About Eric Dinkins

Hi. My name is Eric Dinkins. I'm a freelance writing and design professional in Chicago. Thank you for visiting my website, where you can view a collection of some of the finest work I've completed since graduating from Elon University in North Carolina in May, 2014. I know how to write and design content for print and digital use. I also know how to edit content and optimize it for the web so users are able to find what they're searching for quickly and efficiently. If you're interested in working together, please reach out. I am always looking to explore new opportunities. Since moving to the Windy City in September, 2015, I have worked as a writer and designer for newspapers, magazines, marketing companies and start-ups. When I'm away from my desk, you usually will find me at a coffee shop, local brewery or riding my bike along the Lakefront Trail. I also love to travel and I enjoy the outdoors. There's nothing more exciting than camping in the wilderness, and nothing more relaxing than sitting around a campfire under the stars.

It’s Not All About the Music: Jon Metzger

Jon Metzer didn’t find the vibraphone, the vibraphone found him. A cross between piano and various percussive instruments, the vibraphone has been around since the late 1920’s, about the time that jazz music was on the rise in the United States.

Although the “vibes” weren’t originally intended to be a jazz instrument, the mellow sound that the keyboard creates is reminiscent of other jazz instruments, such as the trumpet and saxophone. The instrument has a keyboard construct, similar in size and shape as a marimba or a xylophone and it too, is played with mallets. But rather than the bars being made of wood they are made of aluminum, and sustaining notes can be controlled by a pedal, similar to a piano. The ability to control how long notes are sustained for, allows vibes to be used predominantly as a jazz instrument, and is what sets it apart from other keyboard instruments.

Metzger began taking piano lessons when he was six years old. Soon after, he developed interest in percussion and began taking drum lessons. “The mallet percussion instruments that I fell in love with were a natural extension of the two experiences,” said Metzger. “By that I mean the keyboard of the piano and then the percussion nature from drumming.”

Jon's reliving his childhood at the Spring Jazz Show

When Metzger was 10, he became involved with an active youth orchestra program, at which point he got some experience with percussion instruments. The orchestra was heavily influenced by the ideas of popular German composer Carl Orff, who composed music in Germany throughout the majority of the 20th century.

Along with his experience in the orchestra, Metzger began to develop his mallet techniques by playing violin pieces on mallet instruments with his mother. “It’s just something that we did,” said Metzger, “it didn’t seem at all unusual to me, because it happened all the time.”

Metzger began to understand that music was definitely something he was interested in continuing to pursue. “Because it had been such a part of my life, I knew that some way, one way or another, I’d be around music,” he said.

But as for what style of music, it was too early to know for sure, at least, not until a few years later. “At the age of 15, my sister took me to see the legendary vibraphonist Milt Jackson play. That’s when I fell in love with jazz music.”

Jon is really feelin' it as he heads up the music department's Big Band

Metzger had spent his first few years as a musician learning the ways of classical music, but it was at this point that he began to realize the value in understanding both mediums – classical and jazz. “So, I had all this other background that was more of a classical nature, and I was delighted for it, because I realized I wanted to be able to speak both languages (jazz and classical music),” he said. “Now, all these many years later, lines that had, perhaps separated them some are blurring.”

Metzger decided to move away from where he had grown up in Washington D.C., and moved south to North Carolina to attend the NC School of the Arts in Winston Salem, where he would later graduate with a bachelor in music performance in 1981. “It was a smaller program, and I think it was a good fit for my personality,” he said, “I thought something smaller would be better.” Metzger also received his masters in music performance from the NC School of the Arts in 1994.

Metzger took advantage of his time in Winston Salem. Throughout college he was rehearsing hours a day, and playing jazz in local venues at night. “It was an incredible amount of desire,” said Metzger. “My generation, we didn’t count how many hours we were taking, we were just immersed in it. That’s what we did; we just loved it.”

After he graduated, he just kept “doing what he was doing.” His desire to learn and grow as a musician allowed him to pursue many options.  As his reputation grew, he began recording albums and performing live with artists such as Fred Hersch, Gunther Schuller and Lionel Hampton.

But how did he go from performing and recording, to teaching?

