In which things get political

The moderate independent who hates to ruffle feathers is about to get political. Please feel free to ignore/unfollow/unfriend me if you just can’t handle any more of this business. No hard feelings, I promise. I get it. We’ve all been traumatized by this election. But this feels like a watershed moment in our nation’s history, and I don’t want to look back on this moment and think, “I was silent when I could have spoken.” If we end up with a dictator, I would rather be on that person’s hit list than be complicit in the destruction of my country or of a single one of my fellow Americans’ lives. I’m not trying to change your mind. I just need to speak mine. Because despite what we heard last night, words matter. And silence kills.
I fully understand that neither candidate is perfect. I get it. I also think we’re being willfully naive if we demand from our candidates perfection of which we ourselves are incapable. I’m not 100% jazzed about any human being 100% of the time, myself included especially.
Hillary has issues. She’s not perfect. But she’s also been subjected to some of the most flagrant misinformation campaigning in the history of American politics. She is not perfect. She has done harm. But she has also done good.
Donald has not only admitted to but bragged about sexually assaulting women. If, like me, you are female, this is terrifying. A major political party is running a candidate who views women as objects for his personal amusement. This is NOT okay.
But it shouldn’t take an admission of sexual assault for us to be concerned. He has repeatedly denigrated almost every group of people in this nation: women, blacks, Muslims, disabled people, veterans, Latinos, even athletes.
Muslim does not equal terrorist. Mexican does not equal criminal. Disabled does not equal stupid. Female does not equal object. Athlete does not equal sex offender. Veteran does not equal weak.
Last night, he said that words don’t matter.
Imagine if they didn’t. Imagine if they meant nothing, if you could not count on anything you ever said being heard or understood. Imagine if you had to go through life without a voice. He said words don’t matter, but he needed words in order to say this.
Yes, Hillary is problematic. So is everyone. So am I. So are you. But Donald has passed problematic. He has dismissed his running mate’s views and, in front of the nation, promised to throw his opponent in jail. This is not how you make America great again. This is how you make America a dictatorship.
As for making America great again, that is the most unpatriotic campaign slogan I have ever heard. America IS great. America is also problematic, like its people, but it is great. It is great precisely because it is a place where people can speak their minds in front of a nation and not be persecuted, because it is a place where we do not throw people in jail because they are our political enemies.
I understand that people want to vote third party in order to vote their consciences. But this is a luxury that comes with privilege. A third party candidate will not win this election (and believe me, as a moderate independent, I would love to have viable third-party options). Either Donald or Hillary will become president, and when that happens, real people will really be affected. Real people like Latino kids who are terrified their families will be torn apart because they’ve heard Donald on TV telling them they’re criminals. Real people like combat veterans who hear him telling them that they’re weak because they laid down their lives for their nation. Real people like the nearly ten million women who shared their stories of sexual assault in the 24 hours after Donald passed off his predatory behavior as “locker room talk.” Real people like the Indigenous defenders of Standing Rock who are protecting the water of a nation built on their blood and bones.
One of these two people will become president. One of these two will shape the fate of a nation of gorgeously diverse human beings for the next four years. I would love to vote for the environment, for civil liberty, for reasonable government and taxation. I would love to feel squeaky-clean about my vote. But when I weigh my own conscience against the lives of my fellow Americans, keeping my own conscience clear starts to feel really petty.
I expect that by saying this, I’m opening myself up to accusations of having drunk the liberal Kool-Aid, or the conservative Kool-Aid, or the Two-Party Kool-Aid. I’ve tried to educate myself about the two candidates using the tools and information at my disposal. I’ve considered Donald’s appeal to the millions of Americans who are justifiably fed up with the system. Many of them have truly gotten a raw deal. I’ve dug for dirt on Hillary that’s truly appalling (and it’s not the stuff her most rabid detractors are shouting about, either–it’s real).
I am not a Democrat. I am not a Republican. I am not a liberal or conservative. But I am an American. I love liberty and opportunity, but I don’t want them for myself if it means denying them to anyone else. I believe my vote matters. And I know that it affects other people.
I’m not trying to convince you. I think at this point we’re all dug in pretty deep. I need to say these things for myself, to know that if we do end up with a president who starts deporting all the brown people, who thinks women are consumable goods to be used and discarded by wealthy men, who has a history of cheating hardworking people out of their earned pay, who insults our nation’s defenders when he himself was unwilling to serve, who threatens those who dare to stand against him, who does not understand how our democracy works or why it matters–if these things happen, I need to know that I was not silent.