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For many Americans, Election Day brings relief

November 09, 2016 08:03 IST

"Neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton represent the values and ideals of America.”

“After long quarrels, it is finally getting close to being over.”

George Joseph hears from voters.

IMAGE: A young voter on the East Coast prepares to make her voice heard. Photograph: Mohammed Jaffer/Snapsindia

“It is relieving. After long quarrels, it is finally getting close to being over,” Sam Kannappan, one of the founders of the Meenakshi Temple in Houston, Texas, told Rediff.com.

Whether a Hillary Clinton supporter or a Donald Trump supporter, voters across the United States were almost unanimous in the consensus that never had they witnessed an election with such unprecedented tension. They also agreed that the end of November 8 would be a relief.  

A poll conducted by the University of Massachusetts-Lowell and Odyssey showed how people viewed both candidates.

About a quarter of the millennials polled said they would rather the earth be struck by a meteor than vote for any of the 2016 presidential nominees. The poll had asked 1,247 people between the ages 18-35 to choose between having Clinton for president, Trump for president, Barack Obama appointing himself to a life term, a lottery that chooses a random US citizen to serve as president or a meteor strike that ends human life. About 39 per cent of respondents preferred an Obama life term, 26 per cent opted for a random lottery and 23 per cent favored a meteor strike.

Bhavana Vasudev, an activist in Columbia, South Carolina, and a close friend of the state’s Indian-American Governor Nikki Haley said she was saddened by the state of politics in America right now, although she acknowledged that it was far superior to that of most other countries.

“Neither candidate represents the values and ideals of America,” she told Rediff.com. “They are equally tainted by their own set of demons.”

“As a female I would love to see a woman as president, however, I would prefer to see Nikki Haley as the first woman to lead this great nation,” she said. “Hillary is too tainted by her obligation to various special interest groups. She let an Ambassador of the United States die under her watch and constantly displays her bad judgement with her handling of classified material.”

She added, “As a woman born in India, raised in America, and a cancer survivor I am not scared of too many things in life. The incompetence of the system and media bias scares me for my children and their future.”

Revealing that her house was voting against “Hillary, incumbents, career politicians and for the prosperous American dream that brought Indian nationals to American shores,” Vasudev noted: “My youngest son is 21. He voted for the first time, he cast his ballot for Trump. I am so proud that he made his choice by not what is popular or that he feels intimated by others but that he wants to see a shake up in the system.”

The New York Times, in an editorial, noted that the changes brought by this election cycle would not end on November 8 with the election of the new American president.

‘This election year has been an exhausting parade of ugliness,’ the Times said. ‘Hate sells. Racism, bigotry and misogyny, Donald Trump has proved, can energize a national campaign. Mr Trump has shown it is feasible to recruit the alt-right, conspiracy theorists, white supremacists and anti-Semites as ferocious allies without alienating reliable Republican voters.’

It added, ‘Economic anxiety is high. Americans of all backgrounds --whites, blacks, Latinos, men, women, people in rural and urban communities -- have this in common: They are worried about their economic future… But Mr Trump has outdone even Bernie Sanders in tapping this anxiety. While economic worries cut across all demographic lines, he has gotten away with exploiting the real concerns by attacking immigrants and trade agreements, but offering no cogent policies for creating good jobs and lifting wages.’

The editorial board also noted, ‘The media enable extreme candidates and the parties are too fragile to stop them… In democratizing the media, Twitter and Facebook have also made it possible for Americans to encounter only the messages they want to hear. Desperate for ratings, Fox News, CNN and other networks handed Mr Trump an open mike early in the contest. And having fanned the flames of extreme partisanship for years, Republican leaders were powerless in the primaries to stop Mr Trump’s rise, and then were afraid to alienate his supporters by opposing him in the general election.’ 

IMAGE: Sikhs and Muslims have borne the brunt of the ugly electoral narrative. Photographs: Mohammed Jaffer/Snapsindia

Meanwhile, even as Hispanics seemed to throng the polling booths from early morning -- this election has noted a much higher voter turnout from the community that was so maligned by Trump -- fewer than expected Indian-American voters were seen in places where the community has a large presence.

“Many of them will come in the evening to vote when they return from work,” Dr Aney Paul, Rockland County Legislator in New York, told Rediff.com.

Thampy Chacko, president of the Federation of Kerala Associations in North America, who went to vote in the morning urged every citizen to vote. “Whoever wins, it will be historic,” he noted.

George Joseph
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