2016 has been an obscure and sometimes upsetting year, especially in the world of politics. For many young people, myself included, this election is the first time any of us can vote. Budding Republicans and conservatives, fed up with eight years of Obama, flooded into politics with aplomb. For some, this election cycle has been exciting and fun, however, for a large number of Republicans, this election cycle has been horribly disappointing.
I read an article by Peggy Noonan, a columnist for the Wall Street Journal, that describes the disappointment channeled by many conservatives during this election cycle. She describes her “moment,” the sobering realization that this election is just awful.
My fervor for this election was born in 2012 while watching the election returns on Fox News with my father. I saw Mitt Romney, a milquetoast candidate at best, lose to Barack Obama on one of the most disappointing nights I’ve ever sat through. I began to dabble in politics after that and once I entered college, I was heavily interested and involved in politics. Just as there was one moment in this cycle that makes me want to leave politics, there was one moment back in 2014 that catapulted me into politics. After I saw my town literally burn to the ground after the non-indictment of Officer Darren Wilson, I was angry. I was fed up with the administration’s inaction and I wanted to express those sentiments. I started with The College Conservative a few weeks later. Writing weekly articles with TCC brought to my attention just how absolutely decrepit our nation has become. I began to realize how important the next election would be.
Fast forward to 2015. The excitement was increasing. There was electric in the air. Myself, along with many others, knew that this was the Republicans’ year to win. One by one, candidates began announcing their candidacy for president and the excitement continued to grow. By the first GOP debate, we had a huge field of candidates, many of them extremely qualified to sit in the white house. From Scott Walker to Rick Perry to Marco Rubio, we had the Democrats shaking in their boots. However, like a vacuum, somebody came in and sucked all the civility and grace out of the GOP primaries. Nasty barbs and personal insults were flung from all corners and in the process, the GOP began crumbling from the inside.
We had such an impressive slate of candidates, many who would absolute destroy Clinton or Sanders in a general election. Every day, the news outlets would report on another stupid thing one of the candidates said, and the party of Reagan kept tumbling from grace. Voter anger and resentment for career politicians fueled intensity and animosity within the GOP. I watched the GOP repeatedly punch itself in the face and I felt somewhat helpless. The Democrats were laughing in our face. They knew that we were poised to take the White House. They knew that Clinton and Sanders were weak candidates.
If somebody would have told me five months ago that Donald Trump would be the GOP nominee, I would’ve laughed in your face. For months, everyone convinced themselves that Trump’s latest slip-up or antics would surely sink his candidacy. After many bridges burned, Donald Trump is now the face of the GOP.
My moment came on May 3rd, the night of the Indiana primary. This was Cruz’s last stand and he failed to stop Trump. I was sitting in a classroom, studying for finals. I was already bummed out from finals and I knew in the back of mind that Trump was going to win the Indiana primary. I checked the returns and confirmed my hypothesis. I watched a downtrodden and exhausted Ted Cruz concede the GOP nomination to Trump. I sat there in silence, absolutely shocked that this is what politics has come to. A gaudy charlatan, who spent the entirety of the primary months mocking his fellow candidates and providing no substantive solutions to America’s problems. Donald Trump, a man who has historically bad unfavorable ratings, is now the face of the party of Reagan. A man who was never meant to make it this far, who probably doesn’t even want to be president, will now take on Hillary Clinton. My moment came when Trump (basically) won the GOP nomination. In that moment, I realized just how horrible this year has become.
I’m disappointed with the press, with myself, and with 2016 in general. This year had the chance to be great, but it devolved into a circus of disappointing proportions. I don’t mean to be so depressingly pessimistic in my writing, but this year has been devastating. I still have a small sliver of hope that something will happen to improve 2016, however, right now the outlook looks grim. Republicans, please, for the love of God, pull it together. Trump, I have not completely ruled out voting for you in November, however, if the election were today, you couldn’t pay me to vote for you. You have to change and prove to me and many others that you will protect conservatism in office. Given how the year has gone, I won’t get my hopes up again.