My First Election To Vote In, and I Really Don’t Want To

By Mackenzie Patel

Want Esteemed Contributor

19: the age of nothingness and utter unimportance. The novelty of 18 is dead, the excitement of 21 like a dangling piece of tiramisu I’m too short to bite into. However, being 19 isn’t completely useless: I can finally vote in my first Presidential election this November—and I really don’t want to. It’s not a blasphemous lack of patriotism. It’s not a damnation of the red, white, and blue. It’s not even the rebellious streak I skipped when I was 16. The candidates are so below par I feel guilty voting for either one of them. I don’t want to write a biased diatribe against Hillary or Donald—both are on equal footing as “Evils” and it’s difficult to distinguish the lesser of the two. Either way, I’m voting for a loud mouthed businessman with zero political finesse or a shady lady that has slunk around politics far too long. Filling in that bubble with a sharpened pencil and nationalistic grin? No. On election day, I am likely to have a grimace on my face and a white knuckled grip on my mail-in ballot.

Here is why I’m disappointed: the media (i.e. Fox News and CNN) has presented the presidential candidates as untrustworthy and incompetent. Every time I flick through the news, something negative pops up about Hillary’s criminal activities or Donald’s wall in Mexico. So I’m deciding between a criminal and a racist? Positivity is nonexistent in this 2016 race, lies and bribery and candidate-slashing the only thing I’ve witessed. It’s almost sick that I—a fresh youth trained in citizenship—is dreading November 8th. I’ve researched the candidates myself and their platforms, but even their trumped up words (no pun intended) ring hollow to my pessimistic ears. Of course Hillary will “Close corporate and Wall Street tax loopholes and invest in America” in her campaign speeches. Obviously Donald will “Compel Mexico to pay for the wall” during his political tirades. To me, their words are empty and desperate attempts to snatch every voter they can. No presidential candidate does everything they say will do during the campaign—they probably don’t do half. I want realistic goals and clear plans orchestrated by the candidate, not political buzzwords a speechwriter stole from previous platforms.

As well as my blurry 11-year-old self can recall, the Obama election was electrifying, new, and gasp-worthy. Obama’s famous poster of Hope, created by Shepherd Fairy and plastered throughout America, was uplifting. A well of promise and future brilliance was locked in the red, white, and blue, Americans (at least a sector them) fully supporting this young senator. This 2016 election contains none of the excitement that 2008 did, only bitterness and biting remarks that leave no elbow room for Hope. Democrats see Donald Trump as a ridiculous farce. Republicans see Hillary Clinton as an evil lawbreaker overtaxing the rich. And me? I see two caricatures of real people interested only in their egos. With Obama, I remember citizens rallying behind his refreshing ideas (especially after George W. Bush) and look of modernity. Yes, Hillary would be the first female President akin to Obama being the first black one (well, half-black), but I couldn’t care less about her gender. I care about intelligence and the ability of the candidate to better the USA in their hands. Women rights are still an issue (and I fear always will be), but I won’t vote for Hillary just because she’s a woman. It’s like saying I’ll let anyone give me a heart transplant as long as they look “doctor-ish.”

Finally, this election sours my mouth because I have to vote for either Donald or Hillary. I refuse to vote for a third party candidate because they will not win. Being gung-ho about the Independent candidate is cutesy, but wasting my first vote is counterproductive according to my 7th grade Civics class—even if I like the third party better. No third party candidate has ever won an election, and I won’t cast my tiny lot with the 0%. Gary Johnson looks decent (his haircut is better than Donald’s), but voting for him would skew the election. The Libertarian party aligns with my views the most, but this laissez-faire/limited-government outlook is impossible in today’s political scene.  The US elections are practically rigged to be a two party system, and as much as I want to, I can’t “change the system.”

In conclusion, this November is going to be an ugly time in American politics. Fake hair versus email shiftiness, a giant wall versus open arms to illegal immigrants. I’m usually cynical towards politics (everyone in the business is a crook), but even more so because of the candidates I’m forced to vote for. What happened to moderate candidates without deception? Where did the national support for candidates such as FDR and Lincoln go? Is that era of competency and voter faith dead? Maybe not in the future, but the grave is already dug for 2016. Read my earlier article, a more upbeat and naïve one, on the 2016 election here.

Reimagined slogans I created for the 2016 election based off of historical ones:

“It’s pessimism again in America”—based off slogan of Ronald Reagan (“It’s morning again in America”)

“Keep hiding with Hillary”— based off slogan of Calvin Coolidge (“Keep cool with Coolidge”)

“Happy days are not here again”— based off slogan of FDR (“Happy days are here again”)

“Change we can definitely not believe in”— based off slogan of Barack Obama (“Change we can believe in”)

“Let us have anything but peace”— based off slogan of Ulysses Grant (“Let us have peace”)

Let the vote begin…

Photo Credit: Tony Alter

About Grace Masback

Grace Masback, 17, aspires to give voice to the voiceless and holds the modest ambition of becoming the voice of Gen Z. Frustrated by the dearth of impactful platforms for teen journalists, she founded WANT, a news, sports, and entertainment website that aggregates the best in high school journalism from school newspapers and teen bloggers around the world (www.wantnewsforteens.com).

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