The circus came to town but only “grown-ups” have had fun. The media, pundits, talking heads, bloggers and online writers have giddily covered this election because it is the gift that keeps on giving, that gift horse being Donald J Trump. And even those who fancied themselves above the fray, couldn’t stop covering the incessant white noise. But were the ratings bonanza and endless fodder worth the damage inflicted?
This vicious presidential race has impacted an important group of Americans being overlooked: first time voters, notably the young adults across this country just graduating or recently graduated from high school and in their first year of college or working. One such voter, Kelly Devlin, expressed her fears under one of my articles on Facebook.
“I actually have a question. This is the first election that I am old enough that I actually care and have followed from start to finish. Are all elections this nasty? I’ve been horrified and absolutely appalled. Is this normal?
What would you say to young voters like Devlin who want to participate but are appalled by the spectacle they are witnessing and have no other reference of comparison? In fact, I should say spectacles because they are several layers to the insanity. Everyone will agree that this election has been the most contentious and unusual cycle in modern times. The media’s obsession with Trump, above all else, compromised their professional integrity—well the little that is left now that we exist in a world of fast-paced, 24-hour news where ratings rule supreme.
Devlin, who lives in New York City, is still going to vote, despite the deplorable antics and the media’s uninspiring coverage. She is voting because she cares about her country. The stunning debacle has been on rapid replay, while the media failed in their professional responsibility to strike a balance in the discord. Educating new voters on issues vitally important to an election was not a priority. Now their first foray into the political arena is a rude awakening to all that can go wrong.
Thankfully this young voter has more maturity than many of the participants in the political arena. Speaking to Devlin Sunday, she said she is going to vote despite being disgusted with the current climate. “There is nothing that could stop me from voting. I’d be a total fool not to vote and most of my friends are just as disgusted with it as me.” She did admit that quite a few of her friends have said they will not be voting, but showing wisdom beyond her years, tallied it up this way. “I told them they better keep their mouth shut when whoever becomes president does something to annoy them because they had a chance to speak their mind but blew it.” She knows that she has a voice in her ballot and refuses to let the bitter taste of her first election disillusion her.
Devlin, a Clinton supporter admitted she even agrees with some of the things Trump says on immigration, because as a New Yorker, the horrors of 9/11 still haunts her but says Trump “takes things way too far.” “I come from NYC, so the outright racism on Trump’s part is just disgusting to us,” Kelly added, meaning she and her friends. This first time voter shows that despite “the grown-ups” behaving extremely badly, all is not lost. She is horrified because instead of showing the country’s youths how Democracy works, one of the nominees is threatening instead to blow it up. That same nominee has court dates pending, including fraud charges. That same nominee is telling first time voters like Kelly Devlin that the system is rigged, therefore our democracy is a lie. He stunningly refuses to say he will concede if he loses. That same nominee has openly bragged about sexually assaulting women. That same nominee is being accused in federal civil court of raping someone when she was only 13 years old.
Yes, Kelly Devlin does have ample reason to be horrified so I am happy she has the wisdom to still believe in her country’s democracy. But what can we say to those who are disillusioned by the freak-show they are witnessing?