Wednesday, June 10, 2020

The Second Burning of Richmond

by Ken Johnson


    We sit on the crest of a new dawn. The symbols of oppression that have stood over the people of color in Richmond for over a century are coming down.

April 2, 1865

    Thick black smoke filled the skies of Richmond, and the sky glowed red as Richmond burned. Early in the day, Confederate troops had set sensitive documents on fire in Richmond's streets as they were retreating from the city. The document fires had grown out of control, and the entire business district was now ablaze. The streets reeked of whiskey that the Confederate troops had poured into the streets. In the warehouse district, tobacco, cotton, and food had been set aflame. Tredegar Iron Works was burning with its ammunition going off, and in the river, ironclads were aflame with their ammunition also exploding. The Confederate army left the city for Union troops to take over.

    Except, the Confederacy has never really left Richmond. Standing upon his pedestal with an apparent aide-de-camp female form behind him atop a sixty-foot pillar overlooking the avenue of oppression, the larger than life Jefferson Davis, president of the failed Confederate States of America, looks down upon Monument Avenue.

    However, it is General Robert E. Lee, posed on a horse, but not his horse Traveller, that will be riding off into the sunset as the Confederacy finally leaves the city and ushers in a new day of a more inclusive Richmond.


    The beginnings of Monument Ave were first erected in 1890, when the General Robert E. Lee statue was unveiled, twenty-five years after the Confederate States of America lost the war and ceased to exist. The plans for the statue started in 1870, after Robert E. Lee's death.

    The next grouping of statues wasn't unveiled until 1907 when both Jefferson Davis and J.E.B. Stuart, a Confederate States of America Army general, were revealed to the public.

    General Stonewall Jackson didn't show up on Monument Avenue until over a decade later in 1919. And the final piece showed up ten years later, almost 65 years after the Confederate States of America lost the Civil War, honoring Matthew Fontaine Maury, a Confederate Navy officer.

    The six-story tall General Robert E. Lee statue is the only one of the motley assortment of memorials to a failed country that, despite being located in the city of Richmond, sits on state land. Governor Ralph Northam has announced that the Robert E. Lee statue will be removed from Monument Avenue as soon as possible. Richmond mayor Levar Stoney has stated he will propose the remaining four monuments to failure follow Robert E. Lee on July 1st, the first day it becomes legal for him to make such a proposition.


    No, removing the statues won't undo years of slavery and oppression that people of color have been subjected to in the United States. There is nothing that can fix the mass atrocities that people of color have been subjected to over the years. All we can do is work toward a harmonious future where we learn from our horrible past, and vow to never let it return.

June 6, 2020

    Protests over the murder of George Floyd by four police officers in Minneapolis continue in Richmond. A large group of protesters has been active in Monroe Park on the VCU campus. As the night wanes on, the group diminishes. Before the last group vacates the park, ropes are tied around the spray-painted memorial to Confederate General Wickham, and the statue is pulled off the pedestal to the ground.


    Despite voting against succession, General Wickham served in the Confederate States of America Army and later in the Confederate Congress. The statue to him has stood in Monroe Park since 1891. The Monroe Park Conservancy, the organization that cares for Monroe Park, and two descendants of General Wickham, have wanted the statue removed since the deadly 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. They have not been allowed to remove it by state law despite Monroe Park having been closed from 2016 to 2018 for a redesign.

    Monument Avenue and the General Wickham statue are just the beginning. Just a few minutes away as the crow flies stands what appears to be a three-story monument to A.P. Hill, a Confederate general. Lying in his shadow is the two-story Linwood Holton Elementary school that highlights the conflict that continues to flow through Richmond.


    A.P. Hill, whose only claim to fame appeared to be that he led Lewis Ginter during the Civil War, is interred under the monument. A.P. Hill was initially buried in Hollywood Cemetery but was moved to the north side by Lewis Ginter, along with his memorial, in 1891.

    Linwood Holton, the elementary school's namesake, was the 61st Governor of Virginia and fought for equality during his tenure as governor. When desegregation of the public schools in Richmond was a hot button issue in the 1970s, Linwood Holton enrolled his children in mostly black public schools. He increased the number of people of color hired by the state government. We need to bring equality out of the shadow of oppression that continually looms over it like the A.P. Hill monument looms over the Linwood Holton Elementary school.

