First, allow me to apologize, I’ve been very un-dude the past year.
To all of you who endured my endless political posts during the long campaign season without blocking or unfriending me, I am sorry and I appreciate your understanding. If I may, I would like to think out-loud and try to figure out how I became so fired up this year to further explain my regrets and thankfulness for this past year’s campaign.
It was a new thing for me to be excited about politics. I am an undeclared voter, I have always had my reasons for not wanting to be associated with either party. This past year, I was finally excited about a candidate, of course this was Bernie Sanders. This in itself was surprising as he is particularly left leaning and has socialist ideas. I know my father was shocked that I would even consider him as I am a “free-market-capitalist-pig.” There were certainly things that I don’t agree with Bernie on, but he seemed to be honest and more importantly, he seemed to be different than the typical slimy-scum-bag politician. This is all unimportant, however, what is important is that for the first time in my life, I was excited about a presidential election.
After getting excited about and researching the election process, I found out I had to be a declared democrat to vote for Bernie in the primaries in Colorado. This was troubling to me, I didn’t want to be associated with them or tied to that party. I remember when I heard Trump was running on the republican side as well, I thought it was interesting and maybe someone who wasn’t from within the system would be a nice way to shake up this years options. Of course, I quickly turned against Trump after his generalized and rude comments about Mexicans. Interestingly enough, he became more popular after these comments and surprisingly Bernie was not fading into the night like I thought he would. This was the beginning of me becoming polarized in to our two-party system. I see it now, but for the past year, until the election and a week of reflection, I was painfully unaware that I had slipped into the horrible dichotomy that defines our political system.
It began there. I needed to declare as a democrat to vote for Bernie, and Trump said something racist. It was settled. It happened so easily, and with zero thinking. I was stricken with panic.
WE HAVE TO VOTE FOR BERNIE! WE HAVE TO STOP TRUMP!
All of a sudden I was a staunch left wing liberal ready for war. I instantly started looking for anything to tear down the republican party and to bolster Bernie. So like all the other millennial yuppies, I took to Facebook and was met with many like-minded Facebook friends and boy! did we campaign. We bolstered each other’s opinions to astronomical levels and started believing that we were the majority, that we knew best, and that anyone who disagreed with us was uneducated or (insert your generalized or rude comment here). This was all very new and exciting to me. I was passionate about this election. I specifically remember being troubled by the fact that I was no longer fact checking, but I powered through this moral objection and gladly got fired up against the “conservatives” in every FB chat I could muster. I had to educate them.
It was all Bernie all the time. All the news I read was related to him. Did I read or listen to anyone or anything who talked about the other candidates?
No, of course not.
My mind was already made up. It was made up from my initial gut feeling and reinforced with a Bernie-centric newsfeed that I myself selected through “various” sources on the internet.
Then we lost.
This is when I started snapping out of the spell, but not enough to still not be extremely caught up in our divisive political dichotomy. I had just become a democrat, let’s go Hilldog!! Sorry gang. Bernie and Hillary aren’t the same. For a moment I considered voting for her, but luckily I snapped out of that. To assuage my guilt of not voting for “my new party” I took to an even stronger campaign of Trump-bashing. So much so I was repeatedly accused of being a Hillary supporter, which was offensive, but a special shout-out to all of you who voiced your opinions in supporting your candidate (or at least were calling for a balanced viewpoint), of whom I was relentlessly attacking.
I also launched the #murraypfeifer2016 campaign to assuage my guilt. I was terrified of a Trump presidency and settled on the idea of another Clinton presidency. Two negatives. But I thought Hillary would win.
And how could this be?
It’s because our nation is divided in two, and neither side listens to the other. We completely blind ourselves to the other half’s thoughts and concerns because of their opinions on certain issues that neither candidate will do anything about. Both sides assume the other side can’t be reasoned with and so we don’t even bother. We put up walls and become ultra-defensive, our blood boils when someone else offers a different view point, we look for anything to pick apart the other person’s argument and even more sadly we start picking apart the people themselves.
The election results were almost equal. Think about that. 50-50. I was dumb-founded by the results but I realized something. 50% of our country’s population is not (insert derogatory and exaggerated terms used to describe Trump here) and most of them have absolutely zero correlation or agreement with some of Trump’s more offensive statements. So how could they vote for such a person? Well, quite simply half of them feel the same way about Hillary as you do about Trump.
They wonder how we could even think about voting for such a person and assume that liberals are (insert derogatory and exaggerated terms used to describe Hillary here). While the truth is, neither side is like their perceived candidate and neither candidate is like their propaganda painted image. We allow quick quips and memes to shape our view of the opposing candidates and their followers. The only things we hear and believe are the things we already have solidified in our minds. What are Hillary’s opinions on the economy and how she can help? Trumps? Most of us probably have no idea because we were too busy looking for some way to tear down the opponent and their followers.
To be fair, this is not entirely our fault, the media, the debates, the candidates, they all play on our inherent weakness to get distracted so that we really don’t look into what matters. What matters is that we had two terrible choices and the only reason anyone voted is because they couldn’t bear to see “the other party’s” candidate win. Each side played this up to get us even more devoted to them.
So we have fallen into the trap, some may assume that the other 50% of the country is deranged and crazy.
You’ve fallen into the trap.
Some are blindly devoted to one political party no matter who the candidate is or what they’ve done.
You’ve fallen into the trap.
Some say there is no way to change our current system and you have to pick one side or the other.
You’ve fallen into the trap.
If you keep believing and doing these absurd things, yes it’s true. We are stuck with a divisive two-party system. One in which inspires blood boiling debates about Donald’s hair or Hillary’s health and blah blah blah. We need to start talking about things that matter. We need to realize that both sides lie and cheat their way to the top. We need to ask why this is the norm. We need to say enough is enough and put aside the polarizing differences that candidates play up to distract us with. Because let’s be real, Trump isn’t going to overturn gay marriage laws or abortion and Hillary wasn’t going to do anything to big banks or her other biggest supporters…
What really matters is that we are all citizens of an amazing country, and really, deep down, we are all good people and we will do the right thing. If you want to unfriend half of the country because of their political views, you are not thinking straight. I certainly wasn’t this past year and I apologize sincerely to each one of you, no matter which side you’re on. We need to get past this polarizing ideal and start working together. As close to 100% as possible, not only with half of our nation. Set aside our differences, focus our energy on coming up with good ideas instead of only bagging on others’. It is a waste of time, a waste of breath, and worst of all it’s annoying. Our social media posts don’t do anything except incite the trolls. If we really want to make a difference we will start living out our strong opinions and get involved in a political process, volunteer our time at an organization we believe in, spend time thinking about how we can actually change ANYTHING instead of only flapping our gums online and mindlessly flipping through our FB feed and liking anything we agree with (and never research) and pouring gasoline on a pointless fire of division.
It isn’t the end of the world, if a single president could destroy our nation it would have already happened. Get off your soap box, stop the hate, show some love. Try sharing something encouraging and genuine instead of all the propaganda. This half full “everything is f-ed” view point is getting old and it is no way to live. I am thankful that this polarizing election has showed me this, and I will try my best to remember that we need to move past this dichotomy and do something productive instead.
*Steps off soap box*