It was 2014.
I remember how I felt every time I turned on my computer and logged in to Facebook or any other social media sites.
I felt shame, disgust, and a high dose of uncomfortable. I felt like I wanted to delete all my presence in social media because I could not handle it anymore.
Why, if you may ask?
Presidential Election 2014, that’s why.
I remember that it was the battleground for two most influential people in the country. One of them was a former general with very controversial work experience. The other was your former Average Joe, the ‘people person’, a businessman turned to a mayor and governor of the capital city of the country before finally running for president. The first guy was someone who believed in discipline and military power, while the other believed in democracy and working together to achieve a good cause.
Suddenly, my timeline became a battleground among my friends. All of them defending their allegiance and their choice by spreading articles (both legit and hoax news) about both presidential candidates. Open debates happened in comment boxes. Relationships were broken, family feud took place, hate speech happened everywhere. I felt so sick up to the point where I did not want to talk about the election at all. The talk of politics somehow spurred a funny feeling inside my stomach that made me unable to form any sentences to express my opinion or even my stance.
(I ended up voting for guy number two, but that’s not because I supported him, I just wanted him to be president just because I wanted his vice governor to be the governor of Jakarta.)
Fast forward to 2016, funnily… a similar thing happened. But it’s not in my beloved country Indonesia, it happened in the Land of the Free.
I must admit it was a pretty tough election for my American friends. It was not a “bad vs good” election as what I expected. And it was *that* hard for Americans up to the point where they didn’t want to vote for either of them and decided to vote for third parties.
How can I see this? Because I saw something that I only saw during Indonesian elections, happened in the USA: people begging other people to vote. Fellow Americans encouraged others to vote by saying things like “If you don’t vote, you won’t have any rights to comment should our country go wrong”. Those words were the exact words that kept buzzing in every election in Indonesia. I was pretty shocked to see such thing happened there because it was my first time hearing Americans encouraging each other to use their voting rights and not being ignorant. As if people were being lazy to vote, maybe they were Bernie supporters who were disappointed for not having him in the presidential race, or they just thought that no one is better between those two top contenders.
This shapes a marketing phenomenon I haven’t seen before in the USA: Companies (mostly restaurants and coffee houses) giving discounts to people if they showed the “I Voted” sticker. This happened too in Indonesia, starting from 2012 governor election, and followed with the 2014 presidential election. I remember going to Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf with my friends after the presidential election just to redeem 50% discount on my coffee by showing the barista the sign that I had voted (in Indonesia, we had to dip our little finger in an ink bottle as a sign we had voted). I read some articles on the internet about this phenomenon and it struck me as odd because this was so similar from my experience. People reluctant to vote, and so companies took over by having “After Election” promotion as a trigger for people to vote.
That’s why I said I felt a certain amount of deja vu for this year’s US Election. Well, now that they have their new president, I just hope that he wouldn’t do everything he promised in his campaigns. USA can do better than this. What about you guys? What do you think about the result of the US Elections?
(If you think I missed an information or if I wrote something wrong, please kindly correct it on the comment box. I must admit my knowledge of American political history has gotten a bit rusty after graduating from college. Thank you!)