    Clearly, in 2020, it is time for A.P. Hill to return to Hollywood Cemetery so that the students at the Linwood Holton elementary school no longer have to learn in his shadow. The site of his statue would be an excellent location for a statue honoring Linwood Holton and could serve as a focal point for students at the school to learn about its namesake.

    The rest of the statues should be moved to an outdoor museum, possibly in East Henrico, where they can become part of a learning experience about what happened and why it can never be allowed to happen again.

    Once the symbols of past oppression move out, one lone statue will remain. The Arthur Ashe statue erected in 1996. The street that has stood as a symbol of oppression for over a century should instead stand as a symbol of inclusivity. Richmond should move Monument Avenue forward by replacing the old Confederate monuments with statues of people of color with a Richmond connection. This way, Arthur Ashe can stand as the beginning of the new Monument Avenue.


    The current statues can be replaced with statues honoring people like Christopher Jones, who sparked the 1867 streetcar sit-in in Richmond, Virginia Randolph, the child of slaves who founded the Virginia Randolph Training Center for African-American students, Henry Marsh, the first African-American mayor of Richmond, and L. Douglas Wilder, the first African-American governor of Virginia. These are just a few suggestions; the list goes on and on of people who have fought for equality in Virginia and could use recognition on the new Monument Avenue.

    Interestingly, the Jefferson Davis memorial, that sits at the intersections of Monument Ave and what used to be known as Cedar Avenue (which as a side point, should be returned to the name Cedar Avenue), marks the location of Star Fort, a Confederate bastion fort, whose boundaries are marked by the cannons on Monument Ave. A historical marker and an info plate would be appropriate here talking about the fort.

    The Civil War has been over for one hundred and fifty-five years. It is time for Richmond to stop living in the 19th century and move into the 21st century.





Sunday, February 18, 2018

The History of Pop Culture

by Ken Johnson
Random people push through the crowd to try and grab their time to get their picture taken with Johnny Depp. The loud party music crashes through the room. Flashbulbs briefly spark the room with intense light. One by one each person is victorious. A person smiles and drapes her arm around Johnny as if they were best friends. The picture is snapped, Johnny's lifeless smile looks back at the camera as the flash goes off. A new person pushes through the crowd. A flash goes off. Another picture is taken, Johnny's lifeless face and pose completely unchanged. Over and over again the ritual occurs.

This is my first time in London and I have stopped at Madame Tussauds, a world famous wax museum. This is my first visit ever to a wax museum. The first room of the museum is a “party” room where Johnny Depp, along with a multitude of other celebrities, including Sean Connery, Morgan Freeman and Jim Carrey, are posed in their best Hollywood party poses. Some stars of the Bollywood screen, Indian movie stars with names that are unfamiliar to me, are off to the side forgotten by the masses staring in at the stars of Hollywood. The lifeless Bollywood stars show no distress that there are throngs of people putting their arms around the Hollywood stars and having their pictures taken with them whereas the stars of Bollywood are being largely ignored by the masses of people. The masses shuttling from one Hollywood star to the next. Pushing their way forward through the crowds to have their picture taken with each star.

Madame Tussauds is an odd looking building with a large solid white facade bearing Marie Tussaud's picture on the side with the dates 1761 to 1850. A large green dome sits next to it with a dark red ring around it with Madame Tussauds printed in gold script written multiple times around it with an odd large blue cylinder standing behind the dome. The wax museum has seen around fifty million people pass through its doors in the over 200 hundred years that it has been open.

Madame Tussauds was started by Marie Tussaud, whose first wax sculptures were of Voltaire and Benjamin Franklin. Further wax work, including the death masks of nobles and the monarchy killed during the French Revolution, made Marie Tussaud famous.

I can't help but imagine a young seventeen-year-old Marie Gresholtz, as she was known prior to her marriage to Francois Tussaud in 1795, who had been born in Strasberg, France in the year 1770. Her mother was a housekeeper for Dr. Philippe Curtius, a physician and wax modeler, and she and Marie lived in Philippe's house. Philippe Curtius had originally learned the craft of wax modeling for making anatomical models. Five years prior Philippe Curtius had moved to Paris to start making wax models for art instead of medical reason. Curtius had taken a liking to Marie Gresholtz and started teaching her the art of wax modeling. Prior to his death in 1794, Philippe had opened two wax museums in France that he left to the twenty-four-year-old Marie. Marie turned the museums into a traveling show that went around France displaying her and Philippe's wax figures.

