Addressing What Happened In Florida

By now, I would think that just about everyone is at least vaguely aware of what happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. On the off chance that someone reading this is unaware, a gunman walked into the school and opened fire with an AR-15 assault rifle, killing 17 people and injuring many more. I feel that it is necessary to address this senseless tragedy. There are certainly people who think that this is the wrong time to talk about what happened and what needs to be done to stop it. I completely understand this viewpoint because children being slaughtered in our nation’s schools is an uncomfortable topic. However, there will never be a “right” time to discuss something like this. It will always be uncomfortable. Mid-American Culture has given me a platform with which to express myself in an uncensored, honest, and very personal way. I am going to use this platform to give my thoughts on the situation as honestly and directly as I possibly can.

I was just over one year old when Dylan Harris and Eric Klebold opened fire on the students at Columbine High School in 1999. The events at Columbine were horrific. News of the shooting dominated the media for weeks and weeks afterward. For the most part, Americans had never experienced something like that before. The thought that children attending school might have to find themselves under attack by deranged gunmen was unprecedented. Citizens and politicians alike were determined to never let anything like this happen again. This, of course, was not what happened. Since Columbine, there have been 25 fatal school shootings in the United States. Myself and my generation have grown up in the era of mass shootings. Politicians have made countless attempts and empty promises regarding the prevention of gun violence during my lifetime. As what happened in Florida clearly shows, nothing has helped. Nothing has helped at all. Many lawmakers aren’t even trying to solve the problem anymore. But, at least we have their thoughts and prayers.

 

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Florida Governor Rick Scott’s tweet after the shooting in Florida

 

While all mass shootings are obviously horrendous, school shootings hit especially close to home for me. I am a 20 year old college student studying to be a high school teacher. During my first semester of college, I was in an entry level class for education majors. One day, we did not do any work in this class. Instead, the chief of the campus police came to talk to us. The topic was mass shootings. He gave my class some background about mass shootings and what to do in the event of a shooting on campus and things like that. After he left, the woman who taught the class had a conversation with us that I will never forget for the rest of my life. She pointed out the frequency with which school shootings occur in the United States and the undeniable possibility that we, as future teachers, might have to face an active shooter situation one day. She addressed the importance of protecting students at all costs in these situations. We discussed teachers who had given their lives trying to protect students in these situations. I came to the disheartening realization that protecting students from gunfire had become part of the curriculum for those studying to be teachers. Gun violence in our country should never have reached the point where teachers have to be taught how to shield their students from bullets. But, here we are. Some people even take it a step further and say that teachers should carry guns in every school throughout the country. They really think that teachers should be expected to prepare themselves to kill an active shooter, who in many cases would be a student from the very school in which they teach) at a moment’s notice. If those in the field of education wanted to carry a gun and shoot bad guys, they would have entered the field of law enforcement or maybe joined the military. That is not what teachers got into the profession to do. They want to teach. The fact that a teacher having a handgun in his or her desk to fight off an attacker armed with an AR-15 is the best idea that many of our nation’s leaders have for preventing these shootings is sickening. But, at least we have their thoughts and prayers.

 

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s tweet after the Florida school shooting

 

As more facts about the school shooting have become available, one thing is increasingly clear: This could have been prevented. Florida has some of the least strict gun laws in the country. Buying an AR-15 rifle is as simple as walking into a gun store, filling out a small form, not having a felony record, being over 18 years old, paying for the gun, and walking out with it. Stricter laws about the sale of firearms very well could have prevented this.  In September of 2017, a YouTube user under the username Nikolas Cruz commented that he was going to “become a professional school shooter”. The FBI received a tip about the comment but nothing ever came of it. On February 14, 2018, a 19 year old man named Nikolas Cruz walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School carrying a legally purchased AR-15 rifle and unloaded “countless magazines” of ammo into the students and faculty of the school. President Trump stressed the importance of reporting potential threats to law enforcement after the shooting. What he apparently fails to realize is that Nikolas Cruz was reported to authorities. Under President Obama, regulations were put in place designed to prevent people who are identified as potentially having mental illness that could lead to this kind of attack from purchasing firearms. Critics of gun-control argue that if gun-control laws work, this should have prevented the shooter, who was said to have been known for erratic behavior, from getting a gun. The question is valid. Why didn’t this stop the tragedy in Florida? It is because President Trump signed a bill revoking these mental health checks in late February of last year. In the last few years, the Republican controlled Congress has voted against several pieces of gun-control legislation. Any number of these failed laws could have prevented this attack. But ultimately, Congress gave us no such laws. Fortunately for us, they were courteous enough to offer us their thoughts and prayers.

