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Feeling disenfranchised

The lack of plurality in the U.S. party system has resulted in the production of very unlikeable candidates by both major political parties. Indeed, to many on the margins of society, namely people of color, both the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees were extremely undesireable. Not only were (and are) these candidates distasteful, the unappealing steps they had taken to secure their own nomination speaks to the very apparent disconnect between both candidates and their respective voter bases. The DNC took some very questionable steps to try and secure the Clinton nomination on the left, while Trump resorted to hate speech, misogyny, and xenophobia to catalyze his campaign. When the two major presidential candidates conduct themselves with questionable political tactics to such an extent, this alone is reason enough not to support either candidate or the parties that nominated them.

Moreover, there are very compelling reasons to find Hillary Clinton unfavorable. The Clintons have been strongly connected to the privatization of prisons, largely contributing to the wrongful mass incarceration of people of color. Hillary Clinton labeled impoverished black youth as “super predators” prone to violent crime, further justifying the dehumanization of people of color. Additionally, the Democratic nominee has supported deportation policies that disproportionately affect youth from Central America seeking asylum in the United States from poverty and violent crime. She has been a consistent advocate of military intervention in the Middle East, heavily influencing Obama throughout the duration of his administration. Clinton is also knows to be quite partial towards the economic and political elite, taking large sums of money for private speeches and accepting donations from big corporate conglomerates with super PACs like Priorities USA Action. Her insipid attempts at appealing to people of color (i.e. Latino pandering) have damaged her reputation with major sections of her potential supporters, especially new young voters. As someone who is willing to hold politicians accountable for the damage they’ve caused American society, the most vulnerable sectors of society would not have fared better by settling for Clinton simply because she was the supposed better candidate of two bad choices.

Although Donald Trump drew voters from various sectors of society, in his campaign he appealed to a very particular voter base: the white working class. This is not inherently problematic, but the tactics he used to appeal to this sector included racism, misogyny and lying, which alone are reason enough to classify him as exceedingly ill-fit to be president. His exclusionist rhetoric, though, hit home with many Americans, as the results of the national election seem to imply. Such an unpleasant president, who is extremely vulnerable to public opinion, has left me with little hope for the political and economic stability of the U.S. and its sphere of influence abroad. Trump has discredited the CIA, U.S. military generals, and even his own party and voters, so I really do not understand how he expects to lead a country that virtually depends on citizens’ faith that the state will govern in their best interest. Despite zero experience in government, charged campaign rhetoric, and Twitter rants, Trump will soon find himself in the Oval Office. Worse yet, this election could mark the beginning of the decline of the U.S. as a major global power.

I am very upset with the election result, but I would still have been disappointed with Clinton as president. I was not convinced by either presidential candidate; neither of them won my vote. But being a political independent is not enough in our current party system. Unless the two-party system shifts to a more pluralistic model, I seriously doubt that Trump will be the last outsider candidate elected to the presidency. Furthermore, assuming that Clinton was just going to absorb the voters Sanders was able to mobilize was a crucial mistake by her and her campaign management. Contrary to what many seem to believe about this election, I think voters are more informed than ever, hence why many Sanders’ supporters remained loyal to him and did not concede their vote to Clinton. Considering the issues facing politicians today (LGBTQ rights, climate change, socio-economic injustice, police violence), voters are asked to weigh many factors when deciding on a president. Candidates like Clinton need to understand that. The DNC’s shady tactics have left me with no confidence in either party now. Therefore, I think the U.S. political atmosphere needs to be extensively refreshed with political innovation by much younger politicians. It needs vocabulary that actually reflects the political diversity in the U.S., so that words like “socialism” are not taboo. More than anything, voters need to express discontent with the political establishment and look for outlets to have a political voice. Both parties produced inadequate candidates, and I believe we have to stop relying on these parties and express the need for new political parties in order to get honest and transparent politicians running for office.

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