This is my, as well as many of my friends’, first year to vote. I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve heard the excited question: “Did you vote?!” (not because anyone is particularly excited about the candidates, but because we CAN vote). Yesterday at lunch, this question was asked and I heard answers all across the board from, “Of course I did, HE can’t win,” to “Yes, I’m with her,” to “My vote doesn’t matter anyway,” to “I never even registered.” Today is election day, which I know many people my age look at with relief: “It’s finally OVER.” But that’s the furthest thing from the truth. No matter what happens, the huge divides within our country that have been exposed by Trump’s campaign will not just go away. We can’t erase the debates that sounded more like five-year-olds fighting on a playground from our memories. And the distrust in our leaders is not something that will be miraculously fixed on inauguration day. Although it’s hard to find the silver lining in an election seasons that seems almost apocalyptic, it’s important to look at what this past year has taught us so that, in the hopes of New York Times op-ed columnist, David Brooks, “we don’t do this again.” In an article published by the New York Times titled “What 2016 Has Taught Us,” the editorial board lays out some important realizations they have come to in 2016.
- “Hate sells.” Nothing has shocked me more this election season than how a man whose platform is basically racism, bigotry, and misogyny, has been so successful. With talk of building walls, it seems America now fears the differences that make America great (no pun intended).
- “Economic anxiety is high.” this is an issue that knows no class, gender, or race. Coming out of the biggest recession since the Great Depression,everyone is worried about the future of the economy. Trump has used this fear to his advantage, “attacking immigrants and trade agreements, but offering no real solutions.”
- “The media enable extreme candidates and the parties are too fragile to stop them.” The candidates have found media coverage on every outlet, leaving channels like CNN and Fox News in desperation and, therefore, leading them to “hand Mr. Trump an open mike early in the contest.” Once this ball started rolling, it couldn’t be stopped. Both candidates have almost relied on their scandals to keep them “relevant” and the media has eaten it up, making the election feel more like Hollywood.
- “Hispanic turnout is rising.” Although the result of fear of what could happen, I see the mobilization of the Latino vote as something positive to come from this otherwise bleak election season. As the article states, “early voter turnout during the last few days in states like Nevada and Florida suggest that Hispanics are voting at much higher rates in this election than they did in the past.”
- “Citizens are turning to local solutions.” This is something that has been important, especially for people my age who can get caught up in the glitz and glamour of the election of the POTUS. Having no option we could fully get behind or be excited about has made us turn towards where our other votes could go. We have gotten more excited about things like state measures where we can see our vote actually making a difference.