Do You Really HAVE TO Vote?

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I’ve been quiet about the election because I don’t like politics. I’m what you would call a swing voter. Back when I was in college, I voted for Obama because I blindly believed in what he was promising the American people. Four years later, voted Republican because I didn’t agree with Obama’s policies.

Now here I am again four years later at another Presidential election. Voting for the lesser of two evils is sadly not an option for me anymore.

I don’t support Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. I never have and I never will.

Something I’ve been noticing since middle school is that whenever the current political sphere is undesirable, people from Hollywood start doing public service announcements that compel people to vote. You might remember the Vote or Die campaign during the 2004 elections or Lena Dunham’s infamous viral video during the 2012 presidential election.

Joss Whedon has now contributed to the current zeitgeist with this anti-Trump video:

Even the cast of Hamilton is getting on this:

It’s just too bad that Whedon and Lin-Manuel Miranda have also thrown their hats into Clinton’s ring. Bless your hearts, both of you. I love you, but I have to disagree here.

It’s gotten to the point that Blimey Cow has parodied the pro-voting bandwagon:

The problem with all the appeals to get people to vote is that it comes off sounding like voting is mandatory. I understand that voting is a necessity, but I also believe in preserving the right to opt out of voting for a few reasons, most of which are talked about in this awesome video:

So what’s my solution? If you really want to vote, do research on third parties. Look into the Libertarian Party or the American Solidarity Party. Look into any other party that’s not covered by the mainstream media. Inform yourself so that you don’t just vote blindly.

And before you start telling me that voting for a third party will just be a wasted vote, there are a couple of articles that say otherwise. There’s also a history of third party presidential nominees who were able to capture a considerable amount of votes. Not to mention that Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt represented what were considered third parties during the time of their elections. Lincoln can be considered the first Republican and Roosevelt was from the Bull Moose party.

If you really don’t want to vote, you don’t have to, at least when it comes to choosing the next President. We live in a country where we have the right to refuse things as a form of protest. When this election is over, the people will end up complaining about the President no matter who wins. You can rest easy knowing you refused to give your vote to them. You can still vote for candidates you feel would be acceptable, such as Senators, Representatives, and people who will run your state and city. Keep up with local issues as well. Something I learned in my sociology class is that we can’t expect the President to fix our problems. Voting local (on a state-wide and city level) has a better impact on changing our everyday lives than who we pick to run our country.

In the end, I hope that no matter what you do, your decision will be an informed and wise one.

Pray to St. Jude, St. Rita, and Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception for our country.

Love/Death/Life Doesn't Discriminate Between the Sinners and the Saints

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What do David Bowie, Alexander Hamilton, and Lin-Manuel Miranda have in common with a girl like me? Apparently, our birthdays are all on the same week. Alexander Hamilton was born on January 11th, 1755. 261 years later, David Bowie passed away and entered into a rebirth that we call the afterlife. I don’t know where he is, but I pray for the repose of his soul. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s birthday is this Saturday. And me? I’m caught in the middle, with my birthday being January 13th.

 

I’m not as familiar with David Bowie as everyone else. I know some of his songs and I understood his legacy as a rock star. I never watched Labyrinth (mea culpa, fellow 90s kids), but I know genius when I see it. And David Bowie was a genius. The moment that keeps coming to mind for me isn’t any of his movies or albums, but a moment when one of his songs was used in a movie:

Perks of Being a Wallflower holds a special place in my heart because it was the first movie that I watched when I began my recovery from the constant anxieties I’ve been suffering. I identified with Charlie because I was uncertain of myself. And yet, I understood that joy from the tunnel scene, hearing that perfect song on the radio and wanting to relish the moment while it lasted. That little moment wasn’t much, but I felt a bit of happiness that, before that point, eluded me.

There’s a song in Hamilton called “Wait For It,” one of Aaron Burr’s signature songs in the musical. It establishes that while Hamilton chases his ambitions, Burr is waiting for the right opportunity to come his way. Lin-Manuel Miranda said this about the song:

I think we’ve all had moments where we’ve seen friends and colleagues zoom past us, either to success, or to marriage, or to homeownership, while we lingered where we were—broke, single, jobless. And you tell yourself, “Wait for it.”

Like Aaron Burr, I’m still waiting for my time to shine. I wish that I could be like Hamilton, brave enough to make my own opportunities, or like David Bowie, who always pushed the boundaries when it came to music, or like Lin-Manuel Miranda, whose hard work can be seen in the musicals he worked on.

But as this particular performance shows, sometimes, you have to just wait for it.

Hamilton The Musical: An Album Review

 

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I’m a sucker for American History, especially the Revolution. But I like stories that keep the drama to a realistic perspective. I don’t like Turn because there isn’t as much history as there is drama. I liked Sons of Liberty in spite of the inaccuracies of the love triangle between Joseph Warren, Margaret, and General Gage. On paper, Hamilton shouldn’t work. But it does. It’s jam-packed with 46 musical numbers that establish who everyone is and moves the plot along. It’s basically a hip-hopera that succeeds in a way that previous attempts at hip-hop/opera didn’t. Because the musical has about 46 or so musical numbers that basically flow into each other, I’m not gonna do a track by track review, but talk about the story the songs tell me.

