The 2016 presidential campaign is well underway, and it’s been a real shit-show so far. What may be the most pivotal election in at least a century is playing out like some sort of perverse reality show. Candidates are impersonating cartoon characters, communicating with animals, and making dick jokes on national television. It’s great TV: Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton. Ted Cruz or Donald Trump. One of these contestants will be “America’s Next POTUS,” find out who after this commercial break…
Between the 24-hour news coverage and the echo chambered social networks, it’s easy to get lost or bored in the carnival of coverage this election’s received. Sometimes it seems like even though everyone everywhere is endlessly talking about the election, no one’s really talking about the issues that matter to skateboarding. Like, if skating were my only concern, which president would most have my back?
To find out, we isolated seven issues that might have the biggest effect on American skateboarders, and, after some research, tried to break down how the candidates’s policies would help or hurt the skate community. Check it out, and don’t forget to vote on November 8 (and on every election day, local, state and federal) – it’s even more important than voting for SOTY.
There’s no changing the fact that skateboarding hurts, and that’s a good thing. But a broken bone shouldn’t also break the bank, and skateboarders shouldn’t have to resort to digging in couch cushions and internet panhandling to get back on the board after an injury. Affordable healthcare should be a basic right, not a luxury. Most of the developed world understands this, but America has been slow to adopt policies that reflect this belief.
The candidate that is most committed to providing affordable and high-quality healthcare for all American citizens is also the candidate most committed to increasing the longevity and gnarliness of skateboarders.
Bernie: A single-payer healthcare system essentially means that the government pays for your medical costs, and it’s what Bernie and his bros would like to initiate if they find their way into the White House. This requires a bump in taxes for some, but provides quality healthcare for all, even the next guy crazy enough to try the Schlager 13-flat-13 set.
Hillary: Providing access to affordable health care has been part of Hillary’s game since the early ‘90s, and not much has changed with her policies since then. She was all-in on the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare), and has said she’d continue to expand and refine it if she were Commander in Chief. While it’s not quite as progressive a stance as Sanders’s, it may be more realistic, and still a plus for injury-prone American skaters.
Cruz: Cruz has said that the first thing he does as president will be to tear up the Affordable Care Act. “Washington wants ObamaCare.” he tweeted, “The people want liberty.” Liberty in this case is the freedom for insurance and pharmaceutical companies to charge an arm and a leg to fix a leg and an arm, which means more expensive health care for those freelance ams and pros out there.
Trump: With the shiftiness of a chameleon, The Donald, who once favored a single-payer healthcare system, now says that if he were our country’s leader he would repeal ObamaCare and “replace it with something terrific.” That sounds great and all, but words alone won’t pay to get Jaws’s knees fixed when they eventually blow out.
It shouldn’t surprise you to hear that skateboarding might have a drug problem. Though it’s impossible to know just how many skaters have been sucked into the vortex of addiction, it’s probably safe to say that the number is way too high. (But what do you expect from a culture that idolizes recklessness and Antwuan Dixon?) Drugs are bad, sure, but the current policies that deal with them are even worse. We’ve spent trillions of dollars on this war and what do we have to show for it? Draconian drug laws that imprison a disproportionate number of minorities, and cheaper and more potent weed, coke and heroin than ever before. Continuing the war on drugs, which has been an abject failure since it started, makes about as much sense as continuing to hate on Shane “Zigram 23” O’Neill, none.
A shift in strategy is long overdue. Our laws should focus on rehabilitation, not criminalization, and the candidate that understands that will be the candidate that’s best for skateboarding.
Bernie: Bernie lived on a sort of commune in Vermont back in the 1960s, so you know he was smoking those numbers (that’s hippie-speak for joint). Though he claims he was never “part of the drug culture” of the times, he’s become the most liberal candidate on drug policy by far, blaming big pharma for America’s opioid epidemic, and pushing to legalize medical marijuana, to remove the herb from the controlled substances list, and to exempt industrial hemp from restrictions (good news for an IPath comeback).
Hillary: Despite the problematic 1994 crime bill her husband okayed when he was president, Hillary has moved to a more progressive stance on drug policy. Call it lessons learned or skillful pandering, but Hillary is now in favor of decriminalizing marijuana, and has pledged to commit $1 billion a year on programs to fight opioid addiction. Again, she gets the job done, she’s just not as potent as Sanders – she’s like the Jason Park to Bernie’s Daewon.
Cruz: The Canadian-born Texas Senator says he “foolishly smoked pot” when he was younger, which means he either regrets it, or that he was just too noob to inhale. Either way, he has some surprisingly progressive views on drugs for such a conservative Christian. He’s in favor of reducing minimum and mandatory sentencing for drug offenders, and says it’s each state’s decision on how to regulate narcotics within their borders. With the pendulum of national opinion swinging slowly in favor of a more lenient drug policy, here’s one issue on which skaters could tolerate a President Cruz.
