What Needs To Be Done To Fix America

What Needs To Be Done To Fix America

As of recently, America has become very divided, which is a major problem - so how do we fix it?
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The last few weeks in Washington have been very interesting, to say the least. From the firing of James Comey in early May to his ratings-record-breaking testimony, from pulling out of the Paris Accords to Trump's dictator-like “loyalty pledges” he demanded of Comey (and likely other officials), there's been so much – yet it's all been publicized, so most people are aware of it in some way. Meanwhile, Fox News is acting like they're following Joseph Goebbels' methods of propaganda, people are violently split over issues, and American citizens have been killed because they were simply defending two teenage girls who happen to be Muslim. We sit here and look at all this, but we just watch it all happening with no real way of bridging the gap between parties. In fact, it all can end up leading to a second civil war – between the alt-right conservatives who refuse to allow any sort of progress to be made and the liberals who want things to move forward.

The first, and most difficult step, is “de-Fox Newsing” the devout Trump supporters. Of course they have the right to believe what they want, but come on – just because Trump is president and just because they heard it on TV/the internet does not mean everything he does is great. In fact, anybody who happens to actually be educated beyond talking points radio and nostalgia for “the good old days” can see the overflowing racism, hatred, and unpatriotic nature of Trump. This is a man who refused to acknowledge the murder of two real patriotic men, killed by one of his supporters who followed his anti-Muslim rhetoric to a violent end – but when Manchester Arena was bombed, he immediately put up a tweet about reinstating the proven unconstitutional “travel ban.” They have been brainwashed into believing that anything “liberal” is wrong and damaging to the country. Even though the reason why they can bring home a decent paycheck, women can vote, why we don't own slaves anymore, and even have a country in the first place is because of different generations of liberal thinkers. Yes, at the time, the Founding Fathers were incredibly liberal, as they believed in religious freedom for all (despite most of them actually making it clear America is not a Christian nation) and free speech, no matter who they're talking about. The Russia investigation is still ongoing, as Comey simply said Trump himself wasn't under investigation at the time, but he could be now, and Robert Mueller is still leading the investigation with no appearance of stopping anytime soon. If it does come out that the campaign worked with Russia (judging by the amount of nations and groups involved, it likely will) to undermine our election, there is no way a Trump supporter can say it was a good idea without being seen as a literal traitor – yet some will, because the cult is that strong. So we have to find a way to help them realize what is going on in front of them, whether they want to acknowledge the truth or not. How that can happen, well, only time will tell.

Secondly, we must put party lines aside and do what George Washington intended – work together without voting based on what political party they are part of. Republicans are very guilty of this right now, refusing to let Democratic Senators/Representatives speak or even finish their statements, especially during Senate Intelligence Committee hearings. In order to keep the people from getting far too divided, the leaders must join together for more than just the rare bipartisan bill. Of course all this is just wishful thinking, because let's be real here, there aren't too many politicians, especially Congressmen, who are willing to actually work together. Obviously the problem is not the people but the reliance on a failing two-party system. On both sides, one always wants to do the opposite of the other, and most vote along party lines because they feel they have to. We can't go and abolish the system, but we can look at the third/fourth/fifth party candidates for elections – even if they don't get in, they're still making an impact. Gary Johnson and Jill Stein were often made fun of during the 2016 election, and while their policies weren't the best, they still were making their names known in a way third party candidates rarely see. Meanwhile, may citizens vote only Republican or only Democrat because that's the party they signed for, even if they know their candidate might not actually be best for the job (see: Donald Trump, Richard Nixon). Really, we'd have to create an entirely new system, which is pretty much impossible – so instead, we promote politicians working together by working together to find common ground and topics people can actually agree on, without resorting to calling others names or talking down to them because they just so happen to be on the opposite side of the political spectrum.