I’ll be honest when I say that I honestly didn’t know much about Alexander Hamilton going into this musical. He’s most famous for being involved in the American Revolution, writing most of the Federalist papers, creating the current system of treasury, and dying in a duel. But this musical doesn’t just bring Hamilton to life, but all of his contemporaries as well. It’s best seen in the opening number “Alexander Hamilton.” It acts as the “prologue” of the story and it’s already amazing that Hamilton was able to get out of the Caribbean with nothing but the money people raised to get him out and his writing skills.

What’s most interesting is that even though Aaron Burr is an antagonist, he’s not exactly a villain. He’s shown his sympathetic moments in the second number “Aaron Burr, Sir.” He reminds me of politicians who aim to please without really standing for anything. And yet, he still has love for his daughter Theodosia and has his own ambitions. (Note: Theodosia was originally illegitimate but Leah Libresco told me that Burr ended up marrying Theodosia’s mom after her first husband died.)

Act II introduces Jefferson and Madison, who are also antagonistic figures due to being Hamilton’s political rivals, but the awesome Cabinet Battle numbers show that Jefferson’s desires have some basis in logic. However, reality is more complicated than Jefferson’s ideas. Jefferson, Madison, and Burr have a villain song in “The Room Where it Happens” and “Washington on Your Side,” which shows their jealousy for Hamilton. Both Jefferson and Madison end up paying their respects for Hamilton in the closing number because Hamilton’s financial system turned out to be a good thing in the long run. And Burr realizes the cost of letting his jealousy go too far in “The World Was Wide Enough.” You feel really sorry for Burr at the end.

You could  could argue from “You’ll Be Back,” “What Comes Next,” and “I Know Him” that King George III is the villain in this musical, but he never interacts with Hamilton. He’s just there to be America’s clingy ex-boyfriend, the comic relief in this intense, dramatic musical. Props to Jonathan Groff, btw, because I honestly didn’t recognize his voice when I listened to his tracks.

Hamilton could’ve easily been “Mister Perfect” in this musical, but his flaws are seen in this show as much as all the other characters. He’s definitely extraordinary, brilliant, and innovative, but he’s also shown to be arrogant and short-sighted at times. His short-sightedness shows in “Say No to This” especially and in Hamilton’s decision to publish the Reynolds pamphlet. Hamilton’s dreams of rising up seem to be going down in flames because marital fidelity is still something we value. The whole incident feels Clinton-esque and I want to slap Hamilton upside the head for falling for such a cheap trick and not thinking things through.

The musical also develops historical figures I never knew before, namely the Schuyler sisters. (Pronounced “skylar”) The Schuyler Sisters are forward-thinking intelligent women, especially Angelica who’s looking for a mind at work. Angelica is gunning for feminism two centuries before the first wave feminist movement and yet I find it believable because intellectual revolutions come around in times of war.

“Helpless” and “Satisfied” fully establish the characters of Eliza and Angelica Schuyler. Eliza is more of a hopeless romantic, wanting a quiet, domestic life (as seen in “That Would Be Enough”) while Angelica needs to marry rich and wants to marry someone who could match wits with her. They’re also both in love with Hamilton. Once you realize how similar “Helpless” sounds to “Countdown” by Beyonce, you can never un-hear the similarities. Eliza, being Hamilton’s wife, gets major character development as she deals with Hamilton’s ambitions and mistakes. “Burn” is a tear-jerking number because she’s not gonna stand by her man, and yet “It’s Quiet Uptown” is also tear-jerking because of the way Eliza and Hamilton reconcile. It takes a death to bring them together. It takes Hamilton dying for Eliza to finally stand by her man.

I also learned more of Hamilton’s comrades in arms, John Laurens and the Marquis de Laffayette. Given my bias towards all things French, I have a soft spot for the Marquis in all his over-the-top bravado. Mulligan is the rough-and-tumble Irishman who ends up becoming more of a minor character compared to everyone else.

The musical makes John Adams the butt of the joke in a couple of numbers such as “I Know Him” and “The Adams Administration”. It’s surprising that Adams isn’t even in the musical at all, but the cast is already large enough with a ton of musical numbers. But it’s a good thing John Adams has his own musical anyway. To quote said musical:

“Consider yourselves fortunate that you have John Adams to abuse, for no sane man would tolerate it!”

And while we’re on the subject of running gags, please leave New Jersey alone. That joke is getting old.

For me, though, the most intriguing character is George Washington. George Washington would usually be the star of a musical, but in this play he plays the role of Hamilton’s mentor. Washington is the main reason Hamilton gets so far up the social ladder, and yet he and Hamilton don’t always agree. It was sweet when I heard Washington refer to Hamilton as “son” because Hamilton never had a father and Washington had no children with Martha. Hamilton wants to defend Washington in the hopes of gaining his own regiment but I feel like Hamilton also loves Washington as much as anyone could love a hero.

Washington seems the most aware of the future, even more so than Hamilton, because he tells Hamilton to always be aware of who tells his story.

To me, the real story of Hamilton is about legacy. I love that Lin Manuel-Miranda chose to make the cast diverse because it shows how anyone from any race or ethnicity can relate to these historical figures. We can understand these characters and their desires. By making no real villains, we can see the complexity of the politics and see our own political atmosphere in this story. I so wish political debates were as cool as the Cabinet Battles!

I can’t wait for the day that high schools create their own productions of this play because it’s educational as much as it is educational. They have to deal with the cussing, though, but seriously. There needs to be a high school version of this hip-hopera. Like now. Also, can someone take me to Broadway so I can watch this live?!

For now, give this album a listen. It’s a seriously good one.