Politics

Can we get back to politics?

Can we get back to politics?

        I would not consider myself a “politics person.” For most of my life, my political knowledge was basically limited to the name of the president and whatever I picked up when my dad listened to talk radio. It seems that everyone considers politics a dirty field, full of corrupt power-hungry people who only want money.

    And yet, now I find myself suddenly quite interested in politics. Well, maybe not politics so much… But that other part of a government career-- you know, the governing? That’s where it gets interesting.

    Part of it is this election: this is the first election I can vote in, and therefore the first election I’ve really paid attention to, but holy god are they always like this? It seems like this is way too crazy to have been happening once every four years for over two hundred years. On one side we have the first female presidential candidate of a major party in the history of the United States, and on the other side we have an television star/billionaire whose campaign and hateful speech preys on the fears of 21st century America. Both of them are so hated by the other side it’s alarming.

    Part of it is the legislation being passed and being contested by the Supreme Court. Gay marriage was legalized across the country. President Obama’s immigration reform was just stalled in the Supreme Court. Lawmakers are frightfully behind the new world of technology, the current system failing to address the privacy and security issues created by the incredible globalization of the Internet.

    Part of it is the government shutdown a few years ago. Seriously, what was that about? Can we stop something that ridiculous from happening again? I live nearby a wildlife reserve where there are a few looking platforms by the side of the road, so people can park and look through binoculars at the land. During the shutdown, they placed barriers in front of it so you couldn’t drive up. I tried to visit certain government websites for my government homework and I was not allowed to access them. Seriously?

    Part of it is the gun control debate that is happening right now. I can’t stop checking twitter, news sites, periscope, searching for the latest updates of the sit-in in the House. My feelings about the sit-in are mostly positive. Was it a publicity stunt? Yes. Was it “just a publicity stunt?” No. It was frustration that bubbled into a public demonstration in response the years of gun violence that went without action in Congress. It was taking a stand and saying “inaction is not an option. Not voting is not an option. Leaving this behind is not an option.” I believe that is was at least partially a “publicity stunt,” but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. The Democrats in the House achieved tremendous attention and support from the American public, which as the representatives of the American public, is a great thing to have.

    The bill in question that they were supporting is not one that I personally support: the terrorist watch list is too large and nebulous to be used as a metric for buying guns. Many people are on that list for reasons like being somehow tenuously connected with a potentially dangerous person. I personally support the bill that Senator Collins is proposing, which would restrict gun sales for those on the no-fly list, a much smaller list that requires a real reason to be on. However, I do support universal background checks for ALL gun sales, and funding for a study on the health effects of guns, two other measures that the Democrats are attempting to garner favor for. Furthermore, at this point frustration has reached a point that we have to do something. Denying gun sales to those on the terrorist watch list and universal background checks are overwhelmingly favored by citizens across party lines. Why is the Republican leadership so adamantly opposed to these bills?

    This was an almost entirely unprecedented event in the House. Although sit-ins have been staged before, one of this level of disruption and attention is unheard of. The Republican leadership dismissed it as “immature” and “disruptive.” Supporters, including the hundreds of people who gathered inside and outside of the House, cheered them on “true democracy” and “taking a stand.” Although the legislation itself may not pass, the Republicans unquestionably lost the public opinion on this: it’s hard to defend being against a sit-in led by an actual Civil Rights activist trying to get a vote about denying guns to potential terrorists. The rhetoric is just not on your side with that one. When you add that Paul Ryan turned the cameras off-- which was unquestionably stupid, as it propelled a huge number of people to online streams-- and that the way Republicans attempted to ignore the sit-in came off as callous and disrespectful to the victims of gun violence, they didn’t stand a chance.

    See, I was only going to go through a few reasons why I’ve gotten interested in politics, and then I spent three paragraphs on the gun control debate. It’s just INTERESTING. I used my lunch break today to watch the senate livestream as they voted on whether or not to table Senator Collins’ bill. It was way, way more into it than I was expecting to be, and extremely excited that it didn’t get tabled (by only a very small margin…).

    Part of it is the EU Referendum vote, aka Brexit. Which I’m currently watching live and is NERVE-WRACKING.

 

    All in all, to be entirely honest, most of this is almost certainly watching every episode of the West Wing in the past three months.

 

Josh Lyman owns my heart

Josh Lyman owns my heart

 

In Sickness and In Health

Uncontroversial opinion: mono is terrible.

I shouldn’t complain too much, because some people have horrific mono that lasts for over a month. I had horrific mono that lasted for two weeks, and fatigue that continues to remind me I really need to sleep don't even think about skipping out on an hour of sleep or you will regret it.

What’s really unfortunate about mono, however, is that it forced me into an unplanned hiatus. It’s hard to record podcasts when you have tonsillitis and can barely talk-- it’s hard to do anything when you’re perpetually exhausted and sleep for fifteen hours a day. So there’s a pause on schoolwork, a pause on writing, a pause on podcasting, a pause on exercising, a pause on eating well, a pause on keeping up with friends… You get the idea.

The only thing is, I don’t have exactly the best track record with any of those things when I’m perfectly healthy. College is busy, okay? I can’t be expected to keep up with all of this. I have to go to class, go to work, eat, sleep, do my homework, talk to my friends, and then I’m basically ready to go to sleep and do it all again.

At least, that’s what I tell myself. But honestly? I know that I waste a ton of time every day. I could be listening to audiobooks that enrich my mind as I walk to class, instead of podcasts about nothing in particular. I could be getting my homework done straightaway when I get out of class instead of lazing around on Youtube for an hour after dinner. I could spend my lunch hour catching up on emails and readings instead of on Twitter.

There are a hundred different ways I could be more productive every day, just like everyone else who isn’t Beyoncé (I have a sticky note on my desk that says “Don’t Worry, Be Yoncé. It’s strangely motivational). And if I was perfectly productive every second of the day, my head would explode and I would be miserable. I can’t spend my time beating myself up about not being perfect.

I can, however, acknowledge that I am not the busiest person alive. I could make time to get more work done, to exercise, to connect with friends. Gandhi said it best: actions express priorities. (See, if Gandhi didn’t have time to call his grandparents, I wouldn’t blame him. That was a busy guy. Although, he was probably just the kind of person who would remember to call his grandparents. Dammit.) My choice to spend excess time on my phone expresses that I am prioritizing Twitter over my work. That’s not the decision I want to make. It’s time for me to acknowledge that this is the choice I have been making, and that I have the power to prioritize my life in a way that’ll help me achieve my goals.

Will this (rather lowkey) epiphany turn me into an incredibly productive person? Hahahano. I’ve given up hope of ever being able to epiphany my way to efficiency. Getting stuff done requires just sitting down and doing it. You can try to “four-hour workweek” all you want, but 99% of the time, you just have to do the work. Not when you have mono and can’t lift your laptop. But those times when you would rather just watch The West Wing? Yeah. That’s the time when you have to do the work.

To bring in a musical theater related example (I warned you), Aaron Burr sings that he’s willing to “wait for it,” “it” being all the success and achievement of his dreams. Alexander Hamilton is “non-stop” and writes like he’s “running out of time.” Guess which one ended up on the ten dollar bill? Don’t just wait for your dreams to come true. Work your ass off like Hamilton, and one day you too can become an incredibly flawed human being vital founder of a new nation.