“I hadn’t thought about it before,” said Metzger, “I was just so eager to play.” Metzger moved back to NC in the late 80’s, and was contacted by Dave Brad, who, at the time, was head of the music department at Elon University. “It found me, I wasn’t looking for it,” said Metzger. Brad wanted him to teach. “It was through giving all those clinics from Musser and beginning to teach here at Elon, that I realized something that I hadn’t really thought of before, but that’s when I fell in love with teaching,” he said.

This led to the publishing of “The Art and Language of Jazz Vibes,” as well as Metzger’s 23-year endorsement with Musser. Ludwig-Musser is one of the most renowned percussion equipment manufacturers in the world; Led Zeppelin’s Jon Bonham and Will Berman of MGMT have both been endorsed by the company at some point.

“The Art and Language of Jazz Vibes” was published in 1996; about seven years after Metzger began teaching at Elon. “I’m going to be the best consumer for this book,” he said, and that’s the perspective he wrote it from. The book has since been adopted for course work by at least one university in every state in the country.

But Metzger’s musical influence has reached far beyond the boundaries of the United States. Metzger has served as a Jazz Ambassador for more than 20 foreign countries with the support of the US Information Agency’s Arts America Program. “Jazz music is one of (the United State’s) few indigenous art forms,” he said. “To be able to play it and be a representative of your country, it was really a big honor.”

Metzger also traveled abroad with the Elon Big Band back in 2009. They spent nearly two weeks traveling and playing shows throughout several European countries including Denmark and the Netherlands. John Mullen, a junior, and a percussion major at Elon, described his experience abroad with Metzger: “watching him teach some Danish students was amazing – language barriers were broken and connection was made through jazz.”

Jon (left) and John Mullen (right) are leading the rehearsal during the percussion ensemble's Christmas album recording session

Metzger also just recently spent a month in Turkey with Chair of the Music Department at Elon, Mathew Buckmaster. Metzger and Buckmaster were sent to Ankara, Turkey through the State Department’s Cultural Envoy’s program. The two professors spent the month of January creating an entirely new curriculum for the Jazz Studies Program at Haceteppe State University in Ankara.

One word comes to mind while talking with Metzger: balance. How does he balance it all? How does he manage to be so successful in so many different aspects of his field of expertise?

“The balance is that…there is no balance,” chuckles Metzger, “I can’t be in two places at once.” Partially joking, he said that he manages to “release” some of the pressure by fishing and gardening. “As I moved away from home, I kept on fishing, because I realized it was my main release,” he said. “’Working for a living is taking away from my fishing career, cause I don’t have as much time to do it.”

Metzger, along with his wife, began growing their own fruits and vegetables in their yard when they moved to NC over 20 years ago. They now have a greenhouse and can over 200 jars of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables every year. Metzger emphasizes the importance of growing his own food as factory farms are becoming the main source of produce for Americans, and although he’s not a vegetarian, “when the garden’s in, that’s what (they) eat.”

Jon's examining his part for the Christmas classic, Carol the Bells

Although music has certainly been at the forefront of his life’s path, Metzger’s interest in the outdoors and traveling is just as important in defining who he is.

No one refers to Jon as Professor Metzger, because Jon doesn’t associate himself with formal mannerisms. To Mathew Buckmaster, Jon is a “master mentor” who “truly lives at heart and soul.” To John Mullen, Jon “is an incredible musician and a wonderful teacher who will stop at nothing to see his students succeed.”  To Linda, Jon’s wife, he is her loyal husband with whom she will celebrate 30 years of marriage with this summer. To those that don’t know Jon, he is an amazing vibraphonist. But to those that have the pleasure of spending time with him outside of the classroom, or the recital hall, or the recording study, Jon is so much more. “All of these things that I do, they’re not separate,” said Jon, “but it might seem so.”

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Will Outdated Distribution Laws Hinder the Quality of Red Oak Beer?

The United States Brewers Association defines a craft brewer as small, independent and traditional. Craft brewers include brewpubs, microbreweries, regional craft breweries and contract brewing companies. The United States Brewers Association emphasizes “innovation” as being a separator between small-scale craft breweries and large-scale operations such as Anheuser-Busch.

