Make America Good Again

Written on:November 7, 2016
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stronger-togetherCan you vote for Donald Trump and also be a responsible citizen? In my humble opinion, the answer is no. I’m not trying to be hyperbolic. This is not an attempt to say something sensational to generate clicks. It is my sincere opinion that the two are mutually exclusive. To be clear, I’m not trying to argue that voting for Donald Trump makes you a bad person. My goal here isn’t to sit in judgment of my fellow voters. I’m simply arguing that by any basic standard of morality and decency, after 18 months of witnessing the deleterious calamity that has been the Trump 2016 campaign, every responsible U.S. citizen should find it out of the question to vote for this man. Look, I’m well aware of the fact that much of the support Donald Trump enjoys results directly from the unrelenting efforts of the forces in American politics that can’t stomach the idea of President Hillary Clinton. I know there is an onslaught of propaganda and misinformation constantly bombarding the public for the purpose of creating the false equivalency that our former Secretary of State is as bad or worse than Trump. Admittedly there are people on the left as well as the right who are participating in this misinformation campaign. I know all too well that there is a sophisticated effort afoot to convince Americans that in fact, as bad as Trump is, he is the lesser of two evils. I don’t think you are a bad person if you fall prey to this manipulation. Finding oneself susceptible to the type of propaganda that leads you to believe that Donald Trump is a better choice for president than Hillary Clinton makes you a victim, not a bad actor. I’m also well aware that, while the U.S. economy is working handsomely again for corporate America and Wall Street, most working and middle class families are still struggling with economic hardship and are angry about it. While I personally believe that the primary driver of continued economic hardship is Republican obstructionism rather than the Obama Administration’s policy agenda, I understand the inclination that many frustrated Americans have to vote for change rather than more of the same. So no, I have no interest in standing in judgement of people who are voting for Donald Trump tomorrow. However, in my opinion, part of being a responsible citizen is being engaged enough in our democracy to sort through all of the propaganda, figure out the difference between constructive and destructive change, and, in the end, vote responsibly. In my view, the evidence is crystal clear. Every citizen who votes for Donald Trump is making a choice that is so irresponsible, it jeopardizes both American democracy and global stability.

I wish it weren’t the case but unfortunately, in my opinion, Hillary Clinton is the only available choice responsible citizens have to vote for tomorrow. Trust me, I get it. I understand the dilemma facing many Americans that voting one’s values and voting for Hillary are incompatible constructs. I know that responsible citizens have legimitate reasons to question her judgment. I also understand the logic that in the Electoral College system, it doesn’t cause harm to vote your conscience if you happen to live in a solidly red or blue state because your vote won’t change the outcome. The idea of voting my values is important to me and so, of course, it sounded tempting to me after a bruising primary season. While I don’t personally believe that Gary Johnson or Jill Stein are qualified or viable options, I had entertained the idea of writing in Bernie Sanders had my vote in Colorado proved to be a formality. Clearly, my vote in “still purple” Colorado has turned out to not be a formality but even if it were a formality, I would still have come to the conclusion that my only responsible option is to vote for Hillary anyway. The reason is that, in the end, because of the legitimate threat that Secretary Clinton’s opponet poses, the choice we face on the ballot is no longer between progressive values and conservative values. The choice is no longer between social democracy and corporatism. The choice we face on the ballot tomorrow is between the goodness of American values and the brutal evilness of fascism. Given that this is now our choice, it is incumbent on every responsible citizen to vote for Hillary Clinton regardless of party or whether you live in a purple, blue, or red state. With all due respect for those of us that still want to vote for our principles, because we collectively have allowed Donald Trump to get this close to the nuclear codes, Americans have given up our privilege to vote with such luxury. While some bear substantially more of the blame than others, we all bear some responsibility for the corrosion in American society that has given political life to someone as menacing as Donald Trump. We all shoulder blame for Trump so we all share in the responsibility to rebuke him once and for all. We are stronger together. Anyone who believes he or she is exempt from collective responsibility and still deserves the luxury of voting for someone other than Hillary is not being a responsible citizen, in my opinion. No matter where we live, be it a red state, blue state, or purple state, we must forget the idea that we have the luxury to vote Gary Johnson. We must forget the idea we have the luxury to vote Jill Stein. We must forget the idea we have the luxury to write in Bernie. Our only choice at this point is to vote to restore decency. Our only choice is to vote for the goodness of American values. Voting for Hillary in order to defeat Trump is the only way to do that. Fascism must not only be repudiated by winning the Electoral College, it must be repudiated by every responsible citizen in America by as wide a margin as possible.

