The Real Election Loser: Decorum

Mehk Sethi

Among the many factors that contribute to our great democracy, one of the most important is decorum. People, specifically politicians, can have completely different views but still interact with each other in a civil manner and collaborate to make our country a better place to live. However, recently, specifically in this past election, manners and cooperation seemed to be extremely rare.

This is the first election in recent history, in which the two major party nominees did not call and congratulate each other for obtaining their respective party nominations. Moreover, people were shocked when the two major party candidates shook hands, and the audience actually laughed when someone asked them to name something positive about the other at the second debate. The toxic atmosphere of this election did not stop there though; when the candidates were not constantly interrupting each other, they were fighting like toddlers over who would be a puppet in the White House.

However, it was not always like this. There was a time when the public would shame presidential candidates for checking their watches at a debate, as they did with George H. W. Bush in 1992, or for sighing, as they did with Al Gore in 2000, or for having a frustrated expression, as they did with George W. Bush in 2004.

Now, the bar has been lowered a lot; one candidate openly threatened to send the other to jail if elected, and the other called the supporters of that candidate a “basket of deplorables.” In 2009, President Obama compared his poor bowling skills to the Special Olympics and was forced to apologize, and now, a major party candidate mocked a disabled reporter, didn’t apologize, and it was completely acceptable. In 2014, President Obama saluted marines with coffee in his hand, and it was seen as a sign of the utmost disrespect; this election season, a major party candidate criticized the family of a Muslim American soldier killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq and claimed John McCain not a war hero because he was captured, and it was just another day in the gloomy election.

This overwhelming negativity and lack of etiquette has also spread to social media, where one candidate suggested watching a former Miss Universe’s sex tape, which was proven to be fake, and to other branches of the government, where Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg crossed the line and called one candidate a “faker” with “no consistency” who “really has an ego.”

With the election a thing of the past, many are concerned that the behavior exhibited during it will become the new normal; however it is clear that what is most needed at this time is the return of civility into politics.