As the New Year begins, and 2016 takes its place in history books, there’s no better time to look forward with hope that 2017 might perhaps be a little bit better than its predecessor. It’s also a time to look back at a year that was often exasperating, wildly entertaining, nerve-wracking, inspiring and sad. But that’s how life should be—from the presidential election that ended with a surprise (for Hillary Clinton), to tragedies from terrorists (Orlando) and nature (floods and wildfires); to the success of the American Women’s Gymnastics Team bringing home the gold in the Olympics, 2016 has been a wild ride.
Though the election of 2016 was the biggest story of the year, it will be the gift that keeps on giving to the 24-hour news cycle if these weeks since Donald Trump’s victory are any indication. Calls for the dumping of the Electoral College were resurrected from media, political and academic elites who seem to be clueless as to what it is and why the Founders of our nation were so genius as to come up with it in the first place.
Meanwhile, a new term for the college students who have had their minds completely twisted by said elites has come into our American lexicon: snowflake. This doesn’t refer to all the white things that may now be collecting outside in your yard, but to privileged, white college students who are taught to feel guilty for being privileged white college students. These millennials and post-millennials have been the main people protesting the outcome of our presidential election. Their antics have ranged from the dangerous damage of property to the absurd need many have had to find their “safe space” where they can be free from perceived “micro-aggressions”.
Right after the election, college campuses across the country provided their students with outlets to cope with post-election stress disorder. At Yale—one of our most elite schools—professors allowed students to skip their mid-term exams if they were too upset by the election results to take them. Then there was the University of Michigan that gave its snowflakes Play-Doh and coloring books to help them process the election results. At Cornell University—another supposedly Ivy League campus—stressed collegians could attend a “cry-in” where they found sympathetic staff members who would give them tissues and hot chocolate.
We should all now stop for a collective shudder at the future of the country if these are the ones who will be in charge in 20 years or so.
In nature, it’s said that no two snowflakes are alike, but the same can’t be said for their human namesakes. As much as these people like to believe they are so unique, open-minded and “progressive” (don’t get me started on that one), the truth is, they think alike, argue alike and are as hard to reason with as their guilt-ridden college professors.
Snowflakes have really come into their own in 2016 and it should be interesting to see what else they will find in the coming year to be afraid of from day to day. They have been joined in their post-election malaise by the usual list of celebrities who promised us they would leave the country if Trump won—something that probably gave him at least a few thousand votes…but they also said they’d leave when George W. Bush got elected—and probably said the same when Reagan was president—but still they remain. America will continue to be stuck with Miley Cyrus, Cher, Rosie O’Donnell and other lame-brains into 2017 and beyond.
And the snowflakes will keep being who they are until—hopefully—time teaches them lessons their professors never would: life isn’t always fair and you won’t win every time. So…Get. Over. It.
Earlier this year, I posted here about how the presidential primaries were much like a reality show. That seems like a lifetime ago, and now that the race is down to the two main parties and a few others that may get more votes this time around than ever before, the 2016 presidential election is much more like a soap opera than a reality show.
Like all good soap operas—if there really is such a thing—certain characters and story lines always show up. Two adversaries who used to be friends (apparently) are battling it out for the highest office in the nation. On the one hand, is Hillary Clinton. From the media’s point of view and her own, she’s the eternal victim. A poor struggling female who, as a young woman, attached herself to a slick but charismatic hillbilly from Arkansas that ended up being the President of the United States.
As she is portrayed in the daily series given by the mainstream media, Hillary is much put-upon and deserves to be president. The Democrat party owes this to her for sticking by her lecherous husband while he was the Arkansas governor, and then after that when he was the philandering president caught having an improper relationship with a White House intern not much older than his own daughter. Hillary, always calculating her own political future, blamed her husband’s troubles on a “vast right-wing conspiracy”, and stuck around, enabling him in his philandering and even being the one to personally denigrate the women he used for his personal playgrounds. In all of this, Hillary championed herself as a defender of women.
After leaving the White House, she and her husband set up residence in New York City in order for her to run for a senate seat there. She chose New York for its ultra-liberal constituents (the city, not the state), and she knew she would need those electoral votes to win the presidency someday.
The soap opera took an unexpected turn as they so often do back in 2008, when Hillary, poised to be the first woman president, lost her opportunity when a young whippersnapper named Obama swooped in and legions of voters who were supposed to vote for her made him the first African-American president. In Obama’s early years as president, he made Hillary his Secretary of State, at least for a time. That was all she agreed to do, knowing that she would need time to run for president again once 2016 rolled around.
When it finally did, the soap opera continued as Hillary battled it out for her party’s nomination with a full-out admitted socialist played by Bernie Sanders (as opposed to a closet socialist like herself). In spite of many years of scandals that were more than just tabloid rumors—her mediocre record as a senator, her many severe lapses in judgement as Secretary of State, and her frivolous lack of care of classified emails—she became the Democrat nominee for president.
