Daaniyal Mulyadi is a freshman politics major.
We often think of politics as a shrewd, cold practice. To gain some form of progress, we must undergo backroom deals, concessions that go against our values, or scapegoating. Politics have become less of a movement towards building society and more of a base means of survival to maintain the status quo by choosing a lesser of two evils–lest we choose something more dangerous than what we already have. We are surprised then that things have not really changed, despite executives and experts saying our country is getting better.
What better example of this contradictory scenario than our current election between the political and economic elite candidates: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. On one end, we have a liberal that uses her own identity to push her policy. On the other side, we have a populist that thinks he is an improvement because he is not a politician. One thing remains the same: they are unequivocally elite figures in their fields, despite their illusions. Clinton is a career politician and Trump is a wealthy tycoon. There is no doubt both have sacrificed authenticity for authority.
Stuck in this binary, we are forced to choose between which elite figures would be less threatening to us. It is as if this election was directly pulled out of a good cop/bad cop scene from a movie, a bitter reminder that politics have transformed into a cold, detached spectacle. Those who dare to dismantle this ruse, namely, Jill Stein and Bernie Sanders, are dismissed as loons, idealists, overtly passionate and unrealistic in their policy. The electoral performance of both Stein and Sanders floundered, steamrolled by the unrelenting machine of the Clinton and Trump campaigns.
Photo credits: ZABOU/ZABOUART
There still lies some hope in this dilemma. In July, Sanders acknowledged his defeat and urged his progressive supporters to stand behind Clinton, in a bid to stave off a Trump presidency. The reaction was astonishing: a cascade of boos flooded the room, amplified by the slogans of diehard progressives adorned in “Bernie or Bust” shirts. Sanders was taken aback. His most loyal followers had turned against him. No more will they toe the party line. Sanders promised and initiated what he had called a political revolution, and his base wanted it now, with or without him. The American people no longer need an idol to change their circumstances, only an ideal.
If Sanders was the training wheels, the movement he created is the bicycle without them, and as such, we should begin rethinking what politics is. It should no longer be a detached practice of idolization, but an active engagement born out of a love to construct a better society. Like a love we would find in a relationship, we cannot simply expect a political revolution to start at the first encounter; it needs to be continuously built and nurtured.
Of course, conflicts are born from this political turmoil and sometimes, these relationships die, just like how the Sanders campaign died. Yet, there is no reason why these conflicts cannot be solved, and from a resolved crisis, a relationship that is much stronger can bloom. This is the greatest parallel between politics and love: its power truly succeeds when crises are overcome, and why love, like politics, is the process of overcoming conflict. As we await the winner of this debacle of an election, we remain free from the embrace of the dispassionate, be it Clinton or Trump, for our true love lies not with them, but for We the People.