Time Magazine’s last cover before Election Day may have captured the zeitgeist of the 2016 presidential race.
The cover shows Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton standing together, holding a sign that reads, “The end is near.”
The simple, four-word phrase encapsulates how divided America is the week before polling stations open for voting, with supporters from both parties seeing the election of the other candidate as a sign of literal doom for the country.
The 2016 election season has been possibly the most vitriolic and negative campaign in modern history and has led to historically high unfavorability ratings for both candidates.
For most voters, the discussion of issues of real importance has either been absent or superficial at best, only to be replaced by continued mudslinging. This hasn’t been helped by the litany of scandals that have plagued both candidates, albeit to varying degrees.
In the case of the Republican presidential candidate, the release of a video showing him bragging about sexually assaulting women and making other generally extreme misogynist racist comments, and disparaging military generals, has not helped endear voters to him.
On the other hand, Clinton has been dogged by charges of negligence and corruption in regards to her private email server and the allegedly suspicious dealings of the Clinton Foundation — not to mention 25 years of constant attacks by the Republicans.
But according to Time Magazine’s Cheryl Alter, in an election where the choice is between a woman and a man with on going allegations of sexual assault against women and a history of misogyny, the result might prove to be about the treatment of women.
“The challenge the country is facing is how much to value these issues in a referendum on our future,” Alter writes. “And in a time of historic upheaval, the decision will shape what women are allowed to achieve and what men are allowed to get away with in 21st century America.”
Whatever happens on Election Day, and despite how venomous this campaign has been, the presidential election season has done the country a service in bringing to light what women across America go through every day.
This year has witnessed the reorganization of the electoral bases of the two major parties as a majority of highly-educated women swing toward the Democrats and men without a college degree move toward the GOP.
Ultimately, this election has made clear that the sort of sexual misconduct by men that has historically been laughed off or ignored could very well decide the fate of men’s political ambitions.