We the editors of The Waltonian would like to offer our thoughts on this 2016 presidential election. Our hope is that this statement, which is of a bipartisan nature, can provide a way forward for we who live in community at Eastern, regardless of who is elected to the presidency. What follows are points with which the undersigned editors of The Waltonian are in agreement.
First, we recognize that this election is, for many students, the first presidential election in which they are old enough to vote. While this opportunity to vote is, for these students, a significant rite of passage allowing for a fuller participation in our civic society, we also recognize that for many voters this election is difficult given who we are asked to choose between as representing the two major parties. We would like to take a moment to separate the concept of democracy expressed in our right to vote from the particular context of this election and the choice between these candidates: it is a privilege to live in a democratic society wherein we as citizens have the right to choose our leaders, and this freedom is something that should be celebrated even (and maybe especially) in frustrating elections such as this one.
Second, we recognize that there are compelling reasons to at least consider both major-party candidates, and compelling reasons which suggest that both candidates are morally flawed and arguably less than ideal choices for president. We affirm the need for empathy to be extended by each voter to other voters, regardless of which candidate may or may not be supported, as well as empathy for both candidates as fitting their shared humanity.
Third, we recognize that while skepticism regarding the two-party system is almost perennial, this election has certainly exacerbated this discontent. At the same time, we recognize that this election has highlighted strong third-party candidates on all points of the political spectrum who have provided voters with compelling alternative options. While we know that our electoral-college system makes a third-party victory highly unlikely, we acknowledge that for many voters these third-party candidates have more to commend themselves than the candidates representing the two major parties.
Fourth, we recognize that for many voters abstaining or writing in a candidate is the only option which does not violate their conscience. Given the extreme nature of this election, we affirm abstaining or voting third-party as valid ways of engaging as citizens, provided that each voter does his or her due diligence in researching candidates and policies so that their decision is an informed one.
Fifth, we would like to remind our readership that while the presidency is important, the nature of our Republic is such that the greatest degrees of influence are often felt at the local and state levels. Regardless of who is elected to the presidency, our American system thrives, and will thrive, on the leadership of locally-elected township supervisors, parents on the school board, state senators and engaged citizens who organize protests to confront injustice or form associations to feed the hungry. We thus reject apocalyptic rhetoric and fear-mongering from wherever such rhetoric arises because it denies the true power of the private sector and of civically-minded citizens who, in communion with each other, pursue the common good and collectively better our nation.
Sixth, we reject cynicism both in disposition toward politics in general and in the rhetoric we use when speaking about our nation in the context of this specific election. We believe that hope is a virtue and that hope is not dependent on the particulars of our immediate experiences in the world. Rather, we believe our hope is rooted in our faith and in a commitment to pursuing the common good, regardless of how bleak or daunting our circumstances may seem to us in the moment.
Seventh, we affirm the need for love in the public square and in all those communities which make up our nation’s culture, including the community here at Eastern University. We recognize that our nation is broken and hurting, that there are tensions regarding race, income inequality, disparity in access to education, health care and other important elements of modern life. In light of these tensions, we recognize that we are called to the kind of love which places us in solidarity with all those around us who suffer. Further, we recognize that the healing of our Republic will only happen if we love our neighbor. We thus reject the tribalism which puts us in relationship only with those who think like us or who we perceive to be similar to us. Instead, we affirm our calling to love each person we encounter as one who is, in fact, a fellow human being created in the likeness of God.
Signed: Anthony Barr, Eliza Brown, Anastasia Carroll, Madeleine Harris, Jordan Kolb, Lauren Murphy, SaraGrace Stefan, Matthew Wolek