 

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President Trump’s tweet following the Florida school shooting

 

When I write for this site, particularly about politics, I try to write with as little bias as possible. But, given the circumstances, I am going to admit my bias here. I am biased against mass shooters, the deadly assault weapons many of them use, and the people who do nothing to prevent these attacks. I am biased against the gun lobby who is indirectly responsible for the deadly gun violence epidemic in our country. I am biased against every single politician who takes money from the gun lobby in exchange for pro-gun votes because they find the sound of campaign contributions to be louder than the screams of dying children will ever be. I am biased against the law in the United States that prevents the CDC from researching the national epidemic of gun violence because the NRA against such research. In 1996, Australia was struck by a senseless mass shooting, the likes of which it had never seen. Just weeks afterward, the country enacted some of the strictest gun laws in the world. It banned certain types of firearms and the government bought the firearms back from its citizens as compensation for their loss. There has not been a mass shooting in Australia since. Gun control laws work. When something tragic happens, whether it be drunk driving deaths, workplace accidents, mass shootings, or whatever the case may be, the answer is not to give up. The answer is certainly not to try to solve the problem by introducing more of what caused the problem to begin with. The answer is to eliminate what is causing the problem. Until our government acts, the epidemic of gun violence will not stop. The American people have demanded it in the past. Instead, they were given thoughts and prayers.

 

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President Obama addressing the nation following the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012

 

I found myself slightly optimistic that real change could occur after the Florida school shooting. The aftermath of the tragedy feels different. People are calling for real change. Our leaders seem passionate about preventing violence from striking again. It did not take long for me to lose this optimism. I remembered how different things felt after the Las Vegas shootings. I remembered how different things felt after the Pulse Nightclub shootings. I remembered how different things felt after the San Bernardino shootings. I remember watching one of my greatest heroes, President Barack Obama, crying after the Sandy Hook shootings. The defeated look on his face said it all. Despite his best efforts, and the efforts of many others, he couldn’t bring about the kind of change that this country needs when it comes to guns. No change will come until the American people demand it. Not everyone will wants to hear this, but thoughts and prayers will not do a damn thing to stop these atrocities. I will not apologize for saying that. I will not apologize for pushing my radically liberal stance of wanting less dead schoolchildren in America. Nobody should ever apologize for saying what is right. The time has come for change. The time is now. Demand it.

Why Professional Wrestling Is Struggling In Today’s Culture

Professional wrestling has been a cultural staple in the United States, particularly in the South and Mid-Western parts of the country, for decades. Being a 90’s baby and the son of a huge professional wrestling fan, I grew up watching wrestling during what I believe to be the best time in the history of the sport. During a significant part of my childhood, wrestling was everything to me. I idolized the wrestlers. I collected the action figures (to this day, I still have literally hundreds of them boxed up in my garage). I proudly wore my replica championship belts. I watched WWE programming religiously. Wrestling was my greatest childhood passion.

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However, wrestling gradually began to lose its appeal to myself and many other fans. At the time, I blamed my loss of interest on my discovery that the outcome of the matches were scripted and the departure of some of my favorite wrestlers from the sport. My recently rekindled love of wrestling has led me to reconsider this. I believe that a cultural shift and the industry’s attempts to keep up with said shift are more to blame than anything else.

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Wrestling was arguably never more popular than it was in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. The sport was at its peak during the “Monday Night Wars”. The Wars were actually a competition between the country’s two top wrestling promotions, World Championship Wrestling and World Wrestling Entertainment (then known as the World Wrestling Federation) for superiority over one another. The Monday Night Wars led to the beginning of the Attitude Era in the WWF. The borderline vulgar, often profanity-ridden, and violent storylines that came from the Attitude Era are some of the most entertaining content ever created by a wrestling promotion. Not only were the storylines great, but the characters were iconic and the viewer could really identify with them to an extent. Who didn’t want to give their boss the finger and pound beers like Stone Cold Steve Austin? Who didn’t want to have the charisma and swagger of The Rock? Who didn’t want to be as rebellious and controversial as the D-Generation X faction? No other point in wrestling history could even hold a candle to the Attitude Era.

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However, the sport took a drastic decline in the years following. After the demise of WCW, World Wrestling Entertainment stood as the only major player left in the world of professional wrestling. This led to a noticeable decline in quality. The crude, bloody action sport that wrestling was gradually declined into a series of watered-down matches between mostly goofy, generic characters. The change was undeniable. Ratings and house show numbers have fallen dramatically in recent years. These loses cant be blamed completely on the decline in quality, however. Even the less violent matches between the lower card wrestlers during the Attitude Era were great. So what is the issue?

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I personally believe that much of the problem is the change in culture in the last two decades. Ultimately, political correctness is a good thing. Simply put, it basically promotes common courtesy and respect being expanded to everyone regardless of who they are. It makes the community a better place. But, wrestling is not about that. Wrestling was so great during the Attitude Era because it provided viewers with an escape from all social norms. Fans could live vicariously through the wresters and experience things that are not plausible in the real world. As WWE became more mainstream and family friendly,    it strayed further and further away from what made it so great. While trying to move in a safer and more commercially acceptable direction is commendable, this alienates a vast percentage of the sport’s core fan base. The proof is in the numbers. The sport just isn’t the same.

