They Said It Far Better

I don’t really want to post endlessly about the US elections, they are over and done and we all need to accept the fact that Trump is President. A few days ago, I also posted about how annoyed I’ve been at the finger pointing and bickering in the wake of the US elections, putting forward my thoughts as to who this whole mess actually happened. Today I’ve watched a few back episodes of TYT and, I realized, I should have just posted one of their videos instead, as they are the professionals and they’ve explained what I was thinking far, far better than I.

 

If you don’t have 17 minutes to dedicate to political analysis, this parody video also sums up one of the core reasons Hillary lost in just a few seconds.

Let’s Play the Blame Game

America’s been shot through the heart. And who’s to blame?

OK enough of that.

Yesterday, I posted about how the people of various nationalities reacted to the news that Donald Trump is now the President. As of yesterday the sheer magnitude of that fact had not sunken in yet, as I proclaimed 2016 to be the most bizarre year of my lifetime, thus far. Today, as I take to Facebook and see how my American friends who live in the States are reacting, I can’t help but get slightly annoyed at the whole lot of them.

After the initial and completely understandable cries of shock, there immediately followed a squabbling of the sort barely fit for a second grade schoolyard.

Deport the Bernie Sanders supporters! It’s all their fault that people don’t like Hillary!

Those of you who voted third party are no longer my friends! Fuck you this is all your fault!

No, it’s the people who didn’t vote! It’s their fault! How could you not vote in such an important election!

It’s all old people’s fault! Young people voted Blue! Fuck old people!

No, it’s young people’s fault, for not having voted more!

How dare you care about principles? Being principled is being privileged! It’s the hipsters’ fault!

Stop talking about Bernie Sanders! Us moderate Republicans who never wanted Trump in the first place are going to rally to him now if all you talk about is a Commie who promises free stuff for everyone!

People. Enough.

Yes, Trump being President is a scary reality that few people anywhere thought could ever have been possible. But now it is a reality, and this squabbling will get us nowhere. Do you know what else is a reality? There is a giant portion of the country which is outraged, and wants to make sure that Trump is not able to enact his vile, hateful policies and campaign promises, destroying the world economy in the process. That is also a reality, and squabbling over whose fault it is, raising hackles and alienating every single person who shares your goal of opposing Trump, but did not decide to vote exactly the way that you did, will get you precisely dick.

There are a million reasons why Trump won. For decades, the US has had one of the lowest voter turnout of the developed world, due in large part to the fact that it is an incredibly complicated voting system, as well as intentional measures to suppress voter turnout, exacerbated by the repeal of key parts of the Civil Rights Voting Act. Meekly letting that skate by, and accepting it as a fact of life, does not then give you the right to turn around and scream at people who didn’t vote in this particular election. Maybe, instead, acknowledge that the voting system is at best flawed and at worst designed to have as few people as possible voting, and make fixing it a cornerstone of your platform going forward.

Do not condescend to progressives who didn’t like Hillary Clinton. Some voted for her, some voted third party, and some didn’t vote at all, but they are adults who made their own adult decision. The American political system allows for third parties and for people to decide whether to vote their conscience, or vote for the lesser of two evils. Do not pretend to love democracy, and then scream at adults who choose to not employ their democratic vote the way you see fit. Maybe, instead, acknowledge that the United States was founded to get away from monarchies and aristocracies, and that in this election people finally had enough of it. Enough Bushs, Clintons and Kennedys. Enough telling us that it is this person’s “turn”, as if anyone has a fundamental right to the Presidency. Acknowledge that it is time to return to actual representatives, who represent the people, and listen to those people when they have concerns, instead of telling them to shut up, heel, be a good dog and vote no matter how poorly represented, or how ignored you feel.

I do not think that the majority of the country actually wants Trump to be President. I think that Trump (accidentally) capitalized on this fragmentation, and bickering, and squabbling, and rode a wave of extreme right wingers who came out to vote for the very first time and tipped him straight into the White House. If you actually want to prevent him from enacting his loathsome policies, continuing the very squabbling that won him the Presidency is most likely not going to do it.

Putting aside left vs right policies for one second. Can we all agree that it should be easy for every eligible voter to vote, across the entire country? Can we agree that it should be no more difficult than buying a cup of coffee? If my pathetically organized home country of Italy can make it that easy, the US certainly can, if they have a mind to.

Can we all agree that allowing giant corporations to buy elections is the antithesis of democracy?

Can we all agree that people actually want to be heard, and represented, rather than insulted, and condescended to?

