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Lessons from the 2016 presidential election

During this past year, Americans have clamored to see the end result of the most hectic and tumultuous election cycle in history. Bombarded with scandals and miscreant behavior, both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have left America in confusion as to whom to vote for. However, this piece is not about political beliefs. This has been one of the most, if not the most, important elections that America has ever witnessed and will continue to be analyzed for decades to come. With Election Day finally behind us, it is imperative that we examine the important lessons that can be taken away from this controversial election cycle.

The voting process is an integral part of a functioning democratic society, but there are many out there who don’t take advantage of that. While Clinton and Trump both have their legions of supporters, many Americans were left uncertain as to whom to vote for without viable alternatives. If this election has shown us anything, it is that America needs to break free from the leash of the two-party system.

By not voting, this only continues to propagate the idea that only Democrats and Republicans stand a chance at running our nation, leaving all other parties in the dust. In a time where a third-party candidate could have been a saving grace for many, there stood nobody to turn to. Even if third-party candidates don’t stand a chance, we cannot let laziness supersede action.

Saying, “but my vote doesn’t matter!” is not only false, but is merely an excuse to absolve oneself of any kind of responsibility. According to PBS, only 36.4 percent of eligible voters turned out during the 2014 midterm elections. With this being the lowest voter turnout since World War II, the pattern is obvious.

It’s no secret that corruption exists in politics. Clinton’s email scandal, Trump’s racketeering case and even in Nassau County with Ed Mangano’s bribery charges are enough to dissuade the public into not voting. It’s understandable, but at the same time, we must not fall victim to disillusionment. We must not give in to the whims of those who demonstrate this facade of power and leave us feeling helpless. The concept of an elected official is to be representative of the people, not themselves.

While this election cycle had some of the most polarizing candidates ever, it’s undeniable that it exposed the fundamental flaws in our ways of thinking. As American citizens, we should not be afraid to let our voices be heard. We should not allow politicians, who make us choose between the lesser of two evils, to beat us into submission. Remember that for every election there may be two politicians to vote for, but there are 324 million of us.

Regardless if you voted or not, your actions are what ultimately dictated the outcome of the election. Whether you chose complacency or performed your duty to vote, in the end your voice, or lack thereof, was heard. Fellow Hofstra students, I encourage you all to look back at this election and take in the important lessons that it taught us. Before you know it, the 2020 election will be here, and hopefully we won’t fall into the same predicament again. The outcome of these elections rests on our shoulders. Amidst all the corruption and scandals, lest we not forget that we – as Hofstra students and young Americans – are the future of this great nation.

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