I knew that the 2016 Presidential Election would be contentious; the change of power in the highest office of global influence always is, especially when there has been a controversial leader in power for two terms and reelecting an incumbent is no longer an option. I wrote my book, “Politiquette,” to help American voters conduct productive discourse that would allow us to preserve and promote our own interests; apparently, my advice went unheeded, although I daresay that the results of constant in-fighting and partisanship might give Americans cause for pause and the advice I offered will now be reconsidered. I doubt any of us realized just how destructive and counterproductive partisanship can be, but the proof is in the pudding.
You see, partisanship is nothing but a marketing tool for politicians; just as companies brand themselves for easy recognition in the market, politicians don a partisan label to help voters understand what they’re peddling at a glance. But just as smart consumers shop around before making a purchase, voters would be better served vetting candidates as individuals instead of buying into political marketing ploys. Looking under the hood is a great idea when buying a used car; the same is true when voting for candidates.
However, too many Americans have bought into political marketing, tethering themselves to ideologies that they don’t completely agree with, committing themselves to the cult of personality and ignoring the realities of a candidate’s past actions and associations. They end up defending the indefensible actions of politicians and voting against their own best interests because of it. This has to stop if Americans hope to secure a more productive and less corrupt government, a government that will work in their favor.
The first obligation of POTUS is foreign policy, including national security and war; the second, the economy, including immigration and trade policies. Social issues, such as reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, gender equality in the workplace, and minimum wage requirements, are most effectively dealt with between the voting populace and their local governments. While most Americans become active participants in Presidential Elections, it’s important to note that elections in local government occur much more often and have a greater impact in our day-to-day lives than does a vote for the Executive Branch every four years. Considering POTUS’ obligations, it is vital to understand a candidate’s record, experience, and platform for dealing with foreign powers before casting a vote, regardless of how nicely they speak about social issues. This was especially true in the 2016 Presidential Election.
When the race began earlier this year (late last year?), my stance was that if all of the candidates were equally flawed, then why not vote for Hillary Clinton? The thought of finally shattering the last glass ceiling to power for American women was exciting and promising for progressives everywhere, on all sides of the political spectrum. But then Bernie Sanders entered the race, and suddenly, the candidates weren’t all the same at all. Sanders had a long history of public service with none of the scandals or accusations of corruption that the other candidates had working against them. He had no shady alliances. He had stayed the course for the decades, constantly and consistently working for the best interests of working class Americans. Here was a candidate that stood head and shoulders above the rest when it came to integrity, honesty, and a clean record.
I became a Bernie Believer, volunteering my time at his campaign office in Miami, contributing funds to his cause, donning the t-shirts and bumper stickers, and creating pro-Bernie content for the internet. When he conceded to Clinton, a candidate that personified everything that Sanders had once fought so valiantly against, the corruption in our system was exposed; when Wikileaks generously provided the emails detailing exactly how the DNC and the Clinton cartel had worked against Sanders, the corruption was confirmed.
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were the choices we were left with; neither one was a great option. Clinton has a long history of questionable alliances and failed policies; Trump has no political experience and plenty of offensive rhetoric. However, the choice for me became clear once I remembered POTUS’ obligations; as a prior service member and the mother of a West Point cadet on the brink of graduation, there was no way that I could vote for Hillary Clinton, a war hawk champing at the bit for a conflict with Russia in Syria to appease Saudi interests. Americans cannot afford 15 more years of war and the repercussions of it; the costs, both in lost monetary resources and human lives, is far too costly.
Trump may not have the experience that we would prefer, but his foreign policy platform is solid: reassessing our alliances and agreements; scaling back U.S. military presence abroad; cooperating with Russia in Syria to end the conflict there that has cost tens of thousands of innocent lives; taking better care of our vets. Instead of wasting time on violent protests and “anti-Trump” internet crusades, it’s high time that Americans band together for our common interests, learn to conduct effective discourse between ourselves, and help the president elect successfully man the ship.
We’re all on this boat together. If Trump doesn’t succeed, we’ll all go down with him.
Nadia Asencio is a prior Military Intelligence Analyst for the Army National Guard with a BA in International Relations and Economics from Florida International University. Her essays on foreign and domestic policy can be read on Daily Kos, Medium, and HubPages.com. Her book “Politiquette: The People’s Guide to Political Discourse in the New Millennium,” was published in 2015 and can be purchased on Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com. She resides in New York City.