By Steven Espinosa , Senior
When I look back and think about the 2016 race so far, I realize that there were actually some things that I, as well as many Republicans with at least some sense of reality, appreciated about Jeb Bush’s campaign. Let’s be clear: I still think it was the most unprepared, awkward, tacky, and cringe-worthy campaign on either side of the aisle this season, primarily because “Jeb!’s” absence from politics in the past eight years caused him to miss out from key movements that shape today’s Republican Party, especially the Tea Party Movement. However, now that he’s gone, I realize that his campaign was the best at denouncing Donald Trump’s dangerous xenophobic rhetoric and explaining what a real conservative solution to the problems faced by everyday Americans looks like.
But it’s clear that none of this matters to the base of the Grand Old Party in 2016. Jeb’s loss is a serious case of “it’s not you, it’s me”: It’s not him that’s the problem, but it’s the electorate that has drifted further and further to the right. The three serious contenders in the race right now--Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz--are all anti-establishment, anti-immigration, radical conservatives that want to seriously shake up the way that Washington is run. Meanwhile, Jeb Bush couldn’t run from his last name, and his moderate stance on issues like immigration only made him look weak. As a result, he was forced to drop out because he relied on a pre-Obama GOP base, which in today’s polls seems to have only made up about 6% of the electorate.
With Jeb Bush’s departure from the 2016 primaries as a turning point for the identity of the Republican Party, the GOP is officially in shambles--it is dead, and the media is feeding on its remains. With Donald Trump winning the past three GOP primaries and Ted Cruz winning the first caucus back in Iowa, the Republican Party is going to have to answer real questions about what it stands for as it goes into the general election. Are they still serious about deporting 11 million men, women, and children? Is “foreign policy” going to be synonymous with “carpet bombing”? And most importantly for them, how will they build a coalition of minority voters, which they acknowledge is necessary for winning the general election come November?
Even though my outlook for the future of American politics is already grim--which sucks terribly, because I’m only 18 and this is my first election year--there is also some hope in all of this madness. Maybe the most important part of Jeb Bush’s departure on Saturday is how it showed that big money in politics doesn’t necessarily correlate with buying elections, a major theme that is found in both Donald Trump’s and Bernie Sanders’ campaigns for president. As this interesting New York Times article outlines, Jeb Bush had raised $130 million from all sorts of special interests and donations, and spent it all on a variety of costs, including positive advertising ($84 million) and political consultants ($10 million). This sum of money is far more than any of the other candidates running for the Republican nomination right now, but it clearly made little to no impact on Jeb Bush’s campaign. Maybe this foreshadows a day when the massive corporate influence in U.S. elections might just come to an end.
By Steven Espinosa, Senior
Anyone who has sat in any of Ms. Keller’s English classes should know of the great American author and satirist Mark Twain (and if you haven’t yet, then you probably will soon). In his Chapters from My Autobiography, Twain popularized a famous quote from a 19th century British Prime Minister, and it reads: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”
Sure enough, Mr. Twain was right. Were he alive today, he would have witnessed how everyone assumed for a long time that Hillary Clinton would be quick to grasp–no, steal–the Democratic nomination, only because everyone can’t keep their eyes off the statistics. The money raised by her (sketchy) super PACs, her years in our nation’s (corrupt) capital, her (debatable) foreign policy positions and previous actions: The resumé goes on and on, and it is undoubtedly impressive. It injects hope into the electorate that our next president does not have to be an “outsider” with no experience. It makes it a no-brainer for the Democratic Party establishment, which explains why the Democratic Party has had much fewer debates when compared to the number of debates held by the GOP. It reveals a candidate that is more than ready to go on with Washington as usual.
And that is exactly the problem for my generation.
We are the generation of Bernie Sanders and, as much as I hate to admit it, Donald Trump. We are tired of Washington as usual–we want authenticity. Social media, combined with the issues we learn in our classrooms and discuss with our friends and family, has forced us to recognize from early on that Washington as usual sucks. Washington as usual is why Barack Obama hailed immigrants as our valuable neighbors on his last State of the Union, even though his administration was ready to deport undocumented immigrants (specifically, Hispanics) on Christmas Day. Washington as usual is why Hillary Clinton took f-o-r-e-v-e-r to finally speak out against the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the continued construction of the Keystone pipeline. And, we, my generation, have seen that this isn’t cool. Washington as usual has made us believe that Washington, a city founded in the spirit of republican values and justice, is really some dark, ominous cave with puppets controlled by lobbyists and special interests. This preconceived notion has made us more likely to say that the government works more for the richest than so for the rest of us. And, mind you, this isn’t just an opinion held by young Democrats like myself: My Republican friends also agree. The corrupt environment in Washington today makes us feel powerless.
But out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope: and it was an old white guy from Vermont all along.
I will never forget when an employee from my internship last year and I first talked about Sanders, and I muttered the words that the right-wing media begged me to say: “That dude’s way too radical. He’s a socialist!” But as time has passed and we’ve become more and more acquainted with the Angry Old Grandfather From Burlington, Vermont, I’ve come to realize that he’s the only one right now that represents my not-so-radical interests. I want someone who will stand up to corruption in Washington and end it, not someone who points the finger at 9/11 for her cuddly relationship with Wall Street lobbyists. I want someone who will take climate change as a serious threat to our national security, not someone who simply addresses it and makes empty promises. And, as a gay young adult, I want someone whom I know has stood up for my rights way before the mainstream, not someone who changed her position on same-sex marriage only less than three years ago.
