It takes a lot to get me to quit procrastinating… That explains why I haven’t blogged in over a year. So what was it that finally kicked my butt back into gear? Any guesses?
If you said the disgusting, misogynistic, xenophobic racist Donald Trump, give yourself a star! I’ve been thinking about what future, 70 year old Lauren will tell her grandkids about the year 2016, and I don’t want it to be that I stayed quiet while people I cared about voted for a man who will surely have a place in our history books in the chapter on narcissistic sociopaths with a penchant for sexual violence.
There are so many reasons not to vote for Donald Trump, that I can’t begin to list them all. But, I’ll make an attempt. If you weren’t swayed by his xenophobic attitude towards Muslims and Mexicans, or his racist history of denying apartments to black applicants and railroading the innocent Central Park Five, I’m disappointed. If you didn’t budge after you heard the way he talks to and about women, I’m disappointed. If you weren’t convinced by his confession that he has sexually assaulted women, and the many reports that he, in fact, has, I’m disgusted. And even if you ignored everything he said up until the point he advocated grabbing women by the genitals because you realized that you have women in your life that you love, or that you’re a woman yourself, and finally disavowed him, I’m still pretty upset with you. And, as an important aside – has the man articulated any practical policy plans? A country is not a business, despite what that shady businessman would like you to think.
Here’s the thing… so many people are framing this election as a “lesser of two evils” situation. Both candidates are terrible, they say. So they’ll either choose the less terrible one, or throw a vote away on a third party candidate. I’m not sure if this attitude is ignorance, sexism, or an unwillingness to change party affiliation, but it’s simply untrue. Hillary Clinton is an imperfect person, but she is well-qualified to be our president. She’s spent the majority of her life as public servant, which I’m inclined to believe she did in the interest of the public good. There are many other lucrative paths a woman with her education and intelligence could have chosen, let’s not pretend she’s selfish for spending a lifetime in the public sector. Because she has spent her life in the public eye, we are aware of the mistakes she has made. We are also well aware of the good she has done, as a lifelong advocate for women, children, and families. Hillary knows how our political system works, and she has the connections and know-how to enact real political change. Let’s not pretend that a candidate with no political experience could get anything done in the House or Senate.
Although Hillary’s campaign has purposely avoided focusing on this point, I can’t neglect to mention that having a female president will improve the lives of women and girls for generations to come, until men and women truly are equal. Even if you refuse to recognize sexism in your own country, you know that women are not treated equally around the world. If the most powerful nation in the world elects a woman as our leader, what kind of message will that send to countries who treat women as second-class citizens, or worse?
I spent some time at the start of of the school year teaching my students about empathy. We communicate through screens so often, now, that I worry empathy is going out of style. People who are still willing to vote for Trump after everything he has said and done may need a refresher course: empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s position and recognize their experience as their truth, even if you don’t agree with it. Instead of saying, “Racism doesn’t exist in America,” or “Men and women are already equal,” or “Undocumented immigrants are cheating the system,” how about trying an empathetic response? Do you experience racism directed at you? I’m a white woman in America, so I don’t, but I understand that some people in our country do. We need a president who recognizes that racism is alive and well in America, and that we need to work together to end it. That’s enough to secure my vote for Hillary. Do you experience sexism in any aspect of your life? I’m a woman in America, so I do. And I recognize that some women have had experiences much worse than mine. We need a president who understands the danger that sexist rhetoric creates for women. That’s enough to secure my vote for Hillary. Am I an undocumented immigrant? No, but my grandfather came to America from Ireland through Ellis Island. He moved here for the opportunity this country provides, and I’d like to think that those who come to this country illegally, risking their life and freedom and leaving their families behind, do so for the same reason as my grandfather. We need a president who recognizes the humanity in all humans. That’s enough to secure my vote for Hillary.
Your responsibility as an American citizen is to vote. Vote for the candidate who will do the most good for the most people – Hillary Clinton. If you don’t like her, I don’t care. Put on your big kid pants, scrounge up whatever empathy you can muster, and drag your butt to the polls on November 8th. Or, if you’re still voting for Trump, November 28th.
(Image of Hillary Clinton via Flickr.)