Someone is trying to kill Vladimir Kara-Murza. Someone is failing. The Russian journalist and democratic activist, a fierce critic of President Vladimir Putin, is soft-spoken but full of life as we sit chatting about politics in the atrium of Gates Hall. Kara-Murza is in town for a screening of his documentary Nemtsov, which tells the story of slain Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, and in an interview with The Sun he explained the story behind the film, and what he hopes to impart on his audience. “Boris was the best of us… so they killed the strongest,” Kara-Murza says when asked about the brazen 2015 assassination of Nemtsov that occured just steps away from the Kremlin.
In the turmoil following Donald Trump’s inauguration and his subsequent Muslim ban, I turned to my grandfather’s story for solace and for guidance. Grandpa Ben had survived Soviet Russia, two years in a German refugee camp, the Great Depression and the Korean War, and built a prosperous life for himself and his family here in New York. He had made it to America, and then he had made it in America. During that dark January, when uncertainty hung heavy over all of us, when nobody was sure just how things would turn out, I looked to my grandpa. I looked at his life, and I knew that everything would be okay, so long as we did the right thing.
Run. Not away from the issues but towards them. Do not think that just because you are young or inexperienced that you cannot make a difference if you try. And there is no more important time to make a difference than now, when the new status quo is totally unacceptable. Keep marching, keep raising your voice on the issues you care about, and then take that energy and run with it.
Despite the recent standout successes of films like Spotlight, La La Land and Moonlight, the past several years have been dark times for cinema. Last summer, droves of Americans willingly spent a collective $176 million to see a movie titled Ant-Man, not because of any particular affection for either ants or the second-tier superhero who obtains their powers, but because we were compelled to do so as a part of Walt Disney Studios’ master plan. See, a standalone film about a man who can shrink himself to the size of an ant probably wouldn’t do so well, regardless of how unassuming and charming the actor playing him was (and Paul Rudd is about as unassuming and charming as they come). But a film about a man who can shrink himself to the size of an ant that happens to be part of a larger so-called “cinematic universe”? Instant blockbuster.
In 1925, after three weeks spent in steerage on the USS America and three years spent in a German refugee camp, a seven-year old Jewish boy named Benjamin Karasik stepped foot on the island of Manhattan. He and his family had fled from the horrors of the Russian Civil War, and now they arrived in America speaking no English and with only meager savings. Twenty-five years later, Captain Benjamin Karasik was commissioned as a doctor during the Korean War. And in a few short months, decades after passing under the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, Grandpa Ben will celebrate his 99th birthday surrounded by his friends and family. Grandpa Ben was one of the lucky ones; by extension, I am one of the lucky ones as well, as are both of my sisters, my mother and all my cousins.
The Democrats lost this election. But despite what you may have heard from the countless talking heads on TV, they have not lost the people. By the time all votes have been counted, Hillary Clinton will have won the popular vote by a larger margin than many previous victors, and Democratic senatorial candidates will have garnered millions more votes than their Republican counterparts. That isn’t just some factoid destined for the footnotes of history — it needs to be a guiding factor in the actions of the party over the next two years. The Democrats must govern like they represent the majority, because they do.
Last Tuesday, Americans across the country went to the polls and voted for the candidate they felt most deserved to be president of the United States. By a still-growing margin, they chose former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, but the reality is that it will be Donald Trump, and not Hillary Clinton, entering the White House in January. There will be a lot at stake these next four years. Power is in the hands of those who seek to unravel all of the progress we have made since President Obama took office. The Affordable Care Act, Dodd Frank financial regulation, climate change accords, the Iran deal and much more hang in the balance, and already Republican congressmen and senators are salivating over the thought of rolling back the products of the last eight years.
We’re almost there, people. After 589 days, 24 debates, 22 candidates and enough talk about Donald Trump’s anatomical proportions to fuel my nightmares for a decade, we’re seven days away from making the most consequential election of our lifetimes. I’d like to sleep easy knowing that we’ll make the right decision, but I watch enough Fox News to know that these days, you can’t take anyone for granted. This is important stuff, America, so close out that Netflix tab you’ve got open and meet me over in paragraph three. Hey guys, glad you could make it on such short notice.
Shortly before submitting this column, I slipped an absentee ballot, addressed to the Montgomery County Board of Elections, into a mailbox by the Cornell Store. When filling out that ballot I was presented with four options for president of the United States — many Americans will see those same four options, although some will see fewer, and some will see more. But it is important to recognize that, although I could have technically selected Gov. Gary “What is Aleppo?” Johnson or Dr. Jill “I would not have killed Osama bin Laden” Stein, or written in Evan “Egg McMuffin” McMullin, there were really only two choices on that ballot: Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump. One of those two will become president. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson has consistently polled in the high single digits and will mostly likely take the largest share of the vote by a third-party candidate since Ross Perot won 19 percent and 8 percent in 1992 and 1996, respectively.