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Teen Voice: America, the great divide
November 11, 2016 Faith Reisig   

Read more by Faith Reisig
Because I am 17, I canít vote. However, I wish I could have. The election season brought out the worst in people, both candidates and voters. However, I still have a great deal of confidence in my country and our system of government. America has some serious flaws, but given time we can fix them. The process of how we choose candidates is at the center of it.

I became interested in elections in 2008. I knew little to nothing about the candidates themselves, but I was very outspoken about the opinions expressed by other people, who parroted what they heard. Being nine at the time, my voice had little impact.

In 2012, when I formed some of my own opinions on the presidential race, I had no source of news apart from the bits and pieces of election coverage discussed during class and gossiped about by seventh graders in P.E.

Iím older now and so is the internet, which, aside from newspapers, is a constant buzz about the fractious campaigns of both parties. With the flood of media coverage, itís easier than ever to get caught up in what people are saying. Rhetoric on both sides of the political divide has offered only a limited number of facts and statistics. Accepting messages at face value has become alarmingly easy. Iíve been careful to read coverage from a variety of sources and, as a result, have seen the proliferated bias for and against both major party candidates.

I think biased news is always a bad thing, but it gives readers or viewers a chance to examine their own beliefs compared with that of their neighbors. Unfortunately, too often, opinion is presented as fact, and it takes time to sift through the substance of each story. Iím willing to critically read opinions which oppose my own, but Iím less likely to be critical about the views which I support. Being fair in my own reading is something Iíve had to work on; it seems like the rest of the country has the same problem. Both parties manufacture messages filled with argumentative failures; emotion has replaced reason. In this election, that chasm has widened.

It was disappointing to watch adults (the candidates and their staffs), who are supposed to be setting an example for my generation, get into Twitter fights, which involved them in pointless arguments about policies and ideas designed to help people. As bad examples, in all that has been presented, it has left far more questions than answers for how candidates could be chosen by the electorate. I believe that no one is better than anyone else, and everyone should be treated equally. (Maybe there should be some regulated checklist for vetting candidates.)

The candidates have been painted as being above the law. One faces allegations of rape and was accused of not sharing tax reports. The other has been mired in an on-again off-again email investigation which has succeeded in eroding public trust.

It is sad to see this divide in America. There are greater issues at hand. Homeless Americans are worried about finding a place to sleep at night, or finding their next meal. More than 45 million Americans live below the poverty line (huffingtonpost.com). The election results, no matter how I feel about them, wonít change the lives of people who need help right now.

On the other hand, this election was like all others in the fact that it showed our democracy in action. I may not be overly enthusiastic about either of the candidates, but I love that Iíll be able to cast my vote and help select our president in the next election. American politics are far from perfect, but we the people play a part in that, unlike the systems of so many other countries.

Iíve also seen people discuss conflicting ideas with respect. I may have buttons on my backpack, but Iíve still had some great conversations with friends and family members with differing views. Iíve discovered that, for the most part, everyone wants the same thing; a chance to be happy. That may not look the same for all people, but voters are just doing what they can for the best possible country.

Problems arise when we disagree over what we think would be an ideal country. America hosts diversity in ideals and principles, but I believe that Americans are, as a whole, good people. I believe that if, as a country, we can learn to respect different ideals, we will be able to handle the next four years, no matter who ends up being elected.

God Bless America!
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