I love politics, but I hated this election with a visceral disgust. I used to take great pleasure in watching Sunday morning political tv, while drinking coffee, not anymore; this election ruined it.
I hated the way social media played into this election. Rather than educated individuals getting their news from a reputable source, albeit skewed one way or another, they got it from fake or puff pieces that were written to entice riots. Not only that, it seemed as though everyone got on their soap box to rant and belittle the other side’s supporters. Worst of all, not only did people get on their soap boxes, but often it wasn’t coming from an educated point of view. I believe Jefferson said it best, “the masses are asses.”
What I hated most of all, was the complete and utter divide. The 2016 election quickly escalated from an election on issues, to an election of the lesser of two evils. Two evils who were relentlessly slinging mud at each other. Even supporters of BOTH Candidates seemed to go from advocates to attackers; any time someone spoke up with a different opinion they were crucified via social media or in person. I was bullied for my political views by friends and co-workers, which is not right. I luckily did not lose any friends during this election because I chose to take the high road, but I know quite a few people that did lose friends.
At such a volatile time in our Nation and World, it is important to remember to lift people up, not tear them down. It is up to us to make the choice that reflect the change we wish to see in the world surrounding us.
All of the above made this election very difficult for me. I wanted to be engaged, and I did my research, because that is what any good citizen should do. However, this election really ruined politics for me.
I grew up in a very politically engaged household, and I can’t think of a time that my parents missed ANY election, federal, state or local. My parents are very hard working, and also very conservative.
My parents had me at 18 and 19, and by all odds they weren’t supposed to make anything of themselves. However, they worked impeccably hard to overcome the hardship of being young parents, and to provide a good life for me (and now my brothers who are much younger than I). My parents both graduated from four year colleges, and my dad went on to get his masters. He now runs his own business and my mom works from home doing his billing. Twenty seven years later, they are still married and have had two other children. My parents built an incredible life for themselves, and my brothers, and I based on hard work, and conservative American values.
Growing up in such a household instilled in me the value of determination, hard work, and frugality. I would consider myself very fiscally conservative. One of the biggest factors in my political decision making is the financial implications for myself, and the majority of the country. I’ve been told this may seem heartless, or selfish; but growing up in a sink or swim situation made me realize that if you work hard you can change your reality. When you work hard professionally in whatever job you might have and academically by putting your brain to work, there isn’t anything that can’t achieve.
Unfortunately for me, I am at a time in my life where money is what speaks the loudest. I can make small changes to help others, to be supportive of other’s causes, and to take care of the environment; but what I can’t do is stop the government from taking more of my money. I work incredibly hard for my money, I went to school for eight years, passed two bar examinations- the end result, a mountain of student loans. (Spoiler alert- I do not have one of those big law firm jobs where you start at six figures, I work for the government. I largely live paycheck to paycheck, paying out just over half if my take home salary to loans.) However, in working for the government I get to help people, and advise a program that specifically helpschildren; so trust me when I say I really do want to make the world a better place. While I would love to do more for the world, both the people in it and the environment, I needed to take care of myself first.
Under Hillary’s tax plan my salary would have bumped me up into a higher tax bracket, and in addition to her tax increases I would not have been able to pay my student loans, rent and living expenses. My dad always says “charity starts at home,” and it’s true. I can’t do my share and help take care of the world and the needy people, if that in fact makes me one of the people who needs the assistance of others.
I realize though that not everything can be about money. I often struggle when it comes to modern politics because candidates are always the extremes on either side, and this year was no different. When it came down to the general election I felt neither candidate reflected my views on the America that I hope to see one day. Maybe I’m just a political unicorn, or maybe my views are just a little crazy. I would like to live in a world where the environment is as important as jobs and financial security for the hard working Americans. I want to live in a world where the government is small and does not overstep by increasing welfare, mandated health care, deciding who you can marry, what bathroom you can use, and if a woman can have an abortion. I want to live in a world where talking about strict immigration laws doesn’t automatically make you a racist, but rather someone who is putting America first.
I also believe in small government, specifically with respect to welfare, marriage and abortion. I do not think we should expand the welfare programs past what they are today. When it was first conceptualized, welfare was a means to get people back on their feet, and help when times got tough. Through the years it has morphed into something entirely different. Today, under welfare, there are programs that give you phones and make car payments for you. Cell phones and cars are luxury items, not a necessity.
In addition to small government, I do not believe the government should be as involved in people’s day to day lives. While it’s easy to say that I do not think the government should be involved in stating who someone should marry; as an educated individual I realize it is harder than that. There are the issues relating to insurance and HIPPA waivers for spouses. Notwithstanding this, I do not think its right to be involved in that type of intimate relationship. Everyone has the right to be loved as they see fit.
Further, I absolutely do not think the government should be in the business of telling women if they can or cannot have an abortion. While I personally do not believe in abortion in most circumstances, it is certainly not my place to tell another woman what to do with her body. As an educated individual I know it’s more complicated than that; the government regulates the facilities that perform these procedures and license the doctors, so some regulatory oversight is needed.
After all that, in case you were wondering, I couldn’t bring myself to select a President because I didn’t want to choose between two evils whom I didn’t trust. Neither represented me, or the America I wanted to see. Some people have criticized me for this, some commended me. Either way, your opinion doesn’t really matter to me. What matters is that I made the decision that I could live with. I knew when I woke up the day after the election we would have a new President; a president selected by those who were advocates, or at least comfortable with the lesser of two evils, and I would stand by either decision. Instead, I voted for the Representatives and Senators that I thought would make the most difference and would reflect my views.