Her worst fear was to be running against a Republican from a different generation than herself. Fresh faces with new ideas and more Millennial appeal such as Rand Paul, Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio had her campaign shaking in its shoes, as was proven by more October surprises from the now-ever-present WikiLeaks.
Right on cue, however, the Republicans relieved her fears by nominating the candidate she most wanted to go up against: the boisterous real estate mogul-turned-reality show star named Donald Trump. Once a strong supporter of Hillary’s previous political campaigns, Trump appealed to those Republican voters in the primaries who have felt ignored by everyone in Washington for years. Portraying himself as the Every Man Candidate who “tells it like it is”, and helped along by an over-zealous media anxious to see a Clinton-Trump race—millions flocked to his rallies.
The voters, in their understandable anger, turned out in droves for the primaries to vote for the orange guy with weird hair. Others, such as Cruz and Rubio, put up a good fight but were unable—even with some of the most conservative voters—to overcome the adolescent name-calling (“Lyin’ Ted”, “Little Marco”), the media that pushed hard for Trump, and the voters who saw them as Washington insiders and therefore part of the problem.
As was written in that post from months ago, I said that whoever won the Republican nomination would then be taken down by the media when it came to the race against Hillary. The mainstream media is a major character in this drama because they are like the “bad girl” who does whatever she has to in order to get a man, only to drop him for the man (or in this case, woman) she really wants at the first opportunity. The guy who got dumped never seems to realize that she never wanted him all along.
Added to the chaos of the story have been Hillary’s health problems (even some rumors of a Healthy Hillary twin–an interesting twist to the soap opera staple of the Evil Twin); and more October surprises for Trump in the form of his alleged bawdy shenanigans with several women who just happened to come forward at this time to talk about his mistreatment of them. (This is where a good soap opera writer would throw ominous background music into the script and leave the audience hanging).
Much of the audience—the American voters—are hanging. With less than two weeks until Election Day, millions of people have already cast their ballots, and others are just putting off the inevitability of “picking our poison” for as long as possible. They’re scratching their heads wondering where all those women and convenient videotapes of Trump were during the primary, wondering why Hillary isn’t in jail…wondering how we ended up here. Out of more than 300 million people, is this the best we could do?
The thing is, whether you pick the poisonous berry over the poisonous mushroom, you’re still going to get very, very sick.
If you were growing up in the 70’s or 80’s, you might remember the ABC After-School Specials that were shown a couple of times each month. These mini-movies addressed issues relevant to kids and teens–some were rather corny, but others pretty hard-hitting for the day. An example of the latter was called “The Wave”, and it aired in 1981. It was based on a real-life experiment that was done at a California high school back in 1967.
High school teacher Ben Ross is teaching his students about the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich. After watching some old films showing the victims of Hitler’s Holocaust, the students ask him how the German people could have fallen for such a leader. They wonder how they couldn’t see what was going on in their own country.
With no real answer to give them, Ross decides to try similar leadership tactics in his classroom as Hitler used on Germany. He begins to use a similar cadence in his speech. He says they will call their new movement “The Wave”. He speaks to them of “Strength through discipline. Strength through community. Strength through action.” He insists they stand and sit at their desks in a stiff posture…and he is amazed to find the students doing it on their own, day after day. He even marvels at the whole experiment in a conversation with his wife. When she asks him how far he thinks he can go with it, he tells her, “I don’t know. But I intend to find out.”
Within two short weeks, the whole school is caught up in The Wave, with very few exceptions. One boy in particular— Bobby, the class loner, bullied by all—is finally a part of the group. He’s now finally a leader.
On the other hand, Lori, the girl who once was the leader of her peers, finds herself an outcast when this new movement sweeping the school starts to bother her. She takes to the school paper and begins writing articles against it, promoting the idea of individuality and thinking for oneself. She finds herself the target of harassment, threats, and is nearly physically assaulted by her own boyfriend. After nearly hitting her, he comes to his senses and they decide they have to try to do something about The Wave.
This little after-school special from 35 years ago tells us all we need to know about the potential dangers of populism in less than an hour. Of falling for slogans and cheap one-liners from those who wish to lead us without digging deeper to find out what it is this person is really about. Of following anyone who says what they’ve been wanting someone to say for years…of allowing anger and frustration to cloud judgment, even to the point of abandoning your own core principles and individuality.
That boy Bobby is like lots of Americans who are sick and tired of no one in Washington listening to them. They feel bullied and kicked around by the people who are supposed to serve them. They are easy prey for anyone who comes along and makes them believe, “I’ve got your back.”—when really, they couldn’t care less. It was Bobby who was the most devastated to find out that The Wave was really just an experiment…there was nothing real about it. And he was just a lonely outsider once again.
Such is the way of many populist movements. The Little Guy will still be the one left out in the end. If you disagree, think back to the woman who, back in Election 2008 became known as “Peggy the Mooch”. Peggy Joseph was the one who gushed at an Obama campaign rally. “I won’t have to worry about putting gas in my car; I won’t have to worry about paying my mortgage…if I help him, he’s gonna help me.” When documentary filmmaker Joel Gilbert interviewed Joseph for his film,“There’s No Place Like Utopia” in 2014, she had realized she’d been duped. No longer an Obama supporter, Joseph told him, “He lied about everything.”
