July 16, 2019 | 85° F

HOLEY: Election of 2020 can be decisive for nation

Opinion Column: The Breaking Point

When we went to vote for president in 2016 we were left with three options: Vote now President Donald J. Trump, vote Hillary Clinton or vote for a third party that has no chance at winning the election. The only problem was that Trump and Clinton were two of the most hated candidates in modern U.S. election history. 

There was no way we could have picked a candidate that would have united the country. There was no way that we could have picked a candidate that would have appealed, to some degree, to both sides of the aisle. The majority of Americans would have disapproved of whoever became president regardless of which of the two were elected. Neither of the two candidates could even capture 50 percent of the vote — so either way we would have been led by a candidate who was elected by a minority of voters. 

The idea that more than half of America does not want our current president is unacceptable. A dip in approval is one thing, but never reaching more than 50 percent of people approving the job you are doing as president, and not even getting 50 percent of the vote to begin with, is ridiculous. We are supposed to have a country that actually has some semblance of political unity so we can actually work to tackle issues that affect all Americans. Instead, sometimes we cannot even begin to agree on fact from fiction

But this great political divide is not just a recent occurrence. Americans have seen the country as strongly divided before even 1994 and it has only gotten worse — excluding a brief period where Americans found unity after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Nowadays, partly thanks to the rise of social media, we are just more public and fervent with our anger.

We cannot just blame the politicians for this divide. The true fault lies with the voters themselves. In 2016, Democrats and Republicans knew exactly what they were getting into when they decided to nominate some of the most polarizing candidates in history. Neither of these two parties actually cared about national unity during the election, and they never did. 

Unity is not about whatever candidate you like the most. Unity is a matter of having a candidate that will appeal to a wide array of different people rather than only certain voting blocks. If you want to vote for a candidate that will anger the rest of the country with their radical policies or terrible political history then that is fine, but do not start claiming that you care about unity when you will not listen to the opposite side of the political aisle. 

Luckily enough for the people who do care about unity – the Democratic Party at least has some hope. Both Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden have a positive favorability rating. Of course, this could change within the future, but it is a good start and the field is also full of some fresh candidates with relatively clean, but also well-known, political profiles. Beto O’Rourke is well known for being able to compete with Ted Cruz in a historically Republican state. 

Even for those who are looking for strong people outside of the traditional Democratic mainstream, there are viable candidates up for election. Andrew Yang is an entrepreneur who recently qualified for the Democratic debates by surpassing the threshold of 65,000 individual donors. He ended up making a name for himself by arguing for universal basic income and actively appealing to people on the opposite side of the aisle which is why you will find, once thought to be impossible in our modern political environment, comments on his videos by Republicans saying they would actually vote for a Democrat. 

So with 2020 coming up, be sure to remember 2016: The election where Americans had two terrible choices to pick from and they ended up picking what they thought was the lesser of two evils. Remember all these calls for unity — something that that people seem to, and at least pretend to, care about nowadays. Remember that even if your favorite candidate gets elected, and if they have a divisive agenda, then at best they will only have two years to enact the policies they campaigned for before the opposing political party wins control of Congress and blocks their agenda for the entire duration of their presidency. 

Perhaps, try selecting a candidate that you like and one that will also appeal to a wide variety of people from all parts of the United States. Be sure to go out and actually vote in the primaries and then take ownership of the candidate that you chose. If it is someone who can reach out and appeal to a diverse array of people, then perhaps they really can unify the nation and we can finally tackle some of the most pressing issues today — lest our nation fall apart walking the path of division it is currently. 

Michael Holey is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in political science. His column, "The Breaking Point," runs on alternate Mondays.


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Michael Holey

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