Trump Or Clinton? (Hint: Don't Vote)
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Politics and Activism

Trump Or Clinton? (Hint: Don't Vote)

The problem of people politics and why your vote won't do much.

Trump Or Clinton? (Hint: Don't Vote)

I've waited eighteen years to have the opportunity to vote, and when 2016 came rolling around I was eager to see how the first election I'd be eligible to vote in would develop. Unfortunately, heralded by the rise of the infamous Donald Trump, the election has turned out to be in his very own words, "a big fat mistake."

Especially with the rise and fall of Bernie Sanders, young people became increasing galvanized (he often beat Hillary Clinton with voters ages 17 to 29 by wide margins) and then disillusioned as Clinton became more and more the likely nominee.

The question currently is, "Now what?" With what many see as a sort of "Sophie's choice" between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, who should we vote for? The thing is, it doesn't really matter. If you love one of the candidates, then you already know who you'll be voting for. But for those of us who can't fully get behind a candidate, I want to advocate the point that you don't really have to.

The political culture today often stresses the importance of voting in the presidential election as the chance to have your voice heard. However, this really isn't the case. Voting is our chance to select between two people chosen by the same two parties time after time. Two candidates whose policies we don't have any direct control over. This is a phenomenon I like to call people politics, that is, politics where focus is shifted from ideas and concrete policies to personalities like Clinton, Trump, and Sanders.

The biggest noticeable effect of people politics is that the voters no longer have to understand or be familiar with the political goings-on of the time. They only need to find a personality who fits with a handful of their personally held beliefs and support them. We can see examples of voter ignorance everywhere, such as when 30% of Republicans and 19% of Democrats supported bombing Agrabah (The fictional city in Disney's Aladdin).

The thing is, political ideas aren't generated by people in America because most of us aren't interested in the messy, complex, and frankly exhausting work of learning, discussing, and, most importantly, creating ideas ourselves. So we let parties do it for us and so we get the same two ideologies election after election after election. This system stifles the competition of ideas and creates voter ignorance where the only two ideological options given are better-known by stereotypes then by actually research.

So how do we combat this growing problem of people politics and voter ignorance? Well, the solution involves the same thing all good solutions do: hard work -- specifically, focused hard work. To combat this we have to make that effort to get educated on political ideas and to help educate others, especially since there are so many ignorant voters who simply never get the chance to be educated.

Of course, the question still stands, after we've become informed how to we reverse people politics and ideological stagnancy? Chiefly, by not worrying about voting. I'm not going to say your vote doesn't matter, in fact, there is no reason why you shouldn't vote. However, in our current system, voting is a pathetically weak political force. Voting is like placing one sand grain out of 322 million on one of two sides of a scale, neither of which you chose.

If you don't like Trump, and you don't like Clinton, voting will do nothing to make your voice heard; it simply forces you to muffle yourself.

What you can do is take political action outside the voting booth. Join committees, write your local politicians, read political literature and spread the ideas to those around you. Do everything you can to foster a community diverse with ideas to combat the strict two-sided spectrum currently in place. Most importantly, take action without adherence to the established personalities or parties, they won't bring anything new. (Even "outsider" Bernie Sanders had to adhere to the democratic party to even run for nomination.) Our independent action is what brings change.

A great example of this is LGBT rights. Historically, the LGBT community has faced discrimination from both sides of America's narrow political spectrum, and LGBT rights had to be fought for tooth and nail by the LGBT people themselves, not by personalities in politics. Even in 2015, same-sex marriage was legalized thanks to the actions of Jim Obergefell in Obergefell V. Hodges, not by the executive or legislative branches of the United States.

With an election ticket many find unpalatable and the huge amount of disillusioned Bernie supporters, the time is ripe for a break away from the duopoly of parties and a movement of own.

And if that means understanding that our vote doesn't mean much, there's an ample amount of evidence that it never did much, anyway.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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