Hillary will not change America, but she will not destroy America. Faced with two unpalatable decisions, we must make one- and it must not be Trump.
I’ll be blunt- I was initially for Hillary but voted for Bernie, as a slew of her characteristics unnerved me. While I am perfectly willing to accept her social awkwardness, her very-evident INTJ personality and the debilitating characteristics that can accompany that, her public speaking skills, her resting bitch face, etc., and will argue entirely away the Benghazi debacle as a Republican-fueled shitstorm that doesn’t deserve the credence (or the funding) that it’s been given, there are things I cannot and was not willing to argue away. I was not willing to argue away the corruption, or the unsavory email situation, or, most importantly to me, the refusal to release speeches given to donors behind closed doors. Having read Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States at about the same time the primary rolled around, I chose with my conscience and voted for Bernie Sanders, and was happy with that choice.
But just because my chosen candidate is not the nominee does not mean I do not have a moral obligation to protect this country and, by extension, the world.
We are once again faced with two choices, but instead of two progressives from which I can choose my favorite, we’re faced with an extreme egoist and an establishment candidate. Out of the two, I’ll choose the establishment candidate.
Donald Trump is absolutely unfit to run our country. Last election, Romney’s entire political campaign was almost entirely derailed by a leak of a private fundraiser in which he alluded to the “49 percent,” insulting enough to influence the election. Trump continues to make disastrous transgressions- too many to name here- but is considered acceptable. He reminds us of a reincarnation of Mussolini or pre-genocidal Hitler, if not a pre-war Milosevic (but without the breaking country to add momentum), and is lauded, just as they were.
He is aggressive, rude, and uncaring. His lack of empathy is astounding, only rivalled by his capacity for apathy. He refuses to release his tax returns, has been involved in rogue deals, has experienced bankruptcy multiple times, and has been disclaimed by many close to him, most notably his ghostwriter. He sides with Richard Ailes where Ailes is clearly at fault, and is under the impression that appropriation is respect and identity doesn’t matter. He wanted to ban Muslims, but then modified this concept to banning based on geography “compromised by terrorism.” He praises Putin and Kim Jong Un, and cannot propose any plan to match his policy proposals. We laughed at the RNC because most of us were too stunned to do anything else. It was blatantly terrifying.
More importantly, his ego is so large that he always needs a Bigger and to be The Best. He has no interest in the job, having had his son liaise with Kasich to offer him control over both international and domestic policy. When Kasich asked what Trump would be doing, he simply responded “making America great again.” When the current Pope ascended his position, he dispensed with the physical signs of opulence- the traditional golden chair, heavy jewelry, red shoes, and ostentatious crown. The President historically re-does his office, and I can only imagine that Trump might ask for the Pope’s discarded articles for loan, just so the President of the United States might rule from a golden perch.
Can you imagine such a man armed with the nuclear codes? Someone who always needs to be the biggest, the bravest, the Most Man, the Best Leader, with the keys to the very weapons that require the ability to consciously choose to not be the biggest, to not be the most violent, to not destroy our enemies in one fell swoop of a nuclear weapon?
Apart from all of this, who but the privileged have ever experienced an America that was great? Was America great two centuries ago, when she enslaved her Black population so that she could be built? Was America great less than a century ago, when she denied her female population the right to vote, and until even more recently, denied her Black population that right? Was America great when she eliminated entire cities with the nuclear bomb, the only country ever to have used it in war? Was she great when she created camps for her Japanese population, even as she was condemning the camps in Europe?
Has she been great when she has, at some point in her history, systematically denied the right of life or liberty to everyone who has had an identity different than straight, white, and male, and at one point, even that category had to be land-owning to be considered worthy of the designation “human”?
No. America has never been great. She has been better than others, more than others, in many respects, but she has never been great.
If your argument to support Donald Trump is that “he says it like it is”, or “some of his stuff makes sense”, “he says what everyone else is afraid to say,” congratulations- you’re probably a racist. Or sexist, or misogynistic, or homophobic, or classist, or ableist. You represent the problem we are trying to eliminate. You represent the privilege we keep talking about. The minute we all start recognizing our privilege, we can all move forward, because I guarantee those that have been denied equality have already actively recognized that denial, and are certainly scarred by it. #BlackLivesMatter because #AllLivesMatter, but #AllLivesCannotMatter until #BlackLivesMatter.
