November 8th, 2016 is the 58th Presidential Election and regardless of whether you are voting for Hillary, Trump, Stein or Bernie, there is an overwhelming feeling of disappointment, anger, and frustration. This election is the antithesis of the 2008 President Obama election where HOPE truly seemed to personified, if not by a person, then by a collective action.
While Trump offers the possibility for either radical economic growth or meltdown, Hillary brings political experience and savvy that is fraught with insider concerns. Many people argue, or are simply resigned to the fact that they will vote for the lesser of two evils. As Julian Assange stated it is like choosing between Cholera and the Plague.
My voting record is relatively progressive, however I don’t believe, nor do I particularly care for, any politician. I am a staunch critic of the political process–from the unknown top down. And, I also believe that this type of criticism and analysis, along with voting, is essential to the continued existence of a democracy.
What I found interesting about this voting experience is that when I started to really think about my experiences voting, and what each candidate inspired within me, I realized that I was not being driven by Eros, or love. Rather, in having to choose between either Trump or Clinton my vote was being motivated by what Freud described as the death drive, or Thanatos. The death drive is typified as the movement toward self destruction, aggression, and risk taking. Decisions made by the Eros drive are done by a life instinct, which favors creation, productivity, and construction.
In thinking about how the death drive was present in this 58th election, I saw it in two parts. First, as a voter in my thirties, there is a frustration with the system that has been symbolized in the hypocrisy of the two main presidential candidates–the rule of big businesses and old families. With that came a compulsion to act out aggressively, to move the system toward destruction, rather than toward creativity. Secondly, as I was voting, it became really obvious that the main challenges that this next presidency is going to have to deal with is how to turn our country, if not the world, away from one long drive toward impending doom. Whether we are looking at the environment, welfare, racial tensions, refugees, and present/future wars, there is definitely a message that someone needs to forcefully change directions.
Perhaps we are suffering from a bit of deflation: if Obama couldn’t do it, than who will? Or, perhaps the constant barrage of negative current events has finally gotten us a bit road weary? What I felt voting had nothing to do with the possibilities or limitations of either candidate, it was a reflection of the fatigue, frustration and anger of our countries culture.
But, as Freud noted, the drive toward death is powerful and that may just be the inspiration needed for positive change to happen? This election could be synonymous with our country jumping out of an airplane–giving everyone a chance, regardless of affiliation, to feel some existential adrenalin and re-prioritize the important stuff. At the end of the day, regardless of who is president, or even if we have a president, we are still going be forced to live with our neighbors, provide for our children, and strive toward a better future.
[I am writing this before the election results are in…Regardless of the outcome, this is how the election felt and does not reflect my thoughts, or predictions of how any administration will function or lead this country.]