Thanks, Obama: An Ode to the Best Bromance of Our Time

https://twitter.com/VP/status/761253705341480962 Screengrab of Joe Biden's Twitter post of obama's friendship bracelet he made him 8/5/16 Source: Joe Biden/Twitter

Source: Joe Biden/Twitter

Recently, The New York Times asked its readers to reflect upon President Barack Obama’s tenure in the White House. Motivated participants were encouraged to write letters regarding what they will remember most about President Obama’s historic role. Despite the unlikely chance of being published, I jumped at the occasion to praise our Commander in Chief.

Unfortunately, as predicted, my letter wasn’t chosen, but I can’t sit back and watch this “peaceful transition of power” unfold without sharing my thoughts on the current administration. Here’s my submission:

For many, strength can be defined by how well someone conceals his or her emotions. Crying indicates an underlying weakness. But, as President Barack Obama addressed the country after the Sandy Hook shooting, periodically pausing to wipe his eyes on national television, each tear demonstrated that true strength comes from loving your fellow man, especially during their time of need. His mouth may have been moving, but it was his heart that spoke that day.

George Washington will forever be the “Father of our Country” in the historical sense, of course, but in that moment President Obama became the father figure of our generation, for his composure and compassion pulled our entire nation through one of the darkest days since September 11.

His fatherly persona extends well beyond his comforting capabilities, however, as our pun-loving president takes pride in his “dad joke” tendencies. Personally, I’m honored to say he’s the first president I had the privilege of voting for, but I’m afraid we’ll never have another Commander in Chief who exhibits the same genuine love for humanity. He certainly embodies an innate zest for life, but his successors? Well, they are bound to be lemons.

Source: The Atlantic

Source: The Atlantic

Readers were limited to 200 words, but after eight years under the guidance of both President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, words are simultaneously abundant and absent. It’s truly impossible to deliver an adequate ‘thank you’ when you consider what these gentlemen and their families have done, and will likely continue to do, for the United States of America.

Beyond the professional and the political, Obama and Biden make their work personal. Through their efforts to ensure policies reflect a government that’s run by the people and for the people, Obama and Biden repeatedly prove that they’re with the people, too. Their love for America cannot be feigned, for it shines bright in their affinity for children and their gratitude toward our troops. But most of all, love for their country comes through in the friendship they’ve nurtured during their time in office.

BOCA RATON, FL - SEPTEMBER 28: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event at the Century Village Clubhouse on September 28, 2012 in Boca Raton, Florida. Biden continues to campaign across the country before the general election. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Source: Getty Images

While President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama taught us the importance of partnership in both marriage and parenting, Vice President Biden showed us how to smile despite immense grief. From these foundations, our two exceptional leaders forged a bond that goes far beyond the scope of past presidential partnerships. They’re more than friends—they’re brothers. Yes, the Internet loves to poke fun at their so-called bromance. (There are enough memes floating around the Web to carry us all for another four years!) But, underneath all the jokes, we can see that they made our nation better just by loving each other.

We’ve seen them laugh together and cry together. Heck, we have even seen them eat ice cream together. Nevertheless, nothing will ever compare to President Obama’s parting gesture. When Obama surprised Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, it was hard not to cry right along with them—not only because of the meaning behind the honor, but also because this ceremony served as one somber, sweet farewell to the administration overall.

(Watch the highlights of Obama’s announcement below, or watch the entire ceremony here.)

 

No administration will ever be able to replicate their devotion to the people, and their exit hurts more than any other transition because, for nearly a decade, they have been much more than the figureheads of our democracy. Through humor and honesty, Obama and Biden have become family—the father and uncle we can all depend upon when life gets rough.

Luckily for us, they aren’t simply characters on some TV show that’s been cancelled. They’re real, live human beings! Thus, while they won’t be at the center of our government anymore, they will still have the ability to empower citizens and inspire change. I’m curious to see how Obama and Biden will put their experiences to use in the coming years. I’m eager to watch First Lady Michelle Obama take her current initiatives to the next level. I’m excited to see what Malia and Sasha will accomplish as they emerge into this brave new world.

But, above all else, I’m incredibly grateful that President Obama and Vice President Biden were part of our lives, even if only for a short time. They taught us how to feel and they taught us how to fight. They taught us that love trumps hate. Despite the current state of affairs, I hope their words and actions will echo throughout the White House, Congress, and the country for decades to come.

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Source: Getty Images

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What If I Don’t Want to Be a Woman Anymore?

