On the South Carolina Primary

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I lived in South Carolina for two years. The Democratic party there is small but important. It was nearly non-existent in the city I lived in, but going to other places really surprised me with the amount of Democrats. Some were Yellow Dog Democrats, tried and true, and some were wildly progressive. South Carolina is a very religious, very conservative place, along with me very racist and quite misogynist. I drove daily on a road named for a Civil War general, and drove past Confederate memorials on that same road. It wore at me. I don’t miss the experience.

Hillary Clinton winning here is not much of a surprise. Democrats there are “conservative” in that they are not always progressive nor are they crazy liberal. So Clinton as a pragmatic Democrat was going to be popular in South Carolina. Most all Democrats would be considered Moderate or even right-wing outside of this weird fishbowl called America, and Clinton would be well at home among the blue Tories in the UK or even the Républicans in France. She is without a doubt the status quo. I wouldn’t call Bernie Sanders the equivalent to Jeremy Corbyn or Jean-Christophe Cambadélis, though. The United States has always been a fairly conservative place, even during the age of FDR, our most “liberal” president.

Clinton may well be on her way to becoming the Democratic nominee for the 2016 election. What this will mean for the Senate and House elections, that is a question. I have voted in advance of Super Tuesday, so I get to sit by the side and just watch.

The South may be Republican for the foreseeable future, but what might happen when we have whittled down our nominations to two? – SDM

Photo by Leslie Andrachuk

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#weekendcoffeeshare: Brexit for Breakfast

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I’m drinking a Masala chai from the Curiosity Shop. My week has been wildly busy and my Saturday is full as well. But now I am drinking my tea and contemplating existence. There’s a lot to contemplate. It’s a beautiful sunny day here, and only 5°C!

I’m going to be a bit personal, so if we were having coffee today, I would tell you how anxious I am about the Brexit. I want to live in Britain, but their leaving would make it exceptionally difficult to get a visa. I am wondering what arguments the British people are hearing, and how much of them feel threatened by the EU. I would also be questioning the fact that, though the EU was supposed to create opportunities for everyone living in its borders, it has just become an economic bloc, and a messy one at that.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am also waiting to hear back about my Master’s application. I have applied to Uppsala University to get my Master’s degree in Peace and Conflict Studies. I would be telling you about how I don’t feel qualified or clever enough, and that I’m worried I did the application wrong.

I’d also tell you I’m worried about Super Tuesday, next week, where Donald Trump will perhaps gain even more delegates. I would be wondering aloud how we got to this place. Is America so bad? Are people so jingoistic and ignorant? Americans who constantly say ‘no foreigners’ are quite blind and wilfully dumb: unless we are Native American, we are just as much foreign as the people arriving to our borders today.

This is a heavy chat I’m having today. I would have chocolate for you, to ease the conversation. I hope you are doing well. Until next week, then? – SDM

NB: Check out the other posts here!

Photo by condesign

What I’m reading this week: 26 February 2016

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This week I’ve been terribly busy with work, where I’ve had three football (soccer) matches this week and oral exams. Of course this means my reading has been done in the morning during planning/at lunch.

I’ve been worried politically about two things: Donald Trump and the Brexit; of course I’ve been reading about other things. But, to the things I’m worried about first. Donald Trump’s rise is not only of national importance, but internationally as well. Libération has a story about Trump from , entitled Trump, du cauchemar à la réalité (Trump, from nightmare to reality – article is in French) if that tells you what most French people feel about him. I always enjoy reading articles about America from the perspective of other nations.

Election season seems interminable here in the United States, especially so since President Obama is on his second and final term. This means the race is wide open, and so has begun in 2014. NPR’s Danielle Kurtzleben writes an article about the laws governing how short elections can be. The length of campaigns goes from Japan’s paltry twelve days, to the USA’s ridiculous 877 days. I don’t mind Britain’s 139 days, or nineteen weeks, though some Brits might disagree with me.

Heading back to the European Union for a moment. Many countries in the EU have much stricter laws governing speech. Stricter laws cropping up after terrorist attacks are being too widely applied, according to civil rights groups. Spain and France are some of the worst offenders of this ‘strengthening’ of laws, according to an article by Raphael Minder at The New York Times. Whilst I don’t mind some of the restrictions against freedom of speech, like Germany and France banning Holocaust deniers, there are moments when it goes too far. Freedom of speech is definitely a complicated thing.

The refugee crisis has brought out some of the worst in human nature. The Swedish Metro‘s Evelina Pålsson wrote an article about some refugees paying for contracts to rent flats (sometimes up to 70.000 SEK or 8200 USD) and being locked out of their flats. I’m not sure why people are so awful, but this is a reminder that there are people in the world that will take advantage of the desperation of the worst-off among us.

And my last worry is the Brexit; there will be much arguing and debate before the 23rd June referendum. The BBC shares an article about an important facet of the argument: the economy. Most arguments for staying in the EU revolve around it, and many British companies wrote a letter to say that ‘an EU exit would deter investment in the UK.’ What the voters believe is not up to them. We shall wait and see, of course.

Until next week. – SDM

Photo by Stefan Schweihofer

#AtoZ: Theme Reveal Sign-Up 2016

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It’s not much of a challenge to figure out what I’ll be writing about this April, but it’s a little fun coming up with an over-arching theme. It shouldn’t surprise you that I’ve already done so.

There are over 800 bloggers signed up for this year’s challenge. I feel a little lost in all the shuffle, of course. I did this last year on my private blog and nothing really came of it, sadly, but I am hoping for that this year is a little different, especially since, peeking around at most of the other blogs, I’m the only one with such a singular focus on a big topic.