And the biggest issue is that we have to realize that in order to make America great, we must acknowledge that America is not, nor has it ever, been truly “great.” We are behind the rest of the civilized world when it comes to tax-funded healthcare and education (see above for the “nobody should be getting any help because I hate anyone less fortunate than myself” mindset). Only within the last century have women been allowed to vote, African-Americans have been granted equal rights that are guaranteed in the Constitution. People were stripped of their name and forced into barely habitable buildings upon immigrating. We still have to pay thousands of dollars if we have to go to the emergency room, people are leaving college several hundred thousand dollars in debt. This is not a problem in other developed countries – and contrary to conservative news, this is rarely a problem in places like Canada. In Canada, people do have a slight waiting period for certain, non-life threatening operations, but they do not have to pay anywhere near as much as we do in America. Even now, people are told they don't matter or shouldn't have legal rights (debate over gay marriage, abortion, etc.), and in some cases, even denied life essentials because of who they are – or killed and the murderer gets off because of the colors of their skin (Philando Castile, for example).

Overall, we need to be better. That's not exactly possible, but hey, we can dream. Whether we like it or not, we are all equally American, regardless of political belief – that's the reason we're even the way we are now, because the Founding Fathers believed in freedom to say and believe what we want. Despite people like Trump who want to demonize the opposition and even cause violence upon them, we have to rise above that archaic way of thinking and find what we all can agree on. There's plenty of it, and as soon as people are willing to actually talk things over with actual sources and well-developed argument, we can get to making America a shining example once again. Until then, well, let's just try to hang on and fight back when we need to. Because if we don't, then we are just allowing this country to fall.

Cover Image Credit: Business Insider

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To The Friends I Won't Talk To After High School

I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.
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Hey,

So, for the last four years I’ve seen you almost everyday. I’ve learned about your annoying little brother, your dogs and your crazy weekend stories. I’ve seen you rock the awful freshman year fashion, date, attend homecoming, study for AP tests, and get accepted into college.

Thank you for asking me about my day, filling me in on your boy drama and giving me the World History homework. Thank you for complimenting my outfits, laughing at me presenting in class and listening to me complain about my parents. Thank you for sending me your Quizlets and being excited for my accomplishments- every single one of them. I appreciate it all because I know that soon I won’t really see you again. And that makes me sad. I’ll no longer see your face every Monday morning, wave hello to you in the hallways or eat lunch with you ever again. We won't live in the same city and sooner or later you might even forget my name.

We didn’t hang out after school but none the less you impacted me in a huge way. You supported my passions, stood up for me and made me laugh. You gave me advice on life the way you saw it and you didn’t have to but you did. I think maybe in just the smallest way, you influenced me. You made me believe that there’s lots of good people in this world that are nice just because they can be. You were real with me and that's all I can really ask for. We were never in the same friend group or got together on the weekends but you were still a good friend to me. You saw me grow up before your eyes and watched me walk into class late with Starbucks every day. I think people like you don’t get enough credit because I might not talk to you after high school but you are still so important to me. So thanks.

With that said, I truly hope that our paths cross one day in the future. You can tell me about how your brothers doing or how you regret the college you picked. Or maybe one day I’ll see you in the grocery store with a ring on your finger and I’ll be so happy you finally got what you deserved so many guys ago.

And if we ever do cross paths, I sincerely hope you became everything you wanted to be. I hope you traveled to Italy, got your dream job and found the love of your life. I hope you have beautiful children and a fluffy dog named Charlie. I hope you found success in love before wealth and I hope you depended on yourself for happiness before anything else. I hope you visited your mom in college and I hope you hugged your little sister every chance you got. She’s in high school now and you always tell her how that was the time of your life. I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.

And hey, maybe I’ll see you at the reunion and maybe just maybe you’ll remember my face. If so, I’d like to catch up, coffee?

Sincerely,

Me

Cover Image Credit: High school Musical

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Terrors Behind "Toddlers & Tiaras" - Beauty Pageants Need To Go!

Why Honey Boo Boo is not the girl we should be idolizing...

