I’m no stranger to extremely opinionated, politically active people. In fact, I come from a large family of them. I happen to be the least politically involved (and sometimes blissfully ignorant) member of my family, but this election season has inspired me to be more involved and more aware. I can’t sit idly by knowing that a racist, deplorable, hot-headed, politically inexperienced, failure-of-a-businessman Dorito could possibly be the future President of my country. I’m here to voice my opinion to all the skeptics and undecided voters that are willing to listen.
I get that you are a proud American that wants to exercise your right to vote and that’s great! What I don’t get is, how one could knowingly, in my opinion, waste that right to vote on a candidate that doesn’t have enough media coverage or historical evidence to ever win. No third party candidate has ever won a presidential election and that sure as hell isn’t about to change tomorrow. I get that you want to make your voice heard and that you don’t want to just vote for someone you believe to be the lesser evil. But I ask you, if you vote for your third party candidate, do you feel like you’re making a difference? Do you feel like that’s any better than sitting at work waiting for votes to be counted, one after the next for both Clinton and Trump, and few and far between for both Stein and Johnson?
Sometimes it’s hard to believe that you, one person, can change the outcome of something so large, but you can. I’m extremely opinionated and also extremely stubborn and I don’t like people telling me what to do, so I understand if you don’t want to listen to me, but you’ve got to be more scared of one of these people becoming President than the other. I’m sorry, but as much as every vote counts, a vote for a third party is a vote against both candidates who actually stand a chance in being your next President. You are going to end up with a President whether or not you like it, so don’t royally screw it up.
In case my description of Trump in the first paragraph wasn’t clear, I think he is what is wrong with this country, but even more so, I think his followers are the real problem. A party can gain no power without any followers. Throughout my travels in the past year to Europe, India, and Mexico, I have seen the people mock us. We are supposed to be a strong, powerful leader of a country and what we are right now is a disgrace. We’re a laughing stock and these countries know it., yet half of our population hasn’t caught on. If all of these countries are losing respect for our democracy and decision making, we can’t possibly expect to better our relationships with them, especially with Trump who has offended every single group of people out there with the exception of white Anglo-Saxon men.
As a woman, I have been immensely offended by Trump’s words and action. I am fearful that my rights from voting to what I can do with my own body will be taken away. As a Jew (I consider myself more ethnically so, than religiously), I feel threatened by all the attacks towards religious groups, even though not my own. I am terrified of a holocaust in my own country, a country that represents freedom for all. Isn’t that what makes America already great? As a writer, I am concerned by Trump’s remarks towards news anchors and the media. I am afraid that I will lose my freedom of speech and we will lose freedom of the press. As someone with an international boyfriend here legally on a student visa, I am deeply offended on his stance towards immigrants. There is not a single soul in this country, with the exception of Native Americans, that doesn’t have an ancestor that immigrated here. We are a country born on immigrants and without the diversity we wouldn’t be who we are today. Even though his attacks are more specifically towards illegal immigrants, I fear that it will be harder for non-Americans to obtain visas or green cards.
I can’t even fathom how anyone could think these actions are acceptable. That somehow the fact that KKK members and dictators around the world support this man, yet our own President, fellow members of the Republican party, and the FBI don’t support or trust Trump. Not only has this man singlehandedly offended a majority of this country – possibly the world, but he has absolutely no qualifications that make him a viable candidate to lead our country. He has no experience with politics and hasn’t actually based his platform on anything he will do for our country (no, “Make America Great Again” doesn’t count). How will you make our country great? He still hasn’t told us. Yet, some people are still content with this answer. He has many failed businesses and also failed marriages. He prides himself on being this successful businessman, but if he can’t even keep many of his enterprises afloat, how can he run a country?
