By Derek Schlom
I have been shunned by my own people. Itâs true, Iâm not yet eligible to vote, but I still consider myself to be aligned with a certain political party. So why have I been ostracized by the very group that Iâm supposed to be united with? Because my favorite candidate in this election happens to not be the consensus choice?
Iâm willing to admit that it seems unlikely that my candidate will be the nominee from her party (yes, Iâm talking about a certain woman â this column isnât supposed to be political but, for the sake of full disclosure, Iâm talking about a female contender. Guess which one). I backed a losing horse. But even before those nasty losses in Wyoming, Kansas and Georgia, I found myself on the wrong end of hostility and skepticism from those on both sides of the aisle. My own people turned on me because I support one candidate over her remarkably like-minded counterpart.
Apparently my candidate isnât very popular here, as proven by the results of Februaryâs school-wide mock election. My candidate lost in a landslide. But does that justify the mean-spirited and downright vicious reactions I have received over the course of this race?
During the political discussions with peers that I now consciously try to avoid but seem to fall into, Iâm often met with a âYouâre kidding me, right?â look or a âYouâre kidding me, right!â look (the distinction between the two is subtle â the first would be similar to the response given to a nutcase claiming that they just escaped from an asylum for monkey lovers on Jupiter, the second would be analogous to the reaction given by a father to a daughter who just wrecked her new carâ¦ by crashing into her fatherâs car).
I donât judge others based on their political beliefs, and I naively expected to have those feelings reciprocated.
In my history class, the frequent breeding ground for the contentious political dialogue that I attempt to evade, my one ally and I have been designated as the âcrazies,â along with the radical conservative that knows far more about politics than anyone else in the class. Our opinions have lost validity amid the homogeneous support for my candidateâs rival among the rest of the class.
In another class, I was openly laughed at when, during a tangential bashing of my candidate, I revealed my allegiance to her.
It seems to me that, as the antagonism of the discourse between my candidate and her rival increased, so too did the resentment between her supporters and his. As my candidateâs rivalâs lead widened in delegates and states won, I noticed more eye rolls whenever I voiced my opinions.
The majority of students at this school will not even be able to vote come Novemberâs general election. So my plea is this: cease fire.
It sounds clichÃ©, but isnât it time, as this school year comes to a close in just weeks, to come together as a community? This goes for combat across party lines as well; Iâm guilty of the occasional mean-spirited remark about those with opposing political views.
Who are we to draw lines in the sand, both within a party and between parties? Weâre all teenagers, and, to be honest, I care about the same thing as all of you: myself.
As much as I hate to say it, Iâm not an adult, and neither are any of you, age aside. Weâve faced neither the triumphs nor hardships that come with true, independent adulthood and that shape our views, political and otherwise.
Thoughtful political conversations should always have a place at this school, but letâs keep it classy and dignified. Mud-slinging is best left in the actual political arena.