Warriors on Issues: Make America whole again

On Friday, students at Wilton High School were afforded the opportunity to cast their votes in an election simulation that showcased the upcoming congressional, senatorial, and presidential races.

In summary, the Democrats swept all three races by an average margin of about 14%. It grows increasingly likely that Congressman Himes and Sen. Blumenthal will remain in their respective houses of Congress; the only race that merits any serious analysis, therefore, is the one for the deed to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Before even discussing the Trump-Clinton dichotomy, we must notice the nearly 10% of students who rejected it altogether by voting third party or writing in a candidate. The extent and severity to which this divergence will occur on Election Day is a question more appropriate for the likes of Nate Silver, but we all must be aware of its inevitability to some degree. Third-party voting in such a high-stakes election is veiled in a brand of galling moral superiority, but can Wilton High School students — and American voters alike — be vilified for choosing not to endorse either presidential bid of the most detested candidates in recent history? While I don’t sympathize with the third-party argument, it proves difficult to invalidate its proponents’ foundational grievance.

A majority of Wilton High School students believe that Hillary Clinton should be the next president of the United States. Virtually every student with whom I spoke during the election (including myself) anticipated a Trump victory. While we can pore over numbers and statistics, the conflict of these two ideas proves to be the most intriguing and extrapolatable facet of the WHS presidential face-off. Go to any Trump rally and one will almost certainly find thousands of impassioned supporters who proudly (and ironically) garner signs that read, “The silent majority stands with Trump”; the political climate has shifted to such a degree in the last 18 months that while this may have been true in May of 2015, it lacks accuracy today. The silent majority may very much be Clinton’s in places like Wilton, where everyone thinks everyone else is voting for Trump because of the vocalness of a select minority. People at the high school were genuinely surprised by the Clinton victory; I think that this is ultimately attributable to the human propensity to conflate volume with magnitude, especially in political matters. Don’t forget that behind all the fire and smoke, the Wizard of Oz was just an ordinary man after all.

One difference that should be anticipated between the WHS simulation and the actual election is the feeling in the air. Students demonstrated a buzzing excitement, a passionate energy that, in a way, resembled the mood of the Pep Rally a week prior. This electoral ebullience will not recur. I am too young to personally remember the feeling of Election Day 2008, but I would like to think Obama’s electric victory speech and McCain’s collected and humble concession more or less recreate the emotional spectrum of the day. Tuesday’s atmosphere will carry a particular grimness, a particular seriousness, a particular coolness in which very few people will exit their polling location with a feeling of self-determination and optimism that characterized Obama’s first election. Yes, both candidates have their share of enthusiastic supporters, but in the closing months, much of the cycle has devolved into a gruesome tennis rally of who is more ethically compromised, which more resembles the tantrum-induced slapping fights of 5-year-olds than a presidential contest.

The following scenario is a near statistical certainty: Nov. 9 will bring great relief for about half the country and feelings of catastrophic loss for the other; there is no trophy for second place. Whoever our next president may be, the revitalizing of our national unity can no longer be a concept to which we only pay lip service. America will be great again when America learns to be decent again.

Cameron Berg is a junior at Wilton High School. The WHS Model Congress contributes this series of columns.