Experiences Abroad

Update on Life in Berlin in Winter

A week ago I wrote on my running site that I was going to post to my “other” (this) blog soon. A week is still “soon,” right? So much for posting about life in general. I guess  I’m too busy living it to write about it much. But let it be said, things are mostly good and Berlin is cold and gray, but still a lot of fun.

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Things I did recently worth writing about:

  • I visited a national Turnkunst exhibition. Turnen is a sport similar to gymnastics, but while we associate gymnastics in the US with girls, it used to be a “bro” sport in Europe and involved the typical bro culture. In Germany especially, Turnen fraternities were largely responsible for the mobilization that lead the to the (failed) 1848 revolution to get Germany to unite from all its little kingdoms and townships. Going there introduced me to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
  • I also visited the International Grune Woche: basically a convention for world produce, agriculture, bee culture, farm culture, rock gardens, nutrition…, I think you get the idea. I was impressed by a device exhibited that’s supposed to determine the sex of the chicken in an egg while it’s still an eg. This device would help prevent waiting for the egg to hatch before killing the chicken if it’s a male. I was also excited about all kinds of free samples and thought it was neat to be in Berlin’s convention center for the first time. It was pretty cool!
  • Finally, I most recently  (as mentioned in my running log) traveled with my brother to Lower-Saxony and had a skiing vacation in mountains of the Harz national park. It’s so beautiful there… and has a reputation for its deli specialties and witch motif. Apparently, witches celebrate Walpurgis Night (featured in Goethe’s Faust as well as re-imagined in Joyce’s Ulysses) on the Brocken, the highest mountain in the Harz, and the theme is carried out in all the shops, restaurants and hotels- partially for the sake of tourists, but also an homage to this history and it’s suitable for the region. Wandering around the quaint German town (I had forgotten about the German architectural stereotypes living in Berlin now) after dark was a bit exhilarating.

Looking forward, the Berlinale, Berlin’s International Film Fest is currently in its 67th rendtion, and I am actually willingly leaving my flat on weekends to participate. I’ve opted for only one day of the weekends, not both, and I’ve limited myself to watching 5 of the many, many options. I’ve never participated in a media event of this magnitude before. I guess living in Berlin does have it’s perks!

And it’s not all gray.

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p.s. I continue to follow the news in the US with great interest.

US civic duty while across the pond 

This isn’t going to be a last-minute candidate support post. Really. I’m actually only interested in basic politics and promoting the basic rights we citizens of the US have as a part of  a democracy. I’m here to remind you to go out and make democracy count… and I guess that means I don’t care who you vote for–just go and vote. 

I’m sure no one has forgotten about the culmination of one of the craziest campaigns in my living memory… and from what I’ve heard, perhaps of all time: Election Day: November 8th 2016. It’s here! 

I definitely haven’t forgotten. In fact, I’ve been reminded about it since coming back to Germany. All people want to talk about lately is “what do you [as the American] think about the election?” I’ve also had to plan for this election differently because of my status of being absentee. 

On my way home from work yesterday, where I finally managed to fax my ballot, I thought about the pros and cons of absentee voting. Pros: don’t have to wait in line for possibly a long time, being stuck accidentally talking to people I’ve never met before and may not meet again, even if we do live in the same district, or being stuck trying ignore them for (possibly) several hours. Cons: Maybe I would have gotten to have interesting conversations while on line. I don’t get an “I’ve voted” sticker. I also got stuck with the  logistics of requesting a ballot in time (30 days in most states), receiving that ballot, filling it out and sending it back, paying at least postage fees if not faxing charges.

 But I didn’t really have a choice so…

I was able to request my absentee ballot per decent length application per email, and received it per email. I did have to mail a hard copy of my request for it to be counted, and I wasn’t allowed to email my ballot either. Still, I could send in my ballot in time, even if my email did get caught up in the junkmail folder and I only found out I had it Sunday. At least I didn’t have to give up my right to a secret ballot. At least I found a fax machine I was gracefully allowed by my interested coworkers to use for free. Everything went well, and if I could manage to get it done, you probably can, too. 

Asides from that, I think the term absentee is interesting. It implies that I’m absent from the place and situation I should be. I really should be in the US right now (and it would make following the post-poll closure coverage a lot easier!), but I’m here, and luckily, due to the conflation of space with modern technologies, I’m not totally absent. I voted, I’m going to find people to watch the results with, and overall, I am invested in the fate of my country. 

