Election 2012: My First Time Ever Voting!

Election 2012: My First Time Ever Voting!

This past presidential election was the first time I have been a part of voting, and I was entrenched in all it had to offer. I watched all the presidential and vice presidential debates, kept up on some company campaigns, had my absentee ballot mailed from Wisconsin to me early, discussed policy late into the night with … Read more

This past presidential election was the first time I have been a part of voting, and I was entrenched in all it had to offer. I watched all the presidential and vice presidential debates, kept up on some company campaigns, had my absentee ballot mailed from Wisconsin to me early, discussed policy late into the night with my roommates and stayed up until 2 a.m. when the President was re-elected for another 4 years.

Absentee ballot has been sent to Wisconsin. Voting in my first ever presidential election, check. (Link)

I feel as if I am an independent  on many different topics. I tend to focus more heavily on topics that might directly effect my job outlook and just intrigue me overall, like renewable energy projects, entrepreneurship, foreign trade, etc. It is remarkable though, that when watching the debates several big topics weren’t discussed, and even if they were, both candidates could very well be lying or giving false statistics to help sway the popular vote. Here are the top 6 lies from the vice presidential debate alone. Also, below is a list from Rolling Stone that has 11 very big topics that weren’t even asked in the debates:

  1. CLIMATE
    The candidates were never asked about climate change, whether they believe it poses an existential threat to our future, and what, if anything, they’d do about it.
  2. THE HOUSING CRISIS
    The root cause of the financial collapse of 2008 was the housing bubble. The foreclosure crisis remains a drag on our economy. Obama’s efforts to aid underwater homeowners have been feckless. Romney declared the market should be allowed to “hit bottom.” The moderators thought none of this worthy of discussion.
  3. THE EUROZONE
    The European economy is in crisis. The common currency is in danger of collapse. Would the next American president intervene to save the Eurozone? Who knows?! Certainly not debate watchers.
  4. SUPREME COURT
    The next president will pick at least one and perhaps two Supreme Court justices — but neither presidential candidate was asked anything about what principles would inform his choices for the court.
  5. CAMPAIGN FINANCE
    This election has been waged with ungodly sums of SuperPAC money, leaving both candidates beholden to megadonors. But neither candidate was asked to weigh in on the Citizens United decision that equates money with speech.
  6. GAY MARRIAGE
    Gay marriage is on the ballot from Maryland to Washington state. It first became legal in Massachusetts (over Romney’s objections) and Obama made history by personally backing marriage equality. The Defense of Marriage Act is headed for a date with the Supreme Court. Yet there was not a single question about whether same sex-couples deserve equal protection.
  7. DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL
    Obama made an offhanded boast about its repeal, but there was no line of inquiry from the moderators about whether gays and lesbians would continue to be welcome in the Armed Forces under a Romney presidency.
  8. ABORTION
    There was no effort to clarify where each candidate stands on Roe v. Wade. (The subject of abortion surfaced briefly in the vice presidential debate, but as a personal issue — as a lens for the candidates’ Catholic faith.) A low information voter could have watched all three presidential debates and come away thinking there’s no meaningful difference on choice, beyond Mitt Romney’s plan to strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding.
  9. THE FED
    Ben Bernanke is the most powerful Federal Reserve chairman in living memory and has more direct influence over the unemployment rate than anyone. Romney has said he’d replace him. Why — and what kind of monetary policy he’d seek — remain open questions.
  10. THE DRUG WAR
    Marijuana legalization is on the ballot in three states. Tens of thousands of Mexicans have been killed in drug violence connected to American consumption, for which we continue to incarcerate an insane number of Americans. Yet there was not a single question about the efficacy of the 40-year, $1 trillion War on Drugs.
  11. TAX EVASION
    Mitt Romney’s tax returns have been a central campaign focus since the GOP primaries. They came up repeatedly in the Republican debates, yet didn’t pique the curiosity of the general-election moderators. (Get a detailed look at how Romney avoids paying his fair share.)

Some of these topics, like climate and the eurozone, I wanted to hear about. The only time they talked about climate was regarding energy and energy independence, but both candidates gave their generalities on the subject matter and other questions were asked. Nevertheless, I always try to research as much as I can, stand in the middle from the beginning, and then lean slightly one way to make a political decision. It felt very good to fill in my absentee ballot. By doing so, you really feel strong and a part of your nation.

Whether you are pleased or not about the results this year with Obama, just remember that we still are the United States of America, and now he has himself some proving to do. I do not like talking politics much, but one thing I like to voice is how separate the House is now a days. Bi-partisanship I feel is one of the biggest issues in Washington. Viewpoints are so oddly stretched and beyond from Republican to Democrat that it is deviating away from the interest of the general public. I hope that eventually, our government can realize that the mesh between parties must come closer together. We can move forward, for it is Congress and the House that makes many of the decisions, not just the President.

Patagonia #Becauseilove Campaign

Patagonia #Becauseilove Campaign

Throughout college I have been very fond of the company Patagonia not only because it has amazing products, but I greatly admire its business model. It established the The Footprint Chronicles® which examines Patagonia’s life and habits as a company. The goal is to use transparency about its supply chain to help reduce its adverse social and environmental impacts – and … Read more


Throughout college I have been very fond of the company Patagonia not only because it has amazing products, but I greatly admire its business model. It established the The Footprint Chronicles® which examines Patagonia’s life and habits as a company. The goal is to use transparency about its supply chain to help reduce its adverse social and environmental impacts – and on an industrial scale. Patagonia has been in business long enough to know that when we can reduce or eliminate a harm, other businesses will be eager to follow suit. It believes that a triple bottom line incorporating people/planet/profits will ultimately make the company most successful. It doesn’t necessarily focus on just improving the world we live in, but it’s a better business option, more efficient and cost effective. Patagonia also has great books by founder Yvon Chouinard that I anticipate reading. Grab a copy of Let My People Go Surfing and/or The Responsible Company if you can. Also, if you want to read more about triple bottom line business, read this post about how Corporate Sustainability is Redefining the Future of Business.

