Sara Shereen

What Is Happening 2016?

Sara Shereen
What Is Happening 2016?

Seriously, what is going on? We are almost at the end of 2016 and feels like we were turning back into a century ago, mainstreaming antiquated believes, fake news and seeing all these actions of hate across America and the World. As we enter the sixth week post the American Election Day and today is the day the Electoral College votes — in what feels like an alternative universe where President-Elect Trump (PET) is a title — I share here probably what could be one of my most nuanced happy scenarios. This is one where the year as a whole and particularly results of the election so far have lit a spark in me to not only share my voice here and now and forgo the notion of not speaking about politics in social situations. All the while to garner more civic experiences and to continue to call and act on what I believe in. The happy part really is that many other progressive thinkers are also acting as I write and we read this.

PET into a place of such power seemed relatively unimaginable before November 8, though subconsciously was a grave possibility as found myself having trouble sleeping couple nights leading up to the election. As a former full-time journalist to also see such disregard for credible news sources, I have found myself writing and re-writing this piece — with some expressions exhibited in "memojis" below — for the last month finally deciding a few weeks ago to not publish anything else until all my thoughts could come together and produce this piece.  

In this age of "faux news" I wondered whether it was necessary to list out my sources of information, and believe it is. So I have attempted to compile the various article sources at end of this piece, while noting there could very well be others I have missed. All the while sprinkling in some commentary videos below that frankly I align with. Also going to take a spin on traditional journalism technique of using 5 Ws: Who, Why, Where, When, What to structure the vast thoughts here. So here goes and thanks in advance for taking on this longer thought journey. 


I identify as a female Jewish American Iranian who grew up in Texas and became an adult in California. Further connecting as a spiritual traditionalist (thank you Andy Cohen for concept via an impromptu un-published interview during NBC Universal party years ago), where I believe in traditions that keep culture alive, give mental solace and don't disenfranchise others. All the while has humans locationally, nationally, internationally we have a responsibility to act beyond our selves and make a difference in the world.

My senior year in high school the government class was taught by a former coach who strived home the thought to this first time voter that not only was it important for one to vote, it was even more important to know, really dissect, what you were voting on. So I stood in line at a Dallas suburban polling place for more than 1 hour to vote for Al Gore in 2000. I didn't believe George W. Bush's governance of the state nor his policy plans at the time garnered an endorsement to the presidency. (Ironically based on public available information at this time Bush's presidency seems quite angelic compared to the current state of the Republican Party and its leadership.) Then I was glued to various news outlets on the Florida recount, Electoral College and Supreme Court decision. Then in 2004 after a political journalism course applied and participated in an internship with The Dallas Morning News during the Democratic National Convention. Living in a post-9/11 era with the Iraq War: we were somewhat nervously trained on the reality of what to do if another attack occurred during convention; met our convention site security guards who had either previous contracts in Iraq and would deploy again shortly there after; and ultimately witnessed protestors from across political spectrums who found their way to Boston to at a minimum share their story. So to say there was shock that around 62 million Americans voted to re-elect President W. Bush is an understatement. To speed a bit further in my political thoughts history, I was a Hillary Clinton supporter in 2008 and continued to support President Obama then in 2012. While I had agreed with some of Senator John McCain's 2000 Presidential Election shared policy plans; but by 2008 his depiction of farther right policies and choosing an individual who claimed seeing Russia from her backyard qualified her for the Vice Presidency were all deal-breakers. While Romney and Ryan in 2012, let alone Ryan as House Speaker since then, moved even farther away from any type of moderate comprise oriented governing I could tolerate as a voter.

Forward somewhat faster to the 2016 election. In my opinion, the Republican band of characters were fit for a D-level cable network's "reality show" than any consideration for the highest office of this country. Because if they weren't depicting playground type fights their view on world and public policy were gigantic steps back from progress. On the Democratic side, I liked some of Bernie Sanders' policy ideas. At the same time I found him too absolute oriented; despite his decades of public service almost too junior in fleshing out some of his policies; and not only disagreed and also didn't feel the snapshots I was seeing of the political leaders he was associating himself were an appropriate fit for an increase of influence. And for Gary Johnson "Aleppo" and Jill Stein's investment portfolio were some of the most minute issues for me to simply say: "No."