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With that being said, it is important to note that there may be a light at the end of the tunnel. That light comes in the form of  a man named Paul Levesque. Better known by his in-ring name Hunter Hearst Helmsley (Triple H), Levesque was a focal point of the Attitude Era. As a member and eventual leader of, the D-Generation X faction, Triple H played a key role in some of the Era’s most controversial moments. Levesque is also the son-in-law of WWE owner Vince McMahon. Many believe that Helmsley will eventually take over the company. This could lead to an instant resurgence of the things that made pro wrestling the cultural icon it is today.

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Only time will tell if WWE will return to its attitude-filled roots, but the future of the sport is certainly bright. Regardless of all of the flaws in the current WWE product I mentioned above, the current roster is arguably more athletically talented than ever before. With the right kind of help from the creative team, the wrestling promotion could easily return to its former glory. While the Attitude Era deeply contrasts what political correct culture is about, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Professional wrestling is scripted and predetermined. It is done for the sake of entertainment. Entertainment needs to continue to push boundaries. The world of professional wrestling can do that by bringing back what made it so edgy and exciting, despite pressure to conform to social pressure. While it does not need to turn to the gory, uber-violent, and often outright offensive content of a promotion like Extreme Championship Wrestling, WWE  does need to recapture some of the grit it exhibited during the Attitude Era. This kind of sports entertainment could succeed, and even thrive, in todays culture. It is time to bring the attitude back to professional wrestling and that’s the bottom line…….

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Twitter: @ BigRedAFerg

Reviews Through A Friend: Talking Heads’ Remain in Light

Let me start off by saying that reviewing music is by no means my strong suit. While I did write an article about Drake last week, I consider myself to be uniquely qualified to do that because of how big a fan of his I am. I can talk politics, sneakers, and Attitude-Era professional wrestling with the best of them, but the intricacies of music are not something I fancy myself to be an expert on. However, for the sake of Mid-American Culture and the Reviews Through A Friend series, here is my attempt at it.

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Remain in Light is one of the more interesting albums I have ever heard. By interesting, I’m not entirely sure if I mean genuinely intriguing or downright weird. In all likelihood, it’s probably a little bit of both. Apple Music has the album listed under the “pop” category. I’m glad they managed to stick some sort of label on it because I have no idea what to call it.

In my opinion, the album has three standout tracks: Once In a Lifetime, The Great Curve, and The Overload. Each of these songs has a respective quirk that drew me to each. I am a fan of slam poetry. Talking Heads front-man David Byrne uses a vocal style toward the midway point of Once In a Lifetime that reminds me of the cadence one would use when delivering slam poetry and I really enjoyed hearing it. The Great Curve is the most lyrically interesting song on the album. The Overload, the album’s closing number, features a darker tone than the rest of the album I found this sound to be particularly appealing. I wish the whole album had this darker vibe.

Overall, I found the album to be quite an interesting listen. I will be perfectly honest. At first, I was not a fan of the album. After the first couple of songs, I thought I was going to hate it. It was so different from anything I normally listen to that I was simply put off by it. Even after I discovered the three tracks discussed above that I particularly enjoyed, I was not crazy about the album. however, I found myself re-listening to it in the days following my initial listen and soon I found myself beginning to enjoy it more and more. I really liked the psychedelic vibes and the unique musical qualities. I would rank the album as a 6.5-7/10 and would certainly recommend it to someone looking to experience a new, unique kind of music that they have probably never been exposed to before.

Make sure to check out the other posts in our Reviews Through A Friend series and to give our Weekly Waves playlist a listen. Thanks for reading!

Twitter: @ BigRedAFerg

Ranking Drake’s Major Projects

This week, instead of writing about my take on some current event or discussing the state of politics in America, I decided to take a break and write about my other interests. While my Wednesday posts will generally be focused on current events and politics, I’ve decided that once every few weeks, I will post about something entirely different to keep my content fresh and to prevent my writing from going stale. As you can see from the title, the first of these posts will focus on the discography of my favorite artist: Drake. I am a total Drake stan. During my freshman year of college, I wrote a 5-page essay detailing why Drake is the most versatile musician of the 21st century. I understand that I’m practically asking for some heat from a solid chunk of the music community when I say this, but I genuinely believe Drake is the best music artist of this generation. The man has a superb discography, complete with the numbers to back up the hype. Just this week, Drake dropped his two track EP Scary Hours and nearly melted the internet. The lead track, “God’s Plan,” broke Spotify’s single-day streaming record. These new songs paired with their crazy amounts of success led me to consider what Drake’s projects are. So in the spirit of the 6 God’s newest successes, here are all 8 of his major projects, ranked and analyzed.

