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| Thursday, October 13, 2016

The most naive part of me is still waiting for an apology. I don’t know from whom, exactly, but I am expecting an admittance of wrongdoing nonetheless. Our nation’s founding figures, and many its most esteemed leaders throughout history, have always held a special place in my history-loving heart. One need only look at the decor in my room — first at the framed copy of the Declaration of Independence, situated next to a poster of the artistic portrayal of its signing, then at the iconic image of Washington crossing the Delaware that hangs over my bed, and finally to the life-size cutout of Abraham Lincoln that stands nobly in the corner of my bedroom — to comprehend this. My favorite books are those that paint glorious images of the larger-than-life politicians, capturing them as heroes in my mind. Being the typical type-A Notre Dame nerd, I could not wait to finally be able to participate in the election of a president of the United States. Does it now make sense why I should feel such a sense of betrayal, and the need for an apology? My first election is shaping up to be one of the most unpopular in all of America’s history, and I cannot say that I would be happy with any of our candidates in the White House.

Until this point, I have lived in a world of blissful ignorance, where politicians were the heroes of history. It doesn’t help that my favorite TV show is “The West Wing” — where the president (a Notre Dame alumnus) is a shining beacon of virtue and nobility, who often puts partisan differences aside in order to do the right thing, all wrapped up in neat 40-minute episodes and a catchy theme song. Reality, it would seem, is not quite as tidy. Hillary Clinton would not be my first — or even second — choice for a candidate based on her prior actions and her stance on several key issues. And, as a feminist, I loathe the idea of the first female president solely winning because she is the better of two evils, as many people view it. Yet at the same time, after hearing the latest string of vulgar, derisive comments made from the Republican candidate, can I really bring myself to vote for Trump? It is the first presidential election that most of us students get to participate in, and I cannot say I would feel great voting for either candidate. While third-party voting is always technically an option, resistance is looking more and more futile as November draws near.

So what is one to do when that pesky angel and devil on your shoulders won’t shut up about either choice? As a professor put it in a recent economics lecture, think about “WWJD?” No, I am not talking about Jesus, though many do turn to prayer in dire times like these. Rather, what would Jed Bartlett do? As I mentioned earlier, for those of you unfamiliar with “The West Wing,” President Bartlett is the type of president most Americans would dream of, regardless of political party. Viewers can always trust that by the end of the episode, President Bartlett and his loyal staff made the world a better place in one way or another. While America will never have a President quite as great as the fictional Jed, it helps to think what about him we all admire so much — and then decide which candidate can best emulate those qualities. It does not seem likely that us young voters will receive an apology any time soon, but the best way to express our indignation is to go out there and vote in the best way our conscience will permit. Now, if only there was a “Bartlett 2016” option.

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