North Carolina is one of 34 states that allow microbreweries, small-scale malt beverage breweries, to self-distribute their products to retailers, but this privilege doesn’t come without limitations.

The 21st Amendment in the United States Constitution allows each state to regulate the extent to which microbreweries are allowed to self-distribute. This includes the amount of beer that can be sold directly to retailers without the contracting of a wholesaler, or a “middleman.” The wholesaler is responsible for the transportation of the beer, including the conditions that it is transported in.

These three components, the brewery, wholesaler and retailer, make up what is known as the three-tier system. The system was devised by early 20th century industrialist pioneer John D. Rockefeller, who commissioned the report “Toward Liquor Control” in 1933 to provide guidance for lawmakers concerning the re-implementation of alcohol consumption after the repeal of the 18th Amendment.

This new system caused the success of small breweries to decline, so Beer Franchise Laws were created by states in the 1970s to protect the economical interest of microbreweries and brewpubs, but the three-tier-system remained.

These laws allowed for the self-distribution of beer, but the amount was left up to the individual state. For example, California has no limit to how much small breweries can distribute, whereas Illinois has a 7,500-barrel limit. North Carolina has a 25,000-barrel limit, a limit that the Red Oak Brewery in Whitsett, NC is not content with. If the local microbrewery exceeds this limit, it will be forced to hand over all distribution operations to a wholesaler, blemishing what the brewery has designed to be a very deliberate and controlled process.

Oh, How It Has Come So Far

1991 was the year that it all started. The old Red Oak Brew Pub restaurant in Greensboro, formally known as Franklin’s off Friendly, was remodeled and reopened with brewing equipment installed. The operation was originally sustained by only six brew tanks, but was soon upgraded to 13 tanks; more space was added on to the restaurant in order to support the extra equipment.

After 16 years of brewing out of the restaurant, the beer’s popularity continued to grow, and the restaurant was unable to support such high demand. Before the construction of the new microbrewery facility began, nearly 500 retailers had requested to serve Red Oak beer. Bill Sherrill, the founder of the brewery, decided it was time to expand.

A look inside the shiny new facility

The construction of the Red Oak microbrewery off of Interstate 85 began in 2005, and by the summer of 2007 it was ready to begin brewing. The new brewery cost over $5 million, and is made entirely of Bavarian brewing parts, aside from the bottling machine that was shipped to the US from northern Italy. The brewery also came equipped with a state-of-the-art computerized brewing system that has allowed the entire production process to be completed by only four people.

The brewery also manages to be environmentally friendly. The section of the brewery that is responsible for separating the sugar from the barley to produce “sugar water” sports a pneumatic valve. This condenses any vapor that is released during the brewing process, minimizing the amount of air pollutants that would otherwise be released. The brewery manages to support a 4 to 1 ratio of water to beer as well, putting it on par with, or even better than some of the US’s most recognized brewers, such as Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors.

Ground In German Tradition

Red Oak Brewery abides by the Bavarian Law of Purity, meaning that only three ingredients are used to brew its beer, the ingredients being malted barley, hops and water (Red Oak also uses yeast with the other three ingredients, but only because the purity law was later amended to recognize yeast as a viable ingredient). This law is also known as the Rheinheitsgebot and was established in 1516 by Duke Wilhelm IV. The purpose of the law was to discourage brewers from using cereal grains that were used for making bread to brew the beer, in order to prevent famine.

An old brew sign that was brought to the US from Germany. It's hundreds of years old.

In order to obtain the flavor of traditional German lagers, the brewery also buys all of the raw materials used to brew from Bavaria. Hops are usually bought two or three years in advance in order to ensure availability and retain stock.

Although Red Oak brews strictly lagers, it is more common for American microbreweries to brew ales, because whereas lagers take four to eight weeks to ferment, ales only take three to 10 days. Brewing lagers also allows the beer to carbonate naturally. “We do not filter, pasteurize and (we) naturally carbonate the beer. This separates us from most other modern beers,” said Buckley, he likes to think of it as putting “capital investment in fermentation.”

It’s people like Buckley that are responsible for ensuring that Red Oak beer remains ground in traditional German brewing principles.

