With less than a week left of this nauseating election cycle, many Americans have found themselves anxious about the impending outcome, while others are relieved that the drama and relentless 24/7 news coverage of this historic election will soon be over. Personally, I find myself in both camps. Either way, November 8th will mark the merciful culmination of what many view as a particularly disappointing, abhorent, and utterly unprecedented election year. And that's something to be grateful for.
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Looking back on the past year and a half, the campaign trail has been a mess. With endless internet resources at our fingertips, as well as video leaks and other calculated attacks by the media, mud-slinging politics have played a key role in this election. As the name "mud-slinging" implies, these tactics are dirty and brutal. In addition, their basis on actual things which the candidates have done and/or said make them difficult to defend against. However, for better or for worse, they are extremely effective at altering public opinion of candidates, which is why they have persisted since their first appearance in the election of 1828. Interestingly, many historians have claimed the election of 1828 as the most personally contentious of any election in U.S. history. However, those historians may have to re-evaluate that designation while reflecting upon this past election season. In many cases, personal mud-slinging attacks are indicative of a candidate's principle and character, while in others, they are baseless and desperate. Deciding which category to put each attack in is inherently political. Those who favor Trump will be inclined to disregard attacks against him as desperate mudslinging, while Clinton supporters feel the same regarding anti-Clinton attacks. So what we're left with is two stubborn, unyielding support bases who believe deeply in their candidate to the point of willingly disregarding evidence against them. This had led to strong feelings of antipathy between family members, friends, co-workers, etc. While politics in this country are inherently divisive, the inflammatory rhetoric surrounding this election has made pragmatic discussion over the two candidates practically unattainable. It has left people feeling alienated, upset, and confused by communities that used to be able to handle political differences. Friendships have been ruined, families have become alienated from each other, and workplaces have become tense over the ubiquitous nature of the 2016 election.
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So, what can we smile about? Well, it's almost over. In a couple of weeks, I'll be able to switch on CNN without hearing Trump say the same quote that they've already aired a billion times. My subscription to Time will no longer be inundated with U.S. election-related political opinion pieces. Memes will gradually return to fluffier and less politically charged material. The top-trending articles on the Odyssey will no longer revolve around the election (yes, I recognize my irony here; it's intentional). But most importantly, we will begin to heal the divisions which this election cycle has fostered. While tensions may still be high at Thanksgiving, within a couple months, politics wont be quite as intense and divisive as they are now. Or at least one can hope.
Oh, and here's another reason to smile. Remember when a bird landed on Bernie's podium at a rally in Portland, Oregon earlier this year? Possibly the purest, most mud-free moment in this election cycle.
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