What I Learned From Ezra Klein's Perspective On The 2016 Election

What I Learned From Ezra Klein's Perspective On The 2016 Election

I had the chance to hear the Vox.com EIC and co-founder thoughts on the upcoming election.
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If not for opportunities, I don’t know what college would be.

WashU is going all out for the October 9 presidential debate we're hosting, complete with a roller skating party, debate week food, and, of course, political speakers. While I won't get to see the debate firsthand, watching it on TV and hearing speakers discuss the election is the next best thing.

This week, I had the distinct pleasure of fangirling over a big name in the media industry. Ezra Klein, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Vox.com, spoke to a plethora of politically passionate Washington University students about the upcoming presidential election. His timing was perfect given that we’re sandwiched between the first presidential debate that happened on the previous day and the debate we’re hosting on October 9. Hearing his insights on politics and the media (also what I wrote my 4000 word IB Extended Essay on #IBdone) did more than just put into words all that I had been contemplating about the election. He certainly shed light onto the differences between the candidates and the importance of the issues, though what really sparked my interest was that he called into question the American political system itself.

Klein began with a concise restatement of my Extended Essay: though media sources try to convey the thoughts of the American people, they’re really just influencing voters’ thoughts with their ingrained biases. (For more on this, I can refer you to UnSpun and The Influencing Machine, my saviors during the first half of senior year.) It is these opinionated sources which contribute to the increasingly polarized political climate in America today, though they’re not the only factor. It was really the early 1900s desire for party polarization, for categorizing candidates by placing them into two separate parties, that started the chain of political polarization.

Following his speech, I, along with several other lucky students, were able to ask Klein questions. I asked him if he thinks that in the near or even distant future we'll be able to move towards more political moderacy or if he thinks that this fate is just a defect of the system.

To summarize his reply, party polarization provides identity and having two different parties with specific platforms on specific issues isn't necessarily a bad thing. He suggested that given the increased party polarization over the last century, the trendline appears that it will continue to occur. Instead of hoping for a day to come along where we'll be less polarized, he proposed that we should change our government to a parliamentary republic or other system structured to be better able to deal with polarization.

In essence, what Klein really brought to my attention wasn't just the fact that the political climate is polarized and ineffective; it's the fact that our political system can't remediate this dilemma. He noted that we've invaded and helped set up new governments in Germany, Afghanistan, and many other nations, and we've never gave them our system. “Why?” he asked. “Because scholars know it's unstable.”

He told us about the importance of looking at the bigger picture, at our government's structure as a whole. Instead of focusing just on the issues, “We need to think much more about what the candidates want to do for the system itself… We probably have to spend a lot more time about how decision making actually happens, whether the rules of the game are set up well.”

Despite all the criticism of America’s present state by fear-mongers and more, Klein cited that we’re in the longest period of private sector growth and America’s unemployment rate is under 5%. And we can barely handle it. We’re in a period of negative partisanship, where people are voting based on who they hate, not who they love. A time when the Republican candidate’s words and platform itself are a vortex of confusion and both candidates are entangled within webs of deceit. He wonders what will happen if the system breaks down.

Given the distaste across the US for both the presidential candidates and the election itself, it’s evident that change is needed in America. But it isn’t just the change that Clinton and Trump are preaching. It’s bigger than individual issues, than simply building a wall around our problems. It’s the system that has been created in America and exists in America alone for it simply isn’t working. And while changing something as big as the American political structure is a massive undertaking, Klein said that “These things aren't impossible; they just require will. As someone who likes to vote with as well-informed an opinion as possible, I definitely will take a closer look at the candidates, the issues, and the government itself after hearing Klein's insights. Come November 8, I'll vote not just for the candidate whose stance on the issues most aligns with mine, but for the one who I think will be able to create the political change I think we need. It will be surely be interesting to see how the American will shapes not just the WashU debate next week or the election, but the coming years and the fate of our political system.
Cover Image Credit: Kayla Steinberg

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I'd Rather Be Single Than Settle – Here Is Why Being Picky Is Okay

They're on their best behavior when you're dating.
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Dating nowadays described in one word: annoying.

What's even more annoying? when people tell you that you're being too "picky" when it comes to dating. Yes, from an outside perspective sometimes that's exactly what it looks like; however, when looking at it from my perspective it all makes sense.

I've heard it all:

"He was cute, why didn't you like him?"

"You didn't even give him a chance!"

"You pay too much attention to the little things!"

What people don't understand is that it's OKAY to be picky when it comes to guys. For some reason, girls in college freak out and think they're supposed to have a boyfriend by now, be engaged by the time they graduate, etc. It's all a little ridiculous.

However, I refuse to put myself on a time table such as this due to the fact that these girls who feel this way are left with no choice but to overlook the things in guys that they shouldn't be overlooking, they're settling and this is something that I refuse to do.

So this leaves the big question: What am I waiting for?

Well, I'm waiting for a guy who...

1. Wants to know my friends.

Blessed doesn't even begin to describe how lucky I am to have the friends that I do.

I want a guy who can hang out with my friends. If a guy makes an effort to impress your friends then that says a lot about him and how he feels about you. This not only shows that he cares about you but he cares about the people in your life as well.

Someone should be happy to see you happy and your friends contribute to that happiness, therefore, they should be nothing more than supportive and caring towards you and your friendships.