As I move out of the Hollywood party room and past a concession stand selling fake Oscars and popcorn I run into a throng of people. Unable to see ahead I wait among the masses to see the exhibit that is drawing so many people. As I get to the front I see the members of One Direction, a young pop band that came into existence in 2010, sitting on benches with people from the crowd going up and sitting on the benches with them while members of the Madame Tussauds staff snapped their pictures.

In 1802, Marie Tussaud took the show to Great Britain as a traveling exhibition show. The traveling exhibition show featured wax figures of statesmen and a section called The Chamber of Horrors, which featured wax figures of villains. The traveling exhibition show also provided patrons with news and information about global events and became a place where people could get world information as well as view the wax figures. The traveling exhibition show finally found a permanent home on Baker Street in London, home of legendary detective Sherlock Holmes, in 1835.

Next up is the Hollywood section, where the stars that were apparently not invited to the big wax shindig at the entrance are located. Robert Downey, Jr., portraying Sherlock Holmes located a mere two blocks away from where he might feel at home, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, in his most robotic form as the Terminator, are all in attendance here. I notice that the figures are easier to look at as the crowds of people seem to have died down.

Continuing on to the stars of yesterday, John Wayne, Charlie Chaplin and Alfred Hitchcock all stare out at the mostly empty room not looking at all envious that One Direction is hogging all the attendees of the wax museum.

Marie Tussaud's life came to an end in 1850, shortly after she made a self wax model. After her death her grandsons moved Madame Tussauds a block over to Marylebone Road in London in 1884, which is it's current location. The Tussaud family lost control of the Tussaud Group, the operators of Madame Tussauds in 1889, due to financial problems and family fighting and since then no member of the Tussaud family as had any control in the business. In the 20th century, the need for news from Madame Tussauds diminished. Newspapers were common place and people had no need to get their news from Madame Tussauds anymore. The focus became on celebrities. Tussaud Group added a cinema and restaurant to Madame Tussauds in 1928 and added a planetarium in 1958.

The large green dome seen from the outside of the building is where the planetarium was located, which was known as The London Planetarium. In 2006 the planetarium was shut down to make it a more celebrity-based attraction. Schools in the London area had used the Planetarium to teach students about the solar system around them as well as providing shows to the public.

Reportedly the London Planetarium website had the following message after it's closure, “In 2006 the Planetarium was rebranded and renamed the Star Dome. The Star Dome is part of the Madame Tussauds attraction and is included in the ticket price. Please note that we no longer show astronomy-based shows.”

Madame Tussauds stated that only a small percentage of customers were bothering to view the planetarium anymore, which is what prompted them to change it. At the current time it houses the Marvel Superheros 4D Movie experience.

A line is formed filling the room for the Marvel Superheros 4D Movie Experience. People are mulling around, within their designated line spot, unwilling to give it up or have to wait again for the next showing a scant five minutes later. The big doors to the theater open, an employee with a headset announces that people should enter the theater. Move into each isle all the way so no seats are wasted, said the amplified voice of the employee. The patrons waiting patiently in line are escorted into the theater to don their 3D glasses and watch an animated movie about superheros who ultimately end up having to save Madame Tussauds from Doctor Doom. Outside, a family with two children have paused, before the entry to the queue to look at a wax figure of Captain America on the side of the room. Hurry, or you will miss the show, barked the employee, her amplified voice echoing inside the theater and out for all to hear, to these stalled patrons. The employee shepherds the family into the theater and away from the wax work. The lights dim and the presentation starts.

Upon leaving the Marvel Superheros 4D Movie experience, one does not get a chance to re-enter the wax museum. Looming before you is the brightly lit gift shop with the familiar rings of cash registers completing a sale. Children crying for some trinket that they must have to forever remember Madame Tussauds, which will ultimately become broken, lost or eaten by the dog within the first two months of returning home. And the sounds of vehicles from the street, where the gift shop pours the finished masses into, readying itself for the next group of patrons who will be ushered into the gift shop in under five minutes. The patrons, ushered past the wax works, unable to return to gaze upon what they have missed.