 Of course, since I plan to be here at least two more years, some people may say that I won’t be immediately affected by the outcome of this election… but those people are unaware of the extent to which we are globalized. I’m sorry to say, there’s a reason the election is being covered so closely here in Germany. It’s not just because of the fact that the US is already kind of great. It’s because diplomatic relations are important in a world where “isolation” doesn’t exist and German leaders will maybe have some trouble with whomever may win. This is true of most of the world, and I hope that’s not ethnocentric thinking,  but I really do think the outcome of this election will have ramifications for international diplomacy, and of course the global stock market. 

I guess I just have to wait and see with the rest of the US citizens. 

Just know, you can’t complain about the election if you don’t even take part. 

Also, no matter what candidate wins, we still need to have serious talks about the state of the US.

But finally, just for fun: Key of Awesome parody (you don’t have to click if you don’t want to!)

Halloween Happenings in Berlin

I posted something about Halloween in Germany a long time ago (two years ago, actually), but this time the foreignness of the idea isn’t getting to me as much. I’ve accepted that Germany has accepted most of the US’s commercial holidays, including St. Patty’s Day and St. Valentine’s Day, so I just appreciate what I do see.

If I’m not mistaken, the Germans do have a Thanksgiving- even if it’s called “Harvest Thank Fest (Erntedankfest)” and even if it is closer to the harvest time in early October (Oct. 2nd, I believe).– I write “not mistaken” and “I believe” as though I don’t have internet and Google. I do. In fact, I just spent a ridiculous amount of time playing Google’s Halloween game. I can confirm that the above statements are true. —

In other news, I still find daily incentives to just get out and about the city by bike, if possible. The Allied Forces Museum is actually on the route to one of my University’s campuses. It’s almost right across from the US Consulate, where I may or may not have recently asked whether I could just vote at the US Embassy in center Berlin if I don’t get my absentee ballot on time.

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Here’s a photo from Platz der Luftbrücke. If you don’t know about the  Berliner Luftbrücke, or Airlift, I invite you to look it up.

This museum is in former west Berlin. The actual airport where the planes (like the one above) landed is much further in the east. I happened to walk by there today on my way home from a race.

The museum is one I really want to visit, as well as the Museum of Communications. Seeing as I’m doing my doctorate with media studies, I should inform myself about them as much as I can.

Today, it’s finally sunny after weeks of dreary clouds in Berlin. I spent all morning appreciating the sun, but now have to sit at my desk and work. At least the sun is gone now at 5 p.m. (Daylight Savings ended here!), so I feel less guilty.

Otherwise, life is pretty okay.

 

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I love this monument to freedom after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Makes me happy just to be able to see it on my commute.

I have one positive and one negative thing to say about living in Germany, or in Berlin:

(negative first, to get it over with): insurance laws are confusing as f***. Then again, they are in the US too, so can’t complain too much.

positive: the public transportation is such a huge quality-of-life booster. If I don’t have to get somewhere at a certain time, I can always get lost and find another way back to where I need to go. One transportation line always crosses with a line I’ll recognize, so I’m never lost for long. Of course, when I do have to be somewhere by a certain time… well, let’s just say I always need to plan a bit extra.

Hope everyone has a great week! Happy Halloween, tomorrow! I may not be dressing up, but I have my orange black cat socks I’ll be wearing.

German-American Day 2016

As citizens, we celebrate our national holidays and heritage. As people of a faith and/or culture, we celebrate our religious holidays. However, how many days do we take to celebrate cooperation between nations? Are we capable of realizing ourselves as planetary citizens, and celebrating that together? The only other holidays I can think of that are shared by more than one country are remembrance days. One has memorial days for the soldiers and civilians who died in World War One and Two, or other memorial days for when people do horrible things to one another. However, where are the days where we celebrate the positive interactions between nations? They are there, we just don’t know a lot about them.

For example, German-America Day has been in effect since former President Reagan signed Resolution 109 for it in 1987. How many Germans know about it? Even less US Americans seems to know, and yet it’s been faithfully celebrated on or around Oct. 6th for 29 years, now. The Federation of German American Clubs has a lot to do with this, and I am grateful to have participated in this weekends event in München, perhaps one of the most “German” of all cities.

