The Basket That Rolled Down Capitol Hill

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I remember growing up and hearing the timeless adage, “don’t put all of your eggs in one basket”. As adults we realize this translates to such things as networking, planning, forming contingency plans, and acting with informed deliberation. This saying always aroused a sense of trepidation and anxiety in me, calling to question the irresoluteness of anything. It is difficult as a child to accept that sometimes there are things in the world that will not be foreseeable, calculable, or even preventable. Agency in a child is a very fragile, growing thing. This is true for adults as well.

North Carolina’s Elevator Queen

When I think of local elections, I think of Cherie Berry, and how I’ve seen that name in a North Carolina elevator for nine years. That’s just the time I’ve been knowingly aware of her as a force of influence; Cherie Berry with her artful gaze encasing that indulgent smile as she imparts the stature of a stately representative with managerial skill and the acumen of an effective communicator. Cherie Berry has been the commissioner of labor for almost seventeen years. That is longer than two Presidents each serving eight years. I wonder exactly how it is that with every election I seem to be presented with candidates that are too young, too dispirited or uniformly cut to their role, too ego-maniacal to be effective past a lobbyist wet dream, or too connected and entrenched in a system of nepotism that has its reaches into the nexus of every civil service job in the state. If someone suitable as a political representative came up to me and shook my hand, would I even begin to know how to tell if they were authentic?

Commander in Chief or CEO?

Some people put their all their eggs in the basket of the White House. Let’s call this the trickle-down vote. People believe that as the CEO of the country, the Presidential office is the most important role. That it is the vote that matters. Now, I’m not arguing that it is a vote that greatly matters. It is a crucial vote to name the person who becomes the figurehead and commander-in-chief of our country. Yet, return back to the idea of the President as CEO. Chief executive officers of companies, while holding extremely powerful positions, are acting as agents of the company’s board. The board and its members control the company. We can see this in the long list of ousted CEOs from companies such as Equifax, JetBlue, and Groupon. CEOs may be the face of the company, but there are powerful figures in the background that are the pivotal players.

The Room Where it Happens

Sadly, the background of politics is where everything happens. Contrary to its long-winded performance, C-SPAN does not show everything. Part of raising that curtain is becoming a participant in state and local elections. I’m not a newly christened voter, and I haven’t been a consistent voter since I turned eighteen. Part of my own reluctance to be engaged was my skepticism of both parties, the lack of transparency in government leadership (including the actual process of voting itself), the lack of elected representatives able to provide an individual record of administering professional and ethical public service (think of how all candidates, even those running again, make claims of what they are going to do and rarely refer to specific examples of past experience), and the persistent feeling that I was complicit in manufactured democratic agency. I don’t think I was alone in not voting so that I could feel a sense of personal integrity maintained.

Why Vote?

Now I’ve come to realize that every vote matters. I’ve come to this conclusion for a multitude of reasons, but one of the most crucial is the recognition of the efforts made to intimidate voters. The New York Times released an article that exposed state police officers in Florida who decided to “randomly” go door-to-door in a neighborhood of elderly Americans, mostly African-American, and question their voting in a past mayoral election. This timely questioning occurred as voting for the 2017 Presidential race was in its consequential stages.

 Now I’m not saying that the SBI or the local sheriff office is sending in quadrants of armed men to canvass neighborhoods and create an atmosphere of fear and repression. These events of political oppression do not happen on a grand scale, they happen in small towns or in small communities within cities, and they often happen because of rationalizations that are unchecked, unfounded, and derelict of moral oversight.

In my state of North Carolina, there has been a pushed political agenda that is focused on capital gain for lawmakers, lobbyist, and the myriad network of venture capitalist, investors, and private companies with shared interests who demonstrate such a keen level of concern in our state’s affairs. One new law allows restaurants in North Carolina to serve alcohol at ten in the morning, instead of the afternoon. Instead of serving better or even maybe cheaper dishes with Sunday specials, restaurateurs are set on serving mimosas and mojitos. What could possibly go wrong even though a Center for Disease Control reports shows that North Carolina is above the national average in age-related drunk driving fatalities in every single age group? That’s not all folks. North Carolina legislators are currently reviewing Bill 746 that allows gun owners to carry concealed without a permit. It also has a provision allowing firearm safety classes as elective classes in high schools. Again, what could possibly go wrong?

It Doesn’t Matter Who Your Party Is

Government is an indecipherable web of unfatigued schemes, artifice, and calculated misdeeds. We know politicians didn’t cultivate their skills through simple reflection and a devout attention to spreading goodwill. We know members of each party have acted with less than scrupulous means and compromised ideals. What that doesn’t have to mean is a citizenry that is disengaged and unrepresented. It is true that local elections can be extremely confusing. There is a general lack of transparency in what an alderman or commissioner does. Each county is different in the number of years an elected official holds office. In Asheboro, a member of the board of education is a seated official for six years. This is a long-term for such an important, influential role in the community. When more and more people become aware of the political distinctions and divergences in their county as well as their state, Americans can gain a greater sense of political agency and more adeptly feel the winds of change that come with recognizing oneself as a  politically expressed and active citizen.

