This will be the first election in which my oldest daughter has voted. She was so proud to tell me when she registered this summer. E listened to me talk politics with people for years. She grew up begging me to turn on pop stations rather than public radio. She rolled her eyes at me when I’d come home from a protest or a rally, thinking, “that’s my nerdy mom.”
So, it was with real pride that I took that phone call, knowing it had sunk in somewhere along the way that she, and we, all of us, have a civic duty to take part in the shaping of our nation through our votes. It was with greater pride that I listened to her over the following months start to talk politics herself, and take part in the discussion that so many of us are having right now regarding this unprecedented, uncivil campaign cycle.
Many people have been disappointed in the choice they must make this November. On one hand, there is Hillary. The career politician who has been deeply embedded for decades in a system that many feel is broken, and who never seems to be totally untainted by scandal. On the other, there is Trump. The celebrity who has changed his position on just about every issue, can’t offer any detailed plans despite making much of having them, and has succeeded in offending most of everybody who isn’t wealthy, male, white, straight, Christian and able-bodied.
No wonder people are feeling frustrated. No wonder people are crying out for change.
I know how my daughter is going to vote. Because a choice must be made, regardless. And I know she won’t vote for a third party, because not only does a choice have to be made, but a realistic and practical choice at that.
It’s come out recently, primarily due to his own words coming back to haunt him, that the brash and vulgar celebrity candidate has a long history of sexually assaulting women. I’m not going to say “alleged” history, because I know what it’s like to be denied validation of one of the worst things a woman can suffer, and because, the simplest solution is most often the truth. And the staggering number of women telling the same story compels me to believe that indeed, the candidate has committed sexual violence.
I am astonished in the wake of the release of the damning video of Trump bragging about his objectification of women, followed by tale upon tale of victimization, that so many women can still say they will vote for him.
It was reason enough not to when he flipped his stance on issues. It was reason enough not to when he made overtly racist statements. It was reason enough not to when every tweet was an insult, every statement crude and insensitive. There were so many reasons. But to see someone accused of violent criminal behavior toward one’s gender and still defend that person’s ability to govern justly and with a clear head? It is beyond the pale.
I heard an interview with a woman a couple of days ago in which she said that she was looking for change, and would vote for Trump because his personal history wasn’t relevant to his ability to lead. I thought of when I was in school. Would I have elected a student council president who had a history of beating kids up and taking their lunch money? What did I miss? When did character cease to matter in electing someone to represent all of us?
I think of my daughter’s vote. How her choices and politics reflect the way she was raised. She watched and she listened. Not once did she ever hear me say anything like, “He might have assaulted her, but…” There are no buts. To excuse one sexual crime is to excuse them all. That is not something I ever wanted to teach my daughter, and yet that is exactly what an enormous portion of the population is promising to say to her. Fortunately, she knows better.
It is not just necessary to make a realistic, and practical choice. It is also necessary to make a moral one. Voting for Trump because one is frustrated with a broken system is like treating a hangnail by hacking off a limb. Electing a morally devoid leader is exactly like that. We will get change, but the heart of the nation will bleed out.
I hope you will follow my daughter’s example. Find your enthusiasm to participate in this election. Speak against what you know is wrong. Make a realistic, practical and moral choice. It is not without grim humor that I tell you this is truly the only way to “make America great again.”