By AIDAN TUREK ’20
This November is the first time I will vote for President. It is, I believe, not hyperbole to call this election cycle peculiar. Political discourse has gone from conversation to heated debate to violence of words and actions. There is not a form of social media that has gone untainted with this controversial Presidential conflict. My Facebook feed overflows with op-ed articles on the impending “DEATH OF AMERICA,” or the “END OF DEMOCRACY.” The most reassuring part of this surplus of apocalyptic warnings is that neither side seems to be favored. Sects in both parties predict collapse and chaos if their candidate fails in November, and I am convinced an even more dedicated fringe will emmigrate if their vote is cast in vain.
I believe that on both sides a mystique of the party leader has been built up. There is a cult of Hillary and of Trump, a cult that does not see the Presidency as an office of bipartisanship and sound policy, but one of fear and control. It is not difficult to understand why we subscribe to this phenomenon of hero worship; our time is one of global terrorism, domestic violence, economic stagnation, and a rising wealth gap. Dissatisfaction with the status quo pushed voters away from Jeb Bush and towards Trump, and away from Clinton and towards Bernie Sanders. We want a hero to sweep away the crises we invariably find our nation plagued with. But in the act of believing Sanders to be the harbinger of a new age of liberalism, we dissociate ourselves from the real world. We forgive the age of Sanders, we forget the sins of Trump, and we forgo the covertness of Clinton because we feel the need for that hero.
The next racist or sexist Trump quote, or the next Clinton email debacle, will serve not as a reminder of how flawed even the best of us are, but as a tocsin ringing in the night, calling Democrats and Republicans from near and far to join the fray and triumph over their sinister political rivals. The comparison of either candidate to Hitler is not a new concept, but I will say that, though neither candidate mirrors that dictator’s circumstances, the same tangible desire for change, and rejection –– if not revulsion, of the past –– is common in supporters of both candidates, just as it was in 1933.
We live in desperate times, but desperate times call for desperate measures –– not desperate people. It is absolutely necessary to remember that neither candidate is perfect, and that our nation is built on a foundation not of succumbing to strife, but of overcoming it.
Hillary Clinton is not the liberal angel capable of delivering access to abortions and doubled minimum wage. Donald Trump is not the messiah of guns and walls, the crusher of ISIS. It is not that any one of us believes the myth of their party leader, but rather that we are apt to overlook flaws found therein, and are overly-willing to identify flaws in our political opponents. We must have opinions, but we must differentiate and be prepared to divorce our own opinions from what has already occurred and what will really happen after Election Day. The best way to prepare for this coming election is not to get excited or depressed, but to breathe a heavy sigh of cynicism, because whomever wins, the world will continue turn just as it does, and the sun will still rise on Nov. 8. Be prepared for disappointment.
By AIDAN TUREK ’20