This Is The Real Question of the 2016 Election

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By Jillian Stacia

It happened for the first time in 2000, when I was in the fifth grade. I took out my favorite purple gel pen and checked the box for Al Gore, proudly casting my vote in our mock elementary school election. I had a small smile on my face when I walked back to my seat, knowing that I had done my part to help elect the next president of the United States. When they announced George W. Bush as the winner that very same afternoon, I was heartbroken. And when the chorus of cheers erupted around me, I was thoroughly confused. Why did all my friends pick someone else? Did my parents know about this Bush guy?

The same thing happened in 2008 when I entered college in North Carolina. Like any college freshmen, I was eager to fit in and make friends. When they asked who I was voting for come November, I proudly replied, “Barack Obama, of course” in my confident, liberal voice. It didn’t take me long to realize that was the wrong answer. I decided right then and there that my political values weren’t more important to me than having someone to eat with in the dining hall, so I did whatever I could to avoid the topic. A particularly low moment included sneaking out to a Joe Biden campaign speech under the cover of darkness. I stood alone in my beautiful college amphitheater that night listening to Biden talk and wondering why my new friends didn’t see things the same way I did.

It’s unsettling, isn’t it – the moment you realize that not everyone shares your opinion? Everything suddenly feels off kilter. I just didn’t understand how my friends could vote for someone I found to be abhorrent. Didn’t they value the same things I did? Why were they choosing the wrong candidate? How could we possibly be such friends and have such different political views?

These questions have only intensified during this year’s political season. From the primaries until today, this election has been a tumultuous, rising shit storm of human emotion. I have laughed. I have cried. But mostly, I’ve been exasperated. How can a woman that I truly respect and admire be so strongly hated by other people I know, respect, and admire? How is it possible for our views to be so different? Why don’t they see what I see? Is it not obvious? Am I missing something? These are the questions I ask myself a thousand times a day since the election began.

When people say they don’t know who to vote for, I am truly flabbergasted. To me, it has never been clearer. One of our candidates is a man that JK Rowling herself has said is worse than Voldemort. He is a racist, sexist, arrogant cheapskate who literally has the potential to destroy America. This isn’t hyperbole, this is fact.

And yet…there are some people who STILL DON’T KNOW who to vote for.

Again, I find myself asking: how is this possible? And what, if anything, do I do about it?

Do I try to correct them? Engage in Facebook wars? Send them articles? Quote statistics? Shame them? Mock them? Laugh at them? Stop being friends with them? Boycott family dinners?

What do you do when you realize that your friends/family/coworkers/neighbors/church members do not share the same values as you do?

It’s rattling to find yourself so far away from the people you love. It’s lonely. It’s scary. It’s also incredibly frustrating. And more than anything I want to DO something. I want to tell them how wrong they are. I want to sit down and go over all the facts. I want to convince them to come over to my side of the street. I want to set up vigil and wait and watch and argue and fight until they finally see the error of their ways. I want to change their vote, but I also want to change their minds.

In times like these, I have to remind myself that fighting fire with fire rarely ever works. You can’t criticize others into growth. As much as I may want to, I can’t attack or shame my point across. It won’t help, and more importantly, it’s not kind.

I truly believe that there is light and darkness inside all of us. Trump is preying on that darkness. He is capitalizing on our deepest fears and insecurities, and it’s working because those things legitimately exist. He’s giving a platform to our fear and our shame. People relate to that because it is inside us. The instinct to fear, to hate, to compare is very, very real.

That’s why I know I have to do better. I have to evoke the Golden Rule. I have to turn the other cheek. I have to be the bigger, better, kinder, more loving person. I must refuse to add more fear or anger or outrage to this conversation. I must refuse the temptation to yell or fight or shame or point fingers because that just contributes to the darkness.

I want to do my part to add light. So I’m choosing to fight fire with water. That means I’ll keep writing about Hillary and why I think she’s the best candidate. It means I’ll speak my truth firmly, but respectfully. It means I will not engage with hate. I will not provoke or attack or criticize. Instead, I will sit with the particular flavor of discomfort that comes from knowing that not everyone feels the same way you do. I will continue to shift through the questions of what it means to love someone with different political views. I will practice being open-minded and respectful and kind. I will choose to carry on with positivity and happiness.

This election isn’t just about Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump. It’s about us. It’s about the people we choose to become. It’s about how we interact with others, how we choose to engage with people who have different opinions. It’s about light and dark and right and wrong and how we apply it in our daily lives.

The question isn’t just, Who will you vote for? The real question is: Who will you be? 


Jillian is part of the Contributing Writer Network at Thirty On Tap. To apply to become a Contributing Writer, please click HERE.

{featured image via unsplash}

2 thoughts on “This Is The Real Question of the 2016 Election

  1. Cheryl Hook says:

    I really enjoyed and related to the subject matter of this article, Jillian. I am having the same problem and I am MUCH older.

    Thanks for articulating my concerns…

    Like

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