NOWGR Contributor: Laura Howard
I’m seventeen and won’t be eligible to vote this coming November, but the importance of this election is in no way lost on me, as it shouldn’t be for anyone else, of age or otherwise. As I sit writing this piece I’m overwhelmed by a contrast of emotions, something most Americans have been experiencing this past year. I’m both hopeful and fearful of what the results may be this election, and what those results will mean for our country. Both candidates and their supporters are looking for change, that much seems evident in both camps. However, any similarities begin and end there: at the desire for change. In the preamble of the United States’ constitution the words, “…to form a more perfect Union,” are stated in the first line. These five profound words, encapsulate the essence of America and her people: the land of the free and home of the brave. We look forward. We innovate. We progress. These are the hallmarks of America, and these hallmarks, are exactly what separate and contrast the ideology of our presidential candidates.
One candidate would like to see America as something it was before, “to make it great again,” yet no matter how far into the past one looks, whether yesterday or 1776, America, despite its imperfections, has truly, never been greater than it is at this moment. Have we come close to achieving a perfect union? No. Is the premise just an ideology, something unattainable? Nothing is ever perfect, but it is an ideology we strive to live by, and today by all standards, this is the closest we’ve ever been to ‘staying the course’.
Not all is fair nor equal. I am a black person born to a white mother and a black father. Racial equality does not exist, this I know– but it is far better than it was 100 or 50 years ago. I have a developmentally disabled sister. As a woman of color, one who struggles with mental illness and limited cognition, the system has failed her in many respects– but there IS a system, and many are working tirelessly to fix what is broken. I am also a young woman, and as a woman it is a fact that I will be payed less than my male counterparts when I enter the workforce one day. However, this past summer history was made when Hillary Clinton became the first woman nominated for the presidency by a major party in this United States of America. It was a testament to the fact that despite our flaws, America continues to improve, and continues to strive for a more perfect union.
Where one candidate sees barriers, bans, and regression for our country the other, Secretary Clinton, sees the potential for progress, and I for one would prefer the latter.
From the time we’re young we’re asked what we want to be when we grow up, where we want to go to college, if we plan on marrying and having kids, getting a steady job so that we can retire comfortably by sixty-five, and have enough money to send grand kids a nice check for their birthdays and Christmas. The future, we’re told, is ours, and mine, like so many of my peers’ is uncertain.
Currently, that feeling of uncertainty is palpable across our 50 states, regardless of age. The individual put in power will set a precedent for what our country stands for, and depending on who that person is we will either on a path of tolerance toward a more perfect union, or one which tolerates hate, far from it.