By the time you read this column, the 59th quadrennial presidential election will likely have been decided. And barring any pathetic poor-loser dramatics, we will have a new 46th president.
Like most of 2020, the campaign trails had its share of unprecedented and outlandish events. I’m still trying to recover from that first debate. So, just as I can’t wait for this year to end, I am more than relieved this election is over.
During the past six months, I have seen too many people operate from the lowest common denominator and behave like the bratty entitled kids we hoped to never raise. Nextdoor, the online site designed for neighbors to exchange helpful information, goods, and services, unfortunately became one of the local breeding grounds for this damaging behavior.
But discord wasn’t reserved only for posts from strangers.
This election brought friction out amongst friends and acquaintances as well. More than a couple people I know asked their Facebook friends to remove themselves from their Facebook page if they didn’t support their candidate. One also warned that if she found out a “friend” was supporting the opposing candidate, she/he would immediately be unfriended. Some girlfriends, who were used to endless talks sharing everything under the sun, were forced to put a moratorium on all things politics.
The closest of relatives and extended family weren’t spared from the election platform turmoil.
As I watched a couple of my relatives sequester themselves without masks in an outdoor corner during a small get together while the rest of us wore masks and tried to social distance, I felt a discomfort and divide that I have never felt within my family.
While a few catty remarks were exchanged, it was fortunately contained to the point where we could shrug it off and still get together for the holidays — unlike one friend, who has no plans of inviting a relative who “crossed the line.”
But while this unbridled passion for one’s candidate brought out an ugliness, it also created an energy and participation in voting and patriotism that our country has at times lacked. Voter participation reached the highest turnout in more than a century and put the 2020 election on track for historic levels in voter turnout.
With climate change and social justice being a few of the hot topics, the previously hard-to-reach, Generations Y and Z took to social media to make made voting and voicing sensitive subjects popular. Even my 14-year-old daughter, who usually reserves her Instagram posts for social outings with friends, used the platform to express her civic and environmental awareness. And being able to vote in the next presidential election has now become almost as much of a milestone as getting her drivers’ license.
Rivalry and competition will always incite excitement and passion, but it’s reared its ugly head and I couldn’t be happier that this election is almost behind us.
I am also hoping that Facebook pages and family gatherings will return to their pre-campaign status, and that win or lose everyone will be humble good sports.