#atozchallenge: And the Nominees Are…

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I am writing this blind. The New York primary is Tuesday. New York is one of those states that has been reduced to one place: Manhattan. And Manhattan, like all large, cosmopolitan capitals, is a cosmos to its own. It has its own system, and its own politics, quite removed from the rural upstate.

We have two sons of New York, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, a transplanted New Yorker in Hilary Clinton, and two people who have nothing to do with the state.

New York finds itself in an unenviable position of being important to both parties. I find it hard to believe that we have still come so far and have no idea who our nominees will be. What is happening in America? I understand the anger and frustration on both sides (though I can’t pretend to be sympathetic to the Republican side), but are Americans really so entrenched and embittered?

America lives in its own bubble with regards to politics. Many of my students don’t really know much more than what their parents have told them, but I see glimmers of wanting to know a little bit more about the world around them, and that is the most important thing.

I am not sure which nominee I would be more scared of having, but I am sure that whomever wins in New York will move forward thinking they have the upper hand. I am afraid we shan’t get that until much, much later.

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If you’d like to read my other posts in this year’s A to Z challenge, check them out here.

Photo by Sergey Klimkin

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What I’m reading this week: 5 February 2016

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And we’re off! The 1st of February was the Iowa caucus, and now I can honestly say we’ve started off well and truly into the presidential election season. I am not very excited to spend nine months discussing it, but then again, there are so many other things to discuss, which is why I read so many different things.

First off an article about the Iowa Caucus from NPR’s Jessica Taylor, once again in handy list form: Iowa Caucus Results: 6 Things That Explain How It Happened. I can’t add much to my commentary, that you can find here.

Published before the Iowa caucus, Ryan Lizza wrote a very thorough and mildly horrifying article for The New Yorker, On the Road with Donald Trump and Ted Cruz (titled on the site as ‘The Duel’). Both of them are high-energy, low-information campaigners, though Cruz sometimes pretends to be a wonk. Trump is attracting very ‘angry’ supporters, and sometimes I wonder if that anger is misplaced. I don’t really have to wonder; whenever things are going roughly, people tend to look for blame outside themselves.

Rand Paul is an interesting character. Interesting is not always a good thing. He is the face of the Libertarian faction of the Republican party. If only we had multiple parties in this country! Perhaps we could actually get things done. But I digress. I had noticed, but didn’t know why the Libertarian party was so overwhelmingly male. Jeet Heer at the New Republic wrote an article about this observation in Why Are Libertarians Mostly Dudes? These two particular lines caught my eye:

To a significant degree, libertarianism is a philosophy that exalts a world where white men enjoyed enormous freedom, but other groups were even more marginalized than they are now. How surprising is it, then, that politicians like Paul, who voice libertarian ideas, have a fan base that is overwhelmingly made up of white men?

Staying with women for a bit, a sobering article from the Swedish version of MetroHär får du våldta din fru – världens mest kvinnofientliga lagar (‘Here’s where you can rape your wife-the world’s most anti-women laws’). Forgive my Swedish translations; I haven’t been studying Swedish for very long. A new report from Equality Now showed 44 laws that are actively hostile towards women. India and Singapore still allow marital rape. 

And to leave off a little less sad, a little bit of grammar funnies from Le Monde. French is a remarkable fossil of a language, and I love it desperately! I am a French teacher, and teaching the sometimes arcane laws is sometimes a pain. There has been some panic about the accent known as the circonflexe, which looks like this: î. There has been some work by the Académie Française to simplify the language to aid in its apprehension (no pun intended), including–shockingly–getting rid of the dinosaur circonflexe! Much dithering and protest followed (seriously!). Le Monde‘s article by Samuel Laurent, Non, l’accent circonflexe ne va pas disparaître (‘No, the circonflexe isn’t going to disappear’) assuages us worried grammarians. Never fear, French will retain its quirky accents!

With that, until next time. – SDM

Picture by Nick Leonard

On the Iowa Caucus

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I would be remiss if I didn’t at least discuss some numbers and make some sort of commentary on yesterday’s caucus, but to be frank, the results were not too surprising.

Ted Cruz winning on the Republican side is not testament to his ground game or his policies being more popular than anyone in his party. It is purely because he is a preacher’s son and Iowa’s Republicans are mostly evangelical Christians who are socially conservative. (Huckabee, the other evangelical social Conservative, dropped out of the race.)

I hardly want to think about Donald Trump moving on, but he did get second place. So he will continue on to New Hampshire. Will he win enough delegates? How will he do on Super Tuesday? I hardly want to think about him any more but apparently he’ll be hanging on like a particularly nasty cold.

I am not going to pretend that I wasn’t more interested in the race on the Democratic side. The fact that almost all media has touted Clinton’s hilariously marginal ‘win’ as a victory for her is…worrisome. What a dynasty America has become. I have to be neutral, as a teacher, but when speaking to other teachers I honestly admit that I don’t like the idea of another Clinton in office. That admission seems to make people think that I am a Republican, and I am hardly one to disabuse them of that notion.

And finally, The Independent describes a crazy tradition of a coin-toss to determine county delegates. Hillary Clinton won six of those county wide delegates, though she only ended up with two more delegates than Sanders. Hardly a stellar victory. I don’t think people are convinced by Clinton yet.

We shall see. Le jeu commence as they would say in France. The game is on. – SDM

Photo by crazysixdownunder