I’ve been looking forward to November 2016 for a long time — it will be the first time I can vote in a presidential election. But more important than the simple act of voting, it was supposed to be the first time I could throw my support behind a candidate I believed represented my views most accurately and in a trustworthy, presidential manner.
Now, four months until I am supposed to cast my ballot, I’m not so sure I am looking forward to Election Day like I was as a bright-eyed 18-year-old.
Despite Bernie Sanders’ pledge to remain on the campaign trail, for the purposes of this column I will discuss the assumed Democratic and Republican Party nominees — Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, respectively.
The word “ashamed” is a strong one, but I am tempted to use it. Even from the beginning, I couldn’t imagine anyone with Clinton’s secretive track record or Trump’s mouth representing my great country. And now that this is a reality, I can’t help but feel a little defeated — a little ashamed.
I have a hard time finding a candidate I can fully back in the first place. Being a female with extremely liberal social beliefs and highly conservative financial leanings, I find it hard to identify with either dominating party — and that may be a large part of the problem.
In a country where a Democrat vs. Republican mindset rules, the presidential election starts to feel more like “us vs. them” than a genuine effort to choose a leader who is right for the U.S. in its current state.
What’s even worse is that this presidential race is even less “us vs. them” and more “I won’t vote for so-and-so because…” It seems to be easier for voters to explain why they refuse to vote for one candidate than to explain why they are voting for the other. This thought process is damaging, and requires a paradigm shift. It reflects a need to select the lesser of two evils, but there must be a better option, right?
We can blame current leadership, we can blame the media, but in the end all we can do is cast a vote.
I plan to vote in November. However, I doubt it will be for either nominee from the dominating binary parties. I will continue to do research into third-party candidates, and hope to find someone who better reflects my own views and doesn’t have deleted emails on their record or the inability to speak with sensitivity and common sense.
I urge others to look beyond the hate-slinging spotlight of the presidential race. While I’m certain the upcoming debates will have plenty of entertainment value, I have no interest in seeing either of the participants in the White House. Though discouraged, I refuse to dismiss the first election in which I can vote as frivolous. It is not meant to be about “us vs. them” or “I hate them and here are the reasons.”
Over the next four months, it needs to be about what is realistic, and what is best.
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