By Emily Hall
And why we all need to take a breather.
The tumultuous nature of this 2016 Presidential election cycle has led to the dedication of massive news coverage. Political news has become the topic of popular discussion, even in circles that might normally be disinterested in the political realm. Politics has become a pop culture sensation, with constant references to the election appearing on nightly comedy shows and in social media memes. In essence, everyone is freaking out.
This is likely because this election has been one of the most exciting and engaging in recent memory. With radical candidates on both sides, a woman poised to win the Democratic nomination, and what began as eighteen candidates for the Republican nomination, this election has been newsworthy from the start. As it has come to develop, however, more seem to be upset with the outcomes than satisfied. While the election’s development is far from over—there are 22 primary contests remaining—the disappointment is understandable. I have been known to respond with a sigh, a groan, and a mumble about how I am “depressed” when asked about my impression of this election season after my favorite candidates suspended their campaigns. I have heard numerous others announce that the victory of certain candidates might prompt them to leave the country.
Of course, many would say that they are not serious about those claims, just like I cannot truly say that the election has resulted in depression for me. Nevertheless, it is important that we try to combat the negativity that is coming to replace the excitement of earlier months. Those whose political appetites have just been whetted, the youth who may vote for the first time this year, and any persons who do not feel included in the political process are all facing the threat of a permanent exit from United States politics – brought upon by this devolution into negativity.
Therefore, I propose that people begin to think more positively about our electoral system as a whole and consider the privileges that we are able to enjoy—and will continue to enjoy regardless of which individual moves into the White House next year. We are constitutionally guaranteed the right to participate in government by electing our representatives. We participate in selecting the nominees for each party—a vast improvement in popular involvement since less than fifty years ago. We have the opportunity to change our mind about someone we elected every two, four, or six years.
Most importantly, we must remember that we live in the country with the longest uninterrupted period of peaceful transition of power, thanks to our constitutionally guaranteed elections and strict adherence to our constitution. Since the election of 1800, in which Washington’s and Adams’s Federalists relinquished power to Jefferson’s Democratic-Republicans, the United States has been able to maintain a centuries-long tradition of peacefully giving up power from the outgoing leader to the next democratically elected officeholder. Congress does not riot to remain in power, and the President does not use violence to retain his position. For many Americans, Inauguration Day begins as any other January morning would. We do not have to fear an uprising by the party that loses the election. We can live our lives just as we would on any other day—and we do. Perhaps such apathy among constituents is something else to grouse about, but it is what keeps (most of) us sane. That is, of course, until we decide that we cannot take it anymore and just take off!
In all seriousness, as we consider the alternatives this November, it may be easy to complain about the options available. But it is more important to appreciate that we do have options—and that is something that should unite, rather than divide, all those who are privileged to live in the democratic republic that we call home.
Emily Hall ’18 ([email protected]) is looking forward to the first presidential election when she can vote for someone she really supports – whenever that may be.