The Young Leader

Here’s A Reminder That Justin Trudeau Is Not A Disney Prince

By Criswell Lavery

Before starting this article, I didn’t know a lot about Justin Trudeau.

Many (white, liberal Americans) think of the young Prime Minister and immediately connect him with the monikers “feminist”, “pro-LGBT”, “pro-choice”, all of which are correct.

But very few know much more about him.

I had seen a few articles floating around talking about his stance on foreign policy, his interactions with the First Nations’ peoples, and his meeting with Donald Trump, but never stopped to read them or look further.

Like many, I was blinded by Trudeau’s liberal social values and his fabulous hair, and thought of him only with a vague fondness.

This is a trap that many fall into, even in our age of easily accessible information.

We see articles about how he’s let over 25,000 Syrian refugees into Canada since he took office in 2015, and don’t see the one about the Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement (CETA).

This agreement was set to reduce 98% of tariffs on trade between Canada and the European Union and cause a small increase in jobs.

It also has provisions which are very similar to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), providing corporations with a huge amount of privileges and legal rights, allowing for them to sue entire governments to change laws and standards that impede their function.

CETA gives Canadian and European corporations these same rights, as well as giving international companies bidding rights to areas in cities, First Nation communities, and providences.

Despite the job growth and tariff reduction, it’s heavily weighted to favor big business, which one would think our Disney prince Prime Minister would be against, right?

Nope.

Prime Minister Trudeau had been pushing the agreement for months before it was signed in October 2016, and was ratified this February.

It’s been a big part of the reason recent press coverage has turned against Justin Trudeau, changing from their pretty steadily positive reporting to something a little more mixed.

He wholeheartedly supports CETA, which definitely did not fit with the ideal image of him that my little liberal heart had created.

And there’s plenty more where that came from.

A very controversial issue in Canada, just as it is in the USA, is indigenous peoples’ rights.

Like the tribes in the United States, the First Nations have been brutally treated and forced out of their lands since white people first got there, hundreds of years ago.

When Prime Minister Trudeau took office, he promised to bring the United Nation’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into law in Canada.

This document affixes the inherent rights of indigenous people, including the right to self-determinism and the right to not be forced to assimilate to the incumbent culture.

While the protection of indigenous culture seems like it should be assumed and respected, it’s not currently legally required.

Despite frequent promises to bring this into the new Canadian administration, in July of 2016, Trudeau’s Justice Minister stated that they would not be adopting the UN’s Declaration into law, that it “makes no sense.”

In breaking this promise, Trudeau lost a lot of respect and trust among the First Nations.

In the following year, many new blunders involving the treatment of indigenous peoples have been made, one being the support of the Site C dam, a hydro-electric power generator being proposed to be built on the Peace River in British Columbia.

The dam would destroy ancient burial grounds and threaten traditional hunting and fishing grounds.

In addition, Canada’s energy need hasn’t grown in recent years, and they even have a surplus of clean energy.

The support of this project is another check on a list of broken promises and backtracking.

Here’s the thing, I don’t necessarily think that Justin Trudeau is a bad person.

I can’t make that judgement.

Do I disagree with many of his policies?

Absolutely.

Do I agree with others?

Sure.

I’m not trying to condemn everything he’s ever done, I’m trying to illustrate the very gray nature of politics today, and the dangerous habit people have to put things in black and white.

When we’re distracted by buzzwords and a certain Prime Minister’s blinding smile, we fail to hold people accountable for their actions.

We don’t demand answers or retribution when they mess up or don’t follow through.

As much as we might like to think so, Trudeau isn’t a Disney prince.

He’s human, and a powerful political figure.

Let your ideal go, and demand answers when you have questions, ask for retributions when promises are broken.

Disney princes are perfect.

People are not.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Mohammad Jangda/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

My Parents Couldn’t Afford Health Care Until The Affordable Care Act. Please Don’t Take It Away From Them

If President Trump repeals the Affordable Care Act (ACA), both of my parents will lose their care.

Right now, I’m sitting at the airport in Kansas City, waiting to board my flight back to Washington.

I spent the weekend advocating for the ACA in Topeka with the Save My Care campaign and Senator Bernie Sanders.

Since the ACA became law in 2010, Republicans have called for repealing it ad nauseam.

Now that they hold the White House and both chambers of Congress, they have promised to act swiftly in scrapping health care.

They claim that it isn’t helping people, and that it costs too much.

But the reality is that repealing the ACA means as many as 30 million Americans would lose their care — my parents included. Further, rolling back the law would actually increase the federal deficit by $353 billion over 10 years.

That said, the most important consideration concerning ACA repeal is how this would affect the lives of everyday Americans.

