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I’ve always felt a sort of kinsmanship with Germany. Strange, considering my Jewish ancestry and the fact that most of my family came from either Austria or Italy. Nonetheless, after taking German for a semester at Rutgers I was surprised, but delighted, to find I was able to keep up with most of the basic conversation. My brother, Spencer, is already fluent in the language, and he quickly became my walking, talking German dictionary. My language skills have improved over the two weeks I spent taking trains from Frankfurt to Munich all the way to Hamburg and Berlin. While I do wish to become fluent in German, my language enhancement was not the most important product of the trip. The most important product came in the form of perspective. It was not something that I gained in Germany but was more so something I lacked in the United States.
Fear has been a powerful idea in this election cycle. Some used fear as a justification for their beliefs while others used it to exacerbate existing issues to fit their narrative. Both candidates were guilty of such language. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton feared a world where President-elect Donald Trump would have the nuclear codes, just as Trump feared a world where Clinton would be responsible for answering the 1 a.m. phone call. Fear can be enticing when used to gain supporters, yet can also be downright dangerous when those supporters are left to their own devices. Whether preaching their own fears or inspiring new fears in the public, our politicians seem to be a one-trick pony, effectively riling us up without any real consequence. Most left-leaning college students just did a double-take and are now rereading that last part a third time.
In a previous column I wrote “No matter who wins, half of the nation will be furious” — I think this point has held true. Donald Trump has won the presidency of the United States of America. Yes, a reality TV-star is now the face of the free world, and, in retrospect, Flava Flav or The Situation would’ve probably been more fun. The one thing on everyone's mind now is whether or not the cabinet will act as the newest contestants for The Apprentice. I feel an overwhelming sense of existential dread coming on, but that could also just be allergies or gas or the crippling fear that my country has abandoned me. I’ll keep you posted. The biggest surprise of this election did not come Tuesday night, but instead Wednesday morning when I woke to find that the trees were, in fact, not ablaze, the rivers did not run red with blood nor were the dead rising from their graves. Lamest rapture ever. I’m not sure which is sadder — the fact that this country has a demagogue in the highest office of power, or the fact that the people elected this demagogue democratically. For the first time since Trump announced his candidacy, I feel as though I’m the one who's out of touch. If roughly 25 percent of the nation wants to build a wall on the southern border, feels existentially threatened by the terrorism of radicals and finally pins all of our economic turmoil on the actions of immigrants, maybe I should as well? Just kidding, I shouldn't, and neither should you.
As the 2016 presidential election continues to develop, I continue to lose sight of the political system I thought I knew. As a member of the youngest generation of voters, I find myself very excited by this turbulent presidential cycle, as do many of my peers. Sadly, this excitement comes at a price. Quite honestly, one year ago, I would have laughed off the notion that Donald Trump could be the Republican nominee, but ... here we are.
I want to put the apathetic non-voters under the microscope.
Let's play taboo: I cuff the bottom of my pants, I paint two of my finger nails because I love punk rock, I live on my phone but more importantly the Internet, I'm going to college, I'm broke and finally, I love Bernie Sanders. Who am I?