Let’s talk about a touchy topic, the 2016 election. What a roller coaster it has been. Let’s face it, emotions are running high after the primary season we’ve been through and the election season is sure to be equally brutal. This time around, everyone has incredibly strong opinions, and because of this, it makes it that much easier to get nasty when it comes to political discussions. The majority of the candidates are a particularly rough subject.

Here’s the deal. Donald Trump, even when there were 17 candidates, was receiving anywhere from 20-30% of the Republican primary and caucus votes. For someone running against 17 candidates, this is an incredibly high margin. These numbers would cause almost anyone to assume he’s wildly popular. On the contrary Trump is, I would venture to say, one of the most hated candidates of all time. The underlying problem with this entire situation is that, when you ask around, it’s hard to actually find someone who says “I voted for Trump.” That particular 20-30% of the GOP is silent. In fact, I’ve been hearing numerous people say they’d rather start this primary season over. The #NeverTrump movement has exploded, and many conservatives (especially millennials), are looking to third parties. Why is this? If 20-30% of Americans wanted this man to be president, why can’t I find anyone that openly admits voted for him? Voter shaming.

This election, instead of using opposition as a way to strengthen our own arguments, we have taken to bashing and personal attacks. Someone who voted for Trump is automatically a “racist”, “bigot”, or even Hitler’s ancestor. Similarly, someone who is voting for a third party candidate is a “idiot” or “delusional.” Rather than debating issues, we have taken to calling each other names. We brutally insult anyone who disagrees, and consequently, don’t grow politically. There is no reason that two people can’t have an open discussion about who they are supporting and why.

We’re at a point where, instead of researching, discussing, and carefully considering the presidential nominees, we believe everything the media tells us. Negative, exaggerated attacks are single handedly forming our perception of this election. Americans are so scared of retribution that there is no open discussion about politics. Among millennials, it’s unheard of to support anyone but Bernie. Why is that?

While voter shaming continues to dictate this election, voter shame isn’t productive either. If you are one of the 20-30% who supported Trump, stand up! While votes are confidential, you clearly wanted this man to be president – tell those around you and help them understand the reasoning behind your decision. Don’t take it to your safe space, using anonymity to hide your opinions from others. If you’ve decided to support a third party in November, don’t cower in the shadows, show conservatives that Donald Trump is not their only option.

The GOP is quick to shoot down any implication that we’re intolerant. We claim to embrace everyone, and we like to claim ourselves as the big tent party. In order to truly prove the left wrong, we must exhibit tolerance, even when it is hard. Nothing is more intolerant than shaming those that are on our side. Whether we like it or not, Trump earned the nomination. He’s the man that the the majority of the GOP wanted to represent them. Likewise, everyone is entitled to one vote and if someone chooses to give that vote to a third party candidate, that is their right. We cannot call ourselves tolerant and continue on the path we’re currently on. Enough lashing out, enough safe spaces, enough intolerance. You don’t have to agree with someone to have a productive conversation. We will never grow as a party if we continue to allow infighting and eliminate discussion. At the end of the day, even though we all disagree on the best path, each and everyone of us wants a better future for our country and our children. Rather than shaming those who disagree, learn from them. At least they care enough to have an opinion and to vote. That’s a start. Prove that the GOP is the party of tolerance, we’ll all be better off in January if we do.

Lauren N
Lauren is one of our managing editors here at Future Female Leaders. When she is not editing FFL articles, you can find her color coding her whole life in her Lilly Pulitzer agenda. She's a southern girl who loves Hokie football and isn't afraid to be politically incorrect, so consider this your trigger warning.

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