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Opinion

Campaign season has turned ugly, is no longer about being informed

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November 9, 2016

There have been no shortage of words and opinions written, screamed, turned into memes or sprayed menacingly onto burned buildings about the 2016 presidential election. In fact, the overwhelming amount of coverage the election has received has made me not want to add my thoughts to the topic – until now.

As I am sitting here and writing this week’s column, it is the Monday night before Election Day, the final hours of a grueling campaign season. What I have to say will not be read until after the entire world learns of the new president of the United States.

It occurs to me that many people will probably think it is too late and pointless that I am writing about the election now, in its final hour. They might think there is nothing left to say, there’s no one’s mind that I could possibly change or that what I have to say is of no matter at this late stage. I firmly believe that if someone has something to say they should not be impeded in getting their message out.

This campaign season has blown the lid off of a festering sense of anger and disgust, and we all should be angry! We should all be horrified that there is a candidate who has been feeding and fueling this intense anger that has manifesting itself in an intense discord. We should be angry, but we also need to blame ourselves for the situation we are all in.

By being complacent, uninformed and unwilling to get involved to change the status quo, we have created the opportunity which allows politicians do our thinking for us. The election has been a terrible burden, but a burden that we must bear as penance for our lack of involvement in our own democracy.

This paves the way for those with ulterior motives to move throughout the system unchecked and without opposition, enabling them to promote their self-serving beliefs. These people operate as through they are not part of a democracy but instead part of a plutocracy (a government run by the beliefs of a wealthy minority).

Members of this way of thinking want to eliminate many, if not all, government services, many of the services that we have come to depend on and need, and you should know what those are. This way of thinking will suppress and eliminate not only our middle class but the growth of the United States as a strong nation.

This campaign has been ugly and often unbearable, but has been a perfect example of why, now more than ever, a country’s people need to be educated, well informed and active participants in their democracy.

It has seemed to me that, over the duration of the campaign season, there are still people who are totally uneducated on how their government works, clueless about the values and beliefs and missions of their candidates, or in some cases do not even know who is even running for the election! How can this be? It is this sort of hands-off attitude that has allowed politicians wishing to do more harm than good get elected into office and create laws, legislation and bills that negatively impact our lives.

Four years from now, in the next presidential election, we have to ask ourselves an important question: Do we want to repeat this? For now, we need to stop and figure out how we got to this point before we get to the future.

Going forward, we cannot let this type of behavior become the norm. We must get back civility and a public who understands what is at stake and is willing to fight against complacency and embrace the fact that a woman can successfully lead our nation.

Lauren Simenson is a student at UW-River Falls.