rebuild itself upon. And I will always support those in need, regardless of their sexuality, race, ethnicity, immigration status, or religious beliefs.
But today – today I’m going curl into a ball and weep for the future of the nation I once loved. For today is a dark day, and it is truly hard to see the end of this devastatingly scary tunnel.

A Critical Political Analysis of Trump’s First 100-days Plan (PT. 1)

For those interested in the viability of Trump’s proposed plans (found here), here is a critical political analysis:

PART I:

  1. “Term limits on Congress.” While the idea of term limits on Congress is appealing, the process is daunting. In order impose term limits in Congress, a constitutional amendment must be passed (the process is outlined in Article V of the Constitution, or an explanation can be found here). For those who want a summary, here it is: A constitutional amendment can be called for in two ways – a 2/3rds majority vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate; or by a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of the State legislatures. (Note – all of the previous constitutional amendments have been called for with a vote in Congress).
    The president has no role in the Constitution Amendment process. Therefore – according to the Constitution – Trump is not able to do this. It is up to Congress and Congress alone to propose and later pass an amendment to the Constitution. Further, if your goal is to fix the corruption in Congress, do not allow private citizens or corporations to donate such large amounts of money to a politician’s campaign. If a politician isn’t attempting to fulfill a deal made for a monetary contribution, he/she is more likely to fulfill the commitments made to the people who actually elected him/her.
  2. “A Federal Workforce hiring freeze.” The Federal Workforce makes up three specific branches: Executive, Legislative and Judicial. The Executive branch is split into two sectors, Civilian and Uniformed Military. The Civilian branch includes: Cabinet agencies, such as Agriculture, Commerce, Defence, Education, Energy, etc. (a complete list can be found on page 82 of this report released by the White House); and Other agencies – excluding postal service which functions as a quasi-federal program – such as Broadcasting Board of Governors, Corps of Engineers, Environmental Protection Agency, etc. If you want more information on the composition of the federal workforce, I encourage you to read more of the above linked document.When reading said document, I found a disturbing statistic. The size of the Federal civilian workforce relative to the country’s population has decreased significantly over the past decades. If you look at the Historical Federal Workforce Tables, the most recent data from 2014 shows that the United States employed less federal employees than in 1962. In fact, the federal government only employs 56,000 more individuals in 2014 than the lowest number ever employed (in 2000).  Further, the employees of the Federal Workforce are twice as highly educated as comparable private firms – with a rate of growth less than half that of the private firms. Further, the Pay Agent Report found that  ‘in 2015 Federal jobs paid 35 percent less than comparable non-Federal jobs’.From a critical perspective – Trump has vowed to decrease an already decreasing sector of extremely intelligent individuals who have chosen to pursue a career to better our nation rather than making large amounts of money in private firms. This does not seem like a ‘job building’ measure (a point he campaigned on), but rather one to cripple the already overworked federal government. Further, how is this going to limit corruption? (A legitimate question, if you know how this would limit corruption please comment below.)


  3. “For every new federal regulation, two existing regulations must be eliminated” ….. How? How do you plan on implementing such an ignorant policy? Executive order? Law? This is basically saying that for every law that is passed, two more must be repealed. But more intricately, many laws have multiple regulations in them. So again – how? It makes me wonder if Trump even understands how our government actually works. Or what the extent of his Presidential powers actually are.
  4. “A 5-year ban on White House and Congressional officials becoming lobbyists after they leave government service.” This is probably one of the only things I will agree with Trump on. It is unfortunately a common practice for politicians to pass unpopular laws, and when they are not re-elected (or chose to retire), they move to the private sector. But then again, with such a good idea, I decided to google to see if it had been done before. And it has. By Obama. In 2009. The only difference? Obama put a ban for 2 years, not 5 years. The executive order can be found here. Trump is simply calling to extend policies already put in place by the Obama administration.
  5. “A lifetime ban on White House Officials lobbying for a foreign government.” As far as I am aware – and as far as my research has found – no White House officials lobby on behalf of a foreign government currently. (If this is incorrect, please comment below with the link to the evidence that this does actually happen.) But okay, I understand this is to appease the tensions from the leaked Clinton campaign emails.Also, bear in mind – there is the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), which is a “disclosure statute that requires persons acting as agents of foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal, as well as activities, receipts and disbursements in support of those activities.”
  6. “A complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising money for American elections.” Okay, yes. The leaked documents showing that the Clinton campaign may have accepted money from a lobbyist acting on the interest of a foreign nation is cause for concern. And yes, I also agree foreign nations should not have significant roles in our politics. So agreed – points 5 and 6 are important. They are also the only two I partially agree with.However, bear in mind – the changes Trump proposes will require congressional action – which the Washington Post’s Catherine Ho says is ‘unlikely’. Further, in her professional opinion as a journalist covering lobbying on Capital Hill, the “longer ‘cooling off’ period … would deter people from taking government positions in the first place, knowing that their post-government employment options would be limited.”According to GOP lobbyist Stewart Verdery – “What you’ll end up with is people serving in government who are wealthy or super ideological to advance a partisan cause because it’ll make it very hard for someone to cycle in and out to do public service for the good of the people.”

