I didn’t pay attention to politics very much as a kid. I remember that I liked George Bush senior. I remember the Bush v. Gore election my freshman year of high school, but it’s very vague. Nothing seems to matter as much until it was post 9/11. After that, everyone was afraid, unsure and felt awoken to a new reality. It fundamentally changed the way I view the world as an American. Looking at this election, where we’ve been and the state of the world, it’s no surprise we’re upset. This election is all about being upset. Whatever side you’re on – you’re not happy with the way things are going.
But, this has been brewing for awhile. We’ve become increasingly fragmented in thought and civility. Confirmation bias and the ability to stay in your intellectual lane has become commonplace in society. Many voters preference Facebook and cite it as where they receive their news. We know Facebook is curated based on your political swing, too. So, there’s an active choice to believe in what you want.
It’s ironic because this country was founded on an idea that we can make our own decisions. Information played a role in the Civil War and periods of incredible turmoil in this country. Right now, information is not flowing freely in society. There is a lot of noise. There is probably more information than we can handle as a people. As a result, mistrust and what seems to be misinformation is running rampant. I don’t know what to think about this election. I don’t know the motivations of those running. Worse yet, I don’t feel a connection with my candidates, and I don’t have a sense of who they are.
Trump’s voters are more enthused and ready to take action than Hillary’s, according to a recent poll. This might because Hillary is an old figure who we’ve come to know. But, everyone wants something new. Technology has changed the way we perceive events, information and maybe even people around us. Trump’s followers are enraged. His success has more to do with that fact than the man, himself. He’s merely tapped into something, that we’ve become very passionate but it’s not focused.
Bernie Sanders amassed a similar following; where his supporters were enthusiastic and engaged and pushed for a more extreme agenda. Extremism is spreading around the world and should be seen as both good and very scary. The electorate knows that things aren’t going as well as they could be. The voter feels like the country is in a downward spiral. The sentiment is on either side of the aisle, albeit more subdued with the Democratic establishment. However, that is standard for the ruling party when running for office.
In all, the issues we have with our politicians should make us look inward. How many arguments does the average person get into with someone they do not know over political issues. It’s symptomatic of something else. We’re scared and feel that our leaders are corrupt. There’s not a clear path forward. We have to start at the local level. We need to be involved with our community and government. Starting with civility and understanding might be lame and sound condescending, but it will work.
Featured image courtesy of theprincetontory.com.