And so through the primary and election I voted, donated a bit and volunteered for the Hillary Clinton campaign. Something I would do again, more of and am looking to 2018 and beyond for candidates across levels of government to evaluate and consider supporting. This organized Clinton had this project manager geeking out on her campaign's policy papers  and appreciating a candidate who was so multi-faceted with the amount of issues covering: Equal Pay and Women's Rights As A Whole, Immigration, Gun Violence, Individuals with Disabilities Rights, LGBTQ Rights; Racial Justice, National Security and the list goes on. Then not only is this information on paper, and she when it came time to debate, be interviewed and so on, she didn't stutter. When situation occurred despite degree of crisis her campaign had a position in a day or so. Some disliked her use of tele-prompters, I appreciated that she and her campaign had their message situated versus PET going on rants away from what, will assume, was a Microsoft Word Doc printed minutes before he went on stage. The persona that I experienced and continue to is of one I like: speaking up and acting even when outside entities want to bring you down. I also believe she is "fundamentally honest" as Jill Abramson writes after covering her for decades investigating falsehoods, and likes of Pulitzer Prize winner Politifacts "Truth" evaluation of her. Then she has strategically engaged in American and World politics garnering relationships across the spectrum. The Clinton Foundation appropriately appears to have take funding from around the world (including Arab countries) not as income or for likes of purchasing portraits of themselves like her opponent, and to have focused on likes of health care, income equality for women, climate change and empowering entrepreneurship in developing markets. This underlines a future where people of different backgrounds and ideologies strategize and implement on how to live together in this world not attempt to wipe the other one out. Sure I am referencing this sort of "Kumbaya"-Utopic existence that we could have some degree in reality in. And don't our immediate friends and family deserve it let alone the world population? I particularly think my younger cousins, nephews and nieces and future children do. 


Before election day, the label-oriented candidate himself depicted and/or raised up Anti-Semitism, Fascism, Racism, Sexual Predatory Behaviors, Xenophobia, Degradation of Individuals with Disabilities. Since November 8, without surprise PET has continued to show why he should not be our leader for 1 Day, 4 Years or every deity help us 8 Years. Here's a look at some more reasons why I don't think he deserves or is fit to hold the highest office in our nation:

