Issues I Have with the US Elections

Saturday, 30 July 2016

It's becoming increasingly difficult to turn on the news or check Facebook without being bombarded with information about the elections in America. While most of the time Aussie news just seems to be taking the piss out of the election, Facebook seems to be overridden with slanderous remarks about the opposition and awful memes. Over the last couple of decades, making slandering remarks about your opponent seems to be the sole focus of the primaries. A candidate rarely brings up an issue without slamming their opponent's viewpoint. This tactic pulls away from the main issue: finding the most qualified individual for the job. While I'm incredibly happy to see people of my generation even discussing politics and becoming involved with the election process, there are a few issues that have really been bothering me: 

1. Blindly Following a Candidate. 
When I was home in May, I was shocked by the number of individuals who told me they were voting for a candidate because of: 1. The party they were a part of, 2. Who their family was supporting, or 3. "Because America needs a (insert some blanket statement here)". How does this help the democratic process? Why even vote if you're not going to actually learn what that candidate stands for? I found that after talking to some of these people, their political outlook didn't even align with the candidate they were supporting. I've also found that some individuals will do their research (read candidates platforms, take quizzes, etc.); politically align with another candidate, but still, support the original candidate. 

2. Only Researching One Candidate. 
First, hats off to the people who actually do research on a candidate! I have a lot of respect for individuals who at least put in this effort. However, if you're not researching all the candidates and what they stand for, how do you know that you've found the candidate that best aligns with your viewpoints? The best way to stop the cycle of political ignorance is to research all nominees with an open mind. I know this can be an incredibly difficult task. We often only focus on those whom we feel share our beliefs. If you're worried that you won't be able to research the nominees objectively, put every nominee's platform into a word document. From there, change all the names to that of the candidate you are supporting. Allow some time between changing the names and actually reading each platform. Once you've read the platforms, highlight any of the policies you agree with. There are also a few really good quizzes online that gets you to answer questions about the issues and how important those issues are to you. From there it will list which candidates you best align with. After you’ve done your research, you’re able to make an objective decision based on the candidate you align best with.

3. Posting Articles from a Non-credible Source. 
This probably has to be my biggest irritation. On Facebook, I see so many bias, non-credible articles being shared. Some have literally been the equivalent of The Onion or me writing a blog piece on a candidate. As I am in no way, shape, or form a political analyst, chances are it would be utter nonsense. Do yourself a favour, if you're reading an article online question everything. Just because it is on the Internet, does not mean it is accurate. Opinions do not equate to facts. Do heaps of research, from credible sources please! This way, when debating with friends and family, you’re able to have an educated conversation about your viewpoints and why you support them instead of simply arguing nonsense.

4. Bullying People Into Voting for a Candidate. 
So many people that post "not voting for X is saying that you're ok with B being president". I'm sorry, but you do not have the right to tell someone whom he or she should vote for. If someone does not support the same candidate as you, this does not equate to him or her supporting the opposition. The beauty of our political system is it gives people the freedom to vote. If someone doesn't politically align with Clinton or Trump, why try to pressure him or her to vote for those candidates? This also goes for people who tell others they're stupid for supporting a candidate. Please have the respect that not everyone is going to share your opinions and values.

5. "I'm Going to Move to Canada if X Person Wins". 
I feel like a lot of American’s have the misconception that it is incredibly easy to move to another country. Coming from an immigrant, I can say from personal experience it can be quite difficult obtaining permanent residency in another country. Comments like that devalue the democratic process. In the end, it makes us look like whinging children who didn’t get their way.

6. Thinking That as an Expat I'm Not Eligible to Vote. 
If you're an expat living overseas, you are ABSOLUTELY allowed to vote! Unless you've relinquished your citizenship, you still have the right to vote. If you're living abroad, you have until August 1 to request your ballot. If you need more information, go to www.FVAP.govPlease register and vote! There are a lot of policies that can end up affecting US citizens residing in other countries.

I've found it rather frustrating living overseas this election. It saddens me to hear bad things being said about my home country. But when I see these six things frequently happen, it’s hard not to want to scream at America. Whilst I feel whom I am voting for is not important, what is important is that we all educate ourselves and respect each other’s viewpoints. If I see the spread of misinformation, I'm going to say something about it (heck I've done it to people posting things about a candidate I support). 

Can we as the American people make a pledge? Regardless of whom we're voting for, let's all pledge to only spread credible sources. We will stop posting slandering remarks about candidates that we do not agree with. And we will stop forcing our beliefs down the throats of others. Let’s work on being more open-minded and learning from the viewpoints of others. That is the only way we will rise together as a people and make it so the country doesn't implode upon itself. And biggest of all...VOTE! If you don't vote, you have no right complaining.

And until next time...
Stay Curious!

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