Reflections On Democracy A Year After The Election

Reflections On Democracy A Year After The Election

After the election which shaped our lives, how does this play into how we perceive democracy?
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When I was in high school, I was part of a group called Amnesty International, an organization which fought for the human rights of all people in the world. One thing which fascinated me was with people fighting for freedom of speech and for democratic rights, which I thought was vital in society. The beginning of these years took place at the same time as the Arab Spring in the Middle East, where an idealistic fervor for revolution was eventually swept away by civil wars, interventions, and returns to authoritarianism.

A year ago, I voted in my first presidential election. My impression was it was a battle of “bad meets evil” within the two major parties: one was not the most ideal candidate, but was a hundred times better than the other candidate, which epitomizes everything the voting base would hate. Who was “bad” and who was “evil” was dependent on how I’ve observed the rise of third parties, which provided their own solutions, but didn’t have or weren’t offered the limelight which they could be projected.

Of course, I was afraid of the results of the election—I tried to shut everything out when the results were coming in, and only found out from a friend messaging me at midnight. It pulled me into a certain realm of depth despair. If it wasn’t me bearing the brunt of the results personally, then it would be my family members, my friends, and everyone else in the world.

While I followed the news for a while prior to this election cycle, due to keeping up with my International Relations classes, I took an even keener eye towards the news. One interesting article in the New York Times, published after the election, documented what is potentially considered the “decline of democracy:” people have become more cynical about the voting process. Despite seeing liberalization in the 1990s, where Francis Fukuyama argued was “the end of history,” Freedom House reports on some countries which had higher scores before today. A surprising statistic was how fewer people today thought it was “essential” to live in a democracy, with the share of those wanting to live under military rule going up.

I also read a book by Timothy Snyder, titled “On Tyranny,” a short but sweet book published in the zeitgeist of turbulence after Trump’s election. The basic theme was that most of the citizens of the United States were just as naïve about the rise of authoritarianism as people who lived in Germany or Czechoslovakia did in the 20th century, making them more vulnerable to the establishment of a one-party state. The steps he provides, ranging from defending institutions to speaking up, were meant to prevent such a military take-over with none of the people’s consent.

Both works surprised me, as somebody who takes a democracy for granted. While I recognize most “democratic” nations are republican by nature, as they have representatives of the population creating laws on their behalf, I hold a romanticized view of representative democracy. I find it the most ideal form of government. In a best-case scenario, people with some experience would make the best laws for the majority.

Yet I’ve also learned about the whirlwind of issues which threaten such a system—from corporations giving money to political parties to alleged corruption to indifference in non-presidential elections in the United States. From a media which potentially focuses on “stories” rather than policy to voter suppression which seeks to reduce the number of votes overall. Looking into the future, one must find a way to tackle some of these questions before questions wondering about a new form of government.

When Benjamin Franklin was asked about what type of government the new United States would be, he responded with, “A republic, if you can keep it.” And that’s something to consider going into the future.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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I'm The Girl Who'd Rather Raise A Family Than A Feminist Protest Sign

You raise your protest picket signs and I’ll raise my white picket fence.
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Social Media feeds are constantly filled with quotes on women's rights, protests with mobs of women, and an array of cleverly worded picket signs.

Good for them, standing up for their beliefs and opinions. Will I be joining my tight-knit family of the same gender?

Nope, no thank you.

Don't get me wrong, I am not going to be oblivious to my history and the advancements that women have fought to achieve. I am aware that the strides made by many women before me have provided us with voting rights, a voice, equality, and equal pay in the workforce.

SEE ALSO: To The Girl Who Would Rather Raise A Family Than A Feminist Protest Sign

For that, I am deeply thankful. But at this day in age, I know more female managers in the workforce than male. I know more women in business than men. I know more female students in STEM programs than male students. So what’s with all the hype? We are girl bosses, we can run the world, we don’t need to fight the system anymore.

Please stop.

Because it is insulting to the rest of us girls who are okay with being homemakers, wives, or stay-at-home moms. It's dividing our sisterhood, and it needs to stop.

All these protests and strong statements make us feel like now we HAVE to obtain a power position in our career. It's our rightful duty to our sisters. And if we do not, we are a disappointment to the gender and it makes us look weak.