We must focus our attention on how repealing health care could be the difference between pain and suffering, and wellbeing and happiness.

The Kitchel family.

Both of my parents are self-employed.

My father is a landscaper and my mother operates our small family farm.

Growing up, I was privileged to always have access to health care because California’s Healthy Families program provided an affordable option for children in working class families.

My parents only had to pay about $12 per month to cover my brother and me.

However, given my parents’ working class income level, purchasing their own health insurance was beyond what they could afford.

My mother hadn’t had health care coverage since I was a baby. My father hadn’t had coverage since he was in college in the 1970s.

Both of my parents work blue-collar professions that require a great deal of manual labor.

Every week, my father can be found digging ditches, installing sprinkler systems, laying sod, and planting trees.

While I was a kid, I remember several occasions when he severely injured his back.

Given that he didn’t have health care coverage, he didn’t see a doctor.

The result was chronic back pain that he still experiences today.

When I say my mother manages our family farm, by that I mean that she plants the crops, tends to the crops, and ultimately harvests and sells the crops — all by herself.

This often-grueling work has resulted in a rotator cuff tear and back pain.

She could not afford to see a doctor about these injuries and therefore has endured long-lasting pain.

If my parents had been able to afford health insurance throughout their careers, I can’t help but think about all the pain and suffering that would have otherwise been preventable.

Everything changed when the Affordable Care Act became law in 2010.

For the first time in decades, my parents could afford health insurance.

They started visiting the doctor again, both to address existing conditions and to receive preventative care.

Given that they are growing older now, both in their 60s, preventative care is critically important.

Sen. Bernie Sanders with the author.

The fact that President Trump and congressional Republicans are playing politics with my parents’ health absolutely infuriates me.

And compared to many Americans who would be impacted by an ACA repeal, my parents are relatively well off.

I think about those who have chronic conditions, where access to care is literally the difference between life and death.

The fact that Republicans would put these folks’ lives at risk, simply for political gain, is the most disdainful excuse for governance that I can imagine.

As Senator Bernie Sanders said in Topeka, KS:

“We are working overtime to tell Republicans in Congress: You are not going to repeal the Affordable Care Act!”

This is a fight that I plan to see through to the very end. I hope you’ll join me.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Don’t Expect A Realignment Of Politics. Expect Something Much More Dramatic

As everyone can see, the world has undoubtedly changed in the past year or so.

From the Trump victory to Brexit to the resilience of right-wing parties in Europe, there remains a certain level of chaos in the world order.

There seems to be an aura of the past which we will never regain, for better or worse.

A space in time so close in a textbook but eons away from the society we inhabit today.

These sweeping changes to the status quo leave many of us asking, what’s next?

Lying ahead there must be some fundamental shift away from the political alignment of years past; a transformation that will reset our society after the obliteration of previous norms.

I’m not going to pretend that I know what type of realignment we can expect, nor am I advocating for any or all of those below.

Nonetheless, here are a few which I see, at least partially, as possible.

The first is the battle between big government and small government.

After a fiery American election cycle and two hotly contested primary challenges, the Democratic and Republican parties have taken a beating.

With civil strife bludgeoning both establishments we may see a revolt against the major parties and a new system of simple ideological differences emerging- not the traditional party labels being the great divide.

The new reality could be a more principled approach to worldviews instead of the patchwork we see in the main parties today.

A poll conducted in May of 2016 shows that only 13%  Americans surveyed believe the two party system works, and 38% say it is “seriously broken”.

One would imagine a rise in those who consider themselves Independents would be in order if that many seem fed up with the current system.

On the contrary, according to Gallup poll results which accumulated over the course of 2016, registration among Independents is at a six-year low.

To further complicate this entanglement between and within both parties, Republicans and Democrats see this divide in vastly different ways, according to Matt Grossmann and David A. Hopkins who describe their investigation into this question in their book Asymmetric Politics: Ideology Republicans and Group Interest Democrats.

They wrote about their theory in the Washington Post: 

“…the Republican Party defines itself in ideological terms as the vehicle of symbolic conservatism. The Democratic Party, in contrast, is organized as a social group coalition”.

However, their research finds that even Republican voters who consider themselves as having strong conservative principles depart from such “orthodoxy” on specific policy questions.

A more obvious example of this is in their support for then-candidate Donald Trump, someone who strays from ideological consistency much of the time.

For me, I see no clear direction for the conventional two-party system except to continue on in the confusing and muddied path it’s on now.

To suggest that an ideological realignment is likely to occur here, at least in American politics, would be inappropriate at this time.

The next is the continuation of the divide between the elites and everyone else.

In Europe and in America, disenchantment and the desire to throw out those in power are moving full speed ahead.