So yes, I’ve already done my civic duty and cast my ballot in this election for Hillary Clinton. She was obviously not my first choice. In fact, I’m still heartbroken that the Democratic Party blew the opportunity during the primaries to nominate someone who, in my view, would have been the closest thing we’ve seen to Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the modern era. At a political rally this past Saturday for a democrat running in one of the closest congressional races in the country, I had the opportunity to meet Senator Sanders and shake his hand. He could not have been more gracious. The regret I feel that America did not seize upon the opportunity his candidacy presented us has only intensified having now had the amazing experience of meeting him. I have no doubt in my mind that my party squandered a once in a generation opportunity during the primaries. I’m also well aware of the disturbingly undemocratic factors that contributed to the squandered opportunity. You don’t have to remind me that Secretary Clinton ran a back alley bruising campaign against an honorable opponent or that the Democratic National Committee put its thumb on the scale in order to help Hillary secure the nomination. I will never forgive the Clinton campaign or the DNC for this and I will never forget. Unfortunately, as frustrating and heartbreaking as the primaries were for me as a progressive, they bear no relevance on the cold hard realities of the general election race. Hillary Clinton, warts and all, is intellectually and temperamentally qualified to hold the office she seeks. Donald Trump is not. He is extremely dangerous to the viability of our republic and to sustaining relative order on our planet. How can you be a responsible citizen when you’re willing to cast a vote that risks a Donald Trump presidency and plays Russian roulette with our children and grandchildren’s future? Voting for Hillary Clinton is the equivalent of putting the safety back on and setting the revolver back on the table. This goes for responsible Republicans, as well. This is not a typical election and this is not your typical political rhetoric of “your side is evil” and “my side is righteous.” I vehemently disagreed with Mitt Romney, John McCain, George W. Bush, and Bob Dole on policy but all of them were well-meaning patriotic Americans who were qualified to serve. By the way, with the possible exception of Bob Dole, all of them have been denigrated by Donald Trump at some point during the course of this campaign. This should speak volumes. On top of that, no current or former President of the United States has endorsed Donald Trump’s candidacy. This should also speak volumes. So, yes, this is entirely different. Donald Trump is an unqualified, self-serving, racist, misogynist, narcissistic sociopath devoid of intellectual curiosity, empathy, and basic human compassion. He will not make anything great again other than his own ego. If elected, he will not serve anyone other than himself. He is the most dangerous person to secure the nomination of a major political party in the history of the United States of America. So, yes. Damn my frustration with the way the Clinton campaign and the DNC behaved in the primaries. Damn my heartbreak that Senator Sanders is not preparing tonight to transform America after securing a landslide general election victory tomorrow. Damn it all. Donald Trump must be stopped.

As I stated earlier, I have no interest in judging the ordinary voters who have chosen to accept the propaganda that Hillary Clinton is a worse choice than Donald Trump. I have no qualms with saying without equivocation, however, that the people on the far right who have created the false equivalency as well as the leaders operating under the conservative tent who knew they should have denounced Trump but didn’t for political expediency have betrayed their country. It’s no secret that the blowhards on Fox New and on conservative talk radio have been lining their pockets for thirty years drumming up scandals to fuel hatred of Hillary Clinton. It’s also no secret that the Republican Party has been happy to have the waters muddied and lines blurred so they could reap the political benefits of constant misinformation. While this has always been contemptuous since it began in the 1990’s to benefit Republican standard-bearers, it became something much more sinister once that standard-bearer was Donald Trump. While it comes as no shock that I’ve always found the personalities who spew venomous fact-free rhetoric as part of the right-wing media to be be deplorable, pun intended, I’ve tried my best over the years to try to view the elected Republicans who serve our country as good people who just happen to have different views. For the first time during this election, I count Republican elected officials as culpable in the rise of Trump as their ideological mouthpieces. The Republican Party should be ashamed of itself for not collectively repudiating Trump. History will judge every single last Republican elected official who has failed to go on the record and reject Trump’s candidacy. Even worse, in my opinion, are the faith leaders of the evangelical Christian right who are also supporting Trump. Because of a hypocrisy that borders on comical, these leaders of the supposed “values voters” crowd should not take a back seat to anyone for the shameful irony that they have failed to repudiate Donald Trump. To be fair, a small minority of the leaders in the evangelical faith community have come out forcefully against Trump and they deserve credit. Unfortunately, most haven’t had the resolve to put their morals where their mouths are. As gut-wrenching as this election has been generally, watching communities of faith line up behind a demagogue has been particularly tragic. What else does he need to do to earn the condemnation of the evangelical right? Sadly, at this point, I think he could campaign on canceling Christmas because Jesus is a loser for getting captured and crucified and he likes Messiahs who weren’t captured and crucified and I still do not think he would lose any of the evangelical votes he has born false witness to earn. Just thinking about the reality that Donald Trump is the candidate that a majority of Christian voters support in this election only serves to remind me of how badly America has lost its way. In the moral struggle to be on the side of good over evil, in my opinion, there should be absolutely no doubt how the leaders of “values voters” should view an allegiance to Trump. It begs the question, is there enough decency left to make America good again?

That is what is on the ballot tomorrow. Do we have the resolve to make America good again? I’m not going to regurgitate the laundry list of reasons why Donald Trump is uniquely unqualified to be the President of the United States. Everyone from every part of the political spectrum is well aware of these reasons. If America was still tethered to our moral compass, this would be a very short persuasion piece. Vote for Hillary Clinton because her opponent is Donald Trump. Enough said. Unfortunately, we are drifting. Tomorrow is a gut check moment for our democracy. If enough Americans can go into the privacy of the voting booth and “pull the lever” for Donald Trump, our country will be irrevocably lost at sea with little hope of reconnecting to our moral compass. The fact that Donald Trump is this close to the presidency is an indication that America has a tremendous amount of work to do to completely regain our footing. But if instead tomorrow, we can collectively come together to reject fascism and repudiate the campaign and the values that Trump represents, we will reclaim some semblance of our decency. I understand that the election of Hillary Clinton does little to end the partisam gridlock and move the country forward on policy but at least the repudiation of Trump will start us down the path to reclaiming our moral compass. Oh, by the way, and this is not to be understated, the election of Hillary Clinton will be a fantastic leap forward in one respect. If the United States of America can finally be counted among nations who have elected a woman president tomorrow, we will be living in a better country. No one can argue that this, in and of itself, isn’t a good thing. So, as horrendous as this election has been for our collective pyche, at least there’s still the possibility for America to make important progress tomorrow night. Indeed, other than the opportunity to break the glass ceiling once and for all, I’m sorry to be writing a tough love piece. I would much rather be writing a hopeful piece about having an opportunity in front of us to transform American democracy for the better. But it is what it is. The stakes are just too high. The only choice for responsible citizens tomorrow is to vote to make America good again. We are stronger together. Vote Hillary Clinton for president.

Headline Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

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