Why You Need to Vote in Your State's Primary Election

Why You Need to Vote in Your State's Primary Election

The election before the election, and why it's important.
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If you’re mildly interested in politics, or have passed an eighth grade civics class, you know the basics of how an election works. Candidates announce that they are running for office, people vote in the primaries to get a nominee from each of the two major political parties, and then the real election takes place. The general public comes out to vote, everyone watches the major news network of their choosing, and news anchors eagerly await the opportunity to be the first to announce who the new President of the United States is. Election Day is the culmination of years of campaigning on each presidential hopeful’s part and months of Facebook ranting on your racist uncle’s part. Everyone gets so involved in the general election that it seems like it’s the only thing that matters.

Except that the general election is the very end of the road. There are plenty of steps along the way. The most important of these steps is the Presidential Primary election. In the primaries, for those who don’t know, each candidate that is competing for their respective party’s nomination is on the ballot. As of the time of this writing, there are five major candidates from the Democratic Party- the most prominent two being Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. The Republican Party has 17 candidates listed on major polls, with Donald Trump currently leading the polls ahead of candidates such as Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz. With so many different candidates running from so many different regions of the United States, no two candidates have the same view on every topic. Only one Democrat and one Republican can be selected, though. This is where the primary elections are crucial.

Many states, including New Jersey, require that a voter declare their party before voting in a primary election in order to prevent Republicans voting for weak Democratic candidates and vice-versa. This is a good thing. You should be voting for a candidate you can get behind, because that candidate might just be the next President of the United States. Voting in the primary election that your state holds is important, especially given the number of candidates running from each side. Think Bernie Sanders is the best hope this country has for getting back on track? If you’re a liberal college student who thinks that his plan to make college free is pretty nifty, or if you think he should be getting more attention for taking the time to reach out to #BlackLivesMatter activists to work on his reform policies, then you’d better get out to the voting booth and vote that way. Sanders can’t become President without getting the Democratic nomination, and he’s against the former Secretary of State and Democratic favorite, Hillary Clinton. Are you a Republican who thinks that the nonsense that Donald Trump wants to make into public policy will ruin the United States? Think his plan to build a wall along the US-Mexican border and make Mexico pay for it is ridiculous? Go out and vote for another candidate in the primaries, because he’s in the lead.

One of the most common complaints about the election season is that voters feel like they are forced to decide between the lesser of two evils. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. The primaries are a way to make sure that everyone can cast their vote to let the parties know, well, who they want to cast their vote for. If you’re not sure which candidate you should vote for, that’s OK! There are websites like www.isidewith.com that will let you take a questionnaire and match you with the candidates you most strongly agree with and allow you to compare your views with theirs. Not sure when your state holds its presidential primary? You’re in luck, because there are places like www.mytimetovote.com that can tell you just that. So what are you waiting for? Study up on what candidates resonate with you, and make sure you vote in the election before the election!

Cover Image Credit: http://www.nationofchange.org/occupy-voting-booth-thousands-march-protect-vote-1323789223

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An Open Letter to the Person Who Still Uses the "R Word"

Your negative associations are slowly poisoning the true meaning of an incredibly beautiful, exclusive word.
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What do you mean you didn't “mean it like that?" You said it.

People don't say things just for the hell of it. It has one definition. Merriam-Webster defines it as, "To be less advanced in mental, physical or social development than is usual for one's age."

So, when you were “retarded drunk" this past weekend, as you claim, were you diagnosed with a physical or mental disability?

When you called your friend “retarded," did you realize that you were actually falsely labeling them as handicapped?

Don't correct yourself with words like “stupid," “dumb," or “ignorant." when I call you out. Sharpen your vocabulary a little more and broaden your horizons, because I promise you that if people with disabilities could banish that word forever, they would.

Especially when people associate it with drunks, bad decisions, idiotic statements, their enemies and other meaningless issues. Oh trust me, they are way more than that.

I'm not quite sure if you have had your eyes opened as to what a disabled person is capable of, but let me go ahead and lay it out there for you. My best friend has Down Syndrome, and when I tell people that their initial reaction is, “Oh that is so nice of you! You are so selfless to hang out with her."

Well, thanks for the compliment, but she is a person. A living, breathing, normal girl who has feelings, friends, thousands of abilities, knowledge, and compassion out the wazoo.

She listens better than anyone I know, she gets more excited to see me than anyone I know, and she works harder at her hobbies, school, work, and sports than anyone I know. She attends a private school, is a member of the swim team, has won multiple events in the Special Olympics, is in the school choir, and could quite possibly be the most popular girl at her school!

So yes, I would love to take your compliment, but please realize that most people who are labeled as “disabled" are actually more “able" than normal people. I hang out with her because she is one of the people who has so effortlessly taught me simplicity, gratitude, strength, faith, passion, love, genuine happiness and so much more.

Speaking for the people who cannot defend themselves: choose a new word.

The trend has gone out of style, just like smoking cigarettes or not wearing your seat belt. It is poisonous, it is ignorant, and it is low class.

As I explained above, most people with disabilities are actually more capable than a normal human because of their advantageous ways of making peoples' days and unknowingly changing lives. Hang out with a handicapped person, even if it is just for a day. I can one hundred percent guarantee you will bite your tongue next time you go to use the term out of context.

Hopefully you at least think of my friend, who in my book is a hero, a champion and an overcomer. Don't use the “R Word". You are way too good for that. Stand up and correct someone today.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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Sorry People, But #BelieveWomen Is #UnAmerican

Presumption of innocence is a core American value

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There's a saying: "Lack of faith and blind faith - both are equally dangerous". Believing sexual assault accusers who are women just because they are women besides being the very definition of sexist - prejudice based on sex - is setting a harmful precedent on the way justice is served in this country. See, what this movement has done is changed justice from "prove guilt" to "prove innocence", an important and incredibly dangerous difference. Where is the due process that our Founding Fathers envisioned, fought, and died for?

Due process is an integral part of the reason why we have the United States of America. It was so important to our Founding Fathers that they included it in the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eight (the Bill of Rights), and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution. It galls me to see how privileged modern day feminists are - so privileged they seemingly forget the freedoms this country affords them, so they may live their life, expect liberty, and be unhindered in their pursuit of happiness.

#BelieveWomen is a vigilante movement - and with vigilante justice the innocent always hang with the guilty, one of the very reasons for due process. I've heard the argument it's better to let innocent men rot in jail than have rapist men walk free, an argument, despite being incredibly moronic and unAmerican, that would not be made if the accused was a man close to the woman's heart. Because with the change to "prove innocence", the assumption will be guilt, and a confirmation bias will be created. Whereas if the assumption is innocence, the jury must be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime has occurred. I understand that a high percentage of rape accusations are truthful (I believe the number is in the high 90s), but the small percentage that are not means we cannot, in good conscience, assume guilt. To assume would damn some men to a fate they do not deserve, a fate they would have to endure simply because of their sex. Any real feminist should be appalled at how sexism is implicitly encouraged in this movement.

If you choose to #BelieveWomen in spite of everything I outlined, that is your prerogative, but you must #BelieveAllWomen. If your father, husband, boyfriend, or son gets accused, you must #BelieveWomen and stand with their accuser. Any less and your feminist privilege will show. Vocal #MeToo activist Lena Dunham has already shown her privilege - accusing actress Aurora Perrineau of lying about being assaulted by her friend Murray Miller. When the going gets hard, feminists rarely stick to their principles. And sadly, feminism - and the double standards it always brings - rears its ugly head once again.

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