With only a few days left until the 2016 election, I feel I can safely say that our political system is an utter mess. I'm incredibly afraid for Tuesday's election, and rather pessimistic about the outcome no matter which candidate wins (though I must say I am more pessimistic about certain outcomes than others). Politics has lost all sense of uprightness that it may have had, resorting to personal attacks and extremist stances in both candidates and in the voter population.
The first thing that scares me is how unqualified some of the candidates (ie. Donald Trump) are. Setting his highly offensive platform aside, it baffles me how a man with literally no experience in politics can be viewed as equal in fitness to a woman with a political career of over thirty years. A man who has never been a politician is one step away from the highest level of political office in the country. That unqualified people have been given such chances at office is a terrifying sign that our political system is falling apart.
More than that, politics has become very much about throwing insults and slinging mud. The presidential debates have been a show of insults and one liners, bickering and name-calling, instead of a discussion of policies and effectiveness in office. Even outside of the presidential race, the whole political atmosphere has become highly unprofessional and people have begun to speak without thinking. Take, for example, Mark Kirk's sarcastic comment to Tammy Duckworth about her family coming from Thailand to fight for George Washington. An unsolicited and frankly racist comment such as that would have been well out of place in any earlier election season, but this year it hardly seems surprising. America has spiraled into a state where politicians don't have to appear representative or professional and can say whatever comes into their mind with minimal backlash.
The voting population as well has become much more unruly, and has also turned to personal attacks. People split between parties are not simply divided over some policy issues and willing to accept another's stance without agreeing with it; they are almost like warring factions, fighting bitterly and taking an opposing political stance as a personal threat to their morality and core beliefs. People have begun physically attacking each other and threatening death simply because they support another political candidate. Voting is no longer a choice of which candidate has more beneficial policies, but rather one of which candidate reflects your exact moral compass.
This has also lead to a great deal of voters, especially younger voters, who feel that neither candidate is at all acceptable and they have chosen to vote third party or to simply refrain from voting. Since the political climate has become so personal and the candidates are no longer representative of a set of policies but of every error or success they have ever committed as a human being, many voters feel that they cannot pick a candidate and remain morally true to their own values. Voting is supposed to be about picking someone who you may not agree with but you feel will be more beneficial, or at least minimally harmful, to the country. Now, it seems as though a voter must be willing to actively defend every action a candidate has ever taken, or they cannot support the candidate in any way, shape, or form.
Once the election is over, this won't go away. A deep rift has been formed between people in this country, and no matter the outcome, there will be many many people who are personally offended. There will be a great surge of anger, there may well be riots and violence. Politicians will be placed under incredible scrutiny, picked apart by the media and by those opposed to them. The president could fail to clean out the dishwasher one night and soon they would be criticized for being unorganized, unhelpful, disrespectful, and entirely unfit for the office they hold. Perhaps that last statement is an exaggeration, but many would agree with me that it could very well not be. The fact that it is even a possibility for such a thing to happen speaks volumes about the state of politics in America.
In short, George Washington was right. We should have stayed away from political parties. They have divided the nation in a total extreme, no longer just over policy but over personal actions. It seems almost cult-like, each faction on a witch hunt to prove its adversary to be immoral as well as politically ineffective. It's become almost surreal with the amount of violence and disrespect that has become commonly accepted in relation to politics. I fear that this will become the norm, or that things will escalate even further. I hope very much that it does not.