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Is unprecedented our new normal?

As a college student, it feels like all we have ever known is unprecedented times. The Jan. 6 insurrection, a war in the Middle East and now we stand in the midst of a head-to-head face-off with two former presidents. Although it is a familiar matchup between the oldest-ever president and one only slightly younger, this time former President Donald Trump is facing several criminal indictments. 

With COVID-19 in 2020, that election was like no other. The pandemic significantly impacted the election process. States expanded mail-in and early voting options, prompting changes in how votes were cast and counted. This led to numerous legal disputes over the results, bringing about allegations of fraud which resulted in tensions and uncertainty about the results. With precariousness looming over our nation, the 2020 election took political polarization to a new level.

And we are still dealing with the effects.

Trump is the first former president to be charged with state and federal crimes and is now facing four separate indictments. Our Republican nominee is simultaneously fighting these charges while campaigning to be the 47th president of the United States. This has never happened in the history of our nation.

There have been questions raised of whether Trump can still serve if he gets indicted, but in the U.S. Constitution, there is no amendment stating a convicted felon can not hold office. But, oddly enough, the convicted felon can not vote. 

In 2024, this election year, it seems like more is at stake than ever. For some college students this is the first presidential election they are able to partake in. Yet with Trump’s criminal trials being in the spotlight, significant political issues important to deciding where their votes lie remain in the shadows. 

In a normal election year, nominees would be holding the microphone explaining why they are worthy of their constituents’ vote. This year, rather than news segments delving into abortion rights or the border, the headlines are captivated by developments of Trump’s trials. This is extremely damaging for constituents, especially students who may not have experience voting, who need to determine which candidate they want to be the next president. 

With this being a non-political democratically engaged election, there are a few recommendations I have to be able to decide on who to vote for come November. 

First, determine where you stand on significant issues and consider what you want your president to address if in office. Next, gather information about the candidate from reputable sources, on campaign websites, social media or through their speeches. Finally, seek opinions from others in your community. This should not sway you but rather evoke an informative conversation in order to weigh out what is important to you.

Try not to let all of the chaos surrounding this year’s election steer you from voting. Although it may seem unfair that we as college students have not yet had a “normal” presidential election cycle, we must continue to engage in democracy.

In a time where we are all tired of witnessing unprecedented times, it is crucial to persevere because we will prevail as a nation if we unite despite our differences. 

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Olivia Kerben is a senior double majoring in social justice and professional writing. Originally from Rockville, Maryland, Olivia has an unwavering passion for social justice and is enthusiastic about her opportunity to serve as an opinion writer for The Miami Student in her final semester.