Election 2016: Our Long Road Home

We are now just a few short days away from the big one. The grand spectacle that is the 2016 election. Yes, the American public will soon be deciding the 45th President of the United States.

Let me start off by saying that I certainly don’t consider myself a “political” guy. Don’t get me wrong, I care about my country and read into all the issues surrounding it and what each candidate has to offer but I don’t get too wrapped up in politics like most people seem to, especially during that time every four years. As November 8th inches closer and closer, our social media feeds are flooded with all sorts of political commentaries from every angle of the spectrum: left, right, neutral, whatever, you name it. Now the last thing I’m sure you want to read is another piece on this whole extravaganza and trust me, I surely don’t want to give anymore attention to the two candidates but I do want to shed some light on how this election came to be…well, what it is.

The 2016 presidential election has to be the most fascinating platform in my lifetime if not in U.S. history. I know that phrase is uttered by a lot of people during every election but this year has made that saying more valid as we watch former New York Senator Hillary R. Clinton fight for office against famous businessman, Donald J. Trump. Never before in my 30 years of life have I seen such polarizing figures battle for control of the country.

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Now we all know Hillary, right? Well certainly you know her as the Former First Lady and wife of 42nd President, Bill Clinton. She been in the public eye politically for the better part of the last 25 years even serving as Secretary of State. Surely someone who has maintained several high-profile offices and has seen the U.S. Presidency up close would seem like the ideal choice. Or at least that’s what certain folks would want you to believe.

Her opponent? Outspoken billionaire and reality television star, Donald Trump. What do we know about him? Well other than having a boatload of money, growing up, I always viewed him as “the rich guy on TV”. He always appeared on talk shows, radio shows, cameoed on sitcoms, the works. He was always a hot topic in the media but I myself never had much of an opinion on him until the last year or so. Learning from his father, Trump owns a wide array of prime real estate all across the globe including the prominent Trump Tower in New York City which I walked past every Sunday evening after I got off from my 9 to 5 job in upper Manhattan a few years ago. His societal status made him an instant celebrity and took it one step further by starring in his own reality television series, The Apprentice. The show had wicked popularity and even spun off to different series’ across the world. Now knowing that, you’re probably wondering just how the hell someone like this wound up running for the highest ranking position in the country.

Now celebrities running for office isn’t uncommon at all. Look at Ronald Reagan. An actor from the Golden Age who wound up serving as President Screen Actors Guild of America before becoming Governor of California in the 1970s. In 1980, he upset Jimmy Carter to become the 40th U.S. President, a position he held for two consecutive terms. The 2003 California Gubernatorial election was a circus in its own right. The race, which was won by beloved action movie hero, Arnold Schwarzenegger, also included the likes of actor Gary Coleman and adult film starlet, Mary Carey. Yes, really. Hell, even Jerry Springer was Mayor of Cincinnati years before he became known for his trashy daytime talk show. So yes, while Trump’s position in the election may seem unorthodox, it’s certainly not unheard of.

So how did we get here? Well in reality, the media and press have been pushing Hillary as the next U.S. President ever since her husband left office 15 years ago. That’s when she herself embarked on her own political career. In 2008, she unsuccessfully tried to score the Democratic nomination but the popularity of the campaign of Barack Obama proved too powerful. She honed her craft for a few years and gave it another go. Look, I get it. America is long overdue for its first female president. Other countries have been electing ladies to high office for years but in this country, it’s taken them until recently to actually nominate a woman. Yes, other prominent female political figures from the last few years, such as Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann, haven’t exactly set the world on fire and yeah, Bill’s time in office wasn’t terrible (well, when he wasn’t sleeping around). However, is Hillary really the one we want? Do you think maybe my generation is just nostalgic for more Bill? Does she really deserve all the praise she’s gotten over the years? These are the questions we should be asking ourselves. Hillary’s big dream almost didn’t happen as standing in her way was former Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders who seemingly had insurmountable support from the general public. Everyone I knew seemed to love him. Hell, I still see people posting memes on Facebook supporting him. With that kind of backing, why wasn’t he nominated? Well, I know why but that’s a story for another day.

