Voters get disproportionate amounts of wasabi this election

Nrhari Duran

The Japanese sushi-eating tradition is finely tuned for a culinary experience. Along with a customer’s choice of sushi, each plate comes with guacamole’s spicy twin, wasabi, some soy sauce and ginger. Between each roll of sushi, customers cleanse their palates with a bite of ginger. Together, each piece of sushi is experienced independently, and the rolls don’t compete with one another. 

American politics is built, in many ways, akin to sushi. The issue, however, is that new voters are getting more wasabi than they can handle in 2016, making them too wary to participate in government. Though there is much less seaweed and fewer calories, the average election cycle features a series of candidates — the pieces of sushi — with all of their respective stances and baggage — the wasabi. After each election cycle, the year’s mudslinging and scandals fade from the public’s mind as voters prepare for the next election year, the same way you’d clear your palate with ginger between rolls of sushi. 

New voters have had more than their fair share of political wasabi this cycle. It’s no secret that election rhetoric has been largely negative this year, with many calling their vote a choice between two evils. To demonstrate this, a Gallup poll from earlier this month found that the most common reason a voter supported either Trump or Clinton was out of disdain for the opposing candidate. In contrast, “hardly any respondents said the main reason they were supporting either Barack Obama or John McCain was that they objected to the opposing candidate.”

The year’s politics have proven unusually distasteful for first-time voters. Gallup’s most recent poll on voter satisfaction showed that only 28 percent of eligible voters are satisfied with America’s current path. Voter satisfaction throughout the whole year averages out at an even lower 26 percent, which is “significantly below the historical average of 37 percent since Gallup began measuring it in 1979.” For the generation of young people and immigrants who have never taken part in a national election before, this election’s ups and downs would seem to be the norm.

The implications of this historically unfavorable election are more far-reaching than simple protest ballots. When voters are dissatisfied with the political process as a whole, voters too easily can embrace “voter nihilism,” or the belief that no political action can be favorable. With the last successful third party candidate being Abraham Lincoln and blank ballots being negligible in the electoral college, new voters may be altogether turned off from political engagement.

For first time voters, it cannot be stressed enough that civic engagement is the most accessible means of changing government, even if the options seem to be doused in soy sauce and lathered with hot wasabi. For new voters to cleanse their palates, citizens can turn to the refreshingly issue-centric ginger of local and state level politics. To find out about the various, less wasabi-covered races on your ballot this November, Texan voters can find a sample ballot here.  

Duran is international relations and global studies freshman from Spring. Follow him on Twitter @bboydeadfish