For the last three election cycles I have heard, “This is the most important election in modern history.” The first two times I did not believe it. If anything, in 2008 and 2012, it was political hyperbole from both major political parties, expressing fear of their opponent winning and desperately trying to spread that fear among on-the-fence voters, hoping they would agree and fall in line.
This time around, I believe this is the most important election since I have been voting. (I am 33.) It has come down to the most unpopular nominees since polling began, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. One nominee, from a political powerhouse, the Clintons, wildly adored, untrusted, and loathed by huge swaths of American voters. The reasons for which I will not get into because there is nothing I can add to the discussion to persuade you one way or another and the other reasons were fomented in the editorial room of Breitbart (which is now, figuratively, the same thing as Trump HQ) or in the dark, hideous pulse of a Trump rally.
The Clintons are indeed measured, calculating politicians. This election cycle, when Hillary stands up against a know-nothing, fascist sociopath, her deserved or undeserved labels pale in comparison to Trump. She is at least sane. And that is what this election has come down to. Sanity.
In 2016, a vote for Trump or, just as bad, an abstention, is a vote for insanity. It is a vote for a person who is “characterized by a disregard for the feelings of others, unchecked egocentricity, and the ability to lie in order to achieve one’s goals.” It is a vote for a need for stimulation, a need to live on the knife’s edge of nuclear warfare. It is a vote for conspiracy theories. It is a vote for having no concern about wrecking others’ lives and dreams en masse. It is a vote to affirm the idea that since you have spent the last four years watching cable news or reading jingoistic slop disguised as fact you know as much about international relations or economic policy as someone with advanced degrees in such fields, or as much as a former Secretary of State.
It is a vote for a bleak and volatile future, one that I, voting now as a father for the first time, am terrified for my daughter to possibly have to face.
In the last three presidential elections, I at least had the comfort of believing that our liberal democracy would continue if my candidate did not win. I cannot say the same this time around. Trump is not just a threat to his political opponents, but a threat to the idea of America, something that the five former presidents still alive today appear to agree with as not one of them supports Donald.
Hillary Clinton enjoys the support of some voters who would otherwise vote for the Republican nominee if said nominee was not a racist buffoon. That said, I have heard of too many Republicans drawing a false equivalency between the two big party nominees. Many of these Republicans are abstaining or throwing their vote away on Gary Johnson, a man who, in this case, they know only one thing about: that he will not win. Johnson provides an out for these aforementioned Republicans so they can say that they voted but they did not vote for Trump or Hillary, while simultaneously pretending that by voting for Johnson they have disguised the fact that they prefer Trump over Hillary. This is disgusting and fools nobody.
The same can be said for Bernie supporters who have refused to support Hillary and have thrown their support to Johnson or Jill Stein.
If a voter was already in the Johnson or Stein camps before the primaries concluded, then good for them, but all the latecomers to these alternative candidates are putting this country at greater risk than I feel they are aware of. A vote this late in the game for Johnson or Stein, or an abstention, is a vote for Trump and all of his rabid base.
I began this post weeks ago, intent on writing a lengthier piece on why I think Clinton is the best choice for this country. But since I started, even worse revelations about Trump have come to light, specifically his bragging to Billy Bush about sexually abusing women. I have heard this talk defended by Trump, Trump surrogate Ben Carson, and many others as locker room talk, with Carson going as far as telling Neil Cavuto that he has heard much worse in locker rooms. I have also witnessed the rape talk defended on Facebook under the ridiculous guise of “he who is without sin cast the first stone.” No one is saying we have not sinned and we have all made mistakes, but is there no expectation of decency in our leaders? Are there no standards? During the last week of the campaign these have become rhetorical questions.
I am quite afraid of the Trump base if he loses next month, but my greater fear is of a Trump presidency. If there were any doubt about Trump’s respect for his opponents, or simply ideas not one-hundred percent in agreement with his, the last week has certainly shown Trump’s true colors as he has admonished his own party’s leaders and veterans, threatened his primary opponent with imprisonment, lambasted the entire media establishment (minus Hannity, I guess), and had to deny multiple allegations of sexual assault, while implying one woman was not even attractive enough for assault to have taken place.
As a human being I am disturbed by the way he speaks about other religions, races, and the opposite sex. But I am not just voting as a human being next month. I am voting as a believer, as a husband, and as a father to a little girl. All of these roles have further convinced me that the most important thing we can do in November is to make sure Donald Trump does not become our next president. To vote for Trump would be to abandon all of those roles and everything I have been raised to believe in. Lastly, a vote for this man would be to abandon my human decency. Thus, I have had a very difficult time not judging those who are still standing with Trump, who are still abstaining, or who are still supporting Johnson. Because unlike in previous elections, these people are supporting a man for presidency who would have been fired from McDonald’s by now for the things he has said. Yet, these people think it is okay to give this man the nuclear codes merely because they have loathed the Clintons for decades? Or because they just cannot support a Democrat?
Just swallow your pride for once and keep this country alive. Then, in four years, you can have another go, but if Trump wins, I am not sure America’s future lasts that long and that will be on you.