Let’s Get Balanced

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EDITORS NOTE: Bringing you The Weekend Mix today is one of our new contributors Esther McCaskill-Baker! Note: While there are Amazon links here, they are NOT affiliated ones. We only use affiliate links on explicitly affiliate posts, in case you were worried. The links are included simply for ease of use. 

It’s the start of Libra season and this week’s The Weekend Mix is one of the first ones to include some fitness and lifestyle youtube recommendations. So, take the opportunity this weekend to get nice and balanced for a spooky October. Here are some picks for music, youtube channels, tv shows, movies, and books to check out this weekend!

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  • Feeling Jazzy? Try some Norah Jones- Perfect if you’re in a jazzy mood, she’s an American singer, songwriter, and actress. Known most perhaps for her 2001 song “Come Away with Me”, now is a great time to check out her 2016 album “Day Breaks” or her 2017 single “Unchained Melody“.
  • More Interested in Metal? Give Jinjer a listen, a Ukrainian 4 piece progressive metal band. Try their 2016 album, “King of Everything
  • Want some Rock? Consider Icon for Hire, a rock band from Decatur, Illinois, with their 2016 album “You Can’t Kill Us
  • Leaning More Towards Rap? Check out Ivan B’s 2017 album, “Forgive Me for My Honesty“.
  • Need Folk or Electronic? Give Halsey’s “hopeless fountain kingdom(Deluxe)” album a listen for that synth-pop craving. Try Anaïs Mitchell to get folk-ed up.

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Youtube

  • Let’s Get Physical: Some fitness gurus I like to turn to on Youtube include Whitney Simmons, a fitness guru, Team Richey, a male crossfit athlete who does GREAT collabs, and Nikki Blackletter, a fitness guru.
  • Meal Prep & Lifestyle: Jordan Cheyenne and Sarah Rae Vargas are also favs. They range from meal prep to lifestyle to self-acceptance.
  • Social & Philosophical Commentary: For social commentary and hilarity, The Gabbie Show is a great show. On the intellectual side, BBC’s The Big Question and Intelligence Squared Debate are good choices. BBC’s The Big Question’s “Did Man Create God?” and Intelligence Squared’s “We Should Not Be Reluctant to Assert the Superiority of Western Values” are two of the best debates!
  • Must-See Web Series: The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a modernized adaptation of Pride and Prejudice (Developed by Hank Green and Bernie Su for you Nerdfighters out there).
  • Special Video Pick: Check out Amanda Bucci’s “Keys to Success from the Summit of Greatness

 

TV Shows

  • Underground– Originally on WGN this underground railroad focused series is available on Amazon Video.
  • Flash Forward– While this show is about seeing the future, it’s a nice glimpse into the past. Watch this ABC series that aired 2009-2010 on Amazon Video
  • The Good Wife– Starring Emmy Award winner Julianna Margulies, watch this political drama on Amazon Video
  • United States of Tara– Created by Diablo Cody, watch this compelling and funny series on dissociative identity disorder on Amazon Video
  • Atypical– Watch this compelling 2017 show, created by Robia Rashid, on the autism spectrum. Catch the first season on Netflix

Movies

  • Suite Française– Looking for a new drama? Check out the story of a French woman in Nazi-Occupied France and the German officer quartering in her home on Netflix
  • What Happened to Monday– If you’re interested in exploring a more dystopic flick check out What Happened to Monday on Netflix, featuring Noomi Rapace, Willem Dafoe, and Glenn Close. 
  • Friends with Kids- If you’re interested in a comedy, check out this one about navigating adult life with children on Amazon Video, featuring Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, and Jon Hamm.

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Books

  • Oracle of Glass by Judith Merkle Riley– Feeling like some historical fiction? Using actual police records from the reign of Louis XIV, Riley’s work dives into the world both of the occult and the French court. Available on Amazon.
  • Julia’s Chocolates by Cathy Lamb- More in the mood for romance? Follow the story of Julia Bennet after she leaves her blueblood abuser fiance and moves to the town of Golden, Oregon. Available on Amazon
  • Every Dead Thing: A Charlie Parker Thriller by John Connolly- Want to get into a series? Start exploring crime with the private detective Charlie Parker as he investigates a missing girl. Available on Amazon
  • A Brief History of Neoliberalism by David Harvey- Do you see the world we live in today and wonder, how did we get here? For some insight, check out the history of the doctrine. Available on Amazon.
  • The Divide by Matt Taibi- In addition to Harvey’s work, don’t forget to check out Taibbi’s look into American Injustice and the age of the Wealth Gap. Available on Amazon.
  • StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath- Interested in Self Improvement? Evaluate yourself with StrengthsFinder 2.0. Available on Amazon.

💗 That’s it, everybody! I hope you have a balanced and peaceful weekend! We’ll see you next week!  💗

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