Concerns over immigration, political correctness, cultural ambiguity, and long-term economic prosperity are major factors in this anti-establishment wave the western world is currently riding.

People, on a large scale, no longer believe those in charge are inherently better at their jobs than people from completely outside of that system.

Photo Credit: Beshef/flickr (CC BY 2.0).

In comes the torch to burn it all down: voting.

This would be a different conversation if the United Kingdom had remained in the European Union and both candidacies of Senator Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump had inevitably failed.

That would have put a scare into the old order but their influence would have braved the storm.

But they didn’t.

The anti-establishment movement has gained real power.

It could fail miserably, or it could provide the footing for this anger to wipe out every remaining piece of the old system for the near future.

Insert the electoral chances of right-wing parties in France, Germany, and the Netherlands — to name a few — and Europe then makes the Trump revolution look like a dress rehearsal.

Now, elections could forever be won by who we think hates the elite most, not policy differences.

We may, as many of us already do, watch press briefings and tally not the legislation being announced but the number of coded messages sent to the holders of power in Washington, New York, Brussels, and Paris.

A candidate’s success may be determined by how many CEOs, seasoned politicians, TV anchors, and university professors are forced to face those who feel forgotten on bended knee. Those isolated and cold from globalization in the Bible Belt, Rust Belt, and Stoke-on-Trent.

Recent events have shown us just how disconnected these people are.

They all told us none of these political movements would get off the ground, and we have seen very few self-reflections once they all realized they had been fooled by the very people they were supposed to understand.

As a 21-year old, this was the first time I saw this strong of a vilification of the politics-as-usual attitude.

These exchanges could be typical every few years as elections and referendums come around.

But for me, I can’t imagine these frustrations going away.

The battle lines may have forever been redrawn.

The final is the chasm between multiculturalism and assimilation.

This is the most politically charged of the realignments I see possible.

Multiculturalism is the existence and preservation of distinct cultures within a community or society-at-large.

Assimilation, on the other hand, is the adaptation and conforming of different groups into a unified culture in a given community.

As different groups have become scrambled together in the modern world, people are trying to decide which of these they believe is best for society.

An interesting phenomenon I noticed through the election cycle was the proud flying of other nation’s flags on the streets of America.

If you were to watch a nominal protest of then-candidate Donald Trump you would have seen Mexican flags next to Cuban flags slightly behind Palestinian flags, all whose holders desire a more multicultural society.

The interior of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. It features great works of literature and art from all around the world, symbolizing America’s welcoming spirit. Photo Credit: m01229/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Many view this as a beautiful sign of toleration.

However, many others view this as one more stratification of American society.

Instead of coalescing under one banner, we all have different ones that make us take yet another step away from our neighbors.

The situation in Europe is slightly different than the one in America.

As a steady flow of migrants and asylum seekers from terror-stricken, war-torn areas of Africa and the Middle East have continued throughout 2016, this question revolves around the rapid changes to European culture and identity.

As the majority of refugees flee Muslim-majority nations, some European governments have welcomed them.

However, many Europeans are pessimistic about these changes.

Pew Research can help us understand this.

In a survey of 9 out of 10 European nations, at least half of individuals believe that Muslims want to maintain a “distinct” culture and not integrate into the customs of their new European communities.

A separate report shows that a majority of Europeans surveyed believe refugees increase the likelihood of terrorism, and no more than 4 out of 10 citizens in any EU country feel an increase in diversity is good for their country, compared to 58% of Americans who think diversity makes the U.S. a better place to live.

In Greece and Italy, a majority of citizens feel more diversity makes their country worse off.

Issues such as gender equality, acceptance of homosexuality, and secularism are a few instances where the two cultures just do not see eye to eye.

Right-wing European parties have become the vehicle for these frustrations.

Marine Le Pen, the head of the French National Front Party, is leading in the polls (as of the time of my writing this) to win the first round of the French Presidential race.

She also has more support from those aged 18-34 than any other candidate in France, which may come as a surprise to many.

The central issues which run through these populist, right-wing parties are immigration and a distaste for international agreements that reduce national sovereignty.

Many are calling for a total shutdown of Muslim immigration, something that an average of 55% of Europeans surveyed agree with, and making a Brexit-like move from the EU or other foreign obligations.

The multicultural attitude Europe is known for is being challenged strongly on many fronts.

As popular movements are seemingly rejecting the openness the continent has historically praised, the concept of assimilation seems to be a dire turn many are hoping to see.

As hordes of people around the globe chant for multiculturalism, for the elimination of border walls and even, in some cases, for the abolition of sovereign states completely, there is a powerful camp that believes different cultural groups living together is an ideal scenario.

