This is my first experience of a U.S. presidential election campaign, and with just 10 days to go, I have learned a lot about America. Some of my pre-conceived ideas and thoughts about the process / people have been swept aside while others have been confirmed – it has been enlightening and disheartening at times.
1. The election process is far too long …
The stand out announcement of running for president came from Donald Trump in Trump Tower, NYC, and that was on June 16th 2015.
In the UK, I think the whole process lasts 3 months, and even that eventually gets a bit too much to hear about for that length of time, but here we are … approaching 17 months later of campaigning, mudslinging and general political shenanigans and it is still going on.
The only thing that has made this whole process digestable has been the comedy from the likes of Saturday Night Live with their parodies of the key political figures and the two party nominee debates.
2. There is a genuine push and demand for political change …
The support Bernie Sanders got, even though he did not win the Democratic nomination, showed that there is a significant portion of the population who want real political reconstruction. His stance on justice reform, getting Wall Street out of Congress, women’s rights, indigenous rights, climate change, and wanting a fairer tax system that does not only benefit the super rich, to name a few reasons, pointed to a general desire for a shake up of how things have been traditionally done. This too is reflected in the popularity of Donald Trump, and the mistrust of Hilary Clinton because one reflects being outside of the control of the political elite and one is an example of it.
While differences in opinions about gun rights, healthcare, taxes, immigration and abortion, for example, may have revealed deep divides in what people believe in, it has also shown a strong unity in creating a change.
3. Freedom, as a concept and actuality, is something many struggle with …
From freedom of speech, to the freedom to be who you are, freedom to practise a religion without fear of reprimand or reproach, freedom to choose what happens with your body etc … are all types of freedom that have encountered vocalisations and defamation against those who have exercised those rights. While expressing revulsion at something, or the moral belief that something is wrong are also protected, the basic understanding that you cannot impose your own personal beliefs on someone feels like it sometimes gets a bit lost.
Very strong personal beliefs that inform your own life should never get in the way of someone else’s freedom to do what you yourself have just done, which is to make a choice for yourself.
4. Politics can get people engaged …
Despite the overly long time the presidential campaign runs, there does seem to be an encouraging attentiveness to policies and dialogue around where this country should progress.
I had assumed that the length of this race would turn people off and create voter apathy, but that does not seem to be the case at this point (voter turn out on November 8th will reveal whether or not it did). I think, this time around, it has a lot to do with who is running. Trump and Clinton both elicit strong reactions and seem to be liked and disliked in equal measure, making this an extremely interesting, exciting and close election process.
What are your thoughts about this presidential election campaign? Any predictions on who will win?