Jorge Naveiro, one of the four people in charge of production, is preparing small barrels for transportation

Buckley spent the first 25 years of his life in Germany, where he completed a four-year program in Munich to become a certified brewer. Over the years, Chris developed a high level of interest and respect for German brewing. “Growing up in Germany had a huge influence on me regarding alcohol consumption, as responsible drinking is taught and beer is considered a food,” said Buckley. This sense of responsibility inspired him to uphold traditional brewing practices when he came to the United States.

Al Wolf, the assistant brew master, also came to Red Oak from Germany. He started working at the brewery two years ago after finishing a three-year apprenticeship at the Binding Brewery in Frankfurt, Germany. Wolf described Red Oak’s brewing practices as “intense,” and he claimed that it was “more of the old-school way.”

Red Oak is focused on retaining its German influence, but the current self-distribution laws in NC will eventually hinder its ability to continue producing beer at the high level of quality that consumers have come to expect.

Territorial Advance

For 18 years, Red Oak beer was sold exclusively as a draft beer and has been being sold in bottles for the past two years. Red Oak self-distributes all of its beer, whether it be bottled or barreled, across central NC. The brewery distributes as far East as Garner, NC, and as far West as Charlotte, NC, Greensboro being the furthest point North it distributes. In only two years, over 100 retailers have started selling bottled Red Oak amber lager off the shelf. Red Oak’s Helles, Hummin’ Bird, can be found on tap at nearly 80 retailers and Red Oak’s least popular brew, Battlefield Bock, is on tap at close to 50 retailers all over the Piedmont. The bottling expansion has created tremendous growth for the brewery, pushing them further toward the 25,000-barrel limit.

Some of the larger vehicles the brewery uses to distribute it's beer

Bill Sherrill has been fighting this limit for the past nine years, a year before brew master Buckely was hired. The brewery has proposed bills, such as having the limit raised to 60,000 barrels like in New York, in hopes that the bill would gain sponsorship and be assessed by NC legislature. The brewery has yet to have any success.

Agnes Steven, the Public Affairs Director at the NC Alcohol Beverage Control Commission, said that the legal cap “creates a niche that gives smaller breweries space to mature as they develop products and a following.” The NCABC is one of 19 members of the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association. Its job is to maintain control over the sale, purchase, transportation, manufacture, consumption, and possession of alcohol beverages in the state.

When asked about the ongoing dispute between the ABC and the Red Oak Brewery, Tim Kent, the Executive Director of the NC Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association, stated that “it’s not a dispute, it’s the law.” Ken alluded to information about the benefits of the three-tier system that included “healthy competition and a robust marketplace” and “tremendous variety for consumers.”

In fact, Oscar Wong, the owner of the Highland Brewing Company in Asheville, NC, claims that self-distributing over 10,000 barrels annually is no longer economically efficient; the brewery is actually losing money at that point.

But in a journal published in NC Law Review, Andrew Tamayo makes the point, that “although Red Oak would have to more than double its current sales volume to exceed the legal cap, there remains a valid question of whether there is any justification for not changing the law.” If competition hasn’t already been threatened, why would raising the legal cap pose a threat?

It’s About the Beer. It’s Always Been About The Beer!

Regardless of the limitations of the three-tier system, Buckley said that this isn’t about money; it’s about control. Red Oak beer is shipped cold, and kept cold until it reaches retailers. The brewery has its own cold storage at the brewery, and they even make sure that beer that’s not on store shelves is still kept cold while in the hands of retailers. Buckley also said that whereas a distributor may take up to five or six weeks to distribute what they pick up, the brewery has beer to retailers in less than five days.

The brewery is concerned about surrendering distribution operations over to a wholesaler because it will no longer have complete control over the quality of its beer. Regardless of price efficiency, Red Oak wants control of its beer from the time it orders the ingredients to the time it reaches retailers. “By selling it ourselves, we can sell a lot of beer in a small area” says Buckley, “it’s not brewed for shelf life, it’s not brewed for shipping; it’s brewed for taste.”

Tina Firesheets: The In’s and Out’s of Being a Journalist

Just as I did, Tina Firesheets pursued a career in journalism because she “was always good at writing.” However, she spent most of her time talking with my journalism class on Monday morning, stressing the importance of every other aspect of the business, one’s that I too had put second behind writing when considering a journalism major.

