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{Facebook post by Ryan S Bonnett, published here with permission}

Hi everyone. It’s going to be a rough few days as the election nears, so I figured we could have one, last, civil conversation about the whole thing. Mostly, I wanted to talk about how we got here.

Just to get it out of the way, unless anything drastic happens between now and Tuesday, I will be abstaining from voting. On one hand, you have a narcissist and a demagogue. On the other, you have the embodiment of everything wrong with corrupt politics. Regardless of whether you support Trump or Clinton, the sad fact is, most of the negative things being said about your candidate are true.

But that’s not why I wanted to talk to everyone tonight. I wanted to talk about how America, as a whole, got to this point. Because at the end of the day, we’ve already voted. We’ve been voting with our dollars, and our clicks and our shares since the start of this. And well before that, when you get right down to it. But allow me to back up.
There was a study about the major networks’ nightly news programs. During this election cycle, they’ve spent, combined, thirty two minutes on policy and platform discussion. Thirty. Two. Minutes. The same study tallied that the same programs spent over five and a half hours discussing Trump. Nothing of substance, just talking about him. Walter Cronkite is rolling over in his grave. Even growing up, I always felt that I could turn to Jennings, Rather, or Brokaw for what was real news. But those days are long gone.

But that’s where we are. Every time someone shares a post from Breitbart, or BeingLiberal, or any of the other pages with sexy headlines that mesh perfectly with your preconceived notions and serve only to validate slanted opinions, every time we give them reasons to put their advertising dollars in front of us, we drift further and further away from having a reliable news source. More on that in a moment.

And that’s what I’m talking about when I say we’ve already voted. Algorithms have already figured out what people care about, and they’ve figured out where to place their ads appropriately. And you know what? The candidates’ platforms aren’t what people are clicking on. It’s not what they’re sharing on Twitter or Facebook. We already know that Trump is not a good human being. We already know that Clinton is corrupt.

But these were our choices, because from day one, no one asked hard questions. No one held anyone accountable. And you can blame the media as much as you’d like, but the blame isn’t entirely at their door. Everything I was talking about above? They cover that stuff on television because they know it’s what people want to see. They know it because we have macro data on what people are actually talking about. No cared when they talked about the issues, so they did what they needed to in order to stay relevant. Talk all you want about corporate media influence and the like, but at the end of the day, they simply responded to our clickbait culture. I’m not happy about the loss of, and apathy towards, journalistic integrity, but we can at least trace how it happened.

So where does that leave us? What are we supposed to do on Tuesday now that we’ve buried ourselves this deep. Extreme rhetoric and extreme apathy got us these candidates. And even if you feel compelled to vote, I would say that you don’t actually know what the person you’re voting for actually stands for. Because nobody is vetting what they claim to stand for. Because nobody cares. You’re left to vote against someone, not on the merits of their policies, but on how repugnant you find them as human beings. If we were voting against a candidate, I would certainly vote against Trump. But that doesn’t necessarily equate to a vote for Clinton.

Regardless of which of these poor choices makes their way into the Oval Office, we will survive. So please, be civil to each other over the coming week. Because when this is all over, we have four years to work together to make sure that our next choices are candidates that we are proud to vote for, and not simply against.