Trump: Trump espouses the straightedge personality of the most obnoxious aging punk you know, but with even less of the life experience. He says he never drinks, never smokes, never does drugs. He even fired – then characteristically “unfired” – a Miss America winner because she was caught with coke. But, Trump, like Cruz, says he’s a state’s rights supporter, so we might be able to expect a shift away from the war on drugs and towards something else with Trump at the helm, surely it’d be towards something ambiguously “terrific.”
This is an issue that, for better or worse, has been pushed front-and-center during this election. Arguments over national identity and how porous our borders should be have devolved into discussions of how high we should build a wall and what kinds of tests we can make to tell who is Muslim and who isn’t. Stricter immigration laws result in fewer internationals allowed in the country – that means fewer Tiago Lemos California schoolyard tricks and fewer Lucas Puig in New York clips. This would be good if you’re a Puleo-esque spot hoarder, but if you’re a fan of good skateboarding this can only be a loss.
In the spirit of inclusivity, the candidate with the most flexible immigration policy will be the best candidate for skateboarding.
Bernie: You’d think that someone who calls themself a democratic socialist would be in favor of sharing everything with as many people as possible, regardless of nationality, but Bernie’s stance isn’t so simple. Though he’s in support of providing a pathway to citizenship for people already living in the country, he’s been critical of the guestworker programs that give highly-skilled foreigners visas to come work here. In other words, if he were policing the spot, he’d let in Tom Karangelov before he’d let in Tom Knox.
Hillary: Our immigration system is broken and in desperate need of reform and expansion. At least that’s one of the main policies that Clinton is campaigning on. She wants a pathway to citizenship for any undocumented skater already here, and is in favor of expanding guestworker programs that make it easier for foreigners to get work visas. America would be like a public skatepark under Clinton’s watch, less like Woodward, more like the Wig.
Cruz: Even though Cruz is the son of a Cuban immigrant and wasn’t even born within American borders, he’s a staunch advocate of harsher immigration policies. Increased border patrols, forceful deportations, jail sentences if you’re caught coming back in, just a general policy of ‘fuck off’ to anyone not lucky enough to be American.
Trump: Trump’s ever-growing border wall, as unrealistic as it is, is a pretty obvious indicator for where he stands on immigration, he ain’t having it, unless of course he can use the immigrants as a cheap labor force, then it’s okay.
Despite what 30% of Americans and 100% of the GOP candidates believe, our Earth is heating up, the polar ice caps are melting, and sea levels are rising. That’s science, not conspiracy. This is an existential threat, and a deceptively slow moving one, threatening us at a glacial pace. We’ll be around to watch our cities flood. Tens of millions of people will be displaced, and, maybe worst of all, some of America’s greatest skate spots will be submerged. Eggs in Boston, underwater. The Lower East Side of Manhattan, waterworld. SPoT contests in Tampa, no more. Those round curbs in Venice Beach, swamped. Global warming – the ultimate skate stopper.
The candidate that acknowledges this impending cataclysm and faces it head on, whether that means making policies to dramatically reduce our carbon emissions or just reinforcing our infrastructure for the inevitable, is the candidate that is going to be best for skateboarders (and the rest of Americans).
Bernie: This is Bernie at his most hippie, fighting to enhance EPA regulations on polluters and pushing to prioritize green energy sources over fossil fuels and fracking. Though he may not be able to stop climate change completely, he’s at least trying to minimize the human contribution to our demise, doing everything he can to preserve our coastal spots for generations to come.
Hillary: Hillary once again comes in as a Bernie-lite on this issue. She’s all for EPA regulations and green energy, but she’s also down for the occasional fracking, which potentially means more earthquakes – and more cracked run-ups – in some parts of the country.
Cruz: Cruz has found some scientists deluded enough to believe that global warming doesn’t exist, so, until the country’s coastlines become wading pools, Cruz isn’t going to do anything about climate change. We can handle it when it comes and if it comes, but until then let’s not worry about it. (That’s kind of like how the core skate shoe companies treated the entry of the big brands a decade ago, and we all know how that turned out.)
Trump: Some people just want to watch the world burn in a gaseous haze – the Donald is one of those people. He’s all in for drilling for oil, deregulating the environment, and doing whatever else it takes to keep the smoke fuming from factories. He’s in as much denial over the potentially devastating impact of climate change as he is over his baldness.
It’d be pretty surprising, even in the carnival of this absurd election, for any candidate to come out and say they’re anti-disability rights. But this issue is particularly prickly to skateboarders because of its effect on architecture and the spots that we skate. The infrastructure of safety and accessibility is a win-loss for us. Such policies have given us handicap ramps, bump-to-bars, and painted curbs, but also those obnoxious rumble strips in curb cuts and those little kinks at the end of every new handrail.
But, as any clip from the last few years will show you, there are more than enough bump-to-bars out there, we need no more. And those plastic, pimpled-cheese eye-sores are ruining the run up of curb cuts around the country. So, as insensitive as it may be to the mobility challenged, the candidate with the least active policy on disability rights may be the one that’s best for skaters.