Firesheet’s career in journalism began at the Henderson Times News soon after she had graduated from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She eventually started doing free-lance writing for the News and Record in Greensboro, and worked her way into a full time position. She has been with the paper in Greensboro since 1998.

Firesheets has experience writing with several beats, such as entertainment (which is where she started), and at one point she had her own column for a few years. She claims that she thoroughly enjoyed having a column as it allowed her to write about just about anything she wanted. But regardless what she was writing about, she emphasized the importance of reporting, and the level of time management and communication that a reporter needs to maintain while on the job.

Just as Firesheets thought going into college, I also assumed that journalism was about writing, and I knew that if I could learn to write well, I would be set. Right? Firesheets explained that being in the newsroom on a daily basis helps define what it means to be a journalist. She said that reporters have to be “flexible,” as the next story may involve something unfamiliar, or even uncomfortable. It’s the reporter’s job to research and learn about whatever the topic may be, as this is what makes a good story; a certain level of understanding is required to write about any subject.

Firesheets also explained why time management is so important, and because reporters are constantly working on a deadline schedule, communication is key. One example she offered involved lying to sources in order to guarantee their cooperation and eventual inclusion in the story. Rather than telling a source that the deadline is 5 pm (only to have them meet with you at 4 pm leaving you with no time to actually write the story), she will tell sources that the deadline is 1 pm, giving her plenty of time to work with, and making her job much easier.

I’ve dealt with these problems a little bit over the last couple of years, but not to the extent that she, or any other professional reporter has. Until someone such as Firesheets squares up and says, “this is how it is,” I can’t understand the validity of these ideas, or the weight that they carry.

This is what stood out to me in class on Monday; Tina Firesheetz managed to instill a sense of curiosity and fear in me. I’m fearful to one day face this chaotic business, but I’m also curious to see where it takes me. I’m extremely indecisive, so the thought of learning about a variety of topics and issues through direct experience with the equivalent variety of people and places sounds great, Tina Firesheets merely reinforced my excitement.

Elon Town Center

The new Elon Town Center towers over Williamson Avenue. Built to open last semester, the Center is home to the campus’s new Barnes and Noble bookstore, Pandora’s Pies, and Smitty’s Homemade Ice Cream Shop.

The bookstore, previously located in Moseley Center, is two stories high and features the only escalator in Alamance County.  The size of the new bookstore offers a greater selection of Elon apparel and school supplies, and allows for more items to be on display.

Pandora’s Pies, opened earlier this year, is an independent, local restaurant that creates pizza from organic ingredients. It shares the first floor of the Town Center with Smitty’s Ice Cream Shop.  Smitty’s has another location on South Church St. in Burlington, but both locations are popular with Elon students.

Elon’s student newspaper, The Pendulum, was another organization that benefited from the new building project; it gained new offices on the third floor of the Town Center, which was built on the site of their original offices.

The Elon Town Center is part of the Elon Commitment, which aims to nurture the Elon community. Other facilities that will be built include the Moseley Center expansion, the Global Neighborhood, and the Station at Mill Point.

 

Small Device, Big Time

Andrew Keen, the author of “The Cult of the Amateur,” recently published an article on CNN online evaluating the significance of mobile devices (phones specifically) in contemporary society. Keen believes that the future will continue to evolve and take over consumers lives. He claims that eventually, mobile devices will operate on the same level as human intelligence. He claims that the only way to break this chain of events is to practice empowerment over our devices. “What it means is pressing the off button so that our smartphone can never become as smart as we are,” Keen said. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done.

 I’ll admit it; it scares me to leave my dorm without my phone. It’s because I’m scared. I’m scared of missing “that text” from “that girl” that I’m talking to, or “that Facebook message” from “that friend” who just discovered a new popular meme on reddit and posted it on my wall (or timeline). But lately I’ve been frightened for a new reason, a more important reason. Lately I’ve been scared that I’m going to miss emails from potential employers that I have applied to for potential internships and jobs, and for that reason (obviously among others) I always have my phone by my side. Our generation has popularized social media and electronic communication, turning it into more than mere convenience, as it is now a necessity.
I’m not going to defend mobile phones because I agree (along with everyone else) that phones are used excessively, especially among my generation. But it’s not that we necessarily want it to be this way, its just the way that technology has shaped our lives. I am obsessed with my phone, but in a world filled with applications, social networking opportunities and essentially free text messages (iMessaging!) it’s hard not to be.

