On Thursday, July 28, 2016 it became official: we have a woman who is a presidential nominee for the United States of America. Hillary Clinton, despite a cloud of scandal following her nearly everywhere she goes, received the Democratic party nomination.
When the news was announced, my heart sank. While Hillary fans cheered and celebrated, particularly on social media, I felt angsty. I had long since felt that this election was doomed, but the political state of our nation now seems more dire than ever. On one side, we have an unqualified nominee with a plethora of public scandal. On the other, we have a qualified nominee who is privately shrouded by both scandal and ambiguity. This has led to many voters claiming to choose “the lesser of two evils” when deciding who they will vote for this November, and that is wrong.
Participating in the electoral process is a privilege: one that people in many other countries would love to participate in freely. We have the freedom to elect candidates who we believe will enact the policies we feel strongly about, and that process extends to our congressmen and representatives down at the local level. Yet, this freedom is all too often taken for granted. For a few months every four years, the general public is energized by the anticipation of a new Commander in Chief. We speak our minds, debate our friends, and cross our fingers all the way to the ballot box.
But outside of those few short months, engaging in the electoral process seems like an unnecessary chore to most people. We moan and groan when government isn’t doing what we want, but we don’t do our research or cast our votes except for when it comes time to pick a new president.
What about all that time in between? Choosing America’s president is not like choosing which Olympic event to watch in primetime; you do not get to feign interest once every four years. But alas, that’s exactly what seems to be happening.
If we were really interested in our president and in the direction in which our country is heading, we would not be in this situation. We would not be choosing between the two candidates who are the least suitable of their parties. Of course, this point is debatable. There are plenty of Americans who believe that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are, in fact, the best candidates to hold the Republican and Democratic presidential nominations. But I’d dare to say that there are even more Americans who simply think that voting for Trump or Clinton is simply the best way to protect their party’s ideals and thus “the lesser of two evils.” There goes that pesky phrase again.
The problem with “the lesser of two evils” is inherent in its very statement; if both things are evil, neither is good.
We are so caught up in thinking our vote doesn’t count. We get caught up in swing states and the electoral college and filibusters and so many other issues that are very real but serve as no excuse to neglect one’s civic duty. Your vote doesn’t just count for who resides in the White House; it counts all the time. For family court judges, zoning commissioners, and school board members.
If we really and truly cared about our future, we would exhibit as much fervor for every election as we are for the upcoming election this fall. If we were proactive instead of reactive, we would not be voting for the lesser of two evils, and instead voting for a candidate we wholeheartedly believe in. If we were passionate about change and reform, we would remember that third parties exist for both conservatives and liberals, and that the two-party system is a huge part of the problem. If we did all these things, we would have a female presidential candidate that I could shout from the rooftops in support of, because she embodied the ideals of the people and was a viable candidate for Commander in Chief.
But no, I am not excited for Hillary Clinton’s presidential nomination, because it serves as a microcosm of the very system that we blame for failing us when we are equally failing it in return. I don’t care that we have a female presidential nominee; I simply want a nominee I believe in.