Now, Hillary, she has the credentials to run this country. With potentially the most impressive resume we’ve ever seen in a presidential candidate, people still doubt her qualifications. I’m not saying she’s a saint, but you can’t deny her involvement and her experience. Let’s not judge her on how her husband acted as President. Let’s not judge her because she’s a woman. She is a strong, qualified, well-tempered person that is more than prepared to lead our country into the future. I keep thinking to myself, are we scrutinizing her so hard because she’s a woman? It’s not like every other politician we’ve ever elected hasn’t lied in some respect (I’m pretty sure that’s a qualification along with being at least 36 years old, right?), except maybe Obama because well, he’s amazing and also the most adorably dorky dad. I wasn’t initially pro-Hillary, but when you consider the alternative, she’s our only hope to not turn back time 60 years. She may not be the perfect candidate, but she sure as hell will make sure every voice is heard and won’t attack or offend anyone in the process.
I feel confident that she will maintain the stability of what Obama has achieved in his eight years in office and I am proud to say I will be a part of history in voting for this country’s first female presidential candidate tomorrow. I am proud to say that my cousin will be, too. He was Hillary-skeptic before today, but his Facebook post from this afternoon inspired me to write and I’d like to share an excerpt from what he posted:
“I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not excited about Hillary Clinton’s campaign or her prospects as President. Not only have I been sharply critical of Hillary for years — from her vote as Senator for the Iraq War to her abandonment of the people of Honduras as Secretary of State following the 2009 coup, to her close ties to Wall Street and countless soulless corporations — I’ve also become increasingly jaded about the power of the presidency itself in our current system as a vehicle for making the kinds of real, profound changes I believe our society needs. Constrained by a gerrymandered, do-nothing Congress; in thrall to business interests and other major campaign donors; and unwilling to address the fundamental rot at the core of our neoliberal capitalist system, a Hillary Clinton presidency will not be transformative. But I do believe it will be relatively predictable.
While I’m not confident about the ability of the next President to do great things, I’m very confident in the ability of the next President to do terrible things. The US presidency is immensely powerful: with absolutely no oversight, a President can order total surveillance of any person they choose, launch wars, rip up global treaties, and even order armageddon at the click of a button. Under President Obama (whom I worked hard for in 2008 and once held out hope could be a transformative leader), the Bush-era right of a President to kidnap and lock away any person they choose, without so much as notifying their family, has been reiterated and codified (NDAA 2012). These powers, and many more, are far too dangerous to be handed to a man like Donald Trump.
Trump’s public campaign has demonstrated that he is a thin-skinned bully full of prejudices and with a taste for violence (and we’ve only had a glimpse of what he’s like in private). He seems to believe the worst thing a person can do is insult Donald Trump, and the best thing they can do is “be nice” to Donald Trump. He has emboldened the most racist, sexist, ableist, homophobic, transphobic, antisemitic, white supremacist voices in the country. He has declared that he would end free speech, threatens to imprison his opponent, and even muses about her assassination. Of nuclear weapons, he said “the power, the devastation is very important to me.” He praises modern dictators and used to keep a book of Adolf Hitler’s writings by his bedside, according to his own wife. If there was ever a time in American history when the threat of fascism seemed so clear, I don’t know about it.
Even if Trump or his supporters don’t start imprisoning and killing scapegoats, his avowed policies would leave the country in shambles. He would immediately start a trade war with China and Mexico, deport millions of working people critical to the function of countless industries (especially agriculture), and cut taxes on the rich so drastically that the government would run out of money and balloon the deficit (which he purports to care so much about). He would “repeal and replace Obamacare,” but he has yet to offer what that replacement will be. Tens of millions, including myself, would lose their healthcare.
One friend of mine said he believes the chaos and disaster of Trump’s election might hasten “the revolution.” I find that a short-sighted, dangerous point of view. I heard people say the same thing about George W. Bush in 2000, and instead we ended up with a calamitous war in Iraq, the “Patriot Act”, and the Great Recession. With Trump, I expect far worse. Any “revolution” his election might precipitate would doubtless end in either the bloody stalemate of civil war or the grim reality of totalitarian dystopia. And given the immense technological advantage of the government, with all the tools of Big Brother already at hand — drones, surveillance, guns, bombs, prisons, fear — totalitarianism seems the much more likely result.