Does anyone else remember the F.A.O. Schwarz Friendship Tree? He’d always say, “Thanks for coming to play with me!” (I’ve tried to Google the rest of his spiel on numerous occasions, but I just can’t seem to fill in the blanks.)

However, I do recall how he’d entice children with claims that there were “things to touch and feel and more.” Yet, for any woman suffering through this election cycle, that seemingly innocent invitation from an old mechanical centerpiece may cause an involuntary twitch. In fact, it sounds vaguely familiar…

Oh, that’s right. It sounds like “locker room talk.” You know, something that might’ve come straight from the 2016 Republican presidential nominee’s mouth.

Women! We’re nothing more than objects for men to grope and fondle.

After all, he’s Donald J. Trump. He’s a star.

(Stars can do whatever they want.)

Welcome to his world of toys.

For women, the 2016 election truly marks both the best of times and worst of times. While Hillary Clinton promises to hold our collective hand and lead us on the path to progress, Trump wants to grab us all ‘by the p—y’ and drag us down the path to destruction. To harken back to First Lady Michelle Obama’s iconic speech at this year’s Democratic National Convention, Trump wants to pull us low, while Clinton strives to lift us high.

But, unfortunately, no matter which candidate leads the electoral majority, misogyny has already won the popular vote.

If Trump wins, men who wish to exploit his view on women will see this moment as their opportunity to justify any lewd and crude behaviors they’ve suppressed until now. If Clinton wins, every single move she makes will be analyzed and scrutinized until the end of time. (I’d say the end of her term, but we know any and all problems impacting our country will be attributed to her time in office for at least the next 50 years or so. At least.)

Despite the fact that her historic win would shatter the glass ceiling, women, in general, will be forced to wade through the shards that fall on Clinton’s behalf. All women will be held accountable for her actions because, while men exist and operate independently, women are often seen as one collective unit. Thus, her success will be our success. Her mistakes will be our mistakes. Her failures will be our failures.

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Even if Hillary Clinton wins the election, we cannot write this off as some epic victory for women overall. This one battle will not end the war. In fact, it will likely fuel the fight. We like to pretend our country has moved beyond its humiliating past. Many honestly thought that electing our first black president would end racism, but we can clearly see that race relations are as volatile as ever. Many believe that electing the first female president will eliminate sexism and misogyny, too, but this agonizing campaign indicates otherwise. We’ve peeled back the bandage and exposed wounds that haven’t healed. Based on Trump’s rhetoric alone, it’s hard to imagine they ever will.

Like Full Frontal host Samantha Bee—notorious breaker of glass ceilings herself—recently said, Clinton’s presidency would unleash a ‘tsunami of misogyny’ upon the American people. Still, Clinton has yet to win, and we’re already drowning in vitriolic sentiment. We’re about to reach the breaking point even though we haven’t yet approached the starting line.

Well, what if I don’t want to be a woman anymore? What if I’d prefer to live as some androgynous being who’s respected for their brain, not judged by their genitals? What if I want to shirk the assumption that I’m some plaything created for men’s visual and physical pleasure, nothing more?

Over the last year—the past few months, particularly—we have been forced to call into question not only how people perceive us, but also how we perceive ourselves. It’s both disconcerting and discouraging, exasperating and exhausting. We bear the daunting and perpetual burden of trying to prove our power and our worth time and time again.

But if we don’t, who will?

It’s tempting to throw in the towel. The hatred and oppression emanating from Trump’s followers alone could inspire any woman to crawl under their blanket and remain hidden for the next decade. But if we refuse to embrace our womanhood and fight for equality, we will never gain the respect we deserve. We must carry on the legacy of those women before us—those whose sacrifices brought us to where we are today. We owe it to past, present, and future women in our country and across the world to continue this fight, as misogyny will not cease without effort. Sexism will likely exist in some form for lifetimes to come, but we have the opportunity to be the generation that makes great strides toward gender equality once and for all.

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock)

 

 

‘Bern’ Up the Polls: Why Sanders Supporters Must Vote for Hillary Clinton

board2Imagine, if you will, an intricate—albeit, metaphorical—game of Candy Land in which each block along the path represents the progress of the American political system. After years of gameplay, someone finally pulled the Ice Cream Floats card and we forged ahead with hope in our hearts. Barack Obama became our first African-American president, renewing the fervor that defines our country’s spirit.

Now, as we stand on the doorstep of that glorious candy cottage, our feet sticky and sweet with victory among the Molasses Swamp, Hillary Clinton’s nomination represents another breakdown of the barriers perpetuated by white men since the birth of our great nation.

