After months of name-calling, talk of "rigged" electorate processes and criminal investigations, the two political parties have declared their nominees – an outsider businessman on one side, and the first woman to be nominated by a major party on the other.
The nominees have seesawed up and down in the polls while leaked emails and tapes, lack of disclosure, and corruption charges have plagued the candidates. Then, less than two weeks before the election, the FBI has reopened an investigation into one of the candidates.
No, this isn’t the next reality TV show; this is the presidential election of 2016. We’ve come a long way from the unanimous election of George Washington. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have fought their way to the finish line of this very unusual election, but not without a good share of gaffes, corruption and harsh rhetoric.
As University at Buffalo Distinguished Professor of Political Science Dr. James Campbell observes, "As an open-seat election in a period of heightened polarization, the election is likely to be a close one. What makes it highly unusual and even unique is that both candidates are thought of in unfavorable terms by substantial majorities."
The next president will have to address major issues – including the fact that "the monetary bubble will burst in the next few years, causing another severe recession," Campbell speculates.
With critical problems facing our nation – racial relations, the spread of ISIS, illegal immigrants and the decline of our nation’s educational system – the one thing we haven’t seen much of in this election is substantial talk about the issues. Sound policy discussions have been overshadowed by scandalous headlines and distractions of corruption.
As millions of Americans head to the polls Tuesday, some of those who will be affected the most by this election won’t have a voice – those under age 18.
While many teens may not be able to vote this year, it is crucial for every American to take a look at the positions of the candidates and realize what they will mean to everyday life.
Here’s a breakdown of Secretary Clinton and Trump’s positions on two major issues – immigration and education – according to their official campaign websites.
As many know, Donald Trump has vowed to "build a wall" on the Mexican border and force Mexico to pay for it. Regardless of the difficult logistics of this, Trump makes the point that America needs to secure its borders, and protect its position of strength in the world.
In addition to "working on an impenetrable physical wall on the southern border," Trump, the self-proclaimed "Law and Order Candidate," has promised to "end catch-and-release and sanctuary cities," "reform legal immigration," "terminate President Obama’s executive amnesties," and "ensure that other countries take their people back when we order them deported."
Clinton, on the other hand, plans to "introduce comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to full and equal citizenship." More open to immigration, she will "promote naturalization" and "support immigrant integration."
Criticized for promising to accept refugees into the nation and defend Obama’s amnesties, Clinton contends that she will still "uphold the rule of law and protect our borders and national security."
A headline topic during the early primaries was Bernie Sanders’ promise of free college. Less discussed is the evident fact that America’s educational system continues to fall further behind those of other developed nations, while becoming even more expensive.
As many young people are facing college – and the debt that comes with it – the next president will have to work on heightening educational success while slowing the increase in cost.
Trump advocates school choice and says he will "work with Congress on reforms to ensure universities are making a good-faith effort to reduce the cost of college and student debt."
Clinton has made an effort to adopt Sanders’ principles, promising "all community colleges will offer free tuition," and any "borrowers will be able to refinance loans at current rates."
As many face steep amounts of debt, the next president will have to take a stance and work to make higher education more affordable, while keeping quality high – an important topic for many teens that has been overlooked in this election.
In addition to these issues, tax plans, foreign policies, economic inequalities and health care reforms all divide the nation.
As Campbell predicts, "We will be severely polarized whoever is elected. Unless there is a major crisis, the president will have to work around Congress rather than with Congress." The United States isn’t looking forward to much unity.
The election of 2016 will have far-reaching impacts on American citizens of all ages, impacts that will change both the political scene and everyday life for decades.
No matter what happens on Election Day, Americans will be divided for years to come. Campbell guesses that "whoever is elected in 2016 will be a one-term president," as a result of ineffective cooperation with Congress and "severe polarization" of the electorate.
And, if you haven’t had enough name-calling, corruption, divisiveness or harsh debate, don’t worry – the next season of presidential campaigning will begin in just two and a half years.
Michael Sobol is a freshman at St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute.