As for many others, the primary and general elections held this year were the first two I could vote in. At first, I was excited to vote, to finally make my voice heard. I watched debates, researched platforms and read articles from various news sources to be the most informed voter I could be. I also watched my Facebook and Twitter explode with differing opinions and continued scrolling as the debates between friends became less civil. Within a few months, I was tired of hearing about the upcoming election. That weariness only strengthened as the candidates were finalized and the United States plunged into yet another season of political advertisements and rallies.
When the political ads started circulating over the airwaves, I watched them, interested to see what approach the candidates were taking. Then, I quickly began changing the channel as I grew tired of listening to Todd Young and Evan Bayh attack each other during every commercial break.
The advertisements for the presidential election were even worse. Politifact.com fact-checked the 10 most aired presidential campaign ads. All of them, save for one from the Clinton campaign, contained content found to be exaggerated, only half-true or taken out of context and spun into something else. I realize attack ads are part of politics. However, they did nothing but make me wary of the candidates who were using hate to propel their campaigns. I grew weary early on of Donald Trump’s hateful tirades. I yearned for a break from news coverage of Hillary Clinton’s campaign rallies. The most tiring and frustrating part of the election was the conduct I witnessed from my friends on social media.
For months, I could not scroll through my newsfeed without someone’s political views appearing in a status. With much chagrin, I watched friends “debate” in the comment sections of those posts. Not one nice word was being said on either side. No one seemed willing to listen to the views of the other, but instead they were focused on proving that their own were right. Words like “moron” and “stupid” were thrown around, as well as more profane ones. Clinton was frequently referred to as “Hitlery” or “Killary.” I watched as minorities, including Muslims, Hispanics, and African-Americans, were threatened and ridiculed by some. I watched as liberals were referred to as “Libtards” and profane words were put in front of “conservatives.” I continued reading as people shamed Melania Trump while the Obamas also were dragged into the drama. I watched as people refused to accept or respect the views of anyone else, telling others that they were wrong and crazy for standing by their beliefs. I listened to older generations blame the younger ones for siding with Clinton and the young attack the old for standing in solidarity with Trump. I watched as the racist, homophobic and sexist sides of America were revealed for all the world to see.
I had hoped that things would calm down on Nov. 9. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. I watched as some friendships ended and some familial relationships became strained based on who voted for whom. I watched some Clinton supporters attack Trump supporters using profanity and offensive language. I watched some Trump supporters lord their victory over Clinton supporters. I watched as a nation became divided. I grew even more tired of the hatred and divisiveness of the election season.
I am glad the election is over because I am ready for peace. I am ready for the insults to stop and social media to return to being places of memes, pictures with friends, cooking videos and status updates that are not politically fueled. I am ready for the election not to be at the forefront of the world’s minds so that our nation can heal after another divided and hateful season. I am ready to see unity, like we already have seen from the LGBTQIA community, from those who are standing with women and minorities. I am ready for respect to return and, hopefully, stay. I am ready to learn from our mistakes and move forward.