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.

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.

 

Waffles or Pancakes?

Waffles or Pancakes?

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The age-old question must be answered. This is a very simple question. Which do you prefer, waffles or pancakes? I am a morning person, which means I love breakfast and everything about it. I love eating cereal, eggs, ham, bacon, yogurt and fruit, but when it comes to waffles or pancakes, I am not sure which I prefer sometimes.

My best friends and I cannot be better friends simply because we cannot agree on the biggest dilemma of them all. One day over the summer, we decided to go onto chatroulette.com and surveyed everyone to find out if they prefer waffles or pancakes. One rule of quick advice: go on that website during the day, it’s simply safer for your viewing. After around four hours of polling strangers, we came across a pretty even battle. It was like flipping a coin; you have the same chances every time. There are simple reasons why people like one or the other – sometimes the taste, sometimes it is easier to spread the butter or sometimes the pool of syrup or other fruit fits just perfect in those little pockets of the waffle. No matter what it is, people have a simple reason that forces them to choose one over the other.

We had to get more creative with this. We came up with a few other possible scenarios.

  • Best pancakes you’ve ever eaten VS. best waffles you’ve ever eaten
  • Frozen waffles VS. frozen pancakes
  • Kresge Court waffle maker VS. chef-made pancakes
  • Mother-made waffles VS. Mother-made pancakes
  • Gross waffles VS gross pancakes
  • Which one taste better at dinner?
  • Why isn’t French toast in this poll?
  • Why can’t I make two waffles with a pancake in the middle?
  • Well… why wouldn’t you make two pancakes with a waffle in the middle?

The list goes on, so much that you eventually get back to the same question, waffles or pancakes? I have to know everyone’s opinion on this important matter. Sometimes I can’t go to sleep simply because I can’t believe how even sided it is! There has to be a definitive one-sided winner.

Let me know what you prefer. Overall, I prefer pancakes.

Video Scholarship Contest – Vote for Me!

Video Scholarship Contest – Vote for Me!

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I recently applied for the Grand Trunk Study Abroad Scholarship for my spring semester in Alicante, Spain and need your help! Students were asked to submit a video and explain how he or she has a unique and inspired passion for travel, a desire to experience new places with an open mind, to see the delicate interconnections between humankind and nature and have a deep understanding of intercultural relations.

Like Grand Trunk, I share an incredible passion for the outdoors and am adamant about protecting our wild and natural places here on this earth. This reason, along with many other similarities between my lifestyle and values, is why I feel I can add value to the brand as a Grand Trunk Ambassador. Ultimately, I love encountering new experiences, and I define these experiences as travels that stay with you for the rest of your life. I believe travel can add value to our lives like nothing else. Travel teaches compassion, humility and a desire to realize the interconnectedness of our experiences here on this planet. For me, what I enjoy most, is sharing these connections through the images produced from my journeys and documenting their stories on my blog.

Vote at http://studyabroad.grandtrunkgoods.com/project/zak-suhar-the-ultimate-traveler/

There will be a public voting period from December 1 – December 31 to narrow down entries to only six. Then, from January 1 – January 3, Grand Trunk employees and sponsors will determine a total of three winners. There are scholarship rewards for three students along with an awesome prize pack! I really hope you can help me in the voting period by posting my video to Facebook, tweeting and emailing friends who would be willing to support me. Each person can vote up to five times a day throughout the whole month of December, and I hope you can remember to vote as much as possible! You can watch my video at the link above, then select “vote for this video” and login through Facebook to submit your votes.

Thank you for all your support, and I cannot wait to share incredible experiences with you!

“Travel often, getting lost will help you find yourself.”