When I got to München Hauptbahnhof (main train station), I was presented with a site of trains, Brezn (Bayrisch for pretzels), and Trachten (traditional Bavarian clothing). Finding the city that hosts a lot of Germany and the world for Oktoberfest (fun fact: Octoberfest is over by the first week of October), this came as no surprise. What continues to surprise me though, is that this is the image people have of Germany. Raised by a north German and spending almost all my time when in Germany in the north, I think of many other things when I think of this country.  However, of course my perspective comes from the fact that I have more experiences and encounters than Munich train station and Wies’n.

Still, my view of Germany would also not be complete without having been to this beautiful city. I can count the previous number of hours I’ve spent in München on my fingers and toes. I’d only once spent the night here, and that was this past summer. This time, I was spending two nights in the city. They were full days.

I was lucky to have been invited by the VDAC (Verband der Deutsch-Amerikanischen Clubs, Federation of German-American Clubs) to be a part of the orientation seminar for US students who had just come to start their exchange year in various universities throughout Germany, and the return seminar for all the German students who had just come from a year in the US.

Long readers of my blog will remember that I started this blog to report on my experiences in Germany while an exchange student. Now, I happen to be pursuing my PhD independently of the VDAC in Berlin, but that does not mean I am not still involved with them, and in many ways I can be grateful for their support, past and present. Visiting the seminar this weekend was an attempt to give back a bit, provide my experiences and advice as a US alumni of the program, but somehow, they managed to spoil me again. I leave again in the debt of having free room and board, and a great cultural and political program provided. In a desperate attempt to show my gratitude, I turned down the offer to reimburse the travel costs.  I just have to remind myself that while members of the VDAC are well to do, they work hard for the money to host 40+ students for these seminars, not to mention the scholarships themselves. I can’t contribute generous paychecks, but I can be generous with my time and with the money I would have spent anyway to spend a good time in Munich.

I mentioned a great cultural program… and opera fans will be jealous to know I got a behind-the-scenes look in the Staatsoper, home turf of the ridiculously good-looking Jonas Kaufmann. I also got to sit in the old Ratshaus, or town hall, and drink a good Dunkles in a Bavarian Brauhaus. Of course, there were the seminar sittings where new and returned exchange students talked about cultural differences (post to come out about that soon!), differences between colleges experiences in Germany and the US, and first impressions/practical tips. I like to think that as the only US kid having gone through the VDAC there, other than the guy coordinating the whole thing (his experience lies a few years back), I had some good advice to give, but the German students reminded me that there are some things about the system I still have to learn. Still, I’ll repeat a bit of what I said in future post as well.

Then there was the main event of the weekend, celebrating German-American Day 2016. Short story, a bunch of speeches were given, national anthems sung, returning students given certificates of having gone through the program and in honor of supporting cultural change, a very prestigious medal awarded to an important facilitator of German-US relations, musical interludes, and a reception with drinks and some of the best mini-wraps I’ve ever had. Long story- the speeches were incredibly well-given and thought provoking, and I had more fun at the reception than I would have thought.

The most memorable quote of the evening for me was that memory and gratitude cannot always sit at the same table as politics (loose translation of Friedrich Merz, recipient of the Medal). The history of Germany and the U.S. , especially after WWII, is filled with a lot of reasons for the Germans to be grateful to the US. However, current politics cannot always be driven by this thankfullness. Just like the British settlers were once grateful to their British forefathers for making travels to the “New Land” possible, they also learned to come into their own in relations with the Brits. A friendship should always be shared by equal partners, and in the case of the US and Germany, they are constantly figuring this out for themselves. But it’s good, and that’s why dialogue is so important and it’s good to see it successfully being carried out through events like these.

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This is me in front of the famous Neues Ratshaus, or new Town Hall. You can see St. Peter’s bell towers of the Frauenkirche in the background.

I hope to be able to attend the next year’s events, which will be the 30th anniversary of the first German-American Day of October 6, 1987.

Berlin adventures in October so far

[…] Before you go to sleep,
Say a little prayer,
Every day
In every way,
It’s getting better and better,

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful,
Beautiful boy,

Out on the ocean sailing away,
I can hardly wait
To see you to come of age,
But I guess we’ll both
Just have to be patient,

‘Cause it’s a long way to go,
A hard row to hoe
Yes, it’s a long way to go
But in the meantime,

Before you cross the street,
Take my hand,
Life is what happens to you,
While you’re busy making other plans […]

First of all, I’m my mother’s daughter and a Lennon fan. This song has been running through my head recently. It makes me sad that he sings “I can hardly wait/ To see you come of age”; but “Life is what happens to you,/ while you’re busy making other plans” is my current mantra.

