The Democratic Decision: Why I’m Undecided
March 20, 2016
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I don’t know.
In some ways, they’re the scariest three words in the English language – words that admit you don’t have all the answers, words that show the world you’re unsure, words that confess what few others are willing to in the face of constant pressure to simply decide.
The 2016 Presidential race is already a historical one. With only two Democratic candidates left in the running for months compared to the continually shrinking Republican pool (which still comprises three serious candidates as of late), one might think that there’s been more than enough time for Democrats to choose which person will get their vote come November.
That’s the thing about elections, though: they’re complicated, and even when you think you’ve got it all figured out, more research plants seeds of doubt, and suddenly you’re back to square one.
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders would both make unprecedented Presidents – the first woman and Jewish person to hold the position, respectively – and their platforms each bring something unique to the table.
If you had asked me a few months ago who I would be casting my first ever vote for, I would have told you in a heartbeat, with my hands raised high in the air, that it would be Bernie Sanders. He supported everything I did, he embodied the ideology that I had, and he was the person that I wanted to win unconditionally.
Now, I don’t know. And that’s been hard to admit.
The first seed of doubt was planted in my head when I discovered that Hillary Clinton is an extremely qualified woman, and Bernie Sanders’s track record isn’t as crystal-clear as I had originally thought.
From there, my doubt only grew – primaries began, and it became clear that Sanders was going to have to really, really fight to get his party’s nomination. Among constant accusations that Sanders is a pure socialist (which he is not) and ridicule from supporters of other candidates, it can be difficult to see him as a viable candidate in the election at large.
Clinton, on the other hand, is already halfway there.
Winning double the primaries that Sanders has and marking herself as far more likely to win the general election, Hillary Clinton is now aligning herself with his attitudes on many issues: free college, smashing Wall Street, and reforming her views on the LGBT+ community, to name a few. Again, she is probably the most qualified candidate for President to come along in years, and despite the various scandals haunting her past, many Americans are willing to look to the future when deciding the Democratic nominee.
Of course, being a woman in the public eye, Clinton must appear exponentially better than Sanders to be evaluated on the same level as he is. It’s one of the reasons why she’s so often discredited, and one of the reasons she deserves a fair assessment from Democrats all over the spectrum. So…why isn’t she getting one, especially from new voters?
Well, to put it simply, Sanders is exciting. His values match those of many young people, and he knows how to energize a crowd. The youth of social media have virtually banded together to create a coalition of young political activists, most of them supporting Sanders. He’s helped encourage scores of young people to visit the polls, some of them for the first time ever, and has indirectly empowered a generation to do their civic duty using purely the power of the people.
It’s pretty incredible.
On the flipside…it’s worrying.
It’s very likely that Hillary, with the support of a majority of Democrats (at least in those states that have held primaries so far) will be the party nominee…but where does that leave the Sanders supporters?
Apparently, it doesn’t leave them in her favor – many have claimed that they will refuse to vote for Clinton if she wins the nomination, spelling trouble for the Democratic party’s chances of securing the national election. If this happens, if people proudly proclaim, “Bernie or nothing!” and simply don’t vote, we will face an election in which both parties are deeply divided over their leading candidates, a future that unfortunately looks inevitable from here.
I can say that I’ve changed a lot since even the beginning of the school year in terms of how I view politics, and this emotionally charged and historically controversial election is only fueling that growth. Not knowing doesn’t have to be a bad thing – it just means that you’re trying to make an informed decision on an issue that is being held under a microscope by the American people for months on end. The journey to that decision isn’t a straight line. It’s a winding path, full of places to stop, think, and maybe even make a U-turn.
That’s okay: not knowing only leaves room for more knowledge, and more knowledge results in a better choice in the end.
If you will be of voting age by this November, don’t skip the opportunity to make your voice heard and participate in what’s shaping up to be one of the most integral elections ever – even if you don’t know the name that you’ll be checking off yet.