I’m not much of a political nut, but I recognize how much politics mean to a lot of people in our country. Despite another disappointing voter turnout, a lot of people I know and a lot of people I care about were very engaged in this year’s election. I was more excited about this year’s election not because I was strongly backing either candidate, but because I would be able to take advantage of my first opportunity vote in a presidential election. And later that evening, Republicans, Democrats and independent voters alike tuned in to CNN and social media sites to react to every breaking piece of news in regard to the results.
Despite not being as politically outspoken as a lot of my peers, I joined in with everyone to stay updated on the latest information. But once the news that Barack Obama had been re-elected reached CNN and Twitter, all hell broke loose. I’m not a huge Obama supporter and I feel that he has a lot of improvements to make in his second term to ensure it’s much better than the first. But what I saw from a lot of Romney supporters and Obama supporters was borderline sickening.
On the side of Republicans and Romney supporters, I saw tweets and Facebook posts filled with hate, sarcasm, anger and a complete disregard for an old principle we’ve been taught since we were children in school: think before you speak. People said they were moving to Canada or Switzerland rather than live here. People were calling Obama’s citizenship into question (for the millionth time). People were ranting and raving about how America could be so stupid to re-elect him. Obama supporters were a little more respectful in congratulating their candidate on his re-election, but some were completely obnoxious about letting the opposition know how happy they were. And had they lost, I’m sure many of those statuses and tweets would not have been nearly as dignified or composed.
So what am I driving at here? Obviously everyone has the right to express his or her opinion, especially when it’s about something so important to our country. But the way that people are so outspoken, cynical and aggressive on social media is really upsetting, especially during election season. I have a great group of friends and acquaintances in the Cronkite school, but once campaign season started I saw them slowly change into crazy people. I didn’t vote for Obama, but instead of ranting and raving about how I wanted another candidate to be elected or complaining about my country and the people in it, I stated that I would support our president for the next four years because he is our president as Americans. I also invited all my friends who wanted to leave for Switzerland or Canada to kindly do so as soon as possible so that the rest of the positive Americans in this country could start working together to enact change to make this country a better place.
I don’t mean to rant and I have no problem with people who have strong political opinions. But the outpouring of emotion on both sides via social media was completely disrespectful and narrow-minded complaining or gloating. Half of the people I saw posting wouldn’t dare say the things they were tweeting in real life, which only added to the annoying nature of it all. And on both sides, I saw a considerable lack of respect for the opposing side’s opinions or feelings. With people investing so much into their candidate and with so many people who care so much about their candidate, should we not be more respectful in victory and defeat? George Washington’s fear of political parties seems to be true now more than ever. I understand that people who believed in Romney were probably devastated that he lost. But as soon as he conceded, that was the time to support your new president. Romney lost and it’s time to get over it. But that’s also the time for the triumphant Democrats and Obama supporters to stop rubbing it in and accept their fellow Americans. Political parties are what annoys me the most about election season (closely followed by the commercials). There shouldn’t be Democrat or Republican, there should only be Americans.