Donald Trump’s campaign began in 2015. He was always an outspoken critic of President Obama eve going as far as asking him to provide a copy of his birth certificate for the American people to prove that he was born in this country in 2011. The fact that this horribly tanned man with no prior political experience and bad hair wasn’t laughed out of the building when he announced his candidacy is very telling. Trump would go on to make very controversial comments about immigration and minorities that left most people furious. These weren’t thinly veiled remarks, they were pretty blunt (IE “Mexicans are lazy”). What would follow were more comments, particularly about women, and constant denial and redacting that had many people lose the little respect they still had for him. What’s really strange is that instead of being buried under all the ignorance and bigotry, Trump’s campaign would only gain more power eventually winning the Republican nomination. If you watched even a few minutes of the Republican National Debate, instead of a civilized discussion, it looked like an episode of Monday Night Raw with Trump hurling personal insults to the other hopefuls while the crowd roared in approval. As the results showed, folks are attracted to that sort of crass even though very little was being said. They wanted someone who wasn’t afraid to speak his mind and take charge even though what he was saying was mostly nonsense. It reached an all new low when audio of a conversation between Trump and Access Hollywood’s Billy Bush where the former made many lewd comments towards women. Trump’s image took another dive while Bush was dismissed from his duties on the show. Again however, it wasn’t the death knell to the Trump train people were expecting as his supporters still stood behind him. Among these supporters are Z-list “celebrities” (and I use that term very loosely) Scott Baio and Antonio Sabato Jr.

Here’s a (not so) fun fact: Me and Mr. Trump actually grew up in the same exact neighborhood in New York. My mother claims that the Trumps lived in the street next to mine when little Donny was in diapers. But I can’t confirm that.

But wait, Hillary has her skeletons as well. In 2012, security breaches under her administration resulted in the deaths of four Americans after an attack in Benghazi. In 2015, it was found that Clinton was communicating emails on a private server. While she did apologize for both incidents and was acquitted in the former, people have pulled support from her due to her deception. Couple that with Trump claiming media bias and poll rigging that people have bought into and the media’s readymade Queen starts showing some cracks. Both incidents are continually brought up to haunt Clinton and her campaign and very recently, the e-mail incident has been dug deeper into intending to burn Hillary off for good.

Now let’s get to the ol’ Presidential Debates happened.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton shake hands after the second presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

With each passing debate, it seemed less about the candidates and actual issues and more about verbal cheap shots and shock value. Sure, some snarkiness is to be expected but this was on a new level. Trump brought up Hillary’s husband’s infidelities. Hillary brought up Trump’s shady business practices. Trump called Hillary a nasty women. Hillary called Trump a puppet. Trump criticized Hillary’s relationship with Obama. Hillary criticized Trump’s supposed relationship with Russian President, Vladimir Putin, blah, blah, blah. There were points when neither candidate bothered to answer any of their respective questions. All this accomplished was the making of new internet memes and ammunition for more Saturday Night Live skits. No matter how out of place Trump looked and how extraordinarily facepalming some of his responses were, it only seemed to fuel his supporters more and further push for his victory.

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This is exactly what modern politics have become, ladies and gentlemen. I am glad to see there are still people out there who still care about the issues and are desperately trying to find the right person who they see eye to eye on most of them with. Another noteworthy thing to point out is that it seems like this election has more and more people resenting both candidates and seeking third party options. Look, I am all for people seeking other choices that the ones forced upon us. I will gladly support a third party candidate. There’s just one problem though: they’re nothing to write home about either. Gary Johnson and Jill Stein aren’t what the American people are asking for either so to try and accumulate support to a third party is useless if the candidate or candidates aren’t likeable.

This race might be a little closer than you think. Regardless of the result, every American should go out and vote on November 8th. Whoever wins, we’ll still bitch!

Special thanks to BBC.com for the featured image.

Written by Matthew Reine

is a New Yorker with a strong passion for film and television. Also the biggest Keanu Reeves fan you know.

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