How to be a civil civilian during election season


Emily Yu

Andrew Jackson or John Quincy Adams? Jimmy Carter or Gerald Ford? Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton?
Throughout American history, Washington “outsiders” have sought the presidency, and in some elections, won it. Andrew Jackson advertised his self-educated, “from the backcountry” characteristics that many Americans at the time identified with. Jimmy Carter famously promised that “I’ll never tell a lie;” a promise that Americans cherished in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal. Now, half of America seems to be enamored by a new outsider, real estate billionaire Donald Trump. Trump’s points of appeal are not new–he advertises himself as an outsider, uncorrupted by politics and immune to threats and bribes from special interest groups and other politicians.
Both Trump and Clinton have policy goals that resonate with the electorate, and some of us may have a friend or relative who supports a candidate that we strongly dislike. In such a highly polarized election, how do we keep peace with people around us who have beliefs that we don’t agree with?
As cliché as this sounds, taking the time to politely listen to other people’s opinions can help. Even if we believe our friends or relatives are mistaken in their faith in a candidate who we do not support personally, at least we don’t have to listen to them talk about political beliefs we disagree with all day, like the candidates have to.
Listening to your relatives and friends talk about the candidate you can’t even believe is running for president, doesn’t mean you have to stand by and not say a word. When you’re feeling like you’re about to burst, you can politely do some fact checking and correcting, made easy by multiple fact checking websites, such as the one on The Washington Post website.
If you’re feeling like your friend or relative needs a hint about how you feel toward Trump, but you don’t want to be too rude, consider picking up a tin of “National Embarrassmints” with Donald Trump’s face on it saying “Make America Stupid” or a blue bar of Democratic soap with a donkey in the middle.
Likewise, if you feel your friend or relative needs a hint about how you feel toward Clinton, consider buying a bright red bar of Republican soap with a trumpeting elephant in the middle or a “Make America Great Again” shirt.
All kidding aside, everyone is entitled to their own beliefs in our country, and we should all respect that. The philosopher Voltaire is credited with saying, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” And that’s what America is all about.
So the next time your friend or relative is annoying you by praising Trump or Clinton, or the next time you see a lawn sign declaring the residents’ support for the other candidate, remember that although you may not agree with what they believe and who they support, there are ways we can still get along the best we can–at least until the 45th president of the United States takes office.


Rachel Wei

Features Editor