As I exit the museum, I can't help to wonder, would Marie Tussaud be happy with how her museum is today? Would the throngs of people, pushing to have their photos taken with lifelike reproductions of their favorite stars make her smile with a content feeling? Or would the new attractions now contained within the building offer her pause?

The Madame Tussauds started by Marie Tussaud was very different than the one visitors flock to today, sometimes spending up to three hours in queue just to get in. In the days of Marie Tussaud, the wax figures and news and global events were the appeal that brought people in. Now, Madame Tussauds offers a collection of entertainment possibilities within its walls for its millions of visitors.

The animated Marvel Superheros 4D Movie experience, which opened in 2010, is a far cry from the wax works that Marie Tussaud became famous for. Marie Tussaud, who started out as the daughter of a housekeeper, who managed to survive the guillotine during the French Revolution, and created the world's most famous wax museum. Did she go through all this so that the wax figures now seen in her museum come second place to an animated 3D movie? Would she be happy touring the Madame Tussauds of today seeing what has become of it?

Madame Tussauds has been struck by tragedy numerous times since the Tussaud family lost control. In 1925 the building was massively damaged by a fire. An earthquake struck the building in 1931. And in 1940 the building was bombed by World War II bombers damaging or destroying most of the figures within the building. Oddly, the wax figure of Adolf Hitler survived the bombing with no damage at all.

The biggest changes to the establishment started occurring in 1993, when the five minute Spirit of London ride was added to Madame Tussauds. You are ushered into a black London taxi cab which is pulled via conveyer belt. The ride brings you through a quick history of London up to the present day. The Spirit of London incorporates moving wax figures and very elaborate sets which keeps the idea of a waxwork museum with modern innovations to make the displays become more alive. The Spirit of London ride is an attraction that I can see Marie Tussaud approving of.

Marie Tussaud herself dabbled with moving wax figures during her life. The first one she created in 1776 called Sleeping Beauty, which featured Madame Du Barry, Louis XV's mistress, which mechanically breathed. Not at all the spectacle that is seen within The Spirit of London but since Tussaud dabbled with moving wax figures, it is not a far cry to see her creating a ride with moving wax figures had the technology existed for it back in her time.

Prior to getting to The Chamber of Horrors, a display of real life villains and atrocities which happened within the past that dates back to Marie Tussaud's traveling show, you get to the Scream! attraction, a five minute haunted house walk with live actors that jump out at patrons. Combined with the live actors are what appear to be stationary wax figures throughout the walk. The lack of lighting within the attraction makes it impossible to tell if the stationary figures are wax work or if they are composed of some other substance, and there is no way to enjoy the figures at all since visitors are constantly pushing by to get away from something that scared them.

In 2007, Tussauds Group merged with Merlin Entertainment, owners of The London Dungeon and The London Eye. The Scream! attraction seems more appropriate for The London Dungeon, a gruesome walk through of London's dark history with live actors, than it does at Madame Tussauds. Under the control of Merlin Entertainment, it now takes a team of twenty sculptures a total of four months to create one new wax model, at a cost of £150,000 per model.

The local and global news is gone from Madame Tussauds. The waxworks are not gone, but they seem underplayed heavily when stacked up against some of the other entertainment now available at Marie Tussauds. The more stoic figures – legendary celebrities, world leaders and great people within culture – seem largely ignored for the passing celebrity fancy of the day. A complete turn around from the museum that Marie Tussaud had on Baker Street.

I was convinced during my experience that Marie Tussaud would not have been happy with what happened with Madame Tussauds. I was sure that she would have been upset with the heavier promoting of the additional attractions that were added to the wax museum that have less and less connection with wax works to the point where the waxwork angle is almost a side thought. However I am no longer convinced of this.

The fact remains that Madame Tussauds runs keeps people flowing through the doors every day, sometimes waiting up to huge amounts of time to enter. Even if some of these people have been drawn in due to the additional attractions within the building, they are still coming to visit her waxworks. If Scream, the Marvel Superheros 4D Movie Experience, The Spirit of London, or the wax figures are the reason for them coming into Madame Tussauds is irrelevant. If some people rush through the wax works to get to the other programmes, ultimately that is their choice. However people are still, in 2014, coming in to Madame Tussauds and seeing the waxworks.

