Raise your hand if you’re exhausted by the 2016 presidential election. I consider myself pretty well-educated and solidified in my beliefs, yet I’m still finding myself dazed and confused by the recent political polemics. (Raise your other hand if you caught my movie reference and are now thinking of a young Matthew McConaughey.)
Whether you absorb your current events from television, social media, or your hot-headed next-door neighbor, you’ve probably found that it’s been hard to miss what’s been going on in politics. If you have, the real headlines below will give you an idea of the level of maturity and authenticity with which we’ve been dealing:
Scandals, memes, and mismanaged Twitter accounts have fogged the possibility of genuinely educating ourselves and making well-informed decisions. Note: I didn’t say impossible. But, I’ve actually heard more of my friends and acquaintances say, with pride, “It’s all too much. Both candidates suck anyway. I’m not going to vote.” I find it sad that these folks prefer relinquishing our country’s greatest right rather than putting in the work and deciding.
What’s even more sad, though, is the fact that I can’t blame these folks, either. The sheer noise created by this election has been loud enough to drown out any neutral reporting of and authentic discussion about actual issues. I mean, how much did Hilary’s jacket cost!? What did Trump say about his own daughter!?
I wasn’t able to watch the Presidential Debate as I don’t have cable, but Twitter was active — and ridiculous — enough to tell me all I needed to know and more. (Apparently Hilary dressed in the blood of the men who’ve underestimated her. Sweet.) In the midst of the insanity that is the 2016 presidential election, here are a few quiet truths on which I’ve come to rely:
1. Whoever sits in the Oval Office can’t change the country’s perception of women, minorities, cops, Christians, etc.
I believe that how you perceive, treat, and interact with others is instilled in us by our parents, friends, idols, and current trends. Now, if someone directly idolizes the President, then sure, the President will influence him or her. Otherwise, it’s just as much your momma’s responsibility to teach you how to treat those who are different than you.
2. This person will most likely serve one term.
Hopefully. That’s four years. In the broad scheme of things, not much can change. In four years, the worst it’ll get is our country leaning an inch to the left or right. Yes, I recognize that the Supreme Court is at a turning point, and the President has a strong say over which direction the Court will go. Yes, I recognize that the President is the freakin’ President and will say and do things that could be implemented across the country. But, no, I don’t believe the country will go to shit or that this year is the “season finale of America.”
3. The President is the PRESIDENT.
He or she is the most powerful (insert air quotes here) person in the most powerful country. Where’s the respect? I can’t believe that crude memes, Snapchat filters on the Presidential Debate, fake candidates like Deez Nuts, and other immature trends driven by pop culture and pure boredom have made national news alongside discussions on immigration, the economy, and national defense. No wonder people are overwhelmed. They’re left wading through the junk to get to the heart of the election.
4. The decision is easy, if you allow it to be.
Roll with me for a second: What’s the most important thing to you, in terms of this election, politics, your rights, etc.? Is it that you work damn hard for your money and would prefer that it didn’t slip away to those who don’t? Is it that you are passionate about the environment and want to leave it beautiful and intact for your children and theirs? Is it that you can’t stand to feel unequal or mistreated and are sick of being identified by anything other than your name, your personality, and/or your passions? Here’s mine: My little brother is in the military and owes his life to this country.
Now, take that thing that you’re crazy passionate about, and figure out which candidate best supports that political priority. My political priority may be my brother, but I also care about the economy and immigration and equality. I wish I could say that all of these opinions aligned into a straight and narrow arrow pointing toward a candidate, but they don’t. Every time I consider how a political opinion of mine, I feel like I’m spinning a Twister board and landing on a different color each time. I’m all over the place, and I believe a lot of young people are, too.
Here are a few things you may be thinking:
“There are so many things that are important to me. I’m sorry, but I can’t choose one.” Hey, whatever. I’m not trying to educate you, and I’m definitely not voting for you. If you have many political priorities, and they align well towards a specific candidate then, well, congratulations. You know who you’re voting for. If there’s a ton of shit you care about, and these priorities fall all over the political spectrum then, well, you’re shit out of luck. Return to Go and try again.
“This is a self-centered way of voting.” Duh. But, hey, it’s your vote and no one else’s business. (And, in case you missed it, I’m not voting for you. Thank God.) But, just because you stand by your one political priority doesn’t mean that you don’t care about anything else in this election or our country. I care about women’s rights. I care about my tax dollars. I care about international relations. But, like many young people, not all of my beliefs fold neatly into a package labeled either “Republican” or “Democrat”.
So, I believe it’s my right to vote based on the one thing that matters most to me in this election: my brother’s safety.