  1. His supreme-power displays, man-child and me-perspective overtones with bully actions (Twitter feed as but one example) are not normal for the presidency and should never be normalized in American society. Basing himself in New York's Trump Tower, with "kiss-the-ring" esque meetings reported with journalists, Silicon Valley executives for further example give this above the people, shadowing displays of action for an office that traditions transparency. Plus, having his transition in New York and hiring his own security staff in tandem with the Secret Service is not some revolutionary ingenious practice for the American public. Rather it is using tax-payer funds, and even previously campaign donations, to pay his own companies in different shapes and forms. Allowing him to continue to sleep in his own bed has been reported he has a penchant for wanting, versus staying in Washington DC where centuries have been spent finding efficient means to operate a presidential transition and provide its security. Hiring his own security team — of former police officers and FBI agents — to coordinate a chaos with the Secret Service, rather than following protocol where latter oversaw all security (irony of Secret Service name and my transparency wants are in mind as I write). Beyond adding on detrimental complexities with his own security team there also have been alleged cases of aggression, racial profiling and undue force. 
  2. Conflicts of interest. From reports — of hundreds of million dollars in debt with national and foreign banks; utilizing meetings with foreign leaders to also speak about business developments in their countries; refusal to sell his assets; and how he licenses his name on projects — PET appears to be more focused on making himself (his family, the Trump organization) as much money as possible rather than serving the American public. The licensing aspect is of particular sickening intrigue here. The Trump organization doesn't have to garner permits or have liability necessarily on a project, simply license their brand name for use. Do we really believe meetings with world leaders and decision-makers currently aren't and wouldn't continue to benefit his organization financially after inauguration day and conflict with the American public's interest? All the while he maintains opaque-ness at seemingly every turn. Refusing to share tax returns, having a press pool until inauguration, postponing his Dec 15 planned press conference about business plans are even more ways he is disregarding the transparency his role should require. These conflict reports are growing every day and we will (and should) continue to see investigative dissections well beyond is proposed presidency.
  3. PET's cabinet nominations and planned staff members are abundant in lack of qualifications and those empowering movements of Anti-Semitism, Fascism, Racism, Sexual Predatory Behaviors, Xenophobia, Degradation of Individuals with Disabilities and continuing to increase financials of top 1% at expense of remaining 99% of the population. Believe so many sources have covered this that it is beyond redundant to list all players and their attributes here while an initial list of said sources are detailed below. Then for those who believe he should receive some credit for nominating or appointing a "diverse cast of characters," really consider if these individuals are qualified for their roles or if he is attempting a delusion of diversity? Don't believe a neurosurgeon with lack of federal agency experience or any history in matter of housing and development should become the department's secretary. Or while his final campaign manager was first women to win such a presidential election, her history and who she got elected overshadows any progressive break in a glass ceiling.
  4. As our potential top liaison with other countries, PET has shown his lack of intelligence to forgo daily intelligence briefings; and even too much love and connection with the foreign power of Russia. One is not smart to forgo garnering high level intel with deeper dives where applicable. You are managing an entire country which is severely nuanced. Absolutism might have gotten him elected it won't benefit him (or Americans) during governance. The Russian connections are in mass and should not be condoned: agencies in double digits finding hacking by Russian entities, some even noting Putin involvement; Trump literally asking Russia to hack Clinton's email server in public; advisors' such as Roger Stone, Carter Page, Paul Manafort and their connections; Secretary of State nominee who has received Russia's highest honor "Order of Friendship"; and to even a gossip potential of Ivanka Trump traveling with Putin's alleged girlfriend earlier this year. Coincidence potentials are all lost.
  5. Lying is among his disturbing art forms, with 2016 being clouded with fake news and at least some degrees of real-time fact checking among main-stream media during debates and interviews. For those who spend time could compare what PET has said in last year or so to years of 140-character tweets as some reference of historical accountability. All the while staging, what I equate to a "Hunger Games"-esqe Victory Tour, to boast his own ego is another discredit rather than spending all the available time to prepare for the most important role in our society. Trevor Noah's assessment of "Truth Trump" in clip below during said tour shows this beyond unfortunate reality of exuding so many untruths during campaign and admitting to them now. And how do people continue to support him, I mean really?


Now, tomorrow, next week, month, year and beyond is the time to continuously take action. The election did not end on November 8 and previous elections didn't on their respective voting days either. Government is ongoing and the public's due diligence should be as well. While the public voted before and on November 8, there are reasons why: the Electoral College votes more than a month later; Congress counts ballots and inauguration doesn't take place until more than two months later; presidential, gubernatorial, congressional elections every four years; and the mid-term elections for Congress every 2 years in between. I don't know all of reasons as of this writing and believe a degree of checks and balances is an underlying purpose. Additionally electors should trust their conscious, evaluate PETs actions to date, before and after Election Day, and really determine whether he is fit to run our country. Ultimately, I have hope that we as world citizens will continue to speak and act against tyranny. Electors vote today; Congress counts ballots on Jan 6 with opportunity to support objection to a Trump presidency and prevent an unqualified individual to be inaugurated on January 20; Congress, the Supreme Court and the Public have to continuously be cognizant of his potential administration's actions, prevent abuses where possible and reactively punish legally where appropriate and reduce if not eliminate this supremacist empowerment across the spectrum. I think the Unite For America PSA below captures my thoughts and we should give their words value:



Your local, state, fellow states' and our national policies. While we are at it the world as well. Globalization is not only a buzz word it is a reality. Existence is beyond state and national borders. We could have a voice in other states' and international policies with likes of our awareness and information sharing, donations, purchases and travel habits at a minimum. It's as simplistic as reading, listening, watching through various credible and sourced information and acting on it.