Bernie: It’s pretty rare for a president to weigh in on disability rights, but Bernie, being the rare bird that he is, is the only candidate in this election to publicly engage in dialogue with RespectAbility, one of the leading propenents of disability rights, vowing to support their policies.
Hillary: According to her website, Hillary “has spent her life fighting for the rights of Americans with disabilities,” so let’s not expect that to change if she becomes President.
Cruz: Cruz is presumably too busy working on his Monty Burns impersonation and covertly masturbating to worry about installing rumble strips and increasing the equitability of people with disabilities.
Skateboarders are an entrepreneurial bunch. What other “sport” has made itself a vibrant industry fueled by its entrepreneurial participants? Skateboarding subsists off small, skater-owned businesses in the lean years and gluts off the corporate tit in high times like now, but, through all its ups and downs, skaters have never been too big to fail – they’re always one misstep away from falling into bankruptcy. The big corporations are at an advantage here – they have the money and resources to buy the best teams, make the best videos, and produce the best products – and if they fail they can always regroup and try again. Somebody needs to be looking out for the interests of skateboarding’s entrepreneurs, and the government, through tax and subsidy policies, has the potential to help (or harm) the core skate industry.
So it should be obvious that the candidate that is best for small, independent businesses and independent contractors will also be best for the skateboarding industry.
Bernie: Bernie’s broken-record rhetoric on income inequality would be comical if it wasn’t so scarily true. Higher taxes on the wealthy and subsidies for small American businesses is what Bernie is all about – and that’s a great thing for skateboarders. It makes the super-rich skaters like Tony Hawk and Nyjah Huston pay higher taxes than those struggling to make ends meet, enabling people like Forrest Edwards to continue landing extremely hard tricks while “not really trying.”
Hillary: She may get paid a quarter-of-a-million dollars to give secret speeches to big banks, but for the most part Clinton is still a supporter of small businesses and of reducing income inequality, she’s just trying to make some bank for herself in the process. Following Bernie’s lead, Hillary has campaigned on Wall Street reform and on raising the minimum wage so that you can make a living wage working at a fast food joint while trying to make it as a professional skateboarder. Uhh, good luck with that.
Cruz: Cruz is the kind of guy who would buy a longboard and a Thrasher shirt from Zumiez.
He’s in favor of a flat-tax rate, which basically means Rob Dyrdek would pay the same percentage of taxes as the presumably much-less ballin’ Chad Bowers – that’s got to quasi-hurt the man who’s trying to run a small, independently operated board brand. It’s open-market, unfettered capitalism, and Cruz is cool with it.
Trump: Trump’s empire was built off the perks of big business, and he’s even proud of his ability to exploit the law’s loopholes to save some bucks. He favors a 0% corporate tax that would benefit companies like Nike and Adidas more than it would Huf and Lakai, but then again, I guess he never said he wanted to make Emerica great again.
The policies that mold American foreign policy are maddeningly complicated concerns, dictated by our military and economic interests, humanitarian interventionism, and, as of the last few decades, fear of domestic terrorism. But in the campaign process this all gets boiled down to who is anti-war or and who is pro-war. It’s about Doves and Hawks, and I’m not talking about the vert skaters. The more hawkish a candidate is, the more likely they are to pursue wars abroad, and the more desperate the armed forces will be for young recruits. Though it’s extremely unlikely that the draft will ever be reinstated, the Army is no stranger to aggressive recruitment tactics, and skaters are prime subjects to pursue.
So, in order to keep as many skaters as possible out of combat fatigues (fashion fatigues are okay), the most anti-war candidate will be best for American skateboarders.
Bernie: The Sanders campaign is focused almost entirely on domestic concerns. Such intensity leaves little energy to expend fighting foreign wars, and Bernie, a political dinosaur that hasn’t forgotten the lessons of the Vietnam War, is on the record as being strongly against committing US troops to wars abroad.
Hillary: Hilldawg, as former Secretary of State under Obama, has more inside knowledge and experience with the balancing act of foreign policy than maybe any other candidate ever. But her experience also opens her up to criticisms: she was the Secretary when we took down Gaddafi in Lybia, and she famously voted in favor of the Iraq War back in 2002. Despite the humanitarian reasonings for her hawkishness, all wars need soldiers, and the military might be looking for new skater recruits under a Clinton presidency.
Cruz: Christian-American exceptionalism occupies much of Cruz’s mentality. What is best for Christians across America becomes what’s best for every human everywhere. This belief leads Cruz to equate the best defense with an aggressive offense, and to say that it’s the military’s responsibility to “hunt down” every jihadist in the world. It took us about 10 years and innumerable man-hours to catch bin Laden, there’s no telling how many skate-soldiers we’ll need to catch every jihadist that’s come since.
Trump: This dude literally said that we should “take out” the family members of ISIS, and I’m pretty sure he’s not talking about to a nice date at Red Lobster. It’s a safe bet that if he’s willing to ignore the Geneva Convention and murder civilian women and children because they’re related to people belonging to terrorist sects, he’s more than willing to send young American men and women to do the killing. Skaters, be prepared to suit up and ship out under a Trump regime.