Really?

At this very moment Apple is approaching 25 billion app downloads, 22 billion of which have came since January of 2010. Text messaging is the no. 2 use of mobile phones behind checking the time, and smart phones have claimed almost 75% of the cellular market. Yes, all of these luxuries make it easy to access information that would traditionally (less than 10 years ago) be limited to home computers and laptops, but society has allowed itself to use this as catalyst. Digital communication has released its potential and forced itself into vital roles, such as facilitating conversations with friends at all times, sharing information with family and even contacting employers concerning important information. The advancement of mobile devices has definitely made all of these things more accessible, and convenient, but it has also had a large impact on our daily interactions with something called people. 

According to a recent Time Magazine article, every 1 in 8 people use their cell phone as a way of avoiding talking to other people; 30% the surveyed population between 18 and 29 years of age use this technique. People are using their phones to actually avoid engaging in conversation with each other, solely because technology has enforced this reaction over the past few years. People avoid conversation because its easier to bury their faces in their phones rather than put themselves through the pressure and anxiety of meeting new people.

I spent the entire month of January in Australia without a phone, and it was great. I never had to worry about talking to anyone except the people I was with at that point in time and focus solely on the present. This freedom enabled me to have several conversations with complete strangers because I wasn’t worried about texting or face-booking my friends and family while riding the train or the bus. I took advantage of the opportunity and met some really interesting people, of whom I probably wouldn’t have even considered making eye contact with had I had my app-infested iPhone in hand.

Mobile phones have definitely created new communicative possibilities, while simultaneously making communicating through various mediums faster and easier than ever before. But this level of convenience is intruding on our personal interaction with others, making it harder to approach another person and actually engage in conversation. The lack of social interaction created by the advancement of mobile devices is unfortunate but necessary to assimilate to contemporary societal shifts.  Andrew Keen, the author of “The Cult of the Amateur,” believes that the future will continue in this direction, claiming that eventually, mobile devices will operate on the same level of human intelligence. He claims that the only way to break this chain of events is to practice empowerment over our devices.

Social and Economic Implications of Amendment One

The upcoming May 8th ballot in North Carolina will include the notorious same-sex marriage amendment that is attempting to add the ban of same-sex marriage to the state constitution.

Amendment One is defined as an act to amend the constitution to provide that marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state. Same-sex marriage is already banned in NC, but this amendment is attempting to actually include the ruling in the NC state constitution. Voters and politicians believe that the incorporation of the amendment into the constitution could be viewed as discrimination.

Although gay-marraige isn’t supported in NC, many believe that defining marriage as a domestic legal union only between a man and a woman would hurt the state’s economy. In a recent Associated Press article, U.S. Senator Kay Hagan claimed that incorporating Amendment One into the state constitution would “discourage companies with gay-friendly policies from building or expanding in NC.”

“At a time when our economy is already struggling to grow once again, it does not make sense to create an unnecessary road block for attracting new businesses,”claims the Protect All NC Families organization. “If the Amendment would cost us one job, that is one job too many in the current economic climate.”

The US economy has been fluctuating ever the global recession began back in 2008, but according to a recent article by The Guardian, the end of 2011 look to bring positive light to the situation. The economy expanded at a 3% annual rate during the last three months of the year, the most since early 2010. This doesn’t seem to be the best time to limit the job market by incorporating nothing more than discriminatory rulings into the NC constitution.

But Amendment One isn’t only about the NC economy; it’s about human rights and the way that these rights effect human relationships. The LGBTQ population should not have to endure discrimination because of the state’s failure to recognize their relationships the same way a man and a woman’s are.