There are still some proposals of Sanders that I question, like the effectiveness of a 15-dollar federal minimum wage and its real impact on businesses and middle-class families like mine. In fact, positions like these that seem a little too leftist are why I stood by Hillary for such a long time. However, I’ve finally acknowledged that Bernie is a once-in-a-lifetime voice, a sincere voice that isn’t bound by the chains of millionaires and billionaires, a voice that I must lend my ears to in this crucial election year. We need Bernie.
I want to end this by urging my fellow Sanders supporters to remember Mark Twain when looking at the recent opinion polls from Iowa and New Hampshire that show Bernie beating Hillary right now. We can’t jump to conclusions. We must only wait a bit longer to see how this will turn out.
Don’t get your hopes up just yet.
By Steven Espinosa, Senior
I will never forget where I was when I learned of the terrorist attacks in Paris. It was the night of November 13th, and I was on my way home from internship. The train had just arrived at my stop on the Metrorail, and while waiting for my sister to pick me up, I opened up my Twitter feed only to read of hostages being taken at a concert venue, the Bataclan, during an Eagles of Death Metal show. Rather selfishly, I instantly thought of the last time I went to a concert and wondered just how I would save myself from being murdered by monsters of darkness. My hands began to sweat, and my face started to feel warm. Would I have jumped over the barricade and ran to the back of the stage? Or would I have just played dead and hope for the best on the floor? Would I have made it?
I was not alone in thinking such dreadful horrors. In the coming days after Paris, anxiety plagued the people of France–let alone the entire Western world–and Marine Le Pen, president of France’s far-right, anti-immigration, anti-Muslim party, the National Front, saw a sharp rise in popularity because she tapped into people’s fears by using the attacks in Paris as a call for hate. In the United States, our very own media-created fascist, Donald Trump, and those from the rest of his twisted party carried out the same political tactics by using these attacks as evidence for tightening our own borders and stopping the flow of Syrian refugees into our country, even though not a single refugee from Syria that we’ve taken since the turmoil unfolded there has been responsible for any act of domestic terrorism.
So it was only obvious that the same use of fake logic and low rhetoric would once again keep me disgusted after the attacks on San Bernardino. However, an impromptu message from the White House from President Obama in his Oval Office made me feel: “Finally! Something that will finally make me think!”
And I watched his speech. And I nodded my head a couple of times. And I shook my head a couple of times. And then it was over.
I’m not sure about what the rest of the country was expecting, but I am sure I got what I wanted: A calm, clear conversation with Obama about what we’re already doing in the Middle East to fight ISIL (whom the attackers in San Bernardino were inspired by) and a call for “common-sense” bills on gun control, like keeping those on no-fly lists from obtaining a gun, which every Republican senator voted against.
It wasn’t meant to be a “hot” or “sexy” news story, unlike Donald Trump’s call for the end of gun-free zones or a total ban on the immigration of Muslims a few days later, the latter of which the media quickly jumped at like dogs playing fetch. It was meant to be a promise of security to reassure the public that we can be safe and free without turning our backs on our Muslim friends. And the fact that I feel like Trump’s call for fear was more well-received than Obama’s call for reason deeply worries me about the future of our country. Is this really where we stand? Is this really where we’re going?
My thoughts on Trump have changed a bit since last time I wrote on this newsletter. He is not just a celebrity anymore. He is not just a comedian. He is not just a privileged white guy with a God complex.
We need to start calling him out for what he really is: a fascist with no regard for democracy, freedom, and our Constitution.
By Steven Espinosa
Once again, I spent–no, wasted–my time on hearing Donald Trump speak in hopes that he would actually say something logical and meaningful. I once again hoped that he, as the leading Republican candidate in the polls, would prove to everyone that he is not just a racist and arrogant brute with nice hair and lots and lots of money, but a brute with real, solid “ideas” that strive to “Make America Great Again.” Instead, I threw away my Friday night at his rally in Doral listening to the immigrant Hispanic population targeted, again, as threats to the jobs that White Americans rightly deserve, because they have the power in this country and they should never let the brown/Black/Asian/“insert-minority-here” people take it away from them; watching the crowd rally in support of a “build-a-wall” mentality that has also grown to a dangerous “take-their-oil” and “let-Russia-deal-with-it” outlook; and questioning the possibility of a government that is literally run by a billionaire who claims to fight against the very class of people of which he is a part, yet proposes a tax plan that saves him from paying millions of dollars each year, as an article from CNN Money acknowledges.
At times, it was just plain weird, like when he tried to suggest that he was God because he predicted 9/11 before it happened (We get it: You’re trying to appeal to the Evangelicals. You made it clear when you said you loved, loved, loved the Bible!)
But overall, the rally was very exciting and captivating. The crowd interaction during the show was phenomenal–more than any other band I’ve seen in my entire life! His rhetorical stunts? Fascinating! And let’s not even start to talk about his mockery of Ben Carson, which almost brought me to tears! This was the best concert/circus/comedy night I’ve ever attended.
9 out of 10 for the white elephant, a show I would recommend.
Regardless of my feelings about Donald Trump, I went to his rally for a simple reason: It was cool.