It’s gotten to the point where I make lists of what I want to blog about, and transfer these from week to week in my planner.

On the one hand, I’ve been unusually flexible. I’ve been more giving in my time and energy, and I haven’t said “no” to every opportunity to go out, meet someone, step-a bit outside my comfort zone. On the other hand, I like my routines for a reason- they help me get things done.

Still, I went on a few adventures since my last outing to the Brandenburg Gate on German Unity Day.

First, there’s the trip to Munich that deserves (and will get) it’s own special post.

Then, there’s the Festival of Lights that I almost would have missed if it hadn’t been for the US VDAC exchange student who is currently living in Potsdam, a city just outside of Berlin. He and I met one day after work, and just wandered around. Then, I saw Potsdamer Platz lit up by projected lights, dynamic and fascinating, giving a review of 20th century German history. Then, we wandered over to the Brandenburg Gate, and I was in awe at the science and art of the light display. Berlin is famous for this yearly event, and this year the city celebrated its tenth anniversary of hosting hundreds of thousands of people to see the architecture brought to special life. Being a part of this event gave me another reason to love this city.

I also went on an outing to the Maybachufer, one of Berlin’s most famous Turkish markets, and then on a walk where I saw bits of Berlin I normally don’t see (since it’s more in the east and a 45 minute public transportation trip).

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Germany is becoming more and more of an atheistic society, but its churches will always be reminders of bygone eras, and the protestant religion is still a cited part of the Berlin culture

Coincidentally, (almost all) stores are closed on Sundays in Germany. Perhaps an unnecessary remnant of holy Sundays (and more and more stores are open a few hours on Sunday), but I actually like not having the option of running errands on Sundays. It forces me to get done what I need to before Sunday, and leaves me one day a week for pure relaxation. However, there are a few (8) days in the year where Berlin stores are legally allowed to be open. These days are chosen by the Berlin senate and usually coincide with another special event in the city, in this case, it was the Festival of Lights.

Jedes Jahr bestimmt der Berliner Senat acht feste Termine, an denen alle Geschäfte in Berlin an einem Sonntag ihre Türen öffnen dürfen. Teilnehmende Läden und Einkaufscenter können an den verkaufsoffenen Sonntagen freiwillig von 13 bis 20 Uhr öffnen. Grund für die Sonntagsöffnungen sind in Berlin stattfindende Events bzw. Anlässe.

I didn’t participate in Verkaufsoffener Sonntag on Oct. 16th. It was  the first day in about two weeks where I didn’t have to be anywhere or do anything for anyone other than myself, and I stayed at home all day. Why ruin a perfectly good Sunday to do what I could do any other day of the week?

My most recent adventures involve school. I’ve still been working my part time job, but more importantly, I got my school enrollment papers! And the uni started. Nothing like fall rain to get you out early on a school day. Just kidding. I’ll ride my bike through anything but a steady rain.

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These sights get me out the door, though.

So that’s been life. It happened while I was busy making other plans, but at least it happened well.

Happy (German) Unity Day

This morning, I had the unique experience of telling a German why the store he was looking to get into was closed today. After all, isn’t today Monday? Why yes, and tomorrow is Tuesday. It also happens to be one of Germany’s national holidays- celebrating Germany’s reunification 27 years ago.

How odd was my experience, you ask? It would be like telling a US American about the 4th of July. To be fair, the man probably didn’t grow up with the holiday. While many countries celebrate a national holiday at least 100 years old, Germany has the 3rd of October, 1990 that it commemorates. On this day, 26 years ago, Germany was officially one country again.

Now, many people think that German Unity Day is the day the Berlin Wall fell. It isn’t. The Berlin Wall actually fell on November 9th, 1989. While it may make sense to commemorate the fall of the Wall, making November 9th a national holiday would be celebrating the birth of Germany as a “republic” in 1918, Hitler’s failed putsch in Munich, but also the Reichspogromnacht- otherwise known as Kristallnacht, or Night of the Broken Glass. While a Germany history test could get pretty boring with this kind of line-up, the Germans felt it would be inappropriate to make the 9th of November a holiday, so it became October 3rd.

