I did it. It was honestly the first time since I have been able to vote that I completed the action, and it hurt. Much like the rest of the country I walked into the local courthouse a little confused, a little reserved. My enthusiasm for this election is not at its peak. I wish I could say that my experience was more like the photo above; that I’d walked into the polling booth in slow motion, wind blowing my hair, ripping my shirt open to reveal a screaming eagle that leapt from my chest and flew around the room in celebration of our great Republic and my right as a citizen to participate in the process. But it was much more deflating. And I can say with confidence there will be more like me all the way through the night of November 8th. (Maybe some that show up on the 28th. Or 29th?)
The candidates don’t excite me. I have no idea what the issues really are, at least according to popular opinion. Something about jobs, and abortion and fair trade deals. But those aren’t really the issues, are they? I mean, those are always the issues. The primary battles were far more intriguing than this circus to which we’ve been subjected. Particularly because we were so graciously awarded with what we’ve ALL been begging for: an honest, forthright candidate.
Truly my frustration with the campaign season this year isn’t so much with the candidates themselves, it’s with the process as a whole. The ads on television are virtually the same for each individual running for office, regardless of their affiliation. The names are almost interchangeable between commercials. Reasons cited for opposing one candidate, usually a “Washington insider” or tax-dodging check bouncer, are the same reasons for opposing the other. Maybe it’s always been this way but it doesn’t feel like it. Previously it seemed you’d get an ad or an article talking about the way someone voted against a bill to support troops overseas or something along that line. I don’t think I’ve seen anything that really spoke to me as an “issue” that needed to be addressed.
When debates were happening in the primaries, issues turned up all the time. The discussion may not have been as flamboyant but at least there was substance. I have yet to watch an entire Presidential debate this year. It’s embarrassing. Even if you don’t like Hillary Clinton, you have to feel for her just a bit. I can’t imagine running for President, of any country, and having to debate someone like Trump. Debate isn’t even an accurate description. I too can empathize with the feeling that Hillary is stale and old. That she represents a lot of what is wrong with our political system, but I’m not about to run out and toss molotov cocktails on the whole damn thing.
There was a better option. We had a candidate in Sanders who at least argued with reason. He presented solutions to the problems, real problems, he pointed out with his waving arms. And while grandpa Bernie was fired up and passionate, he didn’t resort to name-calling and foot stomping. (Well, maybe he stomped a foot or two.) The student loan debt crisis caught my attention. I was willing to listen to both sides of the discussion on increasing the minimum wage. I wanted to know more about candidates’ opinions of renewable energy research. The Republican camp had a great conversation going about immigration law and constant military presence in the world. Those are issues worth deliberating. But in true American fashion we got what we asked for and decided it was too good to be true, so we stuck with the horse we knew. Even worse, we picked the embodiment of white, lower class anger.
Yes, I said “we”. We did this to ourselves. We continue to pick the lesser of two evils and because of that, the level of “evil” only gets deeper. The worst part of the problem is the child-like rhetoric is loud enough it’s drowning out real issues on a national and local level. I consider myself a well-informed participant, but I myself reached the height of my frustration when I was faced with a vote on the “Right to Hunt and Fish”. I think I even asked out loud, “What the hell?!” In Indiana, there is a measure up for referendum to amend the State Constitution to include the right to hunt and fish for sport. The first time I learned of this measure was standing in a polling booth. The short of the measure is that it includes language that makes lethal measures of animal control the primary solution, which will obstruct attempts to implement non-lethal measures of animal control in the future. It also talks about using “traditional” methods of hunting. I’m not sure if that refers to bear traps or dynamite. The language is problematic. If you really want to read the whole of it, here it is.
The fact that this is up for a vote is not what pissed me off. Well, not entirely. The legislation is redundant. What I was and still am upset about is that I’d never heard of it. My local news stations never mentioned it. Remarkably I saw one post on social media about it. No radio program brought it up, save for a not well executed discussion on NPR, and that was after I voted. Even more so, the language on the ballot was worded so as to basically ask: “Do you support the right to hunt and fish?” Even if you don’t own a gun and never have been hunting, you’ll probably say yes. So the measure will pass and the right of a citizen to hunt and fish will be constitutionally protected which opens up a whole other can of worms about gun control.
Because the media is so flush with Donald Trump, how many other local and state issues will pass under the radar? What impact will this have ten years from now? His addiction to the large crowds that turn out at his rallies has ended his own campaign. His ego is so big, he’s going to keep ruining his own progress. It’s absurd. He could argue that premiums on health insurance are jumping 20% because companies are leaving the exchange due to the end of subsidies. He could argue the UN is actually provoking Russia into a war. But no, temper tantrums have worked so far, so why stop now? And it’s everywhere.
The confusion is leeching into otherwise predictable scenarios. Nate Silver’s fivethirtyeight.com is predicting that Indiana will fall in favor of Trump. (Oh shock, oh surprise) But, it’s also predicting that Evan Bayh will win the race for his old U.S. Senate seat. (Wait, what?) And, electionprojection.com is predicting that Gubernatorial candidate John Gregg (D) will beat out Eric Holcomb (R) in that race. (Huh?) That means that after the election we’ll have two Democratic Senators in Indiana, a Democratic Governor, and will have voted for Trump as President?! As I usually vote Democrat I’m mostly excited. But, also want to pull my hair out. It’s enough to make your ears bleed.
I have absolutely no idea what’s happened this election season. I’d venture to guess the “professionals” don’t get it either. Here’s what I do know. I know that some really wacky shit is going down. I know that even if you’re trying to educate yourself, it’s going to be really difficult to walk away from the poll feeling confident you made good choices. I know that after the Presidential election is over, we’ll continue to see Trumpers committing heinous acts because not only were they fired up before, they now adamantly believe the whole election is rigged. And, I know that I’ll be glad when this is all over so we can go back to watching Congress do nothing.