What To Do

About a week after Election Day, on November 14, 2016, the most therapeutic experience was attending Glamour Magazine's Women of the Year Live Summit set with panels and story sharing of empowerment. Towards the end of the "Election 2016: What Just Happened", panelist and activist Delores Huerta closing words were, "Don't Mourn, Organize ... No One Will Do It For Us." I believe there is so much truth in Huerta's words and it crosses genders, ethnicities, races, religions.

Americans and world citizens have to be involved in their government and or overseeing their elected officials. At least in countries where citizens vote for their political leaders, the latter should be answering to the former. These officials are our employees in actuality and it is our responsibility to guide them by being knowledgeable on issues and voicing our opinions on a regular basis, in addition to sharing our voice in educated voting. 

Here are some ways I have and continue to plan on sharing my voice:

  1. Joining 4.9 million and counting supporters on the most popular to-date petition asking the Electoral College To Make Hillary Clinton President today, December 19.
  2. Attending at least one of the Women's March (either in DC or my city) or proposed Freedom Concert around the inauguration. The focus would not to protest Trump and would be to celebrate human rights and show whoever will gives themselves the capacity to listen that "love does trump hate."
  3. Participating in NGO's like ADL — Anti-Defamation League's campaigns to fight all forms of bigotry and hate together through information, advocacy, education and legislation where applicable. Additionally, applying for a local civil leadership program(s) to learn more about my city's operations and gain a knowledge base on how to evaluate it ongoing as an informed and actionable citizen.
  4. Weaving more civic topics into this blog, learning and sharing the nuances of its respective happy occurrences with my sourced opinions.
  5. Continuing dialogue in safe spaces with individuals who literally come in peace. Do not believe not having conversations is the best practice and doing so with enablement of degrees of mental abuse is not appropriate either. If you want to share your perspective respectively through the Connect section on this site, I promise to evaluate and respond thoughtfully.

Ultimately, to quote Kate McKinnon's Saturday Night Live Caricature of Hillary Clinton in the clip below (with a notable Leonard Cohen song), "I'm not giving up, and neither should you." Let us continue to find our future and happy together.

Compilation of News & Opinion Articles Read Before Writing This Piece (In No Particular Order And Not All-Inclusive): 

  1. The Guardian's "This may shock you: Hillary Clinton is fundamentally honest"
  2. Fortune's "What Bill and Hillary Clinton's Controversial Foundation Actually Does"
  3. NBC News' "FBI Making Inquiry Into Ex-Trump Campaign Manager's Foreign Ties"
  4. New York Times' "Carter Page, Ex-Trump Adviser With Russian Ties, Visits Moscow"
  5. Politifact's "From Russia with love. Was Trump campaign in touch with foreign government?"
  6. Politico's "Trump private security force ‘playing with fire’"
  7. New York Times' "All This Talk of Voter Fraud? Across U.S., Officials Found Next to None"
  9. Mother Jones' "Senate Democrats Will Introduce Legislation to Force Trump to Deal With His Conflicts"
  10. Vice News' "Vice News sues FBI"
  11. The New York Times' "The Perfect Weapon: How Russian Cyberpower Invaded the U.S."
  12. The New York Times' "Trump’s Empire: A Maze of Debts and Opaque Ties"
  13. The New York Times' "Donald Trump is Choosing His Cabinet. Here is His Latest List."
  14. The New York Times' "Donald Trump Loves New York But It Doesn't Love Him Back."
  18. Mashable's "Battle Royale: Trump's stock-shaking tweets vs. Wall Street's robots"
  19. The Washington Post's "New pro-Trump group takes form, with Kellyanne Conway possibly at the helm"
  20. KQED's "The Honest Truth about Fake News … and How Not to Fall for It (with Lesson Plan)"
  21. Rolling Stone's "Trump's Presidency Is Shaping Up to Be an American Tragedy"
  22. The Washington Post's "This is what happens when Donald Trump attacks a private citizen on Twitter"