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Another weekend for Berliners to get annoyed at traffic.

While the holiday expressly celebrates unity, not reunification, the reunification of the BRD (Federal Republic of Germany) with the DDR (German Democratic Republic) after 41 years of political, social, and military separation lies at the center of the celebrations happening all over the country.

I don’t know how I missed posting about it two years ago, when I was in Germany for the first time on this day, but I didn’t want to miss out on it now. I even wandered into a street-festival, something I’m not a huge fan of–why do I want to get four Euro beer at a stand when I can get what I’ve stored in my fridge for less than a Euro?  But I did it. I’ll admit, the festival made for some unique shots of the Brandenburg Gate and TV tower.

 

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I was gratified that among the Berlin Burrito Bus, Kindle stands, and various carnival games, there was at least a stand (very fancy) hosted by the German Parliament with multiple touch screens showing quizzes to test one’s knowledge of the Bundestag (political body) and the Reichstag (the building where the Bundestag meets). I got 7/10. Better than the three German groups I saw go up before me.

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At least all those groups knew today was a holiday, as opposed to the poor man I met this morning. Still, it was nice to be the first to wish him a Happy German Unity Day/Frohen Tag der deutschen Einheit.

A little bit of democracy: Election Season

A few weeks ago, I participated in the Berlin elections. Because Berlin is a city-state, this election was the equivalent of a US state election. I had received my voters invitation in the mail back in August. In the meantime, I watched how the city became smothered in campaign posters, each more eye-catching than the last. Every few days, volunteers for the parties would hand out fliers and pens or free cloth shopping bags to lure people into considering their party. Perhaps, because one does a lot more moving around the city in Berlin, one sees a lot more people and posters. It also helps that Germany has a thriving multi-party system. Unlike the US, with its winner-gets-it-all system, Germany’s national and state parliaments  are made up proportionally by the number of votes a party gets. There are certain rules, like you have to get more than 5% of the vote to get in- a rule put in place since WWII that may have prevented the Nazis from getting into parliament in 1932. However, the system means that even if you don’t vote for the popular party, your vote isn’t wasted. Unfortunately, that’s how many voters in the US feel, which is why we can’t get out of our stupid Republican/Democrat binary.

It’s not all rainbows and unicorns in Germany either. Interestingly, German campaign posters almost always include a representative’s profile picture, as if how the person looks will affect if they are voted for (unfortunately, it kind of does work that way). There’s also a rising right-wing party that can actually get power in this country and white supremacists and nationalists get a voice again in a country where it shouldn’t happen again. In the name of democracy, we are supposed to let them have a voice too… so that’s also an issue.

However, the voting process itself was a neat process. Despite all the parties, it’s not as complicated as one imagines. In fact, the ballots are about just as long as in the US. The difference is that one doesn’t ignore everyone beyond the first two lines. Libertarians get considered, conservative nature lovers get considered, socialists exist and get considered… it’s a very diverse ballot for which citizens actually have to prepare themselves and inform themselves. That’s not to say that many people still don’t vote the two largest parties- Christian Democratic and Social Democratic, but these parties rarely get the majority of the vote at the state or national level, and that’s a good thing!

So, when I went to vote (and voting happens on Sunday in Germany, giving everyone- even people with 10-hour jobs- the chance to vote!), I parked my bike outside a historic music school, got in line with the other voters of my district, and pulled out a book. I had a bit of a wait, but soon enough I got to hand over y ID and voting invite for inspection, and then I was in a voting booth with my papers and a pen. I guess I was surprised that the ballots were not electronic, and I didn’t expect that I would be voting for my district representative as well. I was also amused that when voting for the representative, a little note of advice happens below the representative’s name saying: suggested vote: (insert representative’s party name here). I won’t say who or what part(ies) I voted for, but I will say that I was able to vote two different parties at the state and district level and feel good about it. I think that the German systems allows for more representation of all the different values a person can have… and I’m a happy voter in Germany. I can’t really say the same about the upcoming presidential election in the US.

Now starts a part of my post where I’m going to add my two cents to the discussion about those up for election in November. For those who have had enough of this, I understand if you don’t want to continue reading. For those mildly curious for what a 25 year old with degrees in literature has to say, I promise I’ve put thought into this post and I’m reasonable, someone who looks for compromise rather than antagonism.