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Honey Boo Boo is famous for her extravagant persona, extreme temper tantrums, overwhelming attitude, and intense sassiness. All of these qualities are shared by many other young girls who participate in beauty pageants - not just in "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" but also in TLC's notorious "Toddlers & Tiaras," a show that depicts the horrors of little girls who have dedicated their childhood to winning the crown.

These shows, and the pageants they glorify do nothing but force girls to grow up too quickly, send negative messages to viewers and participants and pose health risks for the girls involved.

Therefore, beauty pageants for young girls should be abolished.

The hypersexualization that takes place in these pageants is staggering. Not only are young girls' minds molded into having a superficial view on beauty, but they are also waxed, spray-tanned, given wigs, retouched in pictures, injected with Botox and fillers, and painted with fake abs and even breasts.

Sexy is the goal, not cute. Girls of ages 2-12 wear skimpy clothing, accentuating only their underdeveloped bodies. A 4-year-old girl on "Toddlers and Tiaras" once impersonated Dolly Parton with fake breasts, another dressed as Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman (so basically, a prostitute), and another even pretended to smoke a cigarette to look like Sandy from Grease.

In Venezuela, people are so obsessed with pageants that they send their daughters to "Miss Factories," to train them to win. At these factories, underage girls undergo plastic surgery and hormone therapy to delay puberty in attempts to grow taller. In addition, they often get mesh sewn onto their tongues so that they are physically incapable of eating solid food. This idea of taking horrific measures to look slimmer is not unique to Venezuela. A former Miss USA explained that she would "slather on hemorrhoid ointment, wrap herself up with Saran wrap, and run on a treadmill with an incline for 30 minutes to tighten her skin and waist up." Many countries, including France and Israel have banned child beauty pageants because it is "hypersexualizing." Why has the US yet to follow in their footsteps?

Additionally, the pageants strip their young contestants of a childhood by basically putting them through harsh child labor. Oftentimes, girls as young as 18 months old participate in pageants. There is no way that a girl under 2 years old has the capacity to decide for herself that she wants to participate in a beauty pageant. Not to mention, education often takes a backseat in pageant girls' lives as long practice sessions interfere with sleep and homework. This causes long-term distress for the contestants, including widespread unemployment for former pageant girls.

Moreover, these pageants tie self-worth and self-esteem to attractiveness. They teach girls that natural beauty and intelligence are not enough, when in actuality they should be doing the opposite. In fact, 72% of pageant girls hire coaches to train girls to be more "attractive."

Finally, these pageants pose potent health risks for the girls competing. Not only do intense rehearsals interfere with their sleep cycles, but they are also impacted by the harmful methods taken to keep them awake. One example is Honey Boo Boo's "go go juice" - AKA a mixture of Mountain Dew and Red Bull. She is known for drinking this continuously throughout pageant days to stay awake and energetic - but the health risks associated with the drinks, let alone for such a young girl, are completely ignored.

And, the future health problems associated with pageantry cannot be looked past. Participating in beauty pageants as kids leads to eating disorders, perfectionism, depression - in fact, at least 6% suffer from depression while competing. "The Princess Syndrome," as Psychology Today calls it relates to a small study published in 2005 that showed that former childhood beauty pageant contestants had higher rates of body dissatisfaction. This sense of dissatisfaction can so easily be translated to more severe mental and physical health issues, including depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. The average BMI (Body Mass Index) of a Beauty Contestant in the US in 1930 was 20.8, which is universally in the middle of the "healthy" range. In 2010, it was 16.9, which is considered underweight for anyone.

So, despite the entertainment these shows and pageants provide, they should most definitely be stopped due to the immense amount of issues they cause for those involved and those who watch.

Although Honey Boo Boo is (sadly) considered one of America's sweethearts, her experience in pageantry has certainly not been a positive influence in her life nor in the lives of her fans - and this is the case for nearly all young pageant girls.

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