The same friend said he believed Trump would be less likely to start World War III than Hillary Clinton, because Trump says nice things about Putin, and the Russian government clearly wants Trump to win — and of course because Hillary is a well-known hawk too. But this theory ignores many facts: first, that Trump is simply unpredictable, with a history of saying one thing one day then the opposite the next (remember how he and Ted Cruz famously said nice things about each other throughout the campaign, until they were among the last standing at which point Cruz became “lyin’ Ted,” and his father killed JFK?); second, that Putin only wants Trump to win because he knows it will be in Russia’s national interest, not the US’s; third, that Trump freely antagonizes China, another nuclear power that threatens US allies in its region; and fourth, that Hillary Clinton is by her nature the far more cautious candidate, and a little caution is really all that is needed to prevent nuclear war (see the Cuban Missile Crisis), with its veritable guarantee of mutually assured destruction.
Hillary’s cautious nature is just one reason why she’s worthy of support — well beyond the reasons to oppose Trump, which I’ve really only begun to explore above. Hillary Clinton is smart. She’s tough. She’s hard-working. She believes in manmade climate change. She’s accepting of people who are different from her and believes there’s strength in diversity. She knows and understands the other players on the world stage, and her foreign policy failures — from Iraq to Honduras to Libya — are so obvious that she can’t help but learn from them (I hope). She wants to keep ground troops out of Syria because she now knows what a quagmire is. She would never start a nuclear war with Russia because she’s a rational human being, but she would stand up for NATO allies in the face of Russian aggression.
Hillary may be cautious to a fault sometimes, she may be too secretive, too wonkish to be a good politician, and her inner circle is far too insular, but the arc of her life and career points to a woman who cares about people beyond herself. She has worked tirelessly on behalf of children and women especially. She is fiercely loyal to her friends, family (see Bill Clinton), and staff (see Huma Abedin). She was respected by her constituents as a Senator, and admired even by her Republican Senate colleagues, many of whom came to consider her a friend. Her Foundation — which became an issue in the campaign thanks mainly to innuendo and unproven allegations of quid pro quo, along with some clear political sloppiness on behalf of the Clintons — actually does lots of good work. Lots of money was thrown at the Foundation because it worked to raise millions of dollars for the purposes of helping people. There’s no evidence that any US policy changes from her time as Secretary of State came about due to a donation to the Clinton Foundation. To suggest that she used the Foundation for personal enrichment, as Republicans continue to do, belies all facts and reason. The Clintons became plenty rich writing books and giving speeches. The only candidate who used a personal Foundation for personal gain is Trump (see his paintings, and illegally using Trump Foundation money to pay off massive fines).
Has Hillary been misled at times by unscrupulous advisors (see Lanny Davis & Mark Penn)? Absolutely. Has she made stupid political mistakes (see taking a six-figure payout from Goldman Sachs for one speech)? Of course. Has she been beyond tone-deaf at times (see “baked cookies,” “super-predators,” “basket of deplorables”)? Indeed. And has she grown to enjoy the trappings of power? Probably so. But even at the pinnacle of her power, on the cusp of becoming the first woman President, it’s clear she works incredibly hard to be the best policy-maker she can be. She knows the issues backwards and forwards. She literally works herself to the point of exhaustion. She kept campaigning with pneumonia, after all.
The choice in this election is between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. One is a plausible fascist who revels in his own ignorance, empowers all manner of bigots and extremists, and has waged a scorched-earth campaign culminating in his supporters talking about “insurrection” and “civil war” if he loses. The other is a flawed politician who believes in the power of government to improve lives, is mature and deliberative, and whom it’s hard to imagine would be anything but gracious in defeat.
The revolutionary change we need will be difficult to win regardless of which party or candidate holds the highest office in the land. There are no easy solutions here. But since the most important questions at hand tomorrow are “Who would you rather have to fight for the next four years?”, “Who do you think will do the least damage over that time?”, and “Who, at the end of the day, will end up with the awesome power of the Presidency?”, the answer to me is obvious: it’s Hillary Rodham Clinton.”
So, all you “Nasty Women” and “Bad Hombres” out there, get out and vote tomorrow. Make a difference. And to quote Ghandi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”