Madame Tussaud realized that there was a market to view famous people, according to an employee of Madam Tussauds. Even with all the changes that have occurred within the establishment over all of the years, there is still a market for viewing famous people.

Madame Tussaud originally wanted a place to display her craft for people to see it . That concept is still fully embraced with the current establishment under the control of Merlin Entertainment. The original desire behind the establishment is still going, in 2014.

In a corner of the cultures section, sharing an area with luminaries such as William Shakespeare, Pablo Picasso, Albert Einstein, and Charles Dickens to name a few sits a rather non-descript woman working at a table with clay with a white bonnet wrapped around her head with her long brown hair sticking out. She is dressed in a white skirt with a brown and white tied up top, looking very much of the peasant class of a long begone time. A wooden bookcase inset into the wall on her right is holding heads and bottles. She is Madame Tussaud, frozen in time at the craft that made her famous, at work forever within her waxworks. A family rushes by with young ones screaming to see Britney Spears as they head into the loud music of Whitney Houston drifting over the speakers in the music section.
[Originally published 12/2016 by The University of New Hampshire]

Monday, November 7, 2016

Get Out “The” Vote

In less than 24 hours polls will be open in all 50 states and in less than 48 hours, with a little luck, we may even know who the president-elect will be. Then we can all put this election behind us and all be friends again. Or can we?

Two days ago I answered the door after hearing knocking on it. Outside, dressed in a distinctive light blue shirt was a member of Team Clinton. He said he was looking for the Democrat of the house. He glanced at the clipboard in his hand and gave her name. I let him know that she was not home and he inquired as to when he could return to talk to her. I let him know that it was doubtful that he would be able to arrange to see her prior to Tuesday's election. At which point, with a look of disdain, he gave me a postcard for her and stated that if she didn't know where to vote, what day to vote, when she could vote, or if she needed a ride to vote she could use the postcard to contact Team Clinton and turned and left.

As he went down the steps I thought but what about me. I, the owner of the car outside with the Gary Johnson for president bumper sticker outside, what if I didn't know where to vote. What if I didn't have a ride to the polls? He didn't even once offer the information to me. I am sure that I was on his clipboard too. I just didn't have the right letter next to my name. This man, who cared so much that the Democrat of the house made it to the polls, honestly didn't care if I made it to the polls. In fact, from the look on his face when talking to me, he probably would be happy if I didn't go at all.

It would be nice to think that this man dressed in light blue at my door had been just one overly fanatical person, however, he was not.

This has been the theme of this election, the worst election that I have ever witnessed in my life. It is likely if you have publicly announced that you are voting for Hillary Clinton that at least one person has called you a “Libtard.” It is likely if you have publicly announced that you are voting for Donald Trump that at least one person has called you a “racist.” And it is likely that if you have publicly announced that you are voting for any third party or independent candidate that you personally are responsible for the Armageddon that is sure to follow this election.

While it is easy to attack these people for their hatred the biggest problem is this virulence comes all the way from the top in this election.

Donald Trump gleefully announcing “In the good ol' days, they'd have ripped him out of that seat so fast.' 'Knock the crap out of him, would you? Seriously, OK just knock the hell — I promise you I will pay for the legal fees. I promise, I promise,” while talking about a protester at a rally.

Hillary Clinton, not to be outdone, stated at a gala, “You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables.”

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have shown extreme animosity toward each other in ways I don't believe have ever been shown before in an election in my time, especially by any “mainstream” candidate. They refused to shake each other's hands at the second debate or third presidential debates. They even turned the usually light-hearted and fun annual Al Smith charity dinner into a continuation of the animosity. This contempt for the opposing candidate and their supporters has gone down through the ranks and can be seen on any general day on the various social media sites available.

How do we now expect, in less than 48 hours from now, for this growing antipathy for anyone who belongs to a different political group than you to just dissipate into the air?

Especially when both “mainstream” candidates have given their supporters reason to challenge the election results. Donald Trump has stated, “They even want to try and rig the election at the polling booths, where so many cities are corrupt and voter fraud is all too common,” describing Democrats. Hillary Clinton has stated, “It’s pretty strange to put something like that out with such little information right before an election. In fact, it’s not just strange; it’s unprecedented and it is deeply troubling.”

