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Keep Calm and Accept the Results

After months (or years) of fundraising emails, podcasts analyzing polling, social media flooded with content about policies and candidates, we are finally coming to the end of the 2020 cycle. This is my 5th cycle of presidential politics. Every election cycle feels like a Flight 93 election, in the media and in people’s heart and minds.. This year is no different, but we’re here and I think it’s important to share a public service announcement. This election is going to be over and like it or not, we’ll move forward with our lives. Keep calm, wait for the results and accept the election results. It could be the mental framework that’ll help you not lose your shit.

You might say – who are you to tell me to “Keep calm”? I get it. On both sides of the political spectrum, there seems to be an existential crisis. That is why. The frenzy of reacting to every political story, the uncertainty of COVID-19 and constant thoughts of when we’ll have our “normal lives” back. It’s not healthy for an individual, and it’s not healthy for society to be this caught up in feelings of anxiety and anger. When the macro environment is outside of one’s individual control, the Zen reaction is to keep calm (if you can’t totally detach yourself from the noise). It might be one of the few tools that you can use. On the more rational side, the cumulative effect of all the canvassing, phone banking, and letter writing will result in one of the biggest electoral turnout in U.S. history, and if you’ve made a decision to vote or abstain from voting, history is already in motion. Keep calm and watch history write itself.

Wait for the results. The Recount has a good 2 minutes video on the 12 states in play and their ballot counting timeline. Unlike previous elections, we may not get election day results due to the 100 million+ (!) votes casted prior to the election day. That’s over 60 percent of 2016 total votes. It’s an incredible accomplishment of civics and democracy. This year may not be the year to sit in front of the TV to wait for the results. Your body will thank you. 

Accept the results. In the United States, we have a legal process in place to dispute election results. Elections are a State issue primarily so States get to take a first pass at resolving the dispute before the electors place their votes on December 14th. Each state has their own laws for presidential and congressional election disputes (it’s complicated), but in general these “toss-up” states are often represented by leaders from both parties. Many people’s interests will be represented and defended in the courts. We don’t riot, we don’t burn shit down, and we don’t hurt others. Once the results are in and finalized, I’m going to accept the election outcome and I hope you do too.

Happy Election Day!

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Can the Senate confirm the SCOTUS seat during an election year?

22. That’s the number of Supreme Court Justices nominated in an election year. Following the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the American public is thrown into the same debate we had in 2016. Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer, along with many of his Democratic colleagues immediately came out and condemned Senator McConnell for moving forward with the nomination and the confirmation process. Should Senate Republicans fill the seat or wait until the results of the election? The framing of this debate is in relation to norms and concludes with “Should the Republicans confirm President Trump’s appointment, yes or no?” However, the actual question we should answer is whether the Executive branch and the Senate can, not should, nominate and possibly appoint a justice to the vacant seat? The answer is yes.

The text of the Constitution empowers the President to nominate an individual to the Supreme Court. As a check and balance mechanism, the Senate has the right to confirm presidential appointments to the Supreme Court under the right of advice and consent, enshrined in Article II, section 2 of the Constitution. As difficult as it may be for some, when the voters consent to elect their representatives we should let the representatives do their job. The role of a functioning legislature means its imperative for the Executive and Legislative branch to fill the role of the Judicial branch, even during an election year.

Out of the 22 nominations ahead of the election year, 11 have been confirmed bringing the confirmation rate to 50%. This data is largely skewed in 1840 when President Tyler nominated 3 individuals, 7 times, and none were confirmed. When you remove those names, the confirmation rate jumps to 73%. There are also 13 nominations during a lame duck session, and 7 confirmations. That’s a 54% confirmation rate. This is history informing us that the President and the Senate can fill the SCOTUS seat during an election year.

Partisan politics poison everything we see, hear and do today, and the vacated SCOTUS seat is not exempt from it. The role of the SCOTUS has changed over the decade. The celebritization of the SCOTUS seat and the constant partisan media narrative to whip up animosity has increased the temperature. The noise we’ll see in the next few weeks will enrage many on both sides of the isle. However, if we are to look at history and the Constitutional right of our representative body of government and look at this process with rationality, we should be able to remove the noise and accept that our current government can nominate a new Justice to the vacated seat.

R.I.P Justice Ginsburg.

2021 Predictions

I’ve been taking several weeks to reflect on 2020. It’s been a huge year of growth for me. I started to write a lot more, I’ve started to meditate in the aim of building my practice in “focus”. I’ve tried to keep things fresh when things are stagnant. I was laid off which forced me to go out on my own. I’m hopeful for all the learnings I’ve taken. This is my second annual prediction post and the first one published.

