Well, it happened. The day I have been looking forward to ever since I turned 18. It is my first presidential election. I can finally join the voices of millions of Americans and take part in the amazing privilege that is voting. My voice, however small, can be heard.
Why then, when I checked my little mailbox in Mac and found the envelope that contained my absentee ballot, did I not feel this electricity that I had been anticipating? Why was I not excited?? This was it! This is my chance to vote for the President of the United States of America. Why am I looking at this ballot and thinking, “Oh, great. This.”
I have an idea.
Maybe it is because I am being forced to choose between two candidates who have not made me excited to vote. Sure, I could vote third party; I’ve seen that argument given in many a social media post. It is a discussion I’ve had with my parents and friends many times. There’s a great case for it, and as an Independent who both considers himself to be pretty moderate overall and who strongly dislikes the way the two party system operates in this country nowadays, it would seem that voting third party would naturally be the best choice for me. Except I have no faith in either of those candidates either, let alone faith that they would be elected.
Maybe it’s because the nominee of the party of Lincoln has been hijacked by an orange, foul-mouthed, bile-spewing celebrity with an excellent temperament, believe me. (Although, I think at this point, calling the GOP the party of Lincoln is not entirely accurate, so I’ll take that back. This Republican party is a separate beast entirely). And while I think it is amazing that we finally have a woman nominee for president and the things that means for my little sister and girls across the country and the world, I still find myself not able to fully trust the Democratic nominee. I can’t explain it. But I am someone for whom authenticity is a major deal. I go to a school whose ideals encourage each individual to be their most authentic selves, and as qualified, poised, and intelligent as Secretary Clinton is, I just do not feel that I have ever seen the authentic Hillary Clinton. Rather, all I think I’ve seen is the version of her that she thinks will get the most votes. Perhaps that’s the problem with all politicians nowadays. Perhaps that’s why people are fed up and are supporting someone as outrageous as Donald Trump, because he is the supposed antithesis to this problem.
And that’s another thing. Why, why, WHY, IS DONALD TRUMP A NOMINEE FOR PRESIDENT? I’ve tried to understand, and I thank my father and our long car ride discussions driving home from BC for challenging me to understand Trump and his political message. Not as a ploy to go and support Trump, but rather, as an exercise in universal thinking, and consideration of other points of view. I’ve tried to understand why a man who has openly mocked people with disabilities, who goes on late night Twitter rants because someone hurt his feelings, a man who treats debates as a joke, a man who has said deplorable (intentional word choice), unforgivable, simply disgusting things about women, is a legitimate candidate for the highest office in the United States. And I just can’t. What does it say about us as a nation, and about the people who support him, if they are continuing to defend him in light of everything he has said and even possibly done? Now, I’m not personally attacking anyone who supports Trump – you have a constitutional right to support whomever you want, and that is something I deeply respect. But what is the message we are sending here, when people are defending and making excuses for him? That it’s alright to do whatever you want because you’re a rich, powerful, male celebrity? That women just have to roll aside and live with this kind of behavior, because “it’s just locker room talk”? Not the country I want to live in.
I was never satisfied with any of the candidates this election cycle. I became so disheartened so early on, and I’m still upset about it. Why have we gotten to the point where both the left and the right are ruled by their far end minority? Why is being a “moderate” such a bad thing? If a candidate is not liberal enough, or not conservative enough, then they apparently aren’t fit to be a party’s nominee. Simply ridiculous.
I won’t say here who I’ll be voting for. Because for a while now, I’ve known who I will vote for, and that is not the dilemma I’m facing as I write my thoughts down here. (I certainly know who I won’t be voting for.)
So, as I’m sitting here looking at my absentee ballot, the privilege of having a say in my country’s future literally just a pen stroke away, I feel nothing but frustration. Why does this have to be the first presidential election I can vote in? Why do I have to choose between these candidates, none of whom I fully believe in? Simply put, the question I have on my mind as I stare at this piece of paper is why. Don’t get me wrong, I realize how fortunate I am to live in an amazing country that is giving me this opportunity, and I take a great amount of pride in that, in engaging in one of my civic duties. But if someone is looking at an opportunity, a privilege people around the world have fought and died for, and is thinking why do I have to do this? Well, what does that say?