This Presidential election has been exasperating. Progressives found an ally in Bernie Sanders, worked hard to elect him, then lost him to the corruption we’d fought against for years.
I was all in for Bernie until the Democratic Convention, when he threw Hillary his support. I was Bernie Or Bust to the core. Still not a second passed when I wasn’t consumed by fear of Donald Trump. Fear not born of Republican talking points as some progressives allege. Such allegations are ludicrous. I don’t acquiesce to manipulation or fall prey to propaganda. My fears of Trump are legitimate. He represents all that is wrong with my country — unfettered greed, ostentatiousness, ugly American brashness, supremacism, racism, misogyny, extreme privilege born of whiteness and inherited wealth, and much much more. It would be an affront to the world and all I believe in to allow so hideous a man to succeed. And though his repugnant misogyny is now losing him support, I still can’t gamble on his election.
After Bernie’s loss, California progressives focused the brunt of their rage on Hillary. She’d been the enemy in the primaries, winning by collusion, not by merit. Donald Trump was more their afterthought. They aligned with the Green’s Jill Stein — no surprise — since Jill represents our values and all we’ve fought for for years. There’s not a policy or principal we don’t share. And while most California allies disapprove of Donald Trump, they contend their vote for Jill won’t elect him. In California polls, Hillary wins by a landslide.
Still, despite the seeming certainty Trump will lose California, I can’t cast my vote for Stein. I just can’t take that gamble.
What separates me from my allies and thwarts my vote for Stein is personal, and stems from an aspect of Trump I despise. Trump owned casinos, which to me, daughter of a compulsive gambler, makes him a predator — a societal parasite who thrives off the destruction of families. For me, those like Trump who enrich themselves from gambling, be it casual or obsessive, are tantamount to drug dealers, pimps and plunderers of the worst kind.
I understand that for most, gambling presents no real problem. But in my case, the carnage of gambling marked me indelibly and affects every part of my life. It did some good: I pay my bills on time, don’t borrow, owe or cheat. But it also groomed the rigid: I play it safe and rarely take chances — which I apply to the case of Trump. I question his “inevitable” loss.
You see, California isn’t always progressive.
In 1994, the state of California resoundingly passed racist, xenophobic Proposition 187, a “ballot initiative to establish a state-run citizenship screening system and prohibit illegal aliens from using non-emergency health care, public education, and other services in the State of California.” This mean-spirited proposition, mirroring Trump's ideology, passed decisively by a margin of 59 to 41.
At the time of Prop 187, there’d been no 9/11, no ISIS, no Taliban, no Al Qaeda, no rabid fear of Muslims or of Trump’s favorite nemesis: “radical Islamic terrorists.” Even without the current xenophobic fervor, this regressive proposition sent Californians to vote in droves. They passed it overwhelmingly. Now, multiply the nationalism of 1994 by today’s rabid xenophobia, add in the messianic devotion to Trump, and you have the potential for an unexpected outcome I’m just not willing to risk — despite the many polls.
My personal experience with “187” helps justify my fear that Trump may not lose California. In 1994, the year the proposition passed, I taught adult English as a Second Language (ESL) in the evening. My students were all immigrants, most from Mexico and Central America. They were dedicated, hard working and wonderful. Most worked long hours at hard labor, yet still made it to class. The majority were undocumented and most or all would be affected by “187.” In fact, were it to pass, the entire ESL program would be devastated, resulting in job loss for the teachers. Still, saddled with the prospect of job loss, many teachers I worked with supported the Proposition. That’s how endemic racism and xenophobia are in our society, where so many vote against their own interests.
Coincidentally, Prop 187 passed on November 8th — the same date as this year’s election.
Further experience reinforcing my fear: This past summer in a San Fernando Valley park hosting free weekly concerts, booths were set up for various vendors. In this suburban community of Democrat leaning Los Angeles, the booth representing Trump saw a flow of energetic traffic. Folks posed enthusiastically with a life-sized cardboard Trump, purchased campaign propaganda and flaunted their devotion. We’ve seen these zealots at Trump events, but they’re not the voters I fear. The voters I fear, post my “187” experience, are the silent Trump loyalists who hide their support, afraid they’ll be labeled racists, xenophobes, islamaphobes or white nationalists. They exist, and they are many.
Here’s more reason I distrust Californians. They do the craziest things.
In 2012, voters had the opportunity to pass Proposition 37, which amongst other positive objectives, offered the option to “require labeling on raw or processed food offered for sale to consumers if the food is made from plants or animals with genetic material changed in specified ways.” In other words, passing Prop 37 would allow Californians to know if the ingredients in their food are natural or genetically engineered. Inconceivably, in supposedly progressive California, this completely sane opportunity to know the truth about one’s food, failed at the ballot box.
Consider the insanity of that!
So, yes, I’m a scaredy cat, despite all of Trump’s losing polls. As I’ve said, my choice to not vote for Jill has nothing to do with her platform — and everything to do with my fear. What informs me is my experience and lifelong refusal to gamble. Some may call me a coward for not giving Jill a chance. I apologize, but I’m playing it safe. I’ve seen the ravages of gambling. I can’t chance seeing them again in the form of this narcissistic sociopath bent on destroying our world.