Americans must choose between unknown and status quo

Posted on Oct 3 2016 - 8:01am by Julia Grant

Last week’s debate may have been set on a conventional stage but its audience members were balancing on a precarious cliff, eyeing the dangers over each shoulder.

After all, this election is not your typical battle between a Republican and a Democrat. Rather, it is a festering face-off between the status quo and the unknown — that is, what you just ran away from and the murky abyss down below.

Voters may feel as if they have a lot to decide when considering a candidate, such as plans for economic stimulation, healthcare policies and race relations.

While these details are significant, the race boils down to a simple concept: Do we largely retain the lackluster policies we have had for the last eight years? Or do we elect nothing more than ambiguous promises, whose only certainty is in their provocativeness?

Take the issue of international terrorism, for instance. Hillary Clinton advocated continuing the strategy initiated under her reign as Secretary of State (albeit with different jihadist movements we face today), namely intensifying air strikes and supporting the Kurds. These strategies have not ended the pervasive violence in the region, but they have mitigated it to an extent.

Donald Trump, however, proved his mastery at trading anything concrete for inflammatory sound bites. He spouted off imprecise and bizarre sentiments, attesting “The Middle East is a mess” (well, yes, Trump; yes indeed), while claiming he is the man to cure all woes.

And yet, these zealous expressions are precisely what voters who are agitated with the Obama administration want to hear. For what they lack in substance, they make up in hope.

It almost reminds one of shopping for snacks at a gas station. You realize none of your options are great, but you need something to keep you going anyway.

Hillary Clinton is like those knockoff boxes of Krispy Kreme donuts — reliable, but vaguely unsatisfactory; you realize they are just a curious disillusion as to what could be. They nearly satisfy you, but you understand they are not quite as savory as they could be.

Trump, though, is the mystery flavor in a bag of jellybeans. You bite into one eagerly, certain it will be strawberry or root beer. There is always that chance, however, that it will leave you with nothing but an unfortunate aftertaste and a form of guilty regret.

Thus, an individual risk assessment is in order for every American citizen. One must determine if the wellbeing of our nation is worth the gamble of a candidate as hazy as Donald Trump—or if we can afford not to risk it.

In simpler terms: donuts or jellybeans?

Stay put or jump?

The compilation of our decisions will change the course of this nation irrevocably. Take a breath and take a bite.

Julia Grant is a freshman public policy leadership and journalism major from Gulfport.