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If the 2016 presidential election was the worst party I’d ever been to, somehow 2020 is already worse. The campaigns have started earlier and those who haven’t given in to anxiety and uncertainty are angrier than anyone I met during the last election. Still, like a bad house party, the music is on repeat, the food is cold, and everyone wants to talk about religion, politics, and Donald Trump.
Trump is omnipresent. He dominates the news cycle and, seemingly, our daily lives–a guest that won’t leave long after everyone has gone home.
Many expected salvation with the release of the Mueller report, but two years later, the GOP took Barr’s four-page memo as vindication and there is no easy resolution in sight. Democratic infighting threatens to dilute the opportunities gained in the 2018 midterm election, and a couple of long-shot Republicans hope to unseat Trump in the primaries. The slog toward 2020 is only beginning, and we’ve got almost two years to go.
There was a certain levity pervasive in previous campaigns that I’ve photographed, but the circus this time around is underpinned by a gravity I haven’t felt before. Those most affected by the current administration’s policies and stances, especially women, immigrants, and people of color, have had a remarkable effect showing the broader public how much their votes matter. The alt-right and the current administration’s supporters have only become more entrenched.
As in 2016, my political coverage is characterized by a harsh and direct flash, evocative of early press photography. I use this technique to overpower and subvert the stage lights and decorations used by the campaigns, peeling back a layer of artifice so the viewer can focus on the entire scene surrounding the candidate, including the voters, protesters, campaign staffers, and others in the margins of the American political scene.