Who Tells Your Story?

Who Tells Your Story?

There is value in the forgotten narrative.

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There is an old African Proverb: "Until the story of the hunt is told by the lion, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter."

So it is with history.

So it is with "Hamilton."

Now, don't get me wrong, I am one of the biggest fans of "Hamilton." I accredit the musical with sparking my interest in history (now my major), and I have seen it twice live. It deserves all the accolades it has received. It's a good musical, but not a good tool for education.

The fact that it's not completely accurate aside (it's a musical first), "Hamilton" is biased because its source material was biased.

Like most biographies, historical narratives, and even textbooks, all history has biases.

Ron Chernow's biography, named Hamilton, plays on the phenomena named "Founders Fever": in this time of political unsureness, the public craved romanticized, elegant stories about the founding fathers. They want their anxieties eased with the reassurance that since the Founding Fathers were men that led America through the rockiest path in American history, then American will make it through this troubled time too. Yet, because the Founding Fathers did great things does not mean that there were great men, nor should they be idolized.

Jefferson and Washington owned slaves (lots of them). There's a lot to unpack in that one sentence, but thanks to "Hamilton: An American Musical," most know about the Sally Hemmings debacle.

Hamilton himself was a master of deception, a believer in big money and corporate domination, and believed that the government should focus on its military force; he was the one who encouraged Washington to march with an exorbitant number of soldiers to stop the Whiskey Rebellion.

There was one thing he was hesitant about: Democracy. He believed that power to stay in the aristocracy and that the "common people" were not to be trusted when it came to politics. He even wrote to Arron Burr that democracy was the country's "real Disease."

But, this is not the Alexander Hamilton many have come to know and love, thanks to Lin-Manuel Miranda. He is portrayed as an immigrant that was able to rise above the ranks and become a powerful man in American politics. That isn't true. Hamilton lived in the Caribbean, and although he grew up in a tropical environment instead that of a city, he wasn't an immigrant. Both the Caribbean islands and the thirteen colonies were under British jurisdiction, so instead of immigrating to America, Hamilton's journey was more like changing states. He also was never in extreme poverty, and although both his mother and father died, it was recorded that he had a black servant named Ajax, signaling his wealth.

Not very revolutionary, is it?

Yet, to gain public appreciation, that is how the biography and the musical portray Alexander Hamilton. He was not an avid abolitionist; instead, he married into a family that built their wealth on the labor of enslaved peoples. He was not an immigrant. He wasn't poor. He did incredible amounts of work, but not to change his position in society. That he didn't have to work for.

However, that Hamilton is not the "Hamilton" that the American public needed in 2016, or the one it needs right now. They need someone who represents their views and their beliefs. They need someone that reflects them. And yet, while the Hamilton presented in the musical is not accurate, even though slaves are forgotten and overlooked and policy ignored, people still believe in that version of him.

History is always something that is fluid. There is no "real" or "right" narrative to history. There is inaccurate, sure, but there are two or more sides to every story. The "real" story is not European or white-dominated. The real story is every narrative that one can find, combined into one. Historians (and everyone else) need to make more of an effort to tell the story of all, to dig for the narrative of the unheard. To let the lions tell the story of the hunt, instead of the hunter.

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I'm A Millennial, But I'm Not Feelin' The Bern

I am not voting for Bernie Sanders. You shouldn't either.

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As a college student at a primarily liberal university, I am in the minority as a non-Bernie Sanders supporter. I don't oppose him in order to present myself as edgy or unconventional — and I'm sure as hell not a Donald Trump supporter — so please hear me out.

Sanders is a screaming example of a demagogue. In order to flourish into leadership, he is prepared to use the emotions and fears of the people. By aligning himself as synonymous with a chance at life-long security for the American people, I believe he will be letting down his supporters — as well as the rest of the country — if he does assume the title of commander in chief in early 2021. America deserves a leader that can accurately prioritize the issues within our country and can produce a platform for the American Dream to thrive on.

I am not the kind of student to fabricate empty claims though, so following is my reasoning for my lack of support for Senator Bernie Sanders.

Taxation, taxation, taxation

Sanders went through a large portion of his 2016 campaign without producing the numbers, nor the plans, he claimed to have compiled. When he finally did, my jaw dropped. And as I looked around, students and professionals alike were having a different reaction. "It takes money to make money," they told me.

Stop. Right. There.

America is over $20 trillion dollars in debt. Upon extensive research directly from Sanders' website (to prevent outside bias and propaganda), there is $9,028,250,000 worth of expenses being proposed just in his first five years — and that number doesn't even include the proposed increase in estate tax and payroll tax. This $9,028,250,000 isn't coming from just anywhere; it is coming directly from the taxpayers. Many supporters of the senator think the only people who will be influenced tax-wise will be the top one percent, but boy, do I have news for you. No matter what your income is, you will be affected.

Followed is the tax information compiled from Sanders' proposed policies, compiled by Vox. It shows that, based on your income, you will have at least an 8.8 percent increase, with those at the higher end of income expecting an increase of 33.8 percent. Let me tell you one thing — that is a lot of money. You're the one who earned it, yet you will not be the one deciding how it is spent. Sound "fair?" Not in my opinion.

Vox

Wait! We want more!

But don't worry, Sanders is here on behalf of the government to save you. Let's implement a minimum wage at starting at $15 an hour (even though the senator pays his interns a starting wage of $12 an hour) and ignore inflation — because if you've never opened an economics textbook, it doesn't affect you. First, there needs to be a clarification of who is affected by the minimum wage. According to Pew Research Center, only 4.3 percent of workers are currently being paid minimum wage. Fifty percent of those are under the age of 25, with a majority of those also being students. Minimum wage is intended for people with minimum skills, such as students in trade schools or universities or employees attempting to work their way up within a company. Minimum wage is not intended to be a living wage.

