Our world is filled with binaries. Some we barely notice, taking them as they are presented to us. But others are overwhelmingly apparent, such as the current great division between Democrats and Republicans in America. However, despite the pressure Americans feel to choose between these two, republicans and democrats do not represent all of America.
America was not originally a two-party, binary system. And even today, we are still not technically a two-party republic. There are Democrats, Independents, Republicans, and even the Green Party as we saw most recently this year. But we are so divided between red and blue that we can’t possibly vote for the other parties. Voters are forced to choose between Republican and Democrat, even if the chosen representative does not in fact represent them. And though I voted Democrat in the last election, if a Republican candidate, who was not conservative and wanted to change things for the better, were to run for office, I would possibly vote for them.
Not all Democrats are liberal, and not all Republicans are conservative. Not every party nominee perfectly represents a viewer’s ideals. These are the traits that we have associated with the parties. These traits, as well as our society, puts pressure on Americans to choose, when political views are not just left and right. It is a gradient scale with a lot of different sections.
The struggle for liberal and conservative alike is in their classification of each other. It is automatically assumed that a Liberal must be a Democrat and a Conservative must be a Republican. Americans, following their party’s example, shove each other into this binary, including the stereotypes that come along with the categorization.
I am a Liberal, but I am by no means a Democrat.
I am not afraid to say that in the last election I voted for Hillary Clinton. But not because she was a Democrat. In fact, I aligned more clearly with Bernie Sanders and the platform he stood for in the election, and as anyone knows, Bernie is not a Democrat. But to run for presidency, he moved to the Democrats, which held more similar beliefs. Bernie represented the equality that I was looking for. His entire career has been focused on the same goals that he promoted in his platform. He stands behind what he believes, which makes me like, and trust him more. To me, between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, Clinton represented more of the views that I believe in. She incorporated some general ideas from Bernie’s platform, but she did not accept all of Bernie’s points.
I recognized Hillary for what she is: a politician. And a politician does what they can to get the votes. I didn’t want her to be the first female president; I would have rather had someone I respected more. To me, Hillary was someone who did not truly get behind everything she had placed in her platform. While I can respect all that she has done for women in general, I think she added a lot of Bernie’s points from his platform just to gain some followers in her campaign. A smart move as a politician, but she lacked my trust.
Similarly, Trump’s platform was far from what I believed in. It held the same goals of a fascist and utterly racist and derogatory belief system. His platform and all it stood for was utterly disgusting to me. I watched Republican conventions, hoping that any other republican candidate would win. I couldn’t see why people would want to vote for a man that had no experience in politics, nor that tact that comes with the job. Given my choices between neo-nazi and semiconservative, I went with Hillary.
We, as Americans, have to stop forcing each other into Liberal and Conservative, Democrat and Republican. We have to open our eyes to shades of grey, people who may not be either left nor right. And like I said, I may be a Liberal but that does not mean I am a Democrat. I just hope that in the next election, better choices are made to bring forth a representative who could truly represent me.
I wanted to write this blog because as young adults over the age of eighteen, college students should be more invested in the political atmosphere. Voters should be aware of the environment that has been created by political parties. Don’t be intimidated by the labels. You’ve waited eighteen years to become an adult, and voting is one of the greatest benefits that come with birthday cake.
Before Lycoming College, and meeting my friends, I had never really considered what side of the spectrum that I lay on. My experience at Lyco, my relationships with my friends, my interactions with a more diverse community, have all shaped me into the more politically oriented person that I am today. Every vote counts. So even if you don’t know what side you align with yet, I encourage you to dip your toes in, talk to your peers, and decide for yourself.
As an institution, Lycoming College encourages all of its students to think critically about the world they live in. If you are interested in attending a college that will stretch you and expose you to new points of view, contact an admissions counselor today to find out more!