Election Reflection: Sara Mills

As the election season began, I felt extremely excited to be able to follow the candidates and optimistic about the electoral process. Indeed, like me, many were energized by both the number of candidates vying for the Democratic and Republican nominations and their diverse backgrounds and qualifications. I was—and still am—especially supportive of Hillary Clinton, hopeful that America would finally elect a woman president. And Clinton is eminently qualified for the job. Her background as an attorney, U.S. Senator of  New York, Secretary of State, First Lady of the United States, and now the first woman to be nominated as a presidential candidate is extremely impressive.   

I watched both the Democratic and Republican debates and expected the forums to be a spirited yet civil discussion of substantive issues and an opportunity for the candidates to introduce the American public to their platforms and values. Instead, the race quickly degenerated into a spectacle where candidates undermined each other and engaged in negative campaigning. Particularly dismaying was the Republican party slate of candidates in which Donald Trump quickly dominated the stage with personal attacks and ridiculously outlandish statements, including restricting Muslim immigration and building a border wall that Mexico would somehow pay for.

Both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump quickly picked up momentum in their campaigns after alleging corruption and a failed system in Washington—one for the right reasons and one for the wrong. Bernie Sanders’s “Feel the Bern” campaign rallied his supporters with his cries for Wall Street reform, which calls for restoration of American infrastructure and opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. However, his attacks on Clinton became frequent, and he asserted that despite his popularity, the Democratic National Convention and its system of superdelegates had rigged the nomination. It was disappointing to me, but not surprising, when Wikileaks exposed the DNC’s clear bias ahead of the Democratic convention.  

In contrast, Trump has made a mockery of the entire election process. I am extremely shocked and outraged to see that a racist, misogynistic, islamophobic, intolerant bigot received the Republican nomination and even more concerned with how much support he is receiving. His disgraceful and unpresidential behavior included mocking a disabled reporter, using profanity, encouraging his supporters to beat people up, chanting “jail Hillary,” and even insulting a “Gold Star” family. From attempting to capitalize on a grieving mother’s silence, disparaging illegal Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals, and calling for a ban on Muslim immigration, to questioning the heritage and fairness of judges—his lack of judgement and volatile temperament demonstrate that he is unfit to adequately represent our nation, let alone run as a candidate. These racist remarks and tweets have served only to increase tolerance of racism and exacerbate the divisions we face in our nation along racial, gender, and socioeconomic lines.     

To be fair, I have been somewhat disillusioned by my preferred candidate, Hillary Clinton, after numerous scandals. Though extremely qualified, she has exhibited questionable judgement on her private email servers and recent comments. Nevertheless, despite her qualifications, Clinton is held to a higher standard than men. She is often asked to smile and laugh more, and is judged on her appearance and clothing when she speaks. The press and public demand greater transparency and scrutinize her every move, including seemingly insignificant events such as her coughing attacks and minor health issues. It has been disappointing to witness the loss of objectivity and sensationalist media coverage of the election. As networks seek to increase viewership, journalistic standards have declined with many articles and news pieces resembling reality TV rather than objective news.

The upcoming election underscores the divisions in our country today. I am saddened to see that Republicans and Democrats disagree on almost every major issue facing our society—gun control, immigration, taxation, abortion, race relations, the role of the Supreme court, LGBT rights, national security, foreign policy, American leadership in the world, and whether or not government is even the solution to these problems. Rather than reporting the news, the media is becoming increasingly partisan and chooses to either promote or condemn the candidates of their choice. The harsh reality is that the two major political parties have candidates which both have faults, and a portion of the electorate will simply vote for whom they hate less, not for who will best govern and represent our nation. In any case, Clinton is clearly the lesser of two evils, and while she may have lapses in judgement, I’m still with her.

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