This most recent election has definitely caught most people by surprise. And regardless of how one feels about the outcome, it can be recognized that this was the epitome of a-typical. Everything regarding the election has been unorthodox, unconventional, and odd; expectations were defied. It was an absolute circus. A process the candidates themselves didn’t take seriously, and a process the voters definitely take seriously either.
For starters, this is the one election that will be remembered by the most people. Many people have trouble remembering past presidents, even ones right before Bill Clinton, let alone how not-so-recent elections went, and who was involved with them. However, this election was fortunate enough to be in the age of social networking, where not only were the events recorded for posterity, but everyone was inundated with it every single day! This lead to people offering their commentary on the matter, or electing to remain more apathetic and keep their distance.
But since this election created quite a fervor, and people couldn’t help but be exposed to it more than they would have liked, people chose to latter and took this as some elaborate joke. The only problem is, it isn’t. Like it or not, elections have real-world implications, that’s kind of why we hold them. And yes, I understand the argument that participation just reinforces corruption, but unless one is actively trying to change things, he or she is just whining. The system isn’t broken, it’s a tool that’s being wielded by those with more cunning and insidious motives. It is under their control because we choose to not wield it.
A sickeningly large number of people wasted one of their most important freedoms on a dead gorilla. Not only was it a joke that had gone on for far too long, but allowing the joke to go on as long as it had, and having it hinder the democratic process, only made things worse. Those votes could have mattered. Like with everything else, the votes were not cast as hypothesized. Certain states were only won by a small number of votes. Votes mattered in this election.
By choosing to not vote, vote for Harambe, a third-party candidate, or write in Bernie Sanders (where were these people in the primaries?), Americans have given a disgusting example of how a freedom poorly exercised is worse than not having it at all.
And yes, more people definitely voted in this election than the previous one. At least, that was my takeaway. Just in my limited experience, I saw more people engaged in political discussion and more voter turnout (especially among young voters), because it transcended politics, it became a spectacle. People were invested in the “main attractions,” but knew nothing of lower level politicians. Something so devoid of substance, it became utterly polarizing. Spectacle is the same thing that ruins science; it belongs on screen and page, not behind a podium, addressing an ignorant, zealous populace.