I hope to get to know all of you. And of course, there’s still time to sign up! Join us for this crazy month of blogging! – SDM

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On Nevada and South Carolina

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I am not sure what I was expecting, honestly. Clinton, though she won and has a load of super delegates (people who are worth more than other delegates I suppose), she still isn’t smashing her direct competition into the ground. I am still undecided, though I did vote in advance. I feel that unless Clinton takes over half of the states on Super Tuesday, she will still have to fight.

Nevada is one of those ‘diverse’ states the news has been talking about; Clinton is supposed to be strong with minorities. Once more, the voting bloc of which I am a part is being told twice over that we must vote for Clinton: as a woman, I’m told I’m ‘going to hell’if I don’t support her, and as a black person I am told that she will be ‘best’ for us. I am tired of being told what to do, as a woman and a person of colour. It feels as if I am being treated as a toddler, and it is a bit patronising.

And in South Carolina, Donald Trump takes the lead over Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio by a full ten points. Having lived in South Carolina for two years, I am actually not surprised by this turn of events. South Carolina is a Conservative, fairly xenophobic state (with one exception, James Clyburn) and Trump is talking directly to those people who would rather have stayed pre-Civil Rights Act. But I am heartened by the fact that there is a strong progressive presence. It will take a very long time to destroy the shackles of Jim Crow, antebellum thinking, but perhaps we can get there.

I say this from Georgia, where I currently live. We have similar issues of xenophobia, of strong religious thinking, but where South Carolina has one Black Congressperson, Georgia has four, and our state has large centres of Democratic voting blocs: Atlanta, the capital; Augusta (Richmond County), the second largest city; Athens-Clarke County, the home of the University of Georgia; Macon, a largely Black city and, newly, Savannah. All of these places have enormous populations, but just not enough people vote to make a switch.

People are still guffawing, still disbelieving that a person like Trump could go on and win the nomination. The win in South Carolina is the first one that worries me, because it is the first indication of how the South may go for the Republicans.

The game continues on apace. – SDM

Photo by skeeze

#weekendcoffeeshare: A Weekend Civics Lesson

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Another cuppa then? This week’s tea is a Scottish Breakfast tea from a local tea shop, The Curiosity Shop, which has sadly now closed. Scottish Breakfast is a blend of Assam, Ceylon and Yunnan. I’m a big fan of black teas, obviously. Milk and one sugar, please.

So were we having coffee/tea, I would be telling you about my plans to go to one of the early voting locations to vote in the PPP (Presidential Preference Primary) here in Georgia. I will sadly not be able to vote on the 1st of March, as I have a football (soccer) match to coach. I love voting; it is literally my favourite civic duty. My father doesn’t vote, and my mother, not being a US citizen, cannot vote. I registered to vote the very first day I could, and have voted for everything I possibly can since 2004. My first vote was for the new Georgia flag.

And since we’re having tea, I would be talking to you about the so called ‘Brexit’, or the UK’s planned referendum in June of this year. As an EU citizen with interests in the UK, I’m quite worried about the referendum, though yesterday’s agreement is promising. Will the British people out? Time will only tell.

(I have dual citizenship, for those of you playing the home game. I was born in Texas to a German mother, thus affording me citizenship rights to two countries. I feel both German and American. I will most definitely write more about this later.)

I am not as much of a reader as I used to be, but I have subscribed to The New Yorker and Les Jours, and I have to say, quality journalism is such a pleasure and I don’t mind paying for it. So were we having our caffeinated beverages today, I would definitely be telling you about the articles I was reading, and we would be chatting about celebrity culture along with our political chat.

So let’s have another cup and linger. Until next time? – SDM

NB: Check out the other posts in this weekend’s coffee share here!

Photo by Olichel Adamovich

What I’m reading this week: 19 February 2016

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The thing about politics is that it is everywhere. People have a horror of talking about it, but it invades our daily life. Politics affects me as dual citizen; it affects me as a woman; it affects me as a person of colour. It insinuates every part of my life, so I take an interest in it (some may say it is quite an unhealthy interest).

In huge political news, Justice Antonin Scalia passed away the 13th February 2016. You can read my thoughts on his passing here, but I was also interested in seeing how his death affects cases already on the docket. Ian Millhiser at Think Progress wrote an interesting article about how his death affects decisions already made and those upcoming ones. The ramifications of his death are still to be seen, especially with the Republican obstructionist streak we are seeing now.

Justice Scalia was a lover of opera, and a comment I spied in NPR’s obituary about him mentioned that his favourite was Der Rosenkavalier. The opera was performed at PROMS 2014, and I read an article from July 2014 by Simon Callow in The Guardian about the opera. I’m not a fan of opera in general, but I do like comic operas, so I may just have to check this out.

Continuing on with The Guardian. In the US version’s Comment is Free, George Soros writes that Putin’s aggressiveness and dishonesty makes him a bigger enemy for the European Union than Daesh and Al-Qaida. Putin is looking at the instability of the EU as a good sign–an unstable EU is a weaker enemy.

Some of that instability in the EU is from the refugee crisis; the EU is scrambling to find the best solution for the issue. I will write about this later, at great length, because it is something I spend a lot of time thinking about. Le Monde’s Frédéric Lemaître writes about the increasingly strained and divisive talks happening in München (Munich) right now.

And finally, an article from The New Yorker that is quite personal to me. I teach French, and I’ve been working as teacher for the past five years. In David Denby’s Cultural Comment, Stop Humiliating Teachers, he writes that Americans tend to denigrate the teaching profession as a whole, even as they recall their favourite ones. Teaching is a stressful and usually thankless job, so reading this had me nodding my head vigorously at every line.

So, until next time then. – SDM

Photo by le bateleur