The United States has absorbed the immediate shock–and now must face the aftermath–of the 2016 presidential election. A myriad of questions now runs through the collective consciousness of the American people: What happens next? Where do we go from here? How much constitutional and social change can we expect over the next four years?
The nation appears divided between supporters of President-elect Donald Trump, and those who continue to stand firm in their support of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Much of the news media coverage misleadingly presented this duality between the two candidates, as it does with every election.
Polarizing partisan politics pose a threat to healthy communication between parties. Fox News and MSNBC classify themselves as right wing and left wing news stations. If instead, these companies approached their stories from a perspective of unbiased neutrality, rather than immediately assuming a position from a liberal or conservative perspective, the American electorate would be more informed, more understanding, and more willing to compromise.
Another falsely presented duality begins during the primaries of every election cycle–one that leads viewers into thinking that there is an unspoken inevitability as to whom the parties will nominate as their leaders.
This became especially clear for the democrats this time around–Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders led a powerful movement among the youth of America, igniting and legitimizing their passion for income and social equality. While it would be inaccurate to say that the news media did not cover him at all, much more air time was given to his opponent.
While this issue did not affect the Republican party as severely, there did seem to be an inevitability to a Donald Trump nomination after Ted Cruz dropped out of the race in May.
While many factors contributed to Trump’s presidential nomination, the news media should not be excused in its role. Responsibility must be taken for the way that political news is covered. The illusion of duality and inevitability threatens the political culture of the United States–one that reflects not merely black and white mindsets, but a gradient spectrum of grays as well.
The severity of this issue varies from one election to the next, and when emotions are less intensified, and the national conversation is less agitated, the two-party system is not nearly as oppressive. But this is not a time of rest. This is a time of revolution. This–as it becomes clearer day by day–is not politics as usual.