Each one charging their legion of supporters to question the results of the election should he or she lose. No matter who wins this election, the animosity toward the opposing candidate will continue after the election that will make the George W. Bush and Al Gore election results from 2000 look like a friendly social dinner. And if you think the rancor to third party or independent candidate voters will cease I am afraid you will be gravely mistaken. Both sides will blame this group of voters for allowing the other candidate to steal the election.

Somehow, though, we the people, just put this animosity toward each other aside. Not with the help of the politicians, as they want us a divided nation, but because we are all in this together. The government is supposed to work for the people, all the people. Not just the people of one ideology. And right now it is the opposite. We the people are justifying that our government, all sides of it, remain at a stalemate which hurts us the people.

On Tuesday, go out and vote for the candidate you believe in. And then after, shake the hand of a supporter of another candidate, be it a Donald Trump supporter, a Hillary Clinton supporter, a Gary Johnson supporter, an Evan McMullin supporter, or a Jill Stein supporter. Start healing the nation because if we continue this divide, we will eventually reach a point where there can be no reconciliation. And if we ever reach that point, it is us as a nation who have lost for there are no winners in a divided nation. Only losers.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Campaign Trail 2016: The primaries come to a close

The Republican party held their last primaries last week on June 7th, however the Democratic party still had one to go. Not in a state or a territory, but in the District of Columbia. Leading up to Washington D.C.'s voting, President Barack Obama met with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and then Obama endorsed his former Secretary of State former New York Senator Hillary Clinton.

Clinton won the District of Columbia in a massive landslide receiving 78.7 percent of the total vote. Sanders received only 21.1 percent of the vote. Washington D.C. had a total of 20 delegates to award. As can be expected, Clinton walked away with the bulk of the delegates, 16 to be exact, and Sanders didn't receive much at all, four to be exact.

This brings Clinton up to 2,219 delegates that have been bound through voting and Sanders up to 1,832 delegates that have been bound through voting. As of the time of writing, Clinton also has 587 superdelegates bringing her total up to 2,806 delegates and Sanders has 48 superdelegates bringing his total up to 1,880. Superdelegates aren't bound until voted at the Democratic National Convention.

There are 79 superdelegates that have not been pledged to either candidate yet. Even if Sanders could secure all 79 of those superdelegates that still leaves him 424 superdelegates short of getting the nomination. Sanders' chances of getting enough superdelegates to support him to gain the nomination aren't likely, especially since Tuesday's final primary he has already lost one superdelegate.

Despite popular rumor, the Democratic National Convention is not, at the current time, going to be a brokered convention. A candidate needs 2,383 delegates, though bound delegates from voters and superdelegates combined, to get the nomination. Clinton is well over the required number. A brokered convention will only happen if neither candidate receives 2,383 or more delegates on the first round.

However, Sanders has still not suspended his campaign and rumors from his campaign indicate that he is going to call for a roll call vote at the convention.

The next stop for the Democratic party is the Democratic National Convention from July 25th through the 28th at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Campaign Trail 2016: Trump and Clinton win big on Super Tuesday

The last big super Tuesday of the 2016 presidential primaries occurred on Tuesday and for the Democrats, former New York Senator Hillary Clinton is battling it out with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders until the bitter end. Sanders was hoping for a big win today to close the large gap between him and Clinton and Clinton was hoping for major victories so she could get the required amount of delegates to claim the nomination.

The biggest state of the day was California, with its coveted 475 delegates up for grabs. Clinton won the state getting 55.8 percent of the vote and so far has collected 257 of the delegates. Sanders received 43.2 percent of the vote and so far has collected 188 of the delegates. Montana had 21 delegates up for grabs and Sanders won the state with 51.1 percent of the vote and collected 11 delegates. Clinton collected 44.6 percent of the vote and received ten delegates.

New Jersey had the second highest amount of delegates to award, 126 delegates to be exact, and Clinton won the state by a landslide collecting 63.3 percent of the vote and 73 delegates. Sanders received 36.7 percent of the vote and received 47 delegates. New Mexico, and its 34 delegates, had an almost tie with Clinton barely winning with 51.5 percent of the vote and collecting 17 delegates. Sanders received 48.5 percent of the vote and 14 delegates.

