The election cycle for the 2016 Presidential Election is underway and beginning to rev up to full speed. It started off in almost polar ways for Republicans and Democrats: the Republic candidates being a huge pool of practical unknowns, and the Democrats with their few and far between candidates behind the almost unanimous front-runner Hillary Clinton.
Now we’ve got the Republican candidate pool thinning with two radicals at the front: Donald Trump, self-proclaimed aficionado at everything, business man, and expert at being angry; and Ben Carson, neurosurgeon, with his quiet insanity and expertise in…what Jews should have done during the Holocaust. The Democratic side now is between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, the former a career politician who aspires to be relevant and the latter a self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist, a radical to most, and emotionally stable to few. Okay maybe those descriptions are a little harsh. But this is going to be such a blast.
Not everyone in the US is participating the same way though. I see it every day on my news feed on Facebook. I took a screenshot of two different posts I saw by friends who are Democrats:
Talk about a difference in positions. Call me biased, but when I read the Oklahoma post I went “what the fuck.” Maybe it’s the conflict resolution major in me that got mad. The irony of starting conflict because of conflict isn’t lost on me either (#conflictproblems). That post is screaming positioning, mis-communication, bias, lack of other viewpoints, and a basic lack of information. Yet I see that kind of post every single day.
Growing up in Oklahoma there wasn’t much focus on learning and understanding others. You don’t have a diverse population or centers of education and decision-making. In Washington, DC you get something that you rarely get across the nation: access and information. No, it’s about community and values. Honestly that’s what I miss most about it. It’s a place that you say hi to strangers walking down the street and starting a conversation with “how are you?”
Community and values came with the hitch that there’s not a whole lot of space for facts and dialogue. It’s just how it is. It’s just how it is because incomes are low and not much happens there. It’s just how it is because relationships are really all you’ve got. You’ve got your friends and family that you’ll know and be with you your whole life. You were raised a certain way and your friends think a certain way. Not much changes, so why should your views change? Here’s an article I read about a guy from Oklahoma who changed from being a Republican:
I could relate to all of that. I can relate to growing up in a state where you’re guaranteed to get elected by using the three G’s: God, Guns, and no Gays. A state that believes in “traditional” values. To someone looking in to this kind of place it might seem illogical and irrational. Yeah, you’re right it is in a lot of ways. But in a lot of ways it isn’t. In a place where all you’ve really got are your values and traditions they become exponentially more important. They become your identity. Oklahoman’s are in a constant identity crisis.
By that standard it’s not that surprising Trump’s platform and slogan “Make America Great Again” is getting so much support. In a time where radical views get support from a majority that are sick and tired of being ignored. When you see a Facebook post slurring one candidate and idealizing another. It creates radical and one-sided ideals that are a part of a persons identity. It’s not about the candidate. It’s not even about the issues. It’s about how the person views the world and how the world views them. You break it down in to how that person wants to be seen and how that person wants to be treated.
In the end I feel like I’m in between two worlds. A place where neither world really understands the other. I think realizing that disparity is a really important lesson to know. We’ll see how it works out for people.