In the wake of Sara Bareilles’ gorgeous song “Seriously” about Obama’s thoughts on the current election and Donald Trump’s candidacy, I felt the need to speak up and write something.
Today, I noticed a comment from a self-proclaimed Proud Bernie Supporter on my Facebook page. She plans on voting Trump in November. Not because she wants him to be President, but “just to prevent Hillary from getting in office”… and I wondered. What does she hope to accomplish in doing so?
I can’t help thinking that woman is willfully ignoring the glorious display of That-Is-A-Bad-Idea that Britain kindly showed us this year with Brexit — and perhaps casting herself as a righteous avenger for Bernie.
For any of my friends who are considering doing the same, or considering not voting: I’m writing to you, kindly, to ask you to reconsider.
If you don’t want to vote “on principle”:
Our options right now are choosing between a self-acknowledged tyrant, and a professional politician. Abdicating that choice: what does that achieve?
I understand if you find this a difficult choice to make. But saying “your principles don’t allow you to make a choice”… What principle demands you take a backseat and relinquish the choosing your future? Isn’t that fundamentally an oxymoron?
Principles are choices. They’re self-determined decisions you’ve made about how you conduct yourself and interact with the world. If you have principles, you do have an opinion about which candidate you prefer, and that opinion is your choice. Divorcing yourself from actively making that choice does not preclude you dealing with the resultant consequences of that abdication.
You live in this world and enjoy its benefits, and by that virtue you have a responsibility to yourself, to your [future] children, to your friends and neighbors, to make a choice in this election. You bear responsibility for the consequences when you don’t choose. You bear responsibility for the consequences when you choose spitefully, out of protest. You bear responsibility for the consequences when you choose out of hope. Choose the consequences you know you can carry.
Refusing to vote “on principle” is the abdication of principle; it’s only an attempt to run from the responsibility of choosing your future. Blaming your principles for not allowing you to vote is a choice born of the selfish ego, and a deflection of your moral integrity, not a reflection. Your principles have a preference. You have a preference, even if it’s slight. Own that preference, own your choice, and own your future.
(Obviously I’m voting Hillary, so I posit this to you: The worst Hillary can do is give us four more years of the same politics we’ve been living with. The worst Trump and the current GOP Senators and Congressmen can do is dismantle our current democratic system and continue building a system of precedents that allows them to block, jail, and silence anyone who disagrees with them. Is that the country you want to live in? If that world sounds unappetizing for you, flip the coin.) (I have more to say on the best Hillary can do further down the post.)
Vote. Don’t let lethargy, pride, exhaustion, anger, or fear trick you into making you betray yourself.
On that note… To my friends voting out of Spite:
We all know this is an important election. We all know we’re on the verge of change. This is the moment we decide how we will proceed into the future: whether we will be leaders in building change, or fear-led isolationists. How you come to that election ballot is as essential as who you’re voting for.
Know where you’re coming from if you want to be sure you’re doing right by yourself with your vote. Don’t do yourself an injustice by refusing to examine who and what you truly want out of this election. Ask yourself these questions in the days leading up to November 8th:
Am I voting out of fear, or out of consideration?
Am I voting out of anger, hatred, negativity, out of destructive impulses? Or am I voting out of a quiet knowingness, firmly aware of the issues, out of hope for what may be achievable?
Where am I coming from and where do I want to go?
What do I want to feel when I wake up Wednesday morning?
I want to be clear: I’m not voting for Hillary out of fear of Donald Trump (although I do find him and his campaign terrifying). I’m voting for her because out of all the candidates — her, Trump, Jill Stein, etc. — I truly think she’s the best candidate for the job.
I like that she’s an incremental progressive. I like that she’s goal-oriented, ambitious, and knows how to work the system to get what she wants. I like that she’s open to new ideas and willing to listen and change her mind. These are qualities past Presidents hold claim to, Presidents who used those same qualities to enact the most change in American society: Abraham Lincoln with the Emancipation Proclamation, LBJ with the Civil Rights Act.
True change happens incrementally, because change is by its nature incremental. It builds, and builds, and builds, small seeds sprouting from decisions made, reform after reform, until the tree growing takes root and the growth of its canopy becomes inevitable.
It’s incremental because reform affects everyone — not just those who want change, but those who don’t. Reform only becomes permanent when everyone accepts it as a new paradigm; forcing a new paradigm onto someone who fears it, history teaches us, only results in their immediate, reactionary rejection of it… even if that paradigm directly improves their lives.
No one wants to feel like they have no choice. We’re here on earth, specifically, to choose. So bullying someone into accepting reform will never effect longterm change.
(I said this to someone, and they responded “The Civil War bullied people into accepting longterm change”. I respectfully pointed to the rampant racism, the prison-industrial complex, the still-in-existence Klu Klux Klan, and the still-waving Confederate flag in the South as evidence that the Civil War did not, in fact, effect any kind of longterm change that was ever truly accepted by those “forced” into accepting it.)
No matter what your intentions are, all actions lead to the same result:
- IMPATIENCE breeds REACTIONARY DISCONTENT
- PATIENCE breeds PROGRESSIVE PROSPERITY
You make space for the change to happen first… when there’s space for us to stretch, we grow gladly.
And so I like Hillary: I like that she plays the long game. I like that she tries to wait for the stragglers to catch up — because she knows, otherwise, they will forever try to pull the group backto where they’re standing stationary (just look at the reaction to ObamaCare). She’s less interested in rhetoric and more interested in what she can put into action. She’s focused on enactable solutions: like home-sourced manufacturing, and emphasizing trade schools as legitimate, alternative options to college. These are small changes that will enact real, economic improvements in every day American life that also affect our current social paradigms. Immediate changes that are completely possible to implement in her first two years. Changes that make space for greater reform.
You cannot drag the world, kicking and screaming, into a new house.
What you can do is build a structure, open the door, and invite them inside. Maybe give them a choice of furniture to pick out. Eventually, they’ll come in from the cold on their own.
So please: I urge you to make a choice on Tuesday. If you want change, get out there and vote for your best opportunities for enacting change — don’t just sit back and watch, or act out destructively. Don’t do yourself that disservice.
I look forward to waking up on Wednesday morning, excited about the potentialities of the future with you all.
Written with Love,