It’s the end of the world as we know it.
Or at least that’s how it seems. With what seems to the most controversial, divisive presidential election in American history, Nov. 3 feels like doomsday. The constant reminders to go vote, issues of voting during a pandemic and an overarching polarization of our political system is overwhelming to say the least.
All of this doom and gloom feels impossible to escape, as it has infiltrated nearly every aspect of my life from Instagram stories to the homily at mass last weekend. But is it necessary? I hardly think that the world, or at least American government, is going to cease to exist, no matter which seventy-something-year-old man is elected president.
I’m not dismissing the seriousness of this election – or any election for that matter. I believe that being an educated voter and doing my civic duty is extremely important. But I do think that we need a bit of perspective. While this may feel like the be-all and end-all of some of our friendships and the American dream, I’d like to think that there’s a positive side to it after all.
For starters, no matter how controversial or racy Twitter makes it sound, history shows us that a heated fight for the position of commander in chief is nothing new. From the Russian election interference fiasco of 2016, the "corrupt bargain" of Andrew Jackson’s election and Eugene Debs running for office from prison, what haven’t we seen? With the mail-in voting situation this year, I wouldn’t be surprised if we have another "Dewey defeats Truman" situation — and I certainly wouldn’t be shocked to see the word “nincompoop” thrown around either.
Almost every presidential election could arguably be referred to as the most controversial or divisive contest in our nation’s history. As digital reporting continues to grow and technology makes information on candidates’ pasts and policy proposals easily accessible, I think that it’s inevitable that our elections become more and more heated. There’s simply more information readily available to us, and sharing our opinions is easier than ever.
So while information about our political candidates and their lives become increasingly more accessible, our politics feel like they’re getting worse. Every holiday season, I see an article in Good Housekeeping magazine on how to avoid talking about politics at Thanksgiving dinner, due to our horrible, tense political climate.
But maybe we can be thankful for the American political system and the bad politics that comes with it. Regardless of who wins this election, we still have the protection of the oldest written constitution in the world which ensures things like separation of power, the rule of law and protections from the government in rights. None of those things are on the ballot.
Though we might hate our choice of candidates — or truly despise one of them — we should be grateful that we can partake in free elections. While the threat of election interference will probably always linger, our voting process is vastly freer of corruption than that in places such as Algeria, Cambodia, Kazakhstan and Venezuela where elections are consistently rigged or totally useless.
As far as bad politics goes, internal strife can be a good thing. This polarizing election season is a luxury – we can afford to be at odds with one another because we aren’t facing an outside threat to rally around.
Not to make light of the situation, but having Joe Biden and Donald Trump in the limelight and under public scrutiny may be a better alternative to them driving around like crazy old men do and yelling at kids to get off of their lawns.
So while it may feel like the end of the world as we know it, I think we’ll be fine.
Chloe Herbert is a freshman history major. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.