I feel compassion for that woman, just as I felt compassion for her fictional counterpart Bobby…for all of the Bobbys and Peggys out there who, time and again, keep looking for leadership in all the wrong places. Even Jesus came upon these types of people—He called them “harassed and helpless”.
In this election, both the Democrats and Republicans have a candidate that many in the media are calling “populists”. Or possibly “faux populists” as National Review refers to them. One promises the debt-laden millennials a free ride for life; the other says all the things his supporters want to hear, but has no detailed plans on how to make them happen…or how we’ll pay for all of it. No one cares. They just want change.
That sounds eerily familiar. “The Wave” is worth watching because it’s very timely. Even compared to other after-school specials of the day, it was exceptional and won many awards, including an Emmy for Outstanding Children’s Program. Without giving too much away (in case you decide to watch it in full on You Tube), teacher Ben Ross shocks and grieves his students when he reveals truth to them, asking, “What causes people to deny their own history?”
What’s more, he warns them against blindly following a leader: “You accepted the group’s will over your own convictions, no matter who you hurt. Oh, you thought you were just going along for the ride- that you could walk away at any moment, but where were you heading? How far would you have gone?”
America…how far will you go?
Today is Super Tuesday Eve. Twelve states and American Samoa will have their primaries to select candidates for the presidency tomorrow. This has been a weird ride as far as elections go, and has all the elements of a hit reality TV show.
There’s a conniving bad girl (Hillary Clinton) who always seems to get her way (and stays out of jail), even as she’s being challenged by a guy with a funny accent (Bernie Sanders) who tells all the kids that if they just pick him—everything will be free (except them). But on the Democrat side, a contest between two aging hippies—one a self-proclaimed socialist, and the other a secret socialist— is not that compelling of a plot for this reality producer. The real dramatics are on the Republican side.
As all reality shows do, it started with a large cast of characters that unlike the Democrats, was really pretty diverse. As time goes on and the stories develop around each person, they rise and fall in popularity…then one by one, they drop out. Amid all the twists and turns of the story, an occasional cameo appearance is made by former reality stars (Sarah Palin), who show up to support veterans of the genre (Trump).
So the primaries are sort of like elimination episodes. After each primary, one or two candidates realize they have no chance to win the nomination, and they bow out. Now, we’re left with these five:
*Dr. Ben Carson– The kind-hearted Brainiac; Will he keep pressing on after tomorrow, even if he doesn’t win anywhere? Or will he leave the race and support one of the winners of previous primaries?
* Ted Cruz– The Underdog Constitutionalist/ Resident Geek; the only candidate with a Super Power (audio-graphic memory). Is he really the biggest liar that Donald Trump has ever met? Trump claims he is (until he later decided Marco Rubio is also the biggest liar), but given that source, it’s highly unlikely. Can he continue to take the fiery darts thrown at him by the other top candidates, and will voters respond in kind?
*John Kasich– The Guy from Ohio; He’s the fly-under-the-radar sort of reality show character who most people forgot about early on but he somehow ends up in the finale of the show. He may win his home state, but does anyone know why he’s still in the race? Does he know?
*Marco Rubio– The “Nice Guy, But…”; Will his tainted past on immigration (Gang of Eight) and status as the Establishment Guy doom him to hoping for a cabinet spot in the Trump administration, or—worse yet—vice president? Is he, as Trump claims, too sweaty to be president? Will he keep reading Trump’s Twitter rantings out loud on the campaign trail? Will he team up with Ted Cruz to form the ultimate Non-Trump ticket?
*Donald Trump– The Flamboyant, Colorful Cast Member; The man currently at the top of the heap, he claims to be an outsider, a non-politician—but is he really? He’s admitted to supporting left-wingers–like Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi–that should make any Tea Partier cringe, and says he wants to “make deals”. I thought people were sick of all these kinds of back room deals that gave us disasters like Obamacare. Will this name-calling, misogynistic, billionaire philandering philanthropist continue to court Evangelical Christians and make them believe he’s one of them, in spite of his admission that he’s never needed to ask God for forgiveness? Does it bother him that an infamous KKK member (David Duke) is supporting him? Could he really commit murder and not lose a vote?
* Evangelical Christians/ Religious Folks– Will they show up at the polls, or will they be so disgusted that they sit out like they did in 2008 and 2012, giving us Barack Obama? Will they vote their principles, or —like the “Obamatons” of previous elections that they once criticized—will they just want change without caring about character?
I’ve heard there once was a time when no one knew who the nominees were from each party until they actually held their conventions in the summer. It seems ridiculous that on Wednesday, we should already know who the nominees are when most voters haven’t even gotten an opportunity to vote…eight months before Election Day.
Whatever happens tomorrow, other primaries still remain and the saga will continue to unfold as two eventual nominees face off. Then comes the reality show sequel: “Election 2016: The Media Takedown of [insert Republican nominee here].”