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Laughing all the way to the Polls

It is a well-known fact that people often use laughter and humour to cope with uncomfortable or stressful situations. Whether it be a random giggling fit at a funeral or a joke about how screwed you are for the upcoming chemistry exam, it’s the same odd phenomenon. Now it seems this trend has absorbed an entire nation. The majority of the American population (those who are not true supporters of Trump or Clinton) seem content to joke and laugh and poke fun at how terrible our options truly are. Here I will make it clear that I support neither candidate and refuse to pick a side, but am so disappointed in the general public’s lack of care in our democratic process. I am not saying I am not part of the problem, I know I am. I cracked jokes throughout because that’s what everyone else was doing, but now I have sombrely realized the only thing to laugh about is our irrational belief that someone else would step in and straighten things out. We all foolishly thought that the election would be saved, totally ignoring the basic fact that a democracy depends on the people. If the people are upset they should work for change instead of hiding behind nervous jokes about the worst election in American history. Who chose these options? You and me both.

Let us just imagine someone asked you a few years ago whether you would vote for Donald Trump, a sleazy and gaudy man with poor business acumen, or Hillary Clinton, a lacklustre Secretary of State with no personality and a trail of dubious involvements. You would have laughed at me. Fast-forward to the present and this is reality. The public has sat idly, hungry for more outrageous and ridiculous twists and turns the media has been feeding us by the spoonful. We dutifully swallow this gluttony of garbage and then go to our friends and joke and laugh about how worthless the two of them are, how we could do a better job. Well we could have, had we stopped laughing and actually voiced that we were not satisfied. The Democrats wish Obama could run again, and the Republicans anxiously wait for a surprise appearance by Romney or someone of the like. The majority of the county is not happy with the options they have been given. Only 33 per cent of the people polled are ‘very or fairly satisfied’ with their options for president, and 63 per cent are ‘not very or not at all satisfied’. Only one out of three are satisfied, a third ruling the majority’s options; seems fair.

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Image courtesy of Penn State, © 2016, some rights reserved.

Saturday Night Live, a program that has never left a candidate untouched, and wholeheartedly embraces the humour to be found in elections, has been regarded as not being able to top the actual events. Satire has been outdone by reality itself. Heather Wilhelm, published in Chicago Tribune, stated that she would not vote for either candidate in May. Arguing that the people laughing at Trump’s run for office are kidding themselves, and that Clinton and fellow Democrats have no right to be smug as she herself is a ‘nightmare.’

She’s not the only one to have these opinions. A quick search on Google and you will find dozens of articles against both candidates. Even the famous conservative commentator, Glenn Beck, states it is the ‘ethical’ option to not vote Trump. So why has this ‘non-alignment’ group failed to gain traction if it allegedly consists of 63 per cent of Americans? My guess is we are not loud or active enough; we are too easily distracted by rivalry created by the bi-partisan divide.

By this I mean people are knowingly unsatisfied, but would rather not rock the boat; instead they support what they see as their party: Republican or Democrat. They nervously laugh at the dangers of having either candidate in office, but nonetheless vote for their side. For in the primaries Trump and Clinton often won votes not out of merit, but twisted logic. I prefer Bush to Trump, but Trump is more likely to win my state, so I guess I’ll vote for him or abstain. Forgetting all along that the public’s right to choose the candidate they want is the true fail safe in a democratic system. It is pretty simple feature of democracy, to want one’s choice, yet overlooked, due to idea of contributing to one’s ‘team.’ Then to make ourselves feel better with what we have done or are planning to do (voting without belief or conviction in our choice) we go down to the pub and crack some jokes about the election, sneaking a few more pints than we should to try to forget about it all for a few blissful hours. Now we have Trump as our president, a truth I cannot believe as I type it out. Unsurprisingly this has led to incredible backlash: protests, burning of flags, and even the threat from Californians of secession. I find this all appalling. To all my fellow Americans I would like to remind you we were all in the driver’s seat, and either way this election was going to end poorly, so it’s time to stop whining and work to make the best of our situation. Despite all of this, I hope none of you lose your sense of humour because regardless of what happens the next four years, we will need some levity to keep us sane, and come 2020 some serious decision-making will be in order.

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