It’s incredible to believe that in nine days, this gut wrenching presidential election will finally be over. All signs seem to be pointing to Hillary Clinton winning, but if there’s one thing everyone can agree on, this campaign has been anything but predictable.
This campaign has been dominating the news cycle for 19 months. In fact, it officially started on March 23, 2015 when Ted Cruz entered the Republican race, something I made sure to document on Twitter at the time.
Ted Cruz announces he is running for president 597 days before the Election Day. And the U.S. system isn’t broken.
— Josh Beneteau (@jbenny15) March 23, 2015
Possibly the saddest part about this tweet is that in March of 2015, the system worked just fine. That system gave the world eight years of Barack Obama, eight pretty good years you could even say. But the battle to replace him has done permanent damage to the American people and their faith in democracy. And I imagine that it has left an even greater impression on the younger ones.
This all leads to one question. Why would anyone want to run for president after watching how this campaign has unfolded?
Clinton, Trump and to a lesser extent the other primary candidates, have gone through the most brutal and embarrassing reality show imaginable. Their entire lives have played out on live TV these past 19 months. On top of that every little detail from their past has to the public’s attention, no matter how relevant it is to the actual job of being president. How could anyone watching from the sidelines be interested in being a part of that?
Consider this. At this very moment, there is a young man or woman still in high school. One day that person will be president of the United States.
All across America, there are young people taking up causes that matter to them. Whether it be issues of gender or race, economic stability or lower tuition, there are plenty of young people starting serious political movements. They are watching this tire fire of a campaign and thinking to themselves, “I can help people in other ways, I don’t need to run for office.”
This is very dangerous. Since this election has become more about the candidates’ personalities than their policies, it’s easy to see why people would be discouraged to run in the future. In Trump’s case, seeing his true personality has turned into a good thing because we’ve learned he’s a lying egomaniac who sees women as objects and not people. Certainly not fit to be president. But this isn’t good for the future of politics.
The media is very much part of the blame for this. Not the reporters incredibly spending every day on the campaign trail, putting up with a lot of terrible things. The real media to blame is social media, which has allowed everyone (myself included) to build news bubbles that filter only what we want to hear. This is how conspiracy theories and factually incorrect stories have thrived. There isn’t enough media literacy to teach people how to verify the news and it’s leading to more anger and less healthy debate.
CNN’s media reporter Brian Stelter did a much better job at explaining this phenomenon Sunday on his show Reliable Sources.
It’s easy to imagine young people who want to become politicians feeling discouraged watching this campaign. The presidency shouldn’t be a talent show competition, it should be an intellectual one. If you have good ideas and want to have reasonable political discussions about them, you should be encouraged to run for public office. But this campaign has been anything but encouraging and it could affect who, if anyone, runs for office for years to come.