There is a unique opportunity here to unite rather than to fragment further. Regardless of how differently you would have acted if you were in another’s shoes, I beg you to not let that stand in the way of uniting with those people under a common goal. This has happened, there is no going back, so maybe you can use this as a lesson and an inspiration to fix a broken system. You can find so many allies and together, stronger, you can fight for a political system in which people participate, and feel included, and feel represented. United, you can put enormous pressure on your representatives, whether they have an R or a D next to their name, to not allow Trump to run roughshod over the country.

Or you can keep pointing fingers at each other and bitching until you’re blue in the face, while Trump skips along unawares doing whatever he wants in the face of a fragmented thus nonexistent opposition. There’s that too.

The Foreign Reaction

As the news of a Donald Trump Presidency sinks in, I am watching my family, friends and colleagues react to the news. The first reaction was just a blanket shock all-round. No one actually believed it would happen. They joked about it, the could-you-imagined about it, they you-never-knowed about it, but no one actually truly thought it would happen. I was the one that gave the possibility of a Trump Presidency the most credence and even I didn’t think it was going to happen, I was playing more of a Devil’s Advocate than anything else. Then it did. There was a general nervous laughter, and then the true reactions started to come out.

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WTF Just Happened

I did not follow the US election very closely over the past few months. I was sick of hearing about it, everyone including FiveThirtyEight was quite sure Hillary Clinton would win, I went to bed knowing that I could check the results in the morning. “Remember Brexit”, I told people last night, “She’ll probably win, but you never know!”. I didn’t really believe what I said, but my training keeps me from making definite claims about anything that is not definite.

So this morning, I did not rush to my computer, but eventually got around to it, thinking I would know what I would find. I didn’t.

The President of the United States, for the first time in history, is a Bright Orange Cheeto. Bright orange cheetos everywhere are rejoicing at their historic representation, I’m sure, but the rest of the world is shocked.

I posted before about the concept of protest voting and why a progressive might want to allow a Trump Presidency to happen. Admittedly, I wrote that very early on, before half of the shit on Trump came out. Either way it doesn’t matter, he is President now, so all I can do is hope desperately that the silver lining appears, and that his election will throw gas on the progressive fire that was lit by Bernie Sanders so that next time, in four years, a true progressive is elected, and real change happens.

Here’s hoping.

That’s Very Interesting

In the wake of Brexit, the World Economic Forum released a video detailing the 5 EU countries which has the most people living abroad.

 

That’s super interesting. I would have expected, given the rhetoric that we so often hear, that the country with the most people living abroad would have been Romania or Italy. But no, it’s the UK. Did British voters know that, when they voted in the referendum? How is Brexit going to affect those people? And those who voted leave because of the “damned immigrants putting a strain on our economy”, do they also consider their own citizens as unwelcome moochers on the economies of other countries?

Oh, I’m sorry, I forgot. When black, brown or Eastern European people live outside of their own country, they’re immigrants. When white Europeans or Americans live outside of their country, they’re called expats. My bad.

That’ll Be An Interesting Strike

Many people have reported on the uptick in brazen xenophobia in the UK immediately following Brexit. While it is not necessarily due to an increase in xenophobic feelings amongst the British people, those who were already xenophobic seemed to have become emboldened by their decision to leave the EU. Migrant workers have, of course, felt this more than anyone, and so a strike has been organized to drive home just how much they contribute to the UK.

Migrant workers and their supporters are planning a day of action to highlight their role in the UK in what is being billed as a celebration of the contribution they make to British society.

Plans for the event, called One Day Without Us, include a labour boycott to show how important migrants are to the UK workforce.

Organiser Matt Carr, a writer and commentator, has urged migrants and their supporters to join in the day of action on 20 February 2017. He said the trigger for the event was profound concern about worsening attitudes to migrants in the UK.

I love this. So many people who bitch and moan about migrants forget that there are still many jobs that they don’t want to do, and that people from other countries are picking up the slack.

However, one paragraph in the article did give me pause.

“We want to make this an inclusive event,’’ Carr said. “We realise that because of the legal constraints on striking, many workers will not be able to take formal strike action. However, they can choose to support this event simply by taking the day off work.”

Hang on. Legal constraints on striking? What legal constraints on striking? Does he mean the legal constraints on, say, public servants, like policemen and firefighters?

It seems as though the UK has some of the strictest restrictions on striking in Europe, especially after a recent law was passed earlier this year. That’s really too bad, as this strike would have more of an effect on the average citizen if it was done for more than one day. Still, symbolically speaking I’m all for it, I just hope that the aftermath on sales and revenue is covered extensively, so that the people at home really understand just how much migrants contribute to the British economy.