    This policy analysis intended on informing people as well as creating a discussion on the proposals made by Trump. If you have any comments, thoughts, or disagreements with the analysis or information provided, please comment below. 



    ~~~~~~~~~



    Edit: I intended on analyzing each of the points in Trump’s 100-day-plan. However, after attempting to go through each point, I got much too frustrated by how outrageous each point was (hence the part 1; I had intended on going through each section one-by-one)… And then, when I did publish the first 6 points, I realized it may be too soon for a real intellectual debate of Trump’s proposals – yet. So, I will continue this series, but I will continue it after some time has passed.

The Election

When the US election results first rolled in, it was about 5am in Prague. I honestly couldn’t sleep that night, and my facebook/snapchat/whatsapp was filled with messages from friends around the globe commiserating at the election results. So when my dad said ‘Trump won’ all I could think is ‘….No.’ A few friends even messaged me to ask if I was okay, knowing how much I adore my nation and how completely devastated I am to see such hatred and fear fuel the largest miscarriage of justice we have seen since before the Civil Rights Movement.

 

That day will always be remembered by me as one of the worst days in American history, and in my lifetime (and trust me, I’ve had a ton of bad days, so this is really saying something). Why was it so bad? Because it was the day that I truly questioned why I have chosen to remain American. I have lived in Canada 5 years, I have a 3-year work visa there, I can become a resident and later a citizen. And to be perfectly honest, my first reaction was to do just that. And part of me still wants to. But then I saw something that I care about more than being ashamed of my nation – my facebook feed has been filled with detailed accounts of homophobic, racist, xenophobic and sexists attacks on my fellow citizens – some even to close friends, and not just within the borders of the United States. Anyone who knows me at all knows I am one of the most protective people on this earth – you hurt my friends, you hurt me. So this is one thing I cannot and will not stand by and watch idly, whether I know those being discriminated against or not.

 

No – I do not feel like this is my America. No – this is not the country I know and love. Yes – I am still ashamed to be American, and have still told those who ask where I am from that I am from Canada. But does that mean I am going to leave the US? No. Because another thing I saw – those who voted for Trump want the liberals to leave. They want the liberals and minorities to stay quiet and allow them to ‘cleanse’ our population. What I realized is – if we leave, if we pack up and say we are done, if we stay quiet and allow the horrific proposals of Trump to be passed, we will have failed those discriminated against a second time. And I, for one, am too ashamed that we failed them once to let it happen again.

 

So my conclusion – I still haven’t decided whether: a) I will stay in the US and volunteer with every organization possible to protect the rights of the US citizens, and the immigrants and refugees who came to our country hoping for a better future; or b) I will go abroad for more schooling (because the reason I didn’t this year is I can’t afford US graduate schools, but I can afford international graduate programs – another extremely big problem in our nation, which is absolutely deplorable: how can we expect to remain a world power if our citizens can’t afford a good education?) so I can come back and fight for the rights of my fellow citizens, immigrants, and the refugees who have feared so greatly for their lives that they risked everything to come to a nation which is treating them like the very people they were fleeing from. But one thing is for sure: I am an American liberal, and I will do everything in my power to fight for the rights of the the immigrants, refugees, and my fellow citizens – all of which do not deserve the hell we have put them through in this past week.

 

And for those following my blog – Yes I will still be posting about my travels, but I am also starting a series of political posts. It is up to you whether you wish to read them or not.

A Sobering Comparison 

Today I decided to feed my inner International Relations nerd by visiting a series of museums dedicated to WWII and the Holocaust – including the Anne Frank House. Pretty sobering experiences on their own, they were made even more so by the striking similarities between the events of WWII and those of today.

 

To start, you have your ‘charismatic’ leader – Hitler for the 1930s and Trump for present day (although personally Trump’s limited vocabulary and lack of knowledge for current events makes him seem more dumb than a kindergartener to me – which is an insult to kindergarteners.) But regardless of my opinion, people support him enough for him to have the possibility of becoming President of the United States.