On the other hand, there are millions of individuals who see a lack of a unified culture as a ticking-time bomb for social strife. People who feel the palpable modifications to their culture too large of a pill to swallow.

This possible realignment would be ugly, it would be a knock-down drag-out brawl of the most nativist sort, but it is undoubtedly an element that drove many to the polls in recent history.

In the end, no one really knows what will arise from this grinder the western political system has been thrown in.

Anyone that suggests they know for a certainty should be viewed with some degree of skepticism.

The possibilities I have just laid out are merely avenues our society may take as we move forward.

And only one thing is certain, whether we like it or not- we will experience this together.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Lorie Shaull/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

 

Don’t Look Down At Your Non-College Educated High School Friend Who Talks Politics On FB. You Don’t Matter More Than Them

You’re the political junkie.

You’re getting educated in a big fancy college.

You idolize Trevor Noah.

You rub elbows with future lawyers, lobbyists and politicians.

You study the issues and think that you know more about politics than the average person- especially those that aren’t in school.

After all, you are spending a lot of time and money to expand your mind and find the “truth” behind what’s happening.

At least that is what you think.

So when you get on Facebook to express some of the recycled political ideas that you just learned, you see your high school friend from way back post, ‘Make America Great Again’.

It’s a trigger and you can’t help yourself.

An argument ensues between the two of you.

In your mind, you are going to school this guy.

He isn’t in college after all.

He doesn’t always use the right terms or have perfectly constructed arguments.

You should be able to wipe the floor with him and move on.

But the conversation doesn’t go the way you thought.

It becomes an actual debate.

This debate takes your blood from slightly warm to completely boiling.

How dare He?

You’re the second year political science major that sits down and dutifully learns at the foot of politically connected professors.

But your high school buddy on the other hand who got that landscaping job he was always talking about instead of spending thousands of dollars in housing, student loans and ‘sustainability’ fees doesn’t know anything about politics.

And as a result, you don’t really believe that his voice matters.

He shouldn’t be talking about politics because he doesn’t know what he’s talking about you surmise.

As a college student I’ve heard the claim.

We like to take the stance that these people back home who opted to stay away from tuition costs and auxiliary fees are significantly less informed than us on pretty much everything because we are en route to a college degree.

This is nowhere near the case.

In the era of alternative facts and fake news, the concept of being politically informed is one that we have to throw around very loosely.

You need to take a real look at yourself and make the assessment of what do you actually know about politics.

This assessment doesn’t come from knowing random facts.

It’s more of an overall assessment of your political footprint.

Where do you get your facts?

How did you get there?

How broad is your view?

How reliable is your source?

Media bias exists, it’s a thing that changes our perception of the world around us and can skew political opinions for the worse.

The nature of media bias is everywhere.

it still to this day saturates programs like the Late Show or Trevor Noah’s Daily Show.

Sources like these end up being some people’s only source of understanding politics and because of that they fail to get an unbiased opinion about the political world.

The reality isn’t better for 24 hour news channels either; stations like Fox News and MSNBC also provide underlying bias that people are exposed to as well.

The practice of media bias is so bad that people are arguing over which source (out of these specific two in fact) is the most bias.

To be the ‘politically informed citizen’ that us college students boast about being you need to take the time to look at all sources available.

Rather than this, we have an established culture that encourages us to look solely at the media that is favorable to us as individuals.

In addition to this, college students in general are considered unreliable voters, a fact that furthers the case against us being more politically informed or involved.

In the end, you should not look down at your high school buddy who wants to talk politics.

He may not always be right or say the right things.

Maybe he is more likely to buy into fake news, maybe not.

But he is still an American and he is entitled to as much of a voice as you are.

And who knows, maybe your political opinion is just as one sided, underdeveloped and wrong as his is.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Infrogmation of New Orleans/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

 

If Liberals Really Believe In Science Then They Have To Stop Attacking GMOs

My Facebook feed is littered with posts, articles, and opinions of my liberal friends posting about the overwhelming science that supports that climate change is real, and that the deniers need to look at the proof.

However, many of these same friends will turn around and post article after article on why GMOs are terrible for you and how they harm your body.

But where’s the actual science that supports that?

Seems like a problematic double standard.

The vast majority of scientific research points to the fact that GMOs are not harmful to the human body nor the environment.

In fact, the National Academy of Sciences just released a report of a review of hundreds of research articles, testimonies, and questions about the safety of GMOs.

So where is the disconnect – and why do so many liberals acknowledge the majority of scientists that support climate change, but not the majority that supports that GMOs are not bad for you?

If you look at political demographics, you see that 70% of Democrats trust scientists to research climate change, while only 15% of Republicans support that.

