A Country Divided: Leaving the Possibility of Unity to the Youth


Photo courtesy of Medium.com

Benjamin Meppen, Guest Writer

In a country divided and a pandemic raging on, the election, at times, is pushed to the back of people’s thoughts. The campaign trail was brutal, harsh, and tiring, like usual; however, it came to a sudden halt for the many democratic nominees.

Back in March, the world was put on standby, politicians and presidential contenders included. All were confused and afraid of the threat of a global pandemic. Fast forward to September of 2020, and two things are constant. The pandemic continues to spread, and the contenders for president are still as restless and challenging as before.

 Now, narrowed down to one democratic candidate, the pandemic’s toll on the 2020 race is apparent. National coverage shifted from who to vote for to how to vote. The certainty of normalcy and an exciting “election day” on November 3rd no longer stands. Although the election’s outcome is far from sure, there is one oddity of this election, which is unlike any before. 

The 2020 campaign cycle has seen record numbers of youth voter turnout. Seemingly the new fad, the popularity of Pre-registration and poll-working has surged over various social media platforms. The emergence of politics in the younger generation’s political and social spheres is a positive in an otherwise glum news cycle. The conversation of politics and the election is no longer reserved for the adults; in fact, in a 2018 Pew Research study, millennials, Gen Z, and even Gen X outvoted their elders in the past two major US elections. According to Pew Research, in 2018 the younger generations cast 62.2 million votes, narrowly outvoting their elder generations by over 2 million votes nationwide. This attraction of younger people to the polls is an epidemic (the good kind) sweeping the nation.

Viewpoint Votes has emerged in the Viewpoint Community, a non-partisan voting initiative focused on getting students to register and even pre-register to vote. The initiative is aimed at spurring democracy and self-independence in Viewpoint students, even though the online format. Online webinars, guest speakers from both the left and the right, and a student panel meet weekly leading upto the elation and beyond to inform and encourage the Viewpoint community to get out and vote.

Looping back to the intensity of this year’s election comes the many issues facing today’s country. Social unrest, along with hyperpartisanship, is extremely present in our (online) schools (online) places of worship, and most definitely at our dinner tables. It seems as though the election cycle consumes our lives and brains more than ever before. Except for the incredibly heated 2016 presidential race, never has a presidential race consumed the lives and attention of so many people. Even those who chose not to dabble in politics have a hand in this race.

The question that faces students, teachers, and Americans alike is not who will win but rather how we will heal the divide that exceeds the election cycle. It is not likely we will have a presumptive winner the night of November 3rd; however, in the coming weeks, it is inevitable that at least one candidate, maybe even both, will claim victory.

Whether you vote red or blue, it is not a matter of the man in the White House that dictates how we live our lives, instead, what can we do as people and as American citizens to heal the intense political divide in our country.