A relationship shouldn’t be defined by sexual loyalty. Presbyterian minister, and published author Marvin M. Ellison said that rather than viewing gay-marraige as a union between two partners at an appropriate age, it should be looked at from purely a relational standpoint. “The church should stop promoting marriage, and promote other relationships,” said Ellison. He put a heavy emphasis on the church and society embracing an idea he refers to as “relational integrity.” This refers to the result of accepting LGBTQ relationships, as it would allow US society to understand the defining aspects of relationships by removing the emphasis of sexuality.

“Inclusion is good, but transformation is better,” said Ellison. Transformation can’t happen without the inclusion of LGBTQ rights, and denying Amendment One is the first step on the road to assimilation.

How Should Clinton Be Remembered?

I don’t remember the decline of Clinton’s presidency in detail, but what I do remember isn’t positive. I remember my conservative father calling Clinton a variety of names, most of which I had no idea what they meant at the time, but I could tell by the tone they definitely weren’t positive. I also briefly remember seeing words such as “affair” and “scandal” in headlines on CNN or WRAL News on television as my parents kept up with the events. So even at the age of of 7 or 8 I was aware that the President of the United States had done something he wasn’t suppose to.

But now that I’m older, more informed (somewhat), and have more experience following other presidents at an age that I can actually comprehend what it means to be a president, I can now attempt to look at what Clinton did right, and what he (clearly) did wrong. But first, in order to judge Clinton as a president, it’s necessary to define what characteristics define a president.

Let me propose the idea of a president with terrible morals, but who’s also a socioeconomic genius that knows exactly how to lead a country. This president would be single, sleep around with whoever he/she wanted to and however many he/she wanted to. He/she would party hard and be on the cover of People magazine on the reg. But regardless of how he/she behaved outside of the white house, he/she was always present for congressional meetings and presidential advisory sessions, and was an excellent spokesperson and diplomatic conversationalist. Lets also assume that the people love him/her. This idea is obviously impractical and absurd, but assuming that a candidate such as this could get into office, would this particular president be ridiculed for his/her “extra-curricular activities” if the economy was booming, the unemployment rate was an all-time low and US international relations were as strong as ever? Honestly we’ll never know, but if not, its a definite possibility that Clinton would be remembered quite differently.

My generation must assess Clinton based on his progress made as president, as well as his behavior while doing so. We have to ask ourselves, should Clinton’s sexual relations with White House Secretary Monica Lewinsky, and alleged relations with multiple other women including Barbara Streisand and Sharon Stone, effect our opinion of him as a president? and to what degree should each of these factors count? or should our opinion solely be based on his government involvement?

But as soon as I read Clinton’s name in the prompt I immediately thought of his impeachment in 1998. Clinton lied to the entire country, surrendering his trust and his validity. How can an American citizen trust someone as a politician, if they can’t even trust them as a person? Clinton’s decision to have an affair with Lewinsky ruined his credibility and gave the nation reason to doubt him. Regardless of his campaign promises, Clinton had not even served the length of an entire term before he became sexually involved with a 21 year-old intern in 1995, while still married. It’s not the fact that this made Clinton a bad president, it’s the fact that it made him a bad person. How could our nation allow Clinton to be in control of over 300 million people, when he couldn’t even control himself?

Clinton created the most jobs ever under a single administration, and he was able to make way against the massive amount of US debt that had piled up. In fact, Clinton is responsible for the largest three-year pay-down in American history; $363 billion between 1998 and 2000. As a president, Clinton did an excellent job of putting our county in excellent economic position, but the majority of the American population, as well as the House of Representatives, weren’t willing to allow Clinton to retain office. His behavior was merely unacceptable considering the position that he acquired by the vote of the American people.

As a president, Clinton made significant headway in a time of economic disparity, but as a person, he merely forced the American people to re-evaluate their decision, and gave the House and the Senate the opportunity to correct the voters mistake. In a recent NPR  interview with Barak Goodman, the writer and film-maker of the latest PBS documentary, Clinton, Goodman said that the Clintons believed they “…were the victims of a political conspiracy. Their opponents have always said they were the author of their own problems, and I came to believe both were true.” The Clintons were only victimized after they (Bill in particular) had provided the opportunity for it. Had Clinton been able to control his focus on women other than his wife, he may have had the opportunity to accomplish even more as the 42nd President of the United States.