Many progressives are distrustful of GMO’s. Photo Credit: Donna Cleveland/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Alternatively, 56% of Democrats believe that GMOs are unsafe to eat, while 51% of Republicans say the same – with only 43% of Democrats and 38% of Republicans saying that they are safe to eat.

When you examine the perception of GMOs in the United States, you’ll see many arguments against GMOs – from the “evils” of the Monsanto Chemical company, to people boycotting and protesting Roundup Ready crops.

This opposition stems from scientific research that is full of fraudulent misinformation, and they don’t examine the good that GMOs are able to accomplish, like the papaya crop success in Hawaii ten years ago, or the fact that scientists are trying to modify cows to produce less methane gas to, ya know, reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

The latter bit would help combat climate change in a real way. 

Now, personally, I identify as a liberal, and I am 110% for questioning scientific research and letting new discoveries and inventions be properly vetted before being released into the public.

But at some point, the line needs to be drawn.

And to my liberal friends – I only have one message: Get. It. Together.

If we’re going to promote and support the majority of science that says climate change is a reality, then let’s stay constant and support the majority that says GMOs are not bad for you.

If we’re going to fight to save this planet from drastic climate and environmental change, then support the people who are actually trying to do that.

You want to make sure that the projected 9.7 billion people on this world in 2050 are going to have food?

Photo Credit: Daniel Arauz/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Then let’s support the scientists who are trying to feed people.

Let’s support the science and the research that is going towards trying to make food more affordable, more nutritious, more accessible, and more easily grown.

The population of the world isn’t going to magically go stagnant or go down, and if you didn’t know, growing food is hard.

We are able to feed 155 people per farmer currently.

In 1960, that number was 25.8.

If y’all want to be able to affordably eat within the next 50 years, if you want to help feed those less fortunate than you, and if you want to protect our planet, then start supporting and trusting the scientists who know what they’re doing.

Be consistent.

If we’re going to say we support science and validated research, then hold up that promise and start supporting all the validated science, not just the ones you want to.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Paul Sableman/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Patriots Of The Left And Right Must Unite Against Trump’s Personal Rule

By Jacob Kaye

Throughout much of the last two years, talk of patriotism has been at a fever pitch.

Although defining patriotism – and what it means to be a patriot – has long been a contentious debate between the left and the right, the nationalism evoked by President Trump has added new life to the conversation.

The conversation itself, it seems, has been fairly inadvertent.

Few politicians, political pundits, or journalists have spoken of patriotism by name.

Instead, we have been subjected to certain phrases that speak to the core of what the two sides believe is patriotic behavior – or, more often, what they believe it is not.

Whenever someone suggests that we give President Trump a chance – to fail or succeed, they never do specify – or that those who are upset by his electoral victory or his onslaught of executive orders should move out of the country, they are speaking to the core of their form of patriotism.

One that relies on the belief that the actions, policies, and traditions of this nation should be unquestioned and often celebrated.

This is typically the belief of a patriot of the right.

Conversely, when someone proposes that we overhaul or dismantle large and deeply embedded systems of American society, they are speaking to their form of American patriotism.

One that relies on the belief that the actions, policies, and traditions of this nation be questioned often and celebrated when reformed, calibrated, or undone.

This is typically the belief of a patriot of the left.

Photo Credit: Jeff Turner/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Both forms of patriotism come from a place of love and an insatiable need to believe in American goodness or, at the least, it’s potential for goodness.

But both forms of patriotism ­– at their worst – can also inspire great and terrible violence.

The inability – or, in some cases, willful ignorance – to question the country, it’s people, or government, can lead to a national blindness that allows evil actors to bring injustice upon groups of people indiscriminately.

On the other hand, the constant destruction of long-standing institutions – in the name of either love or despair – can lead to anarchic revolution.

Of course, both cases speak the most extreme deployment of one’s patriotism.

What I find most curious is that a both sides feel their patriotism is in direct opposition to the patriotic believes of the other.

It is not simply a matter of disagreement but both believe the other patriot is inherently acting to destroy America.

One patriot uses their love as a weapon against the other.

Both sides have failed to recognize how their patriotism is rooted in the same belief-American Exceptionalism.

Patriots of the left believe that America has the ability to solve the world’s ills – inequality, systemic injustice, racism, or poverty – and that we have a duty, as well as a unique gift, to diagnose these flaws.

Patriots of the right believe that the exceptionalism of our past has so strongly guided us to a present in which the world’s ills exist in America only fractionally and this difference is worthy of celebration and continued dedication.

Whether or not one can be an American patriot without believing in some form of American Exceptionalism is a conversation for another day – or if we can put it off, another election cycle – but I believe that the two patriots outlined above both feel that this country is unique.

Photo Credit: MarieEly/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Although it certainly isn’t the only disagreement between left and right, the definition and qualities of a patriot remain a critical cause of the current political chasm.

