Election alarmism grows tiresome

Tribalism, vitriol won’t save America
Decisions, decisions...
Decisions, decisions…
Mira Patel

“You’re not going to be a dictator, are you?”

“No, other than day one.”

This response came from former president and anticipated GOP nominee Donald Trump during an interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News. The clip made its rounds in the news a couple of months ago as yet another in a long line of authoritarian sentiments from the candidate.

The current Trump campaign, as many political experts have noted, is far leaner and more focused than those of prior elections but is conversely operating behind perhaps the most malicious and vengeful Trump to date. Before all the targeted rallies, speeches and meet-and-greets specifically organized to flip the most voters in key areas, there stands a man who openly admits his plans to use the military to target not only political enemies but citizens in the media as well.

In the other corner of the ring stands perhaps the weakest excuse for a Democratic candidate since Walter Mondale. Joe Biden doesn’t appear as fast or as cool as he was even four years ago, and that matters a lot more than political analysts would be willing to admit. The Democratic party is one dominated by youth and progressivism, so naturally a moderate like Biden has left many Millennials and Gen-Z-ers, including myself, feeling largely dissatisfied and underrepresented on a national scale. It doesn’t come as a surprise that his approval ratings can’t surpass a paltry 40% these days.

In the other corner of the ring stands perhaps the weakest excuse for a Democratic candidate since Walter Mondale.

His countless years of experience make for an impressive rap sheet, but when dealing with someone as nonstandard as Trump, it’s difficult to put to use. Biden probably put up the best fight against the former president during the 2020 debates, and it still felt like watching a smoldering car wreck, if only a nonlethal one. And this time around, it seems like all he can muster to his expected opponent is the same old oratory from 2020, variations of “We cannot let him win,” and such. I’m serious, I think if I hear the words “soul of our nation” one more time, I’m gonna vomit. Biden’s sentiments are so true, and so…boring. It’s no wonder the presidential debates this year haven’t even been confirmed.

You’ve gotta wonder: if it’s all or nothing every time, is it ever all or nothing?

I cannot rightfully put into words how vehemently maddened and disappointed I am that after what’s soon to be 18 years on this planet I finally get to vote, and my first chance to exercise this beautiful civil liberty is to settle a grudge match between two geriatric cranks who predate color television.

Oftentimes when I’m online, I’m bombarded with posts, promoted infographics and videos from “slacktivists” who assert that if I don’t support Joe Biden, the self-professed Zionist who was sued for enabling genocide in Gaza, then I’m automatically supporting a megalomaniacal rapist with more red flags than the Chinese government.

It’s a political trolley question: do I remain close to my morals and risk inaction, or do I compromise them to oppose a greater threat?

The “if you’re not with me, then you’re against me” mentality perpetuated by both sides on the ballot isn’t comforting, to say the least. It strikes me as even more dishonorable to stay out of it than to get involved, but when faced with such a dismal political landscape, one can’t help but wish they could throw the whole thing in a box and let it sink to the bottom of the ocean. It’s an avoidance-avoidance conflict, for all the psychology kids out there.

It’s a political trolley question: do I remain close to my morals and risk inaction, or do I compromise them to oppose a greater threat?

A victory from either candidate worries me (for those of you wondering why I haven’t acknowledged Nikki Haley yet, it’s because I think her odds of winning are about as real as Donald’s hair). A Trump win, if he’s true to his word (so, you know, unlikely), could usher in an unprecedented abuse of executive power and perhaps the closest we’ve ever seen the country come to being an outright authoritarian state. If he were to triumph, the cards would be stacked in his favor: namely, there’s a strong possibility of Republicans flipping the Senate, and there remains the heavily conservative Supreme Court to which he appointed three of its nine current judges. These advantages, along with the aforementioned streamlining of his cabinet, wouldn’t make it difficult to, as he put it, “Root out the communists, Marxists, fascists and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country,” or anything else for that matter. Raise a glass to freedom.

And as for a Biden victory… well, we all saw what happened at the Capitol the last time he won, and the MAGA menagerie of crazies hasn’t gotten any more sane, to say the least. Plus, I don’t want to begin thinking about what could result from another four years of such ineffectual foreign and immigration policy; not to say Mr. Border Wall is any better, either.

These two are atrocious picks as party nominees for young voters in particular. In 2020, they were the oldest presidential candidates both respective parties had ever nominated, and well, they haven’t gotten any younger. They’ve managed to dominate the race for the White House due to the comfort they bring to older voters, who’ve grown up seeing these men in the news for decades. Not only does this do nothing to appeal to the newly registered, but it also means that plenty of new voters are for the most part unfamiliar with their policies and history, meaning that many will make the uninformed decision to support whoever their parents vote for. 

It’s easy to say that we the people can disavow ourselves of such a banal political conundrum if we collectively decide to elect younger people. But if American politics can teach us anything, it’s that now more than ever, it’s impossible to get everyone to agree on something, even the validity of the political system itself. Realistically the best path would be to defuse the current partisan tensions, but that doesn’t seem like that’s something everyone, especially the average politician themselves, even desires.

The uncompromising landscape in Congress and at times the Oval Office signifies a disturbing trend. In recent years, even more so than in those prior, the legislature strikes me as more a proverbial and at times literal shouting match than a responsible governing body, certain sessions devolving into playground levels of immaturity (Congresswoman Lauren Boebert, interestingly, has fewer high school diplomas than some of the people reading this).

I want to care about politics, but man, do these guys make it hard.

The childish temperament on Capitol Hill isn’t just an embarrassment to our culture and international perception, but also sets a precedent for how the younger generations will expect the government to operate in the coming years and decades, and will no doubt influence new voters at the booth to support increasingly uncompromising politicians in the future, that is, if the current stock of dusty old lawmakers actually aren’t planning on living forever.

The next JFK or Barack Obama isn’t just going to appear out of thin air, reigniting the spark of youthful progressivism throughout the nation and swooping in to save us from national divorce. Disagreement fuels politics, and to wish it away completely is about as delusional as Nikki Haley. The best alternative would appear to be thoughtful education and discussion, but that’s conversely been observed to open up the pipeline to radicalization and extremism in many cases.

I hate to come off as a holier-than-thou centrist, a swing voter, or something else of that nature, because truth be told, I almost always lean moderately or even strongly to the left on most issues. So, if Trump is out of the question, then it must be Biden or bust, right? 

It’s a disheartening conclusion: either vote for the man who anywhere else in the free world would be deemed a conservative in his own right, or just sit the election out completely, accomplishing nothing. There’s also the option of voting for an independent or third party, but that makes about as much political sense as casting my ballot into the nearest trash receptacle.

I want to care about politics; in many ways I do. But man, do these guys make it hard.

The irony’s written on the wall: for the first time in my life I can vote, and for the first time in my life I wish I couldn’t.

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