North Dakota was another win for Sanders in a landslide victory receiving 64.2 percent of the vote. Clinton received 25.6 percent of the vote. Sanders collected 13 of North Dakota's 18 delegates and Clinton received five delegates. The final contest of the day was in South Dakota, which was the closest contest of the day. Clinton received 51 percent of the vote and Sanders received 49 percent of the vote. South Dakota had 20 delegates to award and Clinton and Sanders split them evenly, each receiving ten delegates.

Overall, Tuesday was a loss for Sanders and a win for Clinton. Clinton didn't get enough delegates to claim the Democratic nomination, however she added an additional 72 delegates to the gap between herself and Sanders leaving Sanders now 380 delegates behind (not including superdelegates).

As of the time of writing, Clinton has collected 2,184 delegates and 571 superdelegates, giving her a total of 2,755 delegates. Sanders has collected 1,804 delegates and 48 superdelegates giving him a total of 1,852 delegates. Superdelegates aren't bound to a candidate until actually voted at the Democratic National Convention. Between unpledged superdelegates and the remaining upcoming primary, there are 158 delegates that haven't gone to a candidate yet.

Without superdelegates, Clinton is 199 delegates away from the necessary 2,383 delegates to win the Democratic presidential nomination. Sanders is 579 delegates away from the necessary delegate total to get the Democratic presidential nomination. Sanders has vowed to stay in the Democratic presidential primaries to the end and has hopes to win a brokered convention.

Next up for the Democrats is the final primary contest before their national convention. On June 14th Washington D.C. will cast their primary votes and disperse their 46 delegates.

For the Republican party, there were five nominating contests on Tuesday. Prior to Tuesday's primaries, billionaire Donald Trump had already passed the required 1,237 delegate count required for the Republican party presidential nomination. He is the only candidate still running in the Republican primaries. However, Tuesday may have actually been the most important day of primaries for Trump.

During the 2016 primaries, Republicans have been showing their disdain for the New York billionaire. Respected Republicans, such as George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, and John McCain, have refused to endorse and vote for Trump. As the primary season goes on more and more Republicans have jumped on the “Not Trump” bandwagon, some of the most recent being Republican Nebraska State Senator Laura Ebke, who switched her party registration from Republican to Libertarian over Trump, and Republican Iowa State Senator David Johnson, who switched his party registration from Republican to no party because of Trump.

Tuesday was the first day of contests since Trump has secured the nomination and a high percentage of votes for him, especially since he is running unopposed, would help his troubled image. Trump didn't get the percentages he would have wanted to on Tuesday, but at least for him he didn't lose any of the states. Trump received the highest percentage of votes in New Jersey, a winner take all state, with 51 delegates up for grabs. Trump received 80.6 percent of the vote and walked away with all 51 delegates. California was Trump's next best state, with 172 delegates on the line and proportional delegate disbursement. California hasn't finished tallying up all the votes and so far Trump has 75.4 percent of the vote and collected 166 of the delegates. He is likely to collect them all.

In Montana, a winner take all state with 27 delegates, Trump received 73.7 percent of the vote and all 27 of the delegates. New Mexico, a proportional disbursement state with 24 delegates, Trump received 70.7 percent of the vote and all 24 of the delegates. And in the final contest of Tuesday in South Dakota, a winner take all state with 29 delegates, Trump only received 67.1 percent of the vote and collected all 29 delegates.

Tuesday was the the final day of the Republican presidential primaries and this was probably not the percentages Trump wanted to finish with. Next up for the Republicans is the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, from July 18th through the 21st at the Quicken Loans Arena. At the convention Trump is expected to be officially named the Republican presidential nominee.

The next edition of The Campaign Trail 2016 will be after the Democratic primary results in Washington D.C. on June 14th.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Campaign Trail 2016: Trump seals the deal

Washington State held their presidential primary on May 24th, for both the Republican and Democratic parties. The Republican party is the only one that the day counted for though. For the Democrats, the primary is just a beauty pageant, this is because the Washington State Democrats pick their Democratic delegate dispersion through caucuses that they held on March 26th. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders won the Democratic caucuses. The Washington State Republicans pick their Republican delegate dispersion through a primary, that had 44 delegates up for grabs. Democrats can vote in the primary for Democratic candidates but all results are unbound since their delegates were bound by the previous caucuses.

