Ugly Side of American Politics

Ugly Side of American Politics

Conor Henry, Head Editor

The presidential election of 2016 fully illuminated the ugly side of politics. For years, politicians have been cast in a negative light as being slippery and silver-tongued. But it wasn’t until the Democratic and Republican parties narrowed down their candidates to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump that politics took on an even more appalling turn.

Senior Kyle Robinette, who voted in the 2016 election, said, “It just seems like scandal after scandal, not a whole lot of concern for the issues.”

All candidates for both parties have faced harsh criticism and accusations in the past, often being blamed for wrongdoings and controversies. So why has this election been any different? Robinette is among those who doesn’t think it’s different, just exaggerated. Every debate has focused on the personal battles between Trump and Clinton, and the American people have equally soaked in the drama while scorning the professionalism.

Senior Oskar Searfus wasn’t old enough to vote but has been an active follower of politics for years. He also noticed the negative effects of this election on the American people.

“It’s been really polarizing. It’s bringing out the worst in people, and it’s really scary. The debates definitely show that too. It’s a time to contrast between the candidates and they point fingers and say what’s bad about each other because it makes them look different. I definitely prefer policy-driven debates because then they’re actually talking about relevant stuff,” said Searfus.

Many critics of this election are quick to name off the negatives about each candidate, but few can speak articulately about the proposed policies of either side. However, neither candidate has focused much on their policies, concerning themselves more with tearing down their opponent.

Aminas Sr. TJ Rifkin said, “There has been a lot of slander and hardly any talk of political agenda. It blows my mind that somebody who has continuously been under investigation by the FBI can be a viable option for president. By the same token, I also am not pleased with the Republican nominee. Overall, this election is not an accurate representation of the leadership that America has to offer.”

With all the negativity flying around, many people see not voting as a valid option. However, Animas Sr. Jonathan Smith feels that the accessibility of online sources in the digital age discredits such arguments.

“Get educated. There’s no reason why you can’t get educated. And that’s not just reading one New York Times article and saying ‘Oh I know all about the issues.’ It’s reading several articles from tons of media outlets and going online and listening to the candidates actually talk,” said Smith. “There’s nothing like watching an actual rally, uninterrupted, from their own website and just hearing what they have to say.”

In addition to reading up on the candidates, undecided voters also have to determine the most important values to them and determine which candidate speaks the most for those issues. Many candidates split opinions on issues, so voters have to prioritize their wishlists.

“If I had a message for any undecided voters, I would say find what is most important to you. Once you’ve done that, decide which candidate aligns the most with what you believe in and vote for them. If you don’t vote, your voice isn’t heard. A democracy only truly works when the voice of every citizen is heard,” said Rifkin.

Like Smith and Rifkin, Searfus sees the root of the struggles for undecided voters as an issue in public knowledge of the candidates.

“I think the root of all of it is just better public education. People  need to learn how government works and how the country has been run. I  feel like people aren’t educated about how stuff works and how people across the world work in general,” said Searfus.

Lack of knowledge is mirrored by lack of interest, and not just in this election. According to, 57.5% of the American population voted in the 2012 election, a startlingly low number. American voters must become more invested in the future of the country.

“Not voting is not an option. There are so many people over the past 240 years that we’ve been a country that have fought for your right to vote. Not voting is just throwing that away,” said Smith.