Patagonia has extended its business model to an extent that is unimaginable. Last Black Friday the company spearheaded a Don’t Buy Campaign on one of its most popular jackets. Because it wanted to be in business for a good long time — and leave a world inhabitable for our kids — it wanted to do the opposite of every other business today. Patagonia asked consumers to buy less and to reflect before you spend a dime on this jacket or anything else. In the end, from a business perspective, I am almost certain the marketing campaign did exactly what the company wanted it to do, drove sales. (Note: Making the R2 jacket requires “135 liters of water, enough to meet the daily needs (three glasses a day) of 45 people. Its journey from its origin as 60% recycled polyester to our Reno warehouse generated nearly 20 pounds of carbon dioxide, 24 times the weight of the finished product.”)

Another great campaign that is going on around this time of year and centered around the #Election2012 is Vote the Environment. Regardless of where you stand politically, this should be a pressing or at the least interesting issue to be handled by the presidential candidates. How will we reduce our deficit, while remaining energy independent and utilizing future technologies? Education, jobs, renewable energies, and much more have a lot to do with this.

From Patagonia’s website, Jack Johnson’s essay explains that, “Not only are we a product of our environment, we are an integral part of it. This statement seems obvious enough, but in our modern culture human beings often feel separate from nature. We see this when we vote: the environment has become only the 10th most important issue on a list after war, healthcare, education and other concerns. As the foundation for all of life and all human endeavors, the environment should be our first and most important consideration…When you vote to improve water and air quality, you are voting to improve human health. When you vote to provide incentives to use renewable energy, you are helping to create jobs and energy independence, in turn making an investment in peace.”

I am very grateful to have some Vote the Environment materials that I will be giving to the Sustainable Management Advisory Committee, but please let me know if you would like postcards or stickers! Tweet @zmsuhar with the hashtag #becauseilove if you want any or shoot me an email!

To follow the campaign even further, Patagonia has gained a lead on social media and on its website. Hashtags are trending, and Facebook posts are consumed with the “Vote the Environment” logos. You can even tweet, register to vote, get benefit tracks, gear and more right on Patagonia’s website (http://www.patagonia.com/us/vote-the-environment/)! Below you can find even more ways to interact…and I look forward to seeing some tweets about Patagonia and #becauseilove.

  • Twitter: Tweet the “#becauseilove” hashtag to share your favorite place, environmental cause or tag a photo to the tweet. Tweets with this tag will be shown on our web site, the Wilco and HeadCount websites and projected on stage at Wilco concerts this summer.
  • Get the Wilco Benefit Track: Download a live, exclusive version of Wilco’s “Whole Love,” the title track from the band’s latest Grammy-nominated album. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the sale of the song benefit HeadCount.
  • Watch/Share the Video: What kind of world do you want to live in? Created by Patagonia and Free Range studio.
  • Register to Vote: Register to vote online at HeadCount.org or visit the HeadCount booth at Wilco tour sites this summer.
  • Know the Voting Records of Your Representatives: Check out League of Conservation Voters to know the environmental scorecard of the candidates.
  • Get a Benefit T-Shirt: Purchase a Wilco or Patagonia Vote the Environment t-shirt and Patagonia will donate $5 from the sale of each t-shirt to HeadCount.

I am curious to hear, excluding political opinions, what are the things “you love” in regards to Patagonia’s campaign? Also, what are your thoughts on its business model?

Presidential Elections: Is Social Media a Game Changer?

Presidential Elections: Is Social Media a Game Changer?

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According to Mashable, Facebook just surpassed 1 billion active users, and there are already 140 million monthly active users on Twitter. It is safe to say social media has become a big player in many companies’ marketing strategies and campaigns. This past week it was also the first night of Presidential Debates between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, who both use social media actively to drive followers and voter support. According to Huffington Post, the use of social media in the 2012 US presidential election is expected to reach new levels of sophistication as the political parties increasingly use digital techniques to help raise election cash as well as influence the outcome of the vote.

Obama has built on the social media lead he gained on the Republican party in 2008. Based on analysis by SBS World News Australia, Obama had 28,658,765 Facebook fans but also 19,806,314 Twitter followers. Republican candidate Mitt Romney (whose Twitter profile simply reads “Former Governor of Massachusetts”) had just 6,961,665 fans on Facebook and 1,123,637 followers on Twitter in comparison.

Obama is also eager to experiment with the latest social media techniques such as ‘hangouts.’ Over 200,000 people recently tuned in to Reddit to see Obama take part in what’s known as an “AMA” — Ask Me Anything. He personally answered over 1000 questions, no minions intervened, ranging from politics, to philosophy, to Washington’s secret beer recipe. Obama received a mountain of praise for his efforts.

But will all this social media activity keep Obama in the White House? If the Internet were to decide who will be the next U.S. President, Barack Obama would win by a landslide. However, the most recent polls paint a drastically different picture. They show that the candidates are virtually neck and neck.

Article ideas via Huffington Post.