8. What a Time To Be Alive

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Best Track(s): 30 for 30 Freestyle, Digital Dash

Worst Track(s): Scholarships

By normal standards, What a Time To Be Alive ranges anywhere from an average to a slightly above-average album. However, by Drake project standards, his collaborative mixtape with Future is “meh” at best. Outside of “Jumpman”, (a song which I found to be entirely overrated), no particular track on the tape stands out. This can not be said for any of Drake’s other projects. Both Drake and Future exhibit nice flows put on top of a catchy beat on “Digital Dash” and Drake makes use of his underrated imagery skills by giving the listener a glimpse into his lifestyle on “30 for 30 Freestyle.” The rest of the songs on the project aren’t particularly noteworthy. I’d go as far as to say that some (I’m looking at you, “Scholarships”) are downright mediocre. While a few other tracks do have some redeeming qualities that you would expect from a Drake song, they do not prevent WATTBA from being last on this list.

7. If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late

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Best Track(s): 6PM in New York, Jungle, Madonna

Worst Track(s): Used To

If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late is an extremely interesting album in the sense that it features some of Drake’s most underrated songs, as well as some of his most overrated songs. Some of the most popular songs on the album such as “Energy”, “Legend”, and “10 Bands” are good songs in their own right, but do not deserve a position amongst Drake’s top tracks. The album also features the song “Used To” feat. Lil Wayne which is the absolute worst song Drake has ever released in my humble opinion. His flow on the song is whiny, the beat is subpar, and the song is an overall travesty. That being said, the album does have its high points. I consider both “Madonna” and “Star67” to be in the running for the title of Drake’s most underrated song. “Jungle” is as close as Drake has come to replicating his cultural phenomenon “Marvin’s Room” and “6PM in New York” features some of Drake’s hardest hitting zingers. If I’m being honest, Drake could probably record himself eating cereal and call it (insert time here) in (insert city here) and I would love it because I’m such a sucker for the series. But regardless, “6PM in New York” is still a hot song. Unfortunately, given how overrated I think many of the songs on this album are, it finds itself at number seven on this list.

6. Thank Me Later

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Best Track(s): Fancy, Find Your Love

Worst Track(s): Fireworks, Karaoke, The Resistance

Thank Me Later is pop-star Drake at his finest. I would argue that “Find Your Love” should be Drake’s most commercially successful song. If he were to have released it today, at the height of his popularity, instead of in 2010, I think it would have shattered records on top of records. The album also features pop highlights such as “Over” and “Up All Night”, which will almost surely make Drizzy’s Greatest Hits album one day. The album isn’t entirely pop, however. “Fancy” is an extremely underappreciated example of Drake’s rapping ability. On the downside, the album leads with three very underwhelming tracks and pop-star Drake simply isn’t my favorite rendition of him. However, the album is still solid overall.

5. More Life

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Best Track(s): Passionfruit, Can’t Have Everything, Teenage Fever

Worst Track(s): No Long Talk, Get It Together

This album was probably the hardest one to rank. I couldn’t decide what to do with it. The good songs are there. The great production is there. The hype is there. It just doesn’t feel like a real Drake album. To a casual fan, me saying that probably makes absolutely no sense. But I think some of the more intense Drizzy fans will agree with me. “Passionfruit” is one of the best songs put out by any artist in the last several years.  The song is freaking everywhere. We get glimpses of old school Drake on “Do Not Disturb”, “Can’t Have Everything”, and “Lose You”. “4422” is one of the most unique songs ever put out by Drake and I can’t help but feel the positive vibes it irradiates every time I hear it. I even enjoyed the tracks with Giggs more than most. Everything about this album seems really good. And for the most part, it is really good. A good comparison for this album is actually a meme I saw on twitter recently involving a spoon. We all have that one spoon in our house we don’t like. The spoon works perfectly well and for all intensive purposes, it’s a really good spoon. But we just don’t like it as much as the others. That spoon is More Life.

4. So Far Gone

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Best Track(s): Best I Ever Had, I’m Goin In

Worst Track(s):  The Calm

The way I see it, So Far Gone is the exact point when Aubrey Graham ceased to exist and Drake was born. He had made music before, but this project thrust Drake onto the scene and the rest is history. This compilation of fire is virtually nothing but bangers. “Successful” is one of the smoothest Drake tracks ever. “Best I Ever Had” is absolutely iconic. “Uptown” and “I’m Goin In” feature Drake spitting bar after bar with nowhere to go but up. There is very little you could say negatively about this project. The only thing holding it back from the albums holding a higher spot is the fact that this is probably Drake’s least musically diverse project. However, it is still flames.

3. Views

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Best Track(s): Weston Road Flows, Views, Too Good

Worst Track(s): Faithful, Grammys

Oh, Views…. What you could have been…..

