The Arena: Democracy in America

During its time at Tufts, this year’s graduating class got to witness some pretty cool events. Tufts had its snowiest winter ever, and President Monaco sledded down the President’s Lawn. The Sox won yet another World Series and the Patriots won yet another Superbowl (#FreeBrady). The Commonwealth of Massachusetts elected a new governor. But the Class of 2016 got to start and finish its time at Tufts during presidential election years. From passive aggressive arguments amongst hallmates to hungover Democrats the day after midterm elections, any Jumbo can attest that there’s nothing quite like Tufts around elections.

Compared to this year’s circus, the 2012 election looked boring. Sure, Clint Eastwood spoke to an empty chair at the Republican National Convention. And sure, Mitt Romney insulted about 47 percent of the population with one sound bite. But by November, an Obama victory was pretty obvious. Romney himself was a very logical choice for nominee and led a mostly textbook campaign.

The year 2016 tore that textbook up. Conventional wisdom dictates that candidates like Romney will rise to the top with support from the rest of the party. One by one, Donald Trump steamrolled Republican candidates that I thought had this support. From making fun of Marco Rubio’s perspiration to throwing Jeb Bush into a metaphorical locker, Trump’s rise has been beyond unprecedented.

Flashes in the pan like Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina petered out. But Trump’s blend of lowest common denominator politics combined with an angry electorate has proved lasting. The blame for this really ought to lie with the Republican establishment, which has preached an anti-Washington line since Obama’s election. Trump is the logical conclusion of this sentiment. Of course, the GOP could ignore the voters and try to unite against Trump at the national convention. But this party as it stands probably wouldn’t be able to settle on the convention gift bags, let alone a new candidate.

On the other side, the Democrats just can’t seem to get behind Hillary Clinton. Sure, she’ll win the nomination comfortably, but it says something that she’s struggling so much. Bernie Sanders has brought issues to the forefront that many Democrats, particularly younger ones, care deeply about. It will be interesting to see just how much he pulled Clinton to the left and whether Republicans will use this against her.

All I know about a Trump vs. Clinton campaign is that the debates are going to be electric. I’m not sure how Trump is going to address the fact he’s donated to Clinton in the past. I’m also not sure how Clinton is going to deal with Trump’s incessant attacks on her email scandal. Smart money would be on Clinton, but I’ve learned not to count out the Trump machine too quickly.

And as the Class of 2016 graduates and enters the real world (whatever that means), I urge everybody who hasn’t yet registered to vote to do so. Participate in this crazy, exciting and special soap opera we call American democracy.