Billionaire Donald Trump was unopposed in the Republican primary in Washington State since all of his rivals have suspended their campaigns. Trump collected 75.8 percent of the vote and has collected 40 of the 44 delegates so far. With the Washington State win, Trump was up to 1,229 delegates, just short of the 1,237 required total to clinch the Republican presidential nomination. Since the Washington State primary, through Republican superdelegates – yes the Republican party has superdelegates as well – Trump is now up to 1,239 delegates, over the requirement to win the nomination.

The final Republican presidential nomination contests are today in California (proportional), Montana (winner take all), New Jersey (winner take all), New Mexico (proportional), and South Dakota (winner take all). The Democrats have contests in the same states today as well as North Dakota. Despite winning the Republican presidential nomination already, Trump still needs to perform well in today's contests. Low percentage wins, or even worse loses to candidates that have suspended their campaigns, would give ammunition for his opponents the former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson and former Massachusetts Governor William Weld, the presidential and vice presidential team for the Libertarian party, and former New York Senator Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. The next edition of The Campaign Trail 2016 will come out after today's results are completed.

The Campaign Trail 2016: Clinton hits the mark

Saturday June 4th, the United States territory of the Virgin Islands of the United States held their Democratic presidential caucuses. While United States territories can't vote in the general election in November, they do partake in the presidential nominations for the Republicans and the Democrats. The Virgin Islands had 12 delegates to award, seven pledged delegates and five superdelegates, and Former New York Senator Hillary Clinton won the territory by a massive landslide. According to the unofficial results released by the Democratic Party of the Virgin Islands, Clinton has received 84.2 percent of the total vote and received all seven pledged delegates along with all five superdelegates. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders had a horrible showing getting only 12.2 percent of the vote. Sanders walks away empty handed from the Virgin Islands.

The United States territory of Puerto Rico then held their Democratic presidential nomination primary on June 5th. Puerto Rico had 60 delegates to award and seven superdelegates. Clinton won Puerto Rico by a landslide, although not by the same margin she did in the Virgin Islands, getting 61 percent of the total vote. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders only received 38.6 percent of the vote. The finalized vote from the primary isn't complete and so far Clinton has collected 36 of the delegates and Sanders has collected 20 delegates. Clinton swept all seven superdelegates that were available.

The two territories pushed Clinton over a major milestone in her battle against Sanders for the Democratic presidential nomination. Clinton now has, when you combine pledged delegates and superdelegates, 2,383 delegates, the number required for the Democratic nomination. At this point, unless Sanders can convince superdelegates to switch their vote, he can no longer win the Democratic nomination. Superdelegates aren't officially binding until pledged at the Democratic National Convention in July, so they can change their pledge to him at this point. This means that Clinton's delegate count isn't a lock. Sanders is trying his hardest to get superdelegates to abandon Clinton and go to him. This is Sanders' only path left to victory. Before superdelegates are counted, Clinton has 1,812 delegates and Sanders has 1,521 delegates. There are only 813 delegates left to be awarded, not enough for Sanders to cross the line without taking some from Clinton. Clinton currently has 571 superdelegates pledged to her and Sanders currently has 48 superdelegates pledged to him.

If Clinton secures the nomination, she will be the first female presidential nominee for the Democratic Party. However, the continuing fight between Clinton and Sanders is hurting the Democratic party at this point. The Libertarian party has already had their national convention and nominated Former Governor Gary Johnson as their presidential nominee and Former Governor William Weld as their vice presidential nominee. While the Republican party doesn't have their national convention until July, billionaire Donald Trump has secured the necessary delegates for the nomination. This means both the Libertarian party and the Republican party are already targeting their rivals while Clinton and Sanders are still fighting within their own party. Given that, in poll after poll, both Clinton and Trump have the highest disapproval ratings of any candidate from their respective party, they both need to do a lot of image fixing before November to win over the trust of the voters. The Democratic party infighting between Clinton and Sanders is, at this point, just pushing their party behind the other two for the general election.

Today, California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota all have Republican and Democratic contests. Today is the last day of Republican presidential nomination contests. North Dakota holds a Democratic contest only today. The Democrats also still have Washington D.C. as their final contest on June 14th. The Campaign Trail 2016 will provide coverage of today's contests after the voting has been finalized.