I don’t like to run my mouth without the facts. I like to collect data points, examples, and counter-arguments before forming opinions and especially before I fight for a particular position. I’ve mostly kept to the sidelines during debates about this election, listening to each side and trying to be open-minded about each candidate but I’ve heard enough and frankly, it is time to say something. There is one option that I cannot support and that is Donald Trump becoming President of the United States of America.
I have never been shy in saying that sometimes, as a country, we do not live up to the ideals that we cherish. Our history and our present are marred with examples of when freedom and justice are not available to all but for all our mistakes, we vowed that those were examples of failings, of exceptions that we would not allow to define who we are as a nation and a people. If we elect Donald Trump as President, however, we are saying that hatred is our reaction to terror, intolerance is our answer to feat, and that anger is what drives our actions. I am scared and I am angry.
I cannot believe that our President has had to give 18 speeches during his time in office. He has had to offer condolences time and time again to families who have lost loved ones to people full of hatred with access to weapons intended for war zones but I am not about to let these killers change me into one of them. I will not let tragedy turn me against my fellow Americans; I will not wage war against a religion or a people. I will not simplify the truth to mobilise people to their pitchforks, to find martyrs for our grief. Instead, I will use my fear and sadness to tell my Congressional representatives to pass bills limiting access to dangerous weapons. I want researchers investigating gun violence and where best to put in the restrictions to reduce it. What we do not need is a President that will respond to massacres with sweeping generalisations and vulgar self-congratulatory words. What we do not need is a President that makes bigotry acceptable, sexism the standard, and hate our unifying emotion. In a time where “love is love is love is love” should be the words that ring out in our streets, we cannot have a President that embodies the antithesis of the tolerance we hope to spread and the diverse communities we hope to support. We cannot have a President that projects to the rest of the world an image of arrogance and prejudice. If the President is meant to be an embodiment of our country’s values and morals, then how we can allow Trump to be President? The leader of the free world should not inspire fear about the future of our liberties.
I know the alternative is not perfect. I, in full disclosure, admit that as a democrat, I was torn during the primaries over the two Presidential candidates. I admire greatly the conviction with which Bernie Sanders stood by and still stands by his beliefs and his policies. I was swept away by the hope for change in 2008 and I can see in Sanders the same conviction that the status quo should be updated and perhaps, even overhauled. I plead with those that stood by Bernie’s revolution to not split the vote and to remember that though Hillary may be a symbol of the system, she is still a member of the same team. She is not Bernie; she does not have the raw passion or the straightforward record. She has wavered and she has made bad decisions; I concede that to you willingly. She will not turn back the clock and undo the progress that has been done over the last 8 years. She will not stand in front of our nation and preach violence against the children of our enemies or accuse an entire race of being rapists. She will not go after federal judges for their ethnicity and she will not say that a woman dropping to her knees is, “a pretty sight.”
We seem to forget that our President is not the only agent for change; the Congressional leaders we elect and the Supreme Court that watches over us are all actors that play important roles in furthering progress in our country. Clinton, as an experienced Senator, First Lady, and Secretary of State understands the different levels within the government and how to work with them to produce solutions that will take us forwards, not backwards. I know, experience does not equal wisdom or action, but I refuse to believe that a man without any experience in the government will be as capable and competent in managing the many complicated and nuanced relationships that the President establishes, that is, if Trump decides to form those relationships at all. Trump will be President during an opening in the Supreme Court and as those appointments are for life, I am terrified by the prospect of what kind of person Trump would deem worthy for the spot. Yes, we have checks and yes, he will not be able to do nearly half the things he promises to do as President. However, why waste four years doing damage control and reigning in improbable and terrible ideas when we could spend four years enacting legislation to keep tragedies like Orland, Sandy Hook, Charleston and, sadly, more from happening again?
I know that the President is, at the end of the day, our leader. As we pick a leader, it is important to evaluate their policies and their ability to do the job. In my opinion, a leader is also an example of the kind of person we should be proud to call an American. The President should be the best we have to offer, someone to guide us not just through tricky foreign policy decisions and economic setbacks but also through times when we don’t know how to react, what to feel, or what to do next. When someone’s actions shock us to our core, we need our President to say that love will win the day, that tragedy will only make us stronger, and that we will not stand, immobile, to let this go on another day. We will make the changes but we will not lose ourselves in the process of fighting evil. We will face the problem head-on, apply pressure on Congress and the administration to channel our outrage into policy reform and new bills but, we will not become Donald Trumps, capitalising on fear and insecurity to make us into hardened, bitter haters. We will not give up on our belief that we can work together to make this country safer for everyone, no matter the religion, sexual orientation, gender, or ethnicity. I may not love everything that Hillary has done or that she stands for but I am not afraid to live in a country she is President of. I am not afraid that one day, my race will be the one that is targeted or that a witch-hunt will drag me to the stake, legal though I am. I do not think she will perpetuate a culture that demeans me for my gender or allows my good friends to be discriminated against for loving who they love. I am not afraid that a Clinton presidency will create a political atmosphere where the loudest voices are the only ones that are heard and I am not afraid of what our country will look on the other side of four years under Clinton.
What I am absolutely terrified of though, is the possibility of a President Trump because I don’t know if we will recognise ourselves after four years of him. It will take us years to try and figure out how we allowed a sexist and racist figure such as Trump to ascend to the highest office this country has to offer. I know what America stands for and I know we have some changing to do but Trump’s America is not our country made great again. It is our country rendered entirely unrecognisable to the experiment in democracy our founding fathers first created. It is not an America I am proud of and Trump is not the kind of American I want to be. So please, can we put aside our other differences and our reservations to tell the world this November that Trump does not speak for us? He is not the best that we can be.