Associate Opinion Editor
This election has been a rollercoaster.
When it started, my excitement levels were through the roof. Bernie Sanders is one of the central reasons I decided to become more politically active. I stumbled upon a speech of his in 2013, years before he announced his candidacy. His brash manner and straightforward discussion about the problems he saw in America spoke to me in a way that previous candidates hadn’t. From there I looked for more information about him, which left me looking at the record of stances that I respected.
It seemed like a pipe dream that he could ever run. People who think like this couldn’t get very far, right? My jaw dropped when he announced his plan to run in 2015.
Fast forward almost a year. Sanders lost the Democratic nomination to Hillary Clinton. While some pundits believe the primary was rigged against Sanders, I don’t see it that way. They didn’t view him as one of their own, but I have yet to see definitive proof of tampering.
In a way this is validation of my initial thoughts on him running. Sanders went farther and affected the discourse more than I would have truly thought possible. He is still a guiding star for me.
Which is why I have no qualms about voting for Hilary Clinton or Sanders’ endorsement of her.
Let me be clear, there are things I don’t agree with Clinton on. Particularly on things like climate change, the assault weapons ban, repealing the Hyde Amendment, and her wavering on the Trans Pacific Partnership. But I also believe in many of the things that were hallmarks of her campaign such as universal background checks for guns, universal health care, and dealing with mass incarceration.
I also believe that as a shrewd politician, she will walk the line between what she believes is best and what her constituents and political colleagues want. This is not a bad thing. I think those on the left must continue to push her to continue a more progressive platform.
I’m also am willing to say I’m afraid of Donald Trump. While I may have disagreed with the policy stances of John McCain or Mitt Romney, I never actually feared them or the Republican Party. You may call this a blind spot as someone whose rights and livelihood weren’t targeted.
Meanwhile Donald Trump’s lack of decorum, his unwillingness to maintain even a minute sense of etiquette, and his truly hateful rhetoric leave me very worried.
This election also taught me that I’m not a Democrat by choice. I’m registered with them I have to be to participate in primaries. While I may agree with a few Libertarian stances and even much of the Green Party platform, they are not a driving force in the political discussion in Pennsylvania. I want this to change. I believe we must urge our state representatives and state party leaders to make open primaries the norm.
Most people are registered as independents. Even if they may agree with individual stances of some parties and vote primarily for them, the parties have not convinced them to join the ranks. Open primaries will bring these voices into the spotlight and be an olive branch to try and bring these voters into the fold.
This election cycle has been a long one. I’m glad it’s over. But don’t become complacent. Keep an eye on your mayors, your state representatives, your school board members, and others. They have more to do with the laws that effect things day to day. Remain humble, remain vigilant, and remain respectful.