But still, we avoid a deeper conversation about what a patriot is because it is rude, tacky, confrontational, and at times, incendiary, to proclaim one’s self a patriot or to say that someone is not.

Maybe we believe that the times are not dire enough to speak fervently about patriotic notions.

But they are.

Every day, we adjust and recalibrate most aspects of our lives to the 21st century.

A patriot of 1776 is not a patriot of 2017.

American institutions and systems and history have informed the patriot over time and the patriot has a duty to allow American institutions, systems, and history to do so.

There is one patriot who has decided to change the definition of American patriotism altogether.

He even declared that January 20, 2017, this year’s inauguration day, be forever remembered as the “National Day of Patriotic Devotion,” implying there is no further discussion to be had over what patriotic behavior is.

President Trump, as suggested by Paul Krugman in The New York Times, believes in a haunting credo – “L’état, c’est moi,” or, “I, myself, am the nation.”

Patriotism, as he has defined, is devotion to him.

As patriots of the left and right, we owe it to the love we both have for this country to empathize with one another and open our eyes to the common ground we all stand upon.

Understand that this is not a fight over who loves the country and who doesn’t but instead, it is a fight over how we, both as patriots, choose to express our love.

If we don’t, one man will make sure, through credo, proclamation, or law, that both patriots are patriots no more.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Luz/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

America Is A Nation Of Immigrants, But We Don’t Want To Believe It

“My country tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died!
Land of the Pilgrim’s pride!
From every mountain side,
Let freedom ring!”

Liberty is the state of being free from oppression and imposed authority on one’s life, views, and behaviors in society.

We praise America, but for what?

Not for advancements in technology, cures of diseases, innovations, policies, monumental movements, etc.

But we praise it in admiration of our founding fathers, our core values, the constitution, traditions— the land where our founders have died, the same land that was built on the backs of slaves.

Millions of dead slaves built this country- an African Holocaust.

We take pride in the pilgrims who came to America ultimately wiping out 90 percent of the Native American population and everything they had.

Form every mountain side there are people who are not native to this land yet claim it as their own.

But why?

Because this is the land of opportunity, wealth, provisions, freedom– Freedom for those who this land was built for not built by, freedom to those that represent the majority population of our country.

We are all immigrants but we don’t want to admit it.

Photo Credit: David Jones/ Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Because to admit that fact would force us to realize that we don’t own this land.

It would force us to take a different view towards those who wish to call it home as well.

The native population even in combination with another race only makes up 1.7 percent of America’s population.

The rest of us had to get here somehow.

Whether by boats in the slave trade, pilgrimages for religious freedom, through Angel Island, through Ellis Island, through escape from your homeland, we all claim this land of America because our ancestors migrated here.

By 2025 we are projected to hit 14.9 percent of our entire population to be foreign born.

Our entire foundation is based on the work of immigrants making America.

And in the present day, we are staying afloat because of foreigners in our land who want nothing more to be fully accepted and offered liberty, the same liberty we pledge our allegiance to.

A statue of Italian immigrants. Photo Credit: Paul Sableman/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Now we are stuck in the cross hairs of Making America Great Again by stopping immigrants from expanding our country, and not recognizing that without immigrants America is nothing.

From the start, were we ever great?

How do we return to a state that never existed?

We are a nation of immigrants and we do not accept it because we don’t want to.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: John Mitchell/ Flickr (CC by 2.0)

The Republicans Won. Why Are You Surprised?

The presidential election is a little over three months past us and Americans all over the country are still in denial and angered, left feeling hopeless— well the Americans that voted for the Democratic ticket of course.

But to be quite frank, why are Democrats so upset?

Did they really think they had a shot at winning the presidential elections when time after time, America seems to be making progress just to be set back in a time frame of our turmoil filled past.

Did American voters truly think that a liberal women on a Democratic ticket would win against a wealthy white man who claims to have a conservative ideology?

The idea of being a Liberal is a stance on being open to change and progression, being able to embrace ambiguity, while excepting new ideals and concepts.

Liberal policies generally highlight the need for the government to step in and often solve some of our biggest issues to ultimately get rid of society’s problems while ensuring equality for all people; this most often aligns with views Democratic voters.

This sounds attainable right?

Well what is our America today without opposition, and the opposition to Liberal America is indeed Conservative America, where the stance is on upholding America’s core values, traditions, and emphasizing on the need for the government to protect the freedoms that allow us to solve our own problems.

This more often than not aligns with the views of Republican voters.

READ MORE: “I had to lock my door at night to prevent him from breaking in and raping me…This is the sort of thing I have done for science.”

