I’m taking a very quick break from my #GenasFavoriteThings posts to put out some thoughts, post election, from the perspective of an independent voter.
When I turned 18 and it was time to register as a voter, I selected Independent. I have never felt the need to draw a line in the sand with a particularly party line. I would rather look at the character of the nominees and decide which one best has the interests of the United States in mind. Note that I didn’t say “my best interests”. What is in my best interest may not necessarily be what is in the best interest of the United States.
However, rather quickly, did find myself more in alignment with the Libertarian Party and officially put myself in that camp. In part, because I wanted to see the Party experience healthy growth and to be seen more influentially. In part, because I wanted an opportunity to voice my opinions in their primaries (we don’t have primary elections, yet). That said, just because I am a Libertarian does not mean that I vote down the line. There are very liberal Libertarians, and very conservative Libertarians. I have voted Democrats and Republicans into office over a Libertarian because I felt they were the better option. (By offices I mean any elected office, not just POTUS).
Now, about POTUS elections, and those of us who are voting outside the R/D lines. As a 3rd party voter, I have come to understand the frustration of believing in your candidate so much that you put all your muster behind getting people to see why this is a great option for our country. I also understand that utter disappointment of not seeing your nominee for POTUS voted into office. Now, before anyone comes at me with the “there will never be a 3rd party president” argument… check your history. We already had one. I’ll let you dig that info up.
It can happen. I will happen again.
Historically, post election there was some grumbling but most of us would go on about life as normal. It wasn’t really until Social Media platforms became a thing & everyone was given a voice that we witnessed the response to an election like we do no. Not only do we see the onslaught of posts raising up one nominee and dragging down the other before the election, it continues long past. For 8 years I watched my Republican friends post horrible things about President Obama, and also use slanderous terms to anyone who supported him. By the same token, for the last 4 years I have watched my Democrat friends do the same exact thing about President Trump and to anyone who supported him.
Shameful behavior, really. I’m not talking about constructive criticism. I’m talking about just down right rude behavior, name calling, putting people down, false accusations, etc. Extending the vitriol beyond the President himself, but extending to his family (and young children), and toward our own friends who voted differently. Constructive criticism is not just welcomed, but should happen with facts and respectfully argued. What has (and is) happening is nothing short of kids on a play ground calling each other names and throwing dirt in each others’ hair.
Many times, I have expressed to my family that I felt like the American people in general have lost their critical thinking skills and fallen prey to salaciousness. We don’t fact check. We share “things” (I hardly call them facts or reliable new sources) that support our agenda or how we believe without any care or concern to accuracy.
If you have not had the opportunity to watch the documentary The Social Dilemma (which I recommend), one of the points that the movie makes is that Social Media recognizes our leanings and provides content based on those leanings. In other words, if you are a conservative republican, during the election seasons your Facebook feed will contain recommended or sponsored posts that align with your views. Same if you are a Democrat. You are being fed content that already aligns with your beliefs and you are not being shown anything that challenges your preconceptions. (Not to mention, that the recommended or sponsored posts themselves are even accurate in the first place.)
So, what does it look like to an Independent or a 3rd party voter? Often the reason we find ourselves in this situation in the first place is that we don’t fit neatly into either the Republicans or Democrats. We tend to find ourselves more conservative in some areas, and more liberal in others. Which means that our friends tend to not only include other independents but also Republicans and Democrats. And, based on the explanation of how the algorithms work for Social Media platforms…. we tend to see it all.
My Facebook feed is full of accurate, positive, posts regarding both candidates… as well as the negative ones. Which means I often find myself doing some quick searches to verify the accuracy of the information presented. Are these arguments or accusations justified? Did this really happen like that? Can I find the full footage vs. the 15 second clip? I witness how you behave when you assume all of your Facebook friends think like you do. The words you feel safe to say. I see how you respond when you find out that is not the truth, the names you call and the condensation in your tone.
I see it all. It is the ugly that election season brings out. And, the sad fact, is that it is absolutely the choice of the people to behave this way. I’ve made decisions in the past to severe relationships with people during election season. NOT because of how they voted, but rather because of how they behaved towards other people.
We can do better.
And, about those candidates, what does that look like post election for independents and third party voters? We see the good and the bad.
Due to the fact that we are not bombarded with one sided information/editorial, we see both sides of the coin. We get to see that the President who was elected did some amazing things while in office, and we get to see the not so stellar stuff too. Our past Presidents have done some amazing things while in office, every single one of them. Were they perfect? No. Did they fail us in other areas? Yes. To be an independent is not to have our heads in the sand and unaware of what is happening around us. Quite the opposite. We have our heads high, getting the full panoramic view. We see it all, the good and the bad… the pretty and the ugly…. the encouraging and the discouraging.
We can look back at the past presidencies and see how unfounded the fears were that so-and-so would ruin the country. We are resilient. There’s nothing that has happened yet that we have not bounced back from. We can look back and see the advances that were made, the good decisions, and positive actions. We celebrate those moments regardless of who put the pen to paper to sign into being. Just the same, we can reflect back on the things that make no sense and we disagreed with and ask what can we learn from this? How can we use this to help us in the future? How would future leaders handle these scenarios.
So, we do not fear. We look at the history and know that we will be just fine.
What the post election news, social media platforms, etc. do for us … it tells us less about the candidates and those elected. Instead it speaks volumes about the people who are in our sphere of influence. We learn about your character & integrity. We don’t care about who you voted for, we care about how you are treating others…