Last night, America’s two presidential candidates faced off in the second debate. Some of the highlights included Clinton saying that Trump’s campaign was imploding and Trump calling Clinton the devil. All of this is coming after a week of scandal for both of them; Donald Trump was harshly condemned over his lewd comments about women, and Hillary Clinton is in hot water after transcripts from her paid speeches were leaked. Both of their actions would disqualify any other candidate in a normal year, but 2016 has been anything but that.
As a person who studied politics and has been following it for the past several years, I’m at the point where I am saying fuck it; I am so done with this election, and I can’t wait til its over. Donald Trump represents everything that is wrong with our culture while Hillary Clinton epitomizes the corruption in our political system. Worst of all is that the media is capitalizing on all of it; bombarding people with constant coverage of all the drama unfolding on the campaign trail.
The Presidency is just one of the tree branches of government and happens to be the easiest for the media to build up a storyline around. Every four years, the media gets into a frenzy and tries to build up a messiah complex in each of the candidates like they are going to “save” the country. I am sorry but whoever becomes President will not change things so fast; If Clinton is elected there will still be bigots in the world, and if Trump is elected, there will still be corruption in politics.
I am here to tell you that change starts with not the President, but groups of people taking action. It was the social movements of the 20th century, whether it be women’s suffrage or civil rights, that started at the local grassroots and eventually built enough momentum to force the Federal government to take action. Movements today like Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party are on opposite sides of the ideological spectrum but fundamentally share the collective frustration over how the levers of power operate in America. They both claim that the system is broken because of either Big Government or Big Business and desperately needs to be fixed.
Business and government are dominant institutions that are deeply entrenched in our society, and they are difficult to transform because they hold their strength in tradition. What keeps tradition alive are the people that make up each institution; they are taught that this is how things work and this is how things are supposed to be. Yet evolution is a natural mechanism that transforms all things, even powerful institutions, and it is up to people to be the catalyst to make that happen when those very institutions become too corrupt to serve society properly.
How can we accomplish this? We can start by being aware of the world around us. Too many people consume biased opinions from pundits and newsfeeds. These posts not only supply our minds with false information but also spreads the virus of ignorance to everyone that contacts it. To avoid the darkness of ignorance, one must spark their own light of curiosity. Curiosity ignites the fire that blazes through the obscurity of ignorance to bring knowledge to yourself. The problem is that we all have responsibilities in our own lives to take care of and do not have the time to research how institutions work in America. But we all can agree that we shouldn’t be sheep and blindly follow what those in positions of authority tell us.
The best way to combat this obstacle is just living your own life. The saying you learn something new every day is true if you are an active participant in it. Maybe you meet a stranger or notice something new around you; for the most part, it is the small things you pick up on a daily basis; they do not have to mean the world, but they mean something. Yet, every once in a while, something you learn gives you an eery feeling in your gut that there is something not right. For myself I have noticed two injustices happening right now in America; how the War on Drugs has devastated communities and how censorship on college campuses has hindered on intellectual discourse. These issues will not be solved by myself let alone overnight, but I am aware of the situation and play my part by discussing it with others.
You don’t have to be the next Gandi, but you shouldn’t be sheeple. Institutions inherently become corrupt and need constant vigilance from others. Stay educated and do not fall into the traps of ideology. Live your life and appreciate the moments you experience. Be your own president.