In addition, minimum wage should not be under federal jurisdiction to this extreme degree. Cities such as Washington, D.C., and Seattle have much higher minimum wages than the national minimum wage of $7.25, but that is not because they are harder workers. It is based on the price of living in those cities, which is much higher than in rural areas. The states can handle their minimum wage without mediation by the federal government because no one knows what is better for a state than the state itself.

Socialism is the answer, right?

This is a humongous concern to be had with millennials — we seem to have forgotten about the Red Scare. The Red Scare, for those of you who are not aware, happened in the early 1950s and was the fear of communism or radical leftism. Socialism is radical leftism. Now that that's out of the way, we can address another issue. Socialism does not work. Democratic socialism does not work. Yes, there are places that are fiercely different than the melting pot of the United States that have introduced socialism. They have government assistance programs in which they can receive free education and free healthcare, but they are not comparable to our diverse nation. The Denmark discussion is my favorite because the differences between our country and theirs are astounding.

First and foremost, we have more than 55 times as many citizens on a piece of land more than 200 times the size. If the problem was just based on size alone, there would be a possibility of success with the right means of control through technology. But a much more important issue is that Denmark has people who are very similar religiously (with over 80 percent of citizens being Lutheran), hence holding similar morals. It is simply not possible to promise "fairness" to Americans when, due to our distinctive differences in culture, there is a moral difference in what fair means. Beyond our model country of Denmark, socialism, as well as the more extreme of communism, have proved not to work. Just ask the citizens in places such as Russia, Venezuela, Cuba, and China. They'll give you the lowdown — it doesn't work. And life for them sucks now.

Equality of effort vs. equality of outcome

My biggest concern with Sanders is the destruction of the entrepreneur spirit. When a government implements the idea of fairness as a right, people begin to forget about individualism. Individualism is what the American Dream is based on. People came to America to have a life better than what their home country could offer them. The United States provided the opportunity to throw away any biases that come with your country and start from the beginning. With hard work and time well spent, anyone can become and achieve anything they want to.

With the introduction of socialism, the American Dream begins to deteriorate, and soon thereafter is extinguished. People can come here, automatically get all of their needs for free, while the hardworking Americans who believe in the American Dream continue to pay for it. Reference Russia, for example: the state provides access to most educaiton, millions of Russians still live in poverty. It will continue to be the "we want more, more, more" philosophy — and there is not an end in sight.

The character of our nation was founded on capitalism

We are blessed to have a home that men, women, and children can come to and have the chance to succeed at the American Dream. With the implementation of democratic socialism, we are taking away that opportunity. People come to America in order to get away from the downfalls of their country. We want to grow our country to present more possibilities for all current and future citizens.

A vote for Bernie is a vote against the American Dream.

Cover Image Credit: Flickr

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To The Generation That Might Not Care, A Green New Deal Is Crucial

Take care of our planet and our future.

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The reality of climate change and method to address the issue has been a source of contention in the United States for far too long. While Republicans trail behind Democrats a great deal in the percentage who believe long-term, irreversible climate change is a real problem, an equally if not more important gap to acknowledge is that between generations.

A universally taught science concept in elementary school is the difference between weather and climate. Weather is the day-to-day condition of the atmosphere — rainy, sunny, etc. Climate is the weather of a particular geographic location over a long period of time. The weather in an area may be snowy on a particular January day but might overall have a warm climate (Trump has yet to learn this concept).

The gap between generational support for not only believing in the reality of climate change but if the government should take steps to prevent further harm on our planet is apparent. A few reasons that older generations may not support aggressive climate change policies are that many are not going to see the lasting impact of their harmful actions, may not want to acknowledge that their way of life for a majority of their life was detrimental to the environment, or that they simply do not think it is the government's role to further regulate current practices and lifestyles in the name of the environment (an argument supported by many conservatives).

Data For Progress

The "Green New Deal," proposed earlier this month by Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Edward Markey is mainly a list of ideas and goals rather than a carefully laid-out plan, though aims to eliminate greenhouse emissions through the creation of millions of jobs in the renewable energy industry, moving toward public ownership (a major source of disagreement among Republicans and Democrats), and much more. This plan is a comprehensive overview of many sources of environmental degradation that our nation has not addressed, despite the majority of the nation believing the climate change is a real issue.

There will undoubtedly be a major shift in the operations of many companies due to aggressive climate change policies, which could have been avoided at a drastic level if our nation had chosen to make climate change prevention a priority. Unfortunately, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, global temperatures will rise to an irreversible level in 12 years if the United States and other countries that greatly contribute to rising temperatures do not take action. A sense of urgency has been lacking for far too long is crucial.

Written into the recently proposed Green New Deal is a section detailing how it will attempt to remedy the inequality of those most directly impacted by climate change. Vulnerable communities, particularly communities of color, are not seeing an equitable distribution in disaster funding to prevent damage inflicted by the increasing frequency and intensity of natural disasters that have resulted as an increase in rising global temperatures — Which, regardless of your age, should be a glaring flaw in our current system.

I personally doubt that the entirety of the recently proposed Green New Deal will be enacted, however, I believe that anyone who values the quality of human life, clean air, clean water, food sources, for not just those in the United States, but around the world, should be supportive of a Green New Deal.

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