The results of this election are actually in, though who is named the president is yet to be revealed. The results are that we, as a nation, lost in so many more ways than we won. Let me talk about just a few of the ways that has happened.
First, people, myself included, have simply left social media for a period due to the vitriol. Most of us have experienced those being less than pleasant on social media, often in ways that they would never be in person. Several outlets have written about this phenomenon, but I particularly liked this piece from the Huffington Post. I know, I was surprised too, but even the Post on occasion writes things I enjoy. The number of people I know who were actively involved on social media sights that have stopped is currently at 13. That is just me personally, but I suspect there are several across the country who have made similar decisions. The number of people that I stopped speaking to before my brief absence from social media is 23. These individuals are both conservative and liberal, Christian and pagan. They are college professors, pastors, and blue collar workers (and pretty much all in between). The point here is that they do not have a ‘type’. We lose because voices become silenced, discussion can not be had, and broad based assumptions and accusations are made. We lose because we anthropomorphize political stances and then in turn zoomorphise (I borrowed a titch of French here for a good word) people.
Second, we lose because the candidates themselves have become more and more extreme to appeal to a small minority. The vast majority of the country is somewhere in between the Republican and the Democratic party platform. The reality is that the majority of the nation is not at all represented by the two major parties. This is a real problem reflected in the appeal of candidates such as Bernie Sanders (a democrat who is different policy wise) and Rand Paul (a Republican who is different policy wise) early on. Also it is reflected in the early support of third party candidates such as Gary Johnson and Jill Stein who (and pardon my political bias here) gained more support if they had been allowed to debate with the big two. This means that as a natural extension of this, the political rhetoric must become more and more extreme as well. As such more and more people become alienated and the cycle continues…this is not good for the nation or it’s people.
Third, we lose because we have two major candidates that have a collection of skeletons that should make us all blush and question why we have allowed this. None of us are perfect, I think we all can agree there, but at this point we are not even choosing between the lesser of two evils, we are just choosing between evils. There is a lot of “we have to stop fill in the blank” and I agree to a point. We have to stop what has allowed this current two party system to flourish. This can be introducing other parties forcing coalition style governance, it would be something similar to what was seen with the Whigs in 1854 or something similar happening in the oldest political party in the world (the Democrats). Thomas Jefferson would no more recognize the ideals of the Democratic party than Lincoln would recognize the Republican ideals…that is a bad thing. If we truly believe that we are founded on universal ideas, then the parties of today should have some resemblance to what they began as, and they quite simply do not.
A lot more could be said, but I don’t think it will be useful. I don’t honestly think any of this will be useful, but it makes me feel better writing it. So, what do we do? I have a few ideas. Read The Federalist Papers. There is a wealth of good stuff there. Yes, they are old, but many of the ideas are timeless. Learn civics. Really, learn civics. Understand how government is supposed to work, understand the separation of powers, etc. A lot of us don’t know this, and all of us should. Own and read a copy of the Constitution. The link I provided has some notes on interpretation as well. Don’t like this source? No problem, there are plenty others. Read it. Understand it. Finally, stop with the lesser of two evils, voting against people, and all the bother silliness. For for something and someone. Voting against a candidate is a negative and reactionary action. Those rarely turn out well. Vote for someone. Research the candidates, find out what they actually say and believe. Even if you are frustrated with national elections, vote for local and state issues. They just might be most important anyway.
Personally, this is the first election where there have been two people running on the major tickets where I did not believe at least one candidate actually had the nation’s best interests at heart and instead are motivated by personal gain. While there is always some mud slinging, this is by far the worst personal attacks I have seen by both. It is terrible and in so many ways reflects what I see in how we are dealing with each other. The two major candidates in so many ways reflect a populace gone awry. Trump can’t make America great again, nor can Clinton make us stronger together. Only we can do that. Maybe in four years we will.