What if I don’t like any of the presidential candidates in this election cycle? What if Trump is too brash, inexperienced, and ignorant? What if Bernie is too idealistic? What if Hillary is too connected or dishonest? What if Deez Nuts would’ve been a better choice after all?
I’m not convinced that we’ve received the best of the best when it comes to finding a suitable replacement for President Obama. As with any election, the oversaturated news coverage, the overabundance of opinions, the lack of factual information, and the stereotypical rhetoric have clouded the better judgment of the American people. According to Huffington Post’s favorability polls, our nation’s top choices are actually the candidates with the lowest favorability ratings. 58% view Donald Trump as unfavorable and 56% think the same of Hillary Clinton. Though it would seem the general public is doing their own research and crafting their own opinions, they’re still forced to choose from the best of the worst.
"The overabundance of opinions, the lack of factual information, and the stereotypical rhetoric have clouded the better judgment of the American people."
I’ll admit that I voted for Clinton in the New York primary. But it wasn’t because I identified most with her views and policies. It was because I knew that Bernie Sanders was no match for the very institution he so often denounces. I needed to select the Democratic candidate that stood the strongest chance of winning against Trump. Judging by every political poll in existence, that candidate was not Bernie.
But I’m not pleased with having to resort to strategic voting. How has our political system pushed us to the point where our votes are driven by fear and not by belief? I’m a registered Democrat, but I prefer to assess each crop of candidates based on how I relate to their platform. I’m not just a blinded Democrat that sticks inside of party lines out of obligation.
"There was a point in my life when I was happy to take a photo with Ann Coulter."
I wasn’t always a hardcore Democrat. There was a point in my life when I was happy to take a photo with Ann Coulter. If you aren’t familiar with Coulter, she’s one of the most extreme right-wing political pundits in the business. Even at the time the above photo was taken, her controversial stance on politics had prompted a relatively chill Flagler College student body to protest. She’s made a career out of flaunting unpopular public opinion including her very strong opposition of gay marriage. Had I known that back then, I never would’ve taken this photo. (Side note: I also would’ve changed my horrible outfit.)
I’ve become a staunch liberal because the Democrats are the only group that truly supports my right to marriage and family. The Democrats are the only party that recognizes me as a full human being. And though there are many other issues on the table, my human rights take top priority. For that, I am unapologetic.
"My fear is that I’ll have to settle and latch onto false hope regardless of who takes office."
I’m prepared to settle. When it came to George W. Bush, I wasn’t a huge fan either. Back in 2000, when I was just 16 years old, I recognized early on that I didn’t want to see him take office. But as a minor, I had no voice. I had to accept America’s decision. I reluctantly accepted him as our president and instead started to craft a list of things I wanted him to achieve. I didn’t exactly believe in him, but I wanted him to improve education. I wrote about this in a Pensacola News Journal opinion piece back in January 2001. I wanted Bush to improve school safety. But during his time in office, there were mass shootings at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University. When the candidate you didn’t support takes office, you’re forced to place a sense of false hope in their performance. It’s either that or spend the next 4-8 years playing devil’s advocate.
Though my mind isn’t completely made up, my fear is that I’ll have to settle and latch onto false hope regardless of who takes office. I’ll create my internal list of ways I think the new president will change the country. I’ll look beyond my indifference despite an overwhelming feeling that no noticeable difference will take shape.
I hope I’m wrong.