But alas, as with any game of chance, risks and obstacles come with the territory. Donald J. Trump, for instance? Well, he’s the human equivalent of the Crooked Old Peanut Brittle House. Many may prefer to forget he’s lurking below the dwindling stack of cards, but picking him from the pile could set our hard-fought progress back immeasurably.

However, before Clinton can effectively start to chip away at the crumbling foundation of this nutcase—I mean, nut house—she must conquer one other complication: Bernie Bros. Much like landing on the blue space that requires you to stay put until you pull another blue card, Clinton has no choice but to stand firm and hope that these passionate, stubborn supporters eventually comprehend that, to bring Sanders’ visions to light, we must look to her as our guiding star.

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Bernie Sanders’ supporters have always seemed enlightened and informed, but I can’t help thinking that the ‘Bernie or Bust’ crowd hasn’t been listening at all. For many, voting for third-party candidates, or not voting at all, offers the most appeal—an ideal way to stick it to the establishment—but the only people who will pay for such obstinacy are the citizens these advocates supposedly stand behind in the first place. Not voting for Clinton ultimately equates to votes for Trump…and any Sanders supporter who’d prefer to see Trump in the White House clearly never understood Sanders’ “revolution” from the start.

One can easily deduce that Trump’s rise has fueled heightened racial and religious tensions because he serves as the mouthpiece for bigots who now know that they’re not alone in their way of thinking. Such backwards beliefs continue to run rampant throughout America, threatening to reverse decades of slow but steady advances toward justice and equality. Every word out of his mouth incites violence and anger in the hearts and minds of his most avid followers, positioning him as a bonafide danger to our national security. Countless politicians and officials have denounced his platform, citing his vitriol as fodder for inevitable disaster, yet blind supporters continue to rationalize his outbursts via borderline admissions that he’s simply not suited to fill this powerful position.

tumblr_oay4gm40Sd1qiuiebo1_540Yet while Clinton haters are also quick to recite her laundry list of transgressions, only the ignorant (and possibly mentally unstable?) can honestly believe that Trump has what it takes to guide our country. No matter your take on Benghazi or Clinton’s private email server, one cannot deny that she’s spent literal decades dedicating her life to public service. And I can’t help but wonder how voters and mainstream media would perceive said missteps if she were of the male persuasion. After all, former president Bill Clinton—our dear candidate’s husband—has managed to shirk his adulterous legacy in exchange for one of supporter-in-chief. Spectators marvel at his fascination with balloons, but fail to acknowledge the strength of the woman running the show—the woman who forgave him and repaired her marriage at a time when she could’ve easily given up. Her personal resilience and determination, right there, indicate that she will always persist when pushed to the breaking point.

Much like the public’s perception of President Obama (and every president in recent history, honestly), people assume that Hillary Clinton’s past, present, and future positions function independently. Most fail to recognize that each elected official works within the body of our government. Trump believes he can singlehandedly solve any and all problems throughout America, but true leaders understand that both successes and failures have been and always will be a team effort. Clinton will continue to command the support and respect of her most competent peers, as she walks alongside, not ahead of, them during her time in office. Most Democrats have already come together to back Clinton’s candidacy, while notable Republicans continue to condemn Trump and break party ties in support of Clinton, too. If that doesn’t make an indelible statement, I don’t know what will…

Despite all this, I completely understand how Bernie Sanders’ supporters feel because, honestly, Hillary Clinton wasn’t my first choice, either. But no candidate can guarantee that all their promises will come to fruition and no candidate can foresee the hurdles that will test their resolve. Our volatile atmosphere has left us all on edge, which is precisely why we need to come together to defeat Trump once and for all, even if that means voting for the lesser of two evils, as Stephen Colbert explains in the clip below.

 

 

I’m not saying I trust Clinton implicitly, but with so many well respected leaders—including Barack and Michelle Obama, Joe Biden, and Bernie Sanders himself—in her corner, she certainly can’t be as bad as the ‘Bernie or Bust’ crowd may think. I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt and do everything in my power to ensure she earns the opportunity to prove herself over the next four years. (I’d still love to know if a man in her shoes would face this much incessant scrutiny, thought…) I recognize that I am privileged to vote for another historic candidate and that her success will inspire the next generation to chase their dreams.

For many, Hillary Clinton isn’t the candidate they want, but when faced with the alternative, we must all admit that she’s the one we need. Hopefully her promises and policies won’t ultimately leave a bad taste in our mouths for years to come.

 

(Images courtesy of Games MuseumThe Huffington Post, and Sarah Andersen)