2. Actually, cares to get to know me.

Although this is a very broad statement, this is the most important one. A guy should want to know all about you. He should want to know your favorite movie, favorite ice cream flavor, favorite Netflix series, etc. Often, (the guys I get stuck on dates with) love to talk about themselves: they would rather tell you about what workout they did yesterday, what their job is, and what they like to do rather than get to know you.

This is something easy to spot on the first date, so although they may be "cute," you should probably drop them if you leave your date and can recite everything about their life since the day they were born, yet they didn't catch what your last name was.

3. How they talk about other women.

It does not matter who they're talking about, if they call their ex-girlfriend crazy we all know she probably isn't and if she is it's probably their fault.

If they talk bad about their mom, let's be honest, if they're disrespecting their mother they're not going to respect you either. If they mention a girl's physical appearances when describing them. For example, "yeah, I think our waitress is that blonde chick with the big boobs"

Well if that doesn't hint they're a complete f* boy then I don't know what else to tell you. And most importantly calling other women "bitches" that's just disrespectful.

Needless to say, if his conversations are similar to ones you'd hear in a frat house, ditch him.

4. Phone etiquette.

If he can't put his phone down long enough to take you to dinner then he doesn't deserve for you to be sitting across from him.

If a guy is serious about you he's going to give you his undivided attention and he's going to do whatever it takes to impress you and checking Snapchat on a date is not impressive. Also, notice if his phone is facedown, then there's most likely a reason for it.

He doesn't trust who or what could pop up on there and he clearly doesn't want you seeing. Although I'm not particularly interested in what's popping up on their phones, putting them face down says more about the guy than you think it does.

To reiterate, it's okay to be picky ladies, you're young, there's no rush.

Remember these tips next time you're on a date or seeing someone, and keep in mind: they're on their best behavior when you're dating. Then ask yourself, what will they be like when they're comfortable? Years down the road? Is this what I really want? If you ask yourself these questions you might be down the same road I have stumbled upon, being too picky.. and that's better than settling.

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Pride? Pride.

Who are we? Why are we proud?

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This past week, I was called a faggot by someone close to me and by note, of all ways. The shock rolled through my body like thunder across barren plains and I was stuck paralyzed in place, frozen, unlike the melting ice caps. My chest suddenly felt tight, my hearing became dim, and my mind went blank except for one all-encompassing and constant word. Finally, after having thawed, my rage bubbled forward like divine retribution and I stood poised and ready to curse the name of the offending person. My tongue lashed the air into a frenzy, and I was angry until I let myself break and weep twice. Later, I began to question not sexualities or words used to express (or disparage) them, but my own embodiment of them.

For members of the queer community, there are several unspoken and vital rules that come into play in many situations, mainly for you to not be assaulted or worse (and it's all too often worse). Make sure your movements are measured and fit within the realm of possible heterosexuality. Keep your music low and let no one hear who you listen to. Avoid every shred of anything stereotypically gay or feminine like the plague. Tell the truth without details when you can and tell half-truths with real details if you must. And above all, learn how to clear your search history. At twenty, I remember my days of teaching my puberty-stricken body the lessons I thought no one else was learning. Over time I learned the more subtle and more important lessons of what exactly gay culture is. Now a man with a head and social media accounts full of gay indicators, I find myself wondering both what it all means and more importantly, does it even matter?

To the question of whether it matters, the answer is naturally yes and no (and no, that's not my answer because I'm a Gemini). The month of June has the pleasure of being the time of year when the LGBT+ community embraces the hateful rhetoric and indulges in one of the deadly sins. Pride. Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, the figures at the head of the gay liberation movement, fought for something larger than themselves and as with the rest of the LGBT+ community, Pride is more than a parade of muscular white men dancing in their underwear. It's a time of reflection, of mourning, of celebration, of course, and most importantly, of hope. Pride is a time to look back at how far we've come and realize that there is still a far way to go.

This year marks fifty years since the Stonewall Riots and the gay liberation movement launched onto the world stage, thus making the learning and embracing of gay culture that much more important. The waves of queer people that come after the AIDS crisis has been given the task of rebuilding and redefining. The AIDS crisis was more than just that. It was Death itself stalking through the community with the help of Regan doing nothing. It was going out with friends and your circle shrinking faster than you can try or even care to replenish. Where do you go after the apocalypse? The LGBT+ community was a world shut off from access by a touch of death and now on the other side, we must weave in as much life as we can.

But we can't freeze and dwell of this forever. It matters because that's where we came from, but it doesn't matter because that's not where we are anymore. We're in a time of rebirth and spring. The LGBT+ community can forge a new identity where the AIDS crisis is not the defining feature, rather a defining feature to be immortalized, mourned, and moved on from.

And to the question of what does it all mean? Well, it means that I'm gay and that I've learned the central lesson that all queer people should learn in middle school. It's called Pride for a reason. We have to shoulder the weight of it all and still hold our head high and we should. Pride is the LGBT+ community turning lemons into lemon squares and limoncello. The lemon squares are funeral cakes meant to mourn and be a familiar reminder of what passed, but the limoncello is the extravagant and intoxicating celebration of what is to come. This year I choose to combine the two and get drunk off funeral cakes. Something tells me that those who came before would've wanted me to celebrate.

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