In Paris last May, Laura and I spoke about shit sandwiches. Everything comes with a shit sandwich, which means you have to decide what is worth its associated shit sandwich.
I have spent much of the last few months contemplating the shit-sandwich that is Donald Trump.
In 2008 I proudly cast my vote for Barack Obama. In 2012 I didn't vote at all. Many times over the course of this election my father has reminded me of the zeal with which I supported Obama in 2008, and how quickly that zeal faded. I fear he thinks it is the same zeal with which I am advocating for Hilary Clinton. So I'd like to set the record straight.
I am not the same person I was at the age of twenty-two. I am not as liberal, and certainly not as idealistic. I believe in the need for a third-party. I consider myself an independent. Michael Bloomberg is my political spirit-animal. I believe that single-story-politics on either side--liberal or conservative is incredibly dangerous. And what I mean by that is this: when a complicated and nuanced issue is distilled down to a single sentence (usually in black and white terms) we all lose. It's not as simple as big banks are bad. I think President Obama hit the nail on the head last month when he penned an op-ed for The Economist titled, The way ahead in which he pointed out that part of what's bad about big banks is that so many of the best and brightest minds of my generation are heading into that field where so much time and energy is put into something that yields no product, no real service--whose only aim is to make more money--which means lost scientists, lost advocates, lost people who might just change the world. Are big banks bad? Yes and no--like most things. Capitalism is a force to be reckoned with, and oftentimes sets us up for failure. Capitalism means money is an influencer, a determining factor, a force of change, and yes, a political tool.
I may not be as liberal or as idealistic as I was at twenty-two, but I believe I am actually now a better person, and a kinder one, too.
Last March I registered as a Republican because in order to vote in a party's primary in New York state, you must be registered with that party. The need to vote for anyone other than Donald Trump is exactly why I cast a vote as a Republican. I believe that work gets done in the middle ground--no real change happens in the extreme. But I also believe whole-heartedly in what Vox once called the media's "cosmopolitan outlook"--
"But the national press ... prizes diversity, tolerance, pluralism. Within newsrooms, these ideas aren’t seen as political opinions but as fundamental values. There is no 'other side' worth reporting when it comes to racial equality, no argument that needs to be respected when it comes to religious intolerance or anti-LGBTQ bigotry."
I am supporting Hilary Clinton this election wildly more informed (and more moderate) than I was at the age of twenty-two. I do not need a candidate who is likable. I do not need a candidate who is charming or charismatic or a good public-speaker. I want the candidate who supports common-sense gun control, who realizes this century' most pressing cause must be halting the rapid encroachment of climate change. Am I as zealous now as I was at twenty-two? Yes. And rightly so, I believe. I am shocked and disheartened by those who are not, because too much is at stake. Because the shit sandwich that is Donald Trump includes racism, misogyny, xenephobia, Islamaphobia, and jingoism. And if a person is willing to eat that sandwich, well, that tells me they don't believe in what's best for all people--or for America; they believe in what's best for them. Their views may be well-intentioned or influenced by supreme court justice picks, but the price that is paid for those things is at the expense of someone else--at the expense of whole other groups: women, Muslims, Mexicans.
Watching Republicans rally around Donald Trump in the wake of his comments about women--in the wake of all of the sexual assault accusations--has sent a clear message to me that as a woman, I do not matter. That my thoughts and feelings and views and personhood are worth trading for something else--supreme court picks and bathroom politics. And that is hurtful. I can't imagine what it feels like to Muslim. I cannot imagine what it feels like to be anything other than white. I can't imagine what it feels like to be an immigrant. My family is Irish. In terms of human history, it wasn't so long ago that "No Irish Need Apply" was a thing. How lucky--how privileged I am--that that is no longer the case. That I have the heritage and pedigree that makes me somehow acceptable...currently. The problem with peddling "us versus them" is that it's always tenuous. At any moment the tides can turn, and the us becomes the them.
I am zealous this election because I believe in equality for all. And because I believe in democracy. Because I believe that nothing will do more to radicalize normal, loving, good people than to tell them that are not welcome--that they are somehow more dangerous because of the color of their skin or the God they pray to. Because I believe that the best way to stop a dangerous and potential demagogue is to shout as loudly as is possible that his ideology is not acceptable. That who he is and what he stands for is morally reprehensible. This election is not about politics, and if you think it is, then you have not been paying attention. This election is about a value system that is larger than the sum of the parts that the left and right spend so much time arguing about. This is about who we are and what we stand for, and frankly, what we stand against. This is about electing the most qualified and prepared candidate, and this about sending a clear message that a shit sandwich that includes so much exclusion will never be edible. That the moral plague that that indefensible, wildly narcissistic, and deeply stupid man must be driven out. Because there is no other side to argue when it comes to women's rights and global warming and tolerance and equality and who we are as an American people. Or to what democracy means.