I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania. I feel like the education system was good and I was privileged to have a comfortable upbringing with a supportive family. My family was pretty open about their opinions and beliefs, but one thing we never really talked about was politics.
I missed the the 2012 election by just a couple of months (I was just 17), so I didn’t get the chance to vote until the 2016 election. Even as someone who was completely uneducated in politics, I was extremely disappointed in the choices that we had as candidates in the 2016 election.
My First Vote
In 2016, I was a senior in college living in a house full of girls who all had different backgrounds and political beliefs. To say that the election caused tension between us would be an understatement. I tried really hard to educate myself before voting, but honestly, I didn’t really have to do much research in order to decide on who I would select on my ballot.
In my opinion, both candidates sucked. I don’t know a better word for it. I didn’t fully pay attention until the general election, so I didn’t get to fully understand how horrible it was until the debates. I thought it would be a fun game to take a sip of wine when either of the candidates lied. I finished the whole bottle by myself before the debate was over.
My “fun game” resulted in a slight hangover and a deep sadness that this was the best that the country could produce as presidential candidates. Being president used to be something that was respected, and instead I felt like both candidates were making a mockery of the position.
The Lesser of Two Evils
Even with both candidates sucking and casting my vote resulted in a bad taste in my mouth, one candidate was obviously tremendously worse than the other. That candidate won, and I still don’t understand how. It breaks my heart that one man can cause so much chaos and set the bar so low, and still be elected as president.
This election changed politics from “this candidate is better” to “this candidate is who I’m voting for because they are better than the alternative”. Even thinking about it now makes me really sad. Voting is such a big deal, and I was so excited to be able to be an adult and have a voice.
Being a Role Model
My biggest frustration is what it is like to teach kids how to treat one another with kindness and acceptance, while the most powerful man in the country is doing the opposite of everything that I tell them. How can I hold seven-year-olds to a higher standard than the President of the United States?
Either way. I feel like since the president wasn’t being a good role model, I had to be the best role model that I could be for my students. If the president couldn’t act with kindness and grace, then someone needed to show the kids what a good person looked like.
The 2020 Election
I learned a lot within the past four years, and I learned a lot about what matters most to me. I thought that the 2020 election would be different and that we might have someone elected to bring the standard back up for the leader of the free world. Obviously, I need to have lower expectations.
In the past four years, I’ve gotten more and more angry with the climate of the country. I’m tired of having to argue with people about what they call “politics and opinions”, but really it’s just human rights. I’m tired of having to explain that taking away rights from women or from people of color is not okay and that giving those groups of people more rights doesn’t take away the rights you already have a a white person.
This time, I started paying attention as soon as people started announcing their campaign for the democratic nominee for president. I watched all of the debates, and I even took notes so I could remember which candidates stood where on each of the issues. I did my own research and made my own opinions on the candidates based on what I discovered.
As candidates started dropping out, I was able to really focus on the few candidates still left running. I had a hierarchy of who I liked the most to who I didn’t like at all. As if the universe likes to laugh at me, one of the candidates on the bottom of my list ended up as the democratic nominee.
Young vs. Old Voters
As a 25 year old, it boils my blood that the two men running for president right now are older than my grandparents and have extremely old-fashioned points of view. It makes no sense to me that we have a minimum age requirement for the office of the president, but not an maximum age.
Both of the candidates, in my opinion, are too old to be running. They are past the age that a typical person retires, and they aren’t looking at the future of the country, but instead are holding onto past ideals. Young voters across the country are again choosing between two crappy candidates, and neither candidate lines up with their political beliefs.
Me, being one who dislikes both candidates, is once again choosing between the lesser of two evils. One will turn back the clock to the 1940s where women are objects and should submit to their man and people of color are again going to live in fear–maybe even more so than they already are. The other will press “pause” on any improvements that need to be done to adjust for the changing culture.
Both are extremely dangerous for different reasons. The first on is obvious, but the second one is dangerous because we need to start acknowledging climate change and the fact that we need to be more inclusive as a country.
The Damage is Done
One of the most frustrating things that I have heard a Trump voter say is, “He’s already done all of the damage he could do, why not give him another term?”. How. Could. You. Think. Like. This.
First off, no he has not done all of the damage he could do. Sure, he let thousands of people die to a pandemic and is trying to take away women’s rights and is trying to stop immigration and… I could keep going. There’s so much more that can be done, and the only way to prevent it is to get him out of office.
Second, even if all of the damage was done, why on Earth would you give a person like that another four years to run the country? This argument makes me want to throw up. How could you be so ignorant?
I’m posting this before the election results come in–mostly because I am beyond terrified of what those results will be. Four years ago I was confident that there was no way a human being like that could have enough supporters to win an election. Obviously, I was wrong.
One of the worst parts about having Trump as president–other than all of the damage he has done–was finding out that so many people that I looked up to supports this man who is openly sexist and racist and ignorant. I lost a lot of respect for those people because no matter how I look at it, there shouldn’t be any reason to support someone like that.
I am not going to say I will be happy with a Biden presidency, but I would feel relieved. As a woman and a teacher of a diverse group of kids, I fear for what other damage a man like Trump could do. All I know is if Biden wins tonight, we haven’t won as a country. Winning would have been having two great candidates to have educational debates about why your candidate is better. Instead, we have had back-to-back elections with candidates that were an embarrassment. America, we can do better.
Stay informed on the election results. No matter who wins, we still have so much work to do as a country. Get involved, use your voice in your community to start making change! Read more about getting involved in your community, how to be politically active, and learn about political issues. Take the Political Compass quiz once you are educated on the issues and find out where you stand.
I think the most important thing about politics is to find out where you stand, but stay open and willing to listen to other people share their ideas about the topics. I’ve heard so many amazing arguments from the other side on multiple issues. You don’t always have to agree, but you have to respect other opinions. And lastly, for the love of God, vote!