As someone who turned eighteen in August, this election is my first that I actually get to vote in. I know the same is true for most of the people I'm friends with, even if they're older than I am. Due to this fact, this is the first election that I've truly followed and paid attention to. That might sound bad, but I was hardly fourteen during the last election, and back then I didn't care about much of anything other than friend drama and Netflix.This election, however, is arguably one of the most important elections in recent history, and I've sort of had a bit of a crash course in the way politics works over the past few months. It's been a hell of a ride, and I learned a lot along the way. Here are some of the most interesting and important things I've learned about myself, the election, and politics over the past months.
1. This election is unlike any other.
This is one of the things I've heard a lot from people who've been able to vote in earlier elections. This election is incredibly unlike any other, full of developing scandals on both sides, and the first time we've had a presidential candidate with no prior presidential experience. That's so different, and us first-time voters are put in an incredibly unique situation because of it.
2. People will be incredibly defensive over their candidate.
Maybe this is just because of who the candidates are, but everyone seems to either love or hate the candidates, with no one really in the middle. On both sides, Trump and Clinton, their supporters openly and vocally hate the other. It's understandable, really, but it's still interesting to see how strongly people feel about the candidates of this election, and how no one even slightly likes the opposing candidate to theirs.
3. The presidential debates are more of an orchestrated show than a proper debate.
The debates in October were a lot more structured than I was expecting them to be. It was somewhat surprising, really, but at the same time, it was understandable. Every question had a time limit, and the whole debate was capped at ninety minutes. I think that it would be more beneficial to both the candidates and the people watching to have unlimited time to answer questions, as the time limit can make people say things they don't mean and trip over their words.
4. Registering to vote is not that hard.
I always expected registering to be some whole huge process. Having to go to the DMV, showing proof of residence, going through all of these steps and loops and ladders. It was actually incredibly easy. There were people all over campus with boards and forms who were willing to help, to the point where it was a bit overwhelming. I registered in the first week of school, but they were there until the last possible day to register. It was incredibly helpful, but also a bit annoying after I had finished, but kept getting asked if I had yet. Overall, though, it was far more good than bad.
5. Rhetoric is one of the most important things of a campaign.
This may seem a bit absurd, but the way people say things has a lot more impact than you even realize. You can say the same thing in two completely different ways, and it'll have a completely different effect. Trump and Clinton have each taken a different stance on how they say things. Trump tends to try to incite fear in people, whereas Clinton tries to keep things more logical and reasonable. Both of these things work in different ways on different people, but both are valid approaches.
6. Voting is one of the most important things you can do.
If you can and don't vote, I really don't understand what you're thinking. One of the unique things about the United States is our right to vote. Men have always had the right to vote, but women and people of color had to work hard for years to earn those rights. Sitting back now and not voting is almost disrespectful to the memories of the people who worked so incredibly hard to get you those rights. Voting takes maybe an hour or two of your day, and you're having an incredible impact on the future of our country. Please, go out and take the time to make your voice heard. It's one election every four years. You can take the time to do something so important for our country.