Weak to the point where I feel ashamed to say to a friend “I want to be a stay at home mom someday.” Then have them look at me like I must have been brain-washed by a man because that can be the only explanation. I'm tired of feeling belittled for being a traditionalist.

Why?

Because why should I feel bad for wanting to create a comfortable home for my future family, cooking for my husband, being a soccer mom, keeping my house tidy? Because honestly, I cannot wait.

I will have no problem taking my future husband’s last name, and following his lead.

The Bible appoints men to be the head of a family, and for wives to submit to their husbands. (This can be interpreted in so many ways, so don't get your panties in a bunch at the word “submit”). God specifically made women to be gentle and caring, and we should not be afraid to embrace that. God created men to be leaders with the strength to carry the weight of a family.

However, in no way does this mean that the roles cannot be flipped. If you want to take on the responsibility, by all means, you go girl. But for me personally? I'm sensitive, I cry during horror movies, I'm afraid of basements and dark rooms. I, in no way, am strong enough to take on the tasks that men have been appointed to. And I'm okay with that.

So please, let me look forward to baking cookies for bake sales and driving a mom car.

And I'll support you in your endeavors and climb to the top of the corporate ladder. It doesn't matter what side you are on as long as we support each other, because we all need some girl power.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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The Gillette Controversy: Should Companies Share Their Views?

"We Believe: The Best Men Can Be" by Gillette is about creating a conversation, whether you agree with the commercial or not.

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We Believe: The Best Men Can Be | Gillette (Short Film) www.youtube.com

January 13, 2019, Gillette released a commercial that takes a new focus on their tagline "The Best a Man Can Get." The commercial weighs in on the Me Too movement and showcases different moments of toxic masculinity.

These moments include boys bullying another boy through cyberbullying, two young boys beating each other up while fathers are watching them saying that "boys will be boys", a set of a 1950s sitcom where a man grabs his maids butt to which the audience is encouraged to applause and laugh at his act, and a businessman laughing at his female colleague's statement and then says to the other male colleagues, "What I actually think she means…"

A voiceover in the ad says, "Is this the best a man can get? Is it? We can't hide from it, it's been going on far too long. We can't laugh it off, making the same old excuses. But something finally changed [implying the Me Too movement and people speaking up], and there will be no going back..."

The commercial then shifts to showing a man stepping in when another man tells a woman to smile, when a man stops another man from following a woman down the street, and video clips of men stopping fights and having two boys shake hands, as well as a father encouraging his daughter to say she is strong. There is also a moment when a father from the "boys will be boys" scene tells those kids fighting, "This is not how we treat each other."

The voiceover continues with "...Because we…We believe in the best in men. To say the right thing. To act the right way. Some already are, in ways big and small. But 'some' is not enough. Because the boys watching today will be the men of tomorrow."

This commercial sparked controversy with people saying that not all men show toxic masculinity, many people saying that this commercial is anti-male, and people saying they will now boycott Gillette and their partner company. Whereas others are praising the commercial with many saying that, if you're offended by this commercial, then that is why it was made.

But regardless of what you think of the commercial as a whole, the big topic of discussion is whether or not it is okay if companies should be political and put their two cents in through marketing.

I say yes.

I believe it is very okay for companies to express their thoughts and concerns about political and social issues through marketing. When the Me Too movement first came into the light, many people wanted Hollywood to stay out of politics/social issues. The public did not want to hear about the sexual harassment allegations throughout Hollywood, however, because of these celebrities bringing light to this issue more and more people, celebrity or not, are coming forward and speaking their truths.

More and more people are realizing the signs of harassment and speaking up before it can get worse. Society is more aware of these social issues because people with a platform are talking about it. Unfortunately, many people still do not want to listen to people with platforms, but having the conversation is important, so how else can we keep the conversation going?

That is where commercial and other forms of advertisements can come in. The commercial did exactly what it intended to do: to create a conversation. Talk shows like "The View" or "The Talk" are talking about, news outlets are talking about it, people on YouTube are talking about it, and here I am writing an Odyssey article related to the topic.

The commercial created conversation. It got people thinking about and discussing their concerns, their feelings about the idea of toxic masculinity, as well as how this commercial could or could not be the new wave of change. It is important to have conversations, as it is the only way for things to change and for people to see that how things used to be are not the way they should be now.

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