If you look at America’s history there has always been more red states then there are blue states, and their equivalents even before political parties were created.

America has historically been a conservative country.

The ideologies and foundations of America have always been to uphold tradition and to be cautious of change.

Change causes unpredictably and un-comfortableness, and just as “America runs on dunkin”,America thrives on being conformable.

When you are comfortable in situations there is less of a chance that conflict will arise, and when conflict does arise, it is usually because someone is calling for progression, change, or something new.

If this were not the case, we would not have such turmoil when passing laws state by state as oppose to nation wide.

READ MORE: Milo Isn’t Going Away

Why would we need check and balances if everyone had the same ideologies and concerns for those around them?

So Democrats, it may not be ok that we have lost the country for the next four years, and the progression and positive change that America was moving towards despite little glimmers of historical repetition may indeed be undone, but although we are sad, we should not be surprised because we must never forget that is extremely hard for Democrats to win elections, you do not even need various electoral maps to know that in this past election alone there were only five Democratic candidates whereas there were seventeen Republican presidential candidates.

We must not be so hard on ourselves for not allowing giant leaps of history to take place made possible by a Democratic female taking the cake, because America has always been a Conservative country and the majority vote likes to be comfortable.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Just some dust/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Milo Isn’t Going Away

By Joshua Hudson

Milo Yiannopoulos is the second most polarizing figure in the current political scene.

Whether it is his pro-pedophilia comments that recently came to light, campus protests at UC-Berkeley, Twitter-ban, open condemnations of Islam, or “humorous” rants about obesity, abortion, race, feminism, homosexuality, and religion, the British-Greek former Senior Editor and provocateur of Breitbart News creates continuous controversy in a society conditioned by political correctness.

With his bleached-blonde hair, flagrant homosexuality, and exuberance, it would be easy to expect Milo to be a prominent liberal figure, but with any research into his ideals, it becomes clear that is not the case.

However, despite his consistently conservative views, establishment Republicans dare not associate with such an outlandish, vexed person.

READ MORE: Milo To RISE NEWS: “Racist? Me? I’ve had more black dick in me than the entire Kardashian family” 

Instead, Yiannopoulos is viewed as a figurehead of the Alt-Right movement characterized by divisive, regressive ideas such as white supremacy, but Yiannopoulos refutes this association due to his sexuality and preference of black male partners.

So, where does he fit in?

In light of his controversial comments on the benefits of hebephiliac-homosexual relationships, intuition would imply that the answer is nowhere.

In an era dominated by the resounding voices and opinions of partisan extremes, that is not the case.

Milo Yiannopoulos embodies the “Freedom of Speech” doctrine and extensively conservative views.

By incurring the cost of hurt feelings, Milo destroys a range of stereotypes and political correctness so perfectly that his presence is the Achilles’ heel and consummate antagonist to the modern media and progressive millennials.

The direct honesty of his world view and opinions resonates with a niche populace that is determined to be heard.

By supporting Yiannopoulos and others like Tomi Lahren and Ben Shapiro, many conservative millennials have voices to combat the likes of John Oliver, Van Jones, and the many liberal voices in the media and Hollywood.

These supporters say they treasure the Constitution, freedom, patriotism, and nationalism.

They despise the rise of social justice warriors, safe spaces, the modern feminism narrative, gender non-conformity, the perceived liberal-bias in the media, and feel exiled by not conforming to the rise of Bernie Sanders like many of their peers.

This rebellion from the mainstream is the exact vein that Donald Trump tapped into to win the 2016 Presidential Election.

Their stream-of-consciousness style connects with the silent majority in America that rebukes the scripted, robotic political styles of many mainstream politicians.

Despite the controversies, there is no denying that Yiannopoulos is a talented, research-driven debater, who’s witty attacks and ability to frazzle even the most composed opponents are perfect for an age of information driven by echo-chambering, 10 seconds videos, and memes on Facebook.

Milo’s recent misstep with pedophilia was drastic enough to be the final nail in the coffin of his “Dangerous” book deal from Simon & Schuster his invitation to CPAC and his career at Breitbart.

But based on the exemplified steadfast support he has continued to receive on social media, it is very unlikely that this ends the career of America’s most infamous provocateur.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: OFFICIAL LEWEB PHOTOS/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Rory, Obama, And Me

The last time I saw Rory Gilmore, it was 2007.

She sat nervously sipping a cup of coffee at Luke’s at 5 a.m, about to take off on the road to work as a journalist, covering the Obama campaign.

At the time, an unlikely black, underdog, born in Hawaii had unexpectedly become a presidential candidate and I, a young eleven year old girl was about to enter the daunting world of high school.

Although Rory, Obama, and I’s futures were uncertain, there was a palpable feeling of hope that outweighed any fears of the unknown.

