Louis C.K. recently joked, “If you vote for Hillary, you’re a grown up, if you vote for Trump, you’re a sucker, if you don’t vote for anybody, you’re an asshole.” With just one day remaining until this 2016 presidential election cycle finally comes to a decision, America is holding its breath for an outcome. Louis C.K.’s political beliefs aside, the last statement is most powerful. Over 20 million people have already cast their early ballots but it is far from decided. This election has brought out some of America’s deepest and darkest issues and divides. Splits not just between race and class but also in locale – rural areas against big city ideals. Jonathan Rauch argues for The Atlantic, that the American political stage has deteriorated so that candidates like Donald J. Trump have been able to find a foothold without clear party guidelines and “enforceable norms” holding him back. This is a candidate who penned a book describing the ways he is able to “play to people’s fantasies.”
Bill Maher spoke about the political atmosphere in a recent episode of his talk show, Real Time with Bill Maher. He described many Americans as being jaded about the whole political system. Saying we are all being cynical but that “cynicism in politics can only come from knowing too much.” This has not been an election of facts. It has been a pure performance – a spectacle. When it really matters on November 8th, will America show up and make the right decision? For some, it still isn’t clear. For others, the only thing that is clear is how much work this country has ahead of it. In this giant circus of an election, it can be easy to forget the gravity of it all. It’s important to remember how much every person’s vote matters. It is important to show up.
Running for the Republican Party is businessman-turned-politician, Donald J. Trump. A campaign born out of chaos, Trump announced his candidacy a long 17 months ago under a platform of Ann Coulter-esque anti-immigrant rhetoric, fascist ideologies and nativist rage. He promised to build a wall along the US-Mexico border to keep out the “bad hombres” and make America great again. His vague plans on policy, for example a plan to replace Obamacare with a new healthcare system which he has only described as “something terrific,” have only been out-stupefied by the man’s racist and sexist comments, Twitter rampages, and nose-sniffling mannerisms. This is a candidate who has had sexual assault charges brought against him. A man who has made fun of the disabled. A man who has consistently degraded powerful women by equating their worth with their looks on a scale of 1-10. A man who believes working women are dangerous. A man who has joked about dating his own daughter. The list goes on. The American populous has fought against becoming desensitized to such statements including the most recent statement, asserting that someone with his star power could get away with “grabbing a woman by the p*ssy.” It forces us to question how someone so comfortable with sexually aggressive commentary and white supremacist beliefs has risen to get the Republic bid.
Jeb Bush told America that “Trump is a chaos candidate, and he’d be a chaos president.” Donald Trump may not be to blame for all the turmoil we face in this country, but he has certainly fed on it thus far. Should he be elected to office come November 8th, America would have four long years of someone who so easily stirs up hatred. Such a dangerous outcome would actualize and, in ways, legitimize Trump’s confounding and subversive beliefs. Just this week, The Crusader, a paper long affiliated with the KKK, came out endorsing the Trump campaign. This endorsement promotes Trump explicitly because it sees his campaign as furthering a vision of a “White Christian Republic.”
Trump hasn’t received as many credible endorsements as Hillary Clinton, and he would certainly do good to receive more, however this one is something they are fighting to make clear was not welcomed or desired. His campaign isn’t so naive as to think this is a positive thing. It is however an extremely enlightening moment. For his outlandish actions to receive applause by a group so threatening and so truly damaging is enough to make one stop and shudder. It is in this same week that a black church in Mississippi was tragically burned to the ground with “Vote Trump” graffiti left on the brick exterior. It is not to say that Hillary Clinton’s supporters have stayed out of the violence. However it would be a false parallel to say that someone destroying Trump’s walk of fame star, for example, is the same as using fear tactics or targeting specific races or creeds.
Many Americans view this election as picking the lesser of two evils. The Republican party has used rhetoric to try to persuade people that Hillary Clinton is worse than Donald Trump because that is their most viable argument: bringing her down to his level. But how about re-framing the conversation? We shouldn’t be voting for Hillary because she isn’t as “evil” as Trump. We should vote for Hillary because she has a lifetime of experience and a proven track record. She unquestionably has the passion, competency and stamina to do the job. It is critical to consider, among the media frenzy surrounding her emails, the plethora of things Clinton has done and will do for this country. Among countless other things, she was an attorney for the Children’s Defense Fund, she helped to create the Children’s Health Insurance Program, she was part of the team that captured Osama Bin Laden, she initiated the Adoption and Safe Families Act, she aided recovery efforts after the September 11 terrorist attacks, and she’s voted and fought for same-sex marriage and LBGTQ equality, all while fighting for women’s rights at every turn both within the United States and abroad.
It seems that among all of this controversy, the logical option would be to vote Hillary Clinton on November 8th – and she currently holds a slight 3 percent lead in the polls – however it is not so straightforward. Author, documentary filmmaker, and general bad ass Michael Moore assessed during a visit on Real Time with Bill Maher, that the people voting for Trump love that he wants things to fall apart. Trump is essentially “the molotov cocktail to his supporters.” They want the current system to come crashing down. It is this outcome, Moore argues, that voters must fight to protect on election day. If you don’t vote in this presidential election, you essentially are relinquishing your basic civil rights. It would be arrogant and cowardly to believe that not voting represents anything more than ignorance and basic uncommon sense. It is a basic responsibility to have enough care and faculty to make your mark in this country’s future.
America has immense work to do moving forward. It houses a bruised and broken political system that will never be great until it can regain trust among its citizens. Will America vote for someone who wants to further divide us and pit us against one another – Donald Trump? Or will America vote for the candidate, Hillary Clinton, who has been fighting tirelessly and relentlessly her whole life for progress,for education, for women’s equality, for children’s healthcare. Someone who has taken every hit possible and still gets up and tries to find the best way to help this country move forward. It would be critical to not forget what is really at stake on November 8th. This country needs to heal. It must grow stronger and move forward together. There’s only one candidate that has the capacity, the intention and the heart to do that.