During the weeks leading up to its release, Views was being hyped up by Drake to be his absolute masterpiece. This led to it being one of the most widely anticipated albums of my lifetime. The album is good. Actually, its very good. What it isn’t is Drake’s masterpiece. However, it is still one of his best albums. I came very close to giving it the number two spot. Ultimately, I gave it to a different album for reasons we will get to later. But for now, let’s dive into Views. “Weston Road Flows” may be Drake’s best example of storytelling. The title song “Views” has some of the best punchlines we had heard from the 6 God since his So Far Gone days. The album also featured two of Drake’s most commercially successful songs in “One Dance” and “Hotline Bling”. Everyone with the ability to hear (and probably even a lot of people without it) can testify to how huge both of these songs were. I’d be amiss if I didn’t mention how good the feels songs on the album are as well. “Redemption”, “Fire & Desire”, and “Feel No Ways” all hit you square in the heart. However, I would argue that the best song on the album is “Too Good” feat. Rihanna. Views released in the prime of Drake’s relationship with Rihanna and the duo was unstoppable. Listening to them go back and forth on the song is awe inspiring. It is a crying shame that Views doesn’t get the appreciation it truly deserves because of the immense expectations that were forced upon it.

2. Nothing Was The Same

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Best Track(s): Come Thru, Pound Cake/Paris Morton Music

Worst Track(s): 305 To My City, Furthest Thing

If Thank Me Later is pop-star Drake at his best, then Nothing Was The Same is rapper Drake at his absolute best. Rapping the way he does on this album, Drake could go bar for bar with absolutely anyone in the rap game. Rapper Drake is my favorite version of Drake and he is in his absolute spitting prime here. That is why NWTS slightly edges out Views for the number two spot. The album leads with “Tuscan Leather”, the best opening song in Drake’s repertoire. What follows is a stunning spectacle of Drake’s impeccable rapping mixed with his signature feels songs. “Started From The Bottom” is arguably Drake’s most iconic song. “Hold On, We’re Going Home” would have to be up there as well. If you want to hear the 6 God outshining some of the top artist in rap today, then listen to “All Me” and “Pound Cake/Paris Morton Music”. Not only that, but the album also features “From Time”, which is competitive for Drake’s best showing of his sensitive side. Nothing Was The Same would be just about any other artist’s top album. However, it lands at number two on Drake’s discography.

1. Take Care

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Best Track(s): All of them

Worst Track(s): None

I will try to keep this brief because I could literally go on and on about Take Care. In high school, I wrote an essay about why this is the greatest album of all time. I can honestly say that Take Care is the only album I can listen to all the way through without even considering skipping a track. “Marvin’s Room” is the quintessential feels song. “HYFR”, “The Motto”, “Crew Love”, and “Headlines” are all iconic. The title track “Take Care” brings together the power couple of Drake and Rihanna to create the best pop song Drake has ever released. This album brings together all of Drake’s different renditions of himself (excluding Island Drake, as he came about a few years after Take Care‘s release) and created the greatest masterpiece in hip-hop/R&B/pop history. In addition to that, Take Care served as my introduction to both The Weeknd and Kendrick Lamar, who are two of the biggest icons in music today. Take Care is a piece of musical art, the likes of which we will probably never see again. That is why it is number one on my list.

I’m anxious to se how others feel on the subject. Feel free to comment your list, or tweet it to either me ( @BigRedAFerg) or the Mid American Culture twitter account ( @M_American_C).

10 People Who Should Run For President in 2020

This week’s events have many people yearning for new leadership in the United States. The combination of President Trump’s controversial comments about immigrants coming to the United States from “shithole countries” and the false-alarm missile alert in Hawaii, paired with the other recent missteps of the current administration have many, from both sides of the political spectrum, looking to the 2020 presidential elections. The following is a list of the 10 candidates I believe are best equipped to take on Donald Trump in 2020.

Spoiler Alert: The Rock and Oprah are not on this list.

Honorable Mentions:

Sherrod Brown-Democratic Senator from Ohio who was strongly considered to be Hillary Clinton’s running-mate in 2016

Tim Kaine- Democratic Senator from Virginia who actually was Hillary Clinton’s running-mate in 2016

Terry McAuliffe- Democratic Governor from Virginia who would most likely have the strong support of the Clintons due to their close relationship

10. Gavin Newsom

Probably the most unknown person on this list, Gavin Newsom is the Lieutenant Governor of California. Newsom is currently the frontrunner to replace term-limited Governor Jerry Brown in 2018. Brown would also be on this list if not for his age (Brown will be 82 on Election Day in 2020). Prior to being elected Lieutenant Governor, Newsom served as Mayor of San Francisco. During his tenure as mayor, Newsom established himself as a major advocate for gay rights by directing the city clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, despite this being a violation of California state law at the time. Additionally, Newsom has strongly supported gun-control laws, led the charge for recreational marijuana legalization in the state, called for the establishment of “sanctuary cities” in California, and helped facilitate the addition of computer science to the core curriculum in California schools. Newsom’s strong liberal positions on many issues have garnered him a strong endorsement from liberal pundit and comedian Bill Maher. On several occasions, Maher has declared his support for Newsom and urged him to throw his name into the 2020 race. Also worth mentioning is Newsom’s charisma and overall appeal, the likes of which have arguably not been seen since the days of the Kennedys. The man radiates a presidential aura. The speech given by the relatively unknown Newsom at the 2016 Democratic Convention is comparable to the one given by then unknown Illinois State Senator Barack Obama at the 2004 Democratic Convention, which has been credited with leading to the election of Barack Obama in 2008. If he runs, Newsom will be my candidate. He ranks so low on this list solely due to his lack of national exposure and the fact that it is unclear if Newsom has any real interest in running in 2020. If he decides not to run this time, I would wager that his name will come up again in 2024 or 2028.