During my young impressionable years, I had the privilege—in both my real and imaginative worlds—to be surrounded by truly remarkable characters.

In the real world of politics, I got to grow up in the ‘yes we can’ generation, believing that anyone regardless of gender, race, economic background, could carve out a place for themselves in even the most elite pockets of society.

In my world of fiction, I was fortunate to have two strong female heroines whose self-worth was anchored in their intelligence, independence, and capacity to eat more than their male counterparts.

As a young woman—navigating through a time often ridden with cliques and self-confidence issues—my real and fictitious role models helped me keep a touch on the pulse, whose steady and defined beats reminded me of the values I would grow up to cherish dearly.

When I was reunited with Rory Gilmore this past November, only weeks after a sexist tyrant was elected as Obama’s successor, I mourned the loss of feminism in the worlds I had once inhabited.

When I left Rory, she was a quiet, driven young woman, who acknowledged her flaws and her fears.

She chose a career she loved over a man she adored, and though terrified, fearlessly threw herself into the deep end.

The Rory I found in Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, was virtually unrecognizable.

Her work-ethic I had once so preciously admired was replaced with a repulsive entitlement that manifested itself in her career, her love life, and even her relationship with her beloved mother and best-friend, Lorelai.

A poster promoting Gilmore Girls during its original run. Photo Credit: Zach Tirrell/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

She found satisfaction in her friendships with trust-fund babies she had once despised (Logan’s Life and Death Brigade friends) and seemed to have no qualms being Logan’s mistress, meanwhile walking all-over her caring boyfriend whose name and existence not even she could remember.

When I have expressed my disappointment with Rory’s character in the Gilmore Girls revival, people have told me—to my fervent frustration—that the old Rory was ‘unrealistic’.

But to say that a sincere, hard-working, and driven young woman who cares more about C-Span and Tolstoy than about fashion and parties is ‘unrealistic’ is to do a massive dis-service to every hard-working young woman out there who refuses to succumb to stereotypes of what a young woman is supposed to look like.

Like all of us, Rory was a flawed and imperfect character.

Throughout the seven seasons, Rory fell apart almost every time she received criticism.

When she hit a deer and missed her exam, she threw a tantrum in class; when a professor in Season Four told her to drop a class, she cried in Dean’s lap; when Mitchum Huntsburger told her she didn’t have ‘it’, she dropped out of school for a semester and moved into Richard and Emily’s pool house.

As Jess poignantly noted back in Season Two while driving Rory’s car—and Logan pointed out at a Life and Death Brigade retreat later in the series (You jump, I jump Jack)—Rory was scared of the world around her.

Gilmore Girls speaks for a certain generation of American women who are now coming into positions of influence. Photo Credit: jeffmason/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

She spent her first year of university hiding away after her mom slept at her dorm her first night of college, where I might add, she hardly made any new friends.

So no, Rory was not an unrealistic character because she was imperfect with flaws that I learnt from and whose attributes I grew to admire.

But because of Rory, I went through high school hardly worrying about my appearance or trying to be cool.

While I undoubtedly had my teenage moments where I rolled my kilt to show a little more leg, or worried about what party to go to on a Friday night, I spent more time reading and studying than I did drinking or sneaking out.

I wanted to be valued for my independence and intelligence rather than be judged by my appearance or who I was dating.

Though I would like to take credit for these character traits I have grown to be proud of, I can say with an utmost certainty that I inherited these attributes from Rory Gilmore and for that, I am thankful.

In her high school graduation speech, Rory said:

“I live in two worlds. One is a world of books. I’ve been a resident of Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County, hunted the white whale aboard the Pequod, fought alongside Napoleon, sailed a raft with Huck and Jim, committed absurdities with Ignatius J. Reilly, rode a sad train with Anna Karenina and strolled down Swann’s Way. It’s a rewarding world, but my second one is by far superior. My second one is populated with characters slightly less eccentric, but supremely real, made of flesh and bone, full of love, who are my ultimate inspiration for everything.”

For those of who grew up watching Gilmore Girls, we also grew up living in two worlds.

In one, we were part of a fictitious, eccentric town in Connecticut where two women taught us what it meant to be independent strong women in the 21st century.

In the other, Obama, an also imperfect character, reminded us that despite all the odds, hope could conquer.

In 2017, I am no longer inspired by the characters in my world of fiction nor in my world of politics—feminism seems to have temporarily escaped them both.

But perhaps this reminds us that progress is not an uphill process—it zigs and zags in surprising directions—but it’s up to us, the generation whose impressionable years were imprinted by impeccable role model to reshape the worlds that have shaped us.

It’s our turn to be someone worth imitating.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Ed Schipul/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

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