As the nation listens to Chelsea Clinton tell stories of her mother, the DNC comes to an end. The Democratic Party is about to embrace their candidate as she accepts the nomination to lead them to the White House. The conventions are now both coming to a close, and our cohort gets ready to catch up on sleep and reflect on the past two weeks. There were so many lessons packed into these weeks, it’s hard to know which one to start with. While these weeks were rich with many different teaching moments and powerful experiences, I could not help but notice a common theme that lasted throughout the two weeks – an insidious aspect strong enough to throw the elections. Something that stood out to me this trip was the division in both of America’s major political parties. I had wished this week was an opportunity to make sure the Democratic Party was at least together, and that the division that was so clear and visible in the Republican Party did not present a similar threat to the Democratic Party. Unfortunately, this was not the case.
The Republican National Convention was full of discord, before it even began. Members of the Party, like the U.S. Senator from North Carolina, Richard Burr, did not want to attend for more than three hours, and he was not alone. Multiple members were unwelcome before the Convention began, and were not able nor willing to share a space with Trump or his supporters. The height of the discord occurred as the Convention commenced, when delegates from nine states decided they wanted to change the rules so they wouldn’t be forced to vote for Donald Trump. This vote did not work, rather it solidified a tone of discord that continued throughout their Convention. In the end though, Trump accepted his nomination and the party continued – divided as ever.
At the Democratic National Convention, there is just as much friction. There are “Bernie Bros” who haven’t let go. There are liberal persons who believe a third-party vote can help them win the presidency. There are leaders in the Party who haven’t fully supported Hillary, and I wonder why. Would these people really prefer Trump? Is their strong dislike of Hillary well-founded? Secretary Clinton is not nearly as liberal as Senator Sanders was, but there are still benefits to her winning that are simply not available with Trump. She is arguably one of few presidential candidates ever who is actually qualified for the office. Yet, the Party is still divided behind her. And so is the Republican Party, a strange similarity in an already peculiar election. My first thought is to question the very system that led to these results, our two-party one that is quite unique from other advanced democracies. This makes me consider how our country would fare if we had proportional representation and/or a parliamentary government. These forms allow for more parties with smaller platforms that allow constituents to identify more closely with the party, and allow for more representation in the federal government. Typically, governments with proportional representation have constituents that feel better represented and there is less disharmony. I wonder, if elections like this continue, will our country consider moving towards such a model? I highly doubt it, but it would be fascinating to undergo such a change.
Despite division in the Parties, Trump, and now Hillary, were able to secure the nominations for the presidency. By the end of the RNC many Republicans and conservatives were feeling Trump, happy with his acceptance after a four-day convention. At this point, Hillary is wrapping up her speech and is naming every single vulnerable group in this country. I am feeling elated with Hillary just like conservatives were with Trump by the end of last week. This may not be the perfect election cycle, but I am ready to support Hillary because I believe she can move us in a much better direction than her opponent. Now, we wait until November.