On November 8, I will proudly cast my vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton. There are a lot of people like me, people who are voting for Hillary Clinton not because the person running against her is so horrible, but because we truly believe she will make a good president. And it hasn't been a great 24 hours for us. But, even before this latest drama, I was still nervous. In the face of increasing poll margins, I was not confident. Why? Because of the media.
Trump blames the media for his downfall, but the truth is, they are also responsible for his ascension. His supporters haven't been forgotten. The world gets that people are motivated by him; he is touching a nerve. However people like me--people who are not choosing Clinton because she is the lesser of some purported evil--aren't featured a ton. Her whole candidacy has been spun as a candidacy that no one is particularly excited about. That is, I truly believe, a false narrative. It then spirals though, with people who were on the fence becoming less inclined to vote. The narrative becomes reality in a small, troubling sense. And this election is too important for inaction.
Hillary Clinton is not a particularly gifted orator. She is a policy wonk. If you have a bridge to sell, I wouldn't recommend her as the broker. If you are worried about Zika funding though, she has a plan. She is a fighter. She fought attacks against her personally. She has worked across the aisle and across the world to fight for many things I believe in. I have not 100% always agreed with her decisions or her execution of them. I'm pretty liberal; the only campaign before this I ever volunteered for was a Dennis Kucinich primary bid. That means Secretary Clinton has been to the right of me on many (though not all) issues throughout the years. However I'm fairly sure someone to the left of me would not be a great president in this era. Change has to happen incrementally. The government is not set up for the immediate revolution some candidates have promised upon their election. Sometimes I wish it was, but it's not.
During the primary, one of my friends was outraged that I was not voting for Bernie Sanders and asked me whether I was voting for Hillary Clinton solely because she was a woman or because of the combination of the fact that she was a woman and she went to my alma mater. He couldn't fathom another reason I would be voting for her. I quickly cited her accomplishments, focusing on her fight to get a Republican administration to recognize the health problems facing New York's first responders. I volunteered after 9/11. Then Senator Clinton spoke to volunteers and victims' families, without press. People have come out during the campaign to discuss what a difference she made in their lives. It's one thing to make a great speech and have pure ideals and it's another thing to really think about the small things you can do to change a person's life. Hillary Clinton did those small things as our Senator.
Calling a first responder's daughter is not what being president is about, but it speaks to a greater goodness to me. I get that is not something a lot of people see. Hillary Clinton often doesn't seem warm and open. She's clearly very hardened from battle and very private. The emails, the speeches, many of the issues that have followed her this election are a result of that. She has had to be tough. She fights and fights and fights and that is the leader I want. I'm not always going to agree with her, but there is no candidate I'd always agree with.
And I've spoken to others who have been so proud already to cast their ballot for her or those, like me, who are looking forward to it. My mother--a woman who likes male doctors better (which will tell you she is not just "yay, women")--will be voting for HRC for President for the third time, having written her in both times Obama ran. That is in addition to her votes for her for Senate and in the Presidential Primaries. We have been having Wellesley Days of Action across the country, with alums, including Clinton friends from college, gathering to canvas or phone bank. (Wellesley Women for Hillary and, specifically, Jessica Linker in PA have been great at getting us together on a massive scale.) And I'm constantly hearing and reading stories not just from those alums, but from people they spoke to while doing their work. I myself have heard from people thrilled to be supporting Hillary Clinton. A woman told me last week that she was voting for Hillary Clinton because she knew she was "not only the smartest person in the room, but also the one who gives a crap." I think "I give a crap" would be awkward coming from Clinton's mouth, but I sort of looked at it as a nice rallying cry in an alternate universe.
Then, of course, there is the other side. While I do not approve of the "lesser of two evils" narrative at all, there is a great threat on the other side. I don't believe Donald Trump is anti-Semitic. I'm not even sure he's racist. But what I do know is it does not matter -- he and his campaign have egged white supremacists on. Those aren't the only people voting for him of course. I know people voting for him. People I like. Smart people. People who feel the system has let them down and are encouraged by his mantra of change and/or people who simply need to vote for the person most likely to appoint conservative judges. (And, yes, it is a binary choice at this point.) But then there is the segment I fear. My good friend Devika, a doctor in Kansas City, has a son who turns two today. I think he is going to cure cancer, if no one beats him to it. Devika is of Indian descent and her husband is of Thai descent, so little Sarit doesn't have my pale skin. If Trump is elected, I worry about the world he will grow up in, how he will be viewed in that world. Not because I think Trump or his administration will change the world, but because his election will mean white supremacists will feel they helped elect a president. There has been anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and racism in this country forever. Trump didn't start it. But his campaign is stoking its flames. I spoke to someone the other day -- a generally reasonable woman -- that believes in the Muslim ban. She thinks it is a necessary temporary measure. She didn't seem to understand my argument when I brought up Martin Niemöller, and I hope she never does. I know this hatred will never fully go away, but I hope it is beaten back at least slightly after November 8. For his birthday, I'll get him a toy, but my wish for Sarit is really that by the time he is old enough to understand racism and religious intolerance, we haven't spent time encouraging it in the guise of being anti-PC.
This election is close. It's not about watching the polls and assuming whatever they say is true, it's about voting. I've never been particularly political, or active in this realm, but I know that much. Please no one stay home on November 8.
Embedded above is a lesser known pro-Clinton song, "Her Song," by musical theater folks Amanda Green & Zoe Sarnak. This is a video from the Lilly Awards Concert on October 17, 2016 featuring vocals by Julia Murney, Kelli Barrett, Amanda Green, Constantine Maroulis, Jarrod Spector and Georgia Stitt and Zoe Sarnak on Guitar. Don't watch with the kids.
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