Don’t let a tumultuous election turn you away from politics

Published 7:00 am Friday, November 4, 2016

In just a few short days, our nation will have the opportunity to participate in one of the most sacred rights as citizens of this institution: electing a new president of the United States.

I have followed presidential politics for as long as I can remember. I vividly recall having a mock election in my second grade class in 1996 and chatting with other 7-year-olds about the contrasting policies of Bill Clinton and Bob Dole. I remember staying up late on election night in 2000 as our country sorted through the idea of having to recount the votes cast in Florida. I remember the Bush/Kerry election of 2004 and the ongoing conversations in my 10th grade World History class. And I’ll never forget the historical election of Barack Obama in 2008 as our first African American president. I watched from McCarty Hall at Southern Miss.

In less than a week, we will wrap up another process that only comes around every 4 years. It’s been one hell of a ride. One sad, divisive, apathetic, I-can’t-believe-this-is-REALLY-happening hell of a ride. And in my most honest opinion, it has been the worst one that I’ve had the fortune of observing.

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I truly hope everyone has found a candidate that they are able to support – even if that means writing someone in on your ballot.

Unfortunately, I don’t believe that will be the case for many voters. If you’re like me, you’re sick of it. It’s been ugly. It’s been dirty. It’s been too much. If you’ve decided on either Clinton or Trump (or Johnson, Stein, et al.), I’m happy for you. Thank you for making that decision, and please do vote!

To my conservative friends who can’t support Donald Trump: I hear you. I get it. Do what you can to make sure that there’s a candidate on the ballot in 4 years who you can support.

Go into your community and help build up your neighbors. Disagree without turning your back on others. Think about what you want the Republican Party to look like in the years to come and get about the business of building that party. 

To my liberal friends who can’t support Hillary Clinton: I hear you, too. Go out and have conversations with people who have a difference stance than you. Research policies and know where you stand. Get up and find someone who you can support in 4 years.

Think about where you’d like to see the Democratic Party in the next 25-30 years and do what you can do to make that a reality.

I understand your frustrations. I really do. But the buck doesn’t stop here. This election is bigger than Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

This election is not singularly about you or me. It’s about us. This election is about how our nation will be shaped for the next quarter of a century. This election is about our friends and family members who have been on the front lines to help build this nation. It’s about our parents and grandparents who have more yesterdays than tomorrows – and our children and grandchildren who will confront many of these major issues in the years ahead.

It’s going to take us coming together to figure it out. If your candidate isn’t elected this time around, don’t continue to sit out and do nothing. You can be ticked off. You can be apathetic. You can turn off your TV to avoid the drama. But we have to pick up the pieces.

Start at the local level. Talk to your community leaders; volunteer in your neighborhood; attend school board meetings. Have conversations about health care, immigration, education, the economy, foreign policy, and more. Debate with your friends at happy hour. Disagree with your family at the dinner table. But by all means, you must engage in this process. Let’s make it right.

By Kyle Nixon