There are 262 days left until the 2016 Presidential Election, or as I like to say, Americans have nearly nine months left to serve on our sentence. Now at 31, I can only lay claim to having closely watched four previous elections. The seemingly-stolen Florida vote of 2000 was a terrible way to start. However, even the shock and horror of seeing George W. Bush elected twice doesn’t quite compare to the nightmare that is the 2016 fight for the White House. With the ugliness between the most fervent Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders supporters, the endless clown car of GOP hopefuls, and the seemingly-unstoppable campaign from a race-bating reality star, I’m waiting for Don King or Kris Jenner to step up and collect a check for producing the greatest show on earth.
Except for one thing: there’s nothing great about what’s happening right now. It’s a spectacle, for sure. But the right side of the aisle seems to believe that if President Obama can be elected, then anyone can. Literally, anyone. You, me…well, definitely not me, and probably not you either. It doesn’t matter that Obama is pretty well versed in the Constitution and was a member of Congress, he’s got folks feeling quite audacious in a way that I doubt he intended.
That Dr. Ben Carson, a highly-esteemed surgeon and motivational speaker, and Donald Trump, who hasn’t even held a city council position, want to hold the highest office in the land is like saying, “Please consider my first single for the Album of the Year Grammy Award,” or never having written for a magazine in your life, but applying for the Editor-In-Chief position. At least other fallen soldiers in the race (Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal) are, you know, politicians.
Alas, here we are. Trump, the front-runner, doesn’t want to let any new Muslims (a group that is nearly one quarter of the world’s population) into the country and wants to build a fence to keep out Mexicans, as if these human beings who play a vital, albeit exploited role in our economy, are stray cats or mischievous children who steal their neighbors’ flowers. He also seemingly thinks they represent a large percentage of the country’s rapists.
Jeb Bush is 1) Jeb Bush and 2) he Twitpic’d a gun the other day, like a fake thug trying to shake up an online bully. Marco Rubio opposes abortion in cases of rape and incest. John Kasich, who didn’t seem to be the favorite of anyone outside of The New York Times' Editorial Board until he recently, pushed for welfare reform that took food away from poor Black families while allowing exceptions for rural White ones. I won’t pretend that any GOP nominee could garner my serious consideration, but this is a particularly dangerous group of aspiring candidates.
On the other side of the possible ticket, there are only two remaining contenders: the clear party favorite and the older gentleman from Brooklyn who has shaken the proverbial table. Hillary Clinton, who brings with her the allure of likely being the first woman to get the nomination (PS: that’s not a bad thing; there is no shame in wanting to see a woman run the country) is largely riding above the rabid sexist attacks on her from both Republicans and liberal/progressives alike. She also brings with her the complicated legacy of her husband’s presidency and her endorsement of his 1994 crime bill that was marketed as a response to the explosion of crack and gang violence, which some have argued helped usher in what we know call “mass incarceration.” Oh yeah, and that highly questionable stuff that was said during the 2008 election when that scrappy Obama kid came and snatched what felt like an easy nomination from her.
Then you have Bernie Sanders, a Civil Rights activist who seems to have a 50-year resume gap when it comes to addressing issues of racism. Sanders’ talk of socialist values and upending the stronghold that Wall Street has over Washington, DC is appealing in many ways, but he’s stumbled quite a few times when confronted with the opportunity to speak plainly about race, often pivoting to economic inequality instead. It’s unclear if this is part of the long tradition of avoiding talk about how America has disenfranchised Black people—not poor people, not all disenfranchised people, but specifically talking about BLACK PEOPLE and Black people alone as an underserved group—for fear of alienating White voters.
There’s also the political Stan game playing out online between (alleged) Democrats: the handful of so-called “Bernie bros” that attempt to shout down any person of color who doesn’t embrace him fully (“I don’t like Bernie’s tie.” “BERNIE MARCHED WITH KING, THAT’S THE ONLY REASON YOU GET TO BE ON TWITTER, BLACKIE!”) and have launched a thousand thinkpieces and the Clinton champions who think that anything aside from a resounding #ImWithHer means you’ve got a He-Man Woman Haters Club card in your wallet. They all make me want to throw my pager out the window and tell Sprint to cut my phone pole.
Wait, did I forget the brouhaha over reparations? When folks thought they could get Sanders out the paint because he doesn’t support them, even though Clinton doesn’t either and you’d be hard-pressed to find a non-Black hyper-visible member of the Democratic Party to say that they do? To be quite honest, are there any White folks outside of the Green Party and the comment section of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Atlantic column that do? (This is a sincere inquiry.)
I’m watching friendships and professional relationships get strained, endless shade being thrown from every direction (my text messages are in 2016 election shambles, daily.)
Despite it all, I am with one candidate more than the others—though I won’t be discussing that publicly until never, most likely—and I’m ready to go to the ballot box and just cast a vote for the best of what’s available. My nerves can’t take any more of this.