Let me start off with a fun fact. I grew up in a bipartisan household. One parent carries a Republican voting card, the other a Democratic one. How does this work, you wonder? How can they have been married for more than 25 years? A lot of it has to do with the ability to find compromise, and that the basic values upheld by both my parents are the same.

One of my favorite philosophers is Kwame Anthony Appiah. I’ve written about him before in this blog, but his famous book Cosmopolitanism outlines what he believes should be a global philosophy: that we respect other people’s values and beliefs enough to listen to them and consider them. While the ability to communicate is inherent to this philosophy to work, I believe it is a good philosophy. Often, though, as I see in my own home, this communication often goes astray. One party has a harder time expressing why they do things or value things a certain way. There will always be one group who is louder, more articulate, or more logical. Still, as Appiah outlines in his chapter “The Primacy of Practice,”

Conversation doesn’t have to lead to consensus about anything, especially not values; it is enough that it helps people get used to one another.

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ve been engaging in conversation with me about Germans and US Americans. I try to share my observations about both countries, often working hard to keep my personal bias and upbringing out of it. I’ve never suggested that one country is the better of the two – such a vast generalization would be absurd, and I can only emphasize how Germans live and love living in the US and vice versa, without having to give up the cultural beliefs or habits they brought with them.

So, if the daily life of a person can be satisfactory, despite constant exposure to difference, why can’t we listen more to each other talking about politics? What happened to constructive debate?

Yes… of course I set up a segue to last night’s presidential debate, which I found less than satisfactory. Spectators are saying that Clinton won that debate, but only because she as able to keep her cool while Trump was revealed for being the incoherent, ill-prepared, narcissist he’s been for most of the campaign. Maybe this means Trump should not be head of state. Even if he supports the values of most Republicans, he’s not ready for the position. Can you imagine the state dinners with Trump at the head of the table? Do people really think the man knows how to be a diplomat? Money is power, and Trump has money. But he has none of the tact, intelligence, or basic human sympathy that we need in our political leaders.

So, that puts the US in an awful position, because while many Republicans of the US can’t vote Hillary Clinton out of principle inspired by their belief in honesty, good character, and following rules, they can’t vote Trump either. Many of these Republicans would also rather see the Republican Party in power, because even if it’s headed by Trump, at least their values will be represented. I understand their wishes for freedom, financial security, and less interference from government in their personal lives.

The funny thing is, I also understand the Democrat’s wish for security and less interference from government in their lives. After all, anti-abortion laws are government interference. Health-care and other “socialist” endeavors are endeavors for financial security for citizens of the US- that’s just addressing the obvious. There are many subtle ways in which the goals of all US Americans are the same- upholding basic human rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It’s how we practice these rights that changes.

In the end, democrats have to compromise with republicans and republicans with democrats, lobbyists put their hand in the pot, and we end up with pretty much the same measures, regardless of who is the main man or woman in charge. What we can choose, however, is the first representative of our country.

Now, I return to the beautiful multiparty system, and ask, why can’t the US get out of its stupid binary? Why is the presidential debate only held between two people? Let’s not forget, there’s the Libertarian Gary Johnson. There will be more than three names on the presidential ballot in November. There’s always the write-in possibility (but, that’s a bit of a misnomer, since the possibility is so small).

My final note will maybe satisfy what those of you who did continue reading were waiting to see: where do I stand? Well, out of my upbringing, education, and beliefs, I think it is my responsibility to help all groups in society have equal access to opportunity and resources. The US party I believe comes closest to supporting this endeavor is the democratic one. However, I struggle with voting Clinton. It is hard to deny that there is something wrong about using personal email servers for state business. Every employee is able to separate the private and professional email. Why couldn’t she? There must be something wrong in her character to do this, and then not want to open up her personal correspondences as well as state correspondence for scrutiny. Right? Well, maybe. Maybe not. Retired army officer M. Thomas Davis (former Republican voter, I’ll bet) wrote a column I personally find convincing, but know has received its share of backlash: “Don’t let Clinton emails dominate debates.”

From here on out, until the election, I’m going to try and leave previous bias against either runner behind, and consider what each of the candidates have to say in response to direct questions about policies, how they will handle national and international security, education and health care reforms, and climate change. I encourage you to do the same with the issues you find important.

Just saying. Those were my two cents.

Cheers,

Dorothea