2016 Has A Lot Going On

So far, 2016 has been a big year for the good ol’ U.S. of A. Yes, we are barely two months into the year, but we have already witnessed several historical events, including two goddesses, Adele and Beyoncé, announcing world tours. Let’s be honest, that alone could make it the biggest year in history as we know it, BUT we also get our favorite spectator sports (for most of us) all wrapped up in a spandex-covered package: the Summer Olympics. However, all of these events are overshadowed by one of the biggest events in American society today: the presidential election. Since spring 2015, a plethora of candidates from both parties has entered the horserace and as the the year has progressed, the group has dwindled to just two for the Democrats and 500 for the Republicans.

Really thinking about it, elections suck. The candidates are subject to incredible scrutiny and are dehumanized in the face of the media. Every single syllable uttered by candidates or their supporters is closely watched by the public eye. We all seem to complain about the media frenzy over the election, yet we can’t stop watching. The election controls every aspect of social life throughout the primaries and up until Election Day. It is impossible to go on Facebook without seeing a post related to the election or one of the candidates. It is everywhere and it seems like there is no escape. So how can we, as college students, be more involved in the election than just sharing a funny meme on Facebook or putting a free sticker we got somewhere on our laptop or water bottle? We can get informed.

Over the past few months, as the election has gotten closer, I have found myself kind of (actually, incredibly) freaked out about my knowledge, or lack thereof, of the candidates and the values for which they stand. I’ve heard their names thrown around in daily conversation. Honestly, the candidate’s names are used in conversation almost too much; I feel like I should be on a first name basis with Bernie Sanders, yet I hardly know anything about him. Even when I make an effort to find out information about the candidates, I feel like I am wading through pudding made up of twisted words looking for nuggets of truth hiding in it somewhere. It can feel really overwhelming to try to find what is real about a candidate and what is being creatively spun by the media or by people opposing their ideas in the article’s comment section. Luckily, I brought in the experts to help me help you find the candidate that best fits your needs! And by experts I mean I called my mom, but I promise they are super helpful.

The first and simplest step is to go to the campaign websites of the candidates about whom you wish to learn more. In general, each website will have a section pertaining to all of the issues on which a candidate is focused and their position on those issues. This might seem like a lot of information all at once, and it is—and that’s totally okay. Start by focusing on one issue and comparing each candidate’s opinions and then building up the different issues you choose to research. Another way to learn even more about the candidates (and feel like you’re best friends with them) is to follow their social media accounts and see what they have to say on a daily basis. Like I said, the election is everywhere! Both parties offer televised debates, which give even more insight on a candidate’s platform with a side-by-side comparison to their opponents. Watching these debates provides a lot of information about candidates, sometimes more than is possible to find online, and really gives voters a chance to see a candidate in action or under pressure. There is absolutely more information available to voters about a candidate and their views and values, but this is a good place to start.

Elections are stressful, even for those of us not running. At times, it feels like there is no escaping from the constant coverage of the election. But please remember, in between buying Adele and Beyoncé tickets and cheering on Michael Phelps in his billionth (and final) Olympics, to get to know something about the presidential candidates and don’t forget to vote!