9. A Moderate Republican

republicanDonald Trump is not the most popular man, even within his own party. There is a huge possibility that he will face a conservative challenger, either in the form of a primary challenge or a third party bid. Attempting to defeat Trump by appealing to the right wing of the right wing party would be foolish, as that is the core of President Trump’s support. Therefore, a moderate Republican would be best equipped to challenge Trump from within the party. Of the potential candidates, my personal favorite is Ohio Governor John Kasich. A two-term governor, Kasich has reached his term limit and can’t seek reelection in 2018. The obvious next step is another shot at the presidency. Kasich was more successful than nearly any of his Republican peers when he ran in 2016. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is also a strong contender. Romney is rumored to be preparing to seek election to a Utah Senate seat. Many, including myself, believe this is in preparation for another Presidential run. Other potential Republican challengers include Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, and Texas Senator Ted Cruz. Each of these individuals have criticized Trump in the past and have the national name recognition required to stage a successful run.

8. Deval Patrick

DSC_0035.JPGAnother relative unknown, Deval Patrick is the former Governor of Massachusetts, being the only African-American to ever hold this office. Prior to his time as Governor, Patrick served as United States Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division during the Clinton Administration.  As Governor, Patrick oversaw healthcare reform in Massachusetts,  increased funding for education, pushed for gun control laws, created the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, and supported legislation which allowed casino gaming in his state. Despite his immense background in public service, most do not believe Patrick is interested in running for President. However, Patrick makes this list mainly because he is believed to have the support of one prominent Democrat: President Barack Obama. Reports have suggested that member’s of President Obama’s inner-circle and even the former president himself are urging Patrick to run in 2020. An endorsement from President Obama is enough to skyrocket anyone to the main stage of the Democratic race and no one, excluding one other person, has as good a chance to receive that as Deval Patrick.

7. Seth Moulton

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Seth Moulton is the Congressman from the Massachusetts 6th District. Moulton is a decorated Marine Corps veteran and a graduate of Harvard University. He identifies himself as a progressive Democrat and has the issues record to prove it. Moulton admits to using and supports the legalization of marijuana, favors stronger gun control laws, and firmly defends both same-sex marriage and abortion rights. Moulton is also staunchly anti-Trump, comparing the President’s rise to power to that of Adolf Hitler. Immediately following Trump’s election, advisors to Moulton began urging him to challenge the new President-elect in 2020. Moulton is somewhat of a controversial figure in the Democratic Party, due to his support of removing current Democratic leadership, in favor of younger Democrats, such as himself. Moulton is the youngest person on this this, being 42 on Election Day in 2020. Moulton brings a young, progressive voice to the potential field in 2020, making him a very interesting candidate.

6. Cory Booker

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Cory Booker is the junior Senator from New Jersey, being the first African-American Senator from the state. Prior to being elected to the United States Senate, Booker served as the Mayor of Newark. Booker has been identified as being fiscally-conservative and socially-progressive. This has led to him being heavily criticized by the left wing of the Democratic Party. However, Booker is still one of the party’s most prominent members. Booker supports single-payer healthcare, abortion rights, affirmative action, and opposes the War on Drugs. recently, Booker vigorously criticized the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Neilsen for claiming to not remember whether or not President Trump had made racist remarks about predominantly black countries. The video is absolutely worth watching if you haven’t seen it. Ever since Barack Obama’s election in 2008, Booker’s name has been mentioned as a future presidential candidate. While he ultimately decided against running in 2016, all signs point to Booker running in 2020.

5. Kamala Harris

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Kamala Harris is the junior Senator from the state of California. Prior to her election to the United States Senate, Harris served as the Attorney General of California. Harris possessed a rating of 100% from NARAL, a pro-choice group, as well as an F rating from the NRA, due to her vigorous support of gun control legislation. Harris co-sponsored Bernie Sanders’ single-payer healthcare bill, known as the “Medicare for All” bill. Harris has a strong record of opposing the death penalty, dating back to her days as District Attorney of San Francisco. Harris also advocates for strong environmental laws and their vigorous enforcement. During her time as DA, Harris established the Environmental Justice Unit in San Francisco’s District Attorney’s Office and prosecuted several corporations and individuals for crimes against the environment. Her extremely strong credentials, as well as her hypothetical ability to win her immensely important home state of California make Kamala Harris a strong contender for the Presidency in 2020.