Now for the more disturbing part: to get to this point, Donald Trump has spewed a series of racist, homophobic, hateful ideas in multiple campaign speeches, many of which members of our population have wholeheartedly agreed with. His accusations that all Muslims are terrorists and all Mexicans are rapists and drug dealers strike a disturbingly similar tone to the hate speech of Hitler towards the Jews and Gypsies.  Muslims have become our modern-day Jews – blamed for everything even though the vast majority are responsible world citizens (bear in mind 23% of the world’s population are Muslim, and over 80% of this population does not support ISIS according to a recent poll); and Hispanics our modern day Gypsies, entering borders illegally as they are not allowed to travel any other way, only to be met with disdain everywhere they go.

Whats more, Hitler – Freudian slip, correction: Trump has even shown a disregard for disabled peoples, having mocked a disabled reporter during the primaries. He even had the gall to insult a Gold Star Family – something I doubt even Hitler would dare to have done.

Now, you may be reading this and think – ‘Well that is a jump – Hitler actually killed people, Trump is just talking crazy’ (or heaven forbid, you are reading this and somehow agree with Trump’s comments.) But bear in mind, Hitler was elected too. And during his election speeches, he held back, speaking mainly of the evil Jewish people were believed to be responsible for. Even Hitler wasn’t as blatantly warmongering as Trump:

  • Case one – Trump’s declaration that he would kill the families and children of suspected terrorists, an action that is strictly forbidden by the Geneva Conventions – which, if you didn’t know, were based off the events that occurred in WWI and WWII.
  • Case two – Trump advocating for the torture of captured individuals, also internationally outlawed by legislation inspired by the events of WWI and WWII, and given up by the US due to a significant domestic backlash after the leaked photos from the Abu Ghraib prison, and significant evidence that torture does not work.
  • Case three – Trump’s taped confession [though is it really a confession if you are bragging about it?] to multiple counts of sexual assault (a federal crime outlawed by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.) With absolutely no remorse for his actions, neither then nor now.

I could go on. But I digress… (And yes, I do recognize that these were  common practice before becoming strictly outlawed, but Hitler made a point of never outright condemning Jews, or any others, to death during his election; his speeches mainly focused on fuelling feelings of hatred and discontent during his campaign and in his early years in office.) It is just disturbing to think Trump is going down the list in a ‘First they came for the Socialists’ manner (if you don’t understand this reference, note the quote at the end of this post.)

Yes, our society has progressed far enough that proposals for concentration camps would be met with immediate horror and disgust (though I thoroughly believe there would be a sector of our society in favor of such a proposal for Muslims.) But have you ever stopped to compare the conditions in overcrowded, underfunded refuge camps to those of the concentration camps?

Or worse – compare the guaranteed death many refuges face should they return to their ISIS-controlled homelands to the death guaranteed by the gas chambers? By denying refuges access to international safe havens, we are repeating the past mistakes which, in one case alone, condemned 254 passengers of the MS St. Louis to their deaths (imagine how many people we have condemned in the 5year Syrian ‘civil war’? Quotation marks because the battle as evolved to one between not just the state and the civilians, but also non-state actors such as ISIS. [They are not recognized as states because then it gives legitimacy to their claim that they rightly deserve to brutally govern the people in their illegally controlled territories – illegal because they aren’t a state]. However, since the conflict only involves one state, it is therefore still considered a ‘civil war’ despite spilling over Syria’s borders. )

And then there are the claims Trump has made regarding mass deportation. Will this deportation take the form of so many before it, where those being deported die on their journey? Or are denied basic human rights? Will they be forced to leave at gun point? Ride on cattle cars, stuffed inside like animals, like the deportations of the Holocaust? Even more practical, will we spend vast amounts of money to deport these ‘undesirable people’ rather than spend that money on the poor and impoverished US citizens?

Its sobering, it is all extremely sobering. And scary. Going through exhibit after exhibit, all I could think was, ‘Has my country really come to this? How can we be the nation with the largest Holocaust Memorial Museum and yet support someone who mirrors Hitler so significantly?’

This post is in no way supporting any candidate – I dislike all candidates in this election, I’d much rather have Elizabeth Warren vs. John McCain instead. (Then at least we’d have two well-liked, knowledgable, qualified politicians as candidates.) But that is not what this post is about. This post is supporting America – the America that feeds on hope, not hatred. That was created for religious freedom, not persecution. The melting pot that blended so many cultures together, succeeding in creating the largest economy in the world (which still maintains a GDP greater than all other nations in the world, despite our economic downturn.)

I implore you. Do not focus on the fact that you hate Hillary. Do not focus on the fact that you dislike the political norm we have today, which – no question – has failed us. Focus on the risk we face of electing a modern-day Hitler. I don’t give a damn who you vote for come November 8th, just don’t let it be the candidate who has repeatedly mimicked the most brutal leader in modern history.

 

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

~Niemöller