I truly believe that Donald Trump actively hates, and has a destructive, passive-aggressive ability to hold grudges for an interminable period. While I recognize the claims that Hillary Clinton is “corrupt,” I also recognize that most of that corruption could really be called “strategic networking.” I believe Donald is dangerous and I believe only that Hillary is an accomplished politician. I also absolutely believe that Hillary has the capacity to love, and deeply; and I also believe that she does not actively hate others.
Leaders do not have to be perfect- they rarely are. Gandhi pioneered one of the largest peaceful protests in our time and represented a world of opportunity – and he certainly was not perfect, personally admitting to abuse of his wife. President Obama has earned himself a pedestal in American history, and his policies have by no means been perfect, his drone initiative having killed 85 civilians, including children, in Syria just last week.
Running anything is difficult- as anyone who has ever run anything will tell you. There are conflicting personalities and unexpected conflicts; constant funding issues and networking hiccups; there are obligations to fill even when filling those obligations may not be the best choice; there are decisions to be made all of the time and no practical way to make the right choice at every juncture. Most importantly, there are other people to rely on, and the cornerstone of humanity is that we’re unpredictable and certainly not always reliable. To be President means to lead and to manage, every minute of every day, the most influential country in the world, all with an extraordinary sense of nuance and an incredible capacity for intelligence. And sometimes, as Obama has learned, you must do it with two out of the three governmental organs crippled to a standstill by (preventable) division.
I trust that Hillary Clinton can do this, and I know that Donald Trump absolutely cannot.
Furthermore, Hillary Clinton is at least qualified to do the job, and should be given credit where credit is due. She pioneered the verbal assertion that “women’s rights are human rights” in 1995 at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. She has served as a Senator, as First Lady, and as Secretary of State. She can sit down and tell you exactly who ISIS is, how they came to be, and how they are different from other rebel groups in all surrounding countries. She is unparalleled with foreign policy, though perhaps she might be more pacifist about it- though that is a matter of personal preference to the respective reader. She is best friends with Madeleine Albright, who, despite her drawbacks, was an admirable Secretary of State who is very candid, and honest, about her entire experience, in her multiple (recommended) autobiographies. Hillary has withstood personal pain in a very public spotlight, and is a very, very strong person. As the NY Times wrote today, “…you can never take away the fact that she was the one who made the idea of a woman becoming president so normal that many young women are bored by it.”
She is relatable (at least, to me) as that awkward student who is not prom queen but knows she has the ability to lead, but perhaps not the popularity to do so. But unlike most of us, she’s forged on, quite admirably. And she certainly does not deserve the hatred lobbied at her- trending on Twitter right now as I write this is “Hillary Rotten Clinton.” The RNC called, in resounding chants, for her to be “locked up”, as if she were accused of witchcraft in Salem, except we’re nearly half-a-century past those trials. People call her a bitch, though if she were a man they might call her assertive. Donald Trump serves no one but himself, high in his golden tower. Hillary Clinton has at least an invested intent to help this country and its constituents, and is at least not afraid to walk into your local burger joint or dive bar to get to know its people.
To be fair, I thought this would never happen. I thought that America would have sense enough to see through the gauze of Trump’s nationalist fervor. But Brexit happened, and I am not so sure. Everything that fuels nationalism and populism- namely, fear and terror, which automatically ease the process of identifying the “other”- surrounds us in suffocating fashion. In the past month we’ve had more shootings and devastating mass terrors, at home and abroad, than we can keep up with.
Politics is never black-and-white but survives on portraying the world in vast swaths of dichotomy. The only true dichotomy in this election, however, is that one side and its voting base represent only hate, whereas the other side at least has a voting base with the capacity to represent love.
If that’s not a convincing argument for our survival, I’m not sure what else is.
Disclaimer: I have many friends at the DNC right now, most of whom are Bernie Sanders supporters. One of my good friends, Sebastian Feculak, is representing Bernie Sanders as a North Carolina delegate. I want them to fight, as hard as they can, for that representation, and I am proud for all they have done and continue to do to fight for morality, for equality, and for justice. But I do not believe, at my core, that anyone but Hillary will be nominated. As such, this blog post still stands.