We’ll just have to wait and see on that one I suppose. Until then, if you’re working in the UK and are not British save the date: 20th of January 2017. Take the day off, don’t go shopping, and spread the word, especially if you too are concerned with the anti-migrant feeling that has been fomenting after Brexit.

Cultural Differences: The Pride in Rebellion

I come from a long line of left wingers and political dissenters, on both the Italian and the American sides of my family. My American ancestors were were part of the Underground Railroad which helped slaves make their way to Canada, my mother’s aunt was very vocal during the Civil Rights Era, and my own mother was as anti-Vietnam war as it was possible to be. My mother loves to talk about this, to the point in which I’m pretty sure she’s exaggerating. The fact of the matter is, she takes pride in being on the right side of history. She’s not the only one, you see can see many American public figures playing up their part in the political dissent that wound up making history. There is a satisfaction in being able to say that my family and I were not sheep. We did not buy into the propaganda of the day, or the lazy mindset of the politically uninformed, we took the unpopular but ultimately morally correct position!

The way that my Italian family discusses these things, however, is worlds apart.

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Ouch

This parody commercial is the whole package, in my opinion. Funny, scathing, a little uncomfortable, and yet you can’t fault it, because it’s right on the money.

 

A large portion of the privileged world just got rushed to the burn unit.

Pardon Edward Snowden

That Edward Snowden is a whistleblower, and one of if not the most important one of this generation, should go without saying. I see people say this, think this and take this for granted, and yet the man is still forced to hide abroad for the fear of being prosecuted as a traitor.

Amnesty International, the ACLU, and hundreds of activists have gotten together and started a campaign to actually address this, and ask Obama to do the right thing before leaving office.

You can sign the petition, write to the President and/or donate to the cause here. It is past time that Snowden be allowed to come home.

If you agree, please share this as far and wide as you can.

Holidays With Crys: We Have One More Year

My whole life, I have been going to the beach in Fregene, a small seaside town outside of Rome. In the 40s, this area was nothing but swamp. In the 60s it was abandonded beach, and the Italian government allowed for a sort of stewardship of Italy’s beaches to take place. People who were willing to pay a very healthy yearly fee to the government were allowed to claim a section of beach, take care of it, clean it, and sell food or rent sunbeds to people who wished to visit it. That is how Italy’s beach clubs were born and, as they got more popular, people started building restaurants, bars, pools, houses, and even hotels on or near the beach. Those restaurants got passed down the generations, or sold to others, and some have become vertiable institutions of the seaside towns. There was no Fregene before Mastino, or Glauco, or Cigno, and Cigno in particular is sought out by people living all around Rome for having some truly excellent fish. I spent my childhood summers there, I worked and met my current boyfriend there, and Fregene itself would not be what it is without those historical beach clubs and restaurants.

But soon, those beach clubs will be no more. Despite the fact that those owners have continued to pay the yearly government fee, and if they don’t their property can and will be seized, the EU has decreed that passing down those restaurants across the generations is illegal. The Italian government tried to extend their stay by four years, at least to allow people who just bought a beach club to make back their investment, but the EU courts have declared that to be illegal too. It has now been decided that all of them, both the old institutions and the newly purchased clubs, will have to tear down everything that has been built, houses and restaurants alike at their own cost, and return the beaches as they found them 50 years ago. Then, the beaches will go up for auction. Anyone with the money and an idea will be able to petition the government with their plans and take stewardship of their piece of beach for a certain number of years, and then tear everything down again, vacate it again, and allow for someone else with a better idea to take their place.

So, who the Hell will have the money to go through all of this? Certainly not the current owners of the beach clubs, especially after they have to pay to tear down their own restaurants. One group is the mafia, who have in recent years invaded the legitimate restaurant business market in Italy (more on that later). The second (and this is the EU’s real intention) is the foreigners, the Germans and the French and the Dutch, who according to the EU should all be allowed in on that Italian beaches action. As my father said thank god for Brexit, as this current situation would have caused the anti-EU muttering going on now to turn into a request for some serious action, if it wasn’t for the clear Brexit consequences fresh in everyone’s minds.

My point is: are the seaside restaurants in Italy something you always wanted to try? Have you always wanted to experience the traditional Italian beach clubs? You have one year left. 2017 is the last year which is guaranteed to those restaurant owners. After that, any year could be the one that they force them to tear it all down, pack up and go… well, not home, but somewhere else. I also find them forcing everyone to tear everything down as a giant waste of time and resources, but no one cares about my opinion.

So, if the Italian seaside dinner and beach lounging was on your bucket list, make it a priority in 2017, cause you might not get a second chance. As for me, I’ll keep coming back here so long as it remains Fregene, but I’ll start looking into other seaside destinations for the future. I’m thinking Greece, perhaps.