There is one thing I know for sure; I know nothing at all. When it comes to youth, ignorance is the order of the day. That’s not to say young people aren’t smart, but we lack the experience that comes with age. Now, I don’t necessarily see this as a bad thing. In many ways experience can be just as dangerous as ignorance. Experience can lead to cynicism, and cynicism can prevent us from seeing the world as it is, or how it should be. Honestly, looking at our current political climate, I’m starting to think the country could use a strong dose of ignorance.
I don’t like Hillary Clinton. I mean, I like her—she’s competent, fiercely intelligent and the kind of person who doesn’t take shit from anyone–but I guess I’m just not all that enthusiastic about the prospect of a Hillary Clinton presidency. Would I prefer it to a Donald Trump or Ted Cruz presidency? Yeah, of course. But that’s like asking whether I want a slice of bread for dinner or a cold slap to the face. It’s not a real choice.
The way I see it—in my admittedly limited capacity as a college sophomore—the country is on life support. The ocean is getting a little too close for comfort, economic inequality is the worst it has been since the late 1920s and we’re embroiled in a seemingly never-ending conflict that has cost us trillions of dollars and slowly eroded any right we had to privacy.
The current election cycle presents us with three ways to address this crisis: The Trump Option, the Clinton Option and the Sanders Option. Now, the Trump Option mine as well be the equivalent of pulling the plug on our life support. The Clinton Option is a lot like choosing to stay on life support, crossing our fingers and hoping things improve. And the Sanders Option is akin to risky surgery—it could backfire, but it may be our best and last chance to get better.
Yeah, that’s right. I’m another one of those infuriatingly ignorant millennials who has been mesmerized by the unrealistic promises of that cookie shyster from Vermont. Well, sort of. I’m not so naïve as to say Bernie Sanders is a kind of panacea. He spouts high-minded rhetoric similar to the stuff Barrack Obama was spouting eight years ago, and while I love me some Obama, we all have to admit he really didn’t deliver on his lofty promises.
But say what you want about Obama or Sanders, I think they were and are candidates committed to change. Clinton? I’m not sure. It just seems like business as usual. We’ll still be fighting a losing battle over seas, universal health care will remain a disappointing compromise and poor people will continue to get poorer while rich people will continue to get disgustingly richer. I don’t think—like some others—that Clinton is a malevolent force, but I don’t buy she’s the shot in the arm this country needs. Hillary Clinton may aim for 50 and get 50, sure. But if Bernie Sanders aims for 10,000 and only ends up with 75, that’s still a hell of a lot better than 50.
Am I being stupid? Am I being unrealistic in supporting the starry-eyed idealist over the shrewd pragmatist? Maybe, but maybe not. And here’s where I think my lack of experience—my ignorance—may actually come in handy. Think how incredibly cynical that perspective is: “I won’t vote for the guy pushing positive change because he’ll probably fail like the others before him.” So what? You’re going to support the candidate pushing more of the same? Why? Is it because you’ve been let down so many times before you don’t see the point in trying again? Christ. Never mind the possibility of a Trump presidency, that kind of fatalism makes me want to move to Canada right now.
See what I mean by “experience” being dangerous? But young people are ignorant. We’re ignorant. We’re not burdened by that kind of cynicism–that experience. Where older generations see an impenetrable brick wall, we see a brittle fence just waiting to be kicked down. Maybe we’ll fail all the same, but it’s better than not trying at all.