Culture

  • Marshmellow, Travis Scott, and others made waves reaching new audiences through interactive mediums like games. We’ll see products built and launched specifically to help cultural figures reach places that they’ve never been before. Events will be bigger. Can you see a popular music festival going fully digital? Imagine a virtual Coachella in Fortnite.
  • The market wants less uniting cultural figures. In the last decade or so, the hot thing to do is for celebrities to come up and be political. This year, we’ll see some public bust ups of celebrities going against each other on behalf of their “team”.
  • I don’t remember who was a cultural icon of 2020 and a big breakout star, maybe Billie Eilish? It’s time we see a fresh face of the Lady Gaga 2009 caliber. In the main stream.
  • More cultural figures will land in hot water for making a mistake or saying something that was perceived negatively. You may say we’ll hit historic highs.

Politics

  • EU will see some signs of progress after years of slogging through Brexit. There will be renewed confidence in its market, and especially its access to markets like China and continental Africa.
  • US will try to mend relationships with some allies and foes, and will largely use global organizations as a platform to apologize and concede ground. In the world’s eyes, they have a lot more to lose partnering with the US because we have a functioning opposition, but that results in less trust in deals if it’s not done through proper avenues (i.e. executive orders).
  • China will soften their approach from 2020 after making a lot of noise. The goals will be the same, but there will be more calculated and less rash approach, especially if there’s skepticism from world leaders.

Technology

  • There will be a discussion and political action on breaking up on of the big tech companies. This is a bipartisan issue at the moment.
  • See an increase in extra-terrestrial funding for new start ups and innovations. We’ll see one of the big private entities make incredible progress like SpaceX in 2020.
  • A tech enabled charter city will be conceived in English speaking countries. It’ll be a move to innovate at the local level on governance, environment, living, and the economy.
  • EU tech scene will see double the number of unicorns as the previous year.
  • Japanese robotics companies will announce a global phenomenon on a household robot.

I look forward to improve my writing and thinking skills, and would love to connect with you all.

CST

I am proud

It was a long week, but the election is almost over. Results will trickle in for the House contents in the next couple of weeks and Georgia will have two Senate run-offs in January. But largely we are done with another general election cycle and I am proud.

Elections are always heated, but I’m proud that we are able to get out and vote during this challenging time. We’ve broken records this election. Our volunteers and election infrastructure did a tremendous job under these stresses.

I am proud that we were not violent and we allowed our anger, hopes and passions to be heard through our votes.

I am proud and confident that we will have another peaceful transition of power. We should never take peaceful elections for granted because we are all actors in this wonderful tradition.

In a functional democracy, you win some and you lose some. I am proud of our traditions and the desire to always be better. I am proud to be an American and that never wavered throughout the years.

Third Culture Kids

A new HBO mini-series by Luca Guadagnino, We Are Who We Are, premiered yesterday (September 14th, 2020). There’s an immense buzz from the cultural media including this thoughtful piece by Noor Brara from the New York Times.

I read Noor’s article after seeing it widely shared within my international community or Third Culture Kids (TCK) community. I grew up in Asia and attended international schools from ages 4 to 18. Like many TCKs, you had to adapt and be a chameleon. It was easier for me to hold onto things or memories more than people because friends continued to move every 2 to 3 years. Noor’s writing brought these memories back and put me in the shoe of many TCKs. In one passage she states, “I was able to relate equally to someone from South Korea, Iceland, Japan, Italy or Jamaica, in many cases more so than to other Indian Americans whose lives, at least on paper, read closer to my own.” It’s why when I first came to the United States,it felt easy to fit in. I was used to being in new places, I could speak the language fluently, and I had similar cultural influence from sports to alternative rock.

Many in the TCK community feel that the world becomes our home because we don’t identify with the home on our passport. Noor highlights that borders are closing and “limiting those who find selfhood in marginal spaces, whose stories underscore the urgency of seeing the world as one.” This is where I disagree on the analysis of being a TCK. Our “lived experience” is nomadic, but nomadism within the context of a TCK comes from economic and social security. Many in the TCK community are diplomats, business people for multinationals, and teachers. These are not only good paying jobs, but often these placements are in countries with a lower cost of living. This leads to many in the community having stable safety nets supported by family and friends they’ve met along the way. When you combine that with a learned instinct of adaptability, TCKs are not frequently in a “precarious state”. Our selfhood is here and everywhere, and that is to our advantage.

About internationalism, Noor suggests that while the concept deserves examination, “what we stand to lose without it is our ability to lift one another up, to find each other in the in-between.” But internationalism and the “urgency of seeing the world as one” give too many TCKs an overreaching cover (in this moment) to yearn for what was, and not what is or will be. The cover to hide in the in-between as to not be fully immersed with their community because their home is neither here nor there, it’s just a temporary holding place. Ultimately, to not own the responsibilities of building up and maintaining a community in a traditional sense, because TCKs can easily emigrate to another.

I encourage other TCKs to put your worldly point of view to work and build your local community in your new “home”, whether that decision was voluntary or forced by the pandemic. Clearly, Noor and I look through the lens of being a TCK from different angles, but I believe that it’s okay to start shedding our TCK skin because it’s possible to lift one another up even when the world looks different. That doesn’t mean I’m going to forget the experiences that built me up, and I can’t wait to sit on my couch and experience We Are Who We Are.

Good for Partisans, Bad for Country

Discourse has never been more exhausting in my living memory. In fact, the politicization and the “comfort zone” of communication is what’s causing all of the exhaustion.

In a more saner world, there could be healthy debates on how different counties or state in the U.S. should balance the pandemic and the economy. My Twitter feed is often more center-right, but my IG and FB feed are mostly left. I’m always curious what people are reading and saying, and it seems to me that everyone is set in this singular way of thinking.

We all have the responsibility to break through our own comfort zone and barriers, because this level of division cannot be healthy and it’s damaging our republic. Yes, we’ve had this level of partisanship in our history but not at the level of connectivity we have today. Ultimately, this division and chaos is good for partisans, but bad for country. And I do want all of us to break out of our narrative barriers to list, get to the truth, and take measurable actions to improve our community.

Curiosity

I have the curse of being interested in many different things at the same time. I say a curse because even though I acknowledge that the world is fascinating, I can’t double down and do one thing for a prolonged period of time.

However, the flip side of looking at this “problem” is that I have a lot of interests. Having a lot of interest stems from trying to make sense of the world and communities around me, simply put, curiosity. I’ve always been curious but never put curiosity to work, and even though I haven’t fully accomplished what I want with my curiosity, I’m starting to pick out what I do like and what I don’t enjoy.

I enjoy learning about humans and the decisions that we make in different areas of life. I enjoy understanding why self-empowerment is so rewarding to personal freedom and accomplishment, yet incredibly hard to achieve. I enjoy discovering how humans with all their uniqueness allow for their identities to manifest into politics, organization and other entities. I’m interested in understanding consensus, but also question how consensus can lead us down the wrong path. I want to manifest these interests in several avenues including technology, building tools and businesses, discussions around culture, and improving our way of life that respects individuals and their freedom.

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” – Albert Einstein

What are your interests?

How does one reset?

I believe in a reset. I believe that sometimes you need to take the cold shower and start with a blank slate. I believe that you can reach higher after unlearning and relearning. But can you reset during a pandemic when everything seems to be in place?

Yes, you can.

Personally, this has been the time for me to look within and search for meaningful ways to “reset”. Look within at what has been exciting or bothering me, and figure out a way to amplify or severe ties with it. Look within our community and borders to explore places that I’ve yet to explore. I’ve never done more hikes in my life, but it’s what’s helping me reset. I’ve put it on myself to learn a new skill every month this year (small or large) and that’s given me new perspectives. Writing and journaling more has helped me put these thoughts into words, and that’s helped me reset.

2020 for many may be a stagnant time, but I believe humans are not made to be stagnant. Therefore, we should all learn how to reset more frequently when the meaning and actions of resetting has changed. We all learn and will be better from this experience.

Universal Mail-in Voting and the October Surprise

5 months in, and we’re still in a pandemic. At a minimum, we’re in our pandemic routine for the next 5 months. In less than 3 months, we’ll have the November 2020 election, which means this is the time to discuss how we adjust to and execute on a safe, general election.

I’ve been a mail-in voter (absentee) for as long as I’ve been able to vote in the U.S., and have gotten used to the benefit (who doesn’t love voting in the comfort of your home!) and the challenges it may pose. However, in my view, the absolute increase in mail-in voting across the country will happen as people are afraid to go to the polling booth and the wait time at the booth will be longer. This absolute increase in mail-in voting will have the effect to an election we haven’t seen before. This includes the well publicized delay in calling the race and less discussed, damper on the October surprise.

The October Surprise is a news event that is timed right before an election to influence the outcome of an election. In the case of this year’s election, I believe that the impact of such surprise may be less than previous elections and this is due to the increased % in mail-in votes. The logic is simple: mail-in ballot casters could send in their ballot early due to a) a fear of our current system being slow to process their ballot, b) the novelty of voting by mail, this could result in a larger percentage of voters making up their decision before the October Surprise.

With this in mind, I would love to see if there’s a way we can track and analyze these results for the upcoming election.

Vice President Biden’s VP Pick

Yesterday was a historic moment when candidate for President, Joe Biden, finally announced his VP pick for the upcoming 2020 election. It seems to me that we’ve all been eagerly anticipating this for months, following the trial balloons and false head nods.

I’ve voted for his pick, Senator Harris of CA, when she was elected to become our junior Senator. It was an easy pick, mainly because she was miles ahead of her opponent. However, I haven’t seen anything since she was elected to be our Senator that has really moved the needle. Her “crown” achievement from the media appears to be the Kavanaugh hearing, however, I’m more interested in her legislative record which has been light. Her latest legislation is the Climate bill, and I’m curious how that gets formed through the months.

I’m keeping my mind and eyes open for what it means for Senator Harris to possibly become the VP of this great country of ours, especially since she never was on my radar as “my” VP pick and wasn’t on the top 3 candidates.

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