4. Kirsten Gillibrand

Kirsten Gillibrand

Kirsten Gillibrand is the junior Senator from New York. Gillibrand was appointed to the United States Senate by then Governor David Paterson, replacing former Senator Hillary Clinton, who had been nominated to become President Obama’s Secretary of State. Gillibrand won reelection to the Senate with 72.2% of the vote, which is the largest victory in a statewide election in New York history. Gillibrand has a phenomenal record on women’s issues. As a Senator, she proposed legislation that would remove sexual assault cases from the military chain of command. This was intended to prevent the covering up of sexual assaults in the military. Although the legislation did not ultimately pass, it did establish her as an advocate for women across the nation. Gillibrand was the first member of her caucus to call for the resignation of Democratic Senator Al Franken, following accusations of sexual assault. Additionally, Gillibrand made waves in the media when she said that former President Bill Clinton should have resigned following the accusations of sexual assault made against him. Gillibrand is also a supporter of abortion rights. Gillibrand was very pro-gun during her time in the US House of Representatives, although her position has since shifted slightly since her joining the Senate. Gillibrand has become increasingly critical of the Trump Administration, leading to her rise to prominence on the national stage. The general belief is that Gillibrand is preparing to challenge Trump in 2020, and that she will be one of the frontrunners in the Democratic primary.

3. Bernie Sanders

bernie

Bernie Sanders is the Independent Senator from Vermont. In 2016, Bernie Sanders changed Democratic politics. The Bernie Movement energized the liberal wing of the Democratic Party in ways that had never been seen before. Millennials overwhelmingly supported the Democratic Socialist over the other candidates in 2016. The left wing of the Democratic Party seemingly became the majority. Sanders’ support for free college education, single-payer healthcare, legalization of marijuana, and many other hot button liberal issues led to his rapid rise in popularity. No candidate on this list is as progressive as Sanders. He boasts a nearly 75% approval rating, making him the most popular politician in America. Even former Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner went as far as to call Sanders “the most honest guy who ran for president” in an interview with POLITICO.  Sanders appears to be gearing up for another run at the presidency. He has been strengthening his foreign policy credentials, which was seen as his greatest weakness in 2016. Additionally, Sanders has continued to tour the country, drawing immense crowds to hear him speak. Age, however, is not Bernie’s friend. Sanders will be 78 in 2020. If he were 10 years younger, Sanders would without question be atop the list of potential candidates and would almost certainly be a lock to win the nomination, given his popularity. Despite the age issue, Sanders is still viewed as the most likely nominee for 2020, and is still near the top of this list.

2. Joe Biden

biden

Joe Biden is the former Vice President and US Senator from Delaware. Biden served as Vice President to the immensely popular Democratic President Barack Obama. Biden was viewed as a favorite to win the Democratic nomination in 2016, although he decided not to run following the death of his son, Beau Biden. Since then, Biden has expressed nothing but regret about not running. He has been a vocal critic of Hillary Clinton’s failed 2016 campaign. Many, including political pundits, Republican Senator Ben Sasse, and Biden himself believe that he would have destroyed Donald Trump if he had decided to run in 2016. This belief has a lot of merit. Biden appeals to blue-collar white voters in the ways that both Clinton and Sanders didn’t. Biden would have almost certainly maintained and expanded upon the policies of the Obama Administration. If Biden had simply maintained the base of support that Obama had in 2008 and 2012, he would have easily defeated Trump. Reports from the Trump Administration suggest that Biden is the candidate of whom Trump is the most afraid. The biggest issue with Biden now is his age. Similar to Sanders, Biden will be 77 in 2020. However, Biden has refused to rule out a run, and has even hinted at its possibility. He would be a frontrunner for the nomination in 2020 if he chose to seek it.

1. Elizabeth Warren

warren

Elizabeth Warren is the senior Senator from Massachusetts. Prior to being recruited to run for the United States Senate, Warren taught law at Harvard University. Warren was heavily speculated to be Hillary Clinton’s running mate in 2016, although that role ultimately went to Tim Kaine. Warren is a champion of progressive policies. Her views are most comparable to those of Bernie Sanders. She supports single-payer healthcare, abortion rights, gun control, and other liberal positions. Warren sits on several congressional committees. She is arguably the most prominent member of the Democratic Party. She has been a vocal critic of the Trump Administration from its beginning. President Trump began firing back at Warren, referring to her as “Pocahontas.” This being a racial slur aimed at her Native American ancestry. As a target of Trump’s immaturity and bigotry, Warren is the perfect candidate to run against him in 2020. The big question is whether or not Warren will run. While she is arguably the current leader in the race, many believe that she will not run if Bernie Sanders does. This makes sense considering their positions on the issues align so well. They would only split the progressive wing of the party if they were both to run. However, in the event she does run, Elizabeth Warren is the strongest candidate to end the Trump presidency in 2020.

Personally, I believe that each of these candidates would make fine Presidents. As I stated above, Gavin Newsom is my favorite. I firmly believe he is the future of the Democratic Party. However, I believe that the strongest ticket in 2020 would consist of one of my top three picks with Newsom as their running mate. This would allow a high profile Democrat to win the Presidency in 2020, and would set Newsom up as the party’s presumptive nominee in 2024 or 2028.

While this article is not the kind of article I would traditionally write, I belive that it is important to inform as many people as possible about the potential leaders of our country and to help them make an informed decision when voting. I hope to write more about these potential candidates as 2020 draws closer. If I help even just one person make a more informed choice in voting, I have done exactly what I set out to do.

Twitter: @BigRedAFerg

 

The Moral Dilemma Created by H&M and So Many Others

We are living in a time of great social change. Almost undoubtedly, America is a more tolerant, progressive place than ever before. It is now easier than ever than it has ever been to speak out about injustices such as racism and sexual misconduct. Inevitably, it has led to many prominent individuals, businesses, and institutions being put on blast by the general public for offenses such as these. While one would be hard pressed to find anyone who believes that increased sexual assault awareness and greater pressure for racial acceptance are bad things, they do create, in some capacity, a moral dilemma in almost everyone. I consistently find myself asking,  “Do the reprehensible actions of these people make it wrong to appreciate and enjoy the things they create?”

The most recent example that I can cite, as of writing this article, is the retailer H&M. For anyone who is unaware of the situation, H&M was selling a children’s hoodie with the phrase “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle” on the chest. On the surface, this seems innocent enough. I, myself, was frequently called “monkey” as a child by some of the adults in my life. However, further context reveals a much darker side to the story. The child modeling the hoodie is black. In contrast, a white child could be seen found modeling a different sweatshirt, reading “Mangrove Jungle Survival Expert.” The staggeringly different portrayal of these children is clearly problematic. Musical artists The Weeknd and G-Eazy, both collaborative partners of H&M, have both cut ties with the brand following the incident. Countless individuals have called for a boycott of the brand. But is that the right thing to do? Possibly. However, the moral issue is much bigger, and expands far beyond the fashion industry and H&M.

Picture this: You are at a party. Ignition (remix) comes on. Naturally, mamas are rolling their bodies and every man in there is wishin’. This reaction is to be expected because the song is absolutely iconic. Unfortunately, something else must be considered. Ignition (remix) is a song by R. Kelly. R. Kelly has been accused of sexual misconduct (including behavior directed at minors) on numerous occasions. Does this take away from the cultural value of the art he creates? Should his music be vigorously boycotted?

Another scenario: You’re browsing through Netflix, looking for a new series to watch. You stumble upon House of Cards. The intense political drama hooks you immediately. Frank Underwood’s corrupt rise to power is one of the greatest examples of storytelling ever to be put on television. But then you realize the unfortunate reality. Series lead Kevin Spacey allegedly committed heinous sexual acts against a young boy. It is also alleged that he harassed male workers on the set of House of Cards. Do Spacey’s reprehensible acts mean that the sensational story of House of Cards shouldn’t be seen? Do the things he did invalidate the cultural phenomenon that the show was?

These are all incredibly difficult questions. I certainly don’t have a good enough answer. Like most, I find the actions discussed in this article to be repulsive. But, R. Kelly still makes wonderful music. He has been selling out arenas for over twenty years. Clearly, I am an immense fan of House of Cards and it is loved by a vast number of people. H&M still makes affordable, trendy clothing worn by millions, including myself. The moral dilemma created within millions, including me and many of you reading this, has been a cause of conflict for decades. Cultural icons of yesterday and today, as well as the icons of tomorrow, have done bad things. Obviously, opinions have been formed on all of them. However, even those who have the strongest opinions on these matters seem to be at least slightly hypocritical. Many of us struggle to identify where to draw the line between art that is to be appreciated and things that we find morally repulsive.

Ultimately, it is up to each individual to decide what they will and won’t watch, listen to, buy, etc. Additionally, it is on them to decide why they will or won’t do these things. It is also their responsibility to recognize the hypocrisy in blasting one problematic entity while simultaneously supporting another. The problems cited addressed in this piece are just a few out of many. They will almost certainly be an issue which plagues popular culture for a long time moving forward. H&M is not the problem; nor is R. Kelly,  Kevin Spacey, or any other individual. They are merely symptoms of a culture that has condoned these types of problems for far too long. While what H&M did is unacceptable, do not forget to target the culture as a whole if you are going to target them.

 

 

Photo sources:

https://www.chron.com/life/article/H-M-apologizes-for-ad-of-black-child-wearing-12485941.php

https://genius.com/R-kelly-ignition-remix-lyrics

http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/30/entertainment/kevin-spacey-allegations-anthony-rapp/index.html

 

 

 

 

 

This story makes Jingle All The Way look like a cakewalk.

Hello people of the Internet, Jordan again with another post. Since I totally slacked last week, I’m here to keep my promise. Prepare for a pretty wild story about flaming cars and 2 and 1/2 hour tow truck rides. Buckle up kiddos. Continue reading “This story makes Jingle All The Way look like a cakewalk.”