…do we want to live in?
Daily sound bites aside, that’s what this election is really about. It’s a race between Donald Trump’s America and Not Donald Trump’s America.
Yes, Hillary Clinton has her own vision for the country, and yes, I mostly agree with her point of view. Mostly. I can support her with a clear conscience. But it’s bigger than that.
Hillary Clinton shows every sign of being a “caretaker” who will continue the progressive policies of the Obama presidency. While becoming the first woman president is no small thing, she does not represent a radical change in policy by any stretch of the imagination. And she’s smart, experienced, and completely sane. Granted, that’s a low bar in terms of qualifications for the presidency, but look at the competition.
Do you remember Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s Rally for Sanity in 2010? I was there. Six years ago, the Republican party was still at least a little bit funny. The assumption underlying that rally was that most people are basically reasonable. Though it’s very clear that Stewart and Colbert were fully aware of the dangers posed by those on the hard right, the rally’s motto, “take it down a notch for America,” expressed an optimism that sanity would ultimately prevail.
I sure hope they were right. It’s not looking good at the moment. Stewart was quoted at the time as saying the rally was for “the 70-80 percenters.” I was dubious about that estimate, and I was right. It’s looking very much more like the 45 percenters today. Though in terms of the electoral college, Clinton still has a clear advantage, this race is becoming uncomfortably close in the popular vote.
I am beyond disappointed that half the population of my country could possibly buy what Donald Trump is selling. But I can’t honestly say that I am surprised. I am from a solidly red southern state. I know these people. Heck, I am probably related to most of them.
My hometown, Nashville, is an educated, progressive, urban island in a rural, reactionary sea. I was quite familiar with that landscape while growing up. My friends and relatives in Nashville are appalled at what is going on in this election. But the division between urban and rural areas in the south (and elsewhere) has always existed. It has become deeper and wider even within my lifetime as right-wing politicians and media deliberately exploit “low-information” voters.
Donald Trump represents the worst in America: the tribalism, the bigotry, the sexism, and the bloviating ignorance that never ends well. While Hillary Clinton admittedly has a problem being completely honest, Donald Trump is an outright serial liar. Or maybe he just lies some of the time. No one really knows. He’s just that unpredictable—which is what you want in a president, right??
Some people choose to believe that he doesn’t really mean it when he says he’ll round up all the Muslims or prosecute women for having abortions (and that’s just a start). They say we should “take a chance” on Trump. Maybe it’s easy to say that if you are white, male, and Christian. In Donald Trump’s America, you probably don’t have much to worry about. But the rest of us aren’t in that category. The rest of us can’t afford to take that risk. The rest of us understand that elections should be taken seriously. (I personally can’t imagine telling my grandchildren that I thought it was a good plan to “take a chance” on Trump!)
Donald Trump’s America is an ugly place. A place that has always existed in forgotten corners of the country, and in the minds of the ignorant and paranoid. It will keep existing even if he loses. We can’t make it go away altogether just yet. Right now, with this election, we are effectively deciding whether we want to put it on life support for four more years, or push it one more step toward the graveyard of history where it belongs—and will eventually end up anyway. Demographics do not lie: by around 2050 whites will be a minority in our country, among other interesting changes. If we can’t learn to live with each other, how will we prosper?
Hillary Clinton is the only viable alternative to Donald Trump at this time. Whether you like her or not, a vote for her acknowledges the America that is already here. An increasingly diverse and tolerant country that I love for exactly those reasons—and appreciate even more writing from monocultural Poland. (Scratch an expat and you will find a patriot, every time!) A country in which a black man or a woman can become president. A country in which people can love whoever they want. A country that doesn’t “round people up” for any reason. Not anymore. A country that looks forward, not backward—and exists in the real world, not in your crazy uncle’s highly subjective memories.
So, here’s my vote for Not Donald Trump, sealed up and ready to go. If you are an overseas voter, time’s running out. Register now (good information on that at OverseasVote.com) or request your ballot if you are already registered. That goes double if your residence is in a swing state. Don’t put this off, it’s too important. Don’t waste your vote on a third party candidate, either. Save that for the next election. Now is not the time to stand on personal principle. Your country needs you to take one for the team.
Please, please, don’t take a chance on Donald Trump’s America.