Election season is rapidly coming to a close, as millions of people have already voted early or by mail, and millions more will continue to do so until Nov. 3. This election has been high stakes from the onset, and this frantic energy grows everyday that we get closer to it being over. The 2020 election has also been a story of chaos and outrageous moments from the onset. This was shown in the first presidential debate on Sept. 29. It was full of yelling and a level of decorum on both sides that is more suited for a kindergarten classroom than a debate over who is going to be our next Commander-in-Chief. As someone who has always loved politics and is voting in my first presidential election, I couldn’t help but feel disheartened about my choices after this televised disaster. This feeling is how I went into watching the vice-presidential debate on Oct. 7, but I was shocked by how different the two events seemed.
One of the things I heard about this second debate between Senator Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence was that it seemed boring compared to the first presidential debate. This was mostly due to the lack of screaming, while talking about absolutely nothing important for 90 minutes, as occurred in the presidential debate. I think that this may be a good thing.
Politics is not supposed to be the way that this election has been going. This brand of outlandish statements and a lack of any sense of decorum is unusual, and not something that people should get used to. The vice-presidential debate may have been slightly more civilized, but there was still a lack of substance which was troubling. Elections are supposed to raise the level of public debate, not lower it. There should be a great exchange of ideas, where everyone can be informed and heard. This may seem overly sentimental, but there has always been the concept that politics and democracy are supposed to be about making the informed choice, and debate has always been an important part of that process. There also should be the ability to disagree with each other, while still respecting the views of both sides. Democracy is based on the belief that people deserve the right to choose their leader, and their leaders are supposed to prove to the voter that they are the right person for the job.
Right now, at least for this voter, there is more grandstanding than proving job effectiveness. There is no intelligent disagreement, only violent clashes of completely different ideologies. Even though the fundamental differences in this election have made this peaceful disagreement impossible, there is still a hope that in the future we can return to it.
This election feels, for many people, like the choice of the lesser evil, or something where neither of the options are really good, but they are what we have been left with in the end. However, I want to look at this election as the anomaly, not the average. This is a period that, as a country, we need to get past. I have been doing a lot of reading on politics during this election, and I have also been re-watching my favorite show, “The West Wing,” to remember a different way of looking at politics, a way that has a lot more focus on hope for change than the politics in real life. The quote from the show that I can’t stop thinking about